Monday, March 27, 2017

Mountains crumble with every syllable

Eschatology.  This is the theology of the end of time.  The judgement.  The Day of the Lord.  Where humankind will realize it's final destiny and either be found among the righteous believers by the grace of God, or choose to be sent away into the darkness of despair.   This mornings first reading is definitely about that time period.  God promises a new heaven, a new earth, a place where there are no tears or sorrows.  I've been hearing about this from different ecclesial communities for the majority of my life.  The thing is though, many of us often spend so much time worrying about the then, that we forget to focus on the now.  We forget that the Kingdom of God while an end time reality, is also present here and now in a different way.   That we can experience God now, here, in this moment.. the present.. the moment where eternity meets the now.

es·cha·tol·o·gy
ˌeskəˈtäləjē/
noun
  1. the part of theology concerned with death, judgment, and the final destiny of the soul and of humankind.


 I remember men and women who would spend all their time begging for the end of time to come, while neglecting themselves, their families, their homes and jobs.   All because they felt it useless to do anything with the material world, and only to live for the end of time.  As a Catholic I realize though that it's both.   We must live, as St. Paul said, as one running a race.  Bringing Christ present in our thoughts, words, and deeds; and keeping our eyes, as it were, on the prize.   We can experience heaven right here on earth.. in our families, in our friends, even in our jobs, and most especially in our worship.  The Eucharist is the sacrament that allows heaven to touch earth!   The Mass is a moment when the two coincide so completely that Jesus is made present, just as he said he would be.   That doesn't mean the Church is perfect, or that the people that are in it are perfect, but that we can grow towards that perfection now.  That we can allow Christ to enter us in the Sacrament of the Altar and begin to turn us into small reflections of himself.

1049 "Far from diminishing our concern to develop this earth, the expectancy of a new earth should spur us on, for it is here that the body of a new human family grows, foreshadowing in some way the age which is to come. That is why, although we must be careful to distinguish earthly progress clearly from the increase of the kingdom of Christ, such progress is of vital concern to the kingdom of God, insofar as it can contribute to the better ordering of human society." 

How do we get there?  How do we become the people who live in the present, already in the Kingdom of God in some way?   Through prayer.   I'm not just talking about rote prayers, or prayers of petition and need... those are good but we have to go further.  I mean doing as St. Paul says, praying at all times without ceasing.  Living our life in a way that every action we make, every move is for the Kingdom.   Making washing dishes a prayer to God.   Turning digging a ditch into a moment of worship.  Speaking to God in both silence and in with words. Treating every single moment as a gift, and as a moment in which you do what you are doing for God and not just for man. Realizing with a radical gratitude that Christ is speaking to us at all times, and we should be responding at all times.  Peace in every step, love in every heartbeat.  Being so open to God that He can call you up into an intimate union, into a contemplative experience in which you get to glimpse the beatific vision.   Are you open to that, willing for that?

2616 Prayer to Jesus is answered by him already during his ministry, through signs that anticipate the power of his death and Resurrection: Jesus hears the prayer of faith, expressed in words (the leper, Jairus, the Canaanite woman, the good thief) or in silence (the bearers of the paralytic, the woman with a hemorrhage who touches his clothes, the tears and ointment of the sinful woman). The urgent request of the blind men, "Have mercy on us, Son of David" or "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" has-been renewed in the traditional prayer to Jesus known as the Jesus Prayer: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!" Healing infirmities or forgiving sins, Jesus always responds to a prayer offered in faith: "Your faith has made you well; go in peace."
St. Augustine wonderfully summarizes the three dimensions of Jesus' prayer: "He prays for us as our priest, prays in us as our Head, and is prayed to by us as our God. Therefore let us acknowledge our voice in him and his in us."
As St. Augustine said in the Catechism quote "Therefore let us acknowledge our voice in him and his in us."  The Baptized are fully a part of the body of Christ.   Our voice is speaking from that source.   Therefore as Christians let our yes, be yes, and our no, be no.  That means every word that we speak should come from the source of truth, it should be true and loving, because we are made in the image of truth itself.   The image of love itself.  Jesus words never brought death of anyone else.   They always brought life.  Jesus spoke and the royal official believed... and do you not think that the reason his entire house hold became to believe in God, in Jesus as the Christ, because they glimpsed what heaven is like?  Resurrection.  Life.  Love.   That's our challenge today.. are you speaking life?  Or death? Love? or Hate?  Heaven?  Or Hell?  Regardless of what the other says to you? 



His servant and yours, 
Brian Mullins

"He must increase, I must decrease." 

A reflection on the readings for Monday of the Fourth Week of Lent: March 27, 2017.