Friday, March 31, 2017

A sense of presence.

There is an interesting phenomenon that occurs when someone or something Holy is present.  People who would otherwise use vulgar and rude language seem to have  a filter installed the moment they enter the Church sanctuary.   One who tells raunchy jokes is often more aware of their content the moment a devout Christian is in their presence.   "I'm sorry, I know you don't like that."   There is an opposite response too.  People get annoyed when that person is there at times.  "He's such a buzz kill!"  "Don't invite her, we won't be able to joke."  The very presence of one who is filled with the Spirit can be obnoxious to someone who is very worldly.  Often just the sight of a crucifix on someone's neck or a roman collar will change the very tone of the room, not always for the good.

CCC 2097 To adore God is to acknowledge, in respect and absolute submission, the "nothingness of the creature" who would not exist but for God. To adore God is to praise and exalt him and to humble oneself, as Mary did in the Magnificat, confessing with gratitude that he has done great things and holy is his name. The worship of the one God sets man free from turning in on himself, from the slavery of sin and the idolatry of the world.

The first reading today talks about that.   An unknown man is being described, but we two thousand years later can figure out who He is.  They decide to take him down because they are annoyed that He makes them look bad.  Those who live the life they want don't want to be reprimanded for going against morality or ethics.  "I'll do me, you do you."  That's why so many want relativism to reign.  They think as long as it doesn't physically harm someone else, they should be free to do whatever they want.   That isn't freedom though.  Freedom is not being a slave to your desires.   It's being able to choose what is truly good for you and for others, even when it isn't what you want.  It's not surprising that thousands of years later the just ones are still being attacked for making others face the mirror.   From the Little Sisters of the Poor being forced to provide morally offensive services through health insurance by the previous administration, to the genocide of Christians occurring through the middle east.

581 The Jewish people and their spiritual leaders viewed Jesus as a rabbi. He often argued within the framework of rabbinical interpretation of the Law. Yet Jesus could not help but offend the teachers of the Law, for he was not content to propose his interpretation alongside theirs but taught the people "as one who had authority, and not as their scribes". In Jesus, the same Word of God that had resounded on Mount Sinai to give the written Law to Moses, made itself heard anew on the Mount of the Beatitudes. Jesus did not abolish the Law but fulfilled it by giving its ultimate interpretation in a divine way: "You have heard that it was said to the men of old. . . But I say to you. . ." With this same divine authority, he disavowed certain human traditions of the Pharisees that were "making void the word of God".

The readings are growing in intensity and today we see how annoyed the world had become with Jesus himself.  They want to kill him and the only thing stopping them is that it isn't time yet by God's plan.  They are no longer hiding their anger, they are openly hostile to Jesus and his teaching.  Not because it doesn't fit the Torah, but because it doesn't fit what they want in their lives.   They are comfortable where they are.  They have grown to enjoy their religion just the way it is.  They don't want to grow.   That's a dangerous place to be.  Anytime we decide we already know it all, we have made ourselves into a god.  We should always be willing to let God grow in us, to make us more like Him.  Are we doing that this Lent?  Are we journeying to Easter with an open mind and heart?  It's more than just intellectual knowledge we need.. it's a head to heart drop.. an encounter with the all encompassing and all powerful God Himself... who reaches out with human arms in the Incarnation to embrace us.

Are you excited for Easter?   Is there a growing sense of urgency in your life?  We aren't guaranteed tomorrow.  The world is growing more and more hostile towards Christianity and morality in general.  What was said only in the darkest alleys of the past is now proclaimed freely on daytime television.   Those acts which once would have been hidden in shame are now lauded in movies and books that Christian and non-Christian alike seem to attend freely.  Language that was once reserved for construction sites and brothels now flows from the lips of our children and labeled humor.  It's time to analyze our lives, our actions, our thoughts.   Then to ask ourselves.. are we feeling any of it?  Is the "world" accepting us just as we are?  Is there any difference in our way of life?  If we were on trial for being Christian, could the world convict us? Good thoughts to meditate as we draw near holy week.

His servant and yours,

"illum oportet crescere me autem minui"

A reflection on the readings for Friday of the Fourth Week of Ordinary Time: March 31, 2017