Saturday, January 25, 2014

Third Sunday, Ordinary Time "Anguish has taken wing, dispelled is darkness": Repentance invites the Light which shines to break the gloom and shadow of death

"Anguish has taken wing, dispelled is darkness: for there is no gloom where but now there was distress." Isaiah 8

The anguish and gloom which afflict the human person are spiritual realities which oppress the intellect and will and which no earthly power can vanquish. There are various sources of darkness which the person experiences but the most needless of all, and the most preventable, is the alienation from self, from God and others brought by sin, the evil which man and woman bring upon themselves by their own free choices.  This "walking in darkness" does not end here, however, it ushers in a gloom which is the greatest threat for it is one which can go on forever.

The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom
a light has shone.
You have brought them abundant joy
and great rejoicing,
as they rejoice before you as at the harvest,
as people make merry when dividing spoils. Isaiah 8

Now, in Christ, God has given to man and woman an answer left by the question that is Adam and Eve. Now, by a repentance which is a cooperation with God's gift, man and woman can break free from the oppression and gloom, the reality of evil, which is every sin. This is what is meant by the dire expression "the shadow of death" for it is sin which truly invites death for, as a result of it, man and woman loose the life of justice and love in God which can forever separate them from His light and life which alone can last beyond what we see and know here and now. The glorious light of the sun itself will dim one day forever but brilliant light of God which shines forth in Christ the Savior is eternal.

Jesus Christ indicates the way to go in His initial proclamation of His Kingdom:

"Jesus began to preach and say, 'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.' ” Matthew 4

In Christ we now have access to God when we say that we are sorry for sin and hear his response, "Ego te absolvo." For us the power of the Cross is poured forth through the Resurrection life of the Lord in the sacramental life. This is the reason why we always seek forgiveness for the most serious sins, those which are mortal, in Confession which is the opportunity to express sincere sorrow to the One who loves us so much as to give us His only Son on the Cross.

The absolution of Christ in confession restores true light because it gives again God's eternal life of grace.

Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever. Amen.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time: "You are my servant"

You are my servant.”

What does it mean to be a servant? For Christ it meant doing the Father’s will by dying for our salvation on the Cross as the Suffering Servant for all of mankind. Thus we know that through serving us God demonstrates His love for us. For John the Baptist it meant prophetic proclamation of the Lord Jesus Christ as the Lamb of God.

For you and me, being a servant means much the same as it did for John: “He must increase, I must decrease.”

The first quality of a servant is the ability to wait, the virtue of patience.

"I have waited, waited for the LORD, and he stooped toward me and heard my cry."

Having heard the Lord as a gift through patient attentiveness, a practice of love in prayer, we then have something of meaning to say, a reason for praising Him.

"And he put a new song into my mouth, a hymn to our God."

One of the ways that God puts a song into our mouths is through His holy Word in the Scriptures and, as we see here, in the Psalms. The Scriptures direct us back to being with God, to loving Him in daily life by seeking and doing His will.

“In the written scroll it is prescribed for me, to do your will, O my God, is my delight, and your law is within my heart!”

True fulfillment is not worldly happiness or satisfaction but rather doing God’s will. The results of that can be painful as they were for both John who was beheaded and for Christ who gave His life.

We have here no lasting city. We must lay up treasure in heaven if we wish to be rich in what truly matters. Acting in faith is the first step which leads to the total joy of sanctification in God’s image and likeness. Witness to the suffering servanthood of our Savior Jesus Christ through praise at Mass and in life:

“I announced your justice in the vast assembly; I did not restrain my lips, as you, O LORD, know.”

Thursday, January 16, 2014

"Fight manfully" and "make me clean."

"So fight manfully!” -1 Sam 4:1-11

“If you wish, you can make me clean.” - Mk 1:40-45

In Christ through His death on the Cross God fights manfully to make us clean of sin so as to share with us His Resurrection.

“I do will it. Be made clean.”

Fight sin manfully with Christ whose Cross is made effective through forgiveness of sins in Confession.

Christ died so that you could live. Fight manfully.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Feast of the Baptism of the Lord: "to fulfill all righteousness" 

"Thus says the LORD: Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one with whom I am pleased, upon whom I have put my spirit; he shall bring forth justice to the nations"     -Is 42:1-4, 6-7

Jesus Christ is the chosen one of God. In Him the Father is well pleased. Why does He use the sign of repentance in baptism through the ministry of John?

In our liturgy this Sunday we celebrate the feast of the Baptism of the Lord. Although he had no need to repent, being sinless, Christ submitted to the sign of repentance through baptism by John to show that through His Passion, death and Resurrection we now have the means to repent, to be found pleasing to the Father because of Him.

“The baptism of Jesus is on his part the acceptance and inauguration of his mission as God's suffering Servant. He allows himself to be numbered among sinners; he is already "the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world". Already he is anticipating the "baptism" of his bloody death. Already he is coming to "fulfill all righteousness", that is, he is submitting himself entirely to his Father's will: out of love he consents to this baptism of death for the remission of our sins. The Father's voice responds to the Son's acceptance, proclaiming his entire delight in his Son. The Spirit whom Jesus possessed in fullness from his conception comes to "rest on him". Jesus will be the source of the Spirit for all mankind. At his baptism "the heavens were opened" - the heavens that Adam's sin had closed - and the waters were sanctified by the descent of Jesus and the Spirit, a prelude to the new creation.” (CCC 536)

Friday, January 3, 2014

Epiphany and Christmastide: "he has given us of his Spirit"

Moreover, we have seen and testify
that the Father sent his Son as savior of the world.
Whoever acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God,
God remains in him and he in God.

The Word became flesh for us in order to save us by reconciling us with God, who "loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins": "the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world", and "he was revealed to take away sins":

Sick, our nature demanded to be healed; fallen, to be raised up; dead, to rise again. We had lost the possession of the good; it was necessary for it to be given back to us. Closed in the darkness, it was necessary to bring us the light; captives, we awaited a Savior; prisoners, help; slaves, a liberator. Are these things minor or insignificant? Did they not move God to descend to human nature and visit it, since humanity was in so miserable and unhappy a state?
-- CCC 457

Art: Adoration of the Wise Men, Murillo