- The Abbey of the Genesee - http://www.geneseeabbey.org -

July 9, 2016

Fr. Jerome Machar, OCSO [1]

14th Saturday in Ordinary Time
Isaiah 6: 1-8; Matthew 10: 24-33

We have gathered in this holy place to hear the Word of the Lord and partake of the Bread of Life. Like the prophet Isaiah, we find ourselves in the presence of the heavenly host, that cloud of witnesses that stands where the Most High dwells. With the prophet, we are given a glimpse of the divine majesty and forced to acknowledge our sinful unworthiness to be there. The author of the Letter to the Hebrews put it quite clearly: “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:31). “For our God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:29). It takes my breath away to think that we take the living God into our hands. Think about it. The fire of divine love places Himself in our grasp.

The zealot Paul had a similar experience of God’s overwhelming presence. While on his way to Damascus, he was wrapped in a light that blinded him and brought him to his knees. Like the prophet, I can imagine his saying, “I’m doomed!” (Is 6:5). These two holy men found themselves confronted by the Holy One Israel. In the light of that vision, each had to grapple with his unworthiness. We find a parallel story in the Book of Genesis. “Jacob was left alone, and wrestled with a man there until the breaking of the day. And when the stranger saw that he was unable to overpower him, struck his hip joint and dislocated it” (Gen. 32: 24-25). Having been purified in the crucible of divine love, they are set aside for a special ministry to the people of God. God’s Word is a live coal and the Holy Spirit is its fire. We are cast in to the crucible of divine love each time we receive the Bread of the Word and the Bread of Life.

Like the patriarch Jacob, we mindlessly wander into the presence of God. “Surely the Lord in in this place, and I didn’t even realize it” (Gen. 28:16). We cannot always be focused on the Presence of the Holy One in our lives, but when we are granted a glimpse of His presence we must acknowledge that He is holy and we are not. By the freely given grace of God we, each time we hear the Word and receive the Sacred Body of the Lord, are conformed to the person of the Beloved Son and made new. God is the only one who can purify our lives and empower us to serve the Gospel. Like those who have gone before us, may we see the Holy One and repent of our sins. When the Sacrament of Divine Love touches our lips, may it take away our iniquities and cleanse of us our sins. Having been purified by Love, may we be used as ministers of love, forgiveness and reconciliation.