|THE WORD AND THE SPIRIT||
During the month of May Catholics traditionally honor Mary, the mother of God. Marian devotions predominate during May centering around “Mothers’ Day” and even first Communion. The rosary is a favorite all year round. It can be used as a vocal prayer, but primarily it is a method of mental prayer. The mental prayer aspect can be looked at in a number of different ways. When for instance St. Ignatius of Loyola uses the word “contemplation” he is using it almost in an opposite sense than St. John of the Cross. Ignatius will emphasize the “composition of place”, picturing the events in the life of Jesus or Mary in one’s imagination.
From the earliest days the apostles encountered hostility from the Jewish leaders just as Jesus Himself had. Even so, the First Reading shows “Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 4:8) fearlessly proclaiming to them the risen Christ; that he had cured a man, crippled from birth, through the power of One whom the Sanhedrin had thought was silenced forever when they forced Pilate to crucify Him. By rejecting Christ as the true Messiah, they had fulfilled the Messianic prophecy: “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.” (Ps 118:22)
Whenever we open our spirits and hearts to Jesus, we allow Him to touch us inwardly and we respond to His invitation: “Touch me and see”. During this personal encounter with Jesus, our hearts burn within us, burn with love for one another, as our Risen King, the Living Word, through the power of the Holy Spirit, opens up the meaning of the Sacred Scripture to us and brings us to the fullness of truth.
What is a promise? Webster’s Dictionary defines it as “a pledge that one will or will not do something; a basis or cause for high hopes or expectation.” We often use that word in statements we make to our children or to other people to shore up or support what we say. And when we fail to keep our word or promise it reveals something about our character.
On the first Easter, Jesus Christ rose from the dead to a life that never ends, bringing God’s pure light to a world of darkness. This Sunday’s Gospel narrates how the Risen Lord broke into the darkness that enshrouded the Apostles’ faith, enlightening them to the truth of God in Christ.
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.
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.
Fasting is an ancient spiritual practice wherein people abstain from food and water. It was done mainly to stir up the zeal, renew the dedication, and increase the love for God, by humbling ourselves and realizing our dependence on Him. Among human needs and activities, eating is most fundamental. Thus, when God tested Adam and Eve, it was through abstaining from eating a specific food. Redemption was made appropriately by Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the second Adam, by giving us His body as our food and His blood as our drink.
As we approach the challenging time of Lent, (Ash Wednesday, Feb. 18) we who are serious about the spiritual life, enter this period of the Church year with a determination to make these weeks spiritually productive. If we take the liturgical seasons of the Church year as a personal challenge, we will profit in some way through our determination to use the time well. Most of us want to use the time productively, and will often line up a number of programs to begin, such as more prayer, Mass attendance, “giving something up” etc. This is all well and good, but the end result of Lent is not primarily self- mastery, as productive as this may be. The goal of Lent is in some way to experience the death and resurrection of Jesus in my own life. This goal is closely connected with the renewal of our Baptism which is sacramental dying and rising with Jesus.
To nurture and promote the love of the Gospel of Christ.