Adapted by Eric Valles
“Christ is not valued at all, unless he is valued above all.”
Not valuing Christ above all is one step closer to turning away from Him –that
is, sin. Such was the saint’s experience before his conversion in his 30s.
I. This devaluing of Christ or Lukewarmness is like ozone depletion. It takes place slowly but steadily
as it makes people turn away from prayer and reading of the Bible, from the conscious awareness of God in their lives, and
into a lifeless, resigned attitude toward sin. This lukewarmness could lead to a gradual descent into sins such as internet
pornography, lying, laziness, a lust for consumer products, and even drunkenness as well as drug abuse. Like ozone depletion,
before we realize it, we reap its dire consequences such as irregular weather patterns, stronger typhoons and floods.
Sometimes, some tragedy shakes up our spiritual complacency: a death
in the family, a financial setback, losing a job, divorce, or some other serious crisis. That is when many people begin to
turn their minds and hearts back to God, wondering what they have been missing all that time.
II. The solution to this problem of lukewarmness is found — not
surprisingly — inside the Church. For, regardless of whether the music or sermons or catechism for the kids is good
or bad, the Church is where we can be truly fed with the Bread from Heaven: Christ Himself, in the Holy Eucharist. Jesus said:
“I am the living
bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give
for the life of the world is my flesh” (John 6:51).
The Writer to the Hebrews knew about this problem that some Christians
faced, even in those early days of the Church. Sometimes, it seems, people are not serious about their faith in Christ and
become “dull of hearing.”
Sometimes, overcoming lukewarmness is a matter of taking care of little things,
say carrying a rosary or reciting three Hail Maries.
“You need milk, not solid food; for every one who lives on milk is
unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their faculties
trained by practice to distinguish good from evil” (Hebrews 5:11-14).
III. The Church contains all the things Christ wants to give us to help us to heaven. Ask Him for help
in remaining faithful and committed to Him in His Church, be patient, and He will grant you the desire of yours.
Be generous. Transcend your limits. Be like the sinful woman who washes
Jesus’ feet. As Jesus dines with his beloved friends, Mary does something which only love can do. She took the
most precious thing she had and spent it all on Jesus. Her love was not calculated but extravagant. Mary's action was
motivated by one thing, and one thing only, namely, her love for Jesus and her gratitude for God’s mercy. She
did something, however, a Jewish woman would never do in public. She loosed her hair and anointed Jesus with her tears. It
was customary for a woman on her wedding day to bound her hair. For a married woman to loosen her hair in public was a sign
of grave immodesty. Mary was oblivious to all around her, except for Jesus. She took no thought for what others would think,
but what would please her Lord. In humility she stooped to anoint Jesus' feet and to dry them with her hair. How do you anoint
the Lord’s feet and show him your love and gratitude?
The gospel records that the whole house was
filled with the perfume of the ointment. What Mary had done brought sweetness not only in the physical sense, but
the spiritual sense as well. Her lovely deed shows the extravagance of love -- a love that we cannot outmatch.
The Lord Jesus showed us the extravagance of his love in giving the best he had by pouring out his own blood for us and by
anointing us with his Holy Spirit. The Apostle Paul says that nothing will be able to separate us from the
love of God in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:39). Does the love of God rule in yourheart, mind, and actions?
Why was Judas critical of Mary’s lovely deed?
Judas viewed her act as extravagant wastefulness because of love of self and greed. A person views things according to what
it inside the heart or soul. Judas was an embittered man and had a warped sense of what was precious and valuable, especially
to God. Jesus had put Judas in charge of their common purse, no doubt because he was gifted in financial matters. The
greatest temptation we can face will often come in the area of our greatest strength or gifting. Judas used money entrusted
to him for wrong and hurtful purposes. He allowed greed and personal gain to corrupt his heart and to warp his view
of things. He was critical towards Mary because he imputed unworthy motives. Do you examine your heart correctly
when you impute wrong or unworthy motives
"Give us, Lord, a lively
faith, a firm hope, a fervent charity, a love of you. Take from us all lukewarmness in meditation, dullness in prayer.
Give us fervor and delight in thinking of you and your grace, your tender compassion towards me. The things we pray
for, good Lord, give us grace to labor for: through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Prayer of Sir Thomas More, 16th century)
In conclusion, don’t be complacent—in the same way that countries
are trying to do something about carbon emissions to fight ozone depletion through little things. Pray and meditate more:
“Disturb us, Lord, when we are too well pleased with ourselves, when our dreams have come true
because we have dreamed too little, when we arrive safely because we have sailed too close to the shore.
Disturb us, Lord, when with the abundance of things we possess, we have lost our thirst for the waters
of life; having fallen in love with life, we have ceased to dream of eternity….”