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"Grant us by the Gifts of the Holy Spirit…"

May 15, 2018

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Father David's Reflection for Saturday of Week Nineteen (Ordinary Time)

The Responsorial (Psalm 16) expresses recognition of God as All Good: “You are my inheritance, O Lord.

 

Joshua 24:14-29 tells the people to decide. “Decide today whom you will serve.” Will you direct your life by the goals and values of the culture you grew up in —“the gods your fathers served?” Or by the enticements of some new understanding of life you are learning from those “in whose land (social, professional, cultural milieu) you are now living?” “As for me and my household,” Joshua declares, “we will serve the LORD.”

 

If you choose to serve the One God who is all Truth, all Goodness, all Being and Life, you must “serve him completely and sincerely.” To love authentically the God who is All, you must love him “with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” In other words, you must “die” to all else and live for God alone. This is what we choose to do in the Eucharistic Prayer at every Mass.[1]

 

During the Institution Narrative, every person present is called to say to God together with Jesus and the presider: “This is my body, which is given for you.” This is an echo of Baptism, when we were called to “present our bodies as a living sacrifice” to God; to unite ourselves to Jesus on the cross, to be “buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”[2]

 

This is total gift, total love, an all-embracing decision to “lose” the life we were born with in order to “find” a new Life in the death and rebirth of Baptism.

 

Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and... wrote these words in the book of the law of God; and he took a large stone, and set it up ... in the sanctuary of the LORD [saying] “See, this stone... has heard all the words of the LORD that he spoke to us; therefore it shall be a witness against you, if you deal falsely with your God.”

 

Our “stone of witness” is the stone that was “rolled away” from the tomb when Jesus died. Celebrating Christ’s death and resurrection (and ours in him) in the Mass reminds us that, like Israel out of Egypt, we have come out of the “state of slavery” that was our tomb in the “culture of death,” and into the open, expanding newness of the “Gospel of Life.” But only if we respond sincerely to Joshua’s words: “Put away the strange gods that are among you and turn your hearts to the Lord.”[3]

 

In Matthew 19:13-15 little children are brought to Jesus so that he might “lay his hands on them” and pray. This recalls the gesture of “calling down” the Holy Spirit in the Epiclesis, when the presider “holds his hands outstretched” over the bread and wine, asking that they “may become the body and blood” of Christ. It reminds us that Jesus holds his hands over all those being baptized, praying and saying, “This is my body.” He sends his Spirit to transform them into the real presence of his own body on earth. They “become Christ.”

 

Initiative: Say in every Mass: “This is my body, given to you and for all.”

 

 

 

[1] Mark 12:30. See Deuteronomy 6:4-5.

 

[2] See Luke 22:19; Romans 6:3-11, 12:1-2. The need to lose our lives in order to find Life is insisted on in all four Gospels: Matthew 10:39, 16:25; Mark 8:35; Luke 9:24, 17:33; John 12:25.

 

[3] See John Paul II’s letter, The Gospel of Life.”

 

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