June 13, 2021
In our liturgical calendar, as we journey through the summer Sundays of Ordinary time, we are invited to grow. Not grow in physical size, nor just grow in chronological age; but to grow spiritually, toward an integrated human fulfillment in Christ. Just as the summertime rains contribute to the growth of crops throughout our vast country at this time of the year; just as the summertime rains make everything lusciously green here in South Florida, we human beings are invited to grow in Christ, the Divine Rain of the Father. In so doing, our lives will take on a trajectory toward maturation, which is certainly the sequence and hope for which we were set in motion. The question is: are you growing? Are you maturing? Is the Kingdom of God taking hold of your heart?
Our readings this weekend lead us to take pause and consider this mystery of growth, maturation, and advancement in the spiritual life. As we foster the growth of the Kingdom of God in our daily journey, we will position ourselves for advancement in virtue, surely a fruit of the Spirit at work in us.
I was recently reading an intriguing book (Back to Virtue by the author and professor Dr. Peter Kreeft, Ignatius Press, 1992), that has had me thinking about this notion of growth, specifically growth in virtue. Doctor Kreeft's book is an excellent expose' on the Cardinal Virtues (i.e., justice, courage, wisdom, and moderation), as well as the Theological Virtues (i.e., faith, hope, and love). It even includes a presentation on how the eight Beatitudes (i.e., blessed are the poor in spirit, those who show mercy, those who mourn, those who are meek and are peacemakers, those who hunger for righteousness, those with a pure heart, and those with courage under persecution) are the spiritual dispositions which directly confront the Seven Deadly Sins (pride, avarice, envy, anger, sloth, lust, and gluttony). Admittedly, he gives the reader a lot to think about, but his work offered very helpful reflections. Given our readings this weekend, which occasion the invitation for us to allow Christ to sow in us the seeds of the Kingdom of God and its virtues, we are invited today to "get on" with the business of the spiritual life, to grow and bear fruit that is ripe and robust to the glory of God.
Doctor Kreeft makes an interesting statement in his book that may also give us reason to assess the level of our commitment to truth and virtue. He says, "if there is a God, there is a map. If God has a map, his map is a true map." And so, if we claim to believe that Jesus is God in the flesh, revealing the merciful face of the Father; if we authentically worship him each Sunday, and expect to be the enlivened, graced, ennobled, and to be the protected Sheep of His Flock with a destiny of Heaven; if we claim to be true followers of Jesus in our modern world, then we must necessarily follow the map for the Christian life which he has provided us. As we worship here each Sunday, let us lend our ears to the words of Jesus. It is through his very words that he reveals to us the map which is the key to an integrated human fulfillment in God. We put his words into practice, not because the Church tells us to, nor because the priest says so in his homily. We put Jesus' words into practice because they are the Lord's own words, which are words of life for his people. How else can we grow in Christ, unless we are receptive to the Word of God? How else can we advance in the spiritual life unless we allow the Kingdom of God to take hold of our hearts? How else can we mature to our God-given potentials and become people of virtue, unless we apply the Lord's own words to our life?
Well; it's a daily choice! Doctor Kreeft says: "There is a road that leads to life and the road that leads to death." I am sure we know which one to choose.