Monday in the Twenty-Eighth Week of Ordinary Time at Mississippi Abbey


Monday in the Twenty-Eighth Week of Ordinary Time at Mississippi Abbey

Scripture Readings: Rom 1:1-7; Lk 11:29-32

In Paul’s letter to the Romans he begins by introducing himself to a church community that he did not found. So he starts with a summary of the gospel –the Good News- he preaches. He describes himself as “a slave of Jesus Christ” who was “set apart.” Set apart refers to his conversion on the road to Damascus when, like Jonah, he was fleeing from God, though thinking he was going toward Him (More specifically, he was fleeing Jesus Christ). Jesus caught up to him, though, and that turned him around. Jesus was his savior.

What is it like, “fleeing from God”? I suppose you could say it is like fleeing from your own shadow. The only way to do that is to live in darkness. It is a constant scheming to live; a constant guessing about life. To do that one must constantly lower her standards.

Jonah was fleeing from God when he was saved. At the bottom of the sea in the belly of a “great fish” he could no longer lower his standards. Having been saved, he preached the gift of the law given at Mt. Sinai. But Jesus Christ is something greater than the law, and consequently greater than Jonah!

Both Paul and Jonah were saved and then sent. (Notice that “being saved” is done to us; it is not something we do to ourselves. We simply consent to it.) Both were saved by changing the object of their faith. For Paul that object-of-faith was not his own strong-willed compliance with the law, but faith in the God & Father of Jesus Christ, a God Who is love. (Love is how we are born of God and participate in His life.) This faith and love puts Him in communion with Christ as a branch is in communion with the vine. That communion is for the purpose of bearing fruit.

Jesus elsewhere said that “I was sent to accomplish the work of the One Who sent Me.” His life was determined by His commitment to doing not just any work, but that of the One Who sent Him. That work was to tell people what God was like and how to consent to Him. Paul also did that and told us to “imitate m as I imitate Christ.” Jesus tells us that it was Jonah’s preaching to the Ninevites, his doing the work of the One Who sent him. That is the Sign of Jonah.


Monday in the Twenty-Eighth Week of Ordinary Time at Mississippi Abbey

Scripture Readings: Rom 1:1-7; Luke 11:29-32

St. Paul tells us that he was “called to be an apostle…set apart…” and that we also are “called to belong to Jesus Christ… to be holy.” Paul’s call came in the form of his conversion on the road to Damascus. That conversion continued for the rest of his life as he sought to be conformed to Christ Crucified and urged us to “imitate me as I imitate Christ.” This emulation of the crucified, as Jesus tells us, is the “Sign of Jonah”, the only sign by which we will personally, intimately know Christ and not just about Christ.

This call to conversion is a call to imitate the self-abasement of Christ, His preference for the Father over His own life. How each conforms to the crucified Christ varies according to her life experience and circumstances. What unites us as a community of people desiring to follow the Crucified is that we share the experience of being affected by Him. That’s unusual! We come from a larger culture that stresses experiences of pleasure, ease, status and success. These, the media and academia tell us, should affect us and form us as a community, a nation (of consumers). And yet monastics and serious Christian laity are formed by being affected by self-denial in order to live for God. Are we crazy? Probably.

It depends on our dominant intention that all other intentions are harmonized with. It depends on what we live “for the sake of.” It depends on our “One Thing.” It depends on what we set our hearts on. Is it finite or is it infinite?

In following the follower of the crucified Christ the love which the human being naturally has for self is not abolished, but it loses first place, it is chased from the primary and royal seat. The absolutely primary love is for God, who’s good we then wish more than our own good.

Our happiness has now been subordinated to something better, to God, since it consists in the possession of God, who is infinitely better than our happiness. Knowing that and living that is the Sign of Jonah.