Immersed in Christ: July 20, 2020
Monday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time
The Responsorial Psalm gives the key to experiencing God: “To the upright I will show the saving power of God” (Psalm 50).
Micah 6: 1-8 shows God defending himself against those who feel betrayed by him — as we sometimes do when we have been going to church, saying our prayers, doing the things our religion prescribes, and God permits something terrible to happen to us. We get mad at God. We did our part; why didn’t God do his? Some people break off relationship with God over this. If we are tempted to condemn them, let the one who has never suffered tragic loss or pain cast the first stone!
The ultimate answer to this was given by Jesus, who saved the world by dying on the cross and laid down the principle from the beginning: “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” Jesus did not promise to save us from suffering. When, contrary to everyone’s hopes and expectations, he announced that this was not his mission as Messiah, Peter objected forcefully in the name of us all, and Jesus answered just as forcefully (see Matthew 16: 21-27). This is the reason he was (and still is) rejected and crucified.
Micah doesn’t take us this far. He just says we cannot expect to experience the fruit of religion unless our religion is also our deep spirituality; that is, an ongoing interaction of mind and heart with the mind and heart of God. Just “doing what we are told” is religion without spirituality. Micah puts authentic response to God in a nutshell: what God requires of us is to “do justice, love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” This is the way to experience God: “To the upright I will show the saving power of God.”
In Matthew 12: 38-42 the “scribes and Pharisees,” who made the prescriptions of the law their preoccupation, ask Jesus to work some striking miracle as a “sign.” We find this same phenomenon today in many people whose religion stops short with doctrinal orthodoxy and law observance: they tend to fixate on the latest visions, private revelations and “signs in the sky” to feed their devotion instead of going deep into the mysteries of faith. Jesus says the one sign he will give is the visible presence of his life in the members of his body on earth. They are the visible “sign of Jonah” and proof of Christ’s resurrection. To reveal Jesus in ministry is to live on a level so divine that our behavior cannot be explained except by the divine life of Christ within us. Through “the upright” on this level God will show the mystery of his “saving power.”
Initiative: Be a priest. Reveal Christ alive in you by expressing his love.
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