Immersed in Christ: March 24, 2020
Tuesday, Week Four of Lent
The Responsorial (Psalm 46) tells us to trust: “The mighty Lord is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.”
Ezekiel 47: 1-12 is about water, a symbol of the life God gives in Baptism. All who have this life within them should be sources of life for others: “Wherever the river flows, every living creature that can multiply shall live.”
Picture it: a clean, flowing river. On both banks, green plants, flowers, crops and trees. This is the way the world should look, wherever Christians are. At least to those who have eyes to see the Life he gives. “I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last.”
Jesus used this same image with the woman of Samaria: “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” Later he said: “Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.” Those who receive life are to give life.
John continues: “Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive.” Jesus had said, “It is the spirit that gives life... The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.”1
The “daily way” to receive and increase God’s life within us — and transmit it to others — is to read God’s words, praying for enlightenment by his Holy Spirit. To do this regularly is to be a disciple. In every Mass the Liturgy of the Word reminds and calls us to this. What this reading does is give us motivation: by opening ourselves to the “water of life” by reflecting on God’s words, we will become fountains of life for others. Is that worth investing time in?
John 5: 1-16 ends with the sobering statement: “It was because Jesus did things such things on the Sabbath that they began to persecute him.” We want to scream: “What things? Healing a sick man? Anyone who would persecute a person for that is the one who is sick!”
But it happens every day. Who within the Church gets persecuted the most by others in the Church, laity as well as officials? Isn’t it the “prophets” — those who upset complacency by acting or speaking in a way that calls our assumptions into question?
What did you think of yesterday’s reflection? “It was bad, dangerous! It said it’s okay to miss Mass on Sunday!”
Is that all you saw? Or did you see God as a wise, loving Father who will dispense with a rule at times to help someone love the Mass and him more? Any priest can dispense from Mass for a good reason. Do we need an authority to make that judgment for us? Or can we look at God’s heart and make it for ourselves? The answer to that question is the “litmus test” of Phariseeism.
If the comfortable are afflicted by what comforts the afflicted, they have a problem. It is probably fear of human freedom exercised in decisions.
Initiative: Remember: “The mighty Lord is with us.” Trust him to lead.
1 John 4:10, 6:63, 7:37-39; 15:16.