Wednesday, September 23, 2015

A Stake in His Holy Place

“And now, but a short time ago, mercy came to us from the LORD, our God, who left us a remnant and gave us a stake in his holy place; thus our God has brightened our eyes and given us relief in our servitude.” Ezra 9:8

Jesus summoned the Twelve and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them to proclaim the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick. He said to them, “Take nothing for the journey, neither walking stick, nor sack, nor food, nor money, and let no one take a second tunic.  Luke 9:1-3

Lord Jesus Christ, you have taught us to be merciful like the heavenly Father, and have told us that whoever sees you sees Him. Show us your face and we will be saved. Your loving gaze freed Zacchaeus and Matthew from being enslaved by money; the adulteress and Magdalene from seeking happiness only in created things; made Peter weep after his betrayal, and assured Paradise to the repentant thief. Let us hear, as if addressed to each one of us, the words that you spoke to the Samaritan woman: “If you knew the gift of God!”  (Prayer of Pope Francis for the Jubilee)

Tomorrow on the grounds of The Catholic University of America, hundreds of thousands will gather in person and via television for Mass to canonize Junipero Serra.   I would like to think when Pope Francis reads the Gospel verse “Take nothing for the journey,” that a smile will dance across his face.  Ironic.  If that does not raise the sense of irony, then perhaps, “Let no one take a second tunic” would have hit the home run. 

The pope’s entourage is about 100 people, reports The Washington Post.  “No pope stayed overnight in the United States until John Paul II in 1979.” Now there are plane loads of assistants. Entire altars have been constructed for one Mass.  The largest security operation in history is underway across three cities complete with parades and Pope-mobiles.  Could Jesus imagine it thus? 

Yet, strip away the pomp and you can almost hear Francis preach with fervor about the first reading from Ezra as we approach the opening of the Jubilee Year of Mercy that will commence December 8.  Francis plants his stake in our holy place…not our soil but our hearts.  He will be bringing us word that Jesus ransomed for us a stake in his Father’s house and heart – you know, the one with the many rooms. He will ask us to fully rely on God.

To what are we slaves?  

Our careers?  Our retirement savings?  Our mobile devices?  Our iTunes collection?  No matter your answer, God has still not abandoned us.  His mercy comes to us again and again as new life even before we hear word one from Francis during his first visit to U.S. soil. He will be smiling as he says, “mercy came to us from the Lord who left us a remnant and gave us a stake in his holy place.”

Pope Francis announced an Extraordinary Jubilee which has at its center the
mercy of God: “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36).  The Holy Year will commence on the next Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception and will conclude on Sunday, 20 November 2016, the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe and living face of the Father's mercy.

According to the website, the logo for the Jubilee of Mercy has been designed to express the profound way in which the Good Shepherd touches the flesh of humanity and does so with a love with the power to change one’s life. One particular feature worthy of note is that while the Good Shepherd, in his great mercy, takes humanity upon himself, his eyes are merged with those of man. Christ sees with the eyes of Adam, and Adam with the eyes of Christ. Every person discovers in Christ, the new Adam, one’s own humanity and the future that lies ahead, contemplating, in his gaze, the love of the Father.

During the Jubilee of Mercy, the Holy Father will perform particular works of mercy and is asking each Diocese to do so as well.  What will you plan to do in your action for the Jubilee?  

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