|THE WORD AND THE SPIRIT||
During Holy Week, we turn attention to the Paschal Mystery, which “has two aspects: by His death, Christ liberates us from sin; by His Resurrection, He opens for us the way to a new life” (CCC 654). This article is meant to help us follow in Jesus’ footsteps “with all faith and devotion,” as Palm Sunday exhorts us to do. Along the way, we will notice how in His living, dying, and rising again, Jesus reveals the depth of God’s love for us.
In Genesis 2:1-3a we read: “Thus the heavens and the earth and all their array were completed. On the seventh day God completed the work he had been doing; he rested... God blessed the seventh day and made it holy.” The Sabbath was created by God not for Himself but for man to know that he should stop working, turn to the Creator, and worship! Since seven is a deeply symbolic number in Scripture, signifying perfection, God wanted us to exercise our role as priest, as we are anointed at baptism. With the Third Commandment given through Moses on Mount Sinai, God calls us to “remember the sabbath day—keep it holy…You shall not do any work” (Ex 20:8,10a).
Jesus said to his disciples: “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Lk 6:36).
Out of the ten synonyms of “mercy” cited in the Thesaurus, three words struck me: compassion, forgiveness, and sympathy. From these synonyms, how do we practice mercy in our daily encounters with our family, friends or strangers? When we encounter a homeless person, do we show contempt because the person does not meet our standards of being “human” or compassion, by going out of our way to offer money or food? When a loved one hurts us intentionally, do we easily accept the person’s request for reconciliation, or do we hold the person in contempt and continue to let bitterness rule our heart and mind? When an acquaintance or co-worker encounters a trial in life, do we reach out with compassion; or do we simply ignore what happened, thinking and even judging, that it was his fault and that he is deserving of such a fate.
The first reading from Jeremiah shifts the focus of the covenant from the nation of Israel to the individual person’s heart. “I will place my law within them and write it upon their hearts; I will be their God and they shall be my people”(Jer 31:33b). The new covenant does not give a new set of rules, but it tells us that it is now written in our hearts. We will learn from and respond to God directly as He speaks directly and individually to each one of us.
In the Second Book of Chronicles, we read of God’s compassion and mercy towards His chosen people, despite their sinfulness and infidelity. Although God allowed the destruction of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans and the exile to Babylon of the Jews, He did not allow them to perish. By awakening in them a deep yearning for His love, He drew them back to Himself and called them to repentance. In forgiveness God inspired Cyrus, the King of Persia, to issue a decree permitting the exiles to return to Jerusalem and help rebuild the temple.
But his servants came up and reasoned with him. “My father,” they said, “if the prophet had told you to do something extraordinary, would you not have done it? All the more now, since he said to you, ‘Wash and be clean,’ should you do as he said.” (2 Kgs 5:13)
Like Naaman, we always look for the “extraordinary” in things. The more mind-blowing, the more miraculous, the better we think something is. That’s why the Israelites couldn’t accept Jesus as their Savior, he wasn’t flashy, wasn’t extraordinary like David’s bravery or Solomon’s wisdom. He was the son of a carpenter, born in a stable; how could He save the world? Personally, I have experienced the Naaman in me many times and continue to struggle with it.
One of the articles in the CN that came out a couple of weeks ago reflected on the sin of gossip and how those who are guilty of it often don’t even realize it. The same thing can be said of the sin of self-righteousness. Saturday’s gospel about the Pharisee and the tax collector (Lk 18:10-14) illustrates this point very clearly. In fact, if asked, most people would usually identify with the humble tax collector. Even after being in BLD for many years, I find it not very difficult to imagine myself in the Pharisee’s shoes. What do you suppose a modern-day Pharisee might be thinking?
While the Holy Spirit exuded its presence throughout the BLD Emergence, it also asserted its spiritual and healing prowess in the Youth ministry during the Youth Life in the Spirit Seminar #20 last weekend. The ministry was blessed with 29 willing candidates (20 from BLD Newark YM, 5 from St. Antoninus and 4 from DMP CCD Formation).
Our Order for this week sounds simple enough: “Listen to him.” But what does this really mean for a disciple of Christ in the BLD community?
We don’t just take the word of anyone, much less accept it. But if it’s someone who speaks with authority, people listen (Mark 1:22-27). Today’s Gospel passage portrays a Voice coming from heaven, from Him Who has supreme authority.
Just recently, a phrase from a praise song got stuck in my head, repeated itself over and over: “We’ll see Jesus face to face.” So I started reflecting on what that would be like. I thought of songs like There Will Be a Day by Jeremy Camp and I Can Only Imagine, which I like very much because it anticipates someday being in His presence.
To nurture and promote the love of the Gospel of Christ.