Immersed in Christ: June 18, 2020
Thursday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time
The Responsorial Psalm invites us to look at what God has done and take courage: “Let the just rejoice in the Lord “ (Psalm 97).
Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 48: 1-14 is a litany of the manifestations of God’s power through Elijah. He “arose like a fire” to “restore the tribes of Jacob” through “prophecies of doom” and promises of healing supported by awesome acts of power.
The Gospels identify John the Baptizer with the promised return of Elijah: “With the spirit and power of Elijah he will go before him, to turn the hearts of parents to their children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous.”1 But in the new Elijah God showed his power in a different way. He revealed the mystery of God’s greatest power: the power of love acting, not through violence and force, but through surrender and sacrifice. John was killed in a preview of Christ’s own death to show that Jesus was going to save the world in an unexpected way: “I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but they did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man is about to suffer at their hands.”2 The “new Elijah” was the forerunner of a new and unexpected kind of Savior. 3 It is in this new spirit of gentleness and “enduring love” that Christians minister as Christ. It is to this we look when the just rejoice in the Lord.
Matthew 6: 7-15 teaches us that the secret to praying well is to make Jesus’ priorities the priorities of our own hearts. First, we should desire above all things that God in his transcendent majesty be adored and glorified: “Hallowed be thy name!” Then that on earth his kingship should be established and his will be done as perfectly as it is in heaven. Finally, that in heaven we will all be gathered together at the “wedding banquet of the Lamb, where Jesus will be the delight, the “bread” of the banquet and all will be experiencing together the “peace and unity” of his kingdom in total reconciliation with God and with each other. There we will all be forgiving each another as God is forgiving us, in unrestricted mutual love.
Jesus did not give us the Our Father as a formula of words to be memorized,4 but as an interior stance of the heart to be cultivated. Teresa of Avila says the words of memorized prayers can be “meditation” if our way of saying them is deep and reflective. If it is not, she says it is not prayer at all, “no matter how much the lips move.” All true prayer is prayer in the “secret” of the heart.
Initiative: Be a priest. Unite your heart to Christ’s in prayer and action.
2 Matthew 17:12.
3 See Monday (6/15/20), and Mathew 16: 13-28. 4 The wording differs in Luke 11:12.