We are called to love and to live as Jesus. Everyone else in our life, when they are viewed in His marvelous light, is to be received as a gift. This becomes increasingly possible for us as we are freed from disordered self love. This process of being freed from disordered self love is the path to true happiness because it sets us free for the love of God. It is the way of the saints and the martyrs.
CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic Online) - As we walk through the last week of the Church year and round the bend on the Advent Road, the readings at Holy Mass on Monday, November 26, 2012, reminded me of the things that matter most. They are not things at all - they are persons. First, of course, is the Divine Person; the One who reveals to us the splendor of the Father and His love, Jesus Christ. The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council said it so simply yet profoundly:
"The truth is that only in the mystery of the incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light. For Adam, the first man, was a figure of Him Who was to come, namely Christ the Lord. Christ, the final Adam, by the revelation of the mystery of the Father and His love, fully reveals man to man himself and makes his supreme calling clear." (GS #22)
We are called to love and to live as Jesus. Everyone else in our life, when they are viewed in His marvelous light, is to be received as a gift. This becomes increasingly possible for us as we are freed from disordered self love. This process of being freed from disordered self love is the path to true happiness. That is because it sets us free for the love of God. It is the way of the saints and the martyrs.
The 144,000 we meet in our first reading (Rev 14) at Mass learned it well.These are "the ones who follow the Lamb wherever he goes" and "have been ransomed as the first fruits of the human race for God and the Lamb". They understand this way. They walked in it. It opened before them the very gates of heaven. It can do the same for you and me. This is the wisdom of the widow in ourGospel account.
The widow of Mondays Gospel passage (Luke 21: 1-4) understood the truth which sets all men and women free. Jesus is the treasure in the field (Matt. 13:44). When we have Him, or more accurately, when He has us, we lack nothing. In Him "all the promises of God find their Yes (2 Cor. 1:20) Possessions no longer possess us because we know that God provides all and that we can live in the economy of heavenly scale - beginning right now.
"When Jesus looked up he saw some wealthy people putting their offerings into the treasury and he noticed a poor widow putting in two small coins. He said, "I tell you truly, this poor widow put in more than all the rest; for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood." (Luke 21:1-4)
One of the Gospel accounts which introduces us to what I call the economy of heavenly scale is the feeding of the five thousand. It is recorded in all four Gospel accounts, underscoring its importance. (See, Mk 6:30-44, Mt. 13:14-21, Luke 9: 10-17, Jn 6:5-13). On this Monday of the last week of the year, I want to share a few reflections based upon the account in the Gospel of Mark. I hope to return to them in much more depth in the future:
Be Freed from Self Love
"The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught."
The focus of the disciples in this profoundly important encounter was on themselves and accomplishments in their ministry. This kind of focus on self is the antithesis of an authentic spiritual life. Though some contemporary versions of religion attempt to figuratively baptize it, it is the path not to self fulfillment but to the loss of ones soul. Jesus said, "What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his own self in the process?"
These men had traveled with Jesus. They knew who He was. Yet, they clearly had not yet come to grasp the implications of their relationship with Him. They had seen, perhaps with their eyes, but not yet with their hearts.
Learn to See Others
Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest."
His focus is on them and his identification with their need. He invites them to come with him into a new way of viewing themselves, their lives and the mission. This will take new vision, the eyes of faith.
Compassion: Learn to Suffer With
"So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things."
He is moved with compassion (to "suffer with", in the Greek), his attitude is always redemptive. His first act of love is to TEACH them. They did not understand who they were or who He was. This lack is their greatest poverty.
Never Send Them Away
"By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. "This is a remote place," they said, "and it's already very late. Send the people away so they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat."
Again the disciples focus is on themselves and not the ones for whom Jesus had gathered them together. Their notion of meeting the poverty of the people is to send them away to take care of themselves.
Learn to Live Redemptively
"But he answered, "You give them something to eat." They said to him, "That would take eight months of a man's wages! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?"
Jesus begins to invite the disciples into a whole fresh new way of thinking and living, a life of participation and redemptive mission. Their eyes, hearts and minds are not yet opened and they do not understand. They have an accounting model- a model based on scarcity and not provision, lack and not leveraged love.
Answer the Question: What do you have?
"How many loaves do you have?" he asked. "Go and see." When they found out, they said, "Five--and two fish."
The invitation continues. He asks them to give what they have and in that acting to begin to participate in His mission by accepting his vocational invitation to the freely given sacrifice of a surrendered life of love. It is in that gift of self that they will bear the fruit that such a co-redemptive life bears. Then they will become sons in the Son.
Mediation and Multiplication
"Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to set before the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish. The number of the men who had eaten was five thousand. "
Jesus uses the matter given by men to manifest the manna of heaven. It is in the breaking (of both the disciples' self-centeredness and the bread of their personal sacrifice) that both the manifestation and the multiplication occur. Here where the leverage of love and the true economy of heavenly scale are demonstrated so that the mission of the Church may be inaugurated. The invitation and participation to the mission of Jesus is to be embraced freely by men and women whose eyes are opened.(See St. Luke 24:30)
Understand About the Loaves
"Immediately he spoke to them and said, "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid." Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed, for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened."
Here the divine connection is made between "being" and "doing" -- they had not understood about the loaves. We will live the way we love. It was because of that lack of understanding that they succumbed to fear and were unable to navigate the waters of their lives and their missionary vocation. Once again, the Lord heard the cry of the poor as it issued from the mouths of his own disciples and He spoke these beautiful words: "It is I. Don't be afraid."
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