I hesitate to get into this. But it’s time to acknowledge a true leader. I know these debates can get quite emotional. I for one have seen a lot of hate spewed in recent days–about a man who is a constant winner and overachiever. He’s out there proving his haters wrong time after time. Some people get jealous of such a consistent winner. Throw in a beautiful foreign model for a wife, and people hate him even more. Maybe you didn’t want him in the role he has today, but there’s nothing anyone can do about it now.
Like it or not, Tom Brady is in the Superbowl again.*
Before the game, though, let’s turn inward. Who calls him- or herself a disciple of Christ?
Therefore we must listen carefully.
Last week He taught us where we can find true blessedness. Christ’s Beatitudes describe a kind of happiness that lies hidden from the world’s eyes. Poor in spirit, meek, merciful, pure-hearted, longing for justice and truth–there we find the invisible happiness of inner communion with God.
Today at Holy Mass we hear the Lord command us to let a light shine that will move people to glorify God. “You are the light of the world,” He tells us.
In a month, Lent will arrive, and we will celebrate the Stations of the Cross on Fridays, as we customarily do. We have lovely, evocative stations at St. Andrew’s in Roanoke. We can use them outside of Lent, too, of course. A unique light shone from Christ throughout His pilgrim life. But when we imagine His bitter Passion and crucifixion, we see that light at its purest.
Theologians debate the question of whether Jesus had the virtue of faith during His earthly life. St. Thomas Aquinas says No, because Christ had the beatific vision from the moment of His conception in the Virgin’s womb. In His mind, Lord Jesus always beheld the glory of God. What we believe, and hope to see, Jesus always saw interiorly and knew.
In the end, I think the debate on the the question of Jesus’ faith doesn’t serve much of a purpose, because the essential fact for us is: The strength and serenity that Jesus possessed during His Passion. We have faith–we have faith precisely in that inner source, the life of the soul of Christ, which gave Him the love by which He offered Himself to the Father, for us, on the cross. We believe that the inner source of Christ’s perfect life is God. The source of Jesus’ strength and serenity during the Passion is the God in which we Christians believe. Feel me?
As we gaze at the fourteen Stations, we see light. An intense paradox draws us into the true meaning of our lives: These bas-relief sculptures depict a hideously dark sequence of events. If we didn’t hold the Christian faith, we wouldn’t want our children exposed to these images. When Mel Gibson made his Passion movie, people complained about the violence. But Good Friday–the real, original day–it was an R-rated movie. If they gave a rating to our Stations of the Cross, it would have to be R.
But we see light. At Mass at St. Andrew’s, we find ourselves in a shiny, sparkling, gaudy building–and right in the center, with every architectural line converging on it–is the rendition of a crucified man. And to us, this is the brightest light of all, the shiniest part of the beautiful building. This is our God. His light, altogether invisible to every eye but the eye of faith–His light shines brighter than any other light. The Passion, darker than any Hollywood horror movie–and yet we see the Light of the World shining.
And that makes us the light of the world. It’s good to be nice, but being nice doesn’t make anyone the light of the world. It’s good to be smart, but being smart doesn’t make anyone the light of the world. When does our light shine before others and make them glorify our heavenly Father? When they see within us the same light that shone within Jesus on Good Friday.
The world needs our Christian interior life. We need a Christian interior life. How did Jesus give heaven to the human race? By living from the deep secret within Himself, His secret divine union with the Father.
Which means that we need to wall-off a sancutary in our souls. We need an inner tabernacle that no e-mail, no facebook, no Superbowl, no President, no news media can touch. We need to cultivate the interior life. The world needs us to cultivate the Christian interior life.
How? How about at least fifteen minutes of absolute silence per day? If we wonder, What do we need to survive life in the USA in 2017? let’s listen to this. St. Francis de Sales said, “I pray an hour a day, except when I’m really busy. Then I pray two hours a day.” Or Martin Luther: “I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours praying.”
What’s Christian meditation? It’s as easy as walking quietly from one Station of the Cross to the next. Or just trying to pay attention at Mass. Or opening up the New Testament and starting to read from Matthew 1:1.
Our light will shine. When we let the light of Christ crucified shine inside us. Through daily silent prayer.
* Thank you, David “Dutch” Massingham, for this joke.