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Being so over preoccupied with the thoughts of others was and is debilitating for me, and for others. It would paralyze me worrying about how others might think of what I want to do. Not Good.
The high point of every celebration of the Eucharist, of every mass, is the doxology.
The culmination of the mass, therefore the culmination of our lives as Catholics is when the gifts of the body and blood of Christ are elevated to the highest point and the Priest Proclaims: “Through Him, With Him…”
This is the summation of the Life of Christ, and the summation of our lives. This is the Key of our salvation in Christ.
Consider what is being done and with what.
It is the body and blood of the resurrected Son of God. We present to the Father, what the Father has given to us: His Son. Who willingly gave of his life for love of us. His Son who was raised from the dead. All done in the power of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Love.
The High Point is the Paschal Mystery, Jesus’ own suffering, death and resurrection. And this tells us that our lives, the high point of our very lives, is about the giving of ourselves. It is about willing sacrifice.
And we are given a glimpse of this through our readings.
Think of Abraham. This was his high point. His own beloved son, the promised one, was to be offered in a blood sacrifice. Abraham did not hesitate. This almost concludes his story in Genesis. There is nothing more that can be said, he willingly trusted in God and was willing to give to God what God had given to him. He becomes the Father of many nations.
Think of the second reading. Saint Paul writes of this same sacrifice and the implications for us. To me, St. Paul seems almost giddy about the love and the power of what God has done in Christ.
Think of our Gospel. The Transfiguration occurs in anticipation of Jesus’ own willingness to accept what needs to be done. It foreshadows Jesus’ own resurrection after his willingness to give of himself, to trust in the Love of the Father for love of humanity.
We as Catholics, we as Christians, we are to participate in this living sacrifice, this paschal mystery. We will find our lives, we will find true life, we will find our own purpose, when we give of ourselves as well.
See the true Glory of the Church is not about the magnificence of our buildings, not how well we follow the code and rules, or with which language we celebrate the Eucharist.
It is about how much we respond to the Love of God and trust in God’s love for us. It is about how we give of ourselves for others.
We Glory as a Church, as a people when we give to help others! When we willingly make sacrifices for the good of others.
Except, don’t we whine about it. Asked to give up meat from 6 fridays and one wednesday a year, and we moan and look for ways around it. We look for ways to reduce the number of days we have to fast, claiming Sundays we don’t have to. By the way, Sundays are included! And to be honest, I don’t think we Americans like giving up for others all that well. We want cheap food, cheap gas, cheap stuff, and we don’t want to pay others for this. We want easy marriages, easy divorces, easy lives, easy families, easy jobs, easy this and that.
We as Catholics, we can show a better way. We as Catholics can live a better way, a way of true Freedom, True Salvation.
It is the way of Jesus Christ, the Paschal Mystery. It is the way of giving of ourselves for the good of others, for love of others.
It is the way of husband and wife, giving of themselves 100% to each other and building a family based on mutual love, support, fidelity, in good time and bad. Who truly want to work together and conquer the problems of life.
It is the way of morality, in which we make decisions based on how they will help others. Making individual sacrifices and saying “No” at times to what may be only a desire and not a need. No, so that we can say Yes for others.
It is a way of peace and community building, by dying to our egos, and forgiving others, and asking forgiveness for ourselves.
It is a way of dying to our past, and rising to our lives now and the future.
It is making the time to pray, to develop our spiritual lives, and maybe having to re-prioritize our lives; so that we develop our relationship with God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
It is accepting of sacrifice with willing hearts, because we trust that good will take place for others.
So that our lives are always spent, through him, with him and in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit….
I think we burn out, because we try to “do” because we are trying to “earn” something.
We thrive, when we are doing the good for the sake of doing the good.
This Gospel of Mark for today may not be very wordy, but when we pull this apart it packs a Punch! It tells us the Secret of Life, the Secret of Salvation:
The Secret is this: “TRUST IN THE LOVE OF GOD”
Okay, think of the setting, Jesus had just been baptized, the Spirit descends upon him and a voice says: “You are my beloved Son!” Then the Spirit moves Jesus into the Desert.
Let’s think about that a moment: the Spirit. The Spirit is the Love of the Father. The Father’s love is with Jesus, and it is in Love of the Father and Love for the Father that Jesus goes forth to face the temptations.
Of course he conquers the temptations, even though are are not told what they are. He faces them head on, goes through them and wins over them. He doesn’t deny them. He doesn’t ignore them. He doesn’t try to go around them.
He lives them and win, because He knows he is loved by the Father.
This is the Secret. This is TRUE power. This is true Freedom.
Every human person faces temptations. Ultimately the temptation comes down to do we trust God and God’s love, or not.
Think of Adam and Eve. They walked in the garden with God. Yet, when they were tempted and they failed. They placed their trust in the things of the world. This is the original sin.
Think of the Hebrew people. They had witnessed great miracles, including the dividing of the sea and their escape from slavery. Yet, they were tempted and they placed their faith in a golden calf of their own making.
Our temptations are the same, though they appear different in our culture and time.
Our temptation in these days is to fall into the deception that “my” rights are most important…the right to sleep around, the right to abort, the right marry who I want, when I want, as many times as I want… the right to do violence, the right to have as much stuff as I want, the right to do this and that…the right to be listened to and obeyed by everyone else.
Our temptation is to idolize our own ideas and make them gods.
Our temptation is to fall in thinking that I can’t do anything to make changes..I can’t help anyone, I can’t forgive, I can’t be forgiven, I can’t be healthy, I can’t be loved… the temptation into Indifference.
When we give into these temptations, and as in Noah’s day, the flood waters, the chaos floods our world, floods our lives.
People ask “Why does God permit such suffering” God does not.
People permit suffering. People cause it, because we are selfish and too individualistic, because we have given up hope, because we are indifferent to those around us. Because we have given into our temptations.
God is NOT indifferent to us and our world, and our pain and suffering.
God’s promise, the covenant, is that God is with us, and has shown us the way to rise above the chaos, to rise above the suffering.
God is always with us. This is Jesus Christ.
In Jesus, God’s love is made real and visible.
In Jesus, there is the way to Power and Salvation.
Jesus Christ is that Way…and that way is to repent, to change our ways, and believe, TRUST in God’s love for us. Life in Christ is to trust in Love, and get through the suffering and temptations.
It will not stop them, but we can overcome them and not let them control us.
Trust in the Father’s love. There is no need to earn it, prove it, win it. We can never lose God’s love for us. God loves us perfectly.
All of us, equally.
And We have the same Spirit through Baptism. Thus, we are united together as a community; called to help each other, raise each other up. Thus, we are united in God’s love, so we are empowered to forgive and be forgiven.
We are empowered to let go of our things, so that all others may have enough to live. We are empowered in God’s love to consider our choices, develop those minds of ours, and make moral decisions for ourselves that help Life.
We are Loved. We can make changes. We can resist our temptations.
He trusted in the Father’s love for him, even when people jeered him and abandoned him. He trusted in love, and found true LIFE.
This is our Eucharist. This is the summit of all that we are as Catholics and Humans. This is why we are called to come each and every Sunday and participate in the Eucharist.
Because God loves us. Because God desires us to be free.
I look for ways to grow closer to God, to experience the salvation of Christ, alive in the Spirit….but that ego of mine creeps in as well…. I have to be sure this is not about me, myself and I. This is not about attention to how I am doing.
Christ’s leaven produces Unity, True Freedom, Community, Selflessness Life!
Other leaven…selfishness, suffering, violence, chaos, disunity….
The Leper knew that he wanted to be healed and of what he wanted to be healed of. And Jesus wanted to heal him. This is a fantastic image we have here.
Jesus desires to heal us. Jesus wants us to be healed. Jesus wishes to heal us.
I think we wanted to be healed, but here is a twist. I don’t think a lot of us really know what needs to be healed within us.
I honestly think too many of us are blind, or asleep to our own brokenness. We are aware of our symptoms, but not the root of our brokenness, we remain unknowing. If we don’t know, then how can we ask to be healed.
I hear it a lot…people want to stop lying, to stop gossiping, to stop losing their patience with others, with their children, and other actions. Sins we call them. This is great.
But the lies, the gossip, the lack of patience are not necessarily what we really need healed of. There is a deeper wound that Grace needs to touch.
It is like having a runny nose. It is irritating. So we want to do something about it. However, is the runny nose from a cold or is it hay fever? Each will need a different treatment.
It is the same with our “sins”. The lies, the gossip, et al are symptoms of the brokenness within. And this brokenness, these wounds are what need the healing touch of Christ.
We do not tell lies not simply to tell lies, the deeper reality can be…that we are scared of potential conflict? That we have unresolved anger towards another? That we are scared of looking bad in someone else’s eye? That we fear our parents, our spouses…?
We will go on lying or gossiping, or losing our patience or any other hosts of sinfulness until we get to the source and there is where Jesus will heal us.
Jesus heals us through his teaching that tells us to forgive. Jesus heals us because he revealed that no matter what we will be loved, even if there are mistakes… This is the good News is that God loves us no matter what, and this is the power, the grace for us to then be able to Forgive others and be forgiven.
It is the courage to take the risk and tell the truth.
It is the courage to take the risk and TRUST!
It is the capacity to let go and stop trying to control everyone and everything, and when that happens, it is amazing how much patience we find.
Jesus’ healing grace is the power to Love and give of ourselves, and given to us in the Eucharist.
Those closest to us, they will note the healing. When we are being truly healed within our hearts and souls others will note. No need to broadcast it. It will shot in stronger families. It will show in stronger friendships. It will show in stronger communities.
But as well, this is more than “me” being healed, and “you” being healed. So much of the suffering in this world is caused by so many of us being broken. We are so scared that there won’t be enough stuff, enough love, so we hoard it. We get greedy, we get overly protective, we become hateful persons.
So when we are healed and when we bring people to healing, we do so much to help end the needless suffering of this world. We understand that with God, there is always enough. We can give of our excess so that others may simply live.
Lent starts this coming week. Wouldn’t a great Lent be a time in which we honestly, and maybe brutally look within and be honest with ourselves, and see the suffering we inflict because of our brokenness.
And wouldn’t Easter be truly a celebration of Life if we spend those 40 days, giving ourselves over to Jesus Christ and his grace, and being healed?