I am making a return to this modern tool – this blog – on the day after the Epiphany of the Lord. Aren’t we all looking for epiphanies in our life? … those sudden, intuitive perceptions of the meaning of things; a spiritual flash? Wouldn’t we all enjoy a greater sensitivity and receptivity to the mind and heart of God?
I would like to spend the next few weeks with you, as we prepare our hearts for Lent (Feb. 6), looking at the obstacles and entryways to this sensitivity and receptivity. As Mary’s Anawim, you will love the main source we will be drawing from during this preparation: “Happy Are You Poor: The Simple Life and Spiritual Freedom,” by Fr. Thomas Dubay.
Are you ready? Fr. Dubay refers to it as “Radical Readiness.” Just this morning at Mass we heard that Jesus went about preaching and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Mt. 4:17). He did not say, “whenever you feel ready and are a bit less busy, you might want to think about …” No, whenever we put it off, it rarely gets done.
As Fr. Dubay, in relating to radical readiness, writes: “One is ready for the kingdom when he is so intellectually and morally developed by a love for truth and goodness that when he hears the revealed word he can react positively to it … Sensitivity to truth and goodness is a major reason why in a parish church on Sunday morning there are so many widely diverse reactions even to a good homily. The saint may fall into ecstacy upon hearing the simple mention of God’s goodness, while the sinner may remain as cold as a stone before the eloquence of a Lacordaire“ (p. 55-56, HAYP).
No doubt, as we take an honest look at ourselves, the challenge of evangelical (Gospel) poverty will sting a bit. Can we set aside our foolish pride and be teachable in the face of such challenge? Fr. Dubay writes about this difficulty: “In matters that touch on one’s style of life, most people have a heavy emotional and volitional investment. They find it difficult, indeed almost impossible, to investigate the evidence cooly and calmly. One of the easiest ways to elicit a strong response from an individual in conversation or from an audience in a lecture is to make a telling point or two that even mildly suggests that they are self-indulgent in their use of money. Prayerful people tend to welcome any admonition that shows them that their way of life does not measure up to the Gospel, but others easily get indignant and sometimes angry” (p. 26, HAYP).
Finally, we also read from St. John’s letter at Mass this morning: “Beloved: We receive from him whatever we ask, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him” (1 John 3:22). As Mary’s Anawim, we follow the lead of the very first disciple, our Blessed Mother, whose fiat brought to us a savior: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to thy word” (Luke 1:38).
Come with me as we explore, with Fr. Thomas Dubay, how a radical self-emptying leads to a fullness of joy, not just a trickle of it: “These things I have said to you, that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete” (John 15:11).