Devotional THoguht of the Day
Here is my servant* whom I uphold, my chosen one with whom I am pleased. Upon him I have put my spirit; he shall bring forth justice to the nations.2 He will not cry out, nor shout, nor make his voice heard in the street. 3 A bruised reed* he will not break,
and a dimly burning wick he will not quench. He will faithfully bring forth justice. 4 He will not grow dim or be bruised until he establishes justice on the earth; the coastlands* will wait for his teaching. Isaiah 42:1-4 NABRE
Thomas Aquinas even went so far as to explain the scientific nature of theology in terms of this text. He says that theology, too, is in this sense a “secondary science” that does not “see” and “prove” its own foundations. It is, so to speak, dependent upon the “knowledge of the saints”, on their conviction; this conviction is the reference point of theological thought, which vouches for its legitimacy. The work of the theologian is, in this sense, always “secondary”, always ordered to the real experience of the saints. That is the humility that is required of the theologian.… Without the realism of the saints, without their contact with reality, which is what it is all about, theology becomes an empty intellectual game and loses its character as a science. (1)
“With Angels and Archangels and all the company of heaven we exalt and magnify Your glorious Name, evermore praising You and singing…” (2)
I am still caught up a little, in the message from yesterday, and the action Jesus takes, not just in delivering a man tormented by demons, but the action Jesus takes in sending the man home. Back to the people he tormented, to the relationships that were shattered in the course of the possession. He sent him back to give the people hope, to proclaim to them the way God worked in His life.
The way described in the passage I came across in my devotions in Isaiah this morning. The care Jesus showed, the tenderness showed even to the demons ( Why not just trash them? Why not just send them into the pit? Why respond to their plea for comfort and mercy?) .Look at Christ, caring for the man, and for the village that rejected him!
I then came to the theologian’s quote and heard the words of our liturgy. They both speak about the fact that we don’t live in a vacuum. That life isn’t restricted to what we see, but that our worship joins with those before us, that their encounters with God. We need to realize that the list of people that lived by faith in Hebrews 11, and those that followed in their steps as they followed in Christ, are those whose voices we join in praise.
And it is their experience; it is their stories that become part of our story (I think someone might say meta-narrative – but I don’t know what that is!). It is their experience of God that undergirds our study of theology.
Not because they are holier than we are. Not because they were more intelligent! (though in my case – they are significantly so!) It is because they experienced the love of God! They saw Him bring healing and forgiveness into their lives, they walked with Him, even through the valley of the shadow of death! To those who have gone before us, we see the impact of God revealing Himself to them. It is imperative that we realize the communion of saints that we include in our confession of faith that we call the creeds. We have to realize we are part of that, that they are part of our lives as well.
If we are to describe theology as a science, a pursuit to discover truth, and to gain an ever-deepening understanding of it, the lives of saints, past and present is the laboratory part of the course. It is where we see the truth of Jesus in real life, experienced, observed, known.
It is something we need to know, to know Jesus has walked with others, healed others, delivered others, and sent others out, to minister to those who will be the next generation of the communion of saints.
What a blessed gift God has given to us, to help us journey with Him in life!
(1) Ratzinger, J. (1992). Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. (I. Grassl, Ed., M. F. McCarthy & L. Krauth, Trans.) (pp. 198–199). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.
(2) A paraphrase of the Lutheran prayer said as we prepare for communion
6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT)
Constantly call to mind that at every moment you are cooperating in the human and spiritual formation of those around you, and of all souls—for the blessed Communion of Saints reaches as far as that. At every moment: when you work and when you rest; when people see you happy or when they see you worried; when at your job, or out in the middle of the street, you pray as does a child of God and the peace of your soul shows through; when people see that you have suffered, that you have wept, and you smile. (1)
Sometimes we know where stress and anxiety come from. It might be from financial pressures. It could be from physical ailments, it could be because we don’t know the future, or that the present has failed to meet our expectations. It may be, as is often the case for pastors, that it is not our issues, but rather the pressure the people we care for our feeling. That is often true for all of us, as we ook at our friends, our family, and see their anxiety shackling and binding them.
I really admire St. Josemaria’s words here, the impact of a soul in concert with God, and therefore a soul of peace. Even amid the tears, even amid the suffering, and the oppression. In the middle of ll that, we find ourselves at prayer, and knowing the character of God, knowing His love and mercy, we find rest and our souls are revived.
The secret of being at peace, is finding ourselves in a place where we are safe, secure, protected. Where the storm is there to witness, but from a safe place. Especially a place filled with warmth and light and love. To find ourselves within a might fortress, protected and able to rest. Such is a place of prayer, a place where our needs are made know, and yet we also praise God for that which He has provided, from our being freed from sin, and idols, to the community, the communion in which we live.
A place where – as St Paul’s words clearly points out – we are guarded, protected as we abide in Christ.
so find peace and rest… pray about everything, give thanks… and you will find stillness… for He is God
(1)Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 3002-3006). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.