Posted by: fvbcdm | April 12, 2013

Feast of Pope Saint Julius (12 April 2013)

I am back in Houston after a very pleasant weekend in Corpus Christi and its environs. I was able to visit with some long-time friends—one whom I’ve known for 59 years and the other for 54 years. I stayed in a condo belonging to one of my friends and his wife on Padre Island, near Corpus Christi, and was able to spend a good deal of time contemplating the marvels of nature, especially the incredible agility and aeronautical skill of sea gulls which I fed with stale bread.  In the canticle of the three young men from the book of the prophet Daniel in the Old Testament, the author lends his voice to all of creation in praising the Creator.  We use it often at this time of year in our liturgy.  “You dolphins and all water creatures, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever . . .all you birds of the air, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever.”  While I was feeding the seagulls and watching the pelicans flying by and diving for fish, those words came to my mind many times.  To watch seagulls wheeling and dipping and catching bits of bread in mid-air is truly a prayerful experience!

Then as we return to the sacred liturgy for this day in the Easter season, we find the Jewish leader Nicodemus coming to Jesus by night because he didn’t want to be seen talking to the Galilean wonder-worker in broad daylight because of Nicodemus’s religious and social position. Our Lord tells him that we must be BORN AGAIN.  Nicodemus is amazed by this strange idea. How can anyone be born again? Our Lord explains that we must be born of water and the Spirit. In the natural order, we are born in our human flesh from the bodies of our mothers. In the supernatural order, we are born not of flesh but of water and the Spirit.  Shortly after most of us were born, we were brought to the baptismal font and there a little water was poured over our heads.  But it was no ordinary water.  It had been blessed and then within the context of the Sacrament of Baptism, it was poured over our heads.  It became the vehicle of God’s tremendously powerful grace.  And the oil with which we were anointed on that same occasion was not just a little smear of olive oil on our heads, but rather a bit of oil which was applied to our bodies in the context of the Sacrament of Baptism, and would be applied again in the Sacrament of Confirmation.  This combination of the natural and supernatural—a little ordinary water and the Sacrament of Baptism—reminds us of the saying of the great Saint Teresa of Avila.  She said, “Teresa alone can do nothing.  But Teresa and Jesus can do EVERYTHING!”  Thus, a spoonful of water and the Divine Power of Baptism can sanctify the world. We were born of flesh; we were born of water and the Spirit. That makes us human beings, children of our parents, and also children of God.

Let us during this beautiful Easter season do our best to live at the highest level of human, natural life, and of divine, supernatural life.  In some languages, Christian children are named “reborn” or “born again.”  The French say “Rene”; the Italians say “Renata” or “Renato.” We might not bear those names, but we certainly do bear those realities.  Blessed be God who has given us this new birth, new life, and the hope of eternal life. Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note:  Father Brown composed this message some years ago.


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