January 31, 2013
Thursday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time
Heb 10:19-25; Ps 24:1-6; Mk 4:21-25
“The face of the God of Jacob.”
Why would anyone desire what is vain? Why would anyone seek a puff of smoke? A chase after the wind is the only a waste of time. It seems that so much of what we call culture, or the so-called entertainment industry, is chasing after a puff of smoke. We use what used to be uplifting and inspiring music, acting, film, and books to escape not to seek and find anything or anyone. All around us on this earth is a fullness of beauty that overwhelms the senses; and the world and all the variety of people who dwell in it are so mysterious and fascinating. Indeed the LORD who founded the seas and established the rivers continues to beckon us over the ocean and down the streams of his delight. For generations we have been ascending the mountain of the LORD; we have been striving to stand in his holy place. Only when our hearts are clean, our hands are sinless can we make it to the very heights of the Holy Mountain. It is our seeking the face of the God of Jacob that gives meaning and purpose to all our, striving, struggling, and seeking. When we seek the face of the God of Jacob we discover our common humanity and the deepest desire of the human heart. It is just such a desire and seeking that stirs into flame the fire of God’s love deep within us. As the Letter to the Hebrews admonishes us, “we must consider how to rouse one another to love and good works.” Or as the gospel inquires, “Is a lamp brought in to be placed under a bushel basket or under a bed, and not to be placed on a lampstand?”
The flesh of the Word Made Flesh is compared to the veil in the temple that shields the Holy of Holies from the profane gaze of the careless or the sinner. The very flesh of Christ is a living way through which we can enter confidently into the house of God. Indeed, we approach with sincere hearts and with absolute trust because our hearts have been sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure and living water. This living water springs up from deep with all who have entered into the Heart of Christ and who have drunk deeply of the Holy Spirit. We must hold unwaveringly to our confession of sin and reception of forgiveness. Indeed, this confession gives us hope for growth in holiness and perfection of virtue because the Lord Jesus is our strength and in him we can do anything. He is faithful to his promises, and he is trustworthy. The only regret that a saint suffers is twofold: first, that we did not become saints earlier, and second, that there are some who have not yet discovered the joy of holiness. We must ponder anew how to rouse one another to compassionate love and virtuous deeds. This is how we really love one another—by calling each other to holiness and heaven.
As contemporary disciples of the Lord Jesus we join our ancestors in answering the Lord’s question. All together, “no!” This is the only logical answer to the question of the Master, “Is a lamp brought in to be placed under a bushel basket or under a bed, and not be placed on a lamp stand?” Of course not, anyone would reply. Then the image morphs before our ears: everything hidden will be made visible and every secret will come into the light. Now light shines upon the quiet corners of our lives and we are no longer allowed to be irresponsible or inattentive to the details of loving service. From the sense of sight the Master then begins to develop the auditory sense when he says, “take care what you hear.” The Lord has taught us through the saints that the only measure of love is to love without measure. Finally, we are commanded to be attentive to the abundance of the gift of faith. To the one who has faith more faith will be given, and to the one who has never used his faith in prayer or in the practice of virtue, that unplanted grain will be taken away and given to someone else. In all of these wisdom sayings, we must listen with open hearts and respond with obedient lives.