Desperate Times Call for Desperate Measures: Extravagant Love without Measure
We must sit at His feet like Mary Magdalene. However, as it is we are often overly anxious and troubled about many ministerial things like Martha and we are running the risk of losing everything. It is worth noting that in John 6:66 many of Jesus disciples weren’t away from Him after He preached the Bread of Life discourse. This was also the first stirrings of betrayal which rose up in Judas. Let the reader understand: if we do not become like Mary who chose the better part—staying near the Lord’s Body and listening to His Word— then we are in danger of having our lamp stand taken away from us as Christ warns in the book of Revelation.
Mary was promised that the better part of abiding with Jesus wouldn’t be taken from her. Why? Because Jesus Himself would protect her from anyone who would try to separate them including dear, well-intentioned, over-worked Martha! “What God has joined together man must not separate.” (Mark 10:9) God has joined His Son to His Bride, the Church, in a holy and nuptial communion love whereby the Church is called to perpetually adore the Eucharistic Body of Christ.
The act of faith on the part of the Church wherever she exposes Jesus Christ on altars for the world to see is an act which releases torrents of Divine Mercy from the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This is the quickest way to convert the world: sit at Jesus’ feet more and more, listening to the guidance of His Spirit, and obeying His every Word. We have too many over-worked Marthas in the Church and not enough joyful Mary’s. Far too many ministers in the Church are anxious and troubled by unnecessary distractions cloaked under the guise of “ministry.” People need the example of and inspiration flowing from seeing their Priest leading them in Eucharistic Adoration. He is to be the Eucharistic adorer par excellence teaching his people how to pray by way of example and preaching.
It is worth quoting at length two magisterial documents focused towards Priests. The first is from Pope St. John Paul II’s letter to the pastors of the Church, Pastores Dabo Vobis:
Pastoral charity, which has its specific source in the sacrament of holy orders, finds its full expression and its supreme nourishment in the Eucharist. As the Council states: ‘This pastoral charity flows mainly from the eucharistic sacrifice, which is thus the center and root of the whole priestly life. The priestly soul strives thereby to apply to itself the action which takes place on the altar of sacrifice.’ Indeed, the Eucharist re — presents, makes once again priest, the sacrifice of the cross, the full gift of Christ to the Church, the gift of his body given and his blood shed, as the supreme witness of the fact that he is head and shepherd, servant and spouse of the Church. Precisely because of this, the priest’s pastoral charity not only flows from the Eucharist but finds in the celebration of the Eucharist its highest realization — just as it is from the Eucharist that he receives the grace and obligation to give his whole life a “sacrificial” dimension (paragraph 23).
The second quote is from the Second Vatican Council’s decree on the ministry and life of Priests, Presbyterorum Ordinis:
The other sacraments, as well as with every ministry of the Church and every work of the apostolate, are tied together with the Eucharist and are directed toward it. The Most Blessed Eucharist contains the entire spiritual boon of the Church, that is, Christ himself, our Pasch and Living Bread, by the action of the Holy Spirit through his very flesh vital and vitalizing, giving life to men who are thus invited and encouraged to offer themselves, their labors and all created things, together with him. In this light, the Eucharist shows itself as the source and the apex of the whole work of preaching the Gospel (section 5).
Priests and laity alike would benefit tremendously from reading or re-reading these two documents and will delight in discovering how profoundly Eucharistic both documents are.
These selections above highlight in a particular and forceful way, however, the necessity of pursuing like Mary Magdalene the one thing necessary: abiding with the Body of Christ.
“Jesus wept” John 11:35
In many places I think our Church is like the church of Ephesus which Jesus warned of losing their lamp stand in Revelation chapter 2 if they did not return to the love they had at first. I think we are dangerously close to having our lamp stand taken away—and this has happened in many places in various ways— because we aren’t keeping vigil with that lamp stand. We are not keeping watch for the Bridegroom’s return in glory by sitting before His veiled and sacramental Body. We aren’t indicating Christ’s Eucharistic Presence like the sanctuary lamps which we ought to be. Our little light of love and grace on that lamp stand should be pointing to the Light of the World cloaked under the lamp shade of the that Eucharistic veil. A growing, worldwide apostolate of perpetual adoration serves as a unified sign proclaiming to the world, “He is here! He is present in our tabernacles and on our altars!”
But in many places we abandon Him. We leave Him alone and rejected, “despised by men” (Isaiah 53) by our very act of not paying Him due regard like the Pharisee, Simon. Simon payed Christ lip-service through his invitation to share a meal and conversation at his house. Simon failed, however, to wash our Lord’s feet and gave Him no kiss. The contemplative Mary Magdalene, though, washed Jesus’ feet with her tears, dried them with her hair, and couldn’t stop kissing the beautiful “feet of Him who brings good news” (Isaiah 52:7). She anointed his Sacred Body with the perfume of extravagant love.
How are we lavishing our Lord with the love of our hearts? Better yet, how will we decide today to reawaken our hearts to Love enfleshed in the Eucharist? What resolve does He ask of you? Let us not forget who we are. Let us not forget where we have come from. Let us not forget to destination of our journey. Let us remember the answer to all three of these: The Body of Christ.
Indifference, by GA Studdert Kennedy
When Jesus came to Golgotha, they hanged Him on a tree,
They drove great nails through hands and feet, and made a Calvary;
They crowned Him with a crown of thorns, red were His wounds and deep,
For those were crude and cruel days, and human flesh was cheap.
When Jesus came to Birmingham, they simply passed Him by.
They would not hurt a hair of Him, they only let Him die;
For men had grown more tender, and they would not give Him pain,
They only just passed down the street, and left Him in the rain.
Still Jesus cried, ‘Forgive them, for they know not what they do,’
And still it rained the winter rain that drenched Him through and through;
The crowds went home and left the streets without a soul to see,
And Jesus crouched against a wall, and cried for Calvary.
“[For Calvary] was more endurable than the indifference of men.” – Venerable Fulton J. Sheen, commenting on the above poem
-Matt Malicki, MA Theology