Fr. Jerome Machar, OCSO
29th Thursday in Ordinary Time
Romans 6: 19-23; Luke 12: 49-53
Because we have free will, each of us becomes the servant of the master we choose. Because we have free will, we are not hapless victims of some mindless and cruel fate. We can choose either to surrender our allegiance to our disordered passions or to the God Who created us in His image and likeness. We can decide to close in on ourselves and become slaves to our passions or we can breathe in the breath of the Spirit and enjoy the freedom of the children of God. The world around us is filled with distractions and chaotic noise. This noise makes it very difficult for us to hear the gentle voice of the Spirit that is speaking to our hearts. It takes effort to listen. The Psalmist encourages those who prayer with his words, “Oh, that today you would hear his voice. Do not harden your hearts” (Ps. 95:7-8).
Into the midst of our chaos, God speaks a word of peace. “Be still and know that I am God” (Ps. 46:10). If we listen to the word of the Lord and allow His Spirit to flood our souls, fear and trepidation will be transformed into holy awe. At the heart of this meditation is the question: when God speaks, who will answer? Only those who choose to listen to the movements of the Spirit are made partakers of Christ and are thereby brought to the fullness of life. Our anchor is Christ, the God of Jacob is our stronghold and forever will be our refuge and strength.
In Christ, God has called us to hear His Word. As servants of the one true king, we are to listen to the voice of the Spirit and surrender to His Word. Hardness of heart is at the root of spiritual deafness. Fashioned as vessels of clay by the hand of God, we are made to contain the treasure of great price. Only when the clay is fired in the kiln of divine love can our hearts become hearts of flesh rather than of stone. As heirs of the Kingdom, we should ponder God’s Word and make it the rule of our lives and the well-spring of our consolation. In Christ and in Him alone, do we find joy and peace. Nothing else matters if we are not subject to Christ.
Submitting our wills to Christ changes us and alters the way we look at ourselves, at the world and at other people. Saint Paul was willing to do or to suffer any thing, to attain the glorious resurrection of saints. This hope and prospect carried him through all difficulties he had to endure in the service of the Gospel. He did not hope to attain it through his own merit and righteousness, but through the power and righteousness of Christ.
When the Spirit of the Lord descended upon the apostles, He came in the appearance of fire. The desire of Christ’s heart was fulfilled in that gift. In the Spirit, the Fire of Divine Love engulfed the earth. This transforming flame gives both light and heat. It enlightens the path the People of God are to follow and warms their hearts with love for all that God loves. Jesus, the Love of God made visible and tangible invites us to accept this transforming fire. By nature, invitations are offered and received with freedom on both sides. There is no force or coercion. Are we willing to accept it?