THE NOW WORD ON MASS READINGS
for June 6th, 2016
Liturgical texts here
TO the point: we are entering a period where the earth is plunging into a great darkness, where the light of truth is being eclipsed by the moon of moral relativism. In case one thinks such a statement is fantasy, I defer once again to our papal prophets:
It is precisely at the end of the second millennium that immense, threatening clouds converge on the horizon of all humanity and darkness descends upon human souls. —POPE JOHN PAUL II, from a speech, December, 1983; www.vatican.va
…in vast areas of the world the faith is in danger of dying out like a flame which no longer has fuel. —Letter of His Holiness POPE BENEDICT XVI to All the Bishops of the World, March 12, 2009; Catholic Online
However, the light of Christ, that “flame,” will never cease in the hearts of His faithful, for Jesus is a Good Shepherd who never abandons His flock. That light is His word composed of two parts:
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff comfort me. (Psalm 23:4)
The shebat or “rod” is used by a shepherd to defend his flock and keep predators away. This is analogous to God’s Word revealed in the “deposit of faith”: those immutable truths transmitted to the Apostles through the natural and moral law, and which have been preserved for 2000 years. These constant teachings keep at bay the wolves of heresy.
The mishenah or “staff” is used by the shepherd to nudge and guide his flock or gently lift or pull a straying lamb back into the herd. This is analogous to God’s word revealed through the charism of prophecy, which reinforces and guides the Church to streams of grace and the safety of green pastures, that is, Sacred Tradition. When night draws near, and the sheep cannot clearly see the wolves gathering round, the Good Shepherd draws His flock into the sheepfold, keeping them near Him by His staff.
Prophecy, then, does not supplant or supersede the necessity and protection of the Deposit of Faith. Rather it reinforces its inherent purpose: to safeguard the flock until they reach…
…the house of the Lord. (Psalm 23:6)
Thus, one can rightly say: “your rod and your staff comfort me.” Can you imagine one without the other? Let me illustrate how prophecy has aided the Church in these, our times.
The Deposit of Faith reveals God’s salvific plan through Christ’s Passion, Death, and Resurrection; private revelation has illuminated the depths of His Divine Mercy. The Deposit of Faith offers us the Sacrament of Reconciliation; prophecy or “private revelation” has urged us to go to confession monthly. The Deposit of Faith has bequeathed us the Eucharist; private revelation has helped us grasp it as the Sacred Heart. The Deposit of Faith encourages devotion and union with Mary, our mother; prophecy tells us how through the Rosary, Consecration, First Saturdays, etc. The Deposit of Faith calls us to “pray always”; private revelation has reminded us to “pray with the heart.” The Deposit of Faith gives us the social Gospel; prophecy has warned against the “spread of Russia’s errors”—Marxism, atheism, materialism, etc. So you see, the Rod not only keeps away danger and disperses the wolves of heresy, but the Staff reassures, guides, and keeps us in the refuge of green pastures.
Both are necessary, because God has desired it so.
Readers might be familiar with another analogy that I have used: that the Deposit of Faith is like a car, and prophecy is like its headlights. That is, prophecy is never separate from Sacred Tradition, but illuminates the way so that it may be lived out more faithfully. Prophecy helps us…
…to understand the signs of the times and to respond to them rightly in faith. —POPE BENEDICT XVI (Cardinal Ratzinger), Message of Fatima, Theological Commentary, www.vatican.va
Too often, when we hear the word “prophecy” we think of spiritual fortune-telling or Nostradamus-like predictions. If authentic prophecy does speak of the future, it is because it is intended to call us to live more faithfully in the present moment and to reassure us of the Good Shepherd’s guiding hand through every moment of history. Moreover, the most powerful prophecy is that which is a life lived for, and conformed to Christ, whether it is the martyrdom of the consecrated life, or that martyrdom that goes against the current of the world in the workplace, classroom, or even home.
Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me… Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Today’s Gospel)
It is time for us to pay close attention in this hour of darkness, for God is “turning on the headlights”, so to speak. The Church is going to be guided—willingly or not—more and more by the light of prophecy. His word, spoken through His prophets—many who, until now, have been sidelined or ignored—is going to come to the forefront in inescapable ways. As I concluded in The Last Trumpet:
I the Lord will speak the word which I will speak, and it will be performed. It will no longer be delayed, but in your days, O rebellious house, I will speak the word and perform it, says the Lord God… (Ezek 12:23-25)
The readings this week begin with the unveiling of the prophet Elijah’s ministry, which will serve as a warning and opportunity for repentance. So too, the spirit of Elijah is being poured out at this hour.
As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, during these years there shall be no dew or rain except at my word. (First reading)
Therefore, Listen! Watch and pray! And do not be afraid, for if you belong to Christ, you will know His voice, and He will lead you by His rod and His staff.
I lift up my eyes toward the mountains; whence shall help come to me?… The LORD will guard you from all evil; he will guard your life. (Today’s Psalm)
Guided by the Magisterium of the Churc
h, the sensus fidelium knows how to discern and welcome in these revelations whatever constitutes an authentic call of Christ or his saints to the Church. —Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 67
Thanks for your love, prayers, and support!