Easter 06, Year B

Let me not be a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal (cf. 1 Cor. 13:1)
Lord God, I confess that, not infrequently,
my ears and my eyes are of no use to me:
I have eyes, but I cannot see;
I have ears, but I cannot hear;
I have become like my idols,
and so my heart does not understand,
and I have not turned to you nor am I healed.
(Is. 6:10; Ps. 135:15-18; Mt. 13:13-15)
But let me tell you now:
I understand, yes, that you love us;
without question, I see your love.
For you did something new,
which I perceived later,
not at the precise moment when it sprang forth.
But I do understand, anyway, and see clearly,
since you revealed to us your love
by sending your only Son into the world
so that we might have life through him.
And certainly no one has shown greater love
than the one who laid down his life for us,
making us his friends
even when we were still sinners.
(Is. 43:19; Rom. 5:8)
But, my God, am I not a sinner still,
a liar while claiming that now I understand and see?
It’s not altogether clear, after all,
if I remain in love.
I settle, I am afraid, for love in the abstract,
and am lacking in concrete acts
which will reveal and show that I love.
As I examine my conscience, I am coming to realize
that I don’t sufficiently heed the Vincentian saying
that I must love you, indeed,
but that it should be with the strength of my arms and the sweat of my brows.
Perhaps with eloquence, with rime and rhythm,
I could declaim about love.
But such declamation would be suspect,
--and better I keep quiet lest I deceive
and flatter myself--
if indeed I do not practice effective love
and if I am not willing:
to work for God, to suffer, to deny myself;
to instruct the poor, and
to go out to look for the lost sheep;
to like it when something is lacking, and
to accept illness or some other discomfort;
to open the gate to Cornelius and to the likes of him, or
to acquiesce to their invitation,
so that no one is left outside.
Help me reveal my love, Lord,
in a practical manner, and empty myself,
in order to be light, of this bloated and heavy selfishness
that makes impossible my ascent from earth to heaven.

The Ascension of the Lord/Seventh Sunday of Easter, Year B

I have given them your word, and the world has hated them (Jn. 17:14)

According to reports, the film “The Da Vinci Code” has been a box-office hit, earning so far some $231.8 million worldwide. Its success is due in part, I think, to the criticisms and protests that picked the curiosity of those who otherwise would not have gone to see it.

But I don’t think they were few, those who saw the film because, not having anything to believe, as I heard a CBS radio commentator observed, they seemed to be ready to believe anything. I think, then, that among the film viewers were those who, not enduring, or simply not knowing, sound doctrine and having itching ears, were inclined to turn their ears away from the truth and divert them to myths. It seems to me, therefore, that today also there is great need for preachers of the word who are persistent, whether it is convenient or inconvenient, and who convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching, and see to it that we do not remain like “infants, tossed by waves and swept along by every wind of teaching arising from human trickery, from ... cunning in the interests of deceitful scheming” (2 Tim. 4:2-4; Eph. 4:14).

Moreover, we need teachers and guides who will remove our attention away from things that should not concern us and take our sight away from matters that are not for us to know. Removed from preoccupations and protected from all anxiety, we will be better disposed, I think, to be more committed and credible witnesses of Jesus and more effective missionaries to the whole world, proclaiming the good news with conviction through deeds and words.

The best witnesses and missionaries, in my view, are those who concern themselves first and foremost with the gospel, and not so much with the signs through which their preaching may be confirmed, and who focus not on the positions they occupy or the ranks they have, but rather on the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry and the building up of the body of Christ. Their gaze is fixed mainly on the one given to the church as its head, Christ. In him God has brought about the spirit of wisdom and understanding resulting in knowledge of him and the enlightenment needed to know not only the hope belonging to his call but also the riches of the glory offered to us, as well as the surpassing greatness of his power. Christ, in other words, represents all that is beautiful, intelligible and good.

So, in the final analysis, the fundamental concern that a witness and missionary ought to have is, in my view, the same one that St. Vincent de Paul and the other saints, of course, had, namely, to discern what Jesus would do now and act in accordance with such discernment. Discernment requires that one go beyond the popular, beyond the name people give, such a name, for example, as “Justus.” One is also expected to remain in love and not to belong to the world while one is still in it, to rise above the earthly towards the heavenly.

Would “The Da Vinci Code” be helpful in discernment, very popular, a box-office hit worldwide?