THE NOW WORD ON MASS READINGS
for December 9th, 2015
Opt. Memorial of St. Juan Diego
Liturgical texts here
Elijah Fed by an Angel, by Ferdinand Bol (c. 1660 – 1663)
IN prayer this morning, a gentle Voice spoke to my heart:
Just enough to keep you going. Just enough to strengthen your heart. Just enough to pick you up. Just enough to keep you from falling… Just enough to keep you dependent on Me.
Such is the Hour into which the Church now enters, the Hour when she will be abandoned, hemmed in on every side, and seemingly crushed by the enemy. But it is also the Hour when she will receive just enough from the hands of Angels to keep her on the journey.
It is the Hour when they will feed us with just enough heavenly wisdom to revive the despairing heart and strengthen drooping knees.
Get up and eat or the journey will be too much for you! (1 Kings 19:7)
The Hour when we will receive just enough to conquer the desert of temptation.
Then the devil left him and, behold, angels came and ministered to him. (Matt 4:11)
The Hour when our simple fiat and desire, like a meager five loaves and two fish, will be just enough to nourish our neighbour.
Five loaves and two fish are all we have here… they picked up the fragments left over—twelve wicker baskets full. (Matt 14:17, 20)
The Hour when the Bread of Life, “our daily bread”, will be just enough grace for the day.
He gave them bread from heaven to eat. (John 6:31)
The Hour when the fear of Gethsemane will be quenched by just enough consolation.
And to strengthen him an angel from heaven appeared to him. (Luke 22:43)
The Hour when we will be given just enough help to carry our cross to the Summit.
They laid on Simon of Cyrene the cross, to carry it behind Jesus. (Luke 23:26)
Brothers and sisters, this is the Hour when we too shall be stripped of everything and left naked before the mocking crowds. But this stripping is essential to prepare us for the glorious Resurrection that follows.cf. The Prophecy at Rome As the Catechism states:
All however must be prepared to confess Christ before men and to follow him along the way of the Cross, amidst the persecutions which the Church never lacks… she will follow her Lord in his death and Resurrection. —Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 1816, 677
Everything in the Church now must appear to come to nothing. The disciples watched this in real-time, as we too must now:
The same Jesus whose apologetics could silence the Pharisees suddenly became silent Himself.cf. The Silent Answer The Jesus who could pass through angry mobs now stood condemned before Pilate. The Jesus who raised the dead could now barely pick Himself up to carry His Cross. The Jesus whose hands healed the sick were now helplessly fastened to the wood. The Jesus whose tongue cast out demons was now soundly mocked by them. And the Jesus who calmed the roaring waves now lay lifeless in a tomb.
All appeared utterly lost.
So too, now, the Church will seem to become all but straw, a confused, messy, mound of impotence. All that will be left at the Cross will be but a remnant, the Mother of God and John, a symbol of the childlike, faithful, and courageous few who will remain. I believe Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) prophetically described this Passion:
The Church will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning. She will no longer be able to inhabit many of the edifices she built in prosperity. As the number of her adherents diminishes… She will lose many of her social privileges… As a small society, [the Church] will make much bigger demands on the initiative of her individual members.
It will be hard-going for the Church, for the process of crystallization and clarification will cost her much valuable energy. It will make her poor and cause her to become the Church of the meek… The process will be long and wearisome as was the road from the false progressivism on the eve of the French Revolution — when a bishop might be thought smart if he made fun of dogmas and even insinuated that the existence of God was by no means certain… But when the trial of this sifting is past, a great power will flow from a more spiritualized and simplified Church. Men in a totally planned world will find themselves unspeakably lonely. If they have completely lost sight of God, they will feel the whole horror of their poverty. Then they will discover the little flock of believers as something wholly new. They will discover it as a hope that is meant for them, an answer for which they have always been searching in secret.
And so it seems certain to me that the Church is facing very hard times. The real crisis has scarcely begun. We will have to count on terrific upheavals. But I am equally certain about what will remain at the end: not the Church of the political cult, which is dead already with Gobel, but the Church of faith. She may well no longer be the dominant social power to the extent that she was until recently; but she will enjoy a fresh blossoming and be seen as man’s home, where he will find life and hope beyond death. —Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (POPE BENEDICT XVI), Faith and Future, Ignatius Press, 2009
You, my dear brothers and sisters, are being called into this “little flock of believers.” But if you are looking to the nostalgia of yesterday, the glorious Church of the past, the strength of yore, then you will not find it, for the glory of tomorrow will be as different as the wounds of Christ’s resurrected body were from His crucified flesh.
For the sake of the joy that lay before him he endured the cross, despising its shame… (Heb 12:2)
Therefore, follow Jesus on this Way of the Cross where consolations will now be few. But they will be just enough. For “whoever serves me must follow me,” Our Lord
said, “and where I am, there also will my servant be.” But He continues, “The Father will honor whoever serves me.”John 12:26 That is, the Father will give just enough for us to fulfill His will.
And that “just enough” is Jesus Himself, working too, through the Mother of the Cross.
Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,and I will give you rest. (Today’s Gospel)
He gives strength to the fainting; for the weak he makes vigor abound. Though young men faint and grow weary,and youths stagger and fall, they that hope in the Lord will renew their strength, they will soar as with eagles’ wings; they will run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint. (First reading)
Am I not here, who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not your fountain of health? Are you not happily within the folds of my mantle, held safely in my arms? —Our Lady of Guadalupe to St. Juan Diego, Dec. 12th, 1531
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