Immersed in Christ: April 14, 2020
Tuesday in the Octave of Easter
The Responsorial (Psalm 33) proclaims: “The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.” But
not completely! In Acts 2: 36-41 Peter exhorts the people, “Save yourselves from this generation which has gone astray.”
There is a negative as well as a positive meaning in the presider’s words during the Presentation of Gifts. Like the bread and wine, the human nature we present to God is something “earth has given.” God created us from the “clay of the ground” and created us good. “God looked at everything he had made and he found it very good.” 1
But not for long. God made humans free. God created our human nature, and it is good. But as persons we are something “human hands have made.” Our choices form us and make us what we are as persons. We can choose to be good or bad.
Never totally, of course.
There is so much good in the worst of us
And so much bad in the best of us,
That it ill behooves the rest of us
To criticize what’s left of us.
Still, we do make bad choices. And every choice, good or bad, not only has an effect on us; it also puts something into the environment that never goes away. The attitudes and values we express influence others. Expressed often enough, they tend to become characteristic of a culture. Then everyone born into that culture is influenced by them — even before becoming old enough to make a free choice. Our society can “program” us to think and act spontaneously in ways we have never consciously considered or chosen. We call this “cultural conditioning.” This is what Peter is talking about when he urges, “Save yourselves from this generation which has gone astray.”
The task of the prophets is to challenge the culture through a lifestyle so different that they “radiate faith in values that go beyond current values, and hope in something not seen.... Through this wordless witness they stir up irresistible questions in the hearts of those who see how they live: Why are they like this?” 2
To be consecrated to this, Peter says, “you must reform, and be baptized... then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” The gift of the prophets.
John 20: 11-18 begins with Mary weeping and ends with her proclaiming, “I have seen the Lord.” The core of all witness is personal encounter with the living Jesus. Everything else comes from that. Once we know him, we are driven to know him better through the study of his mind and heart as revealed in the word of God. We become disciples. Then, as we take on his mission as prophets, priests and stewards of his Kingship, we reverse the darkness and death of “this generation that has gone astray” until “the earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.” This is a motive to “present our bodies” again at the Presentation of Gifts.”
Initiative: Save yourself and others from the infection of the culture. Be a prophet.