Thursday, September 15, 2016
Fr. Henri Boulad, SJ started his brief talk on September 10 by identifying his mission...Why is he here? His mission is "to change the world".
Some 7 years ago when he was 78 years old, his long mission of over 50 years seemed to have come to an end when he suddenly fell seriously ill. He then asked the Lord "If you want to take me home, I am ready. If you want me to continue this mission, please give me an answer." And the good Lord answered him...Henri Boulad suddenly felt that he has been renewed with energy to continue in spite of his weakness for as long as he can...He drew a parallel with Moses. Moses was allowed to speak to God in the unconsumed bush on Mount Sinai.There God asked him to speak to Egypt's rulers in spite of his heavy tongue (Exodus 4: 10) in order to let his people go to the Promised Land. And Moses lived 120 years after he liberated God's chosen people. Henri Boulad too could live up to be 120 years old for the mission he is called to fulfill. He does not control his life because he let God do it. It is a matter of love for God through his creation.
Baptism by Fire is precisely the same as fulfilling God's love in one's life. John the Baptist prepared the people for Christ's coming...John the Baptist said to his followers:
“I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming. I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals. He will baptize you with the holy Spirit and fire." (Luke 3: 16).
How does Christ baptize by Fire? Let's look at two texts from the New Testament: Jesus said "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit." (John 12: 24). Here, Christ speaks about his own baptism by the Holy Spirit and fire which he undergoes in his passion and death. He dies to himself in order to save humanity from its own failure and be raised by God the Holy Spirit. In his death he goes down to dead and raises them with him, restores the human race to his Father. The fruits of his death and resurrection are found on the big tree that emerged and continues to grow in the world which is the Church.
The second text is the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37).There a man travelling from Jerusalem down to Jericho fell in the hands of robbers who stripped, beat him and went off leaving him half-dead. A "priest" passed by but did not wish to save him as he was busy going on his way for his functions, and so did a "Levite" (who, like a deacon, burns incense to the Lord), also too busy to take care of the half-dead man...On seeing him, both passed by on the opposite direction. Those were the people to whom everyone in the Jewish nation of Christ listened. This is the way we treat the needy, helpless, and elderly in society today. Negligence to the point of death in a "waste culture". The surprise is a Samaritan, traditionally, the enemy fallen out from God's Law, who happened to pass by the half-dead man.Moved with compassion at the sight, "he approached the victim, poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them. Then he lifted him up on his own animal, took him to an inn and cared for him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper with the instruction, ‘Take care of him. If you spend more than what I have given you, I shall repay you on my way back.’ For Christ, "Baptism by fire" is the work of the Holy Spirit in each one who received him. He waits and knocks on the door for us to repent and grow in love of each other. I need to exit from my ego and love the "other" as much as possible by abandoning myself to God's love. (Note: As an ordinary person, I would not find it possible to exit from my ego totally - The second Commandment "Love your neighbour as yourself" assumes that you love yourself in the first place. Only mystics such as St. Bernard of Clairvaux can achieve this state (see http://todayquestions.blo
gspot.ca/2008/07/st-bernard-on -four-loves.html). However, what is impossible for men is possible with God. Love prepares us to be saved.)
Fr. Boulad closes his speech with an eloquent interpretation from Revelation 21 [Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. The former heaven and the former earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. I also saw the holy city, a new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, God’s dwelling is with the human race. He will dwell with them and they will be his people* and God himself will always be with them [as their God]. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, [for] the old order has passed away.” The one who sat on the throne* said, “Behold, I make all things new.” Then he said, “Write these words down, for they are trustworthy and true.” He said to me, “They are accomplished.* I [am] the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give a gift from the spring of life-giving water.] (Revelation 21: 1-6).
In less than 15 minutes, Fr. Boulad, brought forward a vision not only for Christians dealing - like the Good Samaritan - with non-Christians who massacre Christians in the Middle East, Europe, Africa, and North America but also for the way Christians need to die to their ego, greed and selfishness in order to grow in Christ and witness to him in most Atheistic secular societies and indeed hope for Jerusalem of the new heaven and earth.
This is how we " change the world" by the grace of God!!!