Today’s reflection combines the Responsorial Psalm and Gospel from today’s readings and connects a message from each. Spoiler alert: the messages from both are about us accessing and enjoying God’s glory (in heaven – Gospel; on earth in a soon-to-be-dawning ‘era of peace’ = Psalm).
More precisely, the teachings can be summarized as follows:
…that the gate through which we must enter into the Kingdom of God is “narrow” because it requires that we detach our heart completely from everything but God;
And from the Psalm:
…that a new “pentecost” is about to dawn with an unprecedented outpouring of the Holy Spirit on those whose hearts are open to receive it, following the Illumination of Conscience and the majestic display of God’s Almighty power to the entire world, which will usher in an “era of peace” for His faithful, a vision of which is presented by David in the beautiful Psalm which is the Responsorial Psalm for today.
THE HEART IS WHERE IT PUTS ITSELF WITH DESIRE
The Gospel follows yesterday’s reflection about the rich young man who went away sad, even though he was obedient to MOST of God’s commands (the one’s about not doing bad stuff), but was having some difficulty with the most important one, that didn’t have anything to do with “not doing” anything, but DOING something – the thing Jesus answered his question honestly (clearly knowing the young man’s many ‘attachments’) by reminding Him of the Greatest commandment, in very ‘concrete’ terms tailor-made just for him.
This Gospel points to that ‘narrow door’ we need to pass through, and it isn’t about being moral, it’s about abandoning ourselves completely to God, where our only interests are those of God, those of Jesus in his mission to save us, as we carry that on by bringing the good news of life eternal in God – made possible through the mercy and love of Jesus poured out on us in torrents from His sorrowful passion and death on the cross – to others.
That death brought victory over sin and death – through His own meekness and humility in abandoning Himself into the hands of sinners to suffer that horrid torture – and we are the beneficiaries, but only IF WE ACCEPT the great gift Jesus bought for us with His life – to be swept up into the very life of God by surrendering our will to God to allow the Holy Spirit to constantly occupy our minds with the thoughts of Jesus, our hearts with the desires of Jesus, and our souls with His boundless mercy and love so that, like Jesus, we too can be perfect as our Heavenly Father in heaven is perfect and enjoy perfect union with the Trinity.
We can’t do that any more than a camel can pass through the eye of a needle. There is a long-standing interpretation of this Gospel passage sometimes used by preachers and teachers that you may have heard or read about, i.e. that one of the ‘gates’ on the four walls surrounding the temple in Jerusalem was nicknamed the “needle’s eye” for a very deliberate reason.
The version I’ve heard is that the gate led out to the merchant trade routes using camels, and when they arrived back with their goods stacked on the backs of those beasts of burden, they would need to remove all the ‘material possessions’ (and even have the camel then ‘stoop’ a bit) in order to pass through the gate.
Nice story. Not apparently not historically verifiable, which should be pointed out, though we can still take something good from the story nonetheless.
The Vines Expository Dictionary says this about that:
“The idea of applying ‘the needle’s eye’ to small gates seems to be a modern one; there is no ancient trace of it. The Lord’s object in the statement is to express human impossibility, and there is no need to endeavor to soften the difficulty by taking the needle to mean anything more than the ordinary instrument.”
Indeed! We can’t save ourselves. We’re saved by repenting and recognizing that when we cling to our own ambitions and plans and will we “fall short of the glory of God” (let’s just leave it at that, you can evaluate for yourself how ‘off-track’ a life with a divided interior life, dual tracks running in the mind, shame hidden from others, guilt for things done (also hidden from others), etc.).
All that goes away when the forgiveness of Jesus sweeps away the negative by simply supplanting it with goodness, peace and joy making it forgotten and irrelevant: “forgive us today as we forgive others,” but again, that’s something that we can’t do on our own, but, again, “all things are possible with God.”
SUPPLANTING BADNESS WITH GOODNESS
That’s such a great idea…we find it expressed in different words in Romans 12:21: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
Light doesn’t “defeat” darkness, it makes it disappear completely by ‘supplanting it” with itself.
That is the victory of God – that is the victory of Jesus over sin and death – establishing the reign of the Kingdom of which He is King so, by the power of the Spirit, the Will of the Father can be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Which leads me into a few comments on today’s prophetic psalm (hymn really, it’s sung with instruments) about the coming era of peace.
THE COMING ERA OF PEACE
I’m not going to go over the same ground that Mark Mallett ploughed to perfection [would have taken 1st at the Dustaffonage Ploughing match for sure!].
If you want to know all the details about the coming era of peace and what both precedes and follows that era, you should read His many articles dealing with the era of peace – this from a search on his website (there were many more in the list):
Suffice it to say, for my purpose in this reflection, that with the Illumination of Conscience comes a new awareness of God’s power and presence that becomes a permanent power given to us in response to our acknowledgement of that power and might, repentance of our sins and selfishness, and the full recognition and acceptance (with joy) of our total dependence on God, our Father, who is the author of all that is, who formed us in His heart for all time, then at the perfect moment in His plan for us, planted us in our mother’s wombs to become who He created us to be.
We lost that glory bestowed on us as innocent creatures who became guilty of forfeiting that gift – in truth – but have been welcomed back into the fullness of life that is life in union with God, who brought us into being and loves us, wanting us to experience the peace and joy we were created to enjoy for all time, bliss that can be found nowhere else but in God, for he made us for Himself, to manifest His glory:
“The Lord knows those who are his…” (2 Timothy 3:19a) NLT.
“But now, O Israel, the Lord who created you says: “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine” (Isaiah 43:1).
“For our present troubles are quite small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us an immeasurably great glory that will last forever” (2 Corinthians 4:17).
But here’s the thing – we can “hope” for something amazing and miraculous happening soon as well, on THIS SIDE OF THE GLORY OF HEAVEN [lion and lamb beside the camel in the desert (era of peace on earth) with the stairway to eternal bliss off in the distance on the other side of the camel….I know, pretty subtle eh?].
The era of peace doesn’t become established until much tribution and suffering happens first, but is ushered in by the great outpouring of the Holy Spirit that happens with the Illumination of Conscience and Divine intervention in our world. That intervention comes with great signs in the heavens that will vindicate all those who belong to God, all who have not committed apostasy against God, spitting on the first commandment by attaching their hearts to something other than God (idols), all those who have indeed been“called by name” and “are His.”
Plan for that too, the era of peace…it’s not all bad news on the horizon! And reread the Psalm with the ‘era of peace on earth’ in mind (not the glory of eternal life in heaven).
There will be much to suffer before the era of peace, so plan for that first. Picking up a few cases of nutritional canned goods little by little when they come on sale would be a good place to start.
“Jesus, you are the Divine supplanter, coming to earth to overcome the darkness with the light that you are; displace the darnel of lies with the wheat of your truth, giving us the bread that gives life, and the promise of eternal life in God.
Father, give us this day the comfort of knowing a great outpouring of truth and goodness is about to come upon us from your Divine mercy and love. Prepare us for that awesome encounter with the purity of your truth that will convict us all of sin, and confront us with the full truth of your awesome reality, show us who we are, why we are, and set us in the peace of living in your Divine Will giving glory to you for your great majesty, mercy and love.
Holy Spirit, come and renew the face of the earth!” Amen.