February 2013

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Christ is in our midst!

On the Sunday after the Feast of Theophany we read from St. Matthew's Gospel about how the people ''who sat in darkness have seen a great light," specifically those who dwelt in the "land of Zebulon and Naphtali, the Galilee of the Gentiles."

A more literal interpretation tells us that Jesus brought the Light of Love into the darkest comers of the world, into those places his own people did not believe the Light would shine, that is, to the Gentiles. If Jesus took on human nature itself, then the light shines in everyone, Gentile and Jew. That is what our theology teaches us.

Going a little deeper we know that our responsibility as followers of Christ is to take the light we have "received" into the dark places that exist in our families, communities, and society. The Gospel has social implications we ignore far too often. Jesus says that we will be judged if we do not care for the "least of the brethren" who are listed as the sick, the hungry, the naked, and those in prison. Of course, that list is not exhaustive. And when we do care for them we are caring for Christ Himself who became for us and remains for us ''the least of the brethren." He is them and they are us.

Going one step further, into a psychological interpretation, we come to see something wonderful and frightening. Let's quote Professor Jung:

"What if I should discover that the poorest of the beggars and the most impudent of offenders are all within me; and that I stand in need of the alms of my own kindness, that I, myself, am the enemy who must be loved - what then?"

"What then" must we do? We must recognize the beggars and offenders inside of us and meet them with compassion, tend to their wounds, draw them close to us, and transform their sadness into joy. This is probably the hardest thing of all to do because we have spent so long ignoring the sorrowful voices within and trying to drown them out with video games and alcohol among other things.

We discover them when we are alone and the world is quiet and suddenly we hear them and they frighten us. We try to run away, but we cannot run forever. We think death will end them? No, it won't. We will take them into eternity with us and there is nothing there but beautiful Silence. Those sorrowful voices will break that Silence and we will think we are in hell. In heaven those voices will be as unavoidable as cathedral bells. Our wounds must be healed and they will be healed either here or there.

The final revelation is this: the "beggars and offenders" that haunt us within, they too are Christ. He has identified himself with them and so must we. He is them and they are us.

In Christ,

Fr. Antony