For this Sunday reflection, let's take a close look at several selections from today's readings.
First, review this selection from the first reading from the Book of the Prophet Zechariah: I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and petition . . . . (Zech 12:10) Next, consider the words of the second reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Galatians: For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ . . . And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendant,heirs according to the promise. (Gal 3:27, 29) Finally, examine the words of Christ from today's Gospel reading from the Gospel according to Saint Luke: “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” (Lk 9:23-24)
Rest. Now, think about these selections. Pause a minute to quietly reflect on them.
Then, re-read these selections altogether:
I will pour out on the house of DavidRest again. Focus on the images or concepts in your mind portrayed by the words. Consider these words and the questions they bring to mind in yourself. Do not cut-off any of your thought. If your mind is focused on these words and your soul is intent on its focus on God, allow your mind to go where it is led by the Holy Spirit. Peruse again the entire selection of texts as you consider quietly the thoughts that the Holy Spirit brings to light in these words.
and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem
a spirit of grace and petition . . . .
For all of you who were baptized into Christ
have clothed yourselves with Christ . . .
And if you belong to Christ,
then you are Abraham’s descendant,
heirs according to the promise.
“[But,] [i]f anyone wishes to come after me,
he must deny himself and take up his cross daily
and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”
When you have concluded your own thoughtful examination of the words of Christ and the other selections of Holy Scripture, thank the Lord for the opportunity to do so, the intellect to understand, and the grace and gifts of the Holy Spirit poured out upon us.
From this lectio divina, then, comes my short reflection:
Through all of history, God, the unbegotten Father and creator of the universe, has had the Word, which has been present from the beginning of what humanity describes as time. "In the beginning was the word . . . ." From this beginning, all of us, Israelites today because of our baptism in Christ Jesus, have been predestined to share in the everlasting inheritance of Christ. Mary, the Blessed Virgin, was the first of the human family to taste this everlasting joy in her bodily assumption into heaven. Yet, all of us, regardless of human distinction (origin, race, language, ethnicity, etc.,), have open the possibility to share in this same joy. The joy of Christ overshadows and destroys all human pain, suffering, and even death. However, this joy also puts a great responsibility on our shoulders. To share in this joy, we must live for Christ. Not just in a way that we think is good or worthwhile in the terms of contemporary culture, but we must live a life that has at its core and is focused entirely on following Christ. As Christ was meek and humble. So must we be meek and humble. As Christ denied Himself for the greater sacrifice that He made for all humanity, we too must deny ourselves when our own wants are in conflict with Him, in a sacrifice for Him.
But, we will fail! All of us will fail to live perfectly in union with and in the image of Christ. We are only of human estate. So, when we fail, we must put all our reliance on God. Through the graces of the Holy Spirit poured out abundantly on us in our daily lives, we must cling to Christ and His bride, the Church. Cherish Her teachings and follow them. Despite sin, which is present in every human life and in every human institution, cling to the truth of Christ. We must live meekly and humbly not of our own accord, but in total spiritual poverty, relying only on the Holy Trinity, whose gifts are poured out in the sacraments, to provide for us.