Surfing the Gifts with the King

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Christ is the faithful witness. (Revelation 1:5)

Jesus said, “For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.” (John 18:37)

We need to grasp the truth of God, if we are to make any sense out of our lives. To obey God, to walk with Him, to hope in Him, to enjoy His friendship as His beloved children—that path alone offers true peace and the prospect of real happiness. This path lay hidden to the world. But then Jesus came and bore faithful witness to it, testifying to it Himself.

How? Christ has “testified” by obeying the Father in everything. The eternal Son submitted to being born of an obscure Jewish virgin. He submitted to growing up in a poor family and working hard, with His hands. He submitted to every jot and tittle of the Old Covenant, in order to fulfill it.

He undertook a hardscrabble, vagabond ministry of long wanderings and cold nights sleeping on the desert ground. He taught and worked miracles precisely as His Father would have Him do, not for His own personal adulation, but to glorify the One Who sent Him.

Christ chose Apostles and disciples, trained and instructed them, precisely as the Father willed. He instituted the Holy Sacrifice of His Church, and He gave Himself over as the innocent Lamb to reconcile mankind with God. He rose from the dead, walked the earth for forty more days, ascended to heaven, and poured out the Holy Spirit—all in perfect accord with the Father’s plan.

xt-kingIn other words, Jesus Christ is the king of harmony with God. The world has no royalty as royal as Christ, and His royalty consists in this: Perfect obedience to the heavenly Father. Christ bore faithful witness and testified to the truth by His perfect harmony with the Father’s will.

Now, what, exactly, is the will of the Father? Christ has “harmonized” with an original melody, so to speak. The original melody is the plan, the truth, the love which directed Christ through His entire pilgrim life. This plan, this truth—the love with which the Father acts: that is the pre-eminent mystery of life, the secret of Divine Providence. We are like surfers. The Providence of God is the ocean.

Hopefully we memorized the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit when we prepared to receive Confirmation…wisdom, understanding, knowledge, counsel, piety, fortitude, and holy fear. We may have memorized these words, but maybe we didn’t understand what these Gifts actually are.

All of them involve direct interior contact with the transcendent, invisible, unknowable God. The operation of these Gifts directed Christ through His entire “testimony” to the Father—His pilgrim life as a man. So, by the Gifts of the Holy Spirit we can harmonize, too–just as Christ has perfectly harmonized with the plan of Providence.

They are gifts because we ourselves, by our own devices, can neither see, nor know, nor grasp, nor domesticate, nor reduce to our level the Great Father of our existence. The clay cannot say to the Potter who molds us, “We’ve got you! We have your number! We know your game!” No. The ocean moves, and not at our direction. We surf on, by co-operating with the waves.

The “kingship” of Christ: Only He and His saints in heaven see the Almighty Potter of all this clay. The King of Harmony with the Creator has reached the final goal; He sees the very mind of God. He pours forth His seven-fold spiritual gifts upon us, so that, despite our human weakness and ignorance, we can have interior harmony with the unseen God:

Holy Spirit dove sunWe can understand and know God’s plan. We can hear His commands and deport ourselves as His children. We can have His strength to endure difficulties. We can truly fear the prospect of grieving Him. And we can grow wise with heavenly wisdom.

In other words, through faith and the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, we can stand firmly on the Truth that nothing can rattle or shake, just like Christ always stood firm, even in the face of a cruel and unjust death.

Our spiritual houses can be built on that solid footing. We can make God our true “home.” –To the outside eye, a surfboard seems like a very small home. But the one on the surfboard of co-operation with God knows that his or her true home is not just the board, but the whole big wave, the whole big ocean.

Indeed, by faith and the gifts, we reign right alongside the eternal King. We can share the kingship of Christ. We just need to stay in the state of grace. Which means going to Confession on some kind of regular basis.

What is the pomp and circumstance of the true King? Spreading out His arms on the cross, out of love. We celebrate this very sacrifice, our King’s eucharist, at the holy altar—and all the spiritual gifts He gives us work their way to fruition in us by our constant celebration of the Holy Sacrifice.

We begin with the Mass. We bring it to fulfillment with the Mass.

All praise, glory, laud, and honor to the King, Jesus Christ, the perfectly obedient Son of the eternal Father!

Surfing the Divine Will

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Off and running, reading Mark 6 at Mass…

The Lord Jesus has grown up in a hurry. He has chosen His Apostles. They had already accomplished enough together that the Lord had in mind for them to make a quiet retreat and get some rest.

But the confused and hungry multitude followed them across the sea. Christ’s heart, of course, brimmed over with compassion, and He taught the people many things.

The sun began to set. Supper time arrived. 5,000 men and their families found themselves in a desolate place with nothing to eat.

mothertheresaWe learn that the Apostles had already started thinking ahead. They considered the well-being of the people and tried to exercise practical judgment.

‘Master, we have got to send these people on their way, so they can get back to town and order a falafel sandwich or something. Otherwise, we will have a humanitarian crisis on our hands.’

Okay. Good point. The people must eat. But, the Lord appeared to think: We have a golden opportunity here. This is no time for fretting. We can’t send them away. We came here to pray and commune with each other. We will do that, indeed. And these people, too, will join us. We will bless God and break bread together! Give them something to eat yourselves.

I think we can safely say that this was the moment when the Apostles showed their hardness of heart. If they really knew their Master; if they really knew what He can do, they would have smiled and started handing out bread. But, hard-hearted, they resisted. They feared that their Master did not know what He was doing.

Now, let’s analyze. Let’s consider the various approaches to be taken in trying to fulfill the will of Jesus Christ.

dont-worry-be-happy-bobby-mcferrin-cd-cover-artOn the one hand, we have the glib Bobby-McFerrin-Don’t-Worry-Be-Happy approach. This approach does not befit a reasonable human being. The Lord gave us minds to use, to observe and to confront problems. We cannot jigger-jagger blindly through life, without contingency plans for worst-case scenarios. If we do, unforeseen disaster will of course befall us, and we will have only ourselves to blame.

On the other hand, Blessed Mother Theresa built an enormous and successful international health-care enterprise. She never worried for ten seconds about rubber gloves, professional certifications, or universal precautions. She considered the hospital regulators of the world to be God’s problem, not hers. And she was right: He—God, the Lord, Jesus—He did have it all under control.

But then there’s also the famous story about the shipwrecked man waiting for God to rescue him, who refused a lifeboat and a helicopter. God will rescue me! At the pearly gates, he asks, Why didn’t You rescue me? And Lord says, What do you mean? I sent you a lifeboat and a helicopter.

January 2013, and things are different than they were in January 2012—though the differences may not be exactly what we might have imagined a year ago. God has done His work. But nothing has changed for good without its being someone’s idea and generous initiative, and nothing has changed for the worse without its being someone’s blameworthy neglect or bad decision.

Another year will see more change, very little of which we can distinctly anticipate now. May it all be for the good! We cannot know the plan of God ahead of time. But may He give us eyes to see and ears to hear, so that we can do our part with confidence, make good decisions, and leave in His hands the things that only He can control.

You want to know my favorite metaphor? Doing God’s will is like surfing. The surfer has to stay in shape, take care of the board, and listen faithfully to the weather radio. God provides the ocean and controls how it moves.