THE NOW WORD ON MASS READINGS
for April 28th, 2014
Monday of the Second Week of Easter
THERE is a fire in the early Christians that must be re-kindled in the Church today. It was never meant to go out. This is the task of Our Blessed Mother and the Holy Spirit in this time of mercy: to bring about the life of Jesus within us, the light of the world. Here is the kind of fire that must burn in our parishes again:
As they prayed, the place where they were gathered shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness. (First reading)
Or does Blessed John Henry Newman, rather, describe the Church in many places today?
Satan may adopt the more alarming weapons of deceit—he may hide himself—he may attempt to seduce us in little things, and so to move the Church, not all at once, but by little and little from her true position. I do believe he has done much in this way in the course of the last few centuries… It is his policy to split us up and divide us, to dislodge us gradually from our rock of strength. — Sermon IV: The Persecution of Antichrist
What is our ‘true position’, our center? Is it to raise funds for parish programs? To be able to quote the Catechism? To volunteer at the food bank? To be a lector or usher at Mass? To be a Knights of Columbus or CWL member? As good as these things are, they are not the center—they are not the raison d’être of the Church. We exist in order to evangelize, wrote Paul VI. Evangelii Nuntiandi, n. 14 We exist to bring the light of Jesus into the darkness that today pervades politics, commerce, science, food production, and education. But we cannot bring a light we do not have. The very center, then, is Jesus. He must be at the heart of everything we do, the source of our strength, the summit of our goals. We should appear as radical to the world—but it’s really just normal Christianity. The Acts of the Apostles should be the norm.
Reading the Acts of the Apostles helps us to realize that at the beginning of the Church the mission ad gentes (to the nations)… was in fact considered the normal outcome of Christian living, to which every believer was committed through the witness of personal conduct and through explicit proclamation whenever possible. —ST. JOHN PAUL II, Redemptoris Missio, Encyclical, n. 27
How do I bring this Light into the world? I dare say we have forgotten. We have lost our way! We know how to keep the parish lights on but not the light of our hearts, that which truly draws souls back to Christ. We must be truly born again!
Amen, amen, I say to you, unless one is born of water and Spirit he cannot enter the Kingdom of God. (Today’s Gospel)
Many Catholics have been born of water in baptism, but we must also be born of the Spirit. And the Holy Spirit “sealed in the soul” in the Sacrament of Confirmation is released, like a river of living water, when we enter into an encounter with God.
Blessed are all who take refuge in the Lord. (Psalm response)
Our hearts are like a battery. The charge within them remains dormant until a connection is made, and then power flows. Just as a battery has two poles, we must also make two connections.
We must first connect our hearts to God through prayer—not empty words—but sighs and groans, pleas and praise from the heart. It could be summarized in one word: desire. Hunger for God. Second, we must connect to our neighbor in authentic love. Yes, when we love and serve our neighbor, then the connection to God finds its outlet—and power flows.
These are the two poles that bring the dead soul to life; that energize the heart and bring vision and purpose to the mind; that literally transform us into beacons of spiritual light and true apostles. Oh how we need Christians like this today! You, beloved readers, are chosen by God for this purpose. Say “yes” to God, “yes” to Mary, “yes” to the Holy Spirit so that Jesus may reign through you.
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