Immersed in Christ: April 20, 2020
Monday, Second Week of Easter
The Responsorial (Psalm 2) reminds us where power and security lie: “Blessed are all who
take refuge in the Lord”.
In Acts 4: 23-31 Peter and John report to the community that they have been commanded by the priests and elders “not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.” The response of the community is to quote Psalm 2: “Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples imagine vain things... against the Lord and against his Messiah?”
They are grounding their life and action in the most basic truth perceived by human intelligence: that nothing exists except by God’s ongoing will to continue his creative act. We are only because God is saying “Beeeee.....” And prolonging the creative command. We can move and act only because God within us is empowering us to convert our existence into action.
The philosophers call our existence “first act” and our operations “second act” — not because they are two separate acts of God, but because existence is God’s actualization of the power he has to make nothingness exist as a being, and operation is God’s concurrence in a being’s actualization of the power it has to use existence according to its nature. Paul put this on the table when the “Epicurean and Stoic philosophers debated with him” in Athens: “I proclaim to you the God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth.... since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things.... For ‘In him we live and move and have our being.’” 1
This is the recognition every human choice should be based on. We acknowledge it at every Mass in the Presentation of Gifts: “Blessed are you, Lord, God of all creation. Through your goodness we have....” Forget that, and every choice we make is baseless. Remember that, and we are grounded in truth and security: “Happy are all who take refuge in the Lord.”
But God goes beyond giving us existence. In John 3: 1-8 Jesus tells Nicodemus that we need to receive life on a higher level by being “born from above... of water and Spirit.” We say in the Presentation of Gifts that this bread “which earth has given and human hands have made” will become “the bread of life.” Likewise, this human life which God gave when he “formed us from the dust of the ground, and breathed into us the breath of life” is meant to become eternal life, divine life, a sharing in the Life of God himself. 2
In every Mass we are reminded of this. In every Mass we need to reaffirm our faith that this mystery is true, our hope that its promise will be fully realized in us, our love for God giving us life that is both human and divine. We do this by “presenting our bodies” under the form of bread to be offered as a “living sacrifice” to God as we did on the day of Baptism: “May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands....” 3
Initiative: Recognize God as Creator by intelligence and as Father by faith..