Friday of the Twenty-first Week in Ordinary Time

Thursday, August 31, 2017

1Thes 4:1-8

; Ps 97:1,2b, 5,6,10-12; Mt 25:1-13

“The mountains melt like wax before the LORD.”

The saints so delight in the LORD that any moment without him is a true waste of time, and all the time that has already been wasted causes true regret. His greatness is unsearchable, the mountains melt like wax before him. Once we encounter the splendor and glorious majesty of the LORD, we hear the heavens proclaim his justice, and all peoples see his glory. Indeed, with all the Saints in glory we rejoice in the LORD. The light of day dawns for the just and gladness for the upright of heart. We taste that the Lord is good and we hunger and thirst for more of his goodness. He touches us and we burn for his peace, to be consumed by the fire of his love. Mystics of every age speak the same language of the “I know not what” that has so captivated and consumed them.

In his introduction to this first letter to the Thessalonians, Saint Paul echoes the teaching of the Church that all who are in fellowship with Jesus Christ are called to a life of holiness. “For God did not call us to impurity but to holiness.” This is the same teaching that Saint Augustine eventually came to, and it is the explicit teaching of the Second Vatican Council. The call to holiness is universal. Saint Paul greets his brothers and sisters, and he earnestly asks and exhorts them in the Lord Jesus to conduct themselves to please God and to do so even more. Such an adventure begins with the bestowal of grace in Christ Jesus. We, the unworthy, are freely given that which we could never give to ourselves, grace and peace. This gift of the Father through the Son and in the Holy Spirit is all that we need to become enriched in every way, with all discourse and all knowledge. With this maturation process unfolding in the mystery of our lives, we wait for the final coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The life of a saint is by no means boring; holiness is high adventure. Gradually, we no longer recognize ourselves; we begin to see the face of the Lord on one another’s face and in the mirror that is Christ we can see no longer ourselves but him. Such a lifelong conversion happens suddenly and unexpectedly so that we do not become too self-focused and caught up in vain glory. Indeed, in this way we never take advantage of a brother or sister; we never disregard the dignity of all members of the Body of Christ. Indeed, we never disregard the Father, who has given us the Holy Spirit.

The summons to holiness is too often put off, until another day. We do not want to face the truth of our own lack of holiness and failure in virtue. Saint Augustine admits that conversion was “too late”, and Saint Matthew tells us of the command to “stay awake!” Both saints are in touch with the urgency of grace and mercy. When we are awakened to the love of God in Christ through the Holy Spirit we are like a servant who has learned the precious lesson of today’s parable: “You know not the day nor the hour!” Indeed the primary conversion is the conversion to urgency. Once converted, we cannot wait for the Lord’s return; we long to spread the good news and to hasten the coming of the Lord by our lives of sacrifice and prayer! We just can’t wait any longer. We cannot wait to hear the cry at midnight, “Behold, the bridegroom!” Indeed, the pleas of the martyrs under the altar of God in the New Temple is “how long oh Lord?” This becomes our plea as we wait for the redemption of our bodies. The urgency with which we pray overcomes our years of waiting and pining that it is too late. Indeed, it is never too late for the Lord Jesus to work wonders and uncover the true beauty and brightness of our converted and transformed nature. Such a holy longing grows in us each time we enter into the mysteries of the Eucharist, and, as Saint Augustine first said, “We become what we eat!”





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