Rank #1: Listen to Him
Rank #2: Life Lived in the Spirit
Rank #3: He Must Increase and I Must Decrease
Rank #4: Jesus Among the Angels and Beasts
Rank #5: True Kingship
Rank #6: Fate of the Prophet
Our readings for today develop a theme that is uncomfortable. Authentically religious people, authentically spiritual people, will almost always be opposed. The logic behind this is simple and unanswerable: we live in a world gone wrong, a world turned upside down; therefore, when someone comes speaking the truth to us, we will think that they are crazy and dangerous. Jesus’ word is meant to burn things up, to reduce things to cinders, to clear things out. A get-along attitude is never what Jesus is calling for. I know that we are uneasy with this idea, but the Bible isn’t. To love is to will the good of the other. Therefore, to love necessarily involves passionate opposition to what works evil in the other. Love destroys the false forms of order and community in order for the true community to emerge.
Rank #7: Walking Truly and Completely with Him
Rank #8: Divine Mercy
On this Second Sunday of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday, we remember the dedication of this day by Saint John Paul II in honor of St. Faustina’s vision of Christ, in which the Lord’s heart radiated forth with divine mercy for the world. But what does mercy mean? It designates the suffering of the heart, a type of compassion, a deep, loving identification with people in their suffering. It is the characteristic of God, for God is love. Nothing in the world would exist if it were not, at every moment, loved into being by God—a great act of tender mercy. How is this love made manifest in us? Precisely through following God’s commands and through forgiveness.
Rank #9: Humility, Queen of the Virtues
Rank #10: The Prodigal Son
Rank #11: Four Spiritual Lessons from the Life of Paul
I would like to focus my attention this week on the magnificent first reading, taken from the pivotal ninth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles. I say pivotal because this is the chapter in which the conversion of Saul is recounted. Hans Urs von Balthasar refers to Paul as one of the great archetypes in the life of the Church, and so we can benefit from a close study of the spiritual lessons from his life and his manner of discipleship.
Rank #12: Seeing the World Anew
Rank #13: The Wages of Sin
Rank #14: The Great Yes and The Great No
Rank #15: Humility: The Queen of the Virtues
Rank #16: No Temple in the New Jerusalem
Rank #17: No Fear of Death
In our second reading for this week, St. Paul reminds the Christian community in Rome that baptism means an immersion into the dying of the Lord. In his first letter to the Corinthians, he had similarly told his followers that every eucharist is a participation in the dying of Christ. Why this preoccupation with death? Because it is only through this journey into Christ's death and resurrection that we can effectively conquer the fear of death, which tends to cramp us spiritually. Once we have died witih Jesus, we can walk "in newness of life."
Rank #18: Every Saint Had a Past, Every Sinner Has a Future
Rank #19: The Narrow Gate
Rank #20: The Primacy of Love
This week we hear from St. Paul’s brilliant meditation on love. Everything in religion and theology revolves around love. It is at the heart of everything. Nothing matters without love, because God is love. Putting love at the center is the best way to organize and prioritize our entire lives.