WORD MADE FLESH
18th Sunday in Ordinary Time — August 7, 2011
Isaiah 55.1-3 | Psalm 145 | Romans 8.35, 37-39 | Matthew 14.13-21
July 25, 2011
The one thing I have come to know about Jesus is that he is faithful. He is faithful in revealing to us love and compassion even when we are inconsistent, foolish and proud. Jesus is truly the Compassionate One. He sees our weakness and struggles and he comes to us to transform our broken lives by his power and love.
In this week's psalm we read the words, "The Lord is near to all who call upon him." What a simple and stunning truth! These are living words that should inspire us again and again. In the Catechism of the Catholic Church (2666) we read, "To pray 'Jesus' is to invoke him and call him within us. His name is the only one that contains the presence it signifies.
"Jesus is the Risen One and whoever invokes the name of Jesus is welcoming the Son of God who loved him and who gave himself up for him."
Whenever we call upon the holy name of Jesus we are in fact welcoming him into our lives. In my own life the prayer I keep coming back to again and again is the Jesus Prayer.
The simple invocation of his holy name as I cry out for his mercy and love to sustain and guide me and all the world, "Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on us all." Once again, in the Catechism (2667), it says that through the Jesus Prayer our heart is "opened to human wretchedness and the Saviour's mercy."
Isn't that what you and I experience again and again? Our wretchedness, inconsistency and sinfulness being touched and healed by Our Saviour's mercy.
Years ago I read about the Jesus Prayer in the mountains of Northern California while on an extended retreat. Someone had recommended to me The Way of a Pilgrim — a book which gives a stirring introduction to this profound prayer.
When I read the following words they spoke to me and the deep longing in my heart. "The ceaseless Jesus Prayer is a continuous, uninterrupted call upon the holy name of Jesus Christ with the lips, mind and heart; and in the awareness of his abiding presence it is a plea for his blessing in all undertakings, in all places and at all times.
"Anyone who becomes accustomed to this prayer will experience great comfort as well as the need to say it continuously . . . and eventually the prayer will of itself flow within him."
I decided there and then to call on Jesus in prayer. The Lord heard my cry. His presence, love and mercy became a living reality in my life. Jesus revealed himself to me in my wretchedness and need. The Jesus Prayer taught me how to "pray without ceasing" in my daily pilgrimage on earth.
Over the years I have learned many great ways of praying. But I always come back to the Jesus Prayer. It is like a compass I use in the wilderness to find my way again and again.
St. Paul says in this week's epistle, "Brothers and sisters: What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us" (Romans 8.35-39).
Nothing will separate us from the love of Christ. He is consistent when we are not. He is mercy when we lose our way. He is grace when we feel we do not deserve his love. He is all we could ever need or want on the daily journey of joys, sorrows, and struggles which make up our daily live.
So today we once again turn to Jesus. We invoke his presence. We cry out for his Divine Mercy in us. We trust that nothing can separate us from his love. Our life is a pilgrimage and each day we need to recognize "The Lord is near to all who call upon him."
Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on us all. Now. Always. And forever. May our every breath and every heartbeat remind us that you are here with us today.
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