THE NOW WORD ON MASS READINGS
for March 25th, 2014
Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord
VAST parts of the world no longer believe in God because they no longer see God among us. “But Jesus ascended into Heaven 2000 years ago—of course they don’t see Him…” But Jesus Himself said that He would be found in the world in His brothers and sisters.
Where I am, there shall my servant be also. (cf. Jn 12:26)
This identification with Christ is far beyond holding a “membership card” in the Catholic Church; far beyond being a regular parishioner and contributor to the weekly collection. It is about replicating the presence of Jesus in the world through our lives.
The world no longer believes because they do not see Jesus in you and I! We go to Mass, but everything else about us is like the world: we eat like the world, indulge like the world, buy like the world, talk like the world, act like the world. And so the world says, “Christianity is meaningless because it changes nothing. In fact, religion does nothing but create problems…” They believe this because they see us Christians starting wars among ourselves. We fight and divorce and attack each other like the rest of the world. We do not forgive, forget, and forge on. We do not model the joy, zeal, and compassion of one who is saved. We do not live the simplicity, poverty, and detachment that becomes for the world a sign of contradiction. A prophetic sign that says, “God is with us! God is with us!”
What do I mean by this? Not that you and I are to be gods—there is only one God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Neither does it mean only that we are to be godlike, Christlike. For there are many atheists who are more Christlike than Christians. It means that I am to be so emptied of myself, so united to His will, so filled with God, that He truly lives through and in me in the world through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. For Jesus said:
Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water. ’” Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive. (Jn 7:38-39)
In other words, you and I are to become copies of the Blessed Virgin Mary. She who, became so empty, so united to the will of God, that she was filled with God, Emmanuel. Wherever Mary went, there was Jesus, “God with us.” How was this possible? In today’s Gospel, the angel Gabriel said to Mary:
The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
That’s how. Like Mary, you may look in the mirror and say, “How is this possible?” Well, that is how: by repenting of your sins, totally devoting yourself to the will of God (which is to love Him), and by prayer, the Sacraments, and devouring the daily bread of His word, the light and presence of God will fill you like a river of light, and begin to shine through you. Yes, even John the Baptist, when still in Elizabeth’s womb, did not see Jesus with his eyes, but “saw” the light of the Lord and felt His presence. And he leapt. The world, dwelling in darkness, is waiting for the light of Jesus to come to them, Jesus who said “I am the light of the world.” But wait! He then said,
You are the light of the world. Matt 5:14
You and I are to be so lost in God, so abandoned to His will, so in love with Him, that wherever Jesus goes—whether into the office towers of the city or the gutters of the slums—there we are also with Him, and He with us. Copies of Mary. Isn’t that what He said?
…whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother.” (Matt 12:50)
We must trust that God will do what He said He wants to do, “that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it.” cf. Phil 1:6 Rebuke the lies of Satan, lift your hands, fall to your knees, and say Jesus, do it! Do it in me. Let it be done in me. Come Holy Spirit, as in a new Pentecost, and set my heart on fire with the flame of God’s love, that all who come near me see Its brightness and feel Its warmth.
It is time, brothers and sisters, for us to let go of this world. What are you doing with your time, child of God? What are you doing with your money, sister of Christ? What are you doing with gifts, brother of Jesus? Can you not see that the world is in darkness, awaiting the light of your life? Go, sell everything, give it to the poor, and follow me. What do these words mean? There is a “pearl of great price.” It is the Kingdom of God. And it is worth giving absolutely everything up for. Why are we spending our time and money on the neon illusions of this world? Seek first the Kingdom of God!
Jesus is waiting for you. Now is the hour to let go, and let the Spirit work the miracle of God’s life in you. Whether you are rich or poor, put everything now into the Father’s hands. DO NOT BE AFRAID. Imitate her who simply said, “Be it done to me according to your will.” And Jesus will begin to live again in this world, through you… a prophetic sign that God is still with us.
Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me… behold, I come to do your will, O God. (Today’s Psalm)
….therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind… (Rom 12:1-2)
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