Hi there! How is everyone? Hopefully y’all are escaping the damaging effects of some of this weather. My heart and prayers go out to those who have lost family members and property to mother nature. We’ve had quite a lot of rain with some minor flooding here, but no loss of life. Hopefully y’all are intact, and can take a minute with a cuppa something and find a comfy spot and relax. Say another prayer for those who are struggling with weather-related losses.
I have several daily devotionals that I use, and one of them is an electronic version of the Daily Office. This splits the day into a half-dozen time slots, with readings from the Scriptures, responses, and prayers. One of my current favorite parts is called simply, the “Office of Readings”. I like it because the final reading is something from an early church father, or Doctor of the Church or someone like that. It gives me a glimpse of the earliest writings of the church and explains so many things about why we worship the way we do, or why we believe as we do.
There is a reading giving an account of the death of St. Bede. He was born in 673, died in 735, and was the first to use the term “Year of our Lord”, or A.D. He was ordained at 30, and spent his life studying and teaching the Scripture. When he knew his death was imminent, he finished dictating a book, then asked to be set where he could see his favorite place of prayer. He died praying the “Glory Be” and his last breath named the Holy Spirit. One of the things that struck me, was his desire to “dissolve and be with Christ”.
This past weekend, I was at a friend’s house for dinner. She has one of those ceramic cook-top stoves which are arguably actually hard to clean. If something is spilled and burns onto the cooking surface, sometimes it’s hard to get it off. It takes some doing to soften the mess so it can be cleaned up.
People are like that, too. We sometimes have messes in our lives, or ingrained sinful habits, that are hard to get rid of. We need to dissolve them so they can be dealt with. I looked up the meaning of dissolve. Merriam Webster says, “to cause to disperse or disappear”, “to bring to an end” and it also speaks of dissolving into a liquid.
Back to St Bede. He said he longed to dissolve and be with Christ. He was ready for his human body to dissolve and for the death transition to the heavenly life with Jesus for eternity. I suspect that Bede had been ‘dissolving’ for many years, though. I suspect that his selfish tendencies, his pride, his anger, any ill-will toward another human, or simple lack of compassion toward those in any sort of need, had been dissolving a bit at a time as he studied the Scriptures which pointed to Jesus Himself. There surely were times when the light and heat of the Word would dissolve the sinful tendencies of Bede’s humanity, times when the Holy Spirit would dissolve anything not pleasing to Christ.
I wondered if he ever thought about dissolving into Jesus’ character and love, just as Jesus dissolves and becomes one with us in the Eucharist. I wonder if he longed to dissolve and become the love of Christ reaching to others, the tongue of Christ telling the good news of salvation, the hands and feet of Christ carrying the burdens of another. I wonder if this was an ongoing theme of prayer for him. I wonder if it could be an ongoing theme of prayer for myself.
It’s a mystery, and I’m so grateful that the Lord has given me the grace to be content with mystery! I believe it should be a reciprocal action. Just as at Holy Communion, Jesus dissolves and becomes one within us; so also, we should be dissolving and becoming one in Him – as a body of believers, and personally.
Your assignment today is to go read Matthew chapters 5, 6 and 7. The sermon on the mount. Or, you can use 1 Corinthians 13, the “Love Chapter”. Let it work on you. Let it point out places that need to be dissolved and cleaned up in your character, or places where you need Jesus to come dissolve Himself into you, strengthening you in some good thing.
If you need help, or don’t like what you find when you start looking, or don’t know how to acquire the character traits you need, go find a pastor or a priest. They can help! This is what they give their life to do, to help the rest of us get closer to God. So don’t ever be bashful about asking one of them for help. You’ll make their day – they may dissolve into joy!