This Sunday is called Laetare Sunday. It is to be a weekend of rejoicing, in the midst of our season of penance. Looking back, what have we heard, read, proclaimed and prayed that calls to rejoice? The opening prayer, for starters, offers us some wonder-full food for thought, leading to us being nourished. Then, as we are nourished, we share the strengthening which we have received with those our God has chosen for us. They come into our lives in the most ordinary and very extra ordinary circumstances. They do come however. What we have been given, St. Paul writes is not for ourselves, but for the common good. We do not know what has been given, until it is given away. What surprises lie in store for those who take the risk. We prayed: "God our Father, your word, Jesus Christ spoke peace to a sinful world and brought humankind the gift of reconciliation.....Teach us the people who bear His name, to follow the example He gave us: may our faith, hope and charity (love), turn hatred to love, violence to peace, death to eternal life.”
This process of transformation is a life-long process which we must endure. It is also a very painful process, because, it is a birthing experience. Some of us would much prefer to do anything else rather than embrace that, which of necessity, has to take place. What adds to the difficulty of embracing this mysterious process is we do not know what timeframe we are working with. We are dealing here with God's time, Kairos, which is way outside clock time, cronos. Kairos cannot be measured. We are assured, however, God does not allow us to move on until we have received all the wisdom He intends us to receive, from what this life brings to us. Great??? We are told in the Scriptures that it is by patient endurance we are saved. On the spiritual hike there are no quick fixes. As a matter of fact Jesus only guarantees us rest, when we rest in Him. This is why we have to reach out in faith filled prayer to a Loving Power far, far greater than ourselves. We have to accept, sooner or later, (for most of it is always later) that we cannot do it. We have to accept, or be brought to acceptance we are powerless, but we have One who is all powerful. We will discover our gracious Father knows us better than we will ever know ourselves. He will act accordingly. That does not make it any easier to bring our hatred towards ourselves and other and surrender it into His always outstretched hands. Hands that have been pierced, out of love for us.
We have to admit, and bring to hope filled, the anger and to the seeds of violence that dwells in the depths of each one of us. Without prayer it will be too much for us to handle. The result will be and has been war and untold destruction. We will go to war with ourselves, and with those who have the misfortune of being in our lives. All wars begin within the human heart. What I do not like in me that I see in you…I will want to go to war with you. I am led to the understanding, I am not going to war with you, I am going to war with the "me" which I have found in you. How is it in family life the two people most like each other are always at each other’s throats? Does the aforementioned truth help to explain that which is the experience of so many families? Anger brought to hope filled prayer, is transformed into a compassionate peace within, us. We will then be ambassadors of peace, bringing the gift of reconciliation to our homes, and eventually to the families of, humankind. There is no mess too big for our God. All our deaths must be brought to loving prayer, especially to the great expression of God's love for us, The Eucharist celebration. There we will be led to see, and eventually believe the great connection between temporal death and Paschal death. We will be led deeper into this great mystery, all deaths are not endings but real beginnings. Temporal death, the losses we endure in this life, the loss of a job, a dear friend, a spouse, child, a pet, a home, a reputation etc. The list is endless as are pathways leading us to an ever deepening understanding of the Paschal Mystery in our everyday life. All of our little deaths are our preparation for the final death which leads us to the new transfigured life which will be ours in the resurrected life. All temporal death leads to a new way of seeing, and a new way of living. It is in the plan of our merciful God, that this is so. Otherwise evil, death, destruction wins. This CANNOT happen where The Kingdom exists. What a reason we have to rejoice? "How can I keep from singing?"
Yes, this is not easy. It is essential we keep all this truth before ourselves and when we are brought to wisdom we share the treasure that we have found buried deep within. The following is what I read at Mass and promised to post. It from Merton's book, Faith and Violence, "Popular religion has to a great extent betrayed man's inner spirit and turned him over, like Samson, with his hair cut off and his eyes dug out, to turn the mill of a self-frustrating and a self-destroying culture”. The clichés of popular religion have in many cases become every bit as hollow and as false as those of soap salesmen, and far more dangerously deceptive because one cannot easily verify the claims made about the product. The sin of religiosity is that turned God, peace, happiness, salvation and all that man desires into products to be marketed in an especially attractive package deal. In this, I think, the fault lies not with the sincerity of preachers and religious writers, but with the worn-out presuppositions with which they fare content to operate. The religious mind today is seldom pertinently or prophetically critical. Oh, it is critical all right; but too often of wrong or irrelevant issues.... But I wonder if we have not settled down too comfortably to accept passively the prevarications(lies) that the Gospels or the Prophets would have us reject with all the strength of our being. I am afraid the common combination of organizational jollity, moral legalism and unclear crusading will not pass muster as serious religion. It certainly has nothing to do with "spiritual life"