FEBRUARY27, 2011- 8TH SUNDAY OF THE YEAR: ISAIAH 49:14-15; 1 Cor 4:1-5; Matthew 6:24-34
LITTLE TO ME WHETHER YOU OR ANY HUMAN COURT PASS JUDGMENT ON ME.
As he acknowledged readily, Paul’s inner freedom and public witness even in the face of opposition and hostile attack, was based on his consciousness of being in the service of the living Christ Jesus. Although he obviously displayed much initiative and aggressiveness in his defense of the Jewish cause prior to his conversion, yet he underwent a profound change of character after his encounter with the risen Lord. He suffered intensely once he came to realize that he had been persecuting God’s holy people and so attacked the Lord himself. “Paul, Paul, why do you persecute me” Jesus abruptly challenged him in the vision as he approached
In one way or another, each of us is to follow this same process of an inner transformation that involves a kind of death and rising to a new sense of identity. In his Epistle to the Romans (6:4) Paul makes this point very strongly: “If we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him.” This new life begins, he goes on to affirm, not only after physical death, but even now: “you should present yourselves to God as living having died already.” (6:13) These words apply to us today as much as ever they were directed to the early Roman Christians. This process of attaining to an inner life that represents a radical change, not only in our behavior, as essential as that is, but in our sense of personal identity. The capacity for such a profound new way of being in this world is offered us in the sacraments. But, just as Paul had to pass through an extended period of inner struggle in prayer before he attained to the fuller exercise of the life in Christ he had received at his conversion, so we too must assimilate the gift of God’s life in us by our active assimilation of grace through interior prayer. The fruit of grace can ripen within each of us, in God’s Providential workings, only by our active efforts to open up the deep places of our inmost self. This is the work of the heart that the early monks engaged in by their life in the desert.
Today our American society finds itself in a growing crisis that involves various areas of our life: political, as evidenced both in our relation to Asian as well as mid-Eastern countries, economic, and cultural. The strongly materialist and secularist trends have already weakened the once strong family life we enjoyed, and the Church is being increasingly marginalized and even pressured by hostile forces.
At this Eucharist we receive the grace of welcoming the Living Christ himself within us so that he might further this challenging work of being prepared for the fullness of life with the Father for all eternity. Ω
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