Jesus, "the Light which enlightens everyone" (John 1:9), in today's gospel passage (John 9:1-41), heals a man blind from birth, so that he may see light, and may see the Light. Indeed, Jesus says to him, "You have seen him (the Son of Man), and the one speaking with you is he", to which the man responds, "Lord, I believe." This miracle, as every miracle, is intended to be an encounter.
The joy of this man was surely immeasurable. He rose that day. In his heart he perhaps sung something like this song (excerpt from an ancient Celtic prayer often attributed to Saint Patrick +461):
I arise today
through the strength of heaven,
light of sun
radiance of moon
splendour of fire
speed of lightning
swiftness of wind
depth of sea
stability of earth
firmness of rock.
I arise today.
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise...
Yours in Christ,
In today's gospel (John 4:5-42), "the disciples were urging Jesus, 'Rabbi, eat something.'" Jesus appeared to be hungry, and they were being thoughtful. Common sense and common decency. Jesus' response, however, takes them completely beyond the realm of the common. "He said to them, 'I have food to eat that you do not know about...My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work'." Huh?
Jesus reveals that His human heart is fed in being in perfect communion with the Father. Jesus reveals that our hearts are fed when we do God's will. What is God's will? Ultimately, perfect communion with Him. In I Corinthians 15:28, Jesus speaks of this in terms of "subjection": "When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to the one who put all things in subjection under him, so that God may be all in all." To be subject to God is to yield entirely to His embrace. When God is "all in all", the human heart is satiated.
St. Alphonsus de Liguori, Italian Bishop, spiritual writer, theologian, composer, musician, poet, and lawyer (+1787) reminds us of the goodness of God's will:
God wills only our good; God loves us more than anybody else can or does love us. His will is that everyone should save and sanctify his soul...God has made the attainment of our happiness, his glory.
St. Jane Frances de Chantal (+1641), who, after the death of her husband, founded a community of nuns called Congregation of the Visitation, encourages us to trust in such goodness of God's will:
When shall it be that we shall taste the sweetness of the Divine Will in all that happens to us, considering in everything only His good pleasure? When shall we cast ourselves undeservedly into the arms of our most loving Father in Heaven, leaving to Him the care of ourselves and of our affairs, and reserving only the desire of pleasing Him, and of serving Him well in all that we can?
Seeking God's will with you,
“Have you been born again?” Some of you have perhaps been caught off guard and asked this question. Some of you have come from parts of the Church where you may have asked this question of others. It is a question that can have different meaning to different Christians. It typically refers, in the mind and mouth of an “evangelical” Christian, to the moment a person accepts Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Savior. Such a moment can be a most wonderful experience. It was for me, in college, an experience that changed my life.
In this Sunday’s gospel (John 3:1-17), Jesus tells us very strongly that “no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” We must be born again if we are truly to experience the mystery of God—from within. What is it, however, to be “born from above”, to be born again? Is it the moment of acceptance of Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Savior? I would venture to say that being born from above or again, is actually more than this. Indeed, it is more Christ’s doing than our doing, and can never be reduced to our awareness of Christ. Christ, who is greater than our awareness, takes the initiative in the mystery of divine rebirth. “You did not choose me but I chose you.” (John 15:16)
To be born from above is to be communicated grace, which grants us to participate in the life of God. New birth means new life. Jesus communicates the grace of new life in Him freely, gratuitously, well before we have reached the maturity needed to accept Him as Lord and Savior. Such is why we Baptize children. We are born again in Baptism, and every time Jesus embraces us. In a special way, when we receive the Eucharist, we are born again.
S. Thomas Aquinas (+1274) tells us that "the Sacrament of the Body of the Lord cleanses the soul from sin, enlightens the mind to know God, inflames the will and the affections with the love of God, fills the memory with spiritual sweetness, confirms the entire person in good, multiplies the merits of a good life, leads us to our everlasting home, and re-animates the body to eternal life."
Yours in Christ,
The First Sunday of Lent: the temptations of Christ in the desert. What a seemingly unpleasant way to begin Lent! They were avoidable, for Jesus is only tempted from outside Himself, as there is no room for anything other than love in Him. But, He was tempted nonetheless-for us, so that we never be discouraged by temptation and so that we encounter Him readily whenever we are tempted. He is ever-present... Good news!
The three temptations that we "witness" Jesus experiencing in the desert, in a sense, crystallize all temptations. They seek to capture the heart and mind. They are essentially three forms of selfishness: gluttony, pride and vanity (one can interpret otherwise). But, interestingly, they are fundamentally good in due proportion, and relative to love: gluttony is delightdisproportionate and divorced from love; pride is autonomy disproportionate and divorced from love; vanity is self-caredisproportionate and divorced from love.
For must of us, these are daily struggles. We all struggle, in different ways, to curb excessive preoccupation with pleasure and control and looks andreputation and and... n'est-ce pas? Moreover, we live in a world that plays upon these vulnerabilities. Just pay a little more attention to advertisements! I will never forget a monster billboard I once saw in the desert of Texas (for Burger King): "Obey your hunger."
By the gift of the Holy Spirit, Jesus makes it possible to draw close to Him, to God whom we sometimes think too far beyond our reach when we are experiencing temptation. Au contraire, God is always within reach: greater than bread, God Who satisfies the heart; greater than control and power, God omnipotent and omniscient Who carries me; greater than fame and glory, God Who sees me as I truly am and Who welcomes me.
This Lent, may we obey our truest hunger....
From the desk of the Rector