THE NOW WORD ON MASS READINGS
for January 22th, 2014
Memorial of St. Vincent
Liturgical texts here
HOW do we slay the giants in our day of atheism, individualism, narcissism, utilitarianism, Marxism and all the other “isms” that have brought humanity to the point of self-destructing? David answers in today’s first reading:
It is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves. For the battle is the LORD’s and he shall deliver you into our hands.
St. Paul put David’s words into the contemporary light of the new covenant:
For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power. (1 Cor 4:20)
It is the power of the Holy Spirit that converts hearts, peoples, and nations. It is the power of the Holy Spirit that illuminates minds to the truth. It is the power of the Holy Spirit so desperately needed in our times. Why do you think Jesus is sending His Mother among us? It is to form that cenacle of the Upper Room once again that a “new Pentecost” may descend upon the Church, setting her and the world aflame! cf. Charismatic? Part VI
I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing! (Luke 12:49)
But we need to be careful lest we think of a “new Pentecost” or even that first Pentecost as events isolated from the preparation that facilitated the coming of the Holy Spirit. If you’ll recall what I wrote recently in The Emptying, it was only after Jesus was in the desert for forty days and nights that He emerged “in the power of the Spirit.” Likewise, the Apostles had spent three years of following Jesus, meditating on His words, praying, and dying to their old ways before tongues of fire descended upon them and they, likewise, began to move in the power of the Spirit. cf. Acts 1:8 And then David, that shepherd boy, spent endless days tending the sheepfolds, fighting against “the claws of the lion and the bear“, singing praise to God with the lyre, and learning what kind of stones were his greatest weapons before the Lord brought him face to face with Goliath.
Likewise, we too must urgently enter into that preparation for a new movement of the Spirit. We have to learn to pick up the “five smooth stones,” as taught and encouraged by our mother, the Church, that will prepare us to face the giants of our time…
Prayer is the underlying stone of all the others. Why? Because prayer is what “connects” you to the Vine, who is Christ, and without whom “you can do nothing.” cf. Jn 15:5 Personal time alone with God draws the “sap” of the Spirit into your life.
…prayer is the living relationship of the children of God with their Father… —Catechism of the Catholic Church, n.2565
Fasting and sacrifice is what empties one of self and creates space for that grace which comes by way of prayer.
Prayer attends to the grace we need… —CCC, n.2010
Fasting is what likens and unites the soul more to the crucified Lord, who destroyed death by His death, thus configuring and preparing the soul to receive the power of the Resurrection.
Works of mercy toward our neighbour are what activates and enlivens faith, cf. James 2:17 which Jesus said can “move mountains.” The “mystical force” cf. JOHN PAUL II, Christifideles Laici, n. 2 behind authentic charity is God Himself, for “God is love.” cf. CCC, 1434
IV. THE SACRAMENTS
By frequenting the Sacraments of Confession and the Holy Eucharist, the soul is healed, nurtured, renewed, and restored. The Sacraments then become a school of love and the “source and summit” of drawing upon the grace of the Holy Spirit through direct encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist, and the Father in Reconciliation.
V. THE WORD OF GOD
This is the stone that will penetrate the skull of the giants. It is the sword of the Spirit. For the Word of God is…
…capable of giving you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that one who belongs to God may be competent, equipped for every good work. (2 Tim 3:15-17)
But the Word only penetrates “between soul and spirit, joints and marrow” cf. Heb 4:12 when it is “hurled… with the sling”, that is, delivered in the power of the Spirit. This comes by way of the double-edged sword of a spoken word (logos), or the “word” of one’s witness that puts flesh on the spoken word (rhema).
These five little stones open the heart to God, conform the mind, and transform the soul more and more into the likeness of Jesus so that it becomes “no longer I, but Christ living in me.” cf. Gal 2:20 So moving in the power of the Spirit is essentially becoming another Christ in the world. It is this interior life in God that prepares you again and again to receive the Spirit, fill you with the Spirit, and propel you forward in the power of the Spirit… to face whatever giants there may be.
Blessed be the LORD, my rock, who trains my hands for battle, my fingers for war. (Today’s Psalm, 144)
The Holy Spirit also grants the courage to proclaim the newness of the Gospel with boldness (parrhesía) in every time and place, even when it meets with opposition. Let us call upon him today, firmly rooted in prayer, for without prayer all our activity risks being fruitless and our message empty. Jesus wants evangelizers who proclaim the good news not only with words, but above all by a life transfigured by God’s presence. —POPE FRANCIS, Evangelii Gaudium, n. 259
- Personal Relationship with Jesus: a Catholic perspective
- The Church Fathers and Popes on a “new Pentecost”: Charismatic? Part VI
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