THE NOW WORD ON MASS READINGS
for July 19th, 2017
Wednesday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Liturgical texts here
THERE are times during the Christian journey, like Moses in today’s first reading, that you will walk through a spiritual desert, when everything seems dry, the surroundings desolate, and the soul almost dead. It is a time of testing of one’s faith and trust in God. St. Teresa of Calcutta knew it well.
The place of God in my soul is blank. There is no God in me. When the pain of longing is so great—I just long & long for God… and then it is that I feel He does not want me—He is not there—God does not want me. —Mother Teresa, Come By My Light, Brian Kolodiejchuk, M.C.; pg. 2
St. Thérèse de Lisieux also encountered this desolation, remarking once that she was surprised that “there are not more suicides among atheists.” as reported by Sister Marie of the Trinity; CatholicHousehold.com; cf. The Dark Night
If you only knew what frightful thoughts obsess me. Pray very much for me so that I do not listen to the Devil who wants to persuade me about so many lies. It is the reasoning of the worst materialists that is imposed upon my mind. Later, unceasingly making new advances, science will explain everything naturally. We shall have the absolute reason for everything that exists and that still remains a problem, because there remain very many things to be discovered, etc. etc. —St. Thérèse de Lisieux: Her Last Conversations, Fr. John Clarke, quoted at catholictothemax.com
It is true that for those who seek union with God, they must pass through a purification of their soul and spirit—a “dark night” in which they must learn to love and trust God to the point where there is an annihilation of self and all attachments. In this purity of heart does God, who is Purity itself, unite Himself completely to the soul.
But this is not to be confused with those daily trials or periods of dryness that we all encounter from time to time. In those times, and even during the “dark night”, God is always present. In fact, He is often more ready to reveal Himself and console and strengthen us than we realize. The problem is not that God has “disappeared” but that we are not seeking Him out. How many are the times when I have put down the hoe, so to speak, and gone to Mass or Confession or entered prayer with a heavy and burdened heart… and against all expectations, have emerged renewed, strengthened, and even on fire! God is awaiting us in these Divine Encounters, but we often miss them for the simple reason that we do not avail ourselves of them.
…for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike. (Today’s Gospel)
If your trials seem too heavy, is it because you are carrying them alone?
No trial has come to you but what is human. God is faithful and will not let you be tried beyond your strength; but with the trial he will also provide a way out, so that you may be able to bear it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)
In the first reading, Moses comes upon a burning bush. It is the moment of Divine Encounter. But Moses could have said, “I am too tired to go over there. I have to tend my father-in-law’s flock. I’m a busy man!” But instead, he says, “I must go over to look at this remarkable sight, and see why the bush is not burned.” It is only when he enters into this encounter that he discovers that he is on “holy ground.” Through this encounter, Moses is given the strength for his mission: to confront Pharaoh and the spirit of the world.
Now, you might say, “Well, if I saw a burning bush, I’d surely encounter God too.” But Christian! There is more than a burning bush awaiting you. Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, awaits you each day in the Holy Eucharist to feed and nourish you with His own flesh. Burning bush? No, burning Sacred Heart! There indeed is true holy ground before the Tabernacles of the world.
And then the Father, the First Person of the Holy Trinity, awaits you in the confessional. There, He desires to lift the burdens upon your conscience, clothe His prodigal sons and daughters in the dignity of a restored relationship, and strengthen you for the battle ahead with temptation.
And last, the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Holy Trinity, awaits you in the depths and solitude of your heart. How He longs to console, teach, and renew you in the sacrament of the present moment. How He longs to reveal to the childlike the Wisdom of God that restores, creates, and reinvigorates the tepid soul. But many miss these Divine Encounters because they do not pray. Or when they do pray, they do not pray with the heart but with empty, distracted words.
In these ways, and many more—such as nature, the love of another, a delightful melody, or the sound of silence—God is awaiting you, awaiting a Divine Encounter. But like Moses, we have to say:
Here I am. (First reading)
Not “Here I am” with empty words, but “Here I am” with the heart, with your time, with your presence, with your effort… with your trust. Certainly, not every time we pray, receive the Eucharist, or absolution, will we experience consolation. But as St. Thérèse admitted, consolations are not always necessary.
Although Jesus is giving me no consolation, he is giving me a peace so great that it is doing me more good! —General Correspondence, Vol I, Fr. John Clarke; cf. Magnificat, September 2014, p. 34
Yes, the Lord wants you to live by His peace, which He always provides to those who seek Him and remain faithful to Him. If you have no peace, the question isn’t “Where is God?”, but “Where am I?”
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. (John 14:27)
He pardons all your iniquities, he heals all your ills. He redeems your life from destruction, he crowns you with kindness and compassion. (Today’s Psalm)
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