Easter Season: It takes 50 days to celebrate the Mystery of Christ's Resurrection!
The Third Week of Easter, May 1 - 6, 2017
As Nicodemus did in Chapter 3, the people begin their conversation with Jesus at a superficial level: "When did you get here?" Jesus does not answer their question. He brings them to the level on which he wishes to deal with them—into the deeper level of their motivation. They seek Jesus not because of a beginning faith in the signs and their meaning. They are at the level of seeking self-satisfaction. They are enamored of the taste of the loaves and have had their fill. Our prayer must not be a pursuit of satisfaction from religious experience. The signs God gives should move us beyond our selves. Jesus wants our prayer to lead us out of ourselves into participation in the Work of God. What is the work of God? This question receives a direct answer. This is the work of God: to believe in the One Whom God has sent. Do not labor for the fulfillment of your own self-image even in matters of spiritual life. Such a self-serving pursuit, like the food on our table, soon perishes. Eternal life! That is the quest! Our prayer leads us deeper and deeper into the life of the Holy Trinity. The food of the Word and the Eucharist leads us by faith and hope into the life of Trinitarian love.
Our prayer enables us to live within the divine life of God. Prayer is immersion in that life. Prayer is the consciousness of that life, sometimes by the grace of presence experienced, but always by our habitual act of love in the intention. The questioners in this Gospel hold on to the past movement of God among his people. They talk of Moses and it is in the past tense: he gave. But in Jesus it is the Father who gives—the present tense. Jesus is the bread from heaven because he nourishes the divine life within us. The grace of prayer is the bread of faith we receive in this conscious act of love and resting in the Presence and Work of the Father in Jesus through the Spirit. Lord, all I have to do is to be still and drop into the immense ocean of the reality of your presence. I come to you. I believe in you with uncompromising and absolute faith. Give me always yourself as the bread of my life. We receive the Bread of Life—Christ’s Body—only in the Assembly, within the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ. At the heart of the Eucharist is Christ, and the Eucharist is within the Church; it is the Church at her source and summit.
Ah, my Lord Jesus, the secret of salvation and re-birth in the spirit is to see you and then to believe in you. "For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life…." The victory of the saints in their prayer and work has been that they always kept you in sight. To always see you in yourself, in the fullness of your person; and then to surrender in faith, to embrace you in all that you are: Son of the Father, the All-powerful redeemer of the human race. That is why I take refuge in the fullness of your Church, as the sign, the mystery of word and Magisterium that contain you and present you to my sight by the power of the Spirit. The Spirit plunges me into the visible Church, the Catholic and Apostolic Church in all its institutional reality as the subsistent reality of your will for the work of Salvation in its fullness. It is within the embrace of the Church that I find Jesus so I can look upon him and be caught up in faith, the Spirit’s empowering, the Father’s working.
Implicit in my prayer is faith that the Father will draw me into his Son. How do I even dare to think I can pray unless the Father has not already drawn me into the Mystery of God in Christ? I pray because Jesus is the Presence that rules my interior life as he rules his Kingdom. That presence exists because of the Holy Spirit. I pray because I desire with the Father that Jesus be all in all. My prayer is also filled with unknowing in proportion to the light: I cannot see the Father; I cannot hold the Father in any human way. It is Jesus whose image and words fill me and make present the Father. Above all, it is in the visibility of the Church filled with the Spirit, especially in the Holy Eucharist, that I touch God the Trinity, in communion with the Bread and Wine that are the Body and Blood of Jesus who gives himself for the life of the world. It is all so very simple in the midst of my tendency toward complexity. Why do I murmur in the desert against the Presence?
Lord Jesus, my Beloved, I surrender myself into your Easter Presence. My prayer that centers in the heart finds its way into You. My heart is the door into You. I retire into unknowing, forgetting, into silence only that I may enter into You in the Father in the Spirit. That inner presence is one with Your Presence in the Eucharist within Your Church. My communion in Your Body and Blood with You is at the deepest level at that moment of consummation in the Eucharistic Sacrifice and then Communion, I surrender into You. Deeper, deeper still, You lead me to the Ultimate Center which is the Triune Godhead. From my center through the ecclesial Eucharistic center I arrive whence I came, into the Father with You, the Son, in the Holy Spirit. My body and soul ache and yearn with all creation for Your final arrival when You shall return to raise us up and all creation in the glory of your Easter light in eternal life.
As a Catholic Christian I am in communion with the great catholic and apostolic Tradition guarded in its integrity by the ministry of the pope as the successor of St. Peter. The primal confession of St. Peter resonates in my heart with conviction: "Lord, to whom shall I go? You have the words of eternal life. We have believed and have come to know that you are the Holy One of God." Much of the dissent in the Church contributes to, and is the result of, the deconstruction of the Mystery of Christ in his unique and absolute role as the Savior of the human race and in his Person, as the Son of the Father within the mystery of the Holy Trinity. Such dissenters are embarrassed by the fullness of the Mystery of Christ. This tendency to deconstruction of the fullness of the mystery finds it way into the doctrine of the Eucharist, holding it principally as a communal celebration, de-emphasizing its sacrificial character and the real presence. I will not surrender my faith in the full Mystery of Christ and my union with the Trinitarian life that is sustained and manifested in the Eucharist and in the Catholic Church as the fullness of the Church. I will not turn away saying that this teaching is too hard for me. My deepest mystical moments are never separate from my union with the Catholic Church celebrated in the Eucharist. Lord, where shall I go? In the Church you dwell and are made manifest. I see You, Lord, as you ascend to the Father. With you I am seated in the glory of your Father in the communion that is rooted now in the Church and to be revealed in its fullness on the final day.