Jesus bestowed his love, his grace upon, and acknowledged his Apostles as a gift. The fundamental option, our ultimate end goal, that which we seek, is the truth bestowed upon them by Jesus, which is that the Creator of all that exists, that so transcends our comprehension, that is so beyond our ability to reason, has come close to us, become one with us, in the person of his Son and loves us more than we can ever imagine. This reality, the core of the deposit of faith they received, was not to be hoarded or buried away, or to be shared with an elect few. This living gift of grace was to be shared by the Apostles, the ones who Jesus called by name, who he had hand picked to receive his message. They were to protect it for the purpose of transmitting it accurately to their successors so that it would be passed on to each successive generation who would receive and make it relevant for their own time.
Jesus said to his Father in his farewell discourse, as recorded by John that: “I made known to them your name and I will make it known, that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them” (Jn 17:26). Through our participation in the love of Christ we are perfected and we are conformed by his will such that we can experience the love of the Father, the same intimate communion that Jesus shares.
This is the Gospel, the Good News, that has always been expressed within himself as a divine communion of three Persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We have been created with a burning hunger and desire to experience this same communion. Yet why don’t we say yes to this joyous invitation? St Thomas Aquinas in his Summa Theologiae, or Summa for short, written between 1265 and left uncompleted because of his death in 1274, but finished by his students, outlines the temptations of wealth, honor, pleasure, and power, as major obstacles. In and of themselves, these are not unhealthy desires, if God is first and then we orient ourselves to them from God’s perspective.
When we assume the posture of pride, believing that we are the center of our lives and we seek wealth, power, pleasure, and/or honor for our own sake and self aggrandizement, they will be distorted and leave us empty, or worse lead us into the crippling slavery to addiction, because in and of themselves they are finite pursuits. How many times have there been reports of someone who has amassed most or all of these four, and then come to a place of such despair and emptiness that they had taken their own life?
Through a properly ordered sense of power grounded in love, defined by St Thomas, as the willing of the good as other, we will utilize positions of power and privilege to be a voice for those who otherwise would not have a voice. Through an access to wealth, recognizing that this has been a gift from God, we will then be good stewards of what we have received to help and support others, not so much in a limited stance of a hand out, but as a means to provide a hand up. To accompany and shepherd those who do not have access such that they can arrive at the point where they can be provided with access, skills, and means to participate in the dignity of meaningful work and gainful employment.
The ultimate goal of pleasure is to embrace the Beautiful, the gift that God provides in which we can have access and enjoy the wonders of his creation. At the same time we can be participants in the expression of creativity through the arts as well as our every day actions by finding joy in our interactions with one another and engaging in our vocations. If honor, fame and glory arise in the faithful, they arise not for its own sake or as to heighten the focus on self. This attention comes with the responsibility to further radiate the light and love of God so to evangelize and draw others to the Good, the True, and the Beautiful, as did Peter when he preached and three thousand came to accept the love of Christ, when Pope Francis visited the United States and the news for a week was filled with joy and hope, and when St Mother Teresa accepted the Nobel Peace Prize she began her speech by saying, “As we have gathered here together to thank God for the Nobel Peace Prize” and ended with the words, “God bless you!”
Jesus has made the name of his Father known to us and he has made known the love with which his Father loved him with. May we accept the invitation and receive and live in his love, that the love of the Father may be in us and may the very presence of Jesus be within us. May wealth, power, pleasure, and honor, not be a distraction to our embracing of the love of God, but be an access point in which, once we have received the love of God, are filled with, and experience his joy, we may radiate his presence to others. In this way may we be his presence, his peace, his joy for those who are in need of his hope, his acceptance, and his love.
Photo: Radiating the love of Christ, one smile at a time
Link for the Mass readings for Thursday, May 17, 2018: