Catholic Contemplative Affiliation

Sunday Readings

 

The Meditation

for

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time; Cycle A, January 19, 2020
 
Readings: Isaiah 49, 3,5-6; 1st Corinthians 1.1-3; John 1.29-34
 
 
 
The Contemplative Gift from God: the Presence of the Holy Trinity
 
Contemplative life is living in an ever-increasing consciousness of God’s presence.  This consciousness is the result of grace: The Triune God has called us and given us the gift of the divine presence: “In that day, you will know that I am in you and you are in me….” 
 
The contemplative’s whole existence is founded upon this sustaining awareness that God is all in all, the giver of the gracious gift of Himself and of supernatural consciousness of that Presence.  Even though erratic thoughts and errant actions are ever present in the fabric of life, the contemplative always falls back into the Presence in union with the Triune Persons. 
 
Grace, freedom, love in the Triune Divine Presence are the sustaining qualities of the contemplative life in the midst of temptations, dark nights, falls and in the midst of weakness, the constant offer of forgiveness in grace.
 
The Work of God: Bring Us into Divine Union
 
Today’s Scripture brings to mind another basic ingredient of our union with God.  It is that we are servants of God’s work.  And the work of God is to form the People of God.  The work of God is to bring to perfection all of creation and all of humanity in Christ. 
 
Jesus is the servant of that work; and in Christ we are servants of that work.  Yes, we are friends because Jesus shares with us all that he has of the Father, in the gift of the Spirit.  Yes, perfect love casts out fear.   But part of the paradox of the full mystery of our being in Christ is our call to be servants of the work of redemption in union with Christ while being friends in intimate union.
 
The First Reading:The Servant of Salvation
 
The First Reading from Isaiah brings us back to the Christ foretold as the Servant of Yahweh.  We have been very close to Isaiah in the Advent-Christmas season.  Now the prophet is here again in Ordinary Time.  What is proclaimed is the intrinsic ingredient of Christ’s identification as the Servant of God. 

The Lord said to me:  You are my servant, Israel, through whom I show my glory.  Now the Lord has spoken who formed me as his servant from the womb.

 
The work of the servant is to bring together the People of God. 

That Jacob may be brought back to him and Israel gathered to him.  It is too little, he says, for you to be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and restore the survivors of Israel, I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.

 
The Second Reading:  Our Consecration into Priesthood
 
Our dignity is to share in the servant-hood of the Lord Christ.  It is not force nor is it fear nor is it for wages earned that we be workers in the service of the Kingdom.  That which binds us to the work of redemption is at the very core of our being.  Our service is the result of our consecration in our election.  The priesthood of all baptized in Christ is this consecration to do the work of God’s redemption. 

To you who have been consecrated in Christ Jesus and called to be a holy people (Second Reading).

 
The Gospel Reading: “The Very Reason of our Being”
 
The Gospel Reading graphically demonstrates what it means to live as the Servant of God.  John the Baptist is servant precursor of the Messiah.   He has no other reason to be than to point out the Messiah to the people. 

The very reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed in Israel (Gospel Reading.

 
The phrase, “the very reason” invokes the existential of every person, “raison d’être” of our person before God and humanity.  John’s very reason to be is to live for Christ and the Kingdom.   Jesus comes now out of his hidden life into the light of his service as Servant Savior of the human race.  John proclaims Jesus in this work.  Jesus stands never alone but always with the work for which the Father sent him. 

When John caught sight of Jesus coming toward him, he exclaimed:  Look there!  The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

 
Our contemplative practice can never be separated from our service in the work of redemption.  Our Catholic contemplative life can never be separated from the particularity of Jesus as the universal redeemer. 
 
Universal Salvation and the Particularity of the Savior from Nazareth
 
It seems presently a drive for a pluralistic accommodation causes embarrassment for some Christians at the proclamation of Jesus of Nazareth as the universal and unique Savior and Lord of all humanity and creation.  The relativist spirit of the times wants all the spiritual “masters” to blend into a single mass of indeterminate perfection and enlightenment, a “global spirituality.”
 
Not for us, no, not for us, who are sharers in the service of Christ Jesus’ redemption.  The universal and unique Savior is Jesus of Nazareth, born of Mary in  Bethlehem in the time of Caesar Augustus.  This Jesus is the Lord, the Son of God, the Savior, in whose name only are all people redeemed and all creation restored into the lasting Kingdom of God. 
 
Now I have seen for myself and have testified, “This is God’s Chosen One” (The Gospel Reading).

  “This is God’s Chosen One,”  pointing to the Man Jesus, is at the heart of our confession of the particularity of Jesus as the Christ and universal Savior.  I saw the Spirit descend like a dove from the sky, and it came to rest on him (Gospel Reading).

 
The Particularity of the Church of Christ
 
In the same way we confess the particularity of the Catholic and Apostolic Church as having in herself the fullness of Christ’s one and holy Church.  Such a human institution, bearing the weight, of history still is the subsistent reality of Christ’s true Church.
 
Servant-hood and particularity ground our contemplative life.   First, as servants of the work of redemption, our prayer does not exist for ourselves;  and, second,  our union and unity with  the Triune God is grounded in the faith-consciousness of Jesus’ sacred humanity, the cause of our salvation and holiness. 
 
In the mystery of contemplative prayer, one aspect of our basic identity is that of servant of the work of redemption.  As servants, one with Simeon and Anna,

—“Now, Lord, you can dismiss your servant in peace” we embrace the particular One in his manifestation as Savior of the world, “a light of revelation to the Gentiles, the glory of his people, Israel.”
 
Holy Eucharist draws us into Christ’s consecration as Redeemer of the world.  Our Holy Communion nourishes us with the fullness of the divine life.  We leave the Liturgy anointed in the Spirit to do the work of redemption.  We show forth, the particularity of Jesus in the circumstances of our own particular vocations.  It is in union with that we abide in the particular company of Jesus and yet united with the Spirit, we move into cosmic dimensions: My soul magnifies the Lord.

 


 
William Fredrickson, Obl. Secular OSB; D.Min.
 
 
 

 
 


For questions, comments or other communication, please contact:
William Frederickson
Fredrickson46@msn.com