February 5, 2016
As I read the readings today, I thought of how the Body of Christ has been prefigured in the Old Testament (with David's role, saving the Israelites from the Philistines) and also more proximally prefigured in John the Baptist's martyrdom. It seems as if Herod was placed in a similar situation to Pontius Pilate, in that he is obligated by his position to respond to the people's demands at the same time of being perplexed by the holiness of whom is also wanted dead. Thinking about David and St. John the Baptist as both representative of Christ's life and death, we see this continuity of suffering and long forbearance, which we are all called to.
This continuity is proclaimed right before the Gospel reading: Blessed are they who have kept the word with a generous heart,
and yield a harvest through perseverance.
Perseverance, grit, tenacity, willingness to suffer, bear all things, endure all things: this is the most difficult challenge of human life, I think, to sustain fervor to embody Christ amidst all seasons. Do you ever work really hard to have a well-ordered week, and even just the next week you think: "Wait I have to do this again?". I have. Life is characterized by newness as much as it is by stable virtuous attributes we should all be striving for, and the difficulty is twofold: harnessing and feeding the zeal (ala John the Baptist) that keeps this assertion in the forefront of our minds, as well as the wisdom with which we direct its manifestation throughout the many roles we play (ala David the King, David the Warrior, David the Penitent).
And, when we dig into this life of holiness, in all its demands, we tend to find peace when we lay our heads on our pillows at the end of the day, by grace. Your life is an unrepeatable part of the Body of Christ, and when we fail to live up to that, the whole Body suffers in some mysterious way. In what we have done and what we fail to do, we either hurt or do not nourish the Body of Christ in the way we are called, we refuse participation in the story of human redemption. Christ has already accomplished the way of redemption, but (in some mysterious way that I am not schooled to theologically articulate) His Body still suffers on earth in the hearts of His people.
As we approach Lent (YES PREPARE FOR LENTING, WE ARE APPROACHING ASH WEDNESDAY), our Pope has suggested that we enter into the ongoing mystery of the Body of Christ by "fasting from indifference" since this is one way in which we refuse to participate in salvation history, refuse to allow God to sanctify us more: we refuse to see and respect the suffering in others, the struggles in others (especially when it's something you have TOTALLY - kind of - "gotten over"), the confusion in others. Ask God to reveal to you what kind of indifference keeps you furthest from His Heart, keeps you from understanding and feeling what He feels.
Lord Jesus, thank you for giving us each a life from your very Life,
Thank you for giving us an opportunity to choose your Life,
to choose to imitate you in all things, to grow in humility, patience, and gentleness with ourselves and our neighbors.
I beg of you to instill in us new eyes, receptive to Your Suffering Body in the bodies of those around us who we ignore.
I beg of you to soften our hearts to feel the pain of Your Suffering Heart, beating still on this earth in people who we somehow have forgotten.
Take hold of our goals, our motivations, our drives, and immerse them in the truth of your Cross, the ultimate fountainhead of our relationship with You.
Be with us as we live, do not spare us any moment alone, for we are in desperate need of your Saving Help.
All you saints and angels, pray for us, the Church Militant, as we fight for the coming of His Kingdom on earth, but first, in our hearts.