July 30, 2008
Wednesday of the seventeenth week in Ordinary Time
Matthew 13: 44-46
Jesus said to his disciples: "The Kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the Kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it."
Introductory Prayer: Lord, Pope Benedict has renewed John Paul II’s assurance that you are preparing a new springtime for Christianity. Increase my hope in your work, and help me to be a humble laborer in your vineyard, working hard to help bring about the new springtime.
Petition: Mary, help me to be an instrument of the new Pentecost Pope Benedict has called for in the Church in America.
1. “A New Springtime for Christianity” When Christ describes the Kingdom of heaven, he compares it with precious objects: a treasure buried in a field, a pearl of great price. What is the abiding fruit of such a treasure for those who possess it? A deep and unquenchable joy, a joy that nothing earthly can hope to bring. Yet many Catholics have been quietly relinquishing the treasure of the faith, no longer attending Sunday Mass and distancing themselves from the Church. When Pope Benedict spoke to the U.S. bishops during his visit, they asked him about this “silent attrition.” The Holy Father located the causes in a secularized and relativistic culture. But he concluded with a note of decided optimism, using the watchword of Pope John Paul the Great. “We can and must believe, with the late Pope John Paul II, that God is preparing a new springtime for Christianity (cf. Redemptoris Missio, 86)” (Address, National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, D.C., April 16, 2008).
2. To Sell All for Christ’s Kingdom Whether or not the new springtime becomes a reality depends on how each of us responds. We must be willing to sell everything for Christ’s Kingdom. Those who are young could discover that selling all entails giving their very lives to Christ, saying “yes” to his call to follow him as priests or consecrated souls. Those who already have a family and a career have the urgent duty to foster and encourage priestly and consecrated vocations. As Christ cried out to his first apostles, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest” (Matthew 9:37-38). Christ himself reveals to us the unum necessarium — the one thing necessary — for vocations to flourish: prayer!
3. Prayer: The Key to Vocations In their final question to Pope Benedict, the U.S. bishops asked for advice about the shortage of priestly vocations. The Holy Father stressed, above all the need for prayer. But he spoke not just about prayer for more vocations to arise. Rather, he stressed the urgent need to teach young people how to pray. “Nor am I speaking only of prayer for vocations. Prayer itself, born in Catholic families, nurtured by programs of Christian formation, strengthened by the grace of the sacraments, is the first means by which we come to know the Lord’s will for our lives. To the extent that we teach young people to pray, and to pray well, we will be cooperating with God’s call. Programs, plans and projects have their place; but the discernment of a vocation is above all the fruit of an intimate dialogue between the Lord and his disciples. Young people, if they know how to pray, can be trusted to know what to do with God’s call” (Address, National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, D.C., April 16, 2008).
Conversation with Christ: Lord, teach me to pray. Help me to love prayer above all else. Give me courage to speak to others about prayer.
Resolution: I will be open to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit in helping to bring someone closer to Christ today, doing my part to help the new springtime of Christianity become a reality.
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