Basic Information

Mass Location: St. Mary Magdalen Chapel, 2532 Ventura Blvd., Camarillo, CA 93010
Mass Time: Sunday 10 a.m. (check parish website bulletin for special feastdays which may be different)
Confessions: 9:00-9:45 a.m. - see schedule below

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Homily - Fifth Sunday after Easter - May 25, 2014

Jas. 1:22-27; Jn. 16:23-30

Today’s Gospel brings us to the end of our Lord’s discourse at the Last Supper.  The disciples proclaim that they now understand the Lord’s meaning.  However, at the events of the Passion, they will disperse in confusion.  It is not until they have received the promised gift of the Holy Ghost, which we celebrate at Pentecost, that they will understand.

They will understand because they will receive a share in the divine life.  The Holy Ghost is the bond between the Father and the Son.  The Father loves the disciples because they love the Son and have believed in Him.  And so the disciples, and we, share the divine life as the Holy Trinity makes His dwelling with us and reveals Himself to us.  He never gives us just a token, He gives to us Himself, so that St. Catherine of Siena says wonderfully, “All the way to heaven is heaven because Jesus said, ‘I am the way.’”  And yet, we all know that an essential component of faith is our conversion to this divine life.

But we all know that the life of faith involves conversion.  In the Epistle, St. James speaks of this in terms of the perennial challenge to go from hearing to doing.  Even St. Paul says, “Why is it the thing I want to do for God I do not do, and the thing I do not want to do I do?”  St. James helps us.  He uses heavenly language in speaking of the life of faith, that of the gaze of the eyes.  In heaven, we will see God face to face in the Beatific Vision.  And so, he says, it begins here, and he makes an important distinction for us.  It is not about gazing at ourselves as in a mirror.  That is too self-absorbed, too earthbound.  It leads to self-deception:  in our self-satisfaction, we see nothing we need do to act on the Word, and we walk away, and there is no conversion.  But, rather, it is gazing into the law of perfect freedom, Christ, the Logos, the purpose, plan, and the way of God, and seeing what we can aspire to be, we are compelled to be doers of this Word.

On the order of nature, this gaze of the eyes is very powerful and has vast importance.  A prominent psychotherapist once said, “We do not become conscious when we have an idea.  We become conscious when someone looks at us.”  This is because it engages the I-Thou of relationship, in which we become discover of ourselves.  We could take it a step further and say, “We become persons when someone looks at us.”  How important is the gaze of the parent into the eyes of the infant in which he first sees the love with which he is beheld and experiences himself as a person.  How important is the gaze of God into our eyes, in Whom, the Perfect Mirror, we see the fullness of life for which He has created us in His own image and likeness, and His perfect love, which gives us confidence to be doers of this Word of His.  We encounter this Word in prayer:  St. John of the Cross says, “Prayer is me looking at God looking at me.”  We encounter this Word in the Gospel:  St. Bernard says, “The Gospel has eyes.”  As we peer into the law of perfect freedom, we have a portent of the Beatific Vision.

Many years ago, I had a conversation with one of the cloistered nuns at the Carmel of St. Therese in Alhambra, over spiritual things.  In a moment of unreflection, I said, “I think at this point in my life, I am more able to see myself the way I see myself, and not the way others see me.”  In simplicity, she replied, “No, Father, not the way you see yourself; the way God sees you.”  Of course.  We will never have an adequate reflection of ourselves looking in a mirror.  But peering into the law of perfect freedom, we love the God Who first loved us, we put on the mind of Christ, He grants us holiness of life.  We become not only hearers of the Word, but doers.