THE NOW WORD ON MASS READINGS
for February 19th, 2014
Liturgical texts here
“IT is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God,” wrote St. Paul. cf. Heb 10:31 Not because God is a tyrant—no, He is love. And this love, when it shines into the un-loving parts of my heart, exposes the darkness that clings to my soul—and that is a difficult thing to see, indeed.
St. Faustina once had an experience whereby, in a vision, she was summoned to the judgment seat of God. She writes:
Suddenly I saw the complete condition of my soul as God sees it. I could clearly see all that is displeasing to God. I did not know that even the smallest transgressions will have to be accounted for. What a moment! Who can describe it? To stand before the Thrice-Holy-God!—St. Faustina; Divine Mercy in My Soul, Diary, n. 36
Most of us would have a very difficult time knowing the true condition of our souls all at once. That is why Jesus, so gently, applies the “spittle” of His grace little by little upon our spiritual eyes, like He did to the blind man in today’s Gospel.
“Do you see anything?” Looking up the man replied, “I see people looking like trees and walking.” Then he laid hands on the man’s eyes a second time and he saw clearly…
But do we want to see? As Jesus lamented in yesterday’s Gospel, “Do you not yet understand or comprehend? Are your hearts hardened?
Do you have eyes and not see, ears and not hear?” Because seeing demands an honest look into the soul, a truthful recognition that one falls very short of not only holiness, but often the basic demands of the Gospel to “love your neighbour.” This can be very hard to admit! Many are those who run from this narrow road of conversion onto the wide and easy path where it’s more pleasing to hear, “It’s okay. You’re not that bad. You’re a good person… etc.” However, the truth is that I am sinner, and that self-love and pride run very deep; that I am not a very good person at all, and that I am often like the one in the first reading today “who looks at his own face in a mirror. He sees himself, then goes off and promptly forgets what he looked like.” But to see this truth about myself is actually the first step to real freedom in Christ. As I’ve often said, the very first truth that sets us free is the truth of who I am, and who I am not.
So do not be afraid to see yourself as you really are! Didn’t Jesus say that He came to open the eyes of the blind? Spiritual blindness is far worse than physical blindness, for the former is a darkness that has the potential to last for eternity. It is this blindness that St. James addresses in today’s first reading, summarized in the words:
Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves.
So Jesus has come to open our eyes, to deliver us from self-delusion, and to reveal our souls against the standard of His word that is like a double-edged sword, “penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.” cf. Heb 4:12 This is a painful, but necessary process: it is purgatory in slow-motion, and yet, it is not for His sake, but ours.
…it is a blessed pain, in which the holy power of his love sears through us like a flame, enabling us to become totally ourselves and thus totally of God. —BENEDICT XVI, Spe Salvi “Saved In Hope”, n. 47
And so, “humbly welcome the word that has been planted in you and is able to save your souls.” Yes, the word of God, “the perfect law of freedom” that comes like a gentle breeze, folding back the veil of deception, revealing like it did to Adam and Eve that you are “wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.” cf. Rev 3:17 We are all blind beggars. So why do we try to hide from God when we see the state of our souls—as if this is news to Him? Didn’t He see your heart’s true condition before you did? Yes, and He sends His light into your soul, a word that gently convicts, so that you may see, and be freed. As it says in today’s Psalm:
Who shall live on your holy mountain, O Lord? He who walks blamelessly and does justice; who thinks the truth in his heart…
No, don’t be afraid to see yourself as you really are, for it is only the Divine Doctor exposing your wounds so that He might have your permission to heal them. He is awaiting you in Confession, then, that holy exchange of your sins in return for His merciful and healing love. Go—and tell Him everything, that He in turn, may give you everything—namely, Himself.
Be not afraid of your Savior, O sinful soul. I make the first move to come to you, for I know that by yourself you are unable to lift yourself to me. Child, do not run away from your Father; be willing to talk openly with your God of mercy who wants to speak words of pardon and lavish his graces on you. How dear your soul is to Me!… Do not argue with Me about your wretchedness. You will give me pleasure if you hand over to me all your troubles and griefs. I shall heap upon you the treasures of My grace… Do not be absorbed in your misery—you are still too weak to speak of it—but, rather, gaze on My Heart filled with goodness, and be imbued with My sentiments. Strive for meekness and humility… You should not become discouraged, but strive to make My love reign in place of your self-love. Have confidence, My child. Do not lose heart in coming for pardon, for I am always ready to forgive you. As often as you beg for it, you glorify My mercy. —Jesus to St. Faustina, Divine Mercy in My Soul, Diary, n. 1486, 1488
This is one my favorite songs that I’ve written—I never tire of singing it, especially when I’m leading others in Eucharistic Adoration. Because I am always amazed that God could love “someone like me”…
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|1.||↑||cf. Heb 10:31|
|2.||↑||cf. Heb 4:12|
|3.||↑||cf. Rev 3:17|