In today’s lectionary readings Jesus cured two blind men because of their faith, and the prophet Isaiah claimed that “on that day…the eyes of the blind shall see.” Whatever Jesus did and was will be fulfilled in the Second Coming, when we will all see aright. We are evolving toward the end times when all will see completely; blindness will be no more. The mystery of Christ will become clear, for we will see it as our mystery.
Author Archives: Sr. Mary Valerie Schneider
Lectionary readings in Advent and Advent hymns often speak of “that day.” “On that day” all good things will happen—peace, prosperity, plentiful food. That’s certainly worth waiting for. And so in Advent we wait, but our waiting cannot be the waiting of Charlie Brown in a pumpkin patch watching for the Great Pumpkin to arrive this year—well, maybe next year or the year after. Our waiting includes doing our part to bring about “that day.” How? We make the power of God come alive in our world through our lives. We are co-creators, cooperators with God in the transformation of our world. The paschal mystery begun in the life of Jesus continues in the transformation of the world into the reign of God. A reign requires a ruler, a king. Of course, this ruler is Jesus Christ. What are we doing today to bring about peace, prosperity, and plentiful food? Many churches, businesses, and schools conduct collections. Do not underestimate the power of a grocery bag of food and paper products to bring about “that day.” “That day” depends upon today.
The wolf with the lamb, the leopard with the kid, the calf with the lion, the cow with the bear—and all led by a child. That’s unity beyond anything we can now imagine. In Advent we long for the coming of the Lord, best expressed in Jesus Christ’s own longing for unity “that all may be one” (John 17:21). For what was Jesus longing at the Last Supper? We are beginning to understand that this unity will occur when Christ’s glorified body will thrust us into another phase of creation, a cosmic dimension we call the Second Coming. Some call such unity the God-community in which the whole cosmos is incorporated, for some day God will be “all in all.” On that day the Incarnation, begun 14.8 billion years ago with the Big Bang paving the way for God to take on flesh, will be completed in a whole new Body, the universe centered in Christ. Our minds cannot grasp the fullness of the Incarnation, so we look back on the Bethlehem event. We can grasp the Incarnation as a Baby in a manger, but we can’t keep spending Advent after Advent looking back. Because Christ is the noblest perfection of the universe. the fullness of the Incarnation will be the universe when all is one.
The Book of Revelation speaks of a new heaven and a new earth. What will the new earth be? The new earth will be the Reign of God. There will be something “un-earthy” about it, something quite heavenly. Such a transformation flows from the paschal mystery of Jesus Christ. Turning the world into the Reign of God is another way to say “Jesus Christ saved the world.” What can we do to make earth more heavenly? How can we fine tune ourselves to hear the frequency of heavenly song amid the noise of our world? Our prayer might be: “Earth to Heaven, come in, please!”
As a liturgist/musician I participate in nearly every act of worship in the parish. This should make me holy, don’t you think? But it doesn’t seem to be working that way. The liturgy can easily wash over me without my participating in the reality.
Ron Rolheiser writes: “We participate in Jesus’ sacrifice when we, like him, let ourselves be broken down, when we, like him, become selfless. The Eucharist, as sacrifice, invites us to become like the kernels of wheat that make up the bread. . . broken down and crushed, so that we can become part of communal loaf. . . .”
Am I willing to become crushed wheat? Or is that just a heroic thought that flies away like the chaff at the slightest irritation or affront to my ego? But I can return the next day with the chaff and once again ask to become transformed, to become what I eat—the Body of Christ.
The wind of God, the Holy Spirit, continues to sweep over the face of the earth. After billions of years God’s creativity is as vibrant as ever. God just can’t stop! Day by day our world is becoming more and more “charged with the grandeur of God” (Gerard Manley Hopkins). The grandeur of a mountain range, a supermoon, a monarch butterfly leaves us breathless. Yet such beauty only hints at the unspeakable awe we would feel if we saw the world replete with God. If our eyes could penetrate rock and fur and skin and bark and mud, we could perhaps see the spiritual potential, the receptivity, of created matter to let God reside within—not in any animistic way like primitive religions’ wood gods—but the expectant potency for the fullness of the Incarnation when all plants and animals and humans and galaxies will reach their goal in Christ. That “day” will come “Because the Holy Ghost over the bent/World broods with warm breast and with ah!/ bright wings” (Gerard Manley Hopkins).
How is God in process of giving the Godself to you? How can you give yourself to God?
As a human being, Jesus Christ was as subject to daily tasks as any of us. In the carpenter shop in Nazareth did Jesus wonder about the punishment of Adam and Eve to work, especially the work that is tedious, thankless, mindless and so repetitive that we wonder why we even bother? (“I’ll need to do it again tomorrow!”)
Day after day we cook meals, wash dishes, make the bed. Season after season we wash windows and weed gardens. How do we respond? With boredom? With creativity? Actually, I appreciate the mindless tasks like cleaning sinks and folding wash and weeding. Though sweating, I feel holy leisure, an hour without care or planning. Meditative minutes when God seems a little closer. I invite God into these moments. “Dear God, I have time for tea. Won’t you sit down?”
“Let us be infected by the holiness of God.” Pope Francis said this in a general audience in October 2013. With the Ebola epidemic spiraling out of control, the word “infected” takes on more import. For our spiritual lives, too, the prayerful hope of Pope Francis should also take on more import. Are we infected by the holiness of God, or are we inoculated against God’s holiness by our culture marked by consumerism and individualism? Like so many saints before us, when God’s holiness gets into our bloodstream, we take on symptoms of charity and compassion. Our temperature rises to a new awareness of the rights of others and their need for justice. Unlike disease germs, God’s infection makes us strong, developing our resistance to temptation.
If schools, stores, churches, and other buildings had a banner stating “Always Looking for Great People,” I’d want to go in! I’d be curious about who was inside, the mission statement, procedures for day-to-day operations, visioning, and goals. What if next Sunday every Christian church displayed such a banner? Would false humility keep you outside? Or would you step inside with compelling humility, confident that you called to greatness, because God “called you by name” saying “You are mine”?
Daily newspapers are telling us that Christians are being persecuted. Threats and acts of terror are now more rampant than in the early days of the Church. For so many, even children, we see the greatness in their saying “yes” when asked at gun-point, “Are you a Christian?”
Today we will not be faced with such a horrific reality, but we can begin to practice being that “great person” to which our Baptism calls us.
A few days ago when I was driving in early morning hours, I noticed something unusual about the moon. The traffic, however, kept my attention on the road, headlights preventing me from seeing much beyond. Later in the day I heard about the lunar eclipse. Had I realized it was an eclipse, I would have stopped the car and watched. I felt bad that I had missed my chance. How many other events and sights in my day should have merited my attention?