Spiritual Dynamite

“The Church’s responsibility is not so much to make itself accessible to the world, but rather to transform the world. It is the mustard seed, the leaven, the tiny ark of Noah. In Augustine’s terms, it is the City of God making its way within the City of Man.”
~ “Moving Beyond a Beige Catholicism,” Talk, Bishop Robert Barron

Today is Christ the King Sunday. It’s a day where the Church reminds herself that God is God, and we are not. It’s a day to remember that Christ will come again to judge the living and the dead. Finally, it’s an invitation to shed all presumptions and abstractions of love and be bold to tangibly express the love of God by loving one’s neighbor. Jesus makes for us the now-famous connection, that to love the other is, in turn, loving him. “Truly I tell you,” he said, “just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me” (Matt. 25:40). Called to love like Jesus, his words act as touchstones to our purpose as Christians. In his teaching, Jesus reminds us that our very essence is, in fact, God’s Spirit. God’s Spirit has animated us into His image, calling it good. In His essence we find our existence, so that, in looking around, we’re surprised to find our family in the whole of the human race. What a revolution! Jesus shows that when we feed hungry mouths within the family of God, we nurture the One who fasted for 40 days. When we house the unhoused, we welcome the holy family who had no room at the inn. When we give drink to parched mouths and lips, we offer water to the Crucified One who said, “I thirst.” This teaching is radical, and when the Church embraces it, it’s like dynamite exploding.

“Someone who operated very much in [this Spirit] was St. Teresa of Kolkata. Much of Mother Teresa’s day was taken up with prayer, meditation, Mass, Eucharistic Adoration, and the rosary. Still, the rest of her time…was spent in the grittiest work among the poorest of the poor, practicing the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, blowing up the dynamite of the Church. Father Paul Murray, the Irish Dominican spiritual writer and sometime advisor to Mother Teresa, relates the following story. One day in deep conversation with Mother, he was searching out the sources of her spirituality and mission. At the end of their long talk, she asked him to spread his hand out on the table and touching his fingers one by one as she spoke the words, she said, “You did it to me.” (“You Did it to Me,” Bishop Barron, The Word on Fire Bible, pg. 151).

Mother Teresa’s witness does two things for me. I’m reminded that practicing my faith leads to a greater capacity to love, not in the obscure and abstract, but tangible love in thought, word, and deed. It also reminds me of St. James’ famous line, “faith without works is dead.” As we finish another liturgical year, where are you with Christ’s revolutinary teaching? Where do you think St. Julian’s parish is with his teaching? Are you/we “showing forth God’s praise, not only with our lips but in our lives, by giving up our selves to God’s service?” In this unprecedented year, may we all be challenged yet again to tangibly love our neighbors because in doing so, we serve Our Lord.

~Christ the King Sunday, 2020