Friday, July 1, 2016

What is the least I can do?

Mary Leads us Closer to Jesus
A Reflection on the readings for Friday of the thirteenth week of Ordinary Time, July 1, 2016.

Amos 8:4-6, 9-12
Psalm 119:2, 10, 20, 30, 40, 131
The Holy Gospel According to Saint Matthew 9:9-13

I almost did not write a blog today.  You see, my summer assignment was to write three days a week and every Sunday.   Then I read the readings today after reading Stu and Robert's blog and was convicted by them to look inward and ask myself why I am just doing the bare minimum.  Other weeks I have written all five week days.   This week I just felt down, worn... out of energy.   I had just mowed my yard and was laying back in the recliner when my alarm went off to remind me that we had Eucharist Benediction at 7 tonight.   So I went.  I am glad I did...

"If we but paused for a moment to consider attentively what takes place in this Sacrament, I am sure that the thought of Christ's love for us would transform the coldness of our hearts into a fire of love and gratitude."
- St. Angela of Foligno

You see Amos was talking to the people about something that we ourselves are very guilty of thousands of years later.   The people saw God as a burden, the Sabbath as a loss of money.  They were just punching their card and looking good to the people all the while bemoaning the day of rest that God provided them.  Then they left the temple, left the Sabbath and fixed their scales and cheated others to make up for the money they had lost by keeping their oath.  How often we do that today?  "How late can I show up to Mass? Do I have to hear the readings? Or just be their for communion?"   "When can I leave?  Do I have to wait for the song to be over?  The blessing?  Or just for the priest to leave the room?"  "Do I have to go this Thursday?  Is it a holy day of obligation?"  "What can't I do on Sunday?  Should I eat out or stay home?"  Always looking for the least we have to do, instead of realizing the gift we have been given.   Instead of asking "How long can I be there before? What time do the doors open?"  "Can I stay for a few minutes after to spend time with Jesus?"

God warned them that this sort of life of just doing the minimum led to a loss... it would lead to a day when the word of God would be gone from their presence.  A day when creation would realize how horrible a thing had been performed.   That day was on Calvary just around two thousand years ago.  As the Word of God hung on a cross and pronounced it was finished, creation itself groaned and mourned.  The sky darkened as if by night, the ground quaked and shook, the temple veil itself tore from the top to the bottom.  A man standing at the foot of the cross was converted instantly as He saw the Word's demise before his gentile eyes.   "Surely this man was innocent."  What would that be like?  That sense of emptiness?  That sense of longing?   That moment in which we realize that something is wrong, that something is missing from our lives?

"Our hearts are restless, till they rest in thee."  - St. Augustine 

That is exactly what we experience when we sin mortally.   When the Word is no longer visible to us, when the universe itself goes awry and we are unable to find happiness.   The Word comes again to us in the Sacrament of Penance to make us whole, to complete us.  He is resurrected!    He wants you to be resurrected too!   That thing you are missing, that happiness and joy you are seeking.. is found right here, in the Eucharist.. in the Holy Sacraments of the Catholic Church.   Don't just punch your card.. find time for this relationship with the Son.   He wants to be a part of your life and you, you have been seeking Him from the moment of your conception.  It's time to put Him in your schedule first.. then add the rest of the things in your day around Him.   That's when we find joy.. that's when we find love...

So do they know you by that?   The Sacred Scriptures remind us that they will know we are Christians by our love for one another.  A saying attributed to Gandhi goes "I like your Christ.. but I do not like your Christians."   That's because what they see when they look at us alone is creation groaning... our soul darkened and shadow.. our very being quaking and the veil of our soul ripping as it cries out to the world the emptiness it feels when God is taken from it's presence..... Are you ready for Him to come in and fill you so completely that your heart overflows with joy?  It's the year of Mercy.. and Reconciliation is just a moment away.

In the life of the body a man is sometimes sick, and unless he takes medicine, he will die. Even so in the spiritual life a man is sick on account of sin. For that reason he needs medicine so that he may be restored to health; and this grace is bestowed in the Sacrament of Penance. - St. Thomas Aquinas

His servant and yours,

"He must increase, I must decrease."