30 October 2014

Nothing less will see you complete. . .

30th Week OT (Th)
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
Notre Dame Seminary, NOLA

We must continue on The Way – today, tomorrow, and the following day. We will not abandon God's house, so, following along behind the Lord, we must persevere. Hunted as he is by that fox, King Herod, Jesus stands strong in his mission and ministry. Why he is sent and what he is sent to do IS who he is, so there's no going back, no backing down, no giving up. If we are to be faithful followers of the One sent, then we too must become the why, the what, and the who of Christ's mission and ministry. And we cannot accomplish this alone, nor can we accomplish this with weak minds, frail hearts, and darkened souls. Paul writes to the Ephesians, “Draw your strength from the Lord and from his mighty power. Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the Devil.” Draw strength. Put on your armor. Stand firm. And “words [will] be given [you] to open [your] mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the Gospel.” Do you labor to make known the mystery of the Gospel – with boldness?

Paul uses the adverb noun parrēsia (παρρησίᾳ)* to describe the energy with which we are to make known the mystery of the Gospel. Parrēsia means plainly, openly, publicly, freely, confidently. In other words, we are not to preach and teach the Gospel obscurely, privately, reservedly, or hesitantly. The full truth, goodness, and beauty of God's Self-revelation to His children in Christ Jesus is not a precious secret to be kept locked away; it's not an occult system to be parceled out in meager bits by experts; it's not a self-help formula to be sold like detergent or beer. The full truth, goodness, and beauty of God's Self-revelation to His children in Christ Jesus is to be plainly, openly, freely – boldly – proclaimed as a service to creation, as a servant's work to anyone and everyone who will hear it. To take on this servant's work is to become the Gospel in flesh and bone, surrendering your heart, mind, and body, and becoming – for the greater glory of God! – a material vehicle of the Good News. Therefore, draw strength; put on your armor; and stand firm b/c your chosen work puts you in danger of being hunted. The tactics of the Devil are at once bold and subtle; public and private. Our escape from the hunt is found in fortitude, perseverance, courage, and excellence.

When told by the Pharisees that the fox, King Herod, is hunting him, Jesus responds with defiance, saying, in essence, “Tell Herod to mind his own business. I'm busy about my Father's work, and I'm not going anywhere until I'm done.” Notice that our Lord's response exemplifies the virtues we need to boldly proclaim the Gospel. Fortitude – his strength of purpose. Perseverance – his determination in finishing the job. Courage – against religious and secular opposition, he pushes on. And excellence – a nearly impossible job done to perfection. The boldness with which we preach and teach the Good News marks us as followers of the One sent to open wide the gates of heaven and welcome the sinner to God's mercy through repentance. When we fail to preach and teach with boldness, when we fail to proclaim the mystery of the Gospel, we confess the triumph of the Devil's tactics in silencing us. So, Paul admonishes us: “Put on the armor of God, that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground.” Have we done everything? Have you done everything to profess and announce boldly, confidently, publicly the freely offered mercy of God to all sinners? Nothing less than becoming the who, what, and why of the mission and ministry of Christ will see you complete. 

* I was reliably informed after Mass that this is a noun used adverbially. One of the many benefits of preaching at a seminary. . . 

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1 comment:

  1. Reading this produced copious tears. Thank you! I wish I could hear it preached.