Friday, July 16, 2010

Six Word to Salvation

Readings for Friday, July 16 - Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel:
Isaiah 38:1-6, 21-22, 7-8
Psalm 38:10-12, 16
Matthew 12:1-8

There are six words that, if we truly live our lives by them, will almost certainly lead us to our eternal salvation: God is God, I am not.

It seems overly simplified, but really, this is a central point of the spiritual life. In fact, all of the scriptures that the Church gives us today speak of this idea. We hear first the story of King Hezekiah, who is told to get his house in order because his death was imminent. Rather than trying to take control of the situation, he embodies those six words and turns to the Lord, Whom he knows controls all things, including even – as the psalm points out - his own life. In fervent prayer he places himself before the Lord admitting his own lowliness and the Lord’s greatness. In His mercy, the Lord hears the prayer of Hezekiah and extends his life.

The gospel shows us a different outlook. The Pharisees were in charge of ensuring that everyone followed the prescripts of the Law. In trying to ensure that no laws would be broken, they began to create their own laws. They began to exalt their own rules to the level as those that were divinely instituted. Forgetting the reality of those six words, they tried to lift themselves up to God’s level. Jesus, however, puts them back in their place and rightly exalts Himself, clearly announcing His own divinity as He says that He is the Lord of the Sabbath and that something greater than the temple was there; the Pharisees would have quickly connected that the only thing greater than the Temple of the Lord was the Lord of the Temple. Jesus makes it clear to them - He is God, they are not.

And as we honor the Blessed Virgin Mary today under the title of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, it would be a major oversight not to point out that Mary embodies this six-word axiom to perfection. She never seeks her own glorification but always points toward her son Jesus. Even as she gave Saint Simon Stock the brown scapular that would inevitably increase devotion to her, her goal was not that she might be glorified but that she might be better able to lead us to Jesus Christ, doing so by bringing us to greater sanctity in this life and making that promise of our union with Him in the next.

Through her intercession, may we always be brought closer to Christ as we try to live daily those six words that she so perfectly modeled for us.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel, pray for us.