Thursday, March 16, 2017

Like a deer to running streams

The world is a place where it is very difficult to remain chaste.  From the way many dress, the way we speak, to the advertisements that appear on a computer, the human heart is inundated with opportunities for an impure glance or thought.  Pornography is just a click away and what many years ago would have been hidden behind the counter or in a dark back room is now displayed proudly in the open.  It has become a desert of sorts in which faith is expected to be lived behind closed doors and not out in the public sphere.  I suppose it happens for each generation that their children grow up to be a little more liberal, a little more remiss in their dress, their thoughts, words, and actions.

Today we have this amazing image in the readings of a tree beside the stream of water.  While the rest of the world may be in famine and drought, the tree by the source of drink remains green and still bears fruit.  That to us should be some very clear imagery.   From the rock in the desert that Moses cleaved in two with a staff to bring forth drink to the Israelites, to the water that poured fourth from the side of Jesus on the cross, the bible is rife with expressions of water as both a gift from God and a necessity for life.   Rightly so as the people who lived, and continue to live, in Palestine know the reality better than most of us who have never experienced the life of a desert people.  Water is life giving.  It's necessary.

The beautiful thing about the Church that Christ set up before He ascended into Heaven is that we no longer have to be searching for a drop of grace here or there in the desert of the world.  Rather we can simply go to the stream that flows directly from the throne of God himself.   In a world that despises things of holiness, things of virtue, we need to become those trees that stand by the stream and continue to be green.   We should stand out.  Not because we are trying.  Not because we are wanting to draw attention.   Rather, because in a world where people are thirsting for God, they truly will notice when the 'water' is in your life.   They'll see your happiness.  Your joy.   Your ability to get through things with prayer.   The hope that is yours as a child of God.  They will want that, even if they don't quite understand it.

The question is, are we being a tree that bears fruit? The world is laying at our door step begging like Lazarus, covered in the sores of it's own sin.   The hounds of hell revel as they lick the wounds of iniquity and decay.   Are you offering life?   Or are you shutting yourself inside with the treasures you've been given, feasting on the grace of God without sharing it?  A quick test is to simply read the twenty fifth chapter of Matthew.   Jesus will remind you quickly that what you do for the least of these, you do for him.   How are we treating the refugee?  The widow?   The orphan?   The people with intellectual disabilities?  Our neighbor?  Our children?  Our spouses?  Is our tongue a weapon of life? Or death?  As Moses said to the people in the desert, Christ says to us now:  I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live, by loving the LORD, your God, obeying his voice, and holding fast to him. For that will mean life for you.   (cf. Deuteronomy 30:19-20)  Plant yourself firmly in the stream of the Church, make time for prayer, avail yourselves of the Sacraments, and then go out into the world and share the gift you've been given with those who so desperately need it.

His servant and yours,

"He must increase, I must decrease."

A reflection on the readings for daily Mass, Thursday of the second week of Lent: March 16, 2017.