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September 9 2012

23rd Sunday in Course

Verbum Domini

The eyes of the blind are opened, and the ears of the deaf are unstopped, the lame walk and the mute shout for joy. The poor come to worship with the rich and all are treated alike. And Jesus is the center of it all. The one who came to serve, and heal, and die for us and rise again so that we might have new life stands as the One in whom, and through whom, and with whom we glorify God, our almighty Father. Isn’t that a vision of the heavenly Liturgy, and shouldn’t that be what we experience, however dimly, when we come to Mass?

Our psalm today speaks to us of the mighty works of God, who sets free those imprisoned by sin, who heals the brokenhearted and frustrates the plans of the wicked. We believe that God has either done those things, or has plans to accomplish them in the life of the Church, the Body of Christ. In other words, as the Gospel of John teaches, day by day He continues to work for our good. And so the last words of our psalm should be our constant hymn: praise the Lord. Or, in Hebrew, Alleluia!

Let’s go further. St. Paul teaches that we should give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of the Lord in Christ Jesus for you. Our destiny is to be in as perfect union with God, the Trinity, as is possible for man. Our destiny is to follow Jesus and His Mother into the eternal embrace of the Father, body, soul and spirit. Our destiny is Resurrection, where all sorrow, sin and sickness has been healed by the touch of the Master. How, then, can we keep from praising and thanking this loving God? How, then, can we keep from breaking out into song, with all creation joining in chorus?

Give thanks in all circumstances. Really? What if I’m out of work, or sick, or alone? What if all I feel like doing is curl up in a fetal position and moan? Why would I give thanks even at a time like that? Because this is the will of the Lord in Christ Jesus for you. God’s will is for your good. We give thanks and praise, especially in this Eucharistic sacrifice, because it is good for me. It is good for you. And, I dare say, it is in giving thanks and praise to the Father while we are in pain that we are most like our Lord Jesus Christ. Remember that he prayed all of Psalm 22 on the cross. The prayer that begins “my God, my God, why have you forsaken me,” ends with a mighty hymn: I will praise you Lord, in the assembly of the faithful. What begins in a deep pit on Good Friday ends with Resurrection. And that is the ultimate will of God in Christ Jesus for you, and me. Are you a prisoner of some vice? It is God’s will to set you free. Are you blind to some important spiritual truth? It is God’s will that you may see clearly. Are you feeling half-dead, or are you really physically dying? It is God’s will that you rise with Jesus and in Him in a spiritual body free from every pain, in eternal bliss because you are in perfect union with the One you have been seeking all your life. And your taking communion today, the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, is the present pledge of that future reality.

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