Thanks for joining me as we Lectio The Liturgy with the Collect for the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time.
O God, who in the abasement of your Son have raised up a fallen world, fill your faithful with holy joy, for on those you have rescued from slavery to sin you bestow eternal gladness. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.
In the prayer this week we not only find lows and highs, we find a tool for our spiritual toolbox.
In the Who of the prayer, we find the word abasement. Abasement means lowness. The Latin word for abasement is humilitate. Jesus, the Son of God, lowered himself to raise up a fallen world.
This week, instead of letting that thought go by, I decided to spend some time meditating on it. The Book of John 1:2-3 tells us that Jesus was in the beginning with God, that all things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be.
All things were made through Jesus, ALL THINGS. Nothing came to be without him. This Jesus, our Jesus, the one who made all things, made himself lower than the angels to raise up the thing that he created and loved the most - humanity.
As I was praying with this truth, I asked Jesus what it was like for him to leave Heaven and take on a human nature just for us. He answered with two words, “Pure love.” Pure love is hard for us to imagine. He didn’t grumble or mumble about having to become human, nor did he complain about having to die. His life, his mission, which was to rescue us from slavery to sin, was, and still is pure love.
How should we respond? Accept what we ask for in this prayer, namely to be filled with holy joy because we have been given eternal gladness.
This is where the spiritual tool comes in. As I prayed and studied on my journey to become a Benedictine Oblate, I came to see the Rule of St. Benedict not really as a rule, but as a ruler. This prayer is another ruler.
In addition to the other tools in our toolbox, the armor of God, Scripture, Sacraments, we find this prayer, which helps us measure how full we are with holy joy. Interesting thought, isn’t it? If someone held up a tape measure next to you right now, would you measure being filled with joy? How about eternal gladness?
While holy joy and eternal gladness sound alike, eternal gladness brings another clarification: our joy and gladness are eternal. Eternal gladness doesn’t begin the day we reach heaven. It started when we were baptized, it deepened when we gave our lives to Christ and it continues each and every day.
Remember, though, that this gladness is eternal so we will never run out. Live lavishly in joy and gladness today. Give joy and gladness to everyone you meet today. Spend it all! Wish joy and gladness on the grumpy people, pray blessings on the people who don’t like you. The God who saved us from sin has given us an eternal supply that needs to be spent. Don’t worry, we will have another endless supply tomorrow.