Catholic Contemplative Affiliation

Sunday Readings


Meditations on the Readings for the next three Sundays follow:

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time; Cycle C, February 10, 2019
Readings: Isaiah 6.1-8; 1st Corinthians 15.1-11; Luke 5.1-11
 Isaiah describes the vision of the Presence of God in the Temple.  God’s Presence dwells in the Temple in Jerusalem. Those Israelites who approach those holy precincts with faith the presence of the glory of God exists as an enveloping reality. The reading from Isaiah thus describes this contemplative experience within the Temple.  The immediacy of God invades the interior space of the believer as well as the Temple. The believer’s consciousness at the deepest levels is filled with the Presence of God.
In the Hebrew revelation and in the Christian fulfillment of the Hebraic prophecies, we become like God in the grace of participation in the divine life.  We are adopted into the Trinitarian relationship.  We are one with God, but we are always other than God. 
Presence demands that the beloved and the lover are as one to the other: the I—Thou relationship. Otherwise how can we contemplate and rejoice in the One Who is All if we form one substance with the All?  We are always other so we can know and love the Beloved.  We are one with God, sharing the divine life by the grace of participation.  Eternal life consists in our ever being one with God in Presence: “This is eternal life—that they may know Thee, the only true God and Him Whom Thou hast sent, Jesus Christ. (St. John 17.3).
The Gospel Reading shows forth the Presence of God in the Person of the Son of God, Jesus, incarnate in human nature.  Jesus is Lord of all creation.  The schools of fish are at His command.  Without hesitation the fish obey their creator by swimming into the net. 

The reactions in the two readings are similar. 
 Isaiah, in the First Reading, and the apostles in the Gospel Reading, taste of the glory of the Presence.  They see God revealed among them with eyes of faith.
The immediate reaction of the participants in these readings is the keen sense of their unworthiness.  In the light of God’s holiness, our own sinfulness and our puniness stand out. 
In Isaiah the reaction is: Woe is me, I am doomed for I am a man of unclean lips, living among people of unclean lips yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts! 
The reaction of Peter is similar:  Leave me, Lord, I am a sinful man.
Part of the pain of the contemplative life is as we draw closer to God we are more aware of sinfulness.  The divine light becomes like a microscope so that we can see the million of germs that inhabit our surfaces.  This awareness of our faults is not an obstacle.  On the contrary the awareness is part of the purification process and contributes to our sense of dependence upon God as our Savior.
The response on the part of God in the First and Gospel readings is the same.  Our sinfulness is not an obstacle.  It is rather the occasion of God’s mercy in which God is glorified.  In first reading from Isaiah we read: Then one of the seraphim flew to me, holding an ember which he had taken with tongs from the altar.  He touched my mouth with it.  See, he said, now that this has touched your lips, your wickedness is removed, your sin is purged.
In the Gospel reading Jesus reassures Peter, because as he will gradually learn, he will experience that in Him is unending forgiveness, “seven times seventy.” Do not be afraid.
The final action in these two readings is also similar.  In both, the final action is the commission to do the work of the Kingdom.  Divine intimacy means ultimately work in the Kingdom. 
In Isaiah we read: Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send?  Who will go for us?”  I said, “Here am I.  Send me!”  The conclusion to the Gospel reading is similar.  Do not be afraid.  From now on you will be catching men.
The difference in the two readings is the contrast between the simplicity and ordinariness of the Gospel story and the majestic, visionary aspect of Isaiah.
The Bible is only part of the work of revelation.  More important is the process whereby the deposit of faith is safeguarded and handed on through the ministry of the bishops in communion with the Petrine Ministry of Universal Shepherd. I handed on to you first of what I myself received.
The Second Reading brings us full circle.  The place of the Presence is now within the Church.  The Church in her fullness is the Sacrament of Christ upon earth, in the midst of the world, among all the unfolding of history. The Church is the present Mystery of Christ in which we enter into the divine union.  You cannot separate the Church from the spirituality of contemplative union with God.  The sentence:  I handed on to you first of all what I myself received,  is the great “Traditio.”  The “traditio” is the handing-on of the Word and Sacraments which are essentially the mystery of the Christ-life-resurrected in which we live and move now in the power of grace that transforms us.
The contemplative life is one of love, flowing from the Presence, and its end and purpose is the redemption of the human race.  We answer the call out of the Presence: Whom shall I send?  Here I am. Send me. … Do not be afraid.  From now on you will be catching men.
Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time; Cycle C, February 17, 2019
Readings: Jeremiah 17.5-8; 1st Corinthians 15.12,16-20; Luke 6.17, 20-26
If Christ was not raised, your faith is worthless….But as it is, Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. (Second Reading)
If we are in grace then we possess eternal life within us.  We are living now eternal life because the seed of eternal life is within us.  Eternal life is a share in the life of God. Our souls are, therefore, filled with the divine life of God.  This gift of supernatural life overflows into our bodies and emotions.  Grace recreates our whole selves so we become alive in God.  Even now alive within us is God’s life springing up into eternity in the Kingdom:
This seed of eternal life is not ours by birth.  This seed of eternal life within in us is not our birthright.  Nothing of our nature as human beings has claim upon participation in God’s life. 
 In this 15th chapter of 1st Corinthian we have the “Magna Carta” of our spiritual life.  At this very moment we are alive by sharing in the grace of the resurrection of Christ.  The sanctifying grace of being in Christ comes to us in the sacrament of rebirth, Baptism. The life of grace is restored to us in the sacrament of Reconciliation if we have succumbed to serious sin.  This eternal life in Christ is celebrated and renewed in the sacrifice of the Holy Eucharist, the Liturgy of the Mass, in our Holy Communion in the Body and Blood of the risen Lord of Life.
 In our prayer practice the invocation of the sacred word gently brings us back to our intention.  Our intention is our will infused with the virtue of love (charity).  The power of our intention—the will—has been infused with the divine love of the Trinity.  The heart of our prayer is this consent of love coming from the Holy Spirit, sharing in the Triune love relationship.
We know only because of faith; we experience the resurrection not as an object of concepts, but through love which is the Holy Spirit.  Thus we rest in the resurrected Christ in unknowing but in love which has an aspect of knowing through the gift of wisdom.  The gift of wisdom from the Holy Spirit gives us an insight into the Presence of the Risen One who holds us in the Father in the Triune love relationship.
Present also are our memories, the storehouse of all our experiences.  Neither can these memories  grasp the resurrection.  The infused virtue of hope moves our will and concomitantly our understanding into that which we await, into that which we hope for, namely our full union with the risen Christ.  This full union comes only on the last day when the Kingdom has been established.  “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen”  (Hebrews 11.1).
The way of Jesus is my life.  The blessedness and happiness is counterbalanced by Woe to you  of the Gospel Reading.  Some spiritualities afloat now in the churches will speak only of the blessings; but in the Gospel, every blessing has its corresponding, “Woe to .”  At the heart of the matter is the power of choice and rejection. 
The words of the First Reading reminds us of the seriousness of the work of prayer.  Because we live in the possibility of rejecting Christ we must be committed to our opening to grace, not to the influence of fallen nature within an alienated world culture. Cursed is the man who trusts in human beings, who seeks his strength in flesh, whose heart turns from the Lord…. Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose hope is the Lord.  He is like a tree planted beside the waters that stretches out its roots to the stream (First Reading).
In our prayer we stretch out our roots to the stream, the living stream of the Holy Spirit through our sharing in the Eucharist in Holy Communion.
Seventh Sunday of the Year, Cycle C, February 24, 2019
The Readings: 1st Samuel 26.2,7-9,12-13,22-23; 1st Corinthians 15.45-49; Luke 6.27-38
Saul went off to search for David in the desert of Ziph (The First Reading).  Saul was searching for David to kill him.    In this reading David through his daring and by God's providence has Saul at his mercy.  David with his band could have easily killed Saul and his generals. David has Saul at his mercy but keeps Saul in his mercy.  David shouted across to Saul (at a safe distance): Today, though the Lord delivered you into my grasp, I would not harm the Lord’s anointed.
Whatever David's personal feelings were and no matter how justified he was in self-defense, David would not kill Saul.  David in his faith-vision sees Saul as the anointed of God.  At God's command the prophet Samuel had let the oil representing God's favor consecrate Saul  as king.
What is the connection with the Gospel Reading?  Jesus calls upon us to look upon each and every person as anointed.  Every person who comes into view is anointed of God in Christ.  Christ is the Anointed One (Christ means the anointed one, the messiah in Hebrew).  Christ shares that anointing potentially with all of the human race.  A particular person within the ambiance of my seeing and communicating is anointed of Christ at some level.  Christ claims all people; all people have their absolute and final destiny in a relationship with Christ.  Each person has been created by the Father through the Word in the Holy Spirit.  Each person is either in grace or is called to grace.  I will not harm the Lord’s anointed.
Be compassionate, as your Father is compassionate.
The principal work of prayer is transformation into the image of Christ Jesus.  The prayer must open up our center to compassion.  This is the mission to which Christ, the Son of David calls us.  I would not harm the Lord’s anointed.
          How is this all related to the Second Reading?  Just as we resemble the man from earth, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven.  The power of Christ's resurrection and the gift of the Holy Spirit are at work within us to transform us into compassionate people.
 Christ's resurrection unites us all into His Body and empowers us to love others.    
When someone slaps you on one cheek, turn and give him the other; when someone takes your coat, let him have your shirt as well.  Give to all who beg from you.
Each Eucharist is a sharing in the Sacrifice of Christ on Calvary and His victory in resurrection.  Let our Communion be the gift of ourselves to the Father's work:  Our transformation creates us as Christ-images through the Holy Spirit.
Every time I enter the act of prayer I am the most recent recipient of this act of love: that God should give himself to me in the light that is Christ Jesus through the Holy Spirit who is substantial prayer.

-William Fredrickson, Obl. Secular OSB; D.Min.


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