Turn to Jesus

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With my morning coffee: reflections on the homily given by the Holy Father yesterday in Yankee Stadium. The subtitles and comments in italics are my own.

A Spiritual Resurrection of the Church in America

And this, dear friends, is the particular challenge which the Successor of Saint Peter sets before you today. As “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation”, follow faithfully in the footsteps of those who have gone before you! Hasten the coming of God’s Kingdom in this land! Past generations have left you an impressive legacy. In our day too, the Catholic community in this nation has been outstanding in its prophetic witness in the defense of life, in the education of the young, in care for the poor, the sick and the stranger in your midst. On these solid foundations, the future of the Church in America must even now begin to rise!

In pondering these words of the Holy Father, I am reminded of Ezekiel's prophecy to the dry bones. "I mean to send my spirit into you, and restore you to life. . . . I will give you breath to bring you to life again; will you doubt, then, the Lord's power?" (Ez 37:5-6). The Holy Father calls for a spiritual resurrection of the Church in America.

The Church's Future

Yesterday, not far from here, I was moved by the joy, the hope and the generous love of Christ which I saw on the faces of the many young people assembled in Dunwoodie. They are the Church’s future, and they deserve all the prayer and support that you can give them. And so I wish to close by adding a special word of encouragement to them. My dear young friends, like the seven men, “filled with the Spirit and wisdom” whom the Apostles charged with care for the young Church, may you step forward and take up the responsibility which your faith in Christ sets before you! May you find the courage to proclaim Christ, “the same, yesterday, and today and for ever” and the unchanging truths which have their foundation in him (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 10; Heb 13:8).

Christ is unchanging, even as the Church moves forward in history. The truths of the faith are unchanging, even as each generation is called to proclaim them anew. "I, too, shall live on in his presence, and beget children to serve him; these to a later age shall speak of the Lord's name; these to a race that must yet be born shall tell the story of his faithfulness, Hear what the Lord did" (Ps 21:31-32).

Open Your Hearts to the Lord's Call

These are the truths that set us free! They are the truths which alone can guarantee respect for the inalienable dignity and rights of each man, woman and child in our world – including the most defenseless of all human beings, the unborn child in the mother’s womb. In a world where, as Pope John Paul II, speaking in this very place, reminded us, Lazarus continues to stand at our door (Homily at Yankee Stadium, October 2, 1979, No. 7), let your faith and love bear rich fruit in outreach to the poor, the needy and those without a voice. Young men and women of America, I urge you: open your hearts to the Lord’s call to follow him in the priesthood and the religious life. Can there be any greater mark of love than this: to follow in the footsteps of Christ, who was willing to lay down his life for his friends (cf. Jn 15:13)?

The Holy Father's appeal for openness to the call of the Lord is, I think, the pledge of a spiritual springtime for the Church in America. "Would you but listen to his voice today! Do not harden your hearts" (Ps 94:8). Fidelity to the unchanging truths of the faith guarantees the future of the Church and will characterize the priestly and religious vocations of rising generations.

Sure Hope

In today’s Gospel, the Lord promises his disciples that they will perform works even greater than his (cf. Jn 14:12). Dear friends, only God in his providence knows what works his grace has yet to bring forth in your lives and in the life of the Church in the United States. Yet Christ’s promise fills us with sure hope. Let us now join our prayers to his, as living stones in that spiritual temple which is his one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. Let us lift our eyes to him, for even now he is preparing for us a place in his Father’s house. And empowered by his Holy Spirit, let us work with renewed zeal for the spread of his Kingdom.

With admirable clarity, the Holy Father teaches that our works are the fruit of divine grace. How do we open ourselves to that grace? By lifting our eyes to Christ who, even now, is preparing a place for us in his Father's house. This "lifting our eyes to Christ" defines contemplation. Contemplata aliis tradere. We will spread the Kingdom only by passing on what we will have discovered in contemplating the Face of Christ.

Turn to Jesus

“Happy are you who believe!” (cf. 1 Pet 2:7). Let us turn to Jesus! He alone is the way that leads to eternal happiness, the truth who satisfies the deepest longings of every heart, and the life who brings ever new joy and hope, to us and to our world. Amen.

Turn to Jesus. This is the essence of conversion, of penitence. This is the first step of spiritual resurrection. "Ever look to him," says the psalmist, "and in him find happiness; here is no room for downcast looks" (Ps 33:6).

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About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

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