"Remember, I am with you always to the end of the age" (Mt 28:20)

[Second Week 1/2] Faith As Our Wake-Up Call And Spiritual Temperature

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A VOICE CRIES OUT: IN THE DESERT PREPARE THE WAY OF THE LORD! MAKE STRAIGHT IN THE WASTELAND A HIGHWAY FOR OUR GOD! EVERY VALLEY SHALL BE FILLED IN, EVERY MOUNTAIN AND HILL SHALL BE MADE LOW; THE RUGGED LAND SHALL BE MADE A PLAIN, THE ROUGH COUNTRY, A BROAD VALLEY. IS 40:3-4

Point of Departure: Three Images Of Faith

1. The seeds of Christian faith are like mustard seeds. There is a Chinese proverb by an anonymous author that captures this image of faith.
"The advantage of being tiny: Like a blade of grass looking up at a tree, like a stream looking out on the ocean, like a light in a village hut looking up at the stars in the sky; because being tiny, I can see what is great."

Jesus said, "For truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there', and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you" (Mt 17:20). Faith, no matter how tiny, when it is deeply rooted and grounded always sees through heaven's eyes. Faith can rewrite the stars so to speak. The only way to conquer the virus is to keep planting mustard seeds of faith even if we do not fully see at first God's Work that go with human actions. Ever since the start of the pandemic, God has been at work round the clock through the selflessness of all frontline workers. More than what any vaccine could do, what truly heals and saves is the faith of each frontline worker which is expressed through human bonds of fraternal and sororal love. To believe in this is faith at its finest and it has to begin from me and you. The faith of so many among us has been the source of God's protection and healing happening right under our nose.


2. Faith is our wake-up call. Faith is not the same as fatalism or the "God-alone-had-it-all-decided" or "future-events-are-entirely-beyond-our-control" attitude. Faith is alive or awake, while fate is asleep or dead. Faith involves one's personal response in the pursuit of understanding (St. Anselm). This touches on the sanctity of our God-given freedom which needs to be exercised. In the Gospel, Jesus performs miracles always through the faith of the person. He would often say "your faith has healed you, go and sin no more." Fatalistic attitude belies all acts of faith, great or small. This is the paradox of the faith of a widow who put in two small Roman coins. 'Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury. For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.' The widow was wide awake while the rest were either asleep or dead. Jesus could not perform any miracle in his own hometown because of their lukewarm, ailing or dead faith.

3. Faith is our spiritual temperature. David's spiritual temperature brought the whole Israelite army to defeat Goliath and the Philistines. All of the martyrs of the Church died after passionately professing their faith in God. Faith demands something from us, which may categorize us as any of these: hot, cold or lukewarm. We might think that to be lukewarm is better than hot or cold, but no. In Jesus' stinging rebuke to the church of Laodicea for being lukewarm, he says "I know that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either cold or hot" (Rev. 3:15). A lukewarm faith in times of difficulties is spiritually dangerous. From stupor and tepidity, there is a likelihood of sliding down into dangerous territory. I found this little picture book entitled "Eat Less Cottage Cheese and More Ice Cream: Thoughts on Life by Erma Bombeck" which illustrates what it means to really live to the full.
Someone asked me the other day if I had my life to live over, would I change anything.
My answer was no, but then I thought about it and changed my mind.
If I had my life to live over again I would have talked less and listened more.
Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy and complaining about the shadow over my feet, I'd have cherished every minute of it and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was to be my only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.
I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.
I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained and the sofa faded.
I would have eaten popcorn in the "good" living room and worried less about the dirt when you lit the fireplace.
I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.
I would have burnt the pink candle that was sculptured like a rose before it melted in storage.
I would have sat cross-legged on the lawn with my children and never worried about the grass stains.
I would have cried and laughed less while watching television... and more while watching real life.
I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband.
I would have eaten less cottage cheese and more ice cream.
I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren't there for a day.
I would never have bought anything just because it was practical/wouldn't show soil/was guaranteed to last a lifetime.
When the child kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, "Later. Now go get washed up for dinner."
There would have been more I love yous... more I'm sorrys... more I'm listenings...
but mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute of it...
look at it and really see it...
try it on... live it... exhaust it...
and never give that minute back until there was nothing left of it. 
The text originally appeared in a newspaper column, "If I Had My Life To Live Over," c. December 2, 1979 by Erma Louise Bombeck (1927–1996).
Grace To Beg For: Let us beg for the grace of faith as we pray, "You, O God, are right in every case, even when I cannot see it or perhaps would prefer the opposite." (Hans Urs Von Balthasar)

Points To Consider:

1. Is your faith hot, cold or lukewarm? What is your spiritual temperature? Pope Francis, last Sunday, said that we should guard ourselves from stupor and tepidity.

Which of those from "Eat Less Cottage Cheese and More Ice Cream: Thoughts on Life by Erma Bombeck" are you drawn to act upon?

2. Two music videos from The Greatest Showman:
The Greatest Showman: Reimagined  | "Rewrite The Stars"
by Anne-Marie & James Arthur (See lyrics below)

The two personae have interlinked their faith between hot and cold without becoming lukewarm. In Chinese there is the Yin and Yang, i.e., "dark-bright," "negative-positive," shadow and light, where both take the effort to reach out. "Faith is not water that extinguishes flames, it is fire that burns; it is not a tranquilizer for people under stress, it is a love story for people in love!” (HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS, November 29, 2020). In your relationship with God or someone, which of the two personae can you resonate with?


The Greatest Showman: Peter Hollens Cover | "From Now On"
 Feat. The Hollens Family

Make straight the paths of the Lord. Imagine this song being sang by John the Baptist. Feel and see his heart and soul coming back home. Jesus makes himself as the very path to come back home to him. Make it the anthem of your heart this second week of Advent.


3. Proceed to the †Lectio Divina link at the bottom for the option to pray over the gospel reading for the day.

Fr. JM Manzano, SJ
Rewrite the Stars [Anne-Marie & James Arthur]

You know I want you
It's not a secret I try to hide
I know you want me
So don't keep sayin' our hands are tied
You claim it's not in the cards
And fate is pullin' you miles away
And out of reach from me
But you're here in my heart
So who can stop me if I decide
That you're my destiny?

What if we rewrite the stars?
Say you were made to be mine
Nothing could keep us apart
You'd be the one I was meant to find
It's up to you, and it's up to me
No one can say what we get to be
So why don't we rewrite the stars?
Maybe the world could be ours
Tonight

You think it's easy
You think I don't wanna run to you
But there are mountains
And there are doors that we can't walk through
I know you're wondering why because we're able to be
Just you and me within these walls
But when we go outside, you're gonna wake up and see
That it was hopeless after all

No one can rewrite the stars
How can you say you'll be mine?
Everything keeps us apart
And I'm not the one you were meant to find
It's not up to you
It's not up to me
When everyone tells us what we can be
How can we rewrite the stars?
Say that the world can be ours
Tonight

All I want is to fly with you
All I want is to fall with you
So just give me all of you
It feels impossible
It's not impossible
Is it impossible?
Say that it's possible

How do we rewrite the stars?
Say you were made to be mine?
Nothing can keep us apart
'Cause you are the one I was meant to find
It's up to you
And it's up to me
No one can say what we get to be
And why don't we rewrite the stars?
Changing the world to be ours

You know I want you
It's not a secret I try to hide
But I can't have you
We're bound to break and my hands are tied

Comments

  1. Muchas gracias Fr.JM
    It is very good and timely for me to ask :"Is my faith hot, cold or lukewarm?"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Indeed! And we can ask that each time our body temperature is checked. God bless us!

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  2. Thank you Fr. JM for sharing this... I pray that the Lord may grant me the grace to keep the fire of faith keep burning as the Lord draws me closer to Him this season of Advent... not to fall in slumber of mediocrity and indifference but of watchfulness of charity...

    ReplyDelete

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