Catholic Contemplative Affiliation

Sunday Readings


The Meditation


Thirty-third Sunday of the Year; November17, 2019
Readings: Malachi 3.19-20; 2nd Thessalonians 3.7-12; Luke 21.5-19
First Reading, An Aspect of Revelation: The Fire of God’s Judgment
The severity of the readings of this Sunday startles us. 
Someone once described his moments of prayer as sitting before a fireplace, taking in the warmth and the light.  He said that after a while you become the fire; you take on the warmth and the light.  He then said that thus it is that we sit in the Presence of God in His warmth and love to assimilate those transforming aspects. It is a fitting description.
The fire described in this Sunday’s readings is no gentle hearth.  It is a burning, raging fire of justice consuming a wayward, willful creation in rebellion against God’ love. 
Lo, the day is coming, blazing like an oven, when all the proud and all evildoers will be stubble, and the day that is coming will set them on fire, leaving them neither root nor branch, says the Lord of Hosts (First Reading).
Let us be led into this burning, raging fire.  For we are proud, we are evildoers, at least sometimes in our life and we are prone to such attitudes and behavior.  During prayer I am aware of so many instances of my pride, of my sharing in evil.  The behavior was evil because it was sin against the Light, outside the Way and leading to the way of death.  It’s my behavior.  I own it.  I enter the raging fire with my wayward behavior.  It’s not someone else’s behavior.  I will not be the self-righteous Pharisee and point to the Publican at the back of the Church to project my guilt on him or her. 
I will enter the blazing fire.  I need to accept God’s loving justice as I accept God’s loving mercy.
The Prophetic Warning Continues in the Gospel Reading
The Gospel Reading continues in this prophetic vein. 
The day will come when not one stone will be left on another, but it will all be torn down.
Prayer is the acceptance of  the purification that must take place within my soul so that God’s Kingdom can penetrate my deepest consciousness and the ultimate, absolute ground of my being.  The Body of Christ is built up only in the work that overcomes sin and evil.  Our holiness is an organic part of the holiness of the Church which in turn meditates salvation to the whole human race.
I must allow God to dismantle what I have constructed in my blindness and self-centeredness.  I have cooperated for years by allowing myself to be misled by rushing off into so many diverse, wayward directions.  I have nurtured my erring intentionality with its ingrained ways of living out my fallen nature.  Jesus has warned us in the Gospel Reading: 
Take care not to be misled.  Many will come in my name, saying, “I am he” and “The time is at hand.”  Do not follow them.
Lord, but I have willingly been misled; I have misled others.  I have followed them.  I have led others.  More times I have been with the persecutors than with those who have suffered for your Name, O Lord. 
But before any of this, they will manhandle and persecute you, summoning you to synagogues and prisons, bringing you out to trial before kings and governors, all because of my name (Gospel Reading).
Repentance and the Second Reading:Christ Enters the Fire with Us
I will enter the burning fire, gladly.  I will embrace the fear of God.  It is good for my soul to be seared, deep down seared, deep down cauterized.

St. Bernard wrote about the order of love.  Love moves us into an ordered movement of harmony out of obedience to the inner life of the Triune God.  It is the Holy Spirit who moves where He wills, yet always abides with the order, the pattern of Christ, the Word.  Freedom within the order of love is in the Word.  I have chosen many times the life of disorder.  I have shrunk from work (cf. Second Reading), but gladly showing up for the plentiful food always there for the privileged and the crafty.  I have to enter the raging fires of God’s justice to be healed.
I gladly enter the fires of God’s justice with fear of Him who is Holiness.  I enter always with hope.  I enter because Jesus enters with me.  His baptism of fire on the cross is the fire of justice I embrace.  There is nothing that I deserve in the justice of God that has not been visited upon the Savior for my sake.  Jesus has taken my place in the raging fires of Calvary.  It is here we join our brother and sister Christians:   Jesus saves!  The blinking neon lights of Bowery missions can be lit outside our place of prayer. 
One of my Scripture passages that I repeat daily after the Confiteor of Compline is from Hebrews 9.14:  “How much more will the Blood of Christ who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, purify your conscience of dead works to serve the living God.”
The First Reading: Looks to the Redemption in Christ’s Love
The First Reading from the Old Testament looks forward to the redeeming power of Christ: 
But for you who fear my name there will arise the sun of justice with its healing rays.
Ultimately the raging fire becomes the warm fire of light and love.  The Sun of Justice is Jesus.  In Jesus the rays of the Sun become healing rays.  The healing rays of the Holy Spirit renew the face of the earth after the scorching fires have laid it bare.
There is no other way. We must pass through the loving justice of God to enter into God’s loving mercy.  But Jesus, the Savior, accompanies us back to the Father.  Jesus becomes the Prodigal Son in our place.  Thus, it is that once we are in grace, it’s as if we never left.  We are safe from the raging fires like the holy youth in the Book of Daniel, saved from the fiery furnace by God.  And that is the center of our prayer:  Resting in the love that enfolds us, like a warm hearth.  Our prayer is one of communion.
All this becomes real in the Holy Eucharist and in our Communion.  We share in the Sacrificial Sacrament and its nourishment.  Mary, pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death.  Amen.

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


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William Frederickson