COR THOUGHTS 244: The Human Body Shining in Divine Glory

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This weekend’s Gospel tells the story of the Transfiguration of the Lord. “Transfiguration,” however, is a misnomer. It’s like the word sunset. The sun only appears to be setting when, in reality, the world is turning. From the perspective of the Apostles, it appeared that Christ was transfigured before them, but in reality, he was simply lifting a corner of the veil so that Peter, James, and John could glimpse his true glory. And his clothes become “dazzling white.” What are we to make of that line? Did Jesus suddenly don a fancy outfit? Rather, what the Apostles witnessed was Christ’s mortal body clothed with immortality (see 1 Cor 15:53). What they witnessed was the fullness of the deity dwelling in Christ bodily (see Col 2:9). St. John wrote about it in the first chapter of his Gospel when he said, “The Word became flesh … we have seen his glory” (Jn 1:14). My brothers and sisters, the glory of God has been revealed in human flesh! What a mystery! This is the ultimate theology of our bodies: we are destined to share in this divine glory ourselves … bodily! This is our hope! Let us open to receive so great a destiny!

Don’t Let Your Love Grow Cold

[The following is the Message of the Holy Father for Lent 2018 on the theme: “Because of the increase of iniquity, the love of many will grow cold” (Mt 24: 12).]

 

“Because of the increase of iniquity, the love of many will grow cold” (Mt 24: 12)

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Once again, the Pasch of the Lord draws near! In our preparation for Easter, God in His providence offers us each year the season of Lent as a “sacramental sign of our conversion”.[1] Lent summons us, and enables us, to come back to the Lord wholeheartedly and in every aspect of our life.

With this message, I would like again this year to help the entire Church experience this time of grace anew, with joy and in truth. I will take my cue from the words of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew: “Because of the increase of iniquity, the love of many will grow cold” (24:12).

These words appear in Christ’s preaching about the end of time. They were spoken in Jerusalem, on the Mount of Olives, where the Lord’s passion would begin. In reply to a question of the disciples, Jesus foretells a great tribulation and describes a situation in which the community of believers might well find itself: amid great trials, false prophets would lead people astray and the love that is the core of the Gospel would grow cold in the hearts of many.

COR THOUGHTS 243: How Could Jesus Be Tempted?

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In this Sunday’s Gospel, we read that the “Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for 40 days, tempted by Satan” (Mk 1:12). Since there was nothing inclining Jesus’ heart toward pride, greed, lust, envy, or any other vice, we must probe the nature of his temptation. “There is only one temptation,” wrote Monsignor Lorenzo Albacete. “All particular temptations are expressions of this one original or ‘primordial’ temptation. It is the temptation to believe that the fulfillment of the desires of the human heart depends entirely on us.” In the language of St. John Paul II, it’s the temptation to deny God’s Fatherhood, to deny that God will provide the fulfillment for which we long as a gift. The New Adam redeems the first Adam by living through the original temptation without denying God’s gift. The “desert experience” is the experience of raw, naked, vulnerable humanity. It’s the experience of every human hunger, desire, and longing at its peak. And it’s in that moment that we are most vulnerable to the primordial temptation: God is not coming through for you…. If you want satisfaction, you have to take matters into your own hands. “No! God is my loving Father! Get behind me, Satan!”

COR THOUGHTS 242: Our Need for Touch

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In the Gospel this weekend, we read that a “leper came to Jesus and kneeling down begged him and said, ‘If you wish, you can make me clean’” (Mk 1:40). As we learn in the first reading, lepers were forced to make their “abode outside the camp.” Imagine the isolation. Imagine the rejection. And, because people of the time believed such diseases were the result of a person’s sinfulness, imagine the sense of shame a leper felt. The cry of this leper’s heart compelled him to break the cultural taboos and come to Jesus. “Moved with pity, [Jesus] stretched out his hand, touched him, and said to him, ‘I do will it. Be made clean.’” Imagine that touch. Lepers were never touched. Jesus heals us with his body touching our body. There are places in my own heart that are leprous. Places I feel isolated and rejected. Places I hide because I’m ashamed of them. Places that I can’t imagine anyone would want to “touch.” Am I willing to break whatever taboos keep me from coming, kneeling, and begging Jesus to touch me there? Jesus, I desperately need to know the power of your loving touch. Touch me. Please. Touch me.