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A supernatural look

Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

The Lord reminds us in the Gospel passage proclaimed this Sunday that the Kingdom of God is advancing in human history although we may not notice it.

Indeed, the grace of God is operating an at work in many different ways throughout the world. That is why we, Christians, are always courageous as St. Paul states twice in the second reading for this Sunday. We know that Jesus Christ by his death and resurrection has inaugurated the Kingdom of God. There is no going back. There are many battles yet to be fought, especially in our personal history, but the destiny of the universe is secure. Our life is a blank page where God desires to write a love story. He will do it with our cooperation.

At times, the whirlwind of modern life stuns us, and we are unable to see the silent and constant action of grace in our midst. It is true that there are many challenges and difficulties everywhere and at many different levels. Contempt for human life, confusion about the meaning of our bodies, rejection of the natural order, banalization of the sacred, ideologization of the faith, constant war, different forms of idolatry that seem to lead to a future where there is no future. Despite all of that, the grace of God continues to transform reality one heart at a time.

To be able to recognize the action of grace, we need among other things to recover inner silence and external silence too. We ought to train our eyesight and open the eyes of our heart to so as to be able to look at reality with a supernatural perspective and, thus, discern, discover and contemplate the action of grace, advancing the Kingdom of God in world history, impelling our personal history towards holiness which ought to be the main objective of our lives.

Pope Francis points out “five great expressions of love for God and neighbor… of particular importance in the light of certain dangers and limitations present in today’s culture. There we see a sense of anxiety, sometimes violent, that distracts and debilitates; negativity and sullenness; the self-content bred by consumerism; individualism; and all those forms of ersatz spirituality – having nothing to do with God – that dominate the current religious marketplace.

The first of these great signs is solid grounding in the God who loves and sustains us. This source of inner strength enables us to persevere amid life’s ups and downs, but also to endure hostility, betrayal and failings on the part of others. “If God is for us, who is against us?”: this is the source of the peace found in the saints. Such inner strength makes it possible for us, in our fast-paced, noisy and aggressive world, to give a witness of holiness through patience and constancy in doing good. It is a sign of the fidelity born of love, for those who put their faith in God (pístis) can also be faithful to others (pistós). They do not desert others in bad times; they accompany them in their anxiety and distress, even though doing so may not bring immediate satisfaction…

We need to recognize and combat our aggressive and selfish inclinations, and not let them take root. “Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger” …

Inner strength, as the work of grace, prevents us from becoming carried away by the violence that is so much a part of life today, because grace defuses vanity and makes possible meekness of heart. The saints do not waste energy complaining about the failings of others; they can hold their tongue before the faults of their brothers and sisters and avoid the verbal violence that demeans and mistreats others. Saints hesitate to treat others harshly; they consider others better than themselves…

At times, precisely because someone is free of selfishness, he or she can dare to disagree gently, to demand justice or to defend the weak before the powerful, even if it may harm his or her reputation…

That same peacefulness, the fruit of grace, makes it possible to preserve our inner trust and persevere in goodness, “though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death” or “a host encamp against me.”  Standing firm in the Lord, the Rock, we can sing: “In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” Christ, in a word, “is our peace;” he came “to guide our feet into the way of peace.”  As he told Saint Faustina Kowalska, “Mankind will not have peace until it turns with trust to my mercy.” So let us not fall into the temptation of looking for security in success, vain pleasures, possessions, power over others or social status. Jesus says: “My peace I give to you; I do not give it to you as the world gives peace” …

The Christian life is “joy in the Holy Spirit,” for “the necessary result of the love of charity is joy; since every lover rejoices at being united to the beloved… the effect of charity is joy.” Having received the beautiful gift of God’s word, we embrace it “in much affliction, with joy inspired by the Holy Spirit.” If we allow the Lord to draw us out of our shell and change our lives, then we can do as Saint Paul tells us: “Rejoice in the Lord always; I say it again, rejoice!”

Fr. Roberto M. Cid