Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
St. Dominic Church, NOLA
Brothers and sisters, this is the Word that has been proclaimed to you: “All flesh is like grass, and all the glory of the flesh is like the flowers in the field; grass withers and flowers wilt; but the word of the Lord remains forever.” Peter quotes Isiah, highlighting the difference between the perishable things that cannot save us and the imperishable Word who has already saved us. We were not ransomed from our slavery to sin by money, food, medicine, or temple sacrifices but by the precious blood of Christ, freely given on the altar of the Cross. By listening to that Word, by obeying his Word of truth, we are cleansed of sin and made ready to love one another intensely. Peter writes, “You have been born anew, not from perishable but from imperishable seed through the living and abiding word of God. . .” Our chance at a new birth arrived in blood, sweat, and tears. As a person born again, born anew, do you live your days and nights intensely loving, sincerely in love with, God and His family of adopted children?
Jesus admonishes James and John for seeking after prestige as his disciples. He tells them that those who want to come first must come last in his kingdom. Why? Because, he says, “. . .the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Christ completed his mission among us when he ransomed our lives with his on the Cross, the imperishable Word in exchange for perishable man. What does this exchange accomplish? What does it make possible? Christ sacrifice extends “once for all,” once to all, an invitation to participate in the divine life, to take part in the adventure of holiness. He makes it possible for anyone, once again to approach the glory of the Father freed from sin, made just in the mercy of God. He gives every opened eye and ear a Way out of darkness, a Way out of useless pain and anxiety. He takes into the Holy Family any man, woman, or child of any race, any tribe, any people, and makes them children of His Father, co-heirs to eternal life. When Christ dies on the Cross and rises from the tomb, he shows all of the creation exactly what divine love looks like. And he makes it possible for his brothers and sisters—in his name and for his sake—to love one another so the world might see that he abides among us still.
As a person born again, born anew, do you live your days and nights intensely loving, sincerely in love with, God and His family of adopted children? Our chance at a new birth did not arrive without blood, sweat, and tears, so why should living as a newly born child of God not require a little blood, a few drops of sweat, and lots of tears? Think of those you have the most difficulty loving. What prevents you from loving them as Christ loves them? Why won't you serve them as Christ serves you? Are they less deserving of his mercy than you? Are their sins greater than yours? We have been cleansed from our sin by obedience to the truth; therefore, love intensely, sincerely, with great abandon, and without price. Our pride, our anger, our jealousy can never outweigh the feather-light mercy that Christ won for us. So why load ourselves up with the burden of perishable junk like prejudice, revenge, hurt feelings? Here's a secret: all that rotting trash you love to carry around. . .it isn't yours! It belongs to the Enemy, but he is more than happy to let you carry it right to his front door. Don't do it. You don't have to. The Word has been proclaimed to you: “You have been born anew from imperishable seed, the living word of God.”_______________
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