Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Memorial of Saint Athanasius, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

Jesus cried out and said, "Whoever believes in me believes not only in me but also in the one who sent me, and whoever sees me sees the one who sent me. I came into the world as light, so that everyone who believes in me might not remain in darkness. And if anyone hears my words and does not observe them, I do not condemn him, for I did not come to condemn the world but to save the world. Whoever rejects me and does not accept my words has something to judge him: the word that I spoke, it will condemn him on the last day, because I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. So what I say, I say as the Father told me." (John 12:44-50)

Introductory Prayer:God our Father, life of the faithful, glory of the humble, happiness of the just, hear my prayer. Through the obedience of Jesus, your servant and your Son, you raised a fallen world. Free me from sin and bring me the joy that lasts forever.

Petition:Lord Jesus help me to cling to you and not doubt. Be light for my path, leading me safely through this valley of tears to the eternal life of love with the Most Blessed Trinity.

1. I Came Into the World as Light.According to John’s Gospel account, the words of today’s passage are the last public teachings of Our Lord before his crucifixion. “I came into the world as light, so that everyone who believes in me might not remain in darkness.” Why did our Lord share this revelation with us at this time? One answer could be that he knew that the shadows of the cross would continue to influence man’s response to his love. To dispel those shadows our Lord speaks with authority and conviction that he is the true light that dispels all darkness, even the shadows of the cross that would soon be cast upon the stage of salvation history. An elder, scribe, theologian or moralist doesn’t give this description of Our Lord; this is Christ reaffirming his own divine sonship with all its implications. In his Imitation of Christ, Thomas à Kempis writes, “If indeed there had been anything better and more beneficial to man’s salvation than suffering, Christ certainly would have showed it by word and example.” Do I follow Christ through the shadow of doubts and difficulties that my daily cross offers me? Do I do so confident that in whom I believe is the true Son of God, who cannot deceive or be deceived?

2. If Anyone Hears My Words and Does Not Observe Them. Our Lord makes the claim that men come face-to-face with God through him. Christ is not just a good person that humanity has looked up to throughout the last two millennia. His claim here is radical: to listen to him is to listen to God; to see him is to see God; to love him is to love God. How can I afford to be lukewarm before him? Lukewarmness may be understood as a general breakdown in the living of the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity. Christians fall into lukewarmness because of neglect that causes the image of Christ to be obscured in their memory. They no longer cultivate friendship with Christ. Everything supernatural is reduced to lifeless duties and to to-do lists rather than loving a person, the person of Christ. St. Thomas says that lukewarmness is “a kind of sadness which makes a person sluggish in the performance of spiritual exercises on account of the effort they require.” In what areas of my life am I lukewarm in my relationship with regards to Christ?
3. Judged on Love. Jesus tells us that he did not come into the world to condemn it. Rather, he came to save the world. Christ didn’t become incarnate in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, live a hard obscure life in Nazareth, live three years of intense, exhausting public ministry, and finally suffer an unjust condemnation, scourging and crucifixion in order that we be condemned to hell. He came that we might have life and have it to the full. It was not the wrath of God that beckoned him to this world; it was his unquenchable love for mankind. Still, in John’s Gospel we see a recurring paradox: Jesus came in love yet his love is a judgment on the heart of the person who experiences it. Love is reciprocal. It demands a response. In the drama of life, Christ offers us an untainted, pure love, indeed, the highest love of all. Truly, it is the greatest experience any man might encounter. Too often, though, we find that people see nothing in it. The experience offered in love then turns into a judgment. Christ, in revealing the mystery of the Father and his love, fully reveals man to man himself (cf. Second Vatican Council, Gaudium et Spes, no. 22). A person’s attitude towards Jesus reveals himself.

Dialogue with Christ: Lord Jesus, I accept your love. I want to respond to your love more today. Increase my faith, hope and love for you. Help me Lord to respond to your love, accepting the way you want me to love you, for your love is life in the fullest sense. Reveal to me the deep meaning of my life: to love.

Resolution: I will renew my enthusiasm today in offering my difficulties to Jesus out of love

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