Catholic Contemplative Affiliation

Weekday Readings


The Seventeenth Week of the Year

July 26 - 31, 2021

Matthew 13.31-35
To pray is to work within the Kingdom.  God works.  Like the man and the woman in the parable, I work.  I plant the seed.  I leaven the dough.   The seed becomes a great bush, a tree for the dwelling of birds.  A little leaven raises the whole lump of dough.  In the parable, these natural processes give us some insight into the nature of the Kingdom of God.  The Kingdom is God’s working that also requires cooperation on our part.  The more I step aside and surrender, and be receptive, the more is the work of the Kingdom accomplished.  At the heart of the life in Christ is to be patient as grace grows imperceptibly—God’s working in me so that the work of transformation goes on beyond my own essential, intentional, efforts.  Many birds live in the branches.  Many mouths are fed from the bread of life in the Kingdom.

Matthew 13.35-43
Even now in prayer I experience the light of transfiguration.  “His face shown like the sun.”  Even now in grace the Holy Spirit fills me from Christ’s illumined face.  I become light through the power of the Holy Spirit.  In prayer practice and by patience the grace of prayer is to "shine like the sun in the Kingdom of their Father."  Prayer is also in the context of struggle.  My behavior, the quality of my thoughts and aspirations reveal of what seed I am.  Grace brings the subtle freedom of choosing the Kingdom.  This moral struggle and the growing light of my prayer are eschatological—“at the end of the age.”  Even now I am sharing in the last days when the Kingdom is finally established.  My heart is with the movement of the Spirit leading me with Christ into the Father with all creation reconstituted in the patterns of the Son's resurrection and victory.  In prayer practice I allow myself to be gathered up by the angels of judgment for the final victory of Christ.  Even now before the end-times, the Kingdom is coming about!

Matthew 13.44-46
At the heart of belonging to the Kingdom is the choice in grace to be there fully and absolutely.  For the Kingdom is a treasure and pearl of great price.  Sell all to buy the field with the treasure; buy the pearl of great price.  Is it then that my personal choice is at variance with the true doctrine of free grace?  Is it grace or choice that brings me into the Kingdom?  Here is the mystery of grace and freedom at work.  My prayer is the moment of that dance between grace and freedom, between election by God and the work of response on my part.  That I come to prayer faithfully each day is selling all to buy the field with the treasure and to buy the pearl of great price.  And that I can pray is grace.  But beyond my mind with its thoughts there is the Kingdom and the Church, a Reality, into which I have been received in the free gift of God’s call in Christ.

Matthew 13.47-53
Prayer instructs me so that I can be a scribe in the Kingdom.  And then it also constructs.  Instruct.  Construct.  Destruct.  I must take apart all the old structures of my interior life—Destruct.  I must allow the Word to penetrate me—Instruct.  I must allow the beginning of new heart, a new outlook, a new self—Construct.   I must become like a householder, watching carefully all the comings and goings of Revelation that take hold of my life.  I must bring forth newness where required and be sensitive to the old i.e. the foundations that remain solid.  I must be a ready and alert servant in the Kingdom for the end times of judgment.  In that end time when the great net will be hauled ashore, I will long for compassion in the final outcome of God's justice in the Kingdom of the Son.  God knows that I carry the treasure in a vessel of clay.  What it comes to is to trust in the mercy of God in the Day of Judgment.

Matthew 13.54-58
In prayer doubt and the desire for reassurance rise up in the mind.  If I cling to these questions they tend to set me apart from Jesus, observing Jesus from the outside as an object to analyze in our ever questioning mind.  I am not gazing upon him with the eyes of the Father, shining forth as the Son in the Holy Spirit.  It was from this aspect of the outside, that his fellow townsfolk observed and questioned him.  True prayer will always look upon Jesus as never separated from the one praying.  True prayer sees Jesus through the eyes of the Father in the light of the Holy Spirit.  Deep faith plunges us into the Trinity.  "They were offended in him."  I stumble over Jesus when I allow myself to look upon him as someone to be figured out, as a problem in history, someone who changes with the progress of culture.  Here is the mystery of contemplative prayer: I am always other than Jesus yet I am never apart from him.  I am other, a creature, but I exist only because I am in him.  I see Jesus through the eyes of the Father.  Jesus teaches me, forms me not from without but from within, more present to me than I am to myself.  Consciousness of the fullness of Jesus, the ground of my existence and salvation, is the essence of prayer, gazing upon the mystery, freely embracing the “cloud of unknowing,” and “of forgetting.”

Matthew 14.1-12
God is reality.  God is truth, goodness and beauty.  That we exist reflects the absolute reality of God.  God's gift of morality guiding our behavior is beyond external law.  It is not arbitrary or dependent upon human judgment or culture's changing scene.  Something is immoral not because God forbids it, rather, God forbids it because it is immoral in itself.  God's morality exists and flows from existence itself.  My prayer must bring me into absolute obedience with the clarity and responsiveness of John the Baptist.  Better to enter the Kingdom of God maimed than to be cast in hell fire whole.

William Fredrickson, Obl. Sec. OSB, D.Min.



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