Sermons

Summary: The time we give in contemplative prayer or reading the Scriptures in quiet faith is a wonderful preparation for an eternity in His presence, in the arms of Jesus Christ.

Tuesday of 26th week in course 2019

The best part

The experience of falling in love is an unmatched moment of one’s life. When you see clearly “the One” and know that your whole life has been a preparation for this moment of encounter, you never forget the place and circumstances of that awesome event.

It’s not clear from his book that the prophet Jonah ever had that experience. What we see is a racist misanthrope who is called by God to preach repentance to the Assyrians, who were the most bloodthirsty, rapacious nation of their time. Called to go east to Nineveh, Jonah goes west, intending to escape the Lord in Spain. But his boat is imperiled, the sailors cast him overboard, and even the great fish who swallows him can’t stomach being in the same space and vomits him up on the coast. Today we see the sequelae. He finally listens to God, half-heartedly begins to preach repentance, and is heard. The Ninevites hear the word of God, turn aside from their wicked ways, and God Himself repents of His intention and spares them. Jonah, we learn later, instead of rejoicing in the conversion of the evil city, complains that God has robbed him of his schadenfreude, and God has to smack him upside the head once again. That sounds like someone who does not know love, and can’t recognize it even when God shows it to somebody else. It’s a lesson for us when we wish evil on an evildoer, or a politician, or really anybody.

But look at today’s Gospel. Jesus is visiting his friends Mary and Martha. (I guess their brother Lazarus was away on business.) Martha is busy putting together a five-course meal and complains that her sister isn’t helping with the chores. She sounds like a firstborn whose primary concern is duty, rather than love. Mary acts like a woman who has fallen in love with the Word of God, with Jesus. And Jesus seems either to take her side or to be encouraging Martha to forget the special dessert and spend some time hearing God’s word.

This is the challenge to the Christian, to spend time every day in quiet contemplation of the One whom we all must fall in love with, Jesus. I suggest that the best way to do this is an hour in silence before the Blessed Sacrament, the living presence of Christ in our churches. This is a most special way to attain holiness of life, to seek to be in union with the sacramental Christ.

Today I have put together four saints from different ages who all celebrate October 8 as their birthday to heaven. All of them fell in love with their Lord Jesus Christ, and all spent lots of time contemplating His passion, death, and resurrection. All postponed or eliminated temporary pleasure in hopes of real Joy and Holiness.

Saint Thais was an Egyptian courtesan of the 4th century. When she heard the word of God, experienced His love and fell in love with Jesus, she repented of her sinful lifestyle, gave up everything and retired to a convent, living in extreme deprivation and near solitary confinement for three years. When she came out of that self-imposed prison, she lived only fifteen more days before going to the One who loved her.

Saint Keyne, of royal descent, became a Welsh hermitess in the fifth century. She founded churches and is still revered for her love of Jesus Christ.

Saint Badilo “was a monk at Vezelay in France and became the abbot of Leuze in Hainault, Belgium.” He lived in the ninth century and is revered in both France and Belgium.

Saint Martin Cid, a twelfth century monk, was a co-worker with Bernard of Clairvaux and helped him to found the strict order of Cistercians. When one falls in love with Jesus, no work, no austerity is too difficult. You want to share His love with everyone.

Yes, the experience of falling in love is unforgettable. The experience of living in love is often difficult, but if we are filled with the Spirit of Jesus, the time we give in contemplative prayer or reading the Scriptures in quiet faith is a wonderful preparation for an eternity in His presence, in the arms of Jesus Christ.

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