Gospel Meditations

GOSPEL MEDITATION FOR
25 MARCH, 2017, SATURDAY 3RD WEEK OF LENT
BY REV FR ERBIN FERNANDEZ, SPIRITUAL DIRECTOR, CATHOLIC SPIRITUALITY CENTRE (CSC)
COPYRIGHTS RESERVED.

“SHE WAS DEEPLY DISTURBED BY THESE WORDS” (LUKE 1:29)

GOSPEL: LUKE 1:26-38

http://www.universalis.com/20170325/mass.htm

(I sense Jesus wanting to meet me. I prayerfully call upon the Holy Spirit to be present. I prayerfully read today’s gospel passage slowly once through. I sit in silence for a few minutes with the gospel text. I now pray through the following meditation. I allow the Holy Spirit to lead me, pausing wherever I need to.)

“What if she said – `No`?  The question may strike you as irreverent. How dare I suggest that the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Heaven, Tower of David, and all the other titles, could have left us in the lurch like that?   But what if she had?   Could she have said No?  You might say that of course she couldn’t, she was far too holy — but you would be guilty of demeaning and dangerous sentimentality. It is demeaning because it turns Our Lady from a free human being into a sanctified automaton.  The whole glory of the Annunciation is that Mary, the second Eve, could have said No to God but she said Yes instead.  That is what we celebrate, that is what we praise her for; and rightly so.  This sentimental view is dangerous too. If we believe that the most important decision in the history of the world was in fact inevitable, that it couldn’t have been otherwise, then that means it was effortless. Now we have a marvellous excuse for laziness. Next time we’re faced with a tough moral decision, we needn’t worry about doing what is right. Just drift, and God will make sure that whatever choice we make is the right one. If God really wants us to do something he’ll sweep us off our feet the way he did Mary, and if he chooses not to, it’s hardly our fault, is it?

So Mary could have said `No` to Gabriel. What if she had? He couldn’t just go and ask someone else, like some sort of charity collector. With all the genealogies and prophecies in the Bible, there was only one candidate. It’s an alarming thought. Ultimately, of course, God would have done something: the history of salvation is the history of him never abandoning his people however pig-headed they were. But God has chosen to work through human history. If the first attempt at redemption took four thousand years to prepare, from the Fall to the Annunciation, how many tens of thousands of years would the next attempt have taken? Even if the world sometimes makes us feel like cogs in a machine, each of us is unique and each of us is here for a purpose: just because it isn’t as spectacular a purpose as Mary’s, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. When we fail to seek our vocation, or put off fulfilling some part of it, we try to justify ourselves by saying that someone else will do it better, that God will provide, that it doesn’t really matter. But we are lying. However small a part I have to play, the story of the Annunciation tells me it is my part and no-one else can do it.

Faced with the enormity of her choice, how was Mary able to decide? If she said `No`, unredeemed generations would toil on under the burden of sin. If she said `Yes`, she herself would suffer, and so would her Son; but both would be glorified. Millions of people not yet born would have Heaven open to them; but millions of others would suffer oppression and death in her son’s name. The stakes were almost infinite. You might say that Mary didn’t worry about all this, just obeyed God; but I don’t believe it. What God wanted was not Mary’s unthinking obedience but her full and informed consent as the representative of the entire human race. The two greatest miracles of the Annunciation are these: that God gave Mary the wisdom to know the consequences of her decision, and that he gave her the grace not to be overwhelmed by that knowledge. When we come to an important decision in our lives, we can easily find our minds clouded by the possible consequences, or, even more, by partial knowledge of them. How can we ever move, when there is so much good and evil whichever way we go? The Annunciation gives us the answer. God’s grace will give us the strength to move, even if the fate of the whole world is hanging in the balance. After all, God does not demand that our decisions should be the correct ones (assuming that there even is such a thing), only that they should be rightly made. There is one more truth that the Annunciation teaches us, and it is so appalling that I can think of nothing uplifting to say about it that will take the sting away: perhaps it is best forgotten, because it tells us more about God than we are able to understand. The Almighty Father creates heaven and earth, the sun and all the stars; but when he really wants something done, he comes, the Omnipotent and Omniscient, to one of his poor, weak creatures — and he asks. And, day by day, he keeps on asking us.”[1] What will your answer be today?

Action: Today I will strive to surrender to the will of God for me in all events  

(I journal: What phrase touched me today? What is Jesus inviting me to live today? I ask for a specific grace for today.)

 

GOSPEL MEDITATION FOR
24 MARCH, 2017, FRIDAY 3RD WEEK OF LENT
BY REV FR ERBIN FERNANDEZ, SPIRITUAL DIRECTOR, CATHOLIC SPIRITUALITY CENTRE (CSC)
COPYRIGHTS RESERVED.

“THE LORD IS ONE” (MARK 12:29)

GOSPEL: MARK 12:28-34

http://www.universalis.com/20170324/mass.htm

(I sense Jesus wanting to meet me. I prayerfully call upon the Holy Spirit to be present. I prayerfully read today’s gospel passage slowly once through. I sit in silence for a few minutes with the gospel text. I now pray through the following meditation. I allow the Holy Spirit to lead me, pausing wherever I need to.)

“To love God with heart, soul, mind and strength is to love God with all that we are. Jewish people think of the heart (kardia) as the center of thought as well as feelings. They think of the soul (psyche) as that which gives a person life or breath. It is possible that Mark adds mind (dianoias) for the sake of his Greek readers, who might not associate the heart with thinking. Strength (ischuos) could refer to anything that gives us power—whether physical strength, beauty, wealth, position, reputation, or talent. We are to love God with agape love. Agape love is more a “doing” than a “feeling” word, although it involves both. Agape requires action—requires us to demonstrate our love in some practical fashion. The person who loves God will participate in worship—will try to obey God—will seek opportunities to serve God. An athlete who loves God might serve by witnessing to young people. God-loving fathers and mothers will raise their children in the faith. A God-loving businessperson might serve as church treasurer. A God-loving musician might serve using his/her musical talents. All God-loving people have the opportunity to tithe. In any event, agape love requires practical expression.

Christ calls us to balance these two great commandments. The person who loves God but does not love neighbor is gravely deficient. “If a man says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who doesn’t love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? This commandment we have from him, that he who loves God should also love his brother” (1 John 4:20-21). That is tough language, given the difficulty that most of us experience with loving certain co-workers, neighbors, family members, or church members. But love for neighbor quickly degenerates into humanism or sentimentalism unless grounded in love for God. Love of God is the first commandment, not the second. Love of God is the foundation upon which all the other commandments depend. “Get the center right and the circumference will come right. Love of God will result in love of neighbor”. In this sense the Lord is One, in Him all of creation is united. God is the ground of being and His Son Jesus Christ does this act of uniting on His glorious cross!”[1]

Action: Today I will be an instrument of unity through which Jesus can accomplish His work of unity

(I journal: What phrase touched me today? What is Jesus inviting me to live today? I ask for a specific grace for today.)