06 January 2021

Believe, understand, be perfect

Wednesday after Epiphany

Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP

St. Dominic Priory, NOLA

The disciples are terrified. High winds on the sea. Jesus walking towards them on the water. Mark tells us that the Lord “at once” says, “Take courage, it is I. . .” Literally, “I AM.” Jesus reminds his students who he is and thus why they should not fear. But why should I AM still their fear? John tells us, “God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him.” The disciples' fear is a sign of their forgetfulness. They have forgotten who God is, who Jesus is. “There is no fear in love [. . .] one who fears is not yet perfect in love.” This sounds like a bad thing. It's not a exactly good thing. But it's not entirely bad either. They (and we) are not yet perfect in love. Which means perfection in love is possible. . .if only we remember and take courage from the memory. Their forgetfulness (and ours?) results from hardheartedness – a refusal to believe and thus a refusal to understand. In this case, they did not understand the love manifested in the incident of the loaves. God's love is diffusive. God is love. Therefore, God is diffusive. God is with them (and us) always. When we believe this truth, we understand it, and He is perfected in us. When God is perfected in us there is no room left for fear. So, believe, understand, and be made perfect as God Himself is perfect.




Follow HancAquam or Subscribe ----->

03 January 2021

A Great Responsibility


The Epiphany of the Lord

Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP


An epiphany is a revelation, an unveiling of a mystery. It's a eureka moment, an ah-ha moment when confusion is clarified and the darkness is thrown back. In the case of the Christ Child, the epiphany is ours. That is, we are shown who and what the Christ is during the visit of the Magi. For centuries the Jewish People have lived with the prophecies of the coming Messiah. He is depicted as a savior, a vanquishing warrior, a just judge coming to render a verdict on the faithfulness of Abraham's children. He is a light to his People alone, “See, darkness covers the earth, and thick clouds cover the peoples; but upon you the LORD shines, and over you appears his glory.” Clouds over the Gentiles but upon Israel the Lord shines! The covenant Abraham made with God is for Abraham's children – Israel, the Chosen Ones. The Messiah is coming to save the Jews. But who will save the Gentiles? The Magi answer this question by paying homage to the Christ Child. By offering their treasures and themselves to his service, these Gentile kings reveal a great mystery: Christ comes to save Jew and Gentile alike. He comes to save the People and the Nations. And with this salvation comes a great responsibility.

What the Magi revealed to the world 2,000 years ago, you and I are charged with making known right now. You and I are charged – by virtue of our baptism – with the great responsibility of making known to the world of 2021 that Christ Jesus is the savior of all mankind. You and I are charged with the great responsibility of ensuring that anyone with ears to hear and eyes to see is aware of Christ's lordship over all creation. That no one we can reach leaves this life in ignorance of Christ's sacrifice on the cross for the forgiveness of their sins. That no one will say on their deathbed, “I didn't know. No one told me.” If the Magi can travel thousands of miles using nothing but a star to guide them and visit the Christ Child to reveal his true nature and mission, then you and I can share their epiphany with those we encounter everyday. Do you know your faith well enough to speak directly and honestly about what you believe? Do you understand that your faith is a public act to be spoken of out loud? The apostles and disciples upon receiving the Holy Spirit at Pentecost burst out of the Upper Room and preached the Good News in every known language. They did not retreat into their homes and pretend that their faith was a purely private affair. You and I have a great responsibility.

In the same way that the Magi paid their homage out loud and in front of witnesses, so we too must live our lives as Christians out loud and in front of witnesses. I don't mean that we must be showy in our religiosity like the Pharisees. We aren't charged with being hypocrites – living privately as sinners and publicly as saints. I mean that our striving for holiness should be witnessed, a public display, a struggle for anyone who needs to see to see. Anyone who needs to hear about the mercy of God to sinners should hear about His mercy from us – those who have experienced it directly. Anyone who needs to see what it's like to come out of habitual sin and live in the freedom of Christ should see it happen in us. Anyone in despair, anyone who needs to know that hope is real and that God loves them should hear it from us – those who have come out of the darkness and into the light. No one needs our self-righteousness, our moralistic finger-wagging. No one needs to hear us preaching love and then watch us practice vengeance. No one needs to see our whitewashed exteriors and then smell our rotted insides. The People and the Nations need witnesses to Christ's truth – the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

And you and I are charged with this great responsibility. Thanks be to God that WE are charged with this responsibility. All of us together. As one Body energized by the Holy Spirit and united by one faith. This year will bring unprecedented challenges to the Church. We will be offered multiple opportunities to compromise the Truth so that we might live well in the world. We will be offered reasonable accommodations that make it easier to get along but that also weaken the faith. One drop of water dropped once on a stone cannot erode the stone. But billions of drops over hundred of years can crack that stone. The Enemy plays a Long Game against God's children. And even though he has already lost to the Crucified and Risen Christ, he's not above taking some of us to Hell with him. Ensure that you remain firmly and faithfully on The Way. Carry out your great responsibility as if your eternal life depends on it. Preach the Good News wherever you find yourself. Make known the marvelous works of our living God!



Follow HancAquam or Subscribe ----->