Saturday, April 25, 2020

Feast of Saint Mark

Today we celebrate the writer of the first and earliest of the four gospels: Mark. The gospel reading chosen for his Feast is the great Commission, which occurs at the end of the gospel, when Christ gathers the disciples and sends them into the works to spread, preach and teach His Good News. He does this just before he ascends to the Father, trusting that we, all of us, will keep his mission alive. How much our God trusts that we will keep the message of salvation alive and well.

This is a very tall order, seemingly impossible, if we let what God is trusting us to accomplish, sink in. He needs US, all of us, to save the world. This impossible mission, dreaming the impossible dream, can only become a lived reality with GRACE. Without Grace, we can do absolutely nothing, the mission will never grow, justice will never be truly established, and peace is simply a pipe dream.

A priest I know was giving a retreat to a community of nuns. The time came when he offered to celebrate Reconciliation with them, individually, if they so desired. And in walked a very elderly nun, who made it clear to him that she indeed was quite elderly when she mentioned her age. The priest felt humbled by her serene presence that exuded wisdom. The simple words that emanated from her made it clear that she was a member of the “ancient ones.” Very few individuals make it into this illustrious company of witnesses, perhaps St. Mark being one of them.

This “ancient one” said to the priest confessor, “You know Father, it all boils down to grace, grace is everything...grace...grace...grace.” I can't even imagine what her confession was, protected by the great “seal” of trust. Her one sentence is an expression of the foundation of wisdom and mysticism, a “pearl of great price.” EVERY follower of Jesus has been given this “grace” at baptism, which largely goes untapped... dormant.

Peter Maurin, who helped Dorothy Day start the Catholic Worker movement once said that Christians were sitting on dynamite (grace) that they keep in a container with it’s lid tightly sealed on. Contained. Of course. Letting it out means letting it be known who you truly are and what values you hold dear. Letting this “grace” explode into the world will create a beautiful, earth shattering, life transforming world of mercy and love. It’s much safer to keep this Grace sealed up for it will make demands on how we live life.

Jesus is sending each of us into the world NOW, in a time of a pandemic crisis, filled with this largely untapped divine energy we call “grace.” This powerful gift can be set free within the confines of our individual, isolated homes simply by surrendering to this power in the quiet of prayer. Hearts rooted in prayer evangelize, heal, vanquish evil, forgive. Each individual home with one individual, a couple, a family or friends, can become a spiritual powder keg. You don’t have to physically go into the world, an impossibility for people in nursing homes, hospitals or cloistered communities. I often say that the world is kept from the brink of disaster by clustered nuns praying their hearts in GRACE!!!! I truly believe this.

In this Feast of St. Mark, remember who you are and what you are called to do, especially in the most limited and limiting of times in which we live. Unseal the container of your heart, surrender to GRACE and let God do the rest.

Fr. Frank