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Lord, Make Me Like a Little Child
Saturday of the Fifth Week of Easter
(Optional Memorial of Saint Christopher Magallanes, Priest, and Companions, Martyrs)
Jesus said to his disciples: “If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you. Remember the word I spoke to you, ‘No slave is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. And they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know the one who sent me.”
Opening Prayer: Jesus, as I come before you today, I give you thanks that you are the light of the world and that you call me to live my life in your light. I thank you that I can come into that light in a special way right now in prayer. I know that you want to speak to me, and I want to hear you so I can know you with an active, living faith. I trust you to show me what it is I need to know and do to walk in your light. I thank you for your love and your grace. I love you and want to love you ever more deeply.
- High Contrast: Jesus has repeatedly said that following him means living in his love and abiding or remaining in him by doing what he commands. Now he shows us a darker truth: as he is persecuted and hated, the disciples should expect the same. He had warned them earlier: “(T)he light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed” (John 3:19-20). We may experience this aversion to the light in our interactions with others and so hesitate to express our faith or moral concerns for fear of how others will respond. Nevertheless, it is important that we remember that it is in living our faith authentically that we grow closer to the Lord. Today’s saints–St. Christopher Magallanes and Companions–were priests and laymen who would not compromise with darkness. They were rewarded with the crown of martyrdom. They met hatred and persecution with love, courage, forgiveness, and mercy. We are called to do the same.
- No Compromise: This passage ends by saying, “they will do all these things… because they do not know who sent me.” They did not know the Father, and so they did not recognize the light and, in fact, preferred the darkness. They didn’t want to change. Light takes away darkness, necessarily involving change. Earlier in John’s Gospel, Jesus told his disciples, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness…” (John 8:12). This darkness represents the things that bind us or hold us back from stepping fully into the light of life in Christ—into intimacy with him. We can be assured that no matter what the darkness is, Jesus can overcome it, for “the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5). How willing are we to be changed by the light of Christ?
- Conversion: Reflecting on Jesus as the light of the world, the light that cannot be overcome by darkness but, indeed, changes the darkness, we can recognize Christ’s invitation to walk in the light. God respects our free will. It is our choice to step out of the darkness or out of the shadows and into the light. This happens first in our heart. As the Catechism reminds us, Christ’s call to conversion “does not aim first at outward works…but at the conversion of the heart, interior conversion…a radical reorientation of our whole life, a return, a conversion to God with all our heart, an end to sin, a turning away from evil, with repugnance toward the evil actions we have committed…it entails the desire and resolution to change one’s life with hope in God’s mercy and trust in the help of his grace” (CCC 1430-1431).
Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, you are the light of my life. Living in your light allows me to live with abundance and joy. I ask for the grace to step out of any hint of shadow. I ask for the grace to follow you boldly and courageously by speaking your truth rather than retreating into darkness. Thank you for the sacraments and their work in my life. Help me unite myself evermore closely to you in my prayer each and every day so that I can live as your faithful friend and disciple in all that I do.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will recall an instance when I could have spoken up regarding Jesus, the Catholic faith, or the Church, but didn’t. I will examine myself to identify why I didn’t speak up and ask for forgiveness. I will ask for the courage to speak up in a way that brings light the next time I am in a similar situation.
For Further Reflection: Read a comment by Francis Cardinal George on the secularization of society, from a post by Tim Blake in a National Catholic Register blog: “Speaking a few years ago to a group of priests, entirely outside of the current political debate, I was trying to express in overly dramatic fashion what the complete secularization of our society could bring,” writes the Cardinal. “I was responding to a question and I never wrote down what I said, but the words were captured on somebody’s smartphone and have now gone viral on Wikipedia and elsewhere in the electronic communications world. I am (correctly) quoted as saying that I expected to die in bed, my successor will die in prison, and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. What is omitted from the reports is a final phrase I added about the bishop who follows a possibly martyred bishop: ‘His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history.’ What I said is not ‘prophetic’ but a way to force people to think outside of the usual categories that limit and sometimes poison both private and public discourse.”
Or watch this short video regarding the saints of the day, St. Christopher Magallanes, Priest, and Companions, regarding their unwillingness to compromise with darkness.
Janet McLaughlin and her husband, Chris, live on a mountain in rural northeastern Oregon. She puts her Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies to work as she shares the beauty and importance of the lay vocation in her writing, speaking, and teaching on spiritual topics.