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Deep Wells of Mercy

Day 24 of our 40 Days of Mercy Fast

Deep Wells of Mercy

‘He brought me into such close intimacy with Himself that my heart was espoused to His heart in a loving union; I could feel the faintest stir of His heart and He of mine. The fire of my created love was joined to the ardor of His eternal love.’ (1056)

Why are the sexually broken so often the recipients of Jesus’ Mercy in the Gospels?

To answer this, one must first consider the depth and power of human sexuality. God made each of us a deep well of desire for love—our very bodies, yearning to cast off their solitude, are inspired by the Creator to merge with others. Out of loving commitment to another, we then become creators of new life.

John Paul ll describes this as ‘the spousal meaning’ of our bodies; they are intended for the love of a good man or woman, and to be fruitful!

Sexuality has deep spiritual meaning as well. St. Paul likens the marital bond as the living witness on earth of Jesus’ spousal love for His bride, the Church. Each of us, single or married, compose His bride who awaits final consummation in union with Himself. Pointing to this greater spiritual goal to which our sexuality points, Christopher West writes, ‘Our bodies have theological meaning.’

Sexual love involves a necessary boundary that hides it from all but the bride and groom. Something so powerful and creative requires such protection; it is the only way we can experience nakedness without shame.

When sexuality is good, it is very, very good. And when it is bad, it is awful. Our sinful world breaks sacred boundaries and exposes sexuality to all manner of indignities. As fallen members of this world, we all perpetuate these crimes of passion and are victimized by them. Our shame is as deep as our sexuality is powerful. Yet deeper still is the longing for nakedness without shame, self-giving without blame.

Jesus knows the power of man for woman, woman for man, and the sinful oppression that hangs over this most powerful of unions. Such brokenness betrays His very image. So He acts quickly and decisively in Mercy to reclaim that image by restoring broken ones to His original intention for them.

He does so in the most tender, intimate ways possible: the generous father kissing his prodigal, gentle Jesus receiving the washing of the prostitute, the friend of the Samaritan, the just God who stands in solidarity with the adulteress.

He stoops down to the sexually broken and washes their feet. Perfect in love, He fears no contamination from the defiled. He hears those who cry out for Mercy from that deepest wellspring of desire. His intimate Presence converts them.

Jesus loves and cleanses these ones in the depths of their truest selves. No stone is unturned: every motive, affection, memory, lover is yielded to the One who has won their hearts. Desire is His domain! Thus the surrendered homosexual/prostitute/fornicator bears Life in his/her depths boundlessly. More are the children of the desolate woman (Is 54:1) than of a faithfully married Pharisee!

Amid all the sexual scandals in the Church today, we cannot lose sight of the quiet majority who has exchanged silent, cancerous sin for trustful surrender to Jesus. Just last week, I met with a group of Living Waters leaders who began the gathering by confessing sin. One admitted a disturbing erotic dream, another, the temptation of Internet porn, yet another, the need for limits in an overly dependent friendship, another still the over-identification with her children.

I felt proud to be among them; lovers of Jesus so inclined to His Mercy they cannot tolerate unspoken temptations! What may seem a threat to the integrity of the body of Christ becomes through Mercy the very antidote to the mess we are in. He is intent on transforming polluted wells into deep reservoirs of Mercy.

‘As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for You, O God. Deep calls to deep in the roar of Your waterfalls, all Your waves and breakers have washed over me.’ (Ps. 42:1, 7)

‘Spring up, oh wells, and restore the Bride. Let not former sin prevent you from embracing your merciful call. Let Mercy strike down shame and raise you up gloriously in this hour. His Body needs the testimony of Mercy in yours.’

Author’s note – Each day’s entry is based a passage from St Faustina’s diary. The passage entry is the number in parentheses at the end of each opening quote or simply a page number in parenthesis. Diary of St Maria Faustina Kowalska – Divine Mercy in My Soul (Association of Marion Helpers, Stockbridge, MA 01263) is available through the publisher or Amazon.com.

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Mercy’s Meal

Day 20 of our 40 Days of Mercy Fast

Mercy’s Meal

‘Jesus, may Your pure and healthy blood circulate in my ailing organism, and may Your pure and healthy body transform my weak body, and may a healthy, vigorous life throb within me…’ (1089)

I have the privilege of taking communion most mornings at a church down the street from me. This is my daily bread: the Word spoken, the Word broken and offered generously to hungry ones like me.

At the center of this church is a huge cross, on which Christ hangs, His finished work dripping upon the communion table beneath Him. Amazing: He who gave everything for us now says: ‘Take Me, drink Me, eat Me; I gave Myself wholly to you.’

John Paul ll describes communion as the re-presentation of the Cross in which the central event of our salvation becomes present to us. I marvel: Jesus longs to be savored, and so impart Mercy to us at the most basic, authentic level possible.

He who was broken and punctured for us wants to sustain us with the fruit of His wounds. He wants none of His suffering to be wasted. He wants life to spring forth from His death. Communion is how death becomes life, how Holy Wounds heal us. He who fills all in all allowed Himself to be broken in order to become the Merciful Source and sustenance of our lives.

Raised in an Anglo-Catholic Church, I am not unfamiliar with communion. Yet as I age its meaning becomes increasingly precious and essential. At 53-years-old, the wounds I have sustained and the wounds I tend in others requires daily Mercy. Humanity is fractured—longing for love and connectedness and yet defended, bitter, stuck. The Church of Jesus is as unified as she is divided. We are her!

So daily I savor the host as it breaks within me, and like St. Faustina I trust that His brokenness will intermingle with mine and raise me up whole. I drink the cup, trusting that its Almighty Mercy will dissolve walls in me.

As I circle around the church after communion en route to my seat, I am usually overcome with an inexplicable joy, as if all present are one, the bride that has made herself ready. I go forth onto the fragile ground of a new day, stepping lightly and lively from the Mercy just received.

Truly communion embodies the fullness of both Christ Crucified and Resurrected! In the words of St Ambrose, ‘He rises daily for us’, setting our hearts on fire with the burning love of Jesus!

‘It is most important that the Holy Eucharist becomes life’s focal point; that every day is received from His hand and laid back therein; that the day’s happenings are deliberated with Him. In this way, God is given the best opportunity to be heard in the heart, to form the soul, and to make its faculties clear-sighted and alert for the supernatural.’ Edith Stein

‘Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.’ (Is. 55:2)

‘Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood remains, abides, and dwells with Me, and I remain, abide, and dwell with him/her.’ (Jn. 6:54-56)

‘Jesus, thank you for Your Holy Meal. You died to give us this gift of life. You rose to raise us up through it. May we never take communion for granted but approach it with child-like faith and adult sobriety. Let Mercy have its perfect way in us through these elements that embody You, Merciful God. Make us Merciful and generous like You, through You.’

Author’s note – Each day’s entry is based a passage from St Faustina’s diary. The passage entry is the number in parentheses at the end of each opening quote or simply a page number in parenthesis. Diary of St Maria Faustina Kowalska – Divine Mercy in My Soul (Association of Marion Helpers, Stockbridge, MA 01263) is available through the publisher or Amazon.com.

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The Gaze From The Cross, Part 4

Day 19 of our 40 Days of Mercy Fast

The Gaze from the Cross, Part 4  (Please also read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3)

‘When I was dying on the cross, I was not thinking about Myself but about sinners, and I prayed for them to the Father.’ (324)

Prayer for sinners to enter into God’s Mercy must become action: intercession primes our hearts with God’s intentions for them. What a privilege to steep loved ones in God’s merciful heart for them! Prayer then looses merciful words and actions toward each one.

I love that rhythm: we live out of God’s pure Blood and Water, sourced at Calvary. We live from those ‘waters’, longing for loved ones to find their place in the pool. We cry out to God to open their eyes and hearts to their need for that Mercy. In that process we become ambassadors of Mercy, an answer to our own prayers.

That requires good hard work, in prayer and deeds. Jesus describes it best in the Parable of the Fruitless Fig Tree. A man owned a vineyard with a tree that failed to bear fruit; he thus ordered the gardener to destroy it. The gardener pleaded with the owner: ‘Leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’ (Lk. 13:8, 9)

We too look at the lives of ‘fruitless’ loved ones. No longer ‘abiding in the vine’, they thus fail to bear fruit. (Jn. 15:4, 5) We cry out to God: ‘Spare them as we make every effort to fertilize their lives in prayer and action.’ We then seek the Lord, asking for divine wisdom as we seek to be timely, inspired ambassadors of Mercy for them.

My son Sam had an extended season of hurt and disappointment in his life. He wandered in the wilderness, far from home. He knew the ‘house rules’, that we would not support his addictions; at the same time, he wanted freedom from the shame of our scrutiny and freedom for his autonomy.

We ached for our beloved son. When we saw him, we ached more because we could see the impact of his wandering: an afflicted, progressively sterile soul. Because we knew him well and loved him so, it was not difficult to bear with him. We asked God to inspire little acts of kindness and choice words that might break up hard ground and mirror his fruitful potential.

We prayed for Sam to behold his own fruitlessness; we asked for incidents that might shake him and cause him to yearn for something deeper and truer within.

Jesus’ Mercy prevailed. Sam lost his job and began to lose patience with his empty way of life. He returned home. Humbled, he began to cooperate with Jesus. Hail the Merciful One who mercifully prunes and fortifies the afflicted, helping them to bear lasting fruit.

‘As God has made us sharers in His Mercy, and even more than that, dispensers of that Mercy, we should therefore have great love for each soul…’ (539)

‘If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to My Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be My disciples.’ (Jn. 15:7, 8)

‘Sow for yourselves righteousness, and reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, until He comes and showers righteousness on you.’ (Hos. 10:12)

‘Jesus, we cry out for our fruitless ones. Give us time to prepare the ground of their hearts to welcome You afresh. We ask for the rain of Your Mercy in their lives; use whatever You must to break up the fallow ground. Help us to grant each what (s)he really needs. We set these ones apart for Your purposes, O God. Make them fruitful once more, in Your Name and by Your Mercy.’

Author’s note – Each day’s entry is based a passage from St Faustina’s diary. The passage entry is the number in parentheses at the end of each opening quote or simply a page number in parenthesis. Diary of St Maria Faustina Kowalska – Divine Mercy in My Soul (Association of Marion Helpers, Stockbridge, MA 01263) is available through the publisher or Amazon.com.

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