Wednesday, March 13, 2013

That They Might Announce my Praise

“I put water in the desert and rivers in the wasteland for my chosen people to drink, the people whom I formed for myself, that they might announce my praise.”  Here is a curious passage.  A desert is a place without water.  Yet the Lord places water in the desert.  A wasteland is a place without rivers.  It is a waste and not able to be farmed our used by human persons.  Yet, the Lord places rivers in the wasteland.  This is about the great mystery of human suffering.

How can it be that in this world “our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with rejoicing?”  Are we not held captive by the powers of sin and death?  When we wish to do good, do we not find ourselves lazy and slothful?  When we want to pray, we find ourselves too busy.  When we want to be chaste, we find ourselves lusting.  When want to be humble, we find ourselves looming with pride.  What are we to do?

“Those that sow in tears shall reap rejoicing.”  Those who sorrow at their captivity to sin will break forth in joy and praise when set free.  Jesus is most near to those who are suffering the weight of their sin.  By His crucifixion, He has taken those sufferings into his very own substance.  Our sufferings draw Him near to us.  And if Jesus swallows our sufferings into Himself, then He is generous enough to give instead an abundance of Life.  He exchanges our suffering and our death for His joy and His life.  Because Jesus is near us and gives us our life back, how could we not shout out to the Lord, lifting up a Holy Eucharist?

This is why Jesus instructs us, “take up your cross every day and follow me” and St. Paul says, “For this momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.”  Again Paul says in this morning’s readings, “For His sake, I have accepted the loss of all things and I consider them so much rubbish.”  In the Lord, there is every goodness.  Every good finds it source in Jesus.  He is the plan of all that is good in the world.  For the passion of Jesus, Paul counts everything else as rubbish.  For St. Paul, Jesus is the pearl of great price.  He is the friend above all friends whom Paul refuses to live without.

It is because of this great goodness found in Jesus that Paul tirelessly announces the Gospel and the praises of Jesus Christ.  The Gospel is the proclamation of the forgiveness of sins and the bestowal of life.  Just look at the Gospel reading for Sunday.  Here, a woman about to be killed for her trespasses, held captive by sin and death finds forgiveness in Jesus Christ.  He says “Neither do I condemn you.  Go, and from now on do not sin anymore.”  

How much do you think the woman rejoiced?  This woman came to understand the meaning of the words, “Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”  Certainly, she now went forth to proclaim Jesus and His mercy to all who had an ear.  Undoubtedly, she shouted to the world, “The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.”  Now go and do likewise.

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