Saturday, January 27, 2018

"Why are you persecuting Me?"


Praised be Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament now and for ever! Amen!

"He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?'  He said, 'Who are you, sir?'  The reply came, 'I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.'" (Acts 9:4-5)

The Conversion of St. Paul: such a powerful feast day for the Church!  St. Paul gives me hope for my own conversion and journey to heaven.  The readings for this feast day bring me back to a Christology lecture last semester that really struck me.  (We take classes at St. Mary Seminary & Graduate School of Theology.)

In this class, we discussed a section of a book called Knowing Jesus by James Alison.  I remember vividly our professor passionately saying, "You know Jesus because He is the one you are trying to persecute!"  There was a deep silence that filled the room after he said this.  In that moment in class, I felt as if I had fallen to the ground and had to face the question, "Who are you persecuting?"  Alison's approach to knowing Jesus is indeed Pauline in that he says the way to know Jesus initially is by knowing Him in the one you are trying to persecute.  More often I identify with being persecuted for being Christian, but I fail to recognize that, in my weakness, I persecute my own brothers and sisters, and this is hard to admit.  Facing the question, "Who are you persecuting?" was and still is difficult for me because there is an answer that I do not want to confess.  I bring this question to prayer quite often and ask for the grace of humility and honesty in order to answer this question.  In the silence of God, the answer comes to my heart in such pain: "My Sisters."
Those closest to me are the ones I persecute, and it is through them and in them that I will know Jesus.  My Beloved dwells in each of my beautifully created Sisters, and in my weakness, I persecute Jesus in them, and thus, I also persecute them.  Yet, there is a sweetness to this awareness - God's Mercy.  With the help of the Holy Spirit, I recognize that I am the persecutor of my own Sisters.  I do not desire to be but many times I am, but this gives rise to moments of repentance and deeper acceptance of God's Love for me.  The Gospel calls us to love our persecutors as well.  I am called to love the persecutors of my Sisters, and since that includes me, I must learn to love myself, to be merciful to self.  Community life isn't all roses, but it is always filled with grace and love.  I am called to love my Sisters as Christ loves them, but sometimes it takes seeing how I am not loving them as I should in order to grow deeper in my love for each of my Sisters.  The Way is not comfortable, but it promises us salvation...heaven!

This may not be our favorite way of knowing Jesus, but I do think it is necessary because we need to surrender these dark spots of our lives to the one who is Light - Jesus Christ.  If we don't, we will fool ourselves in thinking we are perfect Christians and no longer need God.  Actually, we'd be quite the contrary.

My brothers and sisters, I desire that you may know and love Jesus.  My prayer for us is to be open to the voice that calls out to us to face our shadows with Him who redeems us.  Do not be afraid to listen to the voice of God and in turn, to respond to Him by totally giving your whole life.  Remain in the Heart of the Trinity and never abandon His gaze.  You have the capacity to love and to be loved.  Trust in God always.
My Sisters and I commend you to our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.
Please keep my Sisters and me in your prayers.

With Mary in the Eucharist,
Your little, poor sister,
Sr. Kathryne Lopez

"For I am the least of the apostles, not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.  But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me has not been ineffective.  Indeed, I have toiled harder than all of them; not I, however, but the grace of God [that is] with me." 
(1 Corinthians 15:9-10)

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