One of my favorite books for Lectio-Divina (see Week One of the Advent Study) is Divine Intimacy, by Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalene.
This book provides meditations on the interior life for every day of the liturgical year. I have found it to be very efficacious.
One of the meditations offered by Father Gabriel for the fourth week of Advent is entitled, The Call to the Apostolate.
In it, he offers an insightful perspective of the Christian call to evangelization based on the words of St. John the Baptist, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord” (Luke 3: 4). In the end, he tells us that “Jesus has need of us.” When I read these words, they infused me with zeal.
Because I found this meditation so spiritually benefiicial, today I’d like to share with you what Father Gabriel presents.
The cry heralded by the Baptist to prepare the way of the Lord, says Father Gabriel, is an invitation to each of us to prepare the hearts of our brothers and sisters in Christ for the coming and the work of the Messiah.
But, as Father Gabriel points out, this invitation is not one issued by St. John the Baptist alone. Rather, it is one addressed to us by Jesus Himself, who seeks to make every Christian a “collaborator in His work of Redemption.”
Father Gabriel explains that though Jesus alone has merited the grace necessary for man to be redeemed and sanctified, He nonetheless has willed “to have need of us.” He quotes Pope Pius XII from his encyclical, Mystici Corporis: ” It is manifestly clear that the faithful need the help of the divine Redeemer…Yet this, too, must be held…Christ requires the help of His members…This is not because He is indigent or weak, but rather because He has so willed it for the greater honor of His spotless Spouse.”
These words are stunning. As Father Gabriel points out, the Holy Father is telling us that Jesus, in His infinite goodness, has willed to associate us with Him. He desires to give us the honor and joy of “being His collaborators in the greatest work to be accomplished in the world: the salvation of souls.” And, because this is the will of Jesus, He has reserved a place for our activity in His redemptive work.
This is an amazing realization. In the economy of salvation, many souls depends upon you and me!
Quoting Pope Pius XII again, Father Gabriel writes, “A tremendous mystery certainly, and one never sufficiently meditated, that the salvation of many souls depends on the prayers and voluntary mortifications offered for this end, by the members of the Mystical Body of Christ, and on the collaboration of both pastors and the faithful.”
Would that these words would ignite a fire of desire in our hearts! A holy zeal that sends us forth with joy and conviction to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ!
But lest we get puffed up over the great privilege offered to us, we must acknowledge that such an awesome duty is invested with responsibility as well. And we must be willing to embrace it.
We must be willing to meet the challenge head on. We must be willing to persevere in the face of opposition. We must be willing to spurn human respect. We must be willing to enter the wilderness of our contemporary society with hope and conviction. We must be willing to die to self.
Indeed, you and I have been called to be the St. “Johns” the Baptist of our day and time. We have been called to “prepare the way of the Lord” and to “make straight His paths.” If we can lead even one soul to Jesus, what a great accomplishment it would be!
As we come to the great solemnity of Christmas, may this be the desire of our heart.
St. John the Baptist, pray for us!
Today’s Spiritual Exercise:
Prayerfully consider the following questions. Be sure to journal your responses. What is God saying to you today?
1. What most strikes me about the figure of St. John the Baptist?
2. To what extent have I thought of him as a model for my life?
3. As I consider the words, “Jesus has need of us,” what enters my thoughts and my heart? How do my thoughts and my heart change if I substitute the pronoun “I” for “us” and make the sentence read, “Jesus has need of me”?
4. Which of the following words best describes my general attitude of heart regarding evangelization: apathetic, zealous, intense, noncommital, fearful, wishy-washy?
5. Do I want to collaborate with Christ in the work of Redemption? Why or why not? What step am I willing to take today?
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Copyright 2020, by Johnnette Benkovic Williams. All rights reserved.