THE NOW WORD ON MASS READINGS
for April 27th, 2017
Thursday of the Second Week of Easter
Liturgical texts here
I don’t think it’s just me. I hear it from both young and old: time seems to be speeding up. And with it, there is a sense some days as if one is hanging on by the fingernails to the edge of a whirling merry-go-round. In the words of Fr. Marie-Dominique Philippe:
We are heading towards the end of time. Now the more we approach the end of time, the more quickly we proceed—this is what’s extraordinary. There is, as it were, a very significant acceleration in time; there’s an acceleration in time just as there’s an acceleration in speed. And we go faster and faster. We must be very attentive to this to understand what is happening in today’s world. —The Catholic Church at the End of an Age, Ralph Martin, p. 15-16
We must be attentive because the danger is that we allow ourselves to get caught up in this whirlwind of doing and to be pulled into the deceptive winds of this Great Storm that has landed upon humanity’s doorstep—to be yanked into a million distractions, a thousand duties, a hundred desires… and away from the one thing that matters most: that God is first.
St. John Paul II wrote:
Ours is a time of continual movement which often leads to restlessness, with the risk of “doing for the sake of doing”. We must resist this temptation by trying “to be” before trying “to do”. —POPE JOHN PAUL II, Novo Millenio Ineunte, n. 15
It is true: we are in a Great Storm at this hour, and thus, it is essential that we take refuge, which is the same thing as saying, “to rest in God” or “to be.” But how? Every day, I find a deluge of things competing for my time. It’s not that other matters aren’t important. But what is essential is to get my priorities straight. And it begins with making God first.
Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things [that you need] will be given you besides. (Matt 6:33)
If the first thing I do when I wake in the morning is read the news, check email, scroll Facebook, scan Twitter, poke around Instagram, respond to texts, read more news, return phone calls… well, I scarcely have put God first. Rather, we should get ourselves together in the morning, look beyond the forest of distractions and temptations, and fix our eyes on “Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith.” cf. Heb 12:2 Give Him the first fifteen minutes… and it will begin to change your life.
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning… In the morning you hear me; in the morning I offer you my prayer, watching and waiting. (Lam 3:22-23; Ps 5:4)
So now, you begin your day in the Lord. Now, you become that “branch” that is connected to the “Vine”, who is Jesus, so that the “sap” of the Holy Spirit can flow through you. That is the difference for many, on any given day, between spiritual life and death.
I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)
[The Father] does not ration his gift of the Spirit. (Today’s Gospel)
To seek first His righteousness then, is not only to seek Him in prayer, but to seek His will, His way, His plan. And this means becoming childlike, abandoned, detached from my will, my way, my plan. This is what it means to be “just” in the Scriptures: to be one who stands surrendered, docile, and obedient to the holy will of God. But look at what the promises are to the “just”:
When the just cry out, he hears them, and from all their distress he rescues them. (Today’s Psalm, 34)
Many are the troubles of the just man, but out of them all the Lord delivers him.
You see, the Lord has not delivered some of you from your trials because you have not yet learned to put God first. Your happiness depends upon putting all your dependence on Him. And He wants you to be happy! I repeat:
Jesus is demanding, because He wishes our genuine happiness. —POPE JOHN PAUL II, World Youth Day Message for 2005, Vatican City, Aug. 27th, 2004, Zenit.org
He wants you to be joyful!
If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. (John 15:10-12)
So, now we see that the path to true peace and joy—even in the midst of this Storm—is to put God first, and my neighbour second. I am third.
Last, putting God first does not necessarily eliminate one’s crosses and trials, but rather, gives the supernatural grace to carry, lie upon, and hang from them. This is the spiritual path that leads to true transformation, to the resurrection of the person God made you to be. cf. Let Him Rise in You Is this not what Jesus said?
…unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life. (John 12:24-25)
You have to put God first in order to have a hope of bearing fruit.
Therefore, since Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same attitude (for whoever suffers in the flesh has broken with sin), so as not to spend what remains of one’s life in the flesh on human desires, but on the will of God. (1 Pet 4:1-2)
Seek Him first. Seek His kingdom first… not your own fiefdom—God, your Father, wants to take care of that.
Peace, joy, and refuge… they await the one who puts God first.
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