St. Irenaeus of Lyons says that, “The business of the Christian is nothing else than to be ever preparing for death.” Monastic spirituality has embraced this preparation in many concrete ways because of the understanding that death is not a finality, but rather a passageway into eternal life!
This Lent, we’ve been called to give up far more than most had planned. We’ve been called to renew our hope and trust in God, who sees beyond earthly suffering not as a spectator, but as the one who took on flesh to feel deeply the pangs of human suffering, in order to redeem us. We are realizing God’s plans were not our plans, and His plans will bear so much more fruit.
Feeling anxious when someone we love becomes ill is normal. Turning to Jesus for help is wise. Waiting for an answer can be difficult. It must have seemed so confusing to Mary and Martha, knowing how much Jesus cared for their brother, that he would delay coming to his assistance. Yet, He had an even greater plan in mind.
In the Gospel account of the Transfiguration we discover how we progress in the spiritual life: by embracing adversity, by looking upon the glorified face of Christ, and by going down the mountain to proclaim what we have seen to others.
The wisdom of the Church gives us six weeks to reflect on how we have this tendency to prefer the fleeting pleasure or power of sin over the goodness and mercy of the Father. This is where sin is a mystery to us: why, when given the choice to pursue goodness and virtue, do we instead choose pleasure and vice?
Jesus didn’t come to abolish God’s law but to fulfill it. He prompts us to ponder our behavior and challenges us to make necessary changes in any of the areas where we lack or struggle to abide by God’s commandments. We need to pay more attention to the details of our lives and ask ourselves how we want to be considered in heaven.
Jesus says we are salt and light of the earth and must allow the joy of our faith to spill over into the lives of others. We need to put our faith into action, being Christ for others and extending the same mercy and compassion as Christ. A good teacher knows what his students can handle. Do we see in ourselves what God sees in us?
So many people today are looking for the light and warmth of hope and love that can only come from Jesus. On this Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, the example of Mary “carrying a light” — the Christ Child — is an invitation for each of us to carry into a darkened world the light of faith burning in our hearts and minds.
There is a darkening of intellect and will in today’s world in an effort to twist the truth of freedom and to be self-serving. How are we to respond to the enveloping darkness around us? We need to follow the light of Christ. Our primary identity must lie in belonging to him, and everything else must become secondary.
Every major revival of the 20th century involved God attempting to restore His control over the Church in an experiential way, not just in a theological or doctrinal understanding. If the Church is to be the leaven for all people and if we are to see the kingdom of God ever expanding, we can’t trust in ourselves but in the fire and might of the Holy Spirit.
Though sinless, Jesus submitted himself to the baptism of John the Baptist so that we could be baptized with the Holy Spirit. Through our baptismal vows, we commit to share Jesus’ concern for the lost and broken. If Jesus was willing to live a life of service for the poor, we must do the same or we can’t call ourselves his followers.