The Flame: March/April 2018
Dear Readers of The Flame,
I have witnessed another phenomenon that is very
hopeful. The first Life in the Spirit Seminar I attended
was on the weekend of April 4-6, 1975 at the St.
Joseph Christian Life Center. It was a life changing
event for me. I encountered the Lord Jesus and his life
giving Spirit that made my soul cry out “It is true! It is
real! What we proclaim in faith is really real!”
The final talk of the weekend was on growing in the
Lord. It was given by Bob Edwards, a Catholic layman
and director of the Life Center at that time. It was not a
typical “this is how you grow in the Lord” talk. Bob
described a disciple of Jesus in simple but memorable
words. One word Bob used in describing a follower of
Jesus was lover. A disciple must passionately, ardently
love the Lord.
This characteristic came to mind at the beginning of
Lent this year. February 14 is perennially Valentine’s
Day. This year it was also Ash Wednesday. My initial
reflection saw the contrasts. Valentine’s Day usually
includes chocolate and/or a nice meal. Ash
Wednesday is a day of fast and abstinence.
Valentine’s Day highlights the romantic side of human
love. In Ash Wednesday’s first reading the prophet
Joel exhorts “the bridegroom [to] quit his room, and
the bride her chamber.” (Joel 2:16b).
However, on further reflection the words of the prophet
Hosea came to mind: I will allure her; I will lead her into the desert and
speak to her heart…
I will espouse you to me forever: I will espouse you in
right and in justice, in love and in mercy;
I will espouse you in fidelity and you shall know the
Lord. (Hosea 3:16, 21-22)
Lent is a time of intimacy with the Lord. We are to bare
our heart to Christ. In this way we are disposed to the
transformative love of His heart.
Bob Edwards also said that a follower of Jesus
needed to be a fool. It so happens that this year
Easter Sunday is April 1, also known as April Fools’
Day! In some ways, Jesus was the ultimate fool. He
recklessly gave us life, ministering in the power of the
Holy Spirit, performing signs and wonders, speaking
the truth in love and kindling the ire of the religious
We know the rest of the story. Conspiring with the civil
authorities and cooperating with Satan’s desire, Jesus
was made to look the part of a fool. Condemned to
death, Jesus was crucified, died and was buried.
However, we know that that was not the end of the story.
In truth, it was the beginning. Jesus rose from the
dead!!! And now-who is the fool? I think we all agree:
Jesus got the last laugh! Those who reject the Lord and
His promises are the ultimate fools.
However, we need to follow in the footsteps of the
Master. As disciples of Jesus, living the Spirit, exercising
the gifts of the Spirit, speaking the truth in love: we too
will look foolish to the world. We need to remember: “No
slave is greater than his master.” (John 16:20b) In our
faithfulness to the Lord, the world may deem us fools. In
the light of Jesus Christ raised from the dead, this is
more than OK.
This saying is trustworthy: If we die with the Lord, we
shall also live with him. If we persevere we shall also
reign with him. (II Timothy 2:11-12a)
When the world calls us foolish because of our faith, we
know that we are imitating Jesus. We are promised that
we will reign with the Lord. We will share with Jesus
Christ the last laugh.
As we journey through this season of Lent to the joy of
Eastertide, let us invest ourselves in the Lord. By
attentive prayer, selfless sacrifice and cheerful
almsgiving let us become the Lord’s faith-filled lover.
And if the world calls us foolish for doing that, let this be
our glory. The one who laughs last, laughs best.
Fr. Bob Franco
Bishop’s Delegate to Catholic Renewal Ministries