“I have chosen and consecrated this house, says the Lord, that my name may be there forever.”+ (2 Chronicles 7:16) [+ Gospel Acclamation for the Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome.]
(Romans 13:8-10, Psalm 112, Luke 14:25-33)
Love. That is the whole point today. For who needs a law when someone is truly loving someone and giving his self for that person? All the law is summarized into one word…LOVE. Is the loving thing always easy? No. When I have to discipline my child is it easy when she gives me those eyes and the little lip? No. Am I doing it to hurt her? No it is because I love her and want her to grow to be a loving person who thinks of others before herself. I think that is the key to the Gospel as well. God is saying unless we put him before all things We are not worthy to be his disciple. Yet doesn’t true love do that anyway? Here is the challenge. I don’t know about you but it makes me take stock. Is there anything in my life that does not go in line with this standard? I think for most of us, even generous people, it is a daily struggle to put God first when it comes to a plan that I might have and God gives me something else.
God is a God of order and he desires us to put that order in our life. How much time do we give him? Is he the priority or do I spend my day on lists to do? If I am God’s child do I act in a manner worth pleasing Him? Do I treat my body as if it is such by eating well and exercising? These things play out each day in the decisions I make. Setting aside time in healthy rhythm to participate in living my life ordered to Him. My house flows much more smoothly when I keep the Lord ever on my mind than when I am anxious about if I get this done or that. There are the core things I am learning to put first and everything sorta falls into place. Do I have bad days? We all do. It is just what we decide to do and embrace that which is in front of us.
It seems to me we live in a very busy culture. In today’s Gospel we see that Jesus was running into the same thing. To one he asked “come for my feast,”and it was responded with, “I just got new oxen.” To another, and he was answered, “I just got married.” To another and “I just got land.” But isn’t that the same attitude we encounter? God gives us so many graces and we say to him, “I need to walk the dog,” or “I need to wash the dishes,” or “I have this or that engagement,” and we end up sidestepping Him all together. And what is the profit anyways off all the good things we receive if we put them before God? The one who invited ended up inviting others who would take the time to enjoy his invitation. That should be a lesson for us and a challenge. Where are my priorities? Am I living them out? God Faith Family Friends Work ecetera.
It is the same when it comes to the body of Christ. We though many, are one Body in Christ and idividually parts of one another. St Paul continues in his letter to the Romans, “Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us let us exercise them.” He goes on to list various areas of prophecy, ministry, teaching, contributing and says do that. My favorite: If one does acts of Mercy, with cheerfulness. He goes on to list some basic things that he said all should participate in:
- exercise hospitality
- endure affliction
- persevere in prayer
- Rejoice in hope
- Bless those who curse you
- Associate with the lowly
to name a few. So what is it that keeps us from living out the Christian Life? When we get over attached to the gift and not the Giver. Because in one sense, we do have our obligations and yet on the other we have the invitation. The problem arises when we put our ideas above what God is asking. How much we need community to live out these gifts of ours! It becomes much easier to grow and thrive and love God with all of our being. We can’t be an island then. So the next time when asked to do something take stock, “Does this fall into what God is asking of me?” or “Am I just doing what I always do for the sake of it?” Please don’t just retreat into your busy schedule but step up to the plate in becoming one of the Family of God and prioritize to follow the list of St. Paul to be a holy people set apart, to love and be loved in return. For God wants us to be one and not just farmer brown or Edna Realtor or Mom Jessie but the Body of Christ. Be radically different from the world and don’t get lost in your schedule.
(Romans 12:5-16A, Psalm 131:1-3, In you Lord, I have found my peace, Luke 14:15-24)
But I will be an encircling wall of fire. I will be the glory in her midst. Zecariah 2:9 What a beautiful verse! Looking at the footnote for this verse, divine protection for an unwalled Jerusalem, my mind began turning and it grabbed my attention. We live in tumultuous times. Very dangerous times. There has been no time in history where woman has been so exploited and used and flaunted before men and even moreso now with the introduction of the Internet. No wonder we have such walls and self-reliance and we close ourselves off. She looks so much for her own protection from the mass of the world around it. Some of this is God-given to that innate desire for safety and yet it is also fear of being made into an object that can be used. Now is like no other time for looking to one’s own needs and interests. These selfish desires and vain fears drive one to almost complete insanity. One needs divine protection from both the world and oneself.
Yet this is the amazing thing; God encircles us and puts that wall of fire around us. What is the need for fear when we have Almighty God who is all-powerful in our corner? It is in our life that He puts His hand and carefully guides and creates boundaries and guidelines to reach us and keep us safe and happy. Very true that we need Him because on our own power we can do nothing. What a comfort to know that His hand surrounds us and brings us to life. God sets guideposts to show us which direction to turn. i.e. a friend’s gentle reprimand, a phrase from some song or book, little details that catch our attention.
Does this mean that we will be free from all hardship and suffering? No. It is also precisely this that shapes us. It is in this that we can find freedom and joy even. “Now how is that?” you might be asking. “How can this pain give me joy?” Because we know that if God is for us an encircling wall of fire than nothing that happens to us is an accident. It gives us the place for abandonment that our heart desires. We need somewhere to place our trust. Does this mean that bad things that have happened are okay? No. It means that in an evil world we can have hope that God will bring victory to the just and He will bring good no matter how dark it gets. Why? Because I will be the glory in her midst. Yes all have fallen short of the glory of God and sinned yet it is God who builds the wall from our mistakes. Lord make up for what is lacking in me, for what I have left undone, and what is hidden from my eyes.
And with this knowledge comes fire; that burning desire to move on and hold up our heads. God is holding us by the hand and inflaming our will to choose to walk in His ways and follow His footsteps. This indeed is the energy that moves mountains and makes valleys high. It is the zeal that gives us the grace to persevere even the toughest of crosses and hardest of falls. This brings to mind the two disciples of Ephesus, Were not our hearts burning within us? We encounter the Lord and in that encounter we can bring great change.
“Yes,” you might be saying, “but then why is my life so humdrum boring?” Perhaps you need to get back in touch with the Divine and order your life to His commands. Maybe there is an area that God is showing you that He will touch; some hidden corner that needs healing. There is not one ordinary thing done with love that will go unnoticed by Him and it is precisely in these little acts that bring Him the most joy. This should give us hope. Make room in your heart by offering up this little ache of monotony and trust that by abandoning your life to Divine Providence you will be filled to overflowing and that losing your life you have saved it. You have joined your life and its joys and sufferings to Our Lord’s. You can by this save the world. If God suffered so must we. We have become sharers in his suffering but also his glory.
See Jeremiah 31:10-13
The Lord will guide us as a shepherd guides his flock
“Pay attention to what I am telling you.
The Son of Man is to be handed over to men.”
Can’t see the color here.
Little details binding down
That is called the nothing box.
Thanksgiving is a cure
Saying the need
Voicing so others can say
You are in your nothing box.
I am not gifted
I am not good at that!
I am horrible at X
These come from your nothing box.
Open the box.
Think of what you have.
Your SOMETHING box.
Little treasures hidden within
Waiting to be uncovered.
When you find yourself
In your little corner
Hemmed in by the henchmen
I need to see in my box
It isn’t empty
Oh nothing box go away!
Pray, trust, and don’t worry. These are wise words from one of my favorite saints. It is a lot harder to do than you would think. So then what should be done to find that happiness and joy and peace one desires?
LIVE in the NOW. So much of life is spent either 1/regretting the past 2/worrying about the future that the present joys of today slip right by unnoticed and unappreciated.
STOP stressing over NEGATIVE. One can notice so many things wrong that what is right is overlooked. A cloud of negativity can quickly poison your outlook and steer you in a direction not worth going.
THANK God for his HANDIWORK whether you like it or not. ie pretty flower, standstill traffic, complement from a friend, achievement at work, frustration in self-growth.
PRAY EVERYDAY. Life is a relationship with the Creator and Savior. Life is so empty unless we are given the opportunity to be more than we think possible. This can only be done with daily communication not just empty words but really saying things as they are and learning to listen to what is given us in the day-to-day and in scripture.
BE HEALTHY. Eat balanced meals 2/3 complex carbohydrates and 1/3 lean protein. Exercise. Even if it is as simple as going for a walk around the block.
BE HAPPY. Look for little treasures. Thank God for them. Try to receive the fulfillment He desires to give.
ADORE. Often sit in God’s Presence in wonder and awe. Lay stuff out on the line for him. Leave your burdens and move on.
EMBRACE what life is currently offering you whether suffering or joy.
Life matters. Those aha moments that keep the clock turning. It seems that life wouldn’t be able to role without the little interventions that keep our feet moving. How would you like to explore this more deeply with me? Grace Godcidents I like to call them.
What do you mean by that?
Grace moments to shape and form us into better people or to bless and guide us. But I suppose this doesn’t exactly make clear what I’m driving at. Perhaps it would help if I go a step deeper. GRACE. This, as St. Paul says, is a free gift. This is a direct intervention of something beyond ourselves to grant power and strength beyond natural capability. It is TRUTH that shines brightly to give a heightened understanding and knowledge of something.
So what does this “free gift” of direct intervention do to me?
The simple answer to this is it gives us clearer vision to see how life is. But it is not always an easy aha. Sometimes the truth hurts dreadfully. Life is meant to be more than the natural day to day. We were made for more. To be more means to purged, cleansed, set free. We want a perfect paradise with red carpet and all the trappings.
Wait, RED CARPET? Luxury? Some fairy godmother to grant my every wish?
It’s true. I know that I would like life handed to me at times but that isn’t how it works. Paradise exists and it will come but we have to be made worthy to become partakers in this grand place. But this isn’t a place of materialistic pleasure and sensual lusts. It’s deeper than that. This side of Heaven is not easy. It’s not that we have to just work work for this attention and generous beneficence. We already have the attention and generosity of the Unmoving Mover…the Creator. We are infinitely loved and made in His image and likeness. We were created to share in this divine life. He gives it…and desires our participation and communion.
But I’m not a god. Far from it. I fall very short. How can I be in communion with GOD?
Good question. You can’t ugly sinner on your own effort. That is where graceful merit comes in. This God loves us so much that he desires our co-operation. He desires to help us get there. On our own we fall short by a weak nature. But God desires to make us into new creatures. Intervention is granted to assist us in becoming that fit royalty. But we have a choice though.
Bring it on! Camera flash and limousine is exactly what I’m looking for if I have a ticket in.
Choice is a lot harder than it sounds. When we open ourselves to the Divine Beneficiary we must be a pure vessel. Vain delights do not bring pleasure but an aching emptiness and objectifying of people and things. They bring a small distorted and blind reality. We see then that we were created for more. It is precisely in those moments of painful clarity of our sinfulness that we have the chance to receive divine assistance and little by little become better. This existence is more than just a pleasureful experience. We are given a ticket. But how would your host feel if you showed up at an special event in junkie jeans and a shirt of rags? That is exactly what we are. We have to get ready and work out as well as receive help to be fit for the King. That means a little suffering now for glory later.
Yes at times ouch. I agree. Sometimes though the ouchness is a result of our own choice to take the easy way. Sometimes it is the consequence of choosing a life that is self-sheltering and focused on gain. But couldn’t we enjoy the reward MORE if we didn’t have all that clouding our vision to act? It is a pretty empty life focused on the reward only. What about the giver? He won’t give if we don’t open up and we will not become better unless we ask and try to work at being better recipients who don’t squander the richness of his love.
Here is to challenging that part of us that has disquietude. Here is to those crying out “Lord Help me grow from my imperfections!”
Meditation (3) taken from ‘An Introduction to the Devout Life’ by St. Francis de Sales.
“THE flowers appear on the earth,” says the Heavenly Bridegroom, and the time for pruning and cutting is come. And what, my child, are our hearts’ flowers save our good desires? Now, so soon as these begin to appear, we need the pruning-hook to cut off all dead and superfluous works from our conscience. When the daughter of a strange land was about to espouse an Israelite, the law commanded her to put off the garment of her captivity, to pare her nails, and to shave her head;even so the soul which aims at the dignity of becoming the spouse of Christ, must put off the old man, and put on the new man, forsaking sin: moreover, it must pare and shave away every impediment which can hinder…
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I’m here again the lonely voice. God has sent me to say “I love you and I have a plan for you.” So what is this plan you might be saying. I’m just sitting on a bench. I’ve seen pretty much all my friends go off and do amazing things and I’m stuck here dishing pizza. You know what? I’ve been there. But i have discovered something. It isn’t going off and doing amazing things. It is about doing what you have well. It is about being who you are right where you are. No matter how dumb it may seem God has something for you. Just wait and see. It is the experience now that gets you to your calling. Where you are now is building you for the next step. Please hang in there and know me, your sister, is praying for you. God will soon show you the next step. But it will come in the way and the time it is meant to. Not a penny sooner.
“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.…” (Galatians 5: 16-17)
So much happens when we journey down the road of holiness. Some things we like others we don’t. The flesh pushes very hard to receive its own will. It is the age old struggle since Eve. The apple was very good to the eyes and she took it. It is pretty much the same for us. Yet we don’t want to hurt God outright. For those of us who are serious about the walk in holiness the evil one has to find a way to stop progress that goes under radar.
How about distorting holy reflection? Pondering is a good thing when it is done in the spirit of joy like Mary pondering these things in her heart. But here’s the catch. Is it a mistrustful doubting of ones capacbility and Gods power? How about an over zealousness to do the right thing? Pretty soon one’s peace of mind can be lost and we find ourselves in a place that is dark, mistrustful, and depressed. It can be so subtle almost unrecognizeable. God is present deep down and the path he directs is true. Are my thoughts true?
Being disconsolate is a sin against God’s goodness. It means either 1. God is trying to get our attention 2. As a consequence to choosing something other than God like sin. The remedy is contrition and thanksgiving. Keep walking and frequent yourself with prayer and the assistance of loved ones to hear what it is you are telling yourself and challenge you to be better.