Wednesday, January 13, 2021

DWELLING PEACEFULLY IN FAITH, LOVE, HOPE, LIGHT, JOY~ Part 7

 

            

Lockdowns, partial and about as far as they can get, lockdowns lifted, briefly, imposed again, time and time again such that time, in this pandemic, has become an odd, uncertain experience, divorced from the rhythm of life before all this began.

Some places around the world have instituted curfews, taking away those remaining hours when one might have strolled with family or friends, gone for an after-work bike right, skate, play hockey with friends. Another disruption of time as we had experienced it.

This evil virus has indeed run amuck. It is as invisible as it is persistent. It’s impact is the visible in the lives of our brothers and sisters who contract it, become ill or die; upon the overworked doctors, nurses, EMTS and other caregivers; the general destruction of what used to be ‘normal’ in most of daily life; most damaging of all are the restrictions on communities of faith: in some places outright closure of places of worship.

Living with all the physical, economic, emotional, spiritual impact of this pandemic, time for many has become amorphous. Yet this is not so in reality, for time, is rather a gift, given to each of us in the exact measure needed for us to become saints. True we may experience time in a variety of ways, not even as a delightful gift given us by Our Beloved Father, but as a burden.  Many teenagers experience time as slow because they are, often, in a rush, while elderly often experience time as moving too quickly. When anxious for human contact in this isolation, and an affirming word from those we love, emotionally our inner voice may scream ‘they never call’, translation: ‘they don’t care’. Even more painful is when God seems to take His time, lots of it, before answering our prayer and here it is the voice of satan who hisses God doesn’t care.

Listening to our inner raw emotional voice, worse to the hissing liar satan, is to waste the precious and holy gift of time.

St. John Paul II teaches about time: In Christianity time has a fundamental importance. Within the dimension of time the world was created; within it the history of salvation unfolds, finding its culmination in the "fullness of time" of the Incarnation, and its goal in the glorious return of the Son of God at the end of time. In Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, time becomes a dimension of God, who is himself eternal. With the coming of Christ there begin "the last days" (cf. Heb 1:2), the "last hour" (cf. 1 Jn 2:18), and the time of the Church, which will last until the Parousia. From this relationship of God with time there arises the duty to sanctify time. This is done, for example, when individual times, days or weeks, are dedicated to God, as once happened in the religion of the Old Covenant, and as happens still, though in a new way, in Christianity. In the liturgy of the Easter Vigil the celebrant, as he blesses the candle which symbolizes the Risen Christ, proclaims: "Christ yesterday and today, the beginning and the end, Alpha and Omega, all time belongs to him, and all the ages, to him be glory and power through every age for ever". He says these words as he inscribes on the candle the numerals of the current year. The meaning of this rite is clear: it emphasizes the fact that Christ is the Lord of time; he is its beginning and its end; every year, every day and every moment are embraced by his Incarnation and Resurrection, and thus become part of the "fullness of time". [1]

That is the context, the true experience of time in these days, remembering as we pray in the Preface of the 1st Eucharistic Prayer for Reconciliation: Never did You turn away from us and, though time and again we have broken Your covenant, You have bound the human family to Yourself through Jesus Your Son, our Redeemer, with a new bond of love, so tight it can never be undone. [2]

It is within the above reality we have come to the lines in the Little Mandate: Preach the Gospel with your life – without compromise! Listen to the Spirit. He will lead you.

Before speaking/preaching the Gospel to anyone it is essential we first plunge into the depths, not merely the word-text, but the depths of the Gospel, contemplating, and being attentive to the primary teacher of the Gospel, the Most Holy Spirit who came upon Christ at His baptism in the Jordan, was with Jesus every step of the way from His Incarnation to His Ascension, then at Pentecost came upon the whole Church and comes to each of us in Baptism.

Thus, before we preach to others, filled with the fire of the Holy Spirit, we will lead lives which radiate Christ, becoming less “I” and more Him until, like the Apostle, in truth we will no longer live but Christ truly lives in us. [Gal. 2:20]

To paraphrase St. Paul VI, we will discover very quickly negative reactions from people if we preach, indeed likely we will actually be preachy, before being living, radiant witnesses to Christ, seeing such light flowing from us people will indeed pause and be attentive to the proclaiming of the person and words of Christ.

Some may argue that’s all fine and dandy, but we are in lockdown, or bedridden in a hospital or nursing home, live alone, have a job, a family to care for, etc., etc. All true enough yet people see, know how we live, love, speak with others, whatever our day to day circumstances.

When we are offering our sufferings in our hearts to the Lord in union with Him, do our job, care in the many ways needed for our family, pray the Holy Rosary, participate in Holy Mass, even if in these trying times it is remotely via the internet, all this is preaching the Gospel with our lives, without compromise.

Remember that as Christians we are called to be apostles of the Good News continually, everywhere. We witness to Christ by our presence, by the way we sit, talk, eat. We evangelize at every second of the day and with each breath we take. [3]

 

 

1] http://www.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/apost_letters/1994/documents/hf_jp-ii_apl_19941110_tertio-millennio-adveniente.html  para.10

2] https://theeucharist.wordpress.com/index/appendix-of-eucharistic-prayers/eucharistic-prayer-of-reconciliation-i/    italics and underling are mine

3] LIVING THE GOSPEL WITHOUT COMPROMISE; p. 86; Catherine Doherty; Madonna House Publications, 2002

 

© 2021 Fr. Arthur Joseph

 

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