AS I watched again the powerful movie The Passion of the Christ, I was struck by Peter’s pledge that he would go to prison, and even die for Jesus! But only hours later, Peter vehemently denied Him three times. At that moment, I sensed my own poverty: “Lord, without your grace, I will betray you too…”
How can we be faithful to Jesus in these days of confusion, scandal, and apostasy? cf. The Pope, a Condom, and the Purification of the Church How can we be assured that we too will not flee the Cross? Because it’s happening all around us already. Since the beginning of this writing apostolate, I have sensed the Lord speaking of a Great Sifting of the “weeds from among the wheat.” cf. Weeds Among the Wheat That in fact a schism is already forming in the Church, though not yet fully in the open. cf. Sorrow of Sorrows This week, the Holy Father spoke of this sifting at Holy Thursday Mass.
…as Christ told Peter, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat,” today “we are once more painfully aware that Satan has been permitted to sift the disciples before the whole world.” —POPE BENEDICT XVI, Mass of the Lord’s Supper, April 21st, 2011
Where do you and I stand in this sifting? Are we among the weeds or the wheat?
We too find excuses when being his disciples starts becoming too costly, too dangerous. —Ibid.
If Judas, Peter, and the Apostles fled the Lord in His hour of sorrow, will we too flee the Church when she enters her own passion? read the prophetic series on the coming passion of the Church: The Seven Year Trial The answer depends on what we do now, not then.
In the end, there were those who remained beneath the Cross, namely Mary and John. How? Where did their courage and strength come from? Within this answer lies a key to how God will protect the faithful in the days that are here and coming…
At the Last Supper, we read:
One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was lying close to the breast of Jesus. (John 13:23)
Even though John fled the Garden at first, he returned to the foot of the Cross. Why? Because he had been lying close to the breast of Jesus. John listened to the heartbeats of God, the voice of the Shepherd that repeated over and over again, “I am mercy. I am mercy. I am mercy…” John would later write, “Perfect loves drives out fear...” 1 Jn 4:18 It was the echo of those heartbeats, the double-echo of Love and Mercy, that guided John to the Cross. The song of love from the Savior’s Sacred Heart drowned out the voice of fear.
So too with us, if we wish to carry our own cross to Calvary, if we wish to overcome the fear of our persecutors, we must spend time lying close to the breast of Jesus. By this, I mean we must spend time each day in prayer. It is in prayer that we encounter Jesus. It is in prayer that we hear the Heartbeats of Love that begin to echo through our whole being, past, present, and future, putting all things in a divine perspective. However, by prayer I do not mean that we just “put in time,” but that we put in ourselves. That I come to Him as a little child, speaking to Him from the heart, and listening to Him speak to me through His Word. In this way a relationship builds on a “…love that drives out fear.”
The terrible danger today is that many approach God with a closed heart, “putting in time,” but without commitment, fidelity, and little love. It is sobering to realize that Judas, who betrayed Jesus, also partook of the Eucharist:
He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me… one of you will betray me… It is he to whom I shall give this morsel when I have dipped it. (John 13:18, 21, 26)
For us, the empty places at the table of the Lord’s wedding feast… invitations refused, lack of interest in him and his closeness… whether excusable or not, are no longer a parable but a reality, in those very countries to which he had revealed his closeness in a special way. —POPE BENEDICT XVI, Mass of the Lord’s Supper, April 21st, 2011
Judas betrayed Jesus because “You cannot serve God and mammon”: Matt 6:24
…if there is anyone else in such a heart, I cannot bear it and quickly leave that heart, taking with Me all the gifts and graces I have prepared for the soul. And the soul does not even notice My going. After some time, inner emptiness and dissatisfaction will come to [the soul’s] attention. —Jesus to St. Faustina, Divine Mercy in My Soul, Diary, n.1638
In Judas’ case, he tried to fill the “emptiness and dissatisfaction” with thirty pieces of silver. How many of us are chasing the things of this world that can never satisfy the heart! When we are busy storing up treasures here on earth, then we place our souls at risk that “thieves may break in and steal” cf. Matt 6:20 our salvation. This is why Jesus warned the Apostles in the Garden to watch and pray…
…that you may not undergo the test. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. (Matt 26:41)
By lying close to the breast of Jesus, special graces are given to the soul, graces that flow like an ocean from the heart of Divine Mercy:
…one soldier thrust his lance into his side, and immediately blood and water flowed out. (John 19:34; only John recorded this event in the Gospels)</p >
John was able to stand beneath that shower of grace because he had already been bathing in the Ocean of Mercy before this great trial came. And as St. Faustina reveals to us, Divine Mercy in our time acts as an ark and refuge for souls from the “day of justice”:
It is a sign for the end times; after it will come the day of justice. While there is still time, let them have recourse to the fount of My mercy; let them profit from the Blood and Water which gushed forth for them. —Jesus to St. Faustina, Divine Mercy in My Soul, Diary, n. 848
His mercy protects us from deception:
I put my trust in the ocean of Your mercy, and I know that my hope will not be deceived. —n. 69
Accompanies us at the hour of death:
O most merciful Heart of Jesus, opened with a lance, shelter me at the last moment of my life. —n. 813
In the hour of weakness:
…the more miserable my soul is, the more I feel the ocean of God’s mercy engulfing me and giving me strength and great power. —n.225
…and when hope seems lost:
I hope against all hope in the ocean of Your mercy. —n. 309
John’s faith was preserved because, in a word, he was one with the Eucharist, which is the Heart of Jesus.
Where did Mary find the strength to follow Jesus? To answer this, another question can be asked: where did the Apostles, who had fled the Garden, suddenly find the strength to become martyrs after Christ’s Ascension? The answer is the Holy Spirit. After Pentecost, the timidness of the Apostles vanished, and they were imbued with a new strength, a new courage, and a renewed vision. And the vision was that they were to deny themselves, pick up their cross, and follow Jesus.
Mary understood this from the moment the angel Gabriel appeared to her. From that moment, she denied herself, picked up her cross, and followed her Son:
May it be done to me according to your word. (Luke 1:38)
The Holy Spirit then came upon her—”the power of the Most High” overshadowed her. cf. Luke 1:35
Mary is our prototype. She shows us what it means to be a disciple of Jesus to the end. It is not a matter of trying to manufacture courage and noble strength, but of becoming a “humble handmaid” of the Lord; of seeking first the Kingdom of God, rather than an earthly kingdom. No doubt, this is reason in part why the Apostles fled the scandal of the Cross. They wanted Jesus’s Kingdom to fit within their framework rather than the other way around. For similar reasons, many are fleeing the Church today.
We too find it hard to accept that he bound himself to the limitations of his Church and her ministers. We too do not want to accept that he is powerless in this world. We too find excuses when being his disciples starts becoming too costly, too dangerous. All of us need the conversion which enables us to accept Jesus in his reality as God and man. We need the humility of the disciple who follows the will of his Master. —POPE BENEDICT XVI, Mass of the Lord’s Supper, April 21st, 2011
Yes, “we need the humility of the disciple,” the kind Mary had. Instead, particularly since Vatican II, we have seen an alarming rebellion and pride in the approach to Sacred Tradition, the Liturgy, and even the Holy Father himself—notably among “theologians.” cf. The Pope, a Thermometer of Apostasy Mary shows us the way to Calvary in her absolute docility to God as she denied herself, picked up her cross, and followed Jesus without reserve. Even when she did not understand everything He said, cf. Luke 2:50-51 she didn’t relativise truth to make it fit her world-view. cf. What is Truth? Rather, she became obedient to the point where a sword too pierced her heart. cf. Luke 2:35 Mary was not focused on her kingdom, her plans and dreams, but upon the kingdom, plans, and dreams of her Son. The more she emptied herself, the more the Spirit of God filled her. You could say that this perfect love drove out all fear.
SEEK FIRST THE KINGDOM
This is why, dear brothers and sisters, I sense the Lord nearly shouting these days for us to Come Out of Bablyon! and begin to live no longer for ourselves but for Him; to resist the spirit of this world and open wide our hearts to the Spirit of Jesus (how short our lives here are! How long is eternity!). If you persevere, then you can be sure that you will not only remain faithfully at Calvary, but you will willingly give your life for Christ and your brother.
Because you have kept my message of endurance, I will keep you safe in the time of trial that is going to come to the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth. (Rev 3:10)
Together, John and Mary show us how we can remain “beneath the Cross” as the Passion of the Church nears: through prayer of the heart and total obedience. The will of God is our food, cf. John 4:34 and prayer is the means by which we consume this “daily bread.” This divine food, whose locus is the Eucharist, is the “source and summit” of the strength we will need in these days to come as we begin to climb our own Calvary toward the Resurrection…
Lord Jesus, you foretold that we would share in the persecutions that brought you to a violent death. The Church formed at the cost of your precious blood is even now conformed to your Passion; may it be transformed, now and eternally, by the power of your resurrection. —Psalm-prayer, Liturgy of the Hours, Vol III, p. 1213
Our Mother of Sorrows, St. John the Evangelist… pray for us.
BACK TO CALIFORNIA!
Mark Mallett will be speaking and singing in California on the upcoming Divine Mercy weekend from April 29th – May 2nd, 2011. For times and places, see:
Please remember this apostolate with your financial gift and prayers
that are much needed. Thank you!
|↑1||cf. The Pope, a Condom, and the Purification of the Church|
|↑2||cf. Weeds Among the Wheat|
|↑3||cf. Sorrow of Sorrows|
|↑4||read the prophetic series on the coming passion of the Church: The Seven Year Trial|
|↑5||1 Jn 4:18|
|↑7||cf. Matt 6:20|
|↑8||cf. Luke 1:35|
|↑9||cf. The Pope, a Thermometer of Apostasy|
|↑10||cf. Luke 2:50-51|
|↑11||cf. What is Truth?|
|↑12||cf. Luke 2:35|
|↑13||cf. John 4:34|