Monday, January 18, 2016

Breathe In Me, Father Breathe in Me

Tomorrow at Daily Mass we continue the story of the Prophet Samuel.  Today we talked about how that God had rejected Saul for not being obedient, for not listening.  So God sends Samuel to anoint a young Shepherd Boy.  David was the King that everyone looked up to in Jesus time.  Solomon was great, but David was greater.  Not because David was perfect.  Oh no, all of us know that David was a very flawed man.  From adultery to murder, he was a sinner just like the rest of us.  He though had a propensity for doing God's will. Because of this God had him anointed as King of the chosen people.  That's what we need to be doing isn't it?  Trying to do God's will.  Discerning what God wants in a given situation, and then going and doing that... regardless of the cost.

The thing about it is, like David, we are going to fail sometimes.  Our kids are watching.  Our families are watching.  Our friends are watching.   That's ok.  We should fail.  We aren't perfect.  The thing is, what are you doing when you fail?  David gives us the example of how this should be.  When he realized he had sinned against God he immediately confessed his sins and turned back to God.  That's what we need to be teaching, through our words and actions.   Not that we are perfect, not some kind of egotistical piety, but rather... a true piety... A sincere confession.  One like David proclaimed in Psalm 51 when he poured out his heart poetically:


Have mercy on me, God, in your kindness.
In your compassion blot out my offense.
O wash me more and more from my guilt
and cleanse me from my sin.

My offenses truly I know them;
my sin is always before me
Against you, you alone, have I sinned;
what is evil in your sight I have done.

That you may be justified when you give sentence
and be without reproach when you judge,
O see, in guilt I was born,
a sinner was I conceived.

Indeed you love truth in the heart;
then in the secret of my heart teach me wisdom.
O purify me, then I shall be clean;
O wash me, I shall be whiter than snow.
 

David was God's anointed.  He was chosen, anointed, and given authority.  He was a prototype for someone to come.  You see, Messiah means anointed.  Jesus is the Messiah, God's anointed par excellence.  Jesus came doing God's will perfectly.  He gave us the example of how to live.  That's why we must begin to slowly become more like our Lord and Savior.  Our goal in this life is to be like Him, to grow more holy and to become Saints.   That's what Baptism is about.  In Baptism we are anointed Priest, Prophet, and King.   We too are anointed.. we are little Christ's.  In Confirmation we are strengthened, again by the Holy Spirit with the oil.  We are sent into the world as part of the body of Christ to bring about God's will.   We should strive to be more like Jesus, more like David, in that we work to make it a habit to do God's will.   We need to become predisposed to always follow God in everything we do.  We might fail.  Our response to the failure should be like David's.   We should come to God in Confession and then get back on that horse. 

How do we do this?  Frequent reception of the Sacraments is a good start.  The Eucharist is an amazing thing.  It's the only food that you can eat.. that consumes you.  You have to let it though.  Think for just a moment about what we believe.   We believe that Jesus Christ is coming into our bodies, all of Him.  The power that created the universe.   The power that holds it all together.   The creator, the almighty, God himself.. comes inside of us.  We can't consume him... unless he let's us... and likewise, we have free will.. he won't consume us, unless we ask him to. 

Jesus talks about the Sabbath to the Pharisees.  They are accusing him of breaking the Law.   His disciples are picking grain and eating it.  Jesus reminds them that there are obligations, sacrifices that must be made on the Sabbath.  The Book of Numbers (28:9) talks about work that must be done on the Sabbath.  That work does not violate the Sabbath, why?  Because it is serving God.   Jesus reminds us time and time again that serving others IS serving God.  That when work needs to be done to heal, to share, to love... then do it.  The Sabbath was made for our rest.  We weren't made for the Sabbath, it was made for us.  We rest when we have to.  We worship God... but we never stop caring or loving. 

As we continue through these few weeks of Ordinary time, we must begin to realize that Lent begins in just a few more weeks.  Lent is a time in which we give up something.  I think we should think carefully this year.  Lent is not a time for just giving up something, but rather a time to change.  It's a time to give up something that draws you closer to God.  Sure, give up chocolate... that's fine.. but what do you do with it?  Go further.  We are challenged by the church to do three things.  Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving.  Prayer is often easy enough.  Plenty of Stations of the Cross, Divine Office gatherings, Adoration hours etc during Lent.  Fasting most Catholics are pretty good at.  We choose something to give up.  Facebook, chocolate, coffee, smoking.  The Almsgiving though.. that one I think all Christians can work on.

So this year, as you think about what to give up.. ask yourself.. If I give up chocolate.. what can I do with the money I would have spent on that chocolate?   If I am giving up coffee?  How much do I spend on coffee... then go out and give that money to a worthy cause.  There are plenty of people out there who can use it.  The poor.  The refugee.  The veteran.  The widow.  The orphan.   That's what Lent is about.  You are to be a little Christ.. a deliverer, a messiah, one to lead people out of oppression.  You are to free the captive.  Part the waters.  Feed them.   Provide for them.  Guide them. 

Then when Lent is over it isn't supposed to stop!  Lent is supposed to be a time to draw you closer to Christ.. to allow God's spirit to so overwhelm you that when people look at you, they begin to glimpse Christ himself.  In your words.  In your actions.  In your love. 





Augustine wrote, “Verbum caro factum est, et habitavit in nobis; illi carni adjungitur ecclesia, et fit Christus totus, caput et corpus - “The Word was made flesh, and dwelled among us; to that flesh is joined the church, and there is made the whole Christ, head and body.” (On the Epistle of John 1.2)
 

Think about that for a moment.  Christ is the head.. but we are the body.  We receive Him in the Sacraments.   We become priest, prophet and king.   That means we are to show people how to worship, how to have a relationship with God.    We are to bring God's word to them.  In season, and out of season.  We are to speak about Jesus, speak about love, speak about the Word.  We are to aid in reformation, and admonish, but above all to love.   Then we are to protect, to guide and provide for.  A good king is not a tyrant, but rather a defender.  A man who steps up for the one who cannot speak for themselves.. those forgotten.. .those marginalized by society.  He doesn't just care about those subjects in his court.. but all of his country, all of his people. 

That is our challenge, to realize our anointing, realize our need to serve God at all times.. and to realize that it is in serving others... that we serve Him best. 

“At the end of life we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we have done. We will be judged by "I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was naked and you clothed me. I was homeless, and you took me in.”
Mother Teresa

I don't know about you, but I have work to do.  Let's not forget the refugee, the widow, the orphan, the unborn... Let us live our baptismal calling as more than just a Sunday devotion, but as a way of life... Let's allow Christ to come into our bodies and consume us, to change us, to make us more like Him.. that we too might partake of his divine nature and be transformed into an eternal being, a being made of pure love.

His servant and yours,

Brian

"He must increase, I must decrease."