Ministry Tip of the Week
This week we must ask the question, How? How do I become God's presence? To answer this most critical of questions, I turn once again to Frank Mercadante's new book:
Engaging a New Generation: A Vision for Reaching Catholic Teens
Obviously we don't just "become God's presence." This is a work of supernatural grace and a total gift on God's part that we should be so fully a part of his mission in this world. But it's a gift he wants to give us... and humility is the secret. Mercadante puts it this way:
"The immanuelizer wins hearts by selflessness, rather than spiritual or ecclesial stardom. Evangelistic credibility is the result of respecting others, rather than demanding respect because of positions or titles. Like Jesus, the immanuelizer's authority and power comes via humility and powerlessness" (p. 112-113).
What is the humility of love? I define it as living with 'eucharistic' anticipation. In my day to day interactions with people, opportunities arise constantly in which I can give myself as a gift. It's often in small ways, even in ways that go unnoticed, but through these little 'acts of love' my heart is opening to the life of Christ, and I'm becoming his presence.
Living with 'eucharistic' anticipation is a habit, and developing it is twofold. Lest we be tempted to love by our own strength and fail, it begins first in our reception of Holy Communion. As Catholics we can so easily get into the habit of receiving Jesus with an almost indifferent attitude towards what is happening. Are we really letting him love us? Are we receiving him as openly as we can? And are we truly giving ourselves back in communion? Each time we receive Jesus in the Eucharist, we're forming a habit, good or bad. It's either a conscious cultivation of openness to his love, to his power in our life, or a (more unconscious) habit of hardness and indifference to his love.
The more we cultivate this openness in our reception of the Eucharist, the more Jesus begins to live through us when we leave the church building. That's the first movement of 'eucharistic' anticipation. We anticipate his love for us as we approach the altar. The second movement, now that we're filled, is outward. We now have the divine strength necessary to "let love be genuine and hate what is evil," to "hold fast to what is good and to love one another with brotherly affection," to "anticipate one another in showing honor" (Romans 12:9-10).
The humility of love begins with the humility of God. That he would want to dwell in me shatters the darkness of my hardened heart and opens it to receive him. Having received him, I can now become him in small ways throughout the day. Because "it is no longer I who live but Christ in me" (Galatians 2:20), I really can give myself in the humility of Eucharistic love.