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Not of This World


Jesus answered, “My kingdom does not belong to this world. If my kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants [would] be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not here.”  John 18:36.

My reward is not in this world.

My ultimate goal is not of this world.

My hope is not in this world.

If they were, I would utilize every ounce of energy, all my strength, and every resource to protect them.

But, as it is, I am after a much greater reward.  I am hunting much better game.  So I am content to let the pleasures, benefits and comforts of this world slip away.  

I don’t claim any theological support for this notion.  But as I was praying the Scriptural Rosary this morning, I heard the Gospel conversation between Jesus and Pontius Pilate when Jesus told Pilate that His kingdom was not of this world.  And as I listened, I heard the words Jesus said in a different light.

I heard, “I am not invested in this world, so why put enormous efforts in retaining its gains?”

I was recently traveling in west Africa.  As I’ve noted before, I am not always the greatest traveler especially in the transition days which have the highest potential for things going badly—those days of travel and adjustment to new surroundings.  In those times I am most vulnerable to fears and anxieties, and I’m particularly susceptible to what-if-itis, the inflammation of that part of the imagination that conjures up horrible hypotheticals.

I have to admit:  a major part of any fear of mine, especially fears of my earthly demise, is the question of legacy:  what if no one finds me or my body?  What if no one knows I died?  What if no one remembers me?  What if I am left rotting in a hole and no one knows where to find me?

In the past, when facing such fears, I have found great relief in prayer and particularly in praying to His Mother, Our Mother.  But on this last trip, I added a twist, a new attitude when praying:  I thought, “whatever happens to me, He has something much better for me.  If no one remembers me, He still holds me.  I live for Him.”

That’s not completely accurate.  I didn’t so much think these words as much as I held the attitude those words represent, a sense of faith and hope.  And when I added this twist to my prayers, I felt more than peace.  I felt joy.  I felt bolstered by the Spirit.

And so, when Pilate asks Jesus, “Are you the King of the Jews?”, I wonder if Pilate is taunting Jesus: “where are your loyal subjects now?  Who will come to rescue you?”

And when Jesus responds with “my kingdom is not here”, I wonder if He is encouraging us to say to our tormentors, “I don’t need assistance to keep my toehold on this world.  My reward will be greater in Heaven.”

Jesus, Our Passover Lamb


On this Monday of the Holy Week, I continue my journey through Scott Hahn’s book, Lenten Reflections from A Father Who Keeps His Promises.

As we approach the Paschal Triduum, it is appropriate that this day’s reading focuses on the Institution of the Eucharist.

In 2002, Blessed John Paul II introduced the Mysteries of Light, or the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary.  Introducing the new Mysteries, the Pontiff said, “each of these mysteries is a revelation of the Kingdom now present in the very person of Jesus.

Admittedly, these new Mysteries did not have a profound impact on me in 2002.  Being a traditionalist/conservative (which, in my case, you can read: predisposed to resist change), I am not sure that I wholly embraced them, but at the same time in my reverence for the Magisterium I did not actively resist them either.

Once I started praying the Rosary more faithfully, however, I soon discovered the richness of these Mysteries of Light.  Some easily tug at my heart (particularly the Wedding at Cana, when Mary tells the servants to obey her son); some challenge my understanding of our faith (particularly the Proclamation of the Kingdom of God), and one in particular reminds me of my hunger—my thirst—for Him:  the fifth Mystery of Light, the Institution of the Holy Eucharist.

This Lent I have been praying the Rosary and meditating on its Mysteries more regularly.  I particularly have enjoyed the Scriptural Rosary, which interjects a relevant scriptural passage with each Hail Mary in a decade.  For the Fifth Mystery of Light, these verses are used:

1.    Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread, / the disciples came to Jesus, saying, / “Where will you have us prepare for you to eat the Passover?” (Mt 26:17)
2.    [Jesus] said, / “Go into the city to such a one, and say to him, / ‘The Teacher says, My  time is at hand; / I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.’” (Mt 26:18)
3.    And when the hour came, / he sat at table, and the apostles with him. / And he said to them, / “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.” (Lk 22:14-15)
4.    And as they were eating, he said, / “Truly, I say to you, / one of you will betray me.” (Mt 26:21)
5.    Judas, who betrayed him, said, / “Is it I, Master?” (Mt 26:25)
6.    Now as they were eating, / Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke it, / and gave it to the disciples and said, / “Take, eat; / this is my body.” (Mt 26:26)
7.    And he took a chalice, / and when he had given thanks / he gave it to them, saying, /  “Drink of it, all of you; / for this is my blood of the covenant, / which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Mt 26:27-28)
8.    For as often as you eat this bread and drink the chalice, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. (1 Cor 11:26)
9.    “I am the living bread which comes down from heaven; / if any one eats of this bread, / he will live forever; / and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world / is my flesh.” (Jn 6:51)
10.    “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, / and I will raise him at the last day.” (Jn 6:54)

As I meditate on this Mystery, I am gaining a deeper understanding of the profound sacrifice Christ made for me and for all.  But today’s reading, which focuses on the rich parallels between the Old Testament and the events on that first Paschal Triduum, again reveals to me how much I have yet to learn and how much greater an appreciation I have yet to gain.

I am excited to continue this in-depth exploration of the pivotal event that we celebrate every Sunday at Mass.

Day 41-1
While my Lenten activities have highlighted my relative ignorance about my faith, even more they have whet my appetite to learn even more, to grow in faith and understanding.Day 41-2

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