Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of March 6, 2000
Entering the new springtime
By JOHN CONNELLY
Special to the WCR
We live in an exciting season in the history of the Church. Pope John Paul frequently refers to this as the dawn of a new springtime for Christianity and for the world.
This is a time of profound grace, mercy and interior renewal for all who will open their hearts. A special blessing of this new springtime is the Great Jubilee 2000, which we are currently experiencing.
The word "jubilee" essentially points us towards joy and celebration. Pope John Paul has written, "She (the Church) invites the whole world to be joyful and attempts to create the requisite conditions so that the energies of salvation can be communicated to each and every one."
The origin of jubilee
In the Old Testament, the year of jubilee was to be celebrated every 50 years (see Leviticus 25). It was an opportunity for the people of God to grow in their experience of God's loving providence in their lives.
A trumpet was to be sounded throughout the land. Freedom was proclaimed to the slaves. Debts were wiped out. Families were reunited. Everyone was to take a year long "sabbatical" from work. People were called to rest and rejoice in God's goodness. Everything they needed God promised to provide.
Personally, I think this sounds pretty good. Can you imagine no more debts? No Visa debt. Mortgage paid off. A year off work. More family time. Celebration . . . Rejoicing . . . Rest. All our needs taken care of by God. Bring it on Lord!!
The problem is that like us, the people of Israel worried. It sounded to good to be true. They could not fully grasp God's plan. He wanted to teach them to trust, but questions arose in their hearts, "What shall we eat if we may not sow or gather our crops?" (Leviticus 25:20).
In modern lingo their cry might sound like this, "Are you serious God? Be realistic. This plan of yours just doesn't make sense."
The dialogue continues and God says to the Israelites, "I will command my blessing upon you" (25:21).
When God commands his blessing it is as though he is saying, "Don't worry. Trust me. I created you. I love you. I will bless you richly and provide all you need."
Jesus: Our path to jubilee
God has "commanded his blessing" on we who are members of the Body of Christ. God is with us. God will provide. God knows our deepest needs. Jesus has come among us to set our captive hearts free. He is our path to joy, celebration and rest in the presence of God.
"Christ proclaims salvation, this great gift of God which is freedom from everything that oppresses man" (Pope Paul VI).
"Come to me all you who labour and are burdened. I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28).
The good news is that Jesus is among us. He knows our deepest longings. He knows our burdens and fears. The Lord of Life calls us by name. He calls us to let go . . . to surrender . . . to enter into his joy, his peace, his love. As we learn to trust Jesus more and more, we experience an "inner jubilee," a deep rejoicing and rest in our hearts.
A people fully alive
St. Irenaeus taught that the glory of God is a human being fully alive. Imagine a Church fully alive. A people of peace . . . A people of joy . . . A people of love . . . A people of mercy and forgiveness.
Imagine a Church radiant with the Spirit of Jesus. Imagine yourself renewed and transformed by the presence and love of God. This is God's plan, God's dream, God's vision for our lives.
Springtime is a breaking forth. A time of new life, vitality and spiritual awakening for us all. Jesus calls us all to enter in.
One day a teacher asked the children in her class to draw a picture of anything they wanted. One little boy was still drawing when all the others had finished.
She said, "What are you drawing?" He replied emphatically, "I'm drawing a picture of God." The teacher looked amazed and said, "No one knows what God looks like." "They will when I get through," the boy said confidently.
When we fully enter into the new springtime, our lives become a picture of God's love for the entire world to see. Let us surrender to God, the master artist, so he can paint something beautiful with our lives.
In this series of articles I will explore practical ways we can enter in more fully to this new springtime. To begin with I'd like to suggest a daily prayer of surrender by St. Ignatius of Loyola:
"Take Lord, receive all my liberty, my memory, understanding, my entire will. Take Lord, receive all I have and possess. You have given all to me. Now I return it. Take Lord, receive all is yours now. Dispose of it wholly according to your will. Give me only your love and your grace. That is enough for me. Amen."
May we experience a new springtime of faith, hope and love in our families, our communities and in our world.