December 02, 2015

Bottled Messages


The Word Among Us folks know me:
Be vigilant at all times.… Your redemption is at hand. (Luke 21:36, 28)
So begins another Advent—with words of warning to stay alert, but also with words of confident reassurance. Isn’t it funny how we are so quick to focus on the verses that sound threatening but lose sight of the ones that remind us how faithful God is and how deeply committed he is to us?
Reminds me of the line “Monarch of all things, fit us for your mansions.” This from the morning prayer hymn struck me with force. Instead of focusing on “fit us” as I usually do, with the negative connotation it invokes of having to change, be painfully molded, to be more disciplined and loving, I focused on the clause “for your mansions”. It would seem the heart of contradiction: “hurt us to help us.” He chastens or disciplines us only so he can give us more.  The irony is now not lost: he wants to give us future mansions, not pointlessly take away our today-pleasures.

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It seems a cautionary tale that one of Jesus's greatest gifts, the Eucharist, would be rejected by perhaps half of Christendom (in the sense of being downgraded to mere symbol, mere ritual, a reenactment as if it's a play remembering the Last Supper). This tendency seems a symbol, no pun intended, of our willingness and even eagerness to settle for less and to underestimate God's love and attention.

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The fourth sorrowful Mystery has always been slightly mysterious to me, that of Jesus needing help carrying his cross. Why? Some say simply because otherwise he would've died on the way is certainly likely given how brief he lived on the cross. But there's got to be more. The lesson taken from one source:
"In this Simon represents all of us. As members of the Mystical Body of Christ, we should all help Jesus to carry His Cross. This is the one sure sign that we belong to Christ - that we carry our cross with Him." (From Mysteries of the Rosary by Blessed Columba Marmion)
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 “Let us all therefore love one another in harmony, and let no one look on his neighbor according to the flesh, but in Christ Jesus.” -St Ignatius of Antioch

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Then and Now

Wonder came in sealed bottles
sea-tossed by strangers
from faraway coasts.

Now, like chatter, it's cheap
gratis undersea cables.

Does wonder cease with too much proximity?
Does God hold himself at bay for our sake?

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