Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of April 10, 2000
How can I celebrate the jubilee?
By SR. LOUISE ZDUNICH, NDC
Please tell us about the great blessings available to us during this jubilee year.
There is much one could say. I could speak about the significance of the event or the indulgences attached to pilgrimages to certain churches or about the many celebrations around the world and how these could bring us many blessings.
In our hurry to celebrate, it's important to remember what we are celebrating. We are celebrating the coming of the Son of God to earth in a visible form, his taking of a physical human body and becoming one of us; in other words, God's birth as a human being.
We are celebrating our redemption, the freedom and the peace that Jesus brought into the world. We are celebrating the birth of the Church, the body of Christ that carries on Christ's mission on earth today. We are celebrating 2,000 years of Christian history, sometimes glorious, sometimes not so glorious.
A lot to celebrate, isn't it? But remembering and celebrating God's goodness and love is a great blessing indeed.
For now, I would like to focus on the more personal and the more practical for all of us, especially during Lent, this double opportunity to celebrate. Yes, celebrate and rejoice for God has truly blessed us. This special year is a great opportunity for us to begin to understand and be grateful to be so blessed.
When we celebrate, we often do so with relatives or friends, with people we know well. How well do we know the one whom we celebrate this year?
How well do we know Jesus, our friend? When last did we have a chat with him? Or just be with him and listen to him? Or read his words in the Gospels? Obviously, when we care for someone, we want to get to know the one whom we love, so we spend time with that person.
I believe the greatest blessing we can derive from this jubilee year is to get to know Jesus/God better. But how can we do this? It works in the same way as when we want to get to know another person better. We need to spend some time chatting and listening to that person.
So too, we need to be alone with God, to listen and to talk to God. We need to take some time away from our busy lives just to be with God, to read and reflect on the Gospels.
Instead of rushing through a whole chapter, trying to understand its meaning, it is best to read just a sentence, a few words or phrases. Pause and let what you have read sink in; maybe repeating it to yourself; simply savouring it as you would sip and savour wine. Let God speak to your heart through the words you've read.
Find a time for yourself, whether it be first thing in the morning or the last thing in the evening or any time during the day. Start with five minutes, if that's all the time you have. First thing you know, you'll be spending 10 or 15 minutes and even more.
Spending time in quiet prayer and reflection will lead us to become more aware of God's presence throughout the day. Paul says that we should pray without ceasing. Being aware of God's presence is prayer.
When we love someone, we often think about that person as we go about our daily tasks. Is that the case with God, our most intimate friend who is much closer to us than anyone else? After all, we are the temple of God. God lives in us; we carry God around all the time and yet how seldom we think of God.
Why? Perhaps, it's because we really don't know the God about whom Jesus came to teach us. We do need to get to know God through prayer and reflecting on the Scriptures. How can we be aware of God's presence when we are busy, if we don't take some time to focus on God when we are not preoccupied with other things?
Prayer will lead us to helping our neighbour, remembering that God lives in each of the persons with whom we come into contact. This was a powerful motivator for Mother Teresa in her work with the most destitute and the most abandoned. It can be for us too.
Christ did not tell his disciples to spend all their time in prayer and contemplation but to go out to others to teach, to baptize, to heal. Early in Christianity, there were some who believed that our lives should be spent only in contemplation of God. The Church quickly condemned this idea, insisting that outreach to others is, with contemplation, an essential component of Christian spirituality.
Not all of us can go on pilgrimage to the Holy Land nor attend some of the inspiring celebrations. But all of us can get to know God better by taking time for God both in our private prayer and by remembering God's presence throughout the day.
I believe this is the most meaningful way to celebrate and be especially blessed by God during this jubilee year. And it's right at our fingertips. Let us make getting to know God a priority during Lent and throughout this great year of celebration. If we forget one day, we have another 250 or so days to try again.