VERSE OF THE DAY
Easter is significant because it reveals that love is more powerful than death. Death is what frightens us most. It hems us in and it sets the ultimate limit to everything. If death has the final word, then all the evil in the world wins and there's no hope because there's nothing after death. That's the end. But Easter is the declaration that God's love, the love that made the world and sustains it, is more powerful than death. That's a moment of liberation. It means death no longer enslaves us. The first Christians saw that the bursting forth of Christ from the tomb is the shattering of death's bonds. Even more, the Resurrection is God's great salvation of the world he has made. The God of the Bible doesn't despise matter--just the opposite. God makes everything good. And through the Resurrection, God ratifies, sums up, and valorizes his material creation. Therefore, Jesus' resurrection from the dead is not just about him. It's about all those who will participate in his Mystical Body, the Church, and it's about all of matter. In raising Jesus bodily from the dead, the Father is raising all of matter to new life. We see this as the Bible comes to its climax in the Book of Revelation. There we discover a New Heaven and a New Earth. Heaven is not just some purely spiritual space that our souls go to after we die. It's a new creation, God ratifying and elevating his whole work. That's the climax of the biblical revelation. The God who made the world good has now, out of a passion to set it right, saved that world by raising it up to a higher pitch. The Christian Church gives witness to that great fact. And that's what Easter is about.
Today we commemorate Holy Saturday, the quiet, somber interlude between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Instead of sharing my own reflections I'd like to share this ancient homily, written by an anonymous source. It brings to life that stirring line in the Apostle's Creed: "He descended into hell." What is happening? Today there is a great silence over the earth, a great silence, and stillness, a great silence because the King sleeps; the earth was in terror and was still, because God slept in the flesh and raised up those who were sleeping from the ages. God has died in the flesh, and the underworld has trembled. Truly he goes to seek out our first parent like a lost sheep; he wishes to visit those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death. He goes to free the prisoner Adam and his fellow-prisoner Eve from their pains, he who is God, and Adam's son. The Lord goes into them holding his victorious weapon, his cross. When Adam, the first created man, sees him, he strikes his breast in terror and calls out to all: "My Lord be with you all." And Christ in reply says to Adam: "And with your spirit." And grasping his hand he raises him up, saying: "Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light." I am your God, who for your sake became your son, who for you and your descendants now speak and command with authority those in prison: Come forth, and those in darkness: Have light, and those who sleep: Rise. I command you: Awake, sleeper, I have not made you to be held a prisoner in the underworld. Arise from the dead; I am the life of the dead. Arise, O man, work of my hands, arise, you who were fashioned in my image. Rise, let us go hence; for you in me and I in you, together we are one undivided person. For you, I your God became your son; for you, I the Master took on your form; that of slave; for you, I who am above the heavens came on earth and under the earth; for you, man, I became as a man without help, free among the dead; for you, who left a garden, I was handed over to Jews from a garden and crucified in a garden. Look at the spittle on my face, which I received because of you, in order to restore you to that first divine inbreathing at creation. See the blows on my cheeks, which I accepted in order to refashion your distorted form to my own image. See the scourging of my back, which I accepted in order to disperse the load of your sins which was laid upon your back. See my hands nailed to the tree for a good purpose, for you, who stretched out your hand to the tree for an evil one. I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side, for you, who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side healed the pain of your side; my sleep will release you from your sleep in Hades; my sword has checked the sword which was turned against you. But arise, let us go hence. The enemy brought you out of the land of paradise; I will reinstate you, no longer in paradise, but on the throne of heaven. I denied you the tree of life, which was a figure, but now I myself am united to you, I who am life. I posted the cherubim to guard you as they would slaves; now I make the cherubim worship you as they would God. The cherubim throne has been prepared, the bearers are ready and waiting, the bridal chamber is in order, the food is provided, the everlasting houses and rooms are in readiness; the treasures of good things have been opened; the kingdom of heaven has been prepared before the ages.
Good Friday - The Cross by Fr. Barron
The cross was meant to terrify people. If you ran afoul of the Roman state, they would fix you to this terrible instrument of torture, allow you to hang there until you died, and then leave your body for the beasts of the field. It was meant to be agonizingly painful, humiliating, and dehumanizing. The cross came to symbolize all of the dark power that the world could muster: violence, oppression, injustice, and indifference to suffering. It was, in a word, state-sponsored terrorism and it was the key to the power of Rome. So terrible was the cross that people in polite society wouldn't speak of it. For the first nine centuries of the Church's life, Jesus' cross wouldn't be depicted. It is so important theologically to note that Jesus allows all of this to wash over him. He submits to the totality of it, accepting as Paul says, "even death, death on a cross." The world had thrown its worst at Jesus, spending itself on him, but he, through the power of the Holy Spirit, was more powerful. And this is why they proclaimed him as King and Lord and Messiah. In an absolutely delicious bit of irony, Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor, places over the cross, the declaration, in the three major languages of the time, that Jesus is the King, effectively de-throning Caesar and becoming, despite himself, the first great evangelist. And so we today hold up the cross of Jesus Christ, which was meant to affirm the powers of the world, the powers of sin and death, as a challenge to those powers. It's our declaration that death and violence do not have the last word. Jesus does.
Christianity is a revolutionary religion. It turns everything upside down, reversing the values and expectations of a sinful world. Throughout his life and ministry, Jesus tried to inaugurate people into this new world that he called the Kingdom of God. The nature of this Kingdom became especially apparent as Jesus gathered with his disciples in the upper room, a place of heightened awareness. There he did something extraordinary. Jesus took off his outer garments, tied a towel around his waist, poured water in a basin, and washed the feet of his disciples. He performed an act that was so humble, so lowly, that it was considered beneath the dignity even of a slave. We catch the novelty and shock of it in Peter's response: "Master, are you going to wash my feet?" This is just too much for him; it is such a violation of the world that he had come to accept, a world in which masters were masters, slaves were slaves, where the dignified and important were waited upon while the lowly did the serving. In that world there was a clear demarcation between up and down, worthy and unworthy, clean and unclean. Jesus is putting his followers through a sort of initiation rite. Unless they pass this test, unless they begin to see the world in a new way, they will not get into the Kingdom. And this is why Jesus says to Peter, "Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me." In the vision of the old world, one's life comes to its high point at a moment of honor, praise, glory, or recognition, at a moment when one's distinction and superiority over others is most evident. The old world is predicated on the great divisions between master and slave, superior and subordinate, rich and poor, powerful and powerless, included and excluded. Most of our energy goes into maintaining these distinctions, or trying to get from one side to the other, or keeping certain people on the far side of the divide. But in the vision of the Kingdom of God, the climactic moment comes when one is the lowliest servant of the other: yes, even despised, reviled, spat upon, and handed over to death. It is only when we have passed through this startling initiation that we are ready for the full manifestation of the Kingdom. "You call me 'teacher' and 'master' and rightly so," Jesus says, "for indeed I am. If I therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another's feet."
Holy Week Message Prayer and Action
The fruit of prayer in the Biblical tradition is action on behalf of the world. We are, essentially, a mission religion. Even the highest moments of mystical union are meant to conduce to doing God's work in the world, to becoming a conduit of the divine grace. We have mystics, poets, contemplatives galore in our tradition--just think of Bernard, John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, Meister Eckhart, Thomas Merton--but they all see the essential link between prayer and action. This is why Peter's line is so important at the Transfiguration: "Master, it is good that we are here; let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." As Luke, the author, points out immediately, "But he did not know what he was saying." The point of prayer is not to stay on the mountain. It is not to cling to mystical experience, however wonderful. It is to become radiant with the divine light so as to share it with the world. And this is why, at the Transfiguration, the voice from the cloud identified Jesus and specified, "Listen to him." In other words, don't just admire him; don't simply worship him. Do what he tells you. Authentic prayer always leads to active discipleship.
Why Do You Doubt?
Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, "Lord, save us! We are perishing!" But He said to them, "Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?" Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.(Matthew8:25-26)
It is by faith that God’s mighty power is released into the life of a Christian (Heb. 11:33–35). The fact that you have doubts indicates that you do not know God as you should. If your prayer life is infiltrated with doubts, you have denied yourself the greatest, single avenue of power that God has made available to you. Without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6). God never comforts you in your doubt. Jesus consistently rebuked those who would not believe Him. He had revealed enough of Himself for His disciples to have believed Him in their time of need. God wants to build your understanding of Him until your faith is sufficient to trust and obey Him in each situation (Mark 9:23–25). The moment you turn to Him with a genuine commitment to rid yourself of doubt, God will match your doubt with a revelation of Himself that can convince you of His faithfulness. When Thomas doubted, Jesus revealed Himself to him in such a way that every doubt vanished (John 20:27). You can only resolve your lack of faith in God’s presence. He must reveal Himself in such a way that any doubt you might have is removed. Jesus did this with His disciples. He involved them in a consistent, growing relationship with Himself. Jesus took them through teaching, to small miracles, to large miracles, and to the resurrection. Jesus knew that the redemption of the world rested on His disciples’ believing Him. What does God want to do in the lives of those around you that waits upon your trust in Him and the removal of your doubts?
When a prisoner escaped from Auschwitz in the summer of 1942, the Nazi soldiers imposed their penalty. They took all of the prisoners from the escapee's barracks and lined them up, and then at random chose a man to be put to death in retaliation. When the man broke down in tears, protesting that he was the father of young children, a quiet bespectacled man stepped forward and said, "I am a Catholic priest; I have no family. I would like to die in this man's place." Pope John Paul II later canonized that priest, Saint Maximilian Kolbe. With brutal clarity, Kolbe allows us to see the relationship between suffering willingly accepted and salvation. He was consciously participating in the act of his Master, making up, in Paul's language, what is still lacking in the suffering of Christ. We see a similar example in Saint Francis. Among the many stories told about the joyful saint, one of the most affecting is that concerning his encounter with a leprous man. Young Francis had a particular revulsion for leprosy. Whenever he saw someone suffering from that disease, he would run in the opposite direction. One day, Francis saw a leper approaching, and he sensed the familiar apprehension and disgust. But then he decided, under the inspiration of the Gospel, to embrace the man, to kiss him, and to give him alms. Filled with joy, he made his way up the road. But when he turned around he discovered the man had disappeared. Once again, suffering was the concrete expression of love. When a mother stays up all night, depriving herself of sleep, in order to care for a sick child, she is following this same example, suffering so that some of his suffering might be alleviated. When a person willingly bears an insult, and refuses to fight back or return insult for insult, he is suffering for the sake of love. We shouldn't be surprised when we are called upon to suffer in this world. We have been given the privilege of carrying on Christ's work in just this way.
Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many. Matthew 20:26b-28 Servant leadership is service to others. It is not jockeying for position, nor is it politicking for power. Instead, it is posturing for the opportunity to serve. This does not bode well for the insecure soul in need of abundant attention. Servant leaders avoid the limelight and serve in ways that many times go unnoticed. It is the little things that make a servant leader. It may be taking out the trash at home, or making the coffee at work. No task is too menial for the servant leader, but there is something bigger than behavior that distinguishes a servant leader. It is attitude—an attitude of how to make others successful. He or she knows if those around them are successful then there is a good chance they will experience success. They are wise to want what’s best for others. Self-service on the other hand builds a culture of mediocrity. It is all about taking care of my little world, not giving any thought to the needs of other team members. It is every man for himself - survival of the fittest. This self-service contributes to a scarcity mentality. If I serve you then you may look better than me—you may get all the credit. This fear of not being noticed facilitates competition instead of cooperation. Servant leadership on the other hand is not caught up with getting the credit. The servant leader has put to death the need for self-recognition. The attention and credit can easily flow to others. This is the place where it belongs, as our humility cannot handle the attention. Like a lily-white body in a tanning booth, our humility burns up. Servant leadership resists this temptation to linger in the limelight. Instead, the servant leader may give away opportunities that come his or her way. Seek to serve and let status find you. Jesus served quietly on most occasions and boldly as needed. No sincere seeker was neglected. His motive was to serve for the glory of God. His ultimate service was laying down his life for the human race. Consequently, followers of Christ can become a better servant leader because Jesus seeks to serve through you. You can’t, but He can. Submit to Him and watch Him use you to serve. Die to getting attention and credit while celebrating the success of others. Quietly volunteer for the next lowly task. Set up others to succeed. Give away your life and you will find it. This is the way of Christ. This is the way to serve and lead. Submit to God, serve people—and others will follow! “If your first concern is to look after yourself, you'll never find yourself. But if you forget about yourself and look to me, you'll find both yourself and me” (Matthew 10:39, The Message). Prayer: Whom do I need to serve for Christ’s sake that does not deserve my service?
Related Readings: Exodus 18:26; Zephaniah 3:9; Ephesians 6:9; 1 Peter 4:10
For the Lord, Not Men
And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men. (Colossians 3:23)
There is an important difference between doing something for people and doing something for God. God always deserves our best effort. People will disappoint us, betray us, neglect us, and mistreat us. Some will constantly ask for what we can give while offering nothing in return. From our human perspective, these people deserve our minimal effort at best. What then should motivate us to serve people, except our love for God? God deserves our love, and He demands that we love others in the same way He does. We are to love our spouses, not as they deserve, but as God commands (Eph. 5:22–33). We are to treat our friends, not as they treat us, but as Christ loves us (John 13:14). We are to labor at our jobs, not in proportion to the way our employer treats us, but according to the way God treats us. God is the One we serve (Eph. 6:5). Mediocrity and laziness have no place in the Christian’s life. Christians must maintain integrity at home and in the workplace. Working for God, as opposed to working for other people, changes our perspective as we view our endeavors in light of what He has done for us. Our toil then becomes an offering to God. We not only worship God at church on Sunday, but our labor throughout the week is an offering of worship and thanksgiving to the One who has given us everything we have. When people do not measure up to our expectations and we feel our efforts are being wasted, we must keep in mind that we are toiling for holy God. He is worthy of our best effort.
Jesus, I Trust In You!
"God is faithful and will not let you be tested beyond your strength." 1 Cor 10-13. Lord, your love is unfailing, may our trust in you never fail us. Your mercy is boundless, may our hope in your forgiveness always grow stronger. Your desire for our salvation knows no limit, may our willingness to repent and be converted deepen during this Lenten season. By your grace, Lord, renew us and bring about in our hearts a true springtime of the spirit. We pray through Christ our Lord. Amen.
"Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil." --Matthew 4:1
A holy character does not avert temptation--Jesus was tempted. When Satan tempts us, his sparks fall upon tinder; but in Christ's case, it was like striking sparks on water; yet the enemy continued his evil work. Now, if the devil goes on striking when there is no result, how much more will he do it when he knows what inflammable stuff our hearts are made of. Though you become greatly sanctified by the Holy Ghost, expect that the great dog of hell will bark at you still. In the haunts of men we expect to be tempted, but even seclusion will not guard us from the same trial. Jesus Christ was led away from human society into the wilderness, and was tempted of the devil. Solitude has its charms and its benefits, and may be useful in checking the lust of the eye and the pride of life; but the devil will follow us into the most lovely retreats. Do not suppose that it is only the worldly minded who have dreadful thoughts and blasphemous temptations, for even spiritual minded persons endure the same; and in the holiest position we may suffer the darkest temptation. The utmost consecration of spirit will not insure you against Satanic temptation. Christ was consecrated through and through. It was his meat and drink to do the will of him that sent him: and yet he was tempted! Your hearts may glow with a seraphic flame of love to Jesus, and yet the devil will try to bring you down to Laodicean lukewarmness. If you will tell me when God permits a Christian to lay aside his armour, I will tell you when Satan has left off temptation. Like the old knights in war time, we must sleep with helmet and breastplate buckled on, for the arch deceiver will seize our first unguarded hour to make us his prey. The Lord keep us watchful in all seasons, and give us a final escape from the jaw of the lion and the paw of the bear.
Scripture: 1 Samuel 1 : 24 - 28,Luke 1 : 46 - 56
As we draw near to the Feast of Christmas, our sacred scripture presents to us once again a central Advent personage. Luke and the Church hold Mary in high esteem as we prepare to celebrate the Nativity. Today, we hear her wonderful "Magnificat" echo through the ages down to our own time and place. In our first reading, Hannah gives Samuel over to the Lord's service. Mary follows in that glorious tradition and gave herself over to the Lord's service in every way by consenting to be the Mother of the Son of God. When we think about it, Mary becomes for us the most impressive example of what Advent preparation is all about. Essentially, when the Angel Gabriel asked her to become the Mother of Jesus, the angel was asking her to shift away from her planned life as wife of Joseph and enter into the mystery of God's plan for her life. She had questions, concerns and confusion but said yes, I will live in the mystery of what God has in store for me. She positioned herself in faith to be the handmaid of the Lord. She went on to visit Elizabeth and was welcomed with an amazing greeting. How could Elizabeth know so much of what was happening. She seemed to know more than Mary herself. Mary's wonderful response reflects upon the greatness and goodness of God in her life. She accepted Elizabeth's greeting and lived in the mystery it evoked. Mary would go on to live the mystery. As she raised the child Jesus, she had to have asked herself over and over who he really was and why was he here. She helped him to grow in wisdom and age but was left to ponder so much in her heart. She lived the mystery. She heard Him begin to preach the good news of the Kingdom and wondered what it could mean. She lived the mystery. She saw him give sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, strength to withered legs, wholeness to lepers, forgiveness to the sinner and life to the dead and was left to wonder about questions with no immediate answers. She lived the mystery. She watched her Son die on the Cross and received His body into her arms. She lived the mystery. She was present in the Upper Room when her Risen Lord revealed His glory and His victory over sin and death. She lived the mystery. In her final moment on earth, she was assumed body and soul into the heavenly Kingdom. She lived the mystery. Our Blessed Mother teaches us how to live the mystery of our own life, our own calling to walk with God and one another. She teaches us Advent faith, to always expect God to enter our lives with His divine guidance. She teaches us Advent trust, to place our lives in the hands of God and hope He will lead us to salvation. She teaches us Advent love, to place another ahead of ourselves, to place ourselves at the service of God's Word in our lives. She teaches us Advent perseverance, to walk with divine assistance through the questions, concerns, joys, and trials of the mystery of our lives. She teaches us Advent courage, to always move forward in the mystery of life expecting that the birth of Jesus will bring us to the fullness of the life He was born to manifest.
So the king asked me, “Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart.”I was very much afraid. Nehemiah 2:2 Transparent behavior is authentic action. What we do matches who we are in our heart. The opposite of transparency is hypocrisy. A hypocrite hides behind a mask to manipulate their image into something it’s not. A transparent person, on the other hand, gives a true representation of themselves, what you see is what you get. The good, the bad and the ugly. Authenticity does not conceal real feelings to keep up a false identity. Transparent behavior is comfortable being real. Nehemiah normally was full of joy, but on this day his countenance communicated distress. His family and friends were in trouble. We can chose to stuff our pain with a plastic smile or we can express our hurt with a saddened face. Trust is what facilitates our transparent behavior. If we trust God and others we take the risk to be real. There is freedom in letting go and letting the Spirit lead the conversation. Transparent behavior trusts God to work through honest interaction. Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. Romans 15:7 Do people feel comfortable around you? How can you make them feel safe to be themselves? One way is to be open about your own struggles and challenges. When someone hears of your temptations and need for accountability they feel you understand them. As individuals are understood they open up and feel the freedom to share their true feelings. Your love and confidentiality give people permission to be real. Acceptance encourages transparent behavior. A person’s vulnerability is an opportunity for us to help them, not hurt them. Reward being real. Furthermore, we are wise to not hide who we are with those who know us the best. When we are afraid, angry or hurt, ‘fine’ is not an acceptable answer to “How are you doing?” It blesses our spouse, family and friends when we let them in on our heart. Transparency deepens authentic relationships. A word of caution: being real does not mean to emotionally throw up on someone, but it does mean to prayerfully share struggles, dreams and joys. Let’s be honest with ourselves and God. He already knows, but it honors Him and helps us when we share our heart in prayer.
I cry aloud to the Lord; I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy. Psalm 142:1
Prayer: Heavenly Father, give me the courage to be real so others feel comfortable being themselves around me.
Related Readings: Psalm 15:2; Proverbs 22:21; Matthew 6:16; Luke 22:42; Ephesians 4:15, 25
Fountain of Grace
If you don't have the life and love of the Lord flourishing in your own soul, you will not be able to share them with others. But if you do, then you'll be like a flowing fountain of grace—everyone you meet will receive a blessing from God through you.
There’s No Shepherd like the Good Shepherd by Fr. John Doyle
Matthew 18:12-14 Jesus said to his disciples: “What is your opinion? If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray, will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills and go in search of the stray? And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it than over the ninety-nine that did not stray. In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost.”
Introductory Prayer: Dear Jesus, my Lord and God, I open my heart to your infinite love. I wish to listen and respond to the inspirations that you wish to give me this morning. I believe in you. I hope in you. I love you. Lord, you are my shepherd and the true meaning of my life.
Petition: Jesus, Good Shepherd, give me the grace to open my heart to your mercy.
1. Not All Shepherds Are the Same: In today’s society, the image of the shepherd doesn’t say as much as it did in Jesus’ time. Psalm 23 was probably one of Christ’s favorite psalms, for he uses the image of the shepherd frequently: “The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.” Sheep have a trusting relationship with their shepherd. Instinctively they know that the shepherd will care for them. Christ is our shepherd who loves us. In our lives, other people or material possessions can seem to promise to bring us happiness, causing us to follow after them as if they were our shepherd. But when the real trial comes, they abandon us just as a hired hand leaves the sheep when the wolf appears. Let us renew our commitment to Christ, the Good Shepherd, since he is the true shepherd of our souls.
2. Searching Out the Lost Sheep: In every group of animals there is at least one that seems to get distracted and eventually lost. In our lives we, too, can get distracted and stray from the security of Christ and his way. Sin is what separates us from Christ. If we are not careful, we can be easily seduced by the world, by the fascination of material goods or pleasures, and then mistakenly place our security in them. Then, when we experience the emptiness and spiritual hunger that comes from wandering from the Good Shepherd, we need only to recall that he is waiting for us, his wayward sheep, to carry us back into the safety of his fold. It is comforting and heartening to know that he longs for us to be reconciled with him, just as a shepherd goes out in search of the lost sheep.
3. Let the Celebration Begin! Anyone who has children and has temporarily “lost” one of them can empathize with the joy God experiences when one of us is found once again and reunited with him. We may try to outdo him in love and generosity, but that cannot happen. His love surpasses all our imagining. Today, let us take a moment to talk to God about our state in life and resolve to let him be actively present in our everyday living. Could there be any better way to prepare for Christmas than to open the doors of our hearts? Christ is there, knocking, asking to be allowed inside so he can heal us and make us whole again. It’s almost shocking to discover that we can please him simply by turning to him and letting him pick us up from where we’ve fallen and restore us to full friendship with him. Shouldn’t we permit Our Lord that pleasure, especially when the only cost is admitting our tremendous need for him, confessing our sins and inviting him back into our hearts, where he belongs?
Conversation with Christ: Lord, I know my countless falls provide me countless occasions to encounter you as the Good Shepherd, since without fail you come to pick me up again. Instead of wallowing in a sterile self-pity at the misery of my sinfulness, I intend to delight more in your tender mercy. I know this trusting attitude will please you.
Resolution: Each time I fall today, I will get back up again immediately, because I will have confidence in my Good Shepherd’s loving mercy.
The Kingdom Is Near by Father Edward Hopkins, LC
Jesus told his disciples a parable. "Consider the fig tree and all the other trees. When their buds burst open, you see for yourselves and know that summer is now near; in the same way, when you see these things happening, know that the Kingdom of God is near. Amen, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away."
Introductory Prayer: Dear Jesus, I believe in you and in the Kingdom you are building in and through me. I believe in the value of my sacrifice and struggles united to yours. I hope to arrive to heaven when you say it is time. I wish to spend myself for those I should love the most.
Petition: Thy kingdom come, now and forever!
1. See for Yourselves: In today’s Gospel, Jesus is responding to the disciples’ anxious plea for a “when” and a “with what warning” the end will come (Luke 21:7). He tells them some signs that will precede the imminent fall of Jerusalem as well as the coming of the Son of Man “on the clouds.” But these will all be very apparent, like the coming of summer. So don’t be obsessed with figuring out the “when.” Focus on living and knowing the Kingdom of God now. How easily we are distracted with all that happens around us, yet how difficult it is to be aware of the Kingdom and its demands in my heart and my relations to others in my life! What efforts do I make to discover and know the present demands of his Kingdom in my life?
2. The Kingdom of God Will Come: Jesus has used many images to describe the Kingdom of God. Like the mustard seed, it is hard to recognize at first. It begins small and grows slowly. But it will come, and this must be our daily prayer of desire: “Thy Kingdom Come!” We must resist a very real temptation. Almost unconsciously we want it to be a worldly Kingdom that will come during our lifetime. We work and pray as though we will soon arrive at our goals and rest from all our spiritual labors. This leads us to get easily discouraged at our lack of progress in prayer and virtue, no less than with the problems that surround us. No, we must live with hope, pushing forward with growing confidence that the Lord will bring his Kingdom to fulfillment, both in us and in the world – when the time is right. Whose kingdom am I seeking?
3. My Words Will Not Pass Away: Another temptation in awaiting the Kingdom is to despair of the times of trial through which we must pass. But in the words of St. Theresa of Jesus, “all things pass,” only God remains. Nothing we suffer will remain as the Kingdom approaches. And yet all these “trials” are the most valuable and powerful means to bring about the Kingdom in our own souls and in the lives of others, especially in those who wander. Use the tools of the Kingdom: Suffer trials with faith, and respond with a love that gives them an eternal value. May we never lose a moment in which to merit graces and build the Kingdom that comes. In the end, only what we have done for God and for our brothers and sisters remains.
Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, give me a greater faith and confidence that every cross and burden, no matter how trivial or small, is a means to love. I want to build your Kingdom with you. Keep me focused on the opportunities and demands of the present moment.
Resolution: I will make one small sacrifice at a meal today for someone I wish I could help more.
Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O Lord.
Funny how some people never ask for help until everything comes crashing in on them. They wait until the last minute, then send out the distress signal. Many people work their relationship with God that way. They call on him infrequently while things are going well, but when trouble rears its ugly head, they are pounding on his door for help. It is a wise person who learns to include God in everything he does. When God is a full part of your life you never feel panic when things go wrong. Still it is good to know that God will hear us when we cry out from the depths, and that he will always come to the aid of his children. Are you truly one of his children?
Prayer: Help me to remember You at all times, Lord, not just times of trial. Help me to share my whole life with you and to glory in Your Presence. Thank you for staying beside me always. Amen
And I chose to have Wisdom rather than the light, because the splendor of her never yields to sleep.
The beauty of the unconscious is that it knows a great deal, whether personal or collective, but it always knows that it does not know, cannot say, dare not try to prove or assert too strongly, because what it does know is that there is always more--and all words will fall short. The contemplative is precisely the person who agrees to live in that unique kind of brightness(a combination of light and dark that is brighter still). The paradox, of course, is that it does not feel like brightness at all, but what John of the Cross calls a "luminous darkness", or others call "learned ignorance". You cannot grow in this great art form, the integration of action and contemplation, without a strong tolerance for ambiguity, an ability to allow, forgive, and contain a certain degree of anxiety, and a willingness to not know and not even need to know. That is how you allow and encounter mystery. This is true faith. All else is religion.