I Am Yours And You Are Mine

This year, although it was His birthday, Jesus gave me two gifts for Christmas. He reminded me of something He said to Saint Faustina, who was a Polish nun and mystic just before World War II. He appeared to her many times and explained much to her about His mercy. Before going to the vigil Mass on Christmas Eve, He reminded me of one revelation in particular. He had said to her, and by extension, to me, “My mercy is greater than your sins and those of the whole world.” This meant a lot because I have a tendency to sometimes get a little crazy, over analyze everything I do, think, and say, and assume I’m doomed. To me what He really seemed to be saying was, “I love you. Don’t be afraid. Just come to me.”

For most of Christmas Day, we hung out with family, ate junk food, and generally had a good time. That night, however, I turned my focus back to the Lord. I knew I should meditate on the incarnation, and I realized that it tends to be something I pass over. It’s a necessary part of the story, but realistically, it’s a strange one. Usually, in mythology, when the “gods” interact with humans, they don’t present themselves like our God does; they don’t present themselves as small, helpless, and vulnerable. I realized that I’m kind of uncomfortable with the whole thing. It occurred to me that I could ask for help, and I prayed to Our Lady, Jesus’ mom since she understands it better than anyone else can.

Oddly, she seemed to ask a question: What is intimacy? The first thing that came to mind was more what intimacy–at least a kind of intimacy–does; two people come together and life is created. Then she seemed to ask, “what would spiritual intimacy be, then?” I figured it would be when two souls came together. She seemed to follow with, “where does that happen?” Then it hit me: the Eucharist. The Eucharist is literally the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ. In John 6, Jesus says, “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him,” and also, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” Before His Passion, Jesus prays that He would have the same kind of closeness with His followers (friends) as He does with His Father. It’s the Eucharist that allows for this kind of closeness, and without the Incarnation, this wouldn’t be possible; we wouldn’t have Him.

I receive the Eucharist at Mass every week, occasionally more than once a week, and I never fully understood that what my Lord wants is intimacy with me. I looked up a dictionary definition for the word, and “intimacy” is actually close familiarity or friendship, and does not necessarily imply any kind of sexual relationship. I finally had time to read and think this past weekend, and I found a podcast called Understanding the Scriptures, which is based on a book written by Dr. Scott Hahn.

Frequently, the teacher, Carson Weber came back to the concept of a Covenant. A Covenant, in a Biblical sense, is much deeper than how one might understand a contract. A covenant is a sacred, familial bond that makes the members of the covenant intrinsically one: I am yours and you are mine. In a contract, the members are making promises to exchange goods or services and are pledging to fulfill those promises on their word alone. A covenant invokes the name of God as one’s witness. A contract is breakable and eventually ends when the promises have been met. A covenant cannot be broken, but it can be violated, which only hurts the people involved, and it has no expiration date.

In the Creation narrative, it says that God rested on the seventh day. What this really means is that He made this day holy, and covenanted, or bound Himself to His creation, and particularly His people. It was, and is a sacred bond of love. This is why marriage is a sacrament; it makes a man and a woman one; not just on a physical level, but also on a spiritual level. Marriage between a man and a woman also mirrors the spiritual marriage of God and His people: “They will be my people, and I will be their God.” While a contract and a covenant are quite different, they are similar in that they both have terms. The difference is that the terms of a contract are negotiable, while the terms of a covenant are not. This is where the “rules” that people tend not to like come from. God sets the terms of the covenant, and what He is doing is telling us how we are to love Him and love each other. Ultimately, if we are faithful to these “rules,” it will be for our good, and results in interior peace, but it takes practice.

At the Last Supper, Jesus says, “this is the cup of my Blood, the Blood of the new and everlasting Covenant…” What He is doing is renewing the Covenant with His people that was violated, and is still violated over and over. God first made a covenant with Adam who only really had two tasks, to take care of and protect the Garden, and Eve. When God Covenanted Himself to Adam, He made him in His image and likeness. This is the most important detail because it is this “likeness” that intrinsically changes Adam: it makes him not just a creature, but a son of God. When he and Eve violated the Covenant, they effectively forfeited their kinship with God. Adam initially failed when he did not protect Eve from the devil’s temptation, and then, when he did not defend her when God questioned her. Instead, he stayed quiet and then blamed her. Jesus undid this when He sacrificed Himself for us.

In the Garden of Gethsemane, he takes onto Himself all our sins, weaknesses, and failures, and in His innocence, takes our place to face God’s Judgment. As He is dying, He defends us and prays, “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.” Adam failed to take care of and defend Eve, his bride, while Jesus, on the other hand, heals, teaches, and redeems His bride: the Church. In the New Covenant, He essentially gives us two commands, as Adam had his two: “Love one another as I have loved you,” (John 13:34), and also, after His Resurrection, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

The Lord teaches many things in Scripture and through the Church, but probably the most important thing is His teaching on the Eucharist. Because of this teaching, literally thousands of people left Him because, as it says in John 6, people thought this was a difficult teaching to understand or accept. After His Resurrection, though, those who did accept it received an amazing promise: Jesus will always be faithful to us. While we partake of the Eucharist communally as a Church, we also partake of it individually. Before we do, we have to ask ourselves two questions: have I loved like Jesus loves? Have I lived my faith so others see it and hear about it?

The scary thing is that in the Eucharist, Jesus makes Himself as vulnerable, if not more vulnerable than an infant. He offers me His everything; He gives me His Heart, and that means I can hurt Him if I haven’t been faithful. This is why I freak out, and why He offers me mercy in so many ways, especially in the Sacrament of Reconciliation (confession), so that when He says “I am yours,” I can say, “I am Yours,” and really mean it.

Random Life Update

The past few weeks have been interesting. I recently met two pen pals (email buddies), both by the name of Jonathan. They’re rather different in terms of personality, but they’re both very nice. I also started working on my novel again yesterday. I’ve been lazy over the summer, and I don’t entirely regret it, but it’s time to get back to work. I have excellent plans for my story, and it’ll be good to get that moving. It’s just been hard with friends and family taking up so much of my time. Everyone is starting to go back to school and work, though, which means I’ll be able to as well. It’s been good, though. I like my humans. Lastly, I’ve made the decision to learn how to play violin. I’ve had songwriter’s block, and I think learning a new instrument will help with that.

I tried learning a few years ago, but I didn’t have the time to practice at that point. Now I should have plenty of time. I’m excited because it will be hard. I’m excited to take on a challenge. I’m going to buy the instrument soon, and I’m going to ask for a month of lessons for Christmas. I like trying to teach myself things, but I do think I’ll need some instruction in this case. My family is going to kill me. I’m going to be so annoying for a while. While it’s nice out I might practice outside and annoy the neighbors instead. I think a good place to start will be to pick some songs that have simple melodies and try learning those on my own, then when I start lessons I can get more into real technique.

I’ll be starting CCD again soon. I hope I get my little cousin’s class. I’ll call on him all the time. It’ll be great. I’ll also be starting my writer’s workshop this month. They meet once a month in Newton, which is about an hour away for me. It’ll be a lot of fun, though. Speaking of which, I accidentally made a friend the other day. We happened to have gone to the same high school, happened to have graduated the same year, and happen to both be writing fantasy/science fiction stories. Funny how that stuff works.

I spent this past weekend job hunting. I didn’t really get anywhere, so I’m going to put that on hold. Working on a novel is just a horrifyingly huge task, but I need stick with it. It took two years to complete my album. I feel like that was a different kind of project, though. At least I’m not investing huge amounts of money into writing a story. The album wasn’t exactly a huge success. Surprisingly, I don’t care. Over time I’ve realized that I’m not really cut out for the music business. When I was a kid I wanted to be a rock star. I guess my dream has changed. My dream now is just to make love in the world. It’s a much less concrete goal, to be sure, but it’s also an adventure. I’m excited for the coming year. Beyond that, I have no idea what the future will bring. Normally that would scare me, but at the moment, it’s exciting.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Fear Of Failure

Failure is a very scary thing– not just failing in itself, but the prospect of it; the possibility that in fact, I can fail. I keep telling myself over and over that I can make it as a musician or I can make it as a writer, but I know that there is a very large possibility that I won’t. I think it’s this fear, however that stops me from getting ahead. I played at the Sad Cafe the other night and a guy who was playing after me came over while I was getting coffee to say that he really liked my set. I thanked him and said that whenever I play somewhere I feel like there are at least a few people who are infinitely more talented. He said he had the same problem.

There’s a line in a Bright Eyes song that says “I could have been a famous singer if I had someone else’s voice.” I definitely feel like that sometimes. I often feel that although my music matches my lyrics and my voice very well, and although people really seem to like it, I feel that I could be a lot better at both. This summer I decided I’m going to teach myself “Resolution” by Andy Timmons (see “Sneaky-Sneaky”) to at least get better at the guitar part of it. There’s not much I can do about my voice.

Today I’m just going to fight down my fear, bite the bullet and do some research. I know of a couple places I can pester already, and I’m going to look for a few more. I’ll let you all know how it goes.

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Thanks! ❤