May 26, 2016
My beloved brothers and sisters in Jesus:
As we remember St. Philip Neri today, the Church brings our minds to the words of St. Peter:
Come to him, a living stone, rejected by human beings
but chosen and precious in the sight of God,
and, like living stones,
let yourselves be built into a spiritual house
to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices
acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:4-5)
St. Peter, the traitor upon whom Jesus built his Church (what humility on the behalf of God! what evidence of a love affair with the human person in all his poverty and brokenness!), reveals to us the only thing about our lives that should ever matter. Let us not miss it.
Come to him, Peter says—come to the Lord—and we step back, almost with a visceral distaste, asking ourselves, “Why would God want us? Why does he want us to come close in this way, a way that really breaks apart all logic, all rationality: the thought of a human person made to be like the living God, under the gift of his grace and the reality of grace that we can never create, sharing in all that is his? How could he desire for us to seek him in this way, or to speak to him, crying out Abba, Father?”
This has to do with the core of your person: with your heart. Do you know why the disciples followed Jesus, from along the sea, where fishing had kept their lives static? Have you ever wondered? This is the one and only question, and the one and only answer is the one that gives us a shape for our lives: They encountered in Jesus walking Love; they encountered in Jesus the Word, the God who calls himself I Am Who Am, who is Love, who empties himself and takes on the form of a servant—that living stone rejected by human beings, chosen and precious in the sight of God.
Where their intellect had not begun to comprehend, and where their intellect could not yet reason out an explanation for why they followed, why they left everything, their hearts knew. Their hearts knew what was true—that, in Jesus, they had found the beginning of a journey in which he, with his own hand, from within the depths of the divine mind, would give them the fullness of their being and identity.
So you must let your heart recognize what is true: let yourselves be built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices. In baptism, your body—everything within you—becomes a living canvas upon which the Father paints his picture. It is a picture that we can never perceive in its fullness, for we are blinded—and so we let ourselves be built; we let God build us, as he, who sees us better than we see ourselves, who is closer to us than we are to ourselves, whose plans are already unfolding though we cannot even guess at them, will bring us to the fullness of that worship and glory for which he intended. It is the vocation of every Christian, regardless of his state or life of vocation, to be saint, acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
St. Philip Neri, ora pro nobis!