As we begin a new liturgical year, I begin a new effort to share my reflective thoughts from the daily practice of reading spiritual and devotional texts and the corresponding impressions gained in the hope that some may enliven your day.
“The knowledge that Jesus came to dress our mortal bodies with immortality must help us develop an inner desire to be born to a new eternal life with him and encourage us to find ways to prepare for it.”
Isn’t this the conversion of life we speak of? Isn’t this the focus of our mission efforts – to accompany others in their seeking a new life in Christ? Jesus makes this a very simple truth, either you’re for him or you’re against him. Our discipleship should be one of living the light of his love that draws the lost to seek the reason for our hope.
“Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed” Mt 8:8.
I am a point in my life when death is closer – for me and those I love. I have watched close friends go through the pain of faithful prayers for healing not being answered with the continuation of life. But was the prayer answered? Was the prayer answered in a way that our loved ones suffering ended – but only with their passing from this earthly existence? How does this affect my prayers today for those needing the Lord’s healing touch? Is my faith strong enough to believe in what I cannot see? Do I trust that in all things He is there?
“Lord, I am not worthy”
It’s a challenge that continues to raise its spiritual head in vocational service, the self-induced shackles of unworthiness we often face in the interaction with the miseries of life. The meditation from Archbishop Luis Martinez encourages us to fight the good fight: “Our miseries are no obstacle to Jesus’ repose in our souls, for in his merciful love he takes the sins of the world as he accepted the straw of the manger . . . our miseries give a fragrance of earth to the place where Jesus rests. He loves this fragrance . . . let nothing deter the soul then from inviting the divine Spouse to rest within her.” Let us rest in the tender, caressing love of the Lord.
The Word Among Us
“they shall beat their swords into plowshares” Is 2:4
What are our swords? Maybe not a metallic object this verse embodies but an even sharper one – our tongue. Have our words fostered peace and grudges? Do they uplift or tear down? Advent is a time of hope, faith, joy, and peace. What a wonderful path of grace and mercy is found in reconciliation. This is a path that will allow us to surrender our behavioral swords that hurt others so we can take steps towards making peace in our relationships.
Give Us This Day
“Truly, I have not found such faith in Israel” Mt 8:10.
Archbishop Oscar Romero speaks directly to the focus of our Christian lives – a heart and action for the least, the lost and the forgotten. Speaking from his city of San Salvador, he said, “I know that the Spirit is not the monopoly of a movement, even of a Christian movement; of a hierarchy, or priesthood, or religious congregation. The Spirit is free, and he wants men and women, wherever they are . . . I know that some people come to the cathedral who have even lost the faith or are non-Christians. Let them be welcome.” Shouldn’t that be the daily message in every church and home?
“The Perennial Tradition includes truths within Catholic, Franciscan, Episcopalian, Calvinist, Lutheran, and other Christian denominations and orders. It also embraces wisdom within Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, and Islam.”
Martin Luther King noted, “If we are to have peace on earth, our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Our loyalties must transcend our race, our tribe, our class, and our nation; and this means we must develop a world perspective.”
Thomas Merton challenges our thought of singular truth as he repeats the statement of the great Doctor of the Church, Thomas Aquinas, “if it was true, it was always from the one Holy Spirit.” Merton warned us that religion could not survive if it remained “clannish.” We need to remain open to the truths of life. Doesn’t loving one another dictate a need to listen to them? This practice would seem to be in line with Christ’s command to “love our neighbor.”