Thursday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time, November 18
May We Never Overlook the Grace of His Presence, His Visitation Each Day in Our Lives, as God Moves to Continuously Invite Us into a Closer and More Intimate Union with Himself.
In today’s Gospel, we hear our Lord saying with great sadness, “If this day you only knew what makes for peace – but now it is hidden from your eyes.”
Have you and I ever taken the time to think about what is actually the enemy of peace in our homes, in our cities and the many nations around the globe? What is it that prevents us from living a right relationship with our God? And what is it that prevents us from truly loving our neighbor?
There has been much discussion over the past decades, especially in the past few years, and untold articles written about what is considered to be a continuing and progressive loss in the recognition of sin in our lives. Many people, in all walks of life, tend to rationalize their behavior to the point where – what was once recognized as sin is now an acceptable form of human behavior.
This form of rationalization, this change in how one approaches moral and ethical conduct has been labeled moral and ethical relativism. It is a behavior which minimizes sin to the point where guilt is no longer realized, and behavior of almost any form, as long as it does not violate the civil and criminal law of the land, is acceptable conduct.
We need only to look at the laws regarding abortion, same-sex marriages, and the many different acts of sexual immorality to understand this concept of relativism in today’s society. Sadly, such rationalization tends to remake God in our image, and yet, God never changes.
And we are reminded of this fact in the Letter to the Hebrews where we read, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Then the author of this Letter goes on to say, “Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teaching. It is good to have our hearts strengthened by grace and not by foods, which do not benefit those who live by them.”
In other words, when we apply this verse to the world in which we live today, that which is foreign – that which is contrary to the teachings of our faith – can only damage our relationship with God, a relationship which is based upon love, humility and obedience.
We see this in the heart of Mattathias in our First Reading today. From the First Book of Maccabees, we are introduced to a man who takes great solace in the relationship he has forged with the God of his fathers.
When confronted with the offer of participating in the apostasy of pagan worship, Mattathias responds to the king’s offer by saying, “Although all the Gentiles in the king’s realm obey him, so that each forsakes the religion of his fathers and consents to the king’s orders, yet I and my sons and my kin will keep to the covenant of our fathers.”
And, as a final oath of allegiance to the faith which he embraces, Mattathias continues, “God forbid that we should forsake the law and the commandments. We will not obey the words of the king nor depart from our religion in the slightest degree.”
The conduct which you and I live on a daily basis – our thoughts, our words, our actions, even including those actions which we may fail to do – all speak of our relationship with Jesus Christ. They speak of who we are as a Christian people, and how Jesus impacts our conscious lives from the hours of early morning to the twilight hours of the evening.
In Jesus’ day, there were many who heard our Lord preach in their synagogues; there were many who witnessed the amazing miracles He performed before their very eyes. And, as a consequence, there were many who believed in Him and became members of the early Christian community.
Sadly, however, there were also many who succumbed to the lies and deceitful fabrications wrought by their religious leaders. And in Jesus’ sadness over their lack of faith, in spite of all that they had witnessed and heard, our Lord wept over the city of Jerusalem and said, “If this day you only knew what makes for peace – but now it is hidden from your eyes.”
And Jerusalem was subsequently destroyed by the Roman Army in the year 70 A.D., as our Lord had prophesied, stating, “…because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.” – because they had an opportunity, greater than ours, to develop a personal and intimate relationship with their God through the promised Messiah who stood in their very midst, and they willingly threw it all away! It is no wonder that Jesus wept!
Time has passed since the destruction of Jerusalem. Through almost two thousand years of Church history, the Holy Spirit has guided and protected Christ’s Church through both good times and bad. And throughout this passage of years, the Spirit of Truth has continued to enlighten and guide the Church’s Magisterium, the teaching authority of the Church, into a better understanding of our faith and all that Jesus has taught us.
As a result, you and I are the beneficiaries of this faith which we profess today. We have come to know and believe that Jesus Christ is the ONLY salvation for this world! And, in this knowledge, we take our hope.
For it is through the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ that the separation caused by the sin of our first parents has been set aside, so that we may once again enjoy the fullness of God’s Mercy through our reconciliation with our Heavenly Father. And God gives us His Holy Spirit both to purify us and to restore us as a holy people to Himself. And, through Christ, we become living temples of His Spirit.
God has visited His people in the past and filled them with His Presence, as He did with Mattathias in our First Reading, for it was His Spirit which gave Mattathias and all the other faithful Jewish people the strength to stand up against the idolatrous and profane practices perpetrated by the king, and to endure whatever persecutions may result, as we were witness to in yesterday’s reading about the mother who witnessed the death of her seven sons, and yet never wavered in her faith in God’s Loving Mercy.
And God continues to visit us today through the gifts and workings of the Holy Spirit. Do you and I take the time to recognize the Spirit’s gracious visitation in our lives today, or do we find ourselves so caught up in our day-to-day activities that we fail to recognize God’s Presence within us?
Let us pray that we may never overlook the grace of His Presence, His visitation, in our daily pilgrimage through life, as God moves to continuously invite us into a closer and more intimate union with Himself.
And let us also pray that He may purify our hearts and our minds, so that we may better understand God’s Divine will in our day-to-day activities, enabling us to conform ourselves more fully to all that He asks and expects from each and every one of us, here on this side of Heaven. †
Please Comment, Like and Share, and Suggest to your Facebook friends – to spread the message of God’s Merciful Love.
Por favor Comente, Le Gusta y Comparta, y Sugiera a tus amigos en Facebook – en difundir el mensaje del Misericordioso Amor de Dios.
Scripture for the Day
- “As Jesus drew near Jerusalem, he saw the city and wept over it, saying, ‘If this day you only knew what makes for peace – but now it is hidden from your eyes…because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.’” (Luke 19:41-42, 44c)
- “Offer praise as your sacrifice to God; fulfill your vows to the Most High. Then call on me on the day of distress; I will rescue you, and you shall honor me.” (Psalm 50:14-15)
- “But to the wicked God says: ‘Why do you recite my commandments and profess my covenant with your mouth? You hate discipline; you cast my words behind you! …When you do these things should I be silent?’” (Psalm 50:16-17, 21a)
- “But Mattathias answered in a loud voice: ‘Although all the Gentiles in the king’s realm obey him, so that they forsake the religion of their ancestors and consent to the king’s orders, yet I and my sons and my kindred will keep to the covenant of our ancestors.’” (1 Maccabees 2:19-20)
- “Heaven forbid that we should forsake the law and the commandments. We will not obey the words of the king by departing from our religion in the slightest degree.” (1 Maccabees 2:21-22)
- “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teaching. It is good to have our hearts strengthened by grace and not by foods, which do not benefit those who live by them.” (Hebrews 13:8-9)
- “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been purchased at a price. Therefore, glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
- “Those who offer praise as a sacrifice honor me; I will let him whose way is steadfast look upon the salvation of God.” (Psalm 50:23)
Prayer for the Day
“Dear Lord and Most Loving Savior,Anonymous
Holiness seems so far away, a mirage in the desert.
My sins keep slapping me in the face and taunting me.
I am like a clown with a bright face and a sad heart.
“Take the stain from me and help me to join You on Calvary.
Help me to look at You and see only You hanging –
Hanging in Love, suspended in Love, bleeding for love.
With that vision, the rest of life pales and my sin is gone.
My sin is gone from sight, superseded by Your free Love
“Thank You for Your freedom and the pain of Your Love.
Thank you for the gift of cleansing grace
Which I fail to avail myself of nearly often enough.
Help me to cast my sin on You, so that I may grow in holiness.
“Lord, take my hand and walk with me through life:
Teaching me, guiding me, supporting me with Your Love.
All this I humbly ask of You,
For You are my Father, and I am Your child. Amen.”