TODAY’S FIRST READING (2 Cor 6:1-10)
Paul tells his “fellow workers” in Corinth what to expect in Christian ministry:
afflictions, hardships, constraints,2 Cor 6:4b-5
beatings, imprisonments, riots,
labors, vigils, fasts
How are these to be endured?
by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness,2 Cor 6:6-8a
in the Holy Spirit, in unfeigned love, in truthful speech,
in the power of God;
with weapons of righteousness at the right and at the left;
through glory and dishonor, insult and praise
I have often quoted Jesus when writing of the challenges of proclaiming the Faith or even simply living it out day to day:
Amen, amen, I say to you, no slave is greater than his master nor any messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you understand this, blessed are you if you do it.Jn 13:16-17
f Jesus endured for us all that Paul lists as part and parcel of Christian ministry, we should not be surprised that we, too, will be asked to put up with some blow-back (likely not to the extent Jesus did — for now at least) for doing the same. Maybe the most difficult part of all this is not returning the vitriol in kind, but simply remaining pure, patient, and kind, steadfast in “truthful speech.” We can only do this in the Holy Spirit, in the power of God.
Fear is useless; what is needed is trust.Luke 8:50; Mark 5:36
As I continue to ponder “desert experiences,” none in the New Testament stands out more prominently than the forty days our Lord spent in the wilderness preparing for His public ministry and ultimately His Passion and death (Mt 4:1-11; Lk 4:1-13). In attempting to be a bit clever with the section heading I actually stumbled upon something I had not considered before. Jesus began His public ministry alone and ended it, all but abandoned, on the Cross. (We could also add, as a midpoint, the nearly complete dispersal of His followers when proclaiming the truth of the Eucharist in John 6.)
There are many ways to approach the three temptations of the devil with which he sought to entice Jesus to sin (this explanation of the whole episode is very good; this analytical approach comes from a very helpful website). For our purposes, I would simply focus on how temptations to sin can become acute when a person is in a vulnerable place physically, mentally, psychologically, or spiritually. Jesus stayed strong by trusting the Father. Luke tells us that He went into the desert “[f]illed with the Holy Spirit” (Lk 4:1). This is our recipe to combat the Evil One: Trust God and eliminate sin from our lives. Jesus, like His mother before Him, was filled with the Holy Spirit — there was no room for sin in their souls. This is what we must strive for through prayer, confession, penance, and mortification. The less of an opening we give to the Tempter, the greater the possibility of being steadfast and remaining so. We cannot let our guard down because, even with Jesus, the devil “departed from him until an opportune time” (Lk 4:13b). Satan is the great exploiter of our vulnerabilities; we must always be prepared for battle.
THE PRAYING SINNER
For quite some time now I have planned to read daily (and rarely miss doing so) something about St. Dominic, the Dominicans, or a spiritual work by a Dominican since I hope to become a Lay Dominican some day. I am currently working through Fr. Paul Hinnebusch’s, Prayer, the Search for Authenticity (long out of print). It is the first of a trilogy of works based on lectures on contemporary spirituality he gave in 1968 in the Graduate School of Theology, The University of Notre Dame. His goal: “to work towards an authentic spirituality for our time” (from the preface of the third volume, Secular Holiness: Spirituality for Contemporary Man). (The second volume is entitled, Dynamic Contemplation: Inner Life for Modern Man; I plan to work through all three books.)
Anyway, it has been a bit of a slog at times, but one of the last few chapters, that I read today, held my attention and struck a chord. It is entitled, “The Compatibility of Authentic Prayer and Human Sinfulness.” I have often heard from folks who don’t go to Mass or have even left the Church because of all the “hypocrites” there. That is an accusation from the outside. There are also folks who believe they have deceived themselves because their prayer seems to do them no good. This is an accusation from the inside. This short chapter works through both of these perspectives, giving hope. I have attached it here. But one paragraph to entice you to read more:
To conclude that the prayer of an imperfect man is self-deception, or to call a prayerful man a hypocrite just because in weakness he occasionally falls into sin, is to insult the Holy Spirit of grace and the God of love. For prayer is a gift of God’s grace, and it is God who takes the initiative in prayer, offering the grace of prayer even to sinners and to the imperfect. Prayer is one of the best remedies for sinfulness and imperfection, and it is not hypocrisy for a sinner to pray. The grace of prayer is a call to conversion, an invitation to turn more deeply to God in love and to turn away from the ways of sin. It is quite normal, then, that a person, though still very imperfect in love of neighbor.Paul Hinnebusch, O.P., Prayer, the Search for Authenticity (New York, Sheed & Ward, 1969), 238-239.
Just heard about this today. Might be worth bookmarking this one, especially on your phone.
There is much controversy surrounding certain flags in vogue these days and their appropriateness to be flown at certain buildings or of being displayed in certain places. One I would hope that no person living in our great land would object to (even though I realize that some do) is Old Glory. The story of Flag Day can be found here. One excerpt:
On June 14, 1777, the Second Continental Congress took a break from writing the Articles of Confederation and passed a resolution stating that “the flag of the United States be 13 stripes, alternate red and white,” and that “the union be 13 stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.”