God was all-complete, all-blessed in Himself; but it was His will to create a world for His glory. He is Almighty, and might have done all things Himself, but it has been His will to bring about His purposes by the beings He has created. We are all created to His glory — we are created to do His will. I am created to do something or to be something for which no one else is created; I have a place in God’s counsels, in God’s world, which no one else has; whether I be rich or poor, despised or esteemed by man, God knows me and calls me by my name.
2. God has created me to do Him some definite service; He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission — I never may know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. Somehow I am necessary for His purposes, as necessary in my place as an Archangel in his — if, indeed, I fail, He can raise another, as He could make the stones children of Abraham. Yet I have a part in this great work; I am a link in a chain, a bond of connexion between persons. He has not created me for naught. I shall do good, I shall do His work; I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place, while not intending it, if I do but keep His commandments and serve Him in my calling.
3. Therefore I will trust Him. Whatever, wherever I am, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him; in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him; if I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him. My sickness, or perplexity, or sorrow may be necessary causes of some great end, which is quite beyond us. He does nothing in vain; He may prolong my life, He may shorten it; He knows what He is about. He may take away my friends, He may throw me among strangers, He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide the future from me — still He knows what He is about.
Colloquy: O Adonai, O Ruler of Israel, Thou that guidest Joseph like a flock, O Emmanuel, O Sapientia, I give myself to Thee. I trust Thee wholly. Thou art wiser than I — more loving to me than I myself. Deign to fulfil Thy high purposes in me whatever they be — work in and through me. I am born to serve Thee, to be Thine, to be Thy instrument. Let me be Thy blind instrument. I ask not to see — I ask not to know — I ask simply to be used.
via GIPHYToday’s Readings:
Ita loquimur non quasi hominibus placentes, sed Deo, qui probat corda nostra.
Even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God, who proveth our hearts.
1 Thessalonians 2:4b
In thinking about this passage in the context of St John’s decollation I was thinking about how many times St John is pictured as yelling (especially in motion pictures). It’s not enough that John say the truth, he has to yell it out. Herod: you’re an adulterer. Herodias, you’re committing incest. That could have been whispered and his head would come off. The weak are ever afraid of the truth. The emperor’s new something or other.
Today’s world is no less volatile, yet we imagine that we are all emperors, each of us with our fragile little egos inflated, waiting to be popped by a neighbor so that we can yell, “Off with their head!” And so how often do we speak as pleasing men (at all). I’m not talking about topics like sex and marriage here. I’m talking about all the ways we cater to those over us, to those whom we don’t care to bother, offend, engage…
Yesterday I was sitting on a bus with a friend. We were discussing food and things when two teenagers sate down across from us. They were unable to cope with our high falutin topic and so began to make fun of us. This bothered me to no end. So I clammed up. My friend continued talking about beers and such, but I was rather monosyllabic until the kids left the bus.
That was my pride coming into play. But that what it is when we speak to please men: it’s always our pride. How is it so? When we are only concerned for our Job, or our care for the family, or not wanting to get into arguments, or what not… how is it prideful to say something that keeps the peace? If the legitimate issue is “To keep the peace” there may be hope here, but most time it’s not to keep the peace so much as to not cause trouble, or, to not get into trouble. Fear is pride in another form. How so: I don’t want to do anything here that I can’t control. Especially if it’s a matter of moral or truthfulness, I should always trust God when I speak up for his side of the equation. But even when it’s not so important, not trusting my personal safety and my life (in all respects) to God seems… prideful.
This is not the same thing as “God will bless me because I’m his child” nor is it the Prosperity Gospel or any other form of it. Rather this is saying God will bring all things to my salvation. It’s ok. I’m in his hands. Even so, we are commanded to speak with prudence, charity, and a care for the weakest brethren.
So, if you’ve reached sme sort of decision, something that needs to be said, or you’re engaged in a good heart to heart with a friend and just can’t bring yourself to say one thing, or you disengage from a conversation because your companion is oblivious to the snarky kids; then you have started to pay attention to men rather than God.
Now, what has any of these things to do with St Paul or with St John’s head?
If you cave on the little things, you will cave on the big ones. If you’ve done no practicing at all on not letting pride and fear run you life when the going is awkward then when the going is rough, you’ll hide in your pride and fear all the more faster.
I was reading Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman yesterday afternoon, his Meditations and Devotions. This prayer speaks to this theme, I believe:
O, my God, I will put myself without reserve into Thy hands. Wealth or woe, joy or sorrow, friends or bereavement, honour or humiliation, good report or ill report, comfort or discomfort, Thy presence or the hiding of Thy countenance, all is good if it comes from Thee. Thou art wisdom and Thou art love — what can I desire more ? Thou hast led me in Thy counsel, and with glory hast Thou received me. What have I in heaven, and apart from Thee what want I upon earth ? My flesh and my heart faileth : but God is the God of my heart, and my portion for ever.
That line, “Wealth or woe, joy or sorrow, friends or bereavement, honour or humiliation, good report or ill report, comfort or discomfort, Thy presence or the hiding of Thy countenance, all is good if it comes from Thee.” How unlike us is that line… “It’s all good if it comes from God.”
We do like to think some things come from God. But what about those other things? Clearly that’s Satan.
But no: it’s all coming from God. Certainly God works with our Free Will, but that said, how many times do we run away from something we’re afraid of simply because it’s out of our hands? How many times do we not want something, do we walk away from higher, more difficult, and because I want to indulge my fears or my social hopes; because it’s not in our control?
In honor of His Divine Name
I pledge myself against perjury,
Blasphemy, profanity and obscene speech.
I pledge my loyalty
To the flag of my country.
And to the God given principles
Of freedom, justice and happiness.
For which it stands.
I pledge my support
To all lawful authority
Both civil and religious.
Even today, however, the Catechism of the Church teaches, The authority required by the moral order derives from God: “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore he who resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.” (❡1899) And again, “God’s fourth commandment also enjoins us to honor all who for our good have received authority in society from God.” (2234)
Once upon a time President G. W. Bush claimed God put him in office. This is true. It is equally true of Mr Obama. And Mr Trump. God’s providential mercy has left us here on purpose. We don’t get the leaders we deserve, because God is merciful. We get the leaders we need to work out our salvation in fear and trembling.
A lot (a majority?) of us want peace, stability, equality, liberty, and fraternity. God wants us saved.
So we Catholics honor the leaders God gave us.
But what about when they are idiots?
Well, we got, really, only two choices. The commandment is clear: Honor the idiot anyway because God said so.
And there’s the entirety of today’s reading from Romans:
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How inscrutable are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord or who has been his counselor? Or who has given the Lord anything that he may be repaid? For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.
Elsewhere St Paul says, “All things work for our good.” So, mindful he was saying that under Nero the Nutty, I think we’re in good shape to be saying the same thing under Our Orange Mr Bultitude. We just don’t know how. And we have to admit that we don’t know. We have to trust that, like in Isaiah’s text, God’s totally got this. “I will thrust you from your office and pull you down from your station.” When we pray, we can be heard. Plus we have another leader. If the Church is the Kingdom of God, by which template all earthly kingdoms are judged, then we have a leader above all other leaders, one we should follow no matter what.
But we don’t like to, do we?
On the left are those who reject the Church’s teaching on Sex, on the right those who reject the Church’s teachings on economy. Avarice (greed) is a much a sin as Lust and usury will damn you near as quick as fornication. What are we to do when our political choices are between the forces of Amoral Economic Justice with Lust, or Sexual Purity with Amoral Greed?
We must live our lives secure in our faith: those who pick one side over the other, giving up half the goods offered us by God, have already lost the struggle.
And so we come in the Gospel to our Foundation.
Tu es Petros.
Hier stehe ich.
In one way of looking at things, the division between Jews and Christians is simply this: one group of Rabbis says Jesus is the Messiah. Two other groups of Rabbis (both Conservative Sadducees and liberal Pharisees) say he is not the Messiah. In the end the Pharisees win the debate within Judaism, even recasting the scriptures to fit their modes of debate. The Messianic rabbis drifted off and became the Church.
And so there: they preach and yet they do not practice. Sure, they are using all their words… but they don’t know what those words actually mean.
On the Road to Emmaus, Jesus opens the minds of Luke and Cleopus to his presence in all the scriptures. Jesus wants us to listen to the teachings of Israel. But he wants us to know what those teachings really mean – not the empty words of the Pharisees, or the Scribes, or the Sadducees. We cannot find our common ground with either the fundamentalist Sadducees of our time who would deny the mysteries of our faith, or with the liberal Pharisees of our time who would deny the doctrines God has revealed. We’re not to fall in the fundamentalist literalism of either the left or of the right. We must hold fast to both words (the logos) and the poetry (poetas) of scripture and tradition, the both/and of Catholicism. We must follow our vocational call to the poetas, the poetry and dance of the real meanings of the scriptural words.
The poetry of the Logos, the making of all things new, is the rite of the Faith dancing through the world. We spin like dervishes, opening our minds and hearts to the wisdom of God’s Holy Spirit. Bread is made flesh. Wine is made blood. God made man. What is old made new.
God has opened the eyes of the blind. Meanwhile those who claim to see are shown to be liars who walk in darkness.
When you’ve journeyed far and yet have come home, you know, somehow, you may have betrayed someone along the way. Somewhere some person or other may feel hurt at your joy. So what can you do? Ruth knew her obligations were not in Moab. She had to wait. Because this God was now her God. Naomi was a Jewish woman, faithful daughter of Israel. Ruth, though, was a Gentile.
That’s your job now – my job – for the Church is Israel and yet we are those Gentiles recently come in. This God is now our God. Whither the Church goes, whither Naomi goes, we go with her. Where she lodges, we lodge. Her people are now our people. Her God is our God.
In love you stand up and profess that what the Catholic Church believes and teaches, this is what you accept, follow, and live. You don’t get to dine a la carte, either. You’re stuck with the whole nine yards. (Else, why are you here?) You can’t say you didn’t know. Ruth may have had pork as a child, but I’m sure she gave it up long before saying, Populus tuus populus meus. You need all of the commandments before the two greatest make sense.
We’ve known for a while that this was right, but now we have to live it. We’ve known that this is God’s house and the Gate of Heaven. Loving God and neighbor means living this way now.
Now we are here. On this road of wandering with Israel, we are now home.
And Gedeon seeing that it was the angel of the Lord, said: Alas, my Lord God: for I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face. And the Lord said to him: Peace be with thee: fear not, thou shalt not die. And Gedeon built there an altar to the Lord, and called it the Lord’s peace, until this present day.
In the Extraordinary Form, today’s feast is that of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. In the Ordinary Form it’s the Queenship of Mary. Either way it’s because we have seen the Lord face to face and we shall not die, all generations shall call her blessed.
In Genesis, Mary is the offspring of Eve that shall bruise the serpent’s head. She is none other than the house of God and the gate of heaven.
In Exodus Mary is the earth on which the Heavenly Manna falls. Mary is Sinai, from which is cut the tablets of the law by God’s own hands.
In Leviticus, Mary is the Tabernacle and the Mercy Seat.
In Numbers, Mary is the New Generation, raised up to replace those who rebelled against God.
In Deuteronomy, Mary is the choice for Life.
In all the Torah, Mary is Faithful Israel, following God’s laws into the promised inheritance, all Generations shall call her blessed.
In Joshua, Mary is Rahab, who saves the faithful.
In Judges, Mary is Deborah, who sings of the victory of Israel and his God over their enemies.
In Ruth, named for Mary’s Ancestress, Mary is the blessing of prosperity on Bethlehem Ephrathah.
In First Samuel, Mary is Hannah, praying for a delivering son.
In Second Samuel, Mary is the House of God which David wanted to build… but God said, not you – but your decendant.
In 1st Kings, Mary is the Temple of Solomon, the wonder of all the world, the glory of God’s worship.
In 2nd Kings, Mary is the Shunammite Woman who was given a son, who lost a son, and had him restored.
In 1 Chronicles, Mary is the Ark of the Lord, whom no man will touch, lost by Israel and restored in glory.
In 2 Chronicles, Mary is the Wisdom for which Solomon prayed.
In Ezra, Mary is the Restored Worship of Israel.
In Nehemiah, Mary is the Restored Law of Israel.
In Tobit, Mary is the restored city of Jerusalem, where “Generation after generation will offer worship in you.”
Mary is Judith, beheading Holfernes, the old serpent.
And Mary is Esther, winning life for her people.
In 1 Maccabees, Mary is the inspiration, courage, and arms to resist idolatry.
In 2 Maccabees, Mary is the Mother of Martyrs who leads the faithful to their crowns.
In all the history of Israel, Mary is the lamp from which the Light will shine forth, all generations shall call her blessed.
In Job Mary is the wisdom of God’s plan from all ages.
In the Psalms, Mary is the Queen standing at God’s right hand.
In Proverbs, Mary is the righteous woman.
In Ecclesiastes, Mary is the Wisdom that illumines the face, that transforms the countenance.
In the Song of Songs, Mary is Dark and Comely.
In Wisdom, Mary is the prosperity of Israel in God’s providence.
In Sirach, Mary is the Godfearing of Little Understanding that is far better than the “smart” who violate God’s law.
In all the books of wisdom and poetry, Mary is the music of the Song of God, the haunting melody of the Logos, all generations shall call her blessed.
In Isaiah, Mary is the Virgin with Child.
In Jeremiah, Mary is the call to Return.
In Lamentations, the grief of Mary is laid bare, but she is also the city abandoned by so many who refuse to honor her.
In Baruch, Mary is Jerusalem, rising up and looking to the East to see her Children.
In Ezekiel, Mary is the Wind of God that brings the resurrection to Israel through the birth of Son.
In Daniel, Mary is the Angel, sent to close the mouths of the temptations that haunt us like lions.
In Hosea, Mary is the Repudiation of faithless Israel in her faithfulness, she walks straight in the paths of the Lord while the sinners stumble in them.
In Joel, Mary is the house of the Lord from which will come a spring that will refresh Israel and all the world.
In Amos, Mary is the Restored house of Israel, rebuilt as in the days of old.
In Obadiah, Mary is the Fire of Jacob consuming Israel’s enemies.
In Jonah, Mary is the prayer of the prophet, giving voice to the whole world, begging for God’s redemption.
In Micah, Mary is the Daughter of Zion crushing the pagans.
In Nahum, Mary is the footsteps on the Mountain birthing the reign of God.
In Habakkuk, Mary is our rejoicing in the Lord, even though all else has failed.
In Zephaniah, Mary is Jerusalem, the refuge of the Strange People.
In Haggai, Mary is the House of the Lord filled with the treasures of all the nations.
In Zechariah, Mary is the Lampstand holding aloft the light of God.
In Malachi, Mary is the Offering of Judah that pleases the Lord.
In all of the Prophets, Mary is the Scroll on which is written God’s word, and all Generations will call her blessed.
Through her we have seen the Face of God birthed into the world.
All generations will call her blessed
We have seen God and yet we shall not die.
All generations will call her blessed
We are her children, made brothers of her Son,
All generations will call her blessed
And we are her servants in Love.
As the Earth offered a cave to be the birthplace of God, we have offered the most pure Virgin to be his mother.
All generations will call her blessed.
Jesus is that love.
I don’t care about your no.