In Communion With Christ

By Fr. Campion P. Gavaler, O.S.B

Second Sunday of Orinary Time
January 15, 2011

Gospel Summary
John the Baptist, standing with two of his disciples, upon seeing Jesus exclaims, “Behold, the Lamb of God.” When Jesus notices that John’s disciples are following him, he says to them, “What are you looking for?” They reply, “Rabbi, where are you staying?” Jesus responds, “Come, and you will see.” Andrew, one of the disciples, goes to find his brother Simon, tells him they have found the Messiah, and introduces his brother to Jesus. Jesus looks at him and says, “You are Simon the son of John; you will be called Cephas (Peter).”

Life Implications
There is a true story about a professor who was invited to give a lecture at a major conference on religion. The subject of his lecture was the nature of God. His many hours of research were rewarded by the enthusiastic response he received upon completion of the lecture. On the flight back to his university, however, his euphoric satisfaction about his work was shattered when it dawned on him, as he later reported: “I talked to everyone about God, but God.”

We can easily have an experience similar to that of the professor as he was preparing his lecture about God. With a little research we can discover many interesting, even beautiful things about Jesus and his disciples.

Thus, in today’s gospel passage, we discover that when the two disciples ask Jesus where he is staying or dwelling the question isn’t simply about a street address. John uses the same Greek verb (translated as “staying or dwelling”) when Jesus at the Last Supper tells his disciples that he “dwells” in the Father and the Father “dwells” in him (Jn 14: 10-11). We also discover that when Jesus says “Come, and you will see,” the essential meaning of “seeing” is the seeing of faith (Jn 9). Only with that seeing can the disciples know where Jesus truly dwells, with-in the Father.

Thus far there is no life-implication for us beyond appreciation of a narrative about Jesus and his disciples. A life-changing implication occurs only when we realize that Jesus is addressing each of us today in as personal a way as he addressed the two disciples. The gospel is essentially about an encounter with the Risen Lord now, not about historical knowledge, however orthodox, about Jesus. The historical-critical method of scholarship (like John the Baptist) can give us valuable information about Jesus, but this knowledge cannot enable us to see Jesus in faith — that seeing is a gift of the Spirit.

Because faith means a personal union of friendship with Christ through his Spirit, life implications will be unique and particular for each person. Nevertheless, from the life of Christ and the lives of the saints, certain patterns emerge that are actualized in the particularity of each person’s life. Union with the Risen Lord means to share his relationship with the Father. It means that each of us is able to hear with Christ “You are my beloved” and to say with Christ “Thy will be done.”

To be in communion with Christ means to pray, always and everywhere. The second reading of today’s Mass (1 Cor 7: 32-35) shows us that a disciple’s personal union with Christ through his Spirit is the foundation of choices about moral behavior. Finally, we see that through union with Christ the saints are not defeated by the setbacks of life. Saint Paul speaks for them all when he wrote: “What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us” (Rom 8:35-37).|201201

A Digest of Articles from Catholic Blogs and Websites
January 15, 2012

Behold the Lamb of God
John the Baptist, standing with two of his disciples, upon seeing Jesus exclaims, “Behold, the Lamb of God.” When Jesus notices that John’s disciples are following him, he says to them, “What are you looking for?” They reply, “Rabbi, where are you staying?” Jesus responds, “Come, and you will see.” Andrew, one of the disciples, goes to find his brother Simon, tells him they have found the Messiah, and introduces his brother to Jesus. Jesus looks at him and says, “You are Simon the son of John; you will be called Cephas (Peter).”

The Faithful Cannot Be Silenced
St. John the Baptist, the first to preach Christ, the last and greatest of the prophets, could not contain himself and cried out “Behold, the Lamb of God!” to the two disciples with whom he stood. (John 1:35, RSV CE) Truly filled with the Holy Spirit, St. John overflows with the divine love in which he shares, a love which seeks ever to pour itself out and embrace every soul. He cannot help but shout aloud the fantastic news of salvation in Christ, the perfect paschal Lamb who will offer himself in the perfect sacrifice of the Cross.

A Little Parable on the Lies of the Devil and the False Promises of the World
One of the great illusions under which we labor is, that if we just get one more thing from this world, then we will be happy. Perhaps we think that if we just had a little more money, or a better job, or the latest iPad, or if we were married to so and so, or if we just lived in a better neighborhood….then we would be satisfied and content, at last. But “at last” never comes, even if we do get some of the things on our list. As Ecclesiastes puts it: The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing (Ecc 1:8). Or again, Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income (Ecc. 5:8).

Catholic Church vs. Protestant Reformers on Original Sin, Concupiscence, and Total Depravity
A reader recently asked about the diffrence between the Lutheran/Calvinist doctrine of original sin and the true Catholic doctrine regarding original sin. Before answering this question, let’s review the basics of the effects of Adam and Eve’s fall.

The fall of Adam and Eve brought the “four wounds” to human nature. These are enumerated by St Bede and others, especially St Thomas Aquinas (STh I-II q. 85, a. 3):

The Gospel of St. Mark, the Gospel of St. Peter
The second Gospel, that written by St. Mark, will be the primary Gospel used in the Church’s Liturgy (in the Novus Ordo) during the coming year. In the daily Mass readings, St. Mark’s Gospel is used consistently up till Lent; while, for the Sunday Gospel, Mark will be used throughout Ordinary Time (excepting this Sunday, January 15th).

In preparation for the Church’s use of this Gospel in the Sacred Liturgy, we will consider first the Petrine authority of the Gospel, and then (in a later article) the structure and style of the book.

Imitating the Holy Family
This is the time of year when Christians are most focused on the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Reflection on the Holy Family is more than just the Nativity scene. Naturally, Christmas focuses on the birth of the Saviour, and Mary and Joseph play key roles in this most important event.

But, there is a reason the Church incorporates a feast day of the Holy Family within the days of Christmas. There is much to reflect on in addition to the historic event of Jesus’ birth.

Two Interesting Arguments for God: Intelligibility & Desire
I. The Argument from Intelligibility

The argument from intelligibility is one that Pope Benedict is largely responsible for. Fr. Robert Barron explains the argument in Catholicism (pp. 67-68):

In 1968 a young theology professor at the University of Tübingen formulated a neat argument for God’s existence that owed a good deal to Thomas Aquinas but also drew on more contemporary sources. The theologian’s name was Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI. Ratzinger commences with the observation that finite being, as we experience it, is marked, through and through, by intelligibility, that it is to say, by a formal structure that makes it understandable to an inquiring mind.

How do we Teach Integrity to our Children?
What is integrity?

Integrity is a word that continues to fascinate me, and over the years the depth of its meaning grows within me. Originally, I understood the definition of integrity as an honest person. Later on, I realized that “integral” and “integrated” are forms of this word and have deeper meanings than just “honest” or “fair.” Our society considers an integrated person to be one who “has it all together” – educated, talented, successful, self-assured, etc.

GOD BLESS HIM! Hating Tim Tebow
… He stands for much of what our postmodern popular culture despises: sexual purity within the bonds of natural marriage, the sanctity of human life, selflessness, personal charity, humility and much, much more.…

My brother’s valuable life
How does one measure whether a life was a success, or a failure?

Some would measure it by recognition, that is, how many knew the person’s name. For others, the measure of a successful life would be the amount of wealth accumulated, or possessions held. Still others would say a life was successful if the person made a major contribution to society — in medicine, sports, politics, or the arts.

The Ancient Origins of the Nativity Scene – Part 2
Even though St. Matthew does not specify in his Gospel how many Magi came from the East to worship the Christ Child, the customary representation of three of them is one of the most solidly consistent and ancient traditions of Christian art. A very small number of early images have more than three, and one painting in the catacomb of Ss. Peter and Marcellinus has only two, but these are mere anomalies. It is commonly supposed that artists settled on three Magi to correspond to their three gifts, which, in turn, have been read from very ancient times as symbols of Christ’s divinity, mortality and regality. This is undoubtedly true, but there is another, equal important reason for showing three.

Feeding Our Children
A good mother, a good parent, is responsible for the physical health and well-being of her child. As mothers, we feed and clothe the little blessings we have been given. We make sure they have a roof over their heads and that they are safe and warm. What is frequently left unspoken, however, is our obligation to feed our children spiritually.

Medicine and Religion: Twin Healing Traditions
Many today might think that religion and medicine are two very different endeavors, that the mere suggestion that religion is relevant to health and healthcare is something new and different. However, this is not true. What is new and different is the distinct separation of religion from medicine, a relatively recent phenomenon in the United States and that, in some countries, has still not occurred. Throughout most of recorded history, religion and medicine have been strongly linked together in one way or another and physical disease understood largely in religious or spiritual terms. Consider the following.

Becoming Men of Christ: Profiles of seven men who have dedicated themselves to challenging other men to grow in faith and holiness
Catholic conferences and apostolates for men were once few and far between. But in just the last five or six years, the movement has caught fire, with more and more Catholic men being inspired to pray, live lives of virtue and to root out sin in their lives. In short, they want to become the men Christ wants them to be.

Mother’s never-ending hope paves way for son’s recovery
The story of Baby Andrew is a special one. It’s got newborns and nuns, doctors and dreams. It has prayer and hope, sorrow and fear. But mostly, what the story of Baby Andrew has is heart — in every sense of the word.

At 8-and-a-half months old, the son of Jennifer and Andrew Johnson (names have been changed) is wide-eyed and chunky. He’s doing everything else a baby of that age is doing: scooting across the floor, sticking whatever he can into his mouth — and smiling ridiculously often.

But for Baby Andrew, each one of these simple acts is a small miracle. This is a little boy who was never supposed to scoot across the floor, eat or smile — because he was never supposed to live.

445 babies saved from abortion thanks to free ‘Bella’ movie, popcorn
A pro-life organization has a novel strategy to reach out to a woman who is thinking of aborting her baby. The plan consists in handing out a ‘night at the movies’ that includes free popcorn, candy, and yes, a free DVD. The strategy has already saved the lives of 445 babies, says the group.

Liturgical Time and Commercial Time
Have you ever noticed how we long for meaning in every aspect of our lives? The Epiphany proclamation on Sunday reminds us how the timeless one came into time to redeem time. The Baptism of the Lord yesterday reminded me that Christ came to begin a new creation. He established a new dispensation. The Baptism story trembles with all the symbols that were present in the creation story: the waters below, the firmament above, the spirit hovering over the waters, the second Adam being pronounced as God’s Son, and God saying that he is ‘well pleased’ as he said in the first creation ‘That’s good’.

Sins of the tongue
Modern Westerners have a hard time grasping why ancients spent so much time “obsessing” (as we say) over the ultra-fine-tuned definitions of the Trinity or the hypostatic union of Christ’s human and divine natures. We want to deal with ideas in broad strokes. So we say things like, “As long as you believe in Jesus that’s good enough.” It can be a broadly generous thing to do. But it can also be a lazy thing to do since it does, after all, matter if the Jesus you believe in is God or not. Ancients understood that.

When holy obedience saved a priest’s life
When Derry priest Fr. Eddie O’Donnell stumbled across over 40,000 negatives belonging to the late Fr. Frank Browne he would not have been able to envisage the significance of what he had just discovered.

Fr. Browne, a Jesuit priest, was widely recognised as a skilled photographer. He boarded the Titanic in Southampton and several days later he was ordered off the boat in Cobh, Co. Cork by his superior.

The Folly of God-denial
As the political season heats up it occurs to me that, as important as elections are, unless the hearts of men are changed, the heart of a nation cannot awaken. Our nation is experiencing heart failure. It needs an awakening – a spiritual awakening. Desperately.

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