24 November 2022

Become perfect Love

St. Ignatius Delgado OP & Companions

Fr. Philip Neri Powell OP

St Albert the Great, Irving

God owes you nothing. He owes me nothing. He created us and then re-created us in Christ Jesus. Though He owes us nothing, He gives us everything. We were freely made and freely re-made. Everything we have and everything we are is a gift. From the brute fact of our existence as male and female to the complexities of our personalities, we are wholly gratuitous creatures solely dependent on the Father's “plan of sheer goodness”(CCC 1). Understanding and receiving this foundational truth about the nature of reality is called humility. We are dust and divine love given flesh and bone. How we choose in our freedom to respond to this truth, this humility determines how we will live minute to minute until we die. If we choose to live as though we can save ourselves, making idols of ourselves, loving ourselves w/o God, then we will become what we love – merely temporary, passing things that endure in eternal bitterness and regret. If, however, we choose to live in a permanent state of praise and thanksgiving to God, loving ourselves and others b/c He loved us first, then we will become what we love – immortal men and women, abiding in perfect unity with Love Himself. We will become Love perfectly.

The Grateful Samaritan is healed. Along with nine Jews, his body is made well again. The GS returns to give Christ thanks and praise for his healing. Now, his soul is healed as well, his whole person is made new again. The nine Jews do not return to thank Christ. Why? We don't know. Maybe they took their healing as payment for a perceived debt. Maybe they thought they were entitled to the gift. Could be that they were too overwhelmed with joy to consider giving thanks. Whatever the reason, they did not choose to submit themselves in humility before their Healer and give him thanks. Jesus says us nothing about their fate. To the GS he says, “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.” Your trust in God has saved you, healed you, brought you back into the household of the Father. Ask yourself: am I the GS, or am I among the ungrateful nine? God doesn't need our gratitude. He doesn't need our praise. We need to give Him thanks and praise simply b/c doing so is our confession of what's Real: we are gratuitous creatures growing in holiness, beings being perfected in the sacrificial love of Christ. 

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23 November 2022

The only answer that matters

St. Clement of Rome

Fr. Philip Neri Powell OP
St. Albert the Great, Irving

Who do we say that the Son of Man is? Looking around the Church these days, it would appear that we say he's a bureaucrat working for a religiousy social work organization; or a fiery Traddie sporting a bow tie and fedora; or an addict living under a bridge; or a soccer mom running for the school board; or a careerist bishop looking for applause from the media. We say he is a lot of things. Most of which is false. The Enemy tempts us daily, hourly to make Jesus into our own image and deny who he really is. This is a smart strategy. If the Enemy can prod us into re-making Christ into a reflection of our sinful selves, then we can be OK with who we are in our sin. We can say, “Look! We are following Christ. He looks just like us.” Of course, the truth is we've just put Christ on a leash and made him follow us. To help you and me remember that we are his creatures and not his creator, Jesus asks, “Who do you say that I am?” The only correct answer is: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” This confession of faith is the only way to salvation. There is no other name, no other job title, no other process or procedure through which we can be saved from sin and death. We can eagerly attach ourselves to political platforms or reform movements or synodal processes or intellectual projects or social justice activities and sincerely believe that we are saving ourselves and the Church with the good works of good intentions. But if we re-create Christ and make him into an idol of our efforts, then he becomes just another mascot, a pet to distract us when our important work gets boring. How do you name and dismiss the Enemy's temptation to re-create Christ? Remind yourself daily that your good works are not your god. That your good intentions are not your god. That your opinions, your politics, your niche ecclesial obsessions, your devotional eccentricities – none of it is your god. Who do you say, who do you think, who do you feel, who do you know the Son of Man to be? “Christ, the Son of the living God” is the only answer that can save you. 

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