I want to know Jesus. I want to know Him on a level that changes who I am, and how I respond to others. With Thomas though I am often asking, "Lord we do not know where you are going? How can we know the way?" He has given us a guide in the Church, in the writings of the Fathers and Doctors. In the Sacraments. In the Mass. In each other. As I was walking home earlier I was meditating on the mysteries of the rosary. I gazed upon the tree leaves, the flowers, and the birds as I thought of the annunciation. The announcement of the angels to Mary that God was coming into the world in a way that would allow others to come face to face with Him. Nature itself calls out to that glory! It reminds us that God is calling us in the infinite structures of quantum mechanics, the beauty, and grandeur of the flowers and creatures. Announcing the love God has for us in pleasing things, and even in not so pleasing ones.
Then I began to meditate on the birth of Christ. The way in which God came into the world. Ah to have been there to see Him take His first breaths. To be nourished in that intimate and beautiful way that we have been designed to nurse. To watch as His eyes began to take in the world around Him and the people who had only begun to glimpse the mercy of God in action. An all powerful, omnipotent being willing to become like me... human, in all ways except sin. How can I be worthy to touch such? How can I even desire to draw so close to Him when I am so imperfect? So broken?
The Presentation at the Temple. Mary brought Jesus to the temple to present Him to the Priests and to offer a sacrifice that was unnecessary, but part of their faith. Mary represents the perfect disciple and in many ways the Church. I was struck by how that image reflected what had just occurred at Mass. The Church, like our Blessed Mother, had carried Jesus to me. St. Paul says that our bodies are temples of the living God. At Mass, the Annunciation occurs in the Gospel and in the words of Consecration. The Birth of Christ occurs in the transubstantiation. Christ is born into the world in an even more vulnerable state than before. Then He is presented to me, a temple to receive Him. Just like the temple of old, the place where God resides is transformed, made Holy.
Do we think of ourselves as Holy? St. Peter tells us in the second reading that we are a chosen race, a royal priesthood. Called from darkness into His wonderful light! Think on that for a moment. That's what I want to experience. Not in just an intellectual way. Not just in good feelings and emotions. Not just in consolations and desolations. In a way that is beyond words, in a communion that we call the beatific vision. I don't want to wait till Heaven to experience my Savior. I want to love Him here and now. I want to shout from the rooftops how wonderful He is and how He has changed my life.
There is a meme that goes around the internet from time to time. In it, a young woman tells her man to shout from the rooftops his love for her to the entire world! He leans in and whispers in her ear, "I love you." She pouts and demands to know why he was whispering it to her, and not to everyone else. He responds gently because you ARE my world. How much would we be changed if we felt that way about Jesus? There is an image that is used in the book fo revelation of the bride of Christ, that is the Church. It says that this most beautiful bride in Heaven is clothed in the "good works and deeds" of the Church, of you and I. My wife has made dresses. Communion gowns and wedding dresses, blankets and quilts, hats and stuffed animals for many people for many occasions. Everyone she does she works diligently and passionately, with love and prayer. I have seen her be days into sewing, literally hundreds of hours, and realize that it wasn't as pretty as she wanted it... At which point I might have thrown up my hands and said, "This is good enough!" Instead, she patiently tears out the threads, the knits, the pearls... and starts again. It has to be perfect.
Are we that way with God? Jesus says that whoever believes in me will do greater works than these because He is going to the Father and will send us the Holy Spirit. That's not just a promise from the past. It is for all eternity. Those of us baptized into Christ and into His Church are filled with that Spirit. Too often when called to do something good, to do something for God, we simply do it haphazardly. "It's good enough." Study the bible? Some days. Pray? When I need something. I forgot morning prayer, oh well I'll just start again tomorrow. Confession? Eh, what I did wasn't so bad. Sunday Mass? Ah, I'm tired, and besides, I went Wednesday. My wife has taught me a faith that I am often envious of. A faith that radiates from her. A faith that makes her compassionate, and giving. A faith that lets me know that in some ways, I already get to experience God in the way I desire, through her.
On Mother's day, let us draw close to the mothers in our lives. It is through them that life has been delivered into this world. In the marital act, we humans have been given the ability to join with God in that creative act by which life is made. Then those beautiful creatures we call women, when doing the vocation the way God intends, make life more bearable. They bear the load. Carrying more than any human should while their toddlers toddle along empty handed. Finding things for husbands who are clearly old enough to find them for themselves. Cooking meals while sick, driving people to concerts and parties while suffering from migraines or heartaches. Do we thank them for that? Do we see Jesus living through them in their magnificent sacrifices? Even if we do, I don't think we do it enough. To all of you Mothers out there, especially my wife Julie, may God bless you this Mother's day. May He bring you health, happy memories, and peace. May we be liked John at the foot of the cross, and accept Mother Mary into our own homes; and may we grow to be as close to Christ as she was, giving a resounding yes in our hearts to Him until He works through us to show you the love you deserve.
His servant and yours,
"Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my rock, and my redeemer. - Psalm 19:14
A reflection on the readings for Sunday of the Fifth Week of Easter: May 14th, 2017