“My name is John, and through our union in Jesus I am your brother and share your sufferings,your kingdom, and all you endure.” This quote from Revelations for Divine Mercy Sunday is breathtaking. It opens a vista that few people have ever seen or even heard about. The view that comes into focus through this Scripture shows us that, because we live in Jesus, we are irrevocably united as siblings. John Paul II once said that heaven isn’t so much an expression of place as it is an expression of relationship. And because we are united as brothers and sisters, we share not only in each other’s sufferings but in each other’s joys, or ‘kingdom, as well. Living in our knowledge of this reality not only changes our daily lives but enables us to begin to live in heaven while we live in on earth because what else is heaven but life in union with Christ?
So what are some practical daily steps that we can take during this Year of Faith to expand our vista and begin to live in heaven right now? Here are three ways of acting that tend to stop the action of grace in our daily lives:
- Complaining or grumbling. During Easter Week, Pope Francis celebrated Mass at a guesthouse for clergy in Rome. In speaking about the distraught disciples on the road to Emmaus, he said, “And the more they complained, the more they were closed in on themselves: They did not have a horizon before them, only a wall.” The Pope explained, according to Vatican Radio, “I think that many times when difficult things happen, including when we are visited by the cross, we run the risk of closing ourselves off in complaints…When all people can think of is how wrong things are going, the Lord is close, but we don’t recognize him. He walks with us, but we don’t recognize him.”
- Entertainment. When asked what was the greatest sin of our era, Padre Pio was said to have replied, “Curiosity.” On the first evening of Cursillo-type weekends, retreatants are asked to write down what they do in a typical day. The point of this exercise is to help us to realize where our real priorities lie. For many believers, our time and treasure is measured more in terms of how we choose to entertain or distract ourselves and our families than in terms of what will increase our awareness of God.
- Suspicion. Like St. Thomas in today’s Gospel reading, we prefer the tomb of our doubt or fear or pride or pain to the consolation and joy that God is continually offering us. In the final book of the Narnia series, The Last Battle, C.S. Lewis uses the dwarfs to illustrate this point. Even though the coming of Christ is being experienced by many of the other warriors involved in the last battle, the dwarfs are unable to perceive this wonder because their philosophy is, “The dwarfs are for the dwarfs.” That is, we stick together and only believe in ourselves. As a result, they missed the joy they were awaiting. I have found myself and others I know well hamstrung often by this miserable myth of self-sufficiency.When God is trying to console or draw me closer, I attempt to hide from Him behind the veil of doubt or disparaging of myself or others.
Since there are countless graces available during this blessed time of year, let’s ask the Lord Jesus in His Divine Mercy, to make us aware of our new life in Him right now and help us to stop the attitudes which are blocking His blessings.