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Holy Thursday - A new law given in the Body

Thursday, March 29, 2018

By Br Isaac Maria Wharton | The Canadian psychologist, Jordan Peterson, has been in the news a lot recently. His latest book, “12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos” has dominated Amazon’s top purchase list for almost two months now. Among some of the 12 rules he presents are the following. 

The Canadian psychologist, Jordan Peterson, has been in the news a lot recently. His latest book, “12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos” has dominated Amazon’s top purchase list for almost two months now. Among some of the 12 rules he presents are the following. 

Rule 2 - Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping. 

Rule 3 - Befriend people who want the best for you.

Rule 5 - Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them. 

Rule 9 - Assume the person you are listening to knows something you don’t.

Peterson has tapped into a growing desire in our culture, particularly amongst young men, for simple common sense advice on how to live well. The subtitle of his book “an antidote to chaos” helps us to see that for many people, the idea that chaos, be it moral, existential, or domestic (Peterson thinks that the best thing most of us can do in the morning is to make our beds), has simply not been shown to produce happy and successful people. Rather chaos has given birth to chaos. At the most basic level Peterson is offering his readers a rudimentary formation in living well. 

Tonight the Lord invites us begin our entry into his passion and death; gathered before the altar of sacrifice, we are drawn once again into the mystery of our redemption. Tonight the Lord Jesus, already bitterly betrayed, and knowing that soon his most intimate friends will flee, nevertheless desires to give them his most precious gift; the gift of himself in the Blessed Sacrament. Tonight the Lord does not give us bread and wine, the symbols of his presence amongst us, rather he gives his body and blood, his soul and divinity. Tonight he hands himself over the apostles, gives himself to be their food and drink. Tonight his promise to make them his home (John 14.23) becomes a reality. Tonight they consume the Lamb of God. And tonight they are given the power, through the sheer stupendous grace of God, to make Him, the Lord of Glory, present on the altar. So deep is the love of Christ, so eager is he to be with his people throughout the span of time and history, that tonight in every Catholic church that same Lord Jesus will be made present, personally and bodily for us. Tonight we will consume the Lamb of God.

But there is more still. Tonight in the Gospel we will hear:

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13. 34-35. 

What is the new law? It is the call to love to the very end. But this new law is not written on a page in ink, a self-help guide for living life well, rather this new law is inscribed on the very Body of Christ. This law is given in the gift of his precious Body and Blood. Here, in the Blessed Sacrament in His Body and Blood, His Soul and Divinity, His Life and Grace, we are given the power to love to the end. Tonight at the end of Holy Mass we will carry the Most Blessed Sacrament to the altar of repose, and there we shall watch with Christ as he loves us into death and life. The Eucharist is our formation, our antidote to chaos, our life plan. Here we see and learn and taste the only rule of life that truly matters; the power to love like Christ, yes to love to the very end. 

The lamb is to be "roasted whole," it is written in the Book of Exodus. You will assimilate Him completely. No longer will you merely feast your eyes. No longer will you satisfy your curiosity but satisfy your soul; no longer feed your mind but your faith; no longer yeam for your instruction but for your construction. "Christianus alter Christus" To teach us to become Christians and to say not "I live," but "Christ lives in me," Jesus offers Himself to us completely, body and soul. He presents us with His own key, He teaches us to imitate in our secret lives all that is done by the Christ in Him, He yields Himself to our touch with a tact infinitely more delicate and more thorough than that of the saint's fingers when they probed the open wound. 
(Paul Claudel: Positions II, 64)

Br Isaac Maria Wharton O.P.

Br Isaac Maria Wharton O.P.

Br Isaac Maria became a Catholic after reading the anthropology of Pope Saint John Paul II and beginning to go to daily Mass.  After studying as a diocesan seminarian, he entered in the Order of Preachers in 2016.  His particular interest is in moral theology; particularly how a Thomistic understanding of virtue can speak to the theory and practice of psychotherapy. He is also interested in spiritual theology, especially the work of Saint John Cassian and the 20th century mystic, Caryll Houselander. He loves 19th and 20th century Russian literature, and the literature of Cormac Mccarthy. | isaac.wharton@english.op.org


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