Daily Gospel Reflection for April 29, 2014

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Today’s Gospel: John 3:7-15

St. Catherine of Siena, whose feast we celebrate today, experienced spiritual ecstasy and mystical union with God from a young age. These are ethereal and surreal to us (more “ordinary” folks), but Jesus reminds us in today’s Gospel that those who have the Holy Spirit dwelling deeply within their souls do not adhere only to what is humanly logical or rational. If we are to keep our hearts fixated on what is above rather than on what is earthly or transitory, we will more easily embrace the Truth that God’s ways and thoughts are beyond our own very finite and limited lives.

Jesus spoke personally to St. Catherine of Siena in the following locution excerpt: “You will see…how those who walk in the light carry themselves, and how those who walk in the darkness carry themselves. I also want you to look at the bridge of my only-begotten Son and see its greatness. That is, that by it the earth of your humanity is joined to the greatness of the Deity, for it reaches from heaven to earth. I say then that this bridge constitutes the union which I have made with man” (Little Talks With God).

Jesus is speaking in this Gospel to Nicodemus, who doesn’t quite comprehend all that Jesus is explaining to him. First, He speaks of being “born of the Spirit” (v. 8b). Then He says, “so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life” (v.15). Of course this is all climaxing to one of the most famous and beloved of all Scripture verses, John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.”

There are people of every age who do not see the world through the lens of faith, to grab hold of God’s promises with confidence and great hope, despite all that the world tells them or even in spite of what their senses allow them to experience and know. Somehow, the soul elevates itself to the God who created it, and therein the beautiful ecstasies and mysticism of great saints like Catherine of Siena are beholden. Though many of us may find her irrelevant, antiquated or simply strange, others are captivated by her holiness and will be inspired to desire their own journey towards sanctification.

In essence, that is what Jesus is asking of us today: not only to simply believe that He is God and our Savior, but to go beyond acceptance by living our lives through an ever-deeper yearning to be fully united with Him. I think this means for our hearts to be joined as one with His Most Sacred Heart, and St. Catherine lived this well. We, too, must seek how God is asking us to be holy through our vocations, in both invisible and extraordinary ways.

Ponder:

How do I apply my proclaimed faith in Jesus throughout my daily life and in my vocation? In what ways am I called to put my faith in action?

Pray:

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, help me to seek that unitive love that you sharedwith St. Catherine of Siena so that nothing on earth will satiate this thirst and that heaven may always be in my spiritual foresight.

Copyright 2014 Jeannie Ewing

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About Author

Jeannie Ewing is a writer, speaker, and grief recovery coach. She is the co-author of From Grief to Grace: The Journey from Tragedy to Triumph and Navigating Deep Waters: Meditations for Caregivers. Jeannie was featured on NPR’s Weekend Edition and a dozen other podcasts and radio shows. She offers her insight from a counselor’s perspective into a variety of topics, including grief and parenting children with special needs. For more information on her professional services, visit her websites lovealonecreates.com or fromgrief2grace.com.

2 Comments

  1. Your post reminds me of an extraordinary homily I heard on Sunday during the Notre Dame mass by a newly ordained priest – it was his first mass. He was amazing. In talking about Thomas, he imagined this response from the Lord which applies to us too and helps us to cross the bridge you speak of:

    ‘Put your finger here and see my hands. Bring your hand and put it into my side. Hide yourself in me. Hide yourself from all that troubles you, from all you doubt, from all you fear. Hide yourself in a love more penetrating than a brush fire, more overwhelming than a deluge. Hide yourself in a love that will remake you entirely. Do not be afraid.’ Jesus invites Thomas to literally enter into his wounds of love, to pass so deeply into the reality of love incarnate as to move within it. To physically put himself into our Lord’s resurrected body, unconquered by everything that would seek to destroy love, to put to death all that smothered God’s life within him. To touch resurrection, to touch eternity. To hide himself in Christ’s love forever.” (Rev. Patrick Reidy, CSC, April 27, 2014, Basilica of the Sacred Heart, University of Notre Dame)

    It made me realize we can touch eternity too by taking the Eucharist. This great love of God carries us into places far beyond ordinary human life as Catherine of Sienna testifies.

    BTW, that Notre Dame mass is available on iTunes if you want to see the video and hear this amazing new priest preach. Just look up Basilica of the Sacred Heart.

  2. Susan, that description of “hiding in the wounds of Christ” is breathtakingly beautiful; thank you for sharing. We actually live fairly close to Notre Dame (about 45 min drive north from our house), so we are able to browse the campus when we are able. I think many of the saints “hid in the wounds of Jesus,” don’t you? And your comparison to hiding in Jesus’ heart by receiving Him in the Eucharist is quite astounding, in that Jesus prefers to be hidden in this Sacrament so that we may seek Him there instead of in the noise and chaos of the world that surrounds us. THANK YOU for your beautiful excerpt and reflection!

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