Catholic Contemplative Affiliation

Sunday Readings

 

The Meditation

for


Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time; Cycle C, September 15, 2019
 
Readings: Exodus 32.7-11, 13-14; First Timothy 1.12-17;  Luke 15.1-32
 
The Legacy of Prometheus and the Gift of Grace
 
In Greek mythology Prometheus steals fire from heaven so that the human race can share in the divine power.  In the reality of Christ’s mystery lived out in history,  grace—sharing in the divine life— is of its essence a free gift: one does not have to steal that which is given freely.  You don’t have to steal anything from God since He is graciousness itself, giving all freely.
 
The way of Prometheus is alive and well in modern times in the promotion of purely human spirituality. According to the secular culture the human being becomes more human in the individual’s inner capacity to realize his or her own innate potential.  The thrust of human spirituality discounts grace where the intervention of the Triune God in the mystery of Christ in Revelation and in the Sacraments of the Church elevates individuals into the divine life.  In effect, modern man glories in its secularity and stand-alone human achievement.   In reality, indeed,  the self-proclaimed secular man imagines that he has successfully stolen fire from God. 
 
In grace there is no need to steal fire from God.  The Triune God shares with us in pure gift the divine life of love through the mystery of Jesus:  His death, resurrection, ascension and gift of the Holy Spirit.  Furthermore, one must in humility and obedience seek the gift in the renunciation of this self-dependence.
 
The Content of Grace
 
The content of grace is the participation in the Divine Life of the love among the Persons of the Holy Trinity.  The manner of the gift is pure graciousness beyond anything that we could merit or demand by right of our creation.  That we share in the divine life is the pure gift of God beyond our created being and fulfills the person’s deepest needs. 
 
Grace is given only on condition of our turning from sinfulness.  The power to turn from sin is itself the first grace.  Grace does not scorn our weakness and sinfulness as the Readings of this Sunday show.
 
The Gospel Reading (Luke 15:1-32)
 
In this Sunday’s Gospel Reading Prometheus is like the younger brother in the parable of the Prodigal Son: 

  Father, give me the share of the estate that is coming to me. 
 
The younger son’s first mistake is to divide what he imagines is his, from what is the Father’s. The son wants “what is coming to me.”  The younger son separates himself from gift.  The Father never loses his sense that his son is gift.  (As later in the parable the older son loses for a time the sense of gift.)
 
We try to grasp perfection in our spiritual life.  We fail to see that the Triune God embraces us in our nothingness so that all that is God’s by nature becomes ours by grace.  Although infinitely separate and distinct from the Divine Reality of the Triune God we come to a sharing that elevates our souls and consciousness into the divine life:
 
  “The glory which thou hast given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and thou in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that thou has sent me and hast loved them even as thou hast loved me” (John 17.22-23).
 
We corrupt our spiritual life by this fascination with our own self image of perfection and independence.  Ultimately it leads to disdaining those whom we can easily condemn as less worthy and far from the self-ideal.  The tax collectors and sinners were all gathered around to hear Jesus, at which the Pharisees and Scribes murmured, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them” (Gospel Reading).
 
The First Reading (Exodus 32:7-11, 13-14)
 
God enters into the drama of the human race. The First Reading accounts the apparent wrath of God against the Israelites in their repeated failure to love God.  Moses intercedes.  Readily comes the divine compassion in forgiveness. 

So the Lord relented in the punishment he had threatened to inflict on this people (First  Reading). 
 
The Second Reading (First Timothy 1:12-17): Jesus, the New Moses, Giver of Grace
 
This account from Exodus points to the New Moses, Jesus, who accomplishes an infinitely greater redemption.  Our sharing in divine life in grace begins with the admission that we are sinners alienated from God in our own self.  Once grace envelopes us, then the beauty of our humanity glows and we are elevated to sharing the divine life.
 
I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, that he has made me his servant and judged me faithful.  I was once a blasphemer, a persecutor, a man filled with arrogance; but because I did not know what I was doing in my unbelief, I have been treated mercifully, and the grace of our Lord has been granted me in overflowing measure, along with the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.  You can depend on this as worthy of acceptance: That Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners of these I myself am the worst (Second Reading).
 
The contemplative path is not removed from constant Biblical meditation on how we are redeemed sinners in the Blood of Christ.  Through acceptance of the Gospel of grace; through the wounds of Jesus; through the living Sacraments and Revealed Word within the Church, we are brought into God beyond all our abilities, in spite of our sinfulness and continued struggle, beyond even the full articulation of what this all means.
 
Contemplative Adoration and Liturgy
 
The Second Reading, concluding in contemplative surrender and adoration, reminds us of the Liturgical prayer, “Holy God; holy mighty one, holy immortal one;  have mercy.”  To the King of ages, the immortal, the invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever! Amen.
 
The invisible nature of God in its fullness is always beyond us but really and effectively embraces us in Jesus, in His Word, in His Sacrament of the Church.
 
Our sharing in the Word of God and in Sacrifice of the Mass this Sunday brings us more effectively into our transformation in Christ.  At the moments of hearing the Word in the readings and in the reception of the Body and Blood of Christ, let us rest in the All Powerful One, the Holy One, the Immortal One who graciously, mercifully receives us sinners into His Banquet.  Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.  Amen.

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

 
 


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