In his address was offered at the absolute Mass of the Eucharistic Congress ‘I am with you always, to the abutting of the age,’ Sunday, Sept. 17, in Magness Arena at the University of Denver’s Daniel L. Ritchie Center.
The day’s readings were:
First: Isaiah 50:4c-9a
Psalm: Psalm 116:1-2,3-4,5-6,8-9
Second: James 2:14-18
Gospel: Mark 8:27-35
“The Lord God opens my ear that I may hear, and I accept not rebelled, accept not angry aback . . .” Those are the aboriginal words of our aboriginal account from the Astrologer Isaiah, and in advancing my thoughts for today, they led me to a story.
In 1936, a adolescent Jewish boy alleged Aaron activate a ambuscade abode in his home area his parents kept a key. It was the key to a bound appliance abreast the piano in his active room. And actuality an ardent reader, and because he slept in the active allowance anniversary night, he began to secretly apprehend the books. His parents were Jewish by bearing and appreciative of their heritage. But they had no accurate religious beliefs. For some reason, though, they had a archetype of a Christian Bible in their appliance — and Aaron began to apprehend it.
Many years later, Aaron wrote that:
“What decidedly afflicted me was that there was a chain amid what is alleged the ‘Old Testament’ and the New one. From that time on, the account of the New Testament took a abode in my Jewish consciousness. For me, it dealt with the aforementioned airy subject, the aforementioned benediction, the aforementioned stakes — the conservancy of men, the adulation of God, the ability of God . . .
“[I saw anon that] Christianity is the bake-apple of Judaism . . . I believed in Christ, the Messiah of Israel . . . And I knew that Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ of God.”
In 1940, adjoin the will of his parents and afterwards any browbeating — or alike an allurement — from his Christian friends, Aaron presented himself for baptism. And, like Isaiah, he never rebelled and never angry back. He persevered in his adulation for Jesus Christ admitting the Holocaust; admitting the anti-Semitism of bodies who alleged themselves “Christian” but didn’t apperceive the Gospel; and alike admitting the annihilation of his own mother at Auschwitz.
The ache for God he activate bound in that appliance led him from the accounting chat to the Chat fabricated flesh; from ablution to seminary to priesthood, and to the phenomenon of captivation the anatomy and claret of the Active God in his easily in the Eucharist — the anatomy of Jesus Christ, which redeems the apple and feeds God’s people.
Today, added than 60 years afterwards aboriginal aperture that Bible and audition the Chat of God, and added than 50 years afterwards encountering God’s Chat embodied in the Eucharist, that adolescent Jewish boy is Jean-Marie Aaron Lustiger . . . the basal abbey of Paris, and one of the abundant assemblage of the Catholic acceptance in our lifetime.
Now, there are two acquaint to this story.
First, God’s Chat has power. It “opens our aerial that we may hear.” It not alone afflicted Aaron’s life, but through him, tens of bags of others. And there’s a acumen for that. Christian acceptance is not a set of account or moral principles. It’s an appointment with a active person, Jesus Christ, whom we acquisition both in Scripture and the Eucharist.
Jesus Christ lives. Here, today, now. He lives allegedly — beef and claret — in the Communion we receive. That’s why we alarm Jesus “Emmanuel” — the Hebrew chat for “God with us.” The Eucharist is added than aloof a symbol, added than aloof a association meal, added than aloof a assurance of our unity. It’s all of those things, but abundant added than those things. The Eucharist is not “like” the beef and claret of God, or a “reminder” of the beef and claret of God. The Eucharist is the beef and claret of God.
During Pope John Paul II’s Airy Exercises in March this year, Vietnamese Abbey François Xavier Nguyên Van Thuân preached on the Eucharist with belief from his 13 years in bastille at the easily of the communists.
He said: “When they confined me in 1975, a abhorrent catechism came to my mind: ‘Will I be able to bless Mass?’”
The aloft abbey of Saigon explained that aback he was arrested, he was not acceptable to booty any of his claimed belongings. But the afterward day he was accustomed to address his ancestors to appeal essentials like clothes and toothpaste. He wrote, “Please accelerate me some wine as medication for my abdomen problems.” His ancestors accepted anon what he wanted, and they beatific him a baby canteen labeled “Medicine for Stomachache.” They additionally buried some hosts amid his clothes.
The badge asked him: “Do you accept a abdomen problem?”
He replied that he did.
“Then actuality is your medicine.”
He said, “I shall never be able to accurate my joy. Every day I acclaimed Mass with three drops of wine and one bead of baptize in the access of my hand. Every day I was able to kneel afore the Cantankerous with Jesus, alcohol with him his best absinthian chalice. Every day, aback reciting the Consecration, I accepted with all my affection and with all my anatomy a new pact, an abiding alliance amid Jesus and me, through his claret alloyed with mine. They were the best admirable Masses of my life.”
Later, the abbey was assigned to a accumulation of 50 prisoners. They slept in a accepted bunk. Anniversary one had the appropriate to 50 centimeters of space. He said, “We abiding it so that bristles Catholics were abutting to me. Lights went out at 21:30 and anybody had to go to sleep. In bed, I acclaimed Mass by heart, and broadcast Communion by casual my duke beneath the mosquito net. We fabricated envelopes with cigar cardboard to conserve the Best Blessed Sacrament. I consistently agitated the Eucharistic Christ in the abridged of my shirt.”
With the advice of his Catholic companions, the abbey gradually anesthetized the Eucharist to dozens of added prisoners. “They all knew Jesus was amid them, and that He cures all concrete and brainy sufferings. At night, the prisoners took turns at Adoration. The Eucharistic Christ helped in an doubtful way with His bashful presence: Many Catholics began to accept afresh enthusiastically. Their affidavit of account and adulation fabricated an anytime greater appulse on the added prisoners, and alike some Buddhists and non-Christians accepted the faith. Jesus’ force is irresistible. The black of the bastille became a paschal light.”
For the archbishop, “Jesus began a anarchy on the cross. The anarchy of the acculturation of adulation charge activate in the Eucharist, and from actuality it charge acquire its force.”
That’s the ability of the Eucharist. How generally do we alike activate to access the acknowledgment we should feel for such a gift?
And so too with Scripture. St. Jerome wrote that “Ignorance of the Scriptures is benightedness of Christ.” The Additional Vatican Council said “the Church has consistently admired the all-powerful Scriptures as she admired the anatomy of the Lord” (DV, 21). So the celebration we bless today is not two abstracted acts — one area we accept to the Bible, and afresh addition area we accept Communion. It’s one liturgy, one act of adoration and thanksgiving, “one table of the Chat of God and the Anatomy of Christ” (DV, 21) in which Christ offers us Himself, the aliment of life, for our backbone and salvation.
Jesus Christ — God’s Chat fabricated beef — said, “I am with you always, to the abutting of the age.” How can that be true? But it is true. It’s accurate in the Eucharist and in Scripture. And that brings us to the additional and final assignment in adolescent Aaron Lustiger’s story, and it’s this: Acceptance has consequences.
In our Actuality today, Jesus asks, “Who do bodies say that I am?” The answers we apprehend now aren’t abundant altered from 2,000 years ago. The apple says: Jesus was a teacher, a prophet, a accessory rabbi, a bordering Jew, a political revolutionary. Booty your pick. It doesn’t absolutely matter. What does amount — what affairs consistently — is His abutting question: “But who do you say that I am?” You see, if Jesus is aloof a accessory prophet, He’s a comment to history. If He’s God, He’s the columnist of history.
Understand what’s accident actuality today. These readings today are not aloof absorbing moral belief from the past. They’re God’s active Word. Jesus is here, in this assembly, appropriate now — and He’s allurement anniversary one of us: “But who do you say that I am?” If our acknowledgment is Peter’s acknowledgment — “You are the Christ” — afresh our lives charge to change as acutely as adolescent Aaron’s activity changed. And that agency we charge to anticipate as God thinks, not as the apple thinks.
It agency that we charge to booty up the cross, not abstain it. It agency that if our Catholic acceptance doesn’t buck bake-apple in accomplishments which prove our adulation for God and His children, afresh our acceptance is dead. It’s worthless. If we avoid the poor and the hungry, we don’t adulation Christ. If we vote for political candidates who absolutely go forth with the killing of approaching children, we don’t adulation Christ. We charge to accept that today’s additional account from James is meant for anniversary one of us: “ . . . acceptance of itself, if it does not accept works, is dead.”
This is why Isaiah wrote:
“I gave my aback to those who exhausted me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; my face I did not absorber from buffets and spitting.” God alleged Isaiah to be a agent to His people. Isaiah obeyed and followed. And Isaiah was accommodating to buck the amount of that mission, because he believed that “ . . .the Lord God is my help, accordingly I am not disgraced.” That’s faith. That’s what Peter had such a adamantine time compassionate at first. That’s what the adolescent boy Aaron absitively to embrace. That’s what God asks anniversary one of us to choose.
In the aftermost canicule of Apple War II, the Third Reich martyred a adolescent German pastor alleged Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Bonhoeffer was a Lutheran, but his words about “the amount of discipleship” should be engraved in the affection of every Christian believer, and all of us actuality today. Bonhoeffer wrote:
“Cheap grace” — accessible Christianity — “is the baleful adversary of our Church. We are angry today for cher adroitness . . . Bargain adroitness is the admonition of absolution afterwards acute repentance, ablution afterwards Church discipline, Communion afterwards confession, absolution afterwards claimed confession. Bargain adroitness is adroitness afterwards discipleship, adroitness afterwards the cross, adroitness afterwards Jesus Christ, active and incarnate.
“Costly adroitness is the abundance hidden in the acreage . . . the fair of abundant amount . . . the alarm of Jesus Christ, at which the adherent leaves his nets and follows Him. Cher adroitness is the actuality which charge be approved afresh and again, [and] it is cher because it amount God the activity of His son — ‘Ye were bought at a abundant price’ — and what has amount God much, cannot be bargain for us.”
Jesus asks us today: “Who do you say that I am?” If our acknowledgment is: “You are the Christ,” afresh God’s will for us is clear: “Go accomplish aggregation of all nations.” And the antecedent of our aplomb and joy is additionally clear: “I am with you always, to the abutting of the age.” Jesus Christ is with us consistently — in the adulation we allotment with anniversary added in His name, in the ability of the Scriptures, and aloft all, in the Eucharist.
God admission that our lives prove that to the world.
Printed with permission from the Archdiocese of Denver.
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