Catholic Contemplative Affiliation

Sunday Readings

The following is a meditation on the liturgical readings for thenext Sunday.  The references are given so you can read them in your Bible or directly from the Roman Misal.  Direct quotes from the Readings are in bold print.  The meditation is geared toward the call to practice a contemplative form of prayer as part of a response to the full life of Christ we share within the Church. 

Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time; Cycle A, June 25, 2018

Readings: Jeremiah 20.10-13;  Romans 5.12-15;  Matthew 10.26-33

   I still remember when I was a boy I would want so much to go on picnics or go to the beach especially on Saturdays and Sundays.  I remember looking up and down the street with a longing to be taken away to the beach or the country, far from the city block we lived on.  These were frustrated longings because my father worked on the weekends. 


   How much do I carry these fantasies over into my spiritual life?  Do I identify contemplative union with a kind of picnic, a kind of excursion into the ideal, bucolic settings of the countryside?  So much of the New Age endeavor seem to be a search for bliss—perfect, stress-free levels of consciousness, the perfect body and health.  Recently I read the lament of a former priest who has remained active in Church ministries.  He laments that the institutional Church bears so much of the baggage of human nature in his trying to create and visualize a “perfect” Church.  To me it seems he seeks the utopia society that is an illusion. His problem comes down to mine: Much of my spiritual life has been self-seeking of a spiritual ego wanting to be sheltered from pain and suffering.


   This Sunday’s Readings certainly do not picture life with God in Christ as a picnic or a day at the beach.


   Contemplative life shares in the prophetic vocation.  Jeremiah lived as a contemplative in his prophetic vocation.  He found opposition and persecution for his identification with God and for preaching His Word.  Jeremiah said:  “Yes, I hear the whisperings of man: ‘Terror on every side!  Denounce!  Let us denounce him!’  All those who were my friends are on the watch for any misstep of mine.”


   The difficulties come not only from those who oppose the Revelation of God in Christ.  Our greatest opponent is our inner workings of consciousness and sensitivity.  Our very human condition is in such a state that it is in rebellion against God.  The culture of death is not only a part of the milieu, it is a condition of my soul.  My soul is deeply wounded.  Just as through one man sin entered the world and with sin death, death thus coming to all men inasmuch as all sinned (Second Reading).


   We must avoid the extremes in the teaching about original sin.  The Gnostic heresy sees the body as an evil force, opposed to the God of light.  The Calvinistic view tends to see human nature as innately evil.  On the other hand, the Pelagian heresy sees human nature capable of rising into spiritual freedom by one’s own efforts—for example meditation techniques can lead to enlightenment by the very power of inner workings.


   As I look upon the problem, I must, following St. Paul, be realistic to the damage done to my soul’s capacity to respond to God’s love.  But I must also live in the experience of the basic goodness of my soul made in the image of God. 


   Most of all, I must rejoice in the power of God’s grace in Christ which saves me and sanctifies me.  But the gift is not like the offence.  For if by the offence of the one man all died, much more did the grace of God and the gracious gift of the one man, Jesus Christ abound for all (Second Reading).  The way of restoration and reconciliation is not a picnic or a day at the beach.  But the fruits of sanctifying grace are infinitely more enhancing, restoring the basic light and love beyond all that my heart or eye could imagine.


   What it all comes down to is that in Jesus we live within the Holy Spirit and in the strength of the Father’s love and providence.  The Gospel Reading spells out for us redemption’s plan and what we can expect as we live in grace.


   This serious message is carried in this Sunday’s Gospel Reading.  On the one hand, Gospel living brings opposition and intimidation within our society.  On the other hand, failure to be faithful can mean rejection by God in the state of eternal separation, called Gehenna, i.e. hell.


   The Gospel Reading states that our disowning of Christ in the middle of the conflict will mean that Christ will disown us before His Father in the middle of our judgment.  Christ lays upon us the commission to speak out and be the light in the midst of the darkness.  Christ is faithful; in that fidelity and power we can be faithful.  In all of this there is not a choice.  To follow Christ is not an elective in the course catalogue of life.  The core of our being demands fidelity to God’s love and life.  Infidelity to grace and sinning against Christ’s light means separation from the very center of our being.  This means eternal separation.  Read this Sunday’s Gospel well.  The Gospel is not about a picnic or a day at the beach.


   Everything that the Lord Jesus demands of us has been lived out first by Him, our Savior, in the course of His life in the culture and events of His times.  Moreover, the cross and resurrection empower us to be victorious.  The Holy Spirit lives within us, empowering us in the image and likeness of the Son of God and moving us into the life of the Father. 


   Are not two sparrows sold for next to nothing?  Yet not a single sparrow falls to the ground without your Father’s consent.  As for you, every hair of your head has been counted, so do not be afraid of anything.  You are worth more than an entire flock of sparrows.  Whoever acknowledges me before men I will acknowledge before my Father in heaven.  Whoever disowns me before men I will disown before my Father in heaven (The Gospel Reading).


   The contemplative life lived in earnest and in reality will mean opposition and pain because of opposition of the world (First Reading) and because of our wounded nature (Second Reading). 


   The Gospel Reading is really about the Gift of Wisdom, the heart of the contemplative life.  God is all in all in love and power.  Not a sparrow falls without God’s knowing it;  we are held in the bosom of the Father in life and love.  This experience is the contemplative gift of wisdom.  The contemplative state is the power given in the Gifts of the Holy Spirit whereby the theological virtues are perfected.  Wisdom is the highest gift; it is the experience of God in Christ and in the Spirit in that fullness of grace.  The summit of St. Francis of Assisi’s contemplative life is expressed in his simple prayer, “Deus Meus and Omnia—My God and my All.”


   Let our sharing in the Eucharistic Sacrifice in Holy Communion be growth in this wisdom,  in the experience of God as All in All, even in the midst of struggle and opposition.

--William Fredrickson, Oblate(secular) of St. Mary's Benedictine Monastery, Petersham, MA and Doctor of Ministry, Drew University, NJ



For questions, comments or other communication, please contact:
William Frederickson