Amazing as it may seem, these are the readings for today’s Mass. For those readers not familiar with Catholic things, these are Bible readings selected for the Liturgy of the Mass many years in advance.
See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure. 1 John 3:1-3
God decided long ago to restore all things in Christ and rescue his children to give them the inheritance prepared for them from the foundation of the world. To gather his children, God decided to join us in what we now call the Communion of the Saints, that is a long way to say “our family.” So that we can have communion — because we are a rather motley crew — God turned himself into Communion in the appearance of bread and wine. We feed of God’s flesh and blood. Because we are what we eat, that Communion makes us family with God.
In the Credo we state that we believe in God and also in the Communion of Saints. We are all called to be saints. “You therefore, must be perfect like your Father in Heaven is perfect…” Many take that phrase as a commandment. It is a commandment alright, a creative commandment like “Let there be light”, a direct order to our nature to be born again perfect in the likeness of God. We try to be perfect but God makes sure we become perfect like him by creating us all over again in his image.
We heard in today’s Mass: “Lord, this is the company of those who seek your face” and later: “Come unto me, all of you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” The day he gave us the Beatitudes, Jesus had gathered a crowd of people who were very tired and hungry after walking long hours to hear him talk. These were sons and daughters of Israel whose ancestors were saved from starvation by Joseph the Hebrew Vizier of Egypt. Now they were willing to go a long distance, abandoning the safety of their own homes to satisfy a different kind of hunger. Jesus asked them to recline on the grass and spoke…
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
‘Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
‘Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
‘Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
‘Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:1-12
Poor in spirit, hungry, mourning, meek, avid of justice, merciful, pure, peaceful, and persecuted, reviled, defamed, falsely accused. Those are the children of God. Their counterpoints are implicit: haughty in spirit, filled, reveling, rebellious, corrupt, unmerciful, impure, yet well respected and apparently unblemished by any accusation. That is “the noisy set the martyrs call the world” who are not called to be perfect but share with their father the devil a fiery destiny of eternal corruption.
Many more years ago than I am willing to confess, when I was but a mere boy trying to get those complicated Bossa Nova chords from my guitar, I labored for days to guess the sounds behind Antonio Carlos Jobim’s, Insensatez (called somewhat inexactly How Insensitive in English.) Although the titles sound somewhat similar across Portuguese and English, “insensatez” in the original language means “folly” or “lack of good sense” and the lyrics are the reflections of a lover who has foolishly turned his back on a sincere lover. The end of the song is a moral of sorts “um coração que nunca amou não merece ser amado”, a heart that never loved does not deserve to be loved.
Here is when I remember the words of John: “Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is.” The love of God or its absence both imply a destiny. The adventure of love begins when we see ourselves reflected on another soul, when we joyfully discover that there is someone like us, and like Adam we say “you are like me and I am like you” and we open the whole inventory of our soul to the other’s inspection without shame. I admit that is and has always been a rare thing but I know it exists, I have seen a few cases. St John describes it right there: “we will be like [God], for we will see him as he is” when he is finally revealed to us.
The Catholic Internet was buzzing today because a Fr. Thomas Weinady, a distinguished Theologian, was asked to resign his post as consultant to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops after sending a letter to Pope Francis.
I decided to be a Christian about 20 years ago at age 43 and that eventually led me to the Catholic Church. When I was finally received in the Church in 2001 I was aware of the cruelty, the callousness of some religious people in the Church. I had learned that from some personal experiences and from reading about the lives of Padre Pio and Fr Leonardo Castellani. How insensitive a heart has to be to act with such cruelty within the encampment of the saints. What kind of folly grows inside those holy walls that make us forget the precious price that was paid for each one of us.
A heart that never loved will not be loved but to deserve that fate its darkness has to be revealed, for the delights of love can only grow where there is light. If the light in that heart is darkness, how great its darkness must be!