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Reigniting the Fire of Fervor: Weekly Message for 04-07-2020
Dear Friends in Christ,
As we embark on a Holy Week like no other, it is time to take stock of our fervor in faith. Nothing is the same this year. Being deprived of the sacraments this week (of all weeks) is an opportunity to strengthen our desire for those same sacraments – to truly long for union with Christ as he faces his passion, death, and resurrection. As we wrestle with this, we can take comfort in the reaction of the disciples as they slowly began to understand the meaning of this holiest of weeks.
It’s hard to imagine the shock of the disciples when the Jesus they believed to be the long-awaited messiah was tortured and led to death on Calvary.
Instead of a David-like military leader who would expel the Roman occupiers, the messiah turned out to be the Suffering Servant of Isaiah. Such a twist the disciples couldn’t bear.
This might help explain why none of the apostles went to Jesus’ tomb on Easter morning. They didn’t expect a resurrection after the blackest of Fridays.
What brought the first apostles to the tomb would be Mary Magdalene, who told of her encounter with the risen Lord. It was for her Easter morning outreach to these men that she earned the title Apostle to the Apostles.
Perhaps she could be called the Apostle to the Lukewarm. For she went to the very apostles who previously bickered about who among them was the greatest, and who later dozed during the Agony in the Garden.
Their bouts of self-seeking stifled otherwise generous hearts and might have cooled their faith. Jesus wouldn’t leave them in such a tepid state, of course. He had big plans for them which would move forward.
The Divine Mercy Meditation Novena that begins on Good Friday reminds us that Jesus’ plans are still moving forward. Among the intentions of the novena is one for souls that have grown lukewarm.
Lukewarmness helps explain why societies with millions of Catholics in their midst have grown cold. The Church lacks not numbers as much as fervor.
If you want to bring joy to the heart of Christ, who so desires a change of heart in the lukewarm, you might consider praying that novena. The world sorely needs more hearts aflame with love for our crucified Lord.
May Holy Week enkindle your own love.
Father Edward McIlmail, LC
Ask a Priest contributor