“The Christian life is a return to the Father, the Source, the Ground of all existence, through the Son, the Splendor and the Image of the Father, in the Holy Spirit, the Love of the Father and the Son. And this return is only possible by detachment and ‘death’ in the exterior self, so that the inner self, purified and renewed, can fulfill its function as image of the Divine Trinity. Christianity is life and wisdom in Christ. It is a return to the Father in Christ. It is a return to the infinite abyss of pure reality in which our own reality is grounded, and in which we exist. It is a return to the source of all meaning and all truth. It is a return to the inmost springs of life and joy. It is a rediscovery of paradise within our own spirit by self-forgetfulness. And, because of our oneness with Christ, it is the recognition of ourselves as sons of the Father.”
Excerpted from “The Inner Experience: Notes on Contemplation” by Fr. Thomas Merton, OCSO
Monday, March 7 ~ Fourth Week in the Season of Lent
Saints Perpetua and Felicity, Martyrs
Holy Gospel: John 4:43-54 At that time Jesus left [Samaria] for Galilee. For Jesus himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his native place. When he came into Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him, since they had seen all he had done in Jerusalem at the feast; for they themselves had gone to the feast. Then he returned to Cana in Galilee, where he had made the water wine. Now there was a royal official whose son was ill in Capernaum. When he heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea, he went to him and asked him to come down and heal his son, who was near death. Jesus said to him, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will not believe.” The royal official said to him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” Jesus said to him, “You may go; your son will live.” The man believed what Jesus said to him and left. While the man was on his way back, his slaves met him and told him that his boy would live. He asked them when he began to recover. They told him, “The fever left him yesterday, about one in the afternoon.” The father realized that just at that time Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live,” and he and his whole household came to believe. Now this was the second sign Jesus did when he came to Galilee from Judea.
Meditation: Recall in sacred scripture Isaiah’s prophecy that God would establish a new heaven and earth when he came to restore his people. Jesus’ miracles are signs that manifest the presence and power of God’s kingdom. When a Gentile official heard the reports of Jesus’ preaching and miracles, he decided to seek Jesus out for an extraordinary favor. It took raw courage for a Gentile court official to travel twenty miles in search of Jesus, the Galilean carpenter. He had to swallow his pride and put up with some ridicule from his cronies. And when he found the healer carpenter, Jesus seemed to put him off with the blunt statement that people would not believe unless they saw some kind of miracle or sign from heaven. Jesus likely said this to test the man to see if his faith was in earnest. If he turned away discouraged or irritated, he would prove to be insincere. Jesus, perceiving his faith, sent him home with the assurance that his prayer had been heard.
Prayer: O God, who renew the world through mysteries beyond all telling, grant, we pray, that your Church may be guided by your eternal design. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Contemplation: If you think about it, it was probably not easy for this man to leave Jesus and go back home only with the assuring word that his son would be healed. Couldn’t Jesus have come to this man’s home and touched his dying child? The court official believed and surrendered to Jesus. He was ready to return home and face ridicule and laughter because he trusted in Jesus’ word. God’s mercy shows his generous love — a love that bends down in response to our misery and wretchedness. Do you approach the Lord Jesus with the readiness to believe in his word and to do whatever he commands?