Tag Archives: redemption

Three comings of the Lord

The Advent period of the Church in which we are asked to prepare for the coming of the Lord, and there are times we are left without much to ponder. The coming of the Lord, or rather, the comings of the Lord, are not merely about a supernal existence, but there is a incarnational, that is, a concrete, real aspect to the Lord’s presence in our life. But I have to ask, do we really believe this fact of the Christian faith? Perhaps today we ought to consider the words of the great Cistercian Father, Saint Bernard,

“We know there are three comings of the Lord. The third lies between the other two. It is invisible, while the other two are visible. In the first coming he was seen on earth, dwelling among us; he himself testifies that people saw him and hated him. In the final coming all flesh will see the salvation of our God, and they will look on him who they have pierced. The intermediate coming is a hidden one; in it only the elect see the Lord within themselves and they are saved. In his first coming our Lord came in our flesh and in our weakness; in the middle coming he comes in spirit and in power; in the final coming he will be seen in glory and majesty. Because this coming lies between the other two, it is like a road on which we travel from the first coming to the last. In the first, Christ was our redemption; in the last he will appear as our life; in this middle coming, he is our rest and consolation.”

Back to the cross

English: Christ - Coptic Art

The Church gives us on this 12th Sunday of through the Year the gospel of Luke (9:18-24) focusses our personal reflection on the cross, redemptive suffering, self-abnegation. We can’t get away from answering the question: “But who do you say that I am?” AND we have to respond to the Lord’s declaration: “Whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”

Francis the Pope tells us: “those who serve the truth serve Christ.” In his TheoDrama (Vol. 1), Han Urs von Balthsar tells us to do the truth. Does anyone really believe that you do the truth? Now, what does this look like? Preach with your life the Paschal Mystery, that is, Jesus Christ Present: here and now.

Perhaps a reflection from Saint Cyril of Alexandria might help us understand: “When the disciple Peter had professed his faith, Jesus charged them, it says, and commanded them to tell it to no one. ‘For the Son of Man’, he says, ‘is about to suffer many things, and be rejected, and killed, and on the third day he shall rise again.’ Wasn’t it the duty of disciples to proclaim him everywhere? This was the very business of those appointed by him to the apostleship. But, as the Scripture says, ‘There is a time for everything.’ There were things yet unfulfilled which must also be included in their preaching about him. They must also proclaim the cross, the passion, and the death in the flesh. They must preach the resurrection of the dead, that great and truly glorious sign by which testimony is borne him that the Emmanuel is truly God and by nature the Son of God the Father…He commanded them, therefore, to guard the mystery by a reasonable silence until the whole plan of the dispensation should arrive at a suitable conclusion.”

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Pope Benedict’s baptism of 20 children today: they inherit eternal life

An annual tradition on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord is the baptism of the children by the Pope in the Sistine Chapel. Today, Benedict baptized 20 children. This is the same place where the cardinals meet under lock and key to elect a new pontiff. Here is the pope’s teaching.

Baptism of the Christ AVerrochio.jpg

The joy arising from the celebration of Christmas finds its completion today in the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. To this joy is added another reason for those of us who are gathered here: in the Sacrament of Baptism that will soon be administered to these infants, the living and active presence of the Holy Spirit is manifested, enriching the Church with new children, enlivening and making them grow, and we cannot help but rejoice. I wish to extend a special greeting to you, dear parents and godparents, who today bear witness to your faith by requesting Baptism for these children, because they are regenerated to new life in Christ and become part of the community of believers.

The Gospel account of Jesus’ baptism, which we have heard today according to St Luke’s account, shows the path of abasement and humility that the Son of God freely chose in order to adhere to the plan of the Father, to be obedient to His loving will for mankind in all things, even to the sacrifice on the Cross. Having reached adulthood, Jesus begins His public ministry by going to the River Jordan to receive from John the baptism of repentance and conversion. What happens may appear paradoxical to our eyes. Does Jesus need repentance and conversion? Of course not. Yet He Who is without sin is placed among the sinners to be baptized, to fulfil this act of repentance; the Holy One of God joins those who recognize in themselves the need for forgiveness and ask God for the gift of conversion – that is, the grace to turn to Him with their whole heart, to be totally His. Jesus wills to put Himself on the side of sinners, by being in solidarity with them, expressing the nearness of God. Jesus shows solidarity with us, with our effort to convert, to leave behind our selfishness, to detach ourselves from our sins, saying to us that if we accept Him into our lives, He is able to raise us up and lead us the heights of God the Father. And this solidarity of Jesus is not, so to speak, a mere exercise of the mind and will. Jesus was really immersed in our human condition; He lived it to the utmost – although without sin – and in such a way that He understands weakness and fragility. Therefore He is moved to compassion; He chooses to “suffer with” men, to be penitent together with us. This is the work of God that Jesus wishes to accomplish: the divine mission to heal those who are wounded and to cure those who are sick, to take upon Himself the sin of the world.

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Arrupe’s prayer for collaborating with Christ

Christ2.jpgLord, meditating on our way of proceeding, I have discovered that the ideal of our way of acting is your way of acting.

Give me that sensus Christi that I may feel with your feelings, with the sentiments of your heart, which basically are love for your Father and love love for all men and women.
Teach me how to be compassionate to the suffering, to the poor, the blind, the lame, and the lepers.
Teach us your way so that it becomes our way today, so that we may come closer to the great ideal of Saint Ignatius [of Loyola]: to be companions of Jesus, collaborators in the work of redemption.
(A prayer written by the Servant of God Father Pedro Arrupe, SJ, 28th superior General of the Society of Jesus. Father Arrupe was Basque, lived in Japan at the time of the atomic bomb and died in Rome in 1991 after suffering the effects of a stroke (in 1981) at 84 years old. He is buried in the Church of the Gesu, Rome.)

Fr Luigi Squarcia who united his suffering with Christ’s, meets the Lord

LSquarcia2.jpgLast November I posted a story about a priest, Father Luigi Squarcia, 66, a priest of the Diocese of Viterbo, who was living with Lou Gehrig’s Disease relating that Father Luigi was determined not to be defined by the ravages of a disease, nor to give into the nihilism of sickness and forthcoming death. What he did was remarkable: Father Luigi lived as a true Christian. He gathered up his sufferings for the life of the Mystical Body of the Church and gave them to the Lord in the person of Pope Benedict.

I received word today from friends of his letting me know that Father Luigi died on Wednesday and his funeral is today. My correspondent said that his funeral was concelebrated by four bishops. “He was loved by everyone and a real priest, since he offered and prayed until the last the minute.” I hope that can be said of me when I meet the Lord face to face. In his funeral homily Bishop Chiarinelli likened Father Luigi to Job: tested and found faithful. The bishop also noted that Father’s life was courageous, full of hope and complete in the Cross of Christ.
Providential that I receive this note from Italy about Father Luigi’s death because in my Christian Anthropology class these last days we’ve been speaking of suffering, uniting our suffering with that of Christ’s for the salvation of the world. We’re reading John Paul’s Salvifici Doloris and CS Lewis’ The Problem of Pain trying to understanding the mystery of suffering and pain and how it is redemptive and has radical meaning in a world that rejects suffering and meaning.
Offer a prayer for Father Luigi Squarcia who, indeed, did not squander the gift of suffering.
O God, Who did raise Thy servant Luigi Squarcia to the dignity of priest in the apostolic priesthood, grant, we beseech Thee, that he may be joined in fellowship with Thine Apostles forevermore.
I ask you to pray for a friend, also a priest, Father David Borino, who living with the same disease as Father Luigi.
In the above picture, courtesy of the sisters of the Immaculate Heart Monastery in Acquapendente, has Father Luigi walking with Archbishop Boccardo praying the rosary. In 2005, while processing with the Blessed Sacrament to conclude a Marian year, Father felt a change in feeling in his arms.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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