Catholic Contemplative Affiliation

Sunday Readings

24th Sunday of the Year, Cycle B, September 16, 2018

First Reading for Sunday: Isaiah 50. 4-9

The Lord God opens my ear that I may hear; and I have not rebelled, have not turned back.

I have set my face like flint, knowing that I shall not be put to shame.

You have been called to the contemplative life while living in the world.  You have heard the Call of the Holy Spirit to enter into the Divine Presence so that you can be transformed through union with the Triune God.  You have said, Yes, Yes, I will be Yours for You are all in all. You have translated that spiritual call, that delicate, gentle grace of freedom, into a commitment to follow the discipline of the prayer of the heart.
The heart of prayer then is to be open, like last Sunday in which Jesus opens the ears of the deaf person, to have open ears to hear the Word of God sounding in our hearts. 

The great enemy of the contemplative commitment is rebellion, is turning back from seeking the face of God revealed in Christ.  So much of our fallen condition, of the enticements of the ever-present world, of the subtle, invisible pull of Satan, are all aligned against the call to transforming love.

This reading from Isaiah, a Servant of Yahweh Poem (one of four in Isaiah) is taken as a prophecy, revealing a type of Jesus, the Son of Man, Son of God, who is faithful in love to the will of the Father in the Holy Spirit.  It is Christ's commitment we share in following the contemplative life.  Like flint, like a hard and endurable rock, I am centered into my life hidden in God in Christ.
The heart of the contemplative must be subtle, gentle in the hands of the Spirit; it is living and filled with all the vibrancy of love; but the face is like flint, like a rock, set against all that would destroy the contemplative Presence of God.  This is the work of the theological moral virtue of Fortitude, enlivened by the Gift of the Holy Spirit, again with the name, Fortitude.  I have to be like a fort, strong, standing high against the enemies.  But within, the living fires of divine love.

It's all grace; Christ's power is present in our weakness: See, the Lord God is my help, who will prove me wrong?

Second Reading from Sunday: James 2.14-18

Contemplative life produces fruits; faith leads to works--"... grace bearing fruit underlies the idea of service" (Von Balthasar).  Your prayer is a work flowing from faith.  Your commitments to your family, to your daily work and employment, to be open to the poor, to developing a practical and realistic social conscience, are all the works of your faith, fruits of your prayer.

The Gospel Reading: Mark 8,27-35

In this Gospel Reading the Cross of Christ stands for us as the instrument of the Paschal Mystery:  Jesus by dying on the Cross and rising from the dead, brings us with Him into this newness of life.  The newness of life is that we now through grace share in the divine life of Jesus, child of the Father in Jesus by the Spirit.  We are not born into this union of divine adoption; we are given a re-birth into the Triune God's inner life.

But it all comes through the cross.  Each day we meet the cross.  Each day we like flint remain close to Jesus as we join Him on the cross.  How?  Every single event and happening, internal and external, that causes us difficulty, becomes our share in the cross of Jesus for the redemption of the human race. 

This is the heroism of the "little way" of St. Therese de Lisieux.  It's "little" because the elements of this way are right here before us and in us every single day in our ordinary life.  It's heroic because we can die each time on this cross with Christ.  It's the matter of our love affair with God, the heart of the contemplative life.  Jesus-love is the goal of each day's events.
Cross is obedience, healing the wounds of our rebellious hearts.   Cross is grace, our life with God is pure gift, flowing from the wounded side of Jesus on the Cross.

If a man wishes to come after me, his must deny his very self, take up his cross, and follow me.

Wiliam C. Fredrickson, Obl. (Lay) OSB; D.Min.

For questions, comments or other communication, please contact:
William Frederickson