Father David's Reflection for the Friday between Epiphany and the Baptism of the Lord
The Responsorial Psalm sings, “Praise the Lord, Jerusalem” (Psalm 147).
1 John 5: 5-13 tells us why: it is because we have the life of God in us, and we can know it. “And this is the testimony: God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever possesses the Son has life; whoever does not possess the Son of God does not have life.”
How do we know we really are in life-giving union with Jesus Christ? “There are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood.”
If the experience of the early Church (Acts 2: 41-47) is a model, we receive the testimony of the Spirit when we “devote ourselves to the apostles' teaching,” to seeking felt, experienced growth in union with God through prayer and reflection on the Scriptures. We receive the testimony of “the water,” of the physical, visible life of the Church embodied in the sacraments, when we devote ourselves to “fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” with the community. And we receive the testimony of “the blood” when our actions bear witness that we have “died” to this world’s passing benefits and re-oriented our lives to seek fulfillment “in Christ.”
Basic to this is our attitude toward material goods. In the early Church some “would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need.” What matters is not how, but that our lifestyle should be proof of radical detachment from selfishness and absorption in this world’s promises.
Luke 5: 12-16 encourages us. We may feel that we are too “unclean” to experience God. The answer to this is to go to Jesus as the outcast leper did and say, “Lord, if you wish you can make me clean.”
Jesus will give us the same answer he gave him: “I do will it. Be made clean.” But he will tell us we also have to do something. The leper was already cleansed, but for his experience to be complete Jesus told him, “Go, show yourself to the priest….” In the Church the sacrament of Reconciliation carries forward the healing process by making forgiveness a felt experience.
The general principle here is that we must choose to act if we want evidence that we do in fact have life through Jesus Christ. The basic choices are prayer (the “Spirit”), physical involvement with the community (the “water”), and decisions that bear witness to Christ’s values (the “blood”). If we choose to act, we will feel like singing “Praise the Lord, Jerusalem” because we will know we are alive.
Initiative: If you want to know Jesus, accept him as universal Savior. Seek to experience grace. Do what you have to do to know your response is real.