When I turned 64 this year, it came as no surprise that I would receive several texts of the Beatles iconic numeric song from my kids. I’m glad to confirm that they will still “feed me” and “need me.”
As a child of the late ’50s/early ’60s, I had grown up with the Beatles and had memorized all of their songs. I purchased their first 45-rpm record with saved up allowance money and read everything about them. As I grew older and more sophisticated in my musical tastes, they grew as well. And while I wavered from the Church and my faith, I never stopped believing that the “Fab Four” were (and still are) some of the finest musicians and composers in history. I loved the poetry and melodies of their songs.
What I didn’t see then, and am only seeing now with the eyes of faith, is how the evangelization of Jesus permeates their songs.
The Beatles and God Reflected in Nature
Now I’m not referring to the way that one would play the album backward to hear a subliminal message. Nor was there any intent, at least what we know, by the Beatles to preach about the Kingdom of God and Jesus. What has changed is the listener, me. The filter through which I see, hear, and observe all that is in the world is now more tuned into the Kingdom of God which is all around us.
Indeed, Jesus is literally bombarding us with His teachings at every turn, if we will only seek to encipher them. And, if we choose, we can join His “coup” to institute His Kingdom on earth. As C.S. Lewis so aptly wrote, “Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say in disguise, and is calling us all to take part in His great campaign of sabotage.”
His messages come through boldly in nature, through others, and in His words. In her Story of a Soul, St Therese of Lisieux reminds us, “Since Jesus has gone to Heaven now, I can only follow the traces He has left behind. But how bright those traces are! How fragrant and divine! I only have to glance at the Gospels; at once this fragrance from the life of Jesus reaches me, and I know which way to run.”
The Paschal Mystery is reflected over and over in each birth, death, and rebirth of every seedling, every animal, and the rising of the sun each day. God’s creation story permeates everything of beauty that we, His sons and daughters, admire, create and nourish, and His selfless love transcends everything. It is indefatigable and undefeatable.
Yield to the Awareness
“Let all creation help you to praise God,” implores St. Paul of the Cross. “When you are walking alone, listen to the sermon preached to you by the flowers, the trees, the shrubs, the sky, the sun, the whole world. Notice how they preach to you a sermon full of love, of praise of God, and how they invite you to proclaim the greatness of the one who has given them being.”
Of course, it would be the Franciscans, following their leader from Assisi, who would best remind us to listen to the otherworldly messages of Jesus that surround us. St. Anthony of Padua declared that “[t]he Lord manifests Himself to those who stop for some time in peace and humility of heart…If you want to see the face of Christ, stop and collect your thoughts in silence, and close the door of your soul to the noise of external things.”
Recently, another Franciscan, Irish Capuchin monk, Brother Richard Hendrick, wrote:
There is never a room that you will enter that Divine Love is not already in.
There is never a conversation you will have that Divine Silence is not already a part of.
There is never a place that you will go to that Divine Providence is not already holding in being.
There is never a person you will meet who is not already the temple of Divine Presence.
There is never a wound suffered that is not already an encounter with Divine Mercy.
There is never a breath that is not already Divine Breath breathing in your breath the breath of Love.
There is never a moment passed that is not already an experience of the Divine Now of Grace.
So be at peace … and simply … gently … yield to the awareness of Divine Presence and know that in the yielding is the opening awareness of Love.
He is in, around, and throughout everyone and everything. Yet we, full of pride, work very hard to ignore Him. And this brings me back to the Beatles.
The Love You Take
Although “Let it Be” was written about Paul’s mother, it speaks to me perfectly about our Mother Mary. “When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me, speaking words of wisdom: Let it be. And in my hour of darkness, she is standing right in front of me, speaking words of wisdom: Let it be.” George Harrison’s hauntingly beautiful melody is perfect for his words reflecting the gaze of Jesus: “I look at you all, see the love that’s there sleeping, while my guitar gently weeps…”
Finally, in the Beatles final song as a group, Paul McCartney sums it all up succinctly. “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”
We can choose to live in His Kingdom right now. Lend Him your ears, and, with a little help from your friends, that long and winding road will lead you to His door.