Friday of the Second Week of Advent
When I hear the Gospel reading for today, I'm stopped in my tracks by the phrase "the kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence and the violent are taking it by storm" and necessarily I've had to spend some time canvassing the great minds of the church to figure out just exactly what Jesus meant by this.
Well, it turns out that the Greek word that is translated "violence" above is probably best rendered "forceful" but that doesn't change the overall passage that much, yet it does give us some indication of what is meant by violence. The early Fathers of the Church felt that the passage was best understood by thinking about who was entering the kingdom of heaven--sinners, namely people who did not belong there. They were intruders, outsiders who had been let in through the violence of the cross.
Taking this a step further, if our sins are really what nailed Jesus to a cross then we see that the violence we have done to the Son of God in some way have been our ticket to the kingdom of heaven.
It is only those however, who are desperate to enter that get in. One imagines the crowds that surrounded Jesus and John the Baptist (a modern example might be Pope John Paul and the crowds that surround his visits). Only a desperate person would get close enough to touch Our Lord.
So it is today. Are we desperate in our desire to enter the kingdom of heaven or is it somewhere way down the list of things to do today?
Michael Dubruiel wrote a book to help people deepen their experience of the Mass. He titled it, How to Get the Most Out of the Eucharist. You can read about it here.
How to Get the Most Out of the Eucharist gives you nine concrete steps to help you join your own sacrifice to the sacrifice of Christ as you:
- Serve: Obey the command that Jesus gave to his disciples at the first Eucharist.
- Adore: Put aside anything that seems to rival God in importance.
- Confess: Believe in God’s power to make up for your weaknesses.
- Respond" Answer in gesture, word, and song in unity with the Body of Christ.
- Incline: Listen with your whole being to the Word of God.
- Fast: Bring your appetites and desires to the Eucharist.
- Invite: Open yourself to an encounter with Jesus.
- Commune: Accept the gift of Christ in the Eucharist.
- Evangelize :Take him and share the Lord with others.
Filled with true examples, solid prayer-helps, and sound advice, How to Get the Most Out of the Eucharist shows you how to properly balance the Mass as a holy banquet with the Mass as a holy sacrifice. With its references to Scripture, quotations from the writings and prayers of the saints, and practical aids for overcoming distractions one can encounter at Mass, this book guides readers to embrace the Mass as if they were attending the Last Supper itself.