Fr. Daniel Gifford
“By His wounds you have been healed.”
St. Peter reminds us of this in the same chapter (2) of his first letter in which he quotes the same Psalm (118) that our Lord quotes in today’s Gospel. This Gospel parable gives us a stark and vivid image of the death of our Lord, the Son of the Father, on the cross for our salvation. His Death and Resurrection were the culmination of His mission, which He describes when He tells us, “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). Every time we reflect upon the sacrifice of our Lord upon the cross, we can reflect, not only upon His suffering and the weight of our sin, but also on the abundance of life that He makes possible by this gift. What a gift it is to have our Life Garden, immediately to the East of the church building itself, where we can go to reflect on this very mystery. When we enter, we are surrounded by various images that remind us of God’s gift of life, all centered upon the focal point, which is an image of our Lord’s sacrifice on the cross (see picture). As you may know, although it is currently not running for practical reasons, the stone fixture, in front of which the image of the Body of Christ sits, is designed to run water. When it runs, it is an image for us of the ever-flowing stream of Divine Mercy, pouring forth from our Lord’s Heart. Centuries before the Divine Mercy devotion took its current form, thanks to the appearances of our Lord to St. Faustina (whose feast day was earlier this week), Early Church Fathers saw that stream of Blood and Water pouring from His Heart as an image of the waters of Baptism and the Blood of Christ, received in the Holy Eucharist. In the Sacraments, the Lord pours forth a true foretaste of that gift of Divine Life, which we hope to enjoy eternally in Heaven. When the water is not running, we might be prompted to reflect upon the reality of spiritual dryness, which perhaps many of us have experienced in our prayer lives. This is a part of the natural rhythm of the spiritual life, just as the signs of mortality that often tend to surround us during the season of fall are a part of the annual rhythm of creation. The enemy wants us to give into discouragement and despair, or give up on prayer altogether, in the face of this dryness. But, our Lord wants us to remain patiently with Him, with confident trust as we cling to Him in faith, hope and love. When the dryness of the rocks in the garden and the falling of the leaves remind us of our own dryness, we can sit confidently and peacefully in the knowledge that His Divine Mercy still flows, like a deep well, reaching far beneath the earth. In the face of dryness, we can contemplate the Lord’s humility, as His graces are often hidden, yet ever present. May we all find time to rest in stillness with the Lord this week, whether we experience a recognizable outpouring of His abundant gifts or the peace of silence. May we allow Him to renew gratitude in our hearts for the gift of life abundantly. Especially in this Respect Life Month, may we pray for a deeper appreciation for the gift of life. On that note, I want to offer a big thank you to all who participated in the Life Chain last Sunday, as well as the Pennies for Life collection. Whether or not we stand every day in the public square, holding a sign that says “Jesus forgives and heals,” may we always be witnesses in the world of the gift of life and of His Mercy. In Christ through Mary, Fr. Gifford
St. Louis, pray for us!
Blessed Mary, Queen Mother of the King of Kings, pray for us!