Monday, July 10, 2017

Memorial of Saint Benedict, Abbot - Christ’s Beating Heart

A demoniac who could not speak was brought to Jesus, and when the demon was driven out the mute man spoke. The crowds were amazed and said, “Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel.” But the Pharisees said, “He drives out demons by the prince of demons.”

Jesus went around to all the towns and villages teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom, and curing every disease and illness. At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them, because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.”

Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, how can I approach this prayer with anything less than the earnest desire to pray well? Instruct me in your ways. Teach me to see the world as you see it and to see my life with your plan in mind. Allow me to understand the importance of my fidelity to your plan so that many souls may find their way to you and that you may reign over all hearts. Let me be so quiet in this meditation, so close to you, that I can hear your heartbeats, the heart that beats strongly with love for us and the desire to bring us to salvation. Let this closeness lead me to love you. Lord, if I leave this prayer with greater love for you, I will achieve great things for you. Increase my love for you!

Petition: Lord, grant me knowledge of your love for mankind.  

1. God has a plan. Human freedom is part of that plan. The presence of evil in a soul – created by God to know, love and serve him in this life and to be happy with him forever in the life to come – can only be explained by the fact that God made us free. This freedom makes glorifying God possible. The expulsion of evil is also part of God’s plan, part of his mercy. He came so that we may be truly free, or as he would say, “to set the captives free.” Christ’s heart beats with a desire to set us free. With every beat we can almost hear the words, “free” and “one.” His greatest desire is to be with us as he said he would be at that Last Supper, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you” (Luke 22:14). There is no need to be amazed, as were the people in today’s Gospel. This is Christ, the Son of God, fulfilling his mission, accomplishing the great desire of his heart – to make us one with him. He answers the same need continuously in the sacrament of reconciliation. Am I accustomed to seeing God’s plan unfold around me? 

2. In God’s plan all of us can find our place. We do not say, find a place, but find our place. God does not look upon our world, see the problems that have developed and then begin to look around for someone to solve the problem, someone to be a sort of bandage to hold things together. No. For every developing situation there are those who are assigned in the eternal and loving mind of God to fulfill a unique and specific role in God’s plan. This is what we call a vocation. Christ’s heart beats for love of us and beats for the mission we are called to fulfill. 

When Jesus invites us to ask the master of the harvest to send out workers… he is asking us to pray for those who are called to minister to God’s people. He is asking us to pray that they come to know and fulfill their role in God’s plan as he himself does. Christ sets the example. He perfectly fulfills his Father’s plan and speaks frequently of it, especially after moments of prayer. Is this what my prayer is like? Do I rise from my prayer with a greater clarity and zest for God’s plan in my life? 

3. During his earthly life, Christ gave some very clear directives: “Love one another” (John 13:34), “Do not judge and you will not be judged” (Matthew 7:1). Here, in this Gospel we are meditating on, Christ gives us yet another clear directive. It follows an analysis of the situation: “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few.” Christ did not leave it at that. No leader points to a problem without trying to devise a solution. Christ presents the solution: “So ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.” If it is so simple, have we done it? Have we asked the master of the harvest to send out laborers?  

Dialogue with Christ: May I be attentive, Lord, to the many ways that you speak to me. Continue to speak to me and lead me along life’s journey through prayer and the sacraments, through the Church and your Vicar, through the occurrences of every day and through the example of the saints. Instruct me in your ways and teach me your counsels. In my prayer, may I be more concerned about the needs of your Kingdom and less about my personal needs. May my heart be one with yours, my interests the same as yours.

Resolution: Pray specifically today to the Master of the Harvest that he send out laborers to his harvest.  

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