Christ’s gift and a Mother’s gift…Gospel meditation for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

by Angela Lambert

eucharist and crowd

May 29th, 2016; The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

 Gospel of Luke 9:11b-17 NAB

Jesus spoke to the crowds about the kingdom of God, and he healed those who needed to be cured. As the day was drawing to a close, the Twelve approached him and said, “Dismiss the crowd so that they can go to the surrounding villages and farms and find lodging and provisions; for we are in a deserted place here.” He said to them, “Give them some food yourselves.” They replied, “Five loaves and two fish are all we have, unless we ourselves go and buy food for all these people.” Now the men there numbered about five thousand. Then he said to his disciples, “Have them sit down in groups of about fifty.” They did so and made them all sit down. Then taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing over them, broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. They all ate and were satisfied. And when the leftover fragments were picked up, they filled twelve wicker baskets.

Meditation Reflection:

Christ loves us with His whole being.  He became man that He might personally uplift our hearts with His truth, extend His hand to heal our wounds, and feed us with His own Body and Blood.  Mothers have the privilege of experiencing this kind of self-gift.  A mother literally shares her body with her child and shares in Christ’s pain at his or her birth.  A mother continues to feed her infant with her own body and tend to the constant needs of her newborn.  As her child grows a mother does everything she possibly can to care for the child’s physical, emotional, and intellectual development.  Mothers take joy when their kids eat and grow, when they can comfort and guide them, and when they can make sure their child knows how loved he or she is.

Christ urges us to trust Him and His love as well.  He soothes us in our worries assuring us of His care:

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on.  Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not of more value than they?…But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.” Matthew 6: 25-33)

Today’s Gospel confirms that Jesus cares about our needs, even the basic ones like what’s for dinner. Moreover, He can provide in surprising ways since He can do the miraculous.  The crowd of thousands ate their fill after having spent the day in a deserted place listening to Christ speak about the kingdom.  So many times we try to cure ourselves or numb the pain in ways that only turn out to be self-destructive and leave us hungering.  Instead, we should try reaching out to Christ in prayer and receiving the cure for all our pain in His Eucharistic Body and Blood.

Jesus heals our hearts and frees us from the lies that we allow to burden us.  He forgives our sins and gives us a new start with the grace and hope to be better.  He fortifies us with His strength to persevere and He gently provides rest for our soul with His peace.  He does all of this personally, directly, through His incarnate and immanent presence in the Eucharist.  Christ gave His Body and Blood on the Cross to give birth to our new life.  He instructed us to take and eat of this same Body and Blood which He made the sacrifice of the New Covenant.    The Son of God became man that He might dwell among us and apply His grace to our soul.  Today we honor the gift of His Body and Blood through which He feeds us superabundantly, strengthens us, comforts us, and nourishes our growth.  Through the gift of His most holy Body and Blood, we receive life.  Moreover, He continues to provide this gift that we might grow in health and maturity to the fullness of Christian life in the kingdom of God.

Consider:

  • Imagine you are one of the person’s in the crowd listening to Jesus speak about the kingdom of God and curing all those who needed it.
    • What would you hear Jesus say?
    • From what would He heal you?
    • How might His Truth and His touch free you?
    • Consider how you have this very opportunity at the Mass – to hear Christ preach about the Kingdom through His priest and to touch you through His Eucharistic presence.
  •  Consider how a mother gives of her body for her child.  A mother’s love tends to be a complete self – gift.  Consider how the gift of her very body and blood, given in love,  is a unique way to give of her whole self in imitation of Christ.

Make a Resolution (Practical Application):

  • Reflect on the gift of Christ’s most holy Body and Blood on the Cross and in the Eucharist each day this week.
  • Attend a daily Mass this week in addition to the Sunday Mass.
  • Give Christ your own Body through a physical sacrifice. Cheerfully offer Christ your labor of service for your family or work, look for a providential opportunity to serve Christ with your physical efforts, offer your sickness or suffering, or prayerfully consider something to fast from each day.

 

~ Written by Angela Lambert © 2016

* To receive these weekly posts automatically in your email just click the “follow” tab in the bottom right hand corner and enter your email address.

 

Advertisements

The Most Marvelous Mystery! Gospel Meditation for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

by Angela Lambert

May 22nd, 2016; Solemnity of the Most Trinity 3Holy Trinity

Gospel of John 16:12-15 NAB

Jesus said to his disciples: “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming. He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you. Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.”

Meditation Reflection:

The mystery of the Trinity transcends our comprehension and its reality cannot be rightly conceived in our imagination.  At the same time, God desired that we know something of His nature and being. Christ revealed this truth during His public ministry since we could not have known it otherwise. Still, we lack understanding without supernatural help and so Jesus explains to His apostles, “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth.”  When the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles at Pentecost, He opened their eyes of faith, elevated their understanding, and fortified their courage to believe and proclaim such wonderful truths.

The Holy Spirit continues His work today in our own hearts as well.  We know from Genesis that we image God, but because of sin we struggle to know what that looks like.  Through Baptism however, the Trinity comes to dwell in our very souls.   His image grows within us and begins to radiate more and more brightly in our minds and in our lives to the extent that we cooperate with His gifts.

So what is the Trinity? What did God reveal about Himself? What are we supposed to image?  The Church explains it in this way:

“The Trinity is One. We do not confess three Gods, but one God in three persons, the “consubstantial Trinity”.83 The divine persons do not share the one divinity among themselves but each of them is God whole and entire…” (CCC 253)

“The divine persons are really distinct from one another. “God is one but not solitary.”86 “Father”, “Son”, “Holy Spirit” are not simply names designating modalities of the divine being, for they are really distinct from one another: “He is not the Father who is the Son, nor is the Son he who is the Father, nor is the Holy Spirit he who is the Father or the Son.”87 They are distinct from one another in their relations of origin: “It is the Father who generates, the Son who is begotten, and the Holy Spirit who proceeds.”88 The divine Unity is Triune.” (CCC 254)

The divine persons are relative to one another. Because it does not divide the divine unity, the real distinction of the persons from one another resides solely in the relationships which relate them to one another” (CCC 255)

Understand?  Great!  Just kidding.  I can explain…kind of.  First, we must accept that we cannot fully comprehend or imagine the Trinity so let go of that goal.  However, it does not mean that we can know nothing of the Trinity.  God revealed His Trinitarian reality and so we ought to accept and contemplate this mystery with the help of the Holy Spirit.

First, God is one.  He has one divine nature.  We tend to imagine it divided into three parts but this is where our imagination fails us.  Each person of the Trinity is wholly God.

Secondly, God is three.  Our imagination tries to reconcile this with His oneness by imagining God as having three different modes or faces but being essentially the same.  Not the case.  God is three distinct persons.

So how can God be one and three?  In heaven you will see the face of God and something of this mystery.  This incredible vision will be the source of joy so great that you will have to be supernaturally empowered to take it in without being overcome.  Live a holy life so you can one day have this awesome opportunity!  From Christ’s teachings we know that God’s oneness and threeness reveal that His essence is one of relationship.  God is a relationship of Three Persons.  I mentioned in a prior post that when God created us in His image, He created a family.  A man and a woman become “one flesh” and a child is born who is both of their nature and yet distinct as well.  The union of persons in life-giving love images God who is also a union of persons in life-giving love.  Is it no wonder that Satan’s primary attack against God is directed at His image; thus Satan’s efforts to promote a self-centered individualism in contrast to the other-centered gift of self required for an intimate union of persons?

We cannot imagine God’s Triune nature but we can contemplate it and try to live as an image of it with the help of the Holy Spirit and the graces of the Sacraments.  Baptism unites us to God and each other, the Eucharist nourishes that unity, and Confession reconciles us when we have separated ourselves through sin.  The more we open ourselves to God the more we will see Him.  That process begins on earth and the joy that accompanies it begins here as well.  We can look forward with hope and anticipation to the day that God enables us to see more of Him in heaven and we will be free to sing endless songs of praise and love.

Consider:

  •  Consider your relationship with God the Father.
    • What does it mean to be a son or daughter of God?
      • Consider your dignity as an heir of heaven where your Christ your brother reigns as king and Mary your mother reigns as queen.
      • In a family, each member is irreplaceable. You are an irreplaceable member of God’s family.  You matter to God and to every member of the Christian family.
    • How does that affect the way you see yourself?
    • How does that affect the choices you make?
  • Consider your relationship with God the Son.
    • God became man so you could encounter Him directly. He shared in the human experience so He could be closer to you.  Reflect on times you have encountered Christ.
    • Consider the mysteries of His life – how has He experienced similar sufferings to yours?
    • He still draws near to you today through the Eucharist and His Mystical Body the Church. Reflect on the immanence of Christ in your daily life.
  • Consider your relationship with the Holy Spirit.
    • The Holy Spirit opens our eyes to see Christ and enlightens our understanding to appropriate His teachings.
    • When was a time the Holy Spirit brought comfort and peace to your soul?
    • When was a time He gave you fortitude and perseverance in your Christian walk?
    • When was a time He gave you wisdom to discern the right choice to make when faced with a difficult decision? Invite the Holy Spirit to guide your decisions today as well.

Make a Resolution (Practical Application):

  • Take a moment today to appreciate God’s creation.
  • Visit Christ present in the Eucharist.
  • Pray to the Holy Spirit each day to reveal God more to you, and to transform your heart that your life might reveal God more to someone else.

 

~ Written by Angela Lambert © 2016

* To receive these weekly posts automatically in your email just click the “follow” tab in the bottom right hand corner and enter your email address.

 

 

Holy Spirit, Help Me!…Gospel Meditation for the Feast of Pentecost

by Angela Lambert

20150913_234534244_iOS 20150920_001542533_iOS

 

May 15th, 2016; Pentecost

Gospel of John 14:15-16, 23b-26 NAB

Jesus said to his disciples: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always. “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him. Those who do not love me do not keep my words; yet the word you hear is not mine but that of the Father who sent me. “I have told you this while I am with you. The Advocate, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.

 Meditation Reflection:

Christ’s greatest gift to us – the first fruit of all of His suffering, death, and resurrection, the first thing He asks the Father on our behalf from His throne in Heaven – is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  In the gift of the Holy Spirit we experience the mystery of the Trinity.  God is one and therefore the Spirit makes Christ present in our soul along with the Father.  At the same time, God is three Persons, and therefore Jesus explains that He must ascend to Heaven so that the Spirit may descend upon us.  Because Christ merited the forgiveness of our sins, His Spirit could begin His work of cleansing us and sanctifying us.  The Spirit applies the healing balm of Christ’s sacrifice to the wounds of our sins and works as fast as we will allow to help us regain spiritual health and freedom.

The Spirit is the primary mover in our conversion.  He prompts us to turn to God, provides the strength to actually make the conversion, sanctifies our souls with the grace of Baptism and the sacraments, then guides the ongoing process of union with Christ.  At the same time, the Spirit requires our cooperation.  We can hasten or hinder His work.  It reminds me of trying to clean the house with my three kids.  Granted, a mother has to come to peace with a certain level of mess if she ever wants to survive motherhood.  At the same time, order and cleanliness lend beauty and peace to a home.  During those times when I attempt to clean everything up and restore order to the house my kids’ cooperation (or lack there of) unavoidably determines the success and timeframe of my effort.  When my kids were little I felt like a gerbil running in it’s wheel.  As soon as I cleaned up one mess I would turn around to find my kids had made another.  If I stopped to read with them or take them outside where they couldn’t mess up the house, I couldn’t clean it up either.   As they got a little older I could finally kick them outside to play while I cleaned inside or “quarantine” off rooms one by one from the kids as they were cleaned.  Still, work was often slowed by needs for water or snacks, complaints and fighting, etc.  My kids are now at an age where these challenges remain but they are old enough to pitch in and help. Our life is busier with activities and the house gets neglected by our rush in and out.  As a result, on days where we are all home I will tell the kids “We all have to work together for one hour and we can get everything back in order.”  I remind them that I can no longer do it on my own and I need their help.  I am amazed at how the house can turn around so fast when everyone pitches in.  That’s not to say that I don’t take the opportunity to clean when they are all away from the house and I can get things done uninterruptedly.  However, I’ve learned that I have to employ their help on a more regular basis with the schedule of the new stage we’re in.

Similarly, the Holy Spirit can work in our souls to the extent that we cooperate.  When our faith is still immature we tend to act like little kids – creating one mess after another.  We may feel like progress is slow and that God isn’t doing very much.  However, we need to be honest about our expectations.  Every parent who has ever stayed at home with the kids knows how hard they work all day with nothing visible to show for it.  The other parent may leave for work and return with the house looking the same or worse than when they left.  However, what’s not reflected in that picture is the hundreds of other messes cleaned up constantly, the love and nurturing that took place, and the work at developing a child’s heart and mind.  The Spirit works in our souls in a similar way – drawing our minds up to God, comforting us in our sorrows, forming our conscience, encouraging us, and cleaning up our constant messes.

As we mature in the faith we become less of a hindrance to the Spirit and He works more efficiently in our soul.  As we become less attached to sin the messes slow (some) and the Spirit can make greater progress teaching us about Christ and deepening our love.

Finally, the mature Christian cooperates with the Holy Spirit in the work of following Christ and grows quickly in union with God.  The Sacrament of Confirmation celebrates this as we receive an increase in the Holy Spirit and prepare to be soldiers of Christ, contributors to the faith we have received.

It’s natural for children to depend on their parents more heavily when they are young.  It’s also an expectation that they contribute to family life as they get older.  The Holy Spirit makes us adopted sons and daughters of the Lord.  Through His indwelling we experience the nurturing necessary for sanctification and mature love of God.  Moreover, He blesses us with gifts to strengthen and nurture the faith of others.

May we all this Pentecost, reflect on the gracious work of God in our lives, that others may say of us as the crowd did in Acts 2:11“we hear them speaking in our own tongues of the mighty acts of God.”

Consider:

  • Consider your cooperation with the Holy Spirit.
    • Ask the Holy Spirit to show you habitual sins you struggle with and pray for His help to overcome them.
    • Consider how you can grow in virtue so that the Holy Spirit can act even more powerfully within you. The virtue of purity especially increases the Holy Spirit.
  • Christ calls the Holy Spirit the “Paraclete.” Consider each of the meanings of Paraclete – “advocate”, “intercessor”, “teacher, “helper”, “comforter”.
    • When has the Holy Spirit advocated on your behalf? Consider the sins you have been freed from because the Holy Spirit advocated for you before the Father.  Consider a time when you need the Holy Spirit to advocate for you in the heart of another person.
    • The Spirit intercedes for us and teaches us how to pray.  Thank the Holy Spirit for His prayers on your behalf.  Spend 5 minutes of silent prayer just letting the Holy Spirit speak for you to God.
    • Ask the Holy Spirit to open your mind and heart to God’s word in Scripture. Ask Him to help you see God’s truth in the events of your daily life.  Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal Christ to you.
    • Consider a time the Holy Spirit gave you profound peace when you were suffering and in pain. Invite the Holy Spirit to bring His comfort now and for the grace to turn to Him first.
  • Paul tells us in I Corinthians 12 that the Spirit bestows different gifts upon Christians for the upbuilding of the whole body. Read I Corinthinas 12 and pray about what your gift is and how you can put it at the service of Christ.

Make a Resolution (Practical Application):

  • Each day this week ask the Holy Spirit to open your eyes to the presence of Christ, to your sins, and to God’s will.
  • Determine one way to grow in the virtue of purity and do it each day this week.
  • Ask the Holy Spirit for the opportunity to serve God with the gifts He has given you. Then take that opportunity each day.
  • Each day, take a minute to praise God for His mighty works in your life.

 

~ Written by Angela Lambert © 2016

* To receive these weekly posts automatically in your email just click the “follow” tab in the bottom right hand corner and enter your email address.

 

Longing For Nearness to the One We Love…Scripture Meditation for the Solemnity of the Ascension of Christ

by Angela Lambert

laudario_ascension_detail_sm

May 8th, 2016; Feast of the Ascension

A reading from Acts of the Apostles 1:1-11 (NAB)

In the first book, Theophilus, I dealt with all that Jesus did and taught until the day he was taken up, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. He presented himself alive to them by many proofs after he had suffered, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. While meeting with them, he enjoined them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for “the promise of the Father about which you have heard me speak; for John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” When they had gathered together they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” He answered them, “It is not for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has established by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” When he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight. While they were looking intently at the sky as he was going, suddenly two men dressed in white garments stood beside them. They said, “Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky? This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven.”

 Meditation Reflection:

Jesus spent forty days with the apostles before ascending to Heaven.  During that time He proved He wasn’t a hallucination or a ghost.  He ate with them, spoke with them, embraced them, and even let Thomas put his finger in the wound mark in His side.  Having finished preparing the apostles to lead on earth, Christ ascended to reign in glory by the Father’s right hand in Heaven.  The apostles were left staring at the sky wondering what to do next.  Christ gave them instructions to wait and promised to send the Holy Spirit who would teach them all they needed and so God could dwell not merely with them as He had been the last few years, but within them.  Two angels appear assuring them Christ would return and the apostles then waited in hope and longing.

The twelve experienced a tension every Christian in love with Christ faces.  They belonged to two worlds – their hearts remained with Christ but their bodies remained on earth.  Christians are not dualists however.  Christ remained present in a real and substantial way with His Church and His followers dwell with Him in Heaven even while on this earthly sojourn just in an incomplete way.  St. Augustine expressed this beautifully in a sermon that is read today in the Office of Readings:

For just as He remained with us even after His ascension, so too we are already in heaven with Him, even though what is promised us has not yet been fulfilled in our bodies.  Christ is now exalted above the heavens, but He still suffers on earth all the pain that we, the members of His body have to bear…Why do we on earth not strive to find rest with Him in heaven even now, through faith, hope, and love that unites us to Him?  While in heaven He is also with us; and we while on earth are with Him.”  St. Augustine – sermon; office of readings for the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord

Christ didn’t abandon us when He ascended but rather He enabled Himself to be even closer to us.  Through the indwelling of the Trinity, made possible through Baptism by the suffering, death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ, He is no longer limited by space and time as He was when He walked the earth.  During His public ministry, Christ often longed to stay at a place and continue His work, but had to move on to bring the Gospel to other.  Now, reigning in Heaven and dwelling in His followers, He can be nearer to us than ever.  Suffering with us, comforting us, rejoicing with us.

Moreover, St. Paul teaches that the Church is the Mystical Body of Christ with Christ as the head and His members as His body.  As a result we truly experience the grace and love of the Lord run through our veins and He experiences our joys and sufferings as well.  Every member of the body matters and every pain is endured by the whole body.  Stub a toe or break even a finger and everything seems to be affected.  Moreover, it seems as though when we have pain our brain can barely see past it without intentional effort.  Paul knew this reality intimately since Christ personally accused Paul of persecuting Him when he was persecuting the Christians.  In the same way, the health of the mind and the health of the body have a positive effect on all the members.  Making time to simply eat right, exercise some, get rest, and feed the mind energizes the whole person.

It may feel like a huge chasm between earth and heaven, but the only canyon separating the two is sin.  Because of Christ’s Paschal Mystery which merited Redemption for us, every person who seeks Him can find Him and everyone who wishes to remain in Him can do so through membership in His Mystical Body.  The sacraments provide a real and substantial connection between heaven and earth, the invisible and the visible, the perfect and the trainees.

Even the smallest separation can be intensely painful however depending upon the degree of love.  For instance, the more Teresa of Avila experienced union with Christ, despite having extraordinary gifts of rapture and brief moments of spiritual ecstasy, the more painful it became to endure everyday life without the intimate vision of the Lord.  Many saints speak of the same longing and even viewed death as a gift, their marriage to the Lord being fulfilled by crossing the threshold of their home together.

Our union with Christ will be fulfilled in heaven but it begins now.  We can be with Him as much as we allow Him to dwell within us and as much as we seek Him out in prayer and Sacraments.  Moreover, in this Year of Mercy, we are reminded that “whatsoever you do to the least of these, you do unto Me.”  Mother Teresa sought the Lord she loved in the poorest of the poor.  If you miss Christ and want to be near Him, you will find Him dwelling within you and in the poor around you, even those in your own home or workplace.

Consider:

  •  In what ways do you experience the beginning of heaven here on earth? (Remember heaven is union with God, joy and peace in His presence, enjoying the fellowship of loved ones…)
  • In what ways is heaven still distant?
  • Have you ever experienced the bittersweet pain of being physically apart from someone you love for a time? How did that distance deepen your relationship?  How did it feel when it was over and you could be together?
    • Consider your relationship with Christ in the same way. You can talk, relate, and love each other, but there remains a longing for being together in both body and spirit and being able to see each other.
    • Consider how the sacraments provide a real experience of heaven touching earth, of physically being near to the one you love.

Make a Resolution (Practical Application):

  • Spend time with Christ in prayer each day or at daily Mass.
  • Intentionally look for Christ in those around you. Seek His face in the poor (especially the spiritually poor).  Do one act of love and kindness toward Christ through one of His members.
  • Each day begin by recalling: “This isn’t heaven. I have to wait.  But the more Christ dwells in me, the more heavenly this earth will be.”

~ Written by Angela Lambert © 2016

* To receive these weekly posts automatically in your email just click the “follow” tab in the bottom right hand corner and enter your email address.

 

 

Attainable Unconditional Love…Gospel Meditation for the 6th Week of Easter

by Angela Lambert

sacred-heart-jesus-chambers-w600x810

May 1st, 2016; 6th Sunday of Easter

Gospel John 14:23-29

Jesus said to his disciples: “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him,
and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; yet the word you hear is not mine but that of the Father who sent me. “I have told you this while I am with you. The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. You heard me tell you, ‘I am going away and I will come back to you.’
If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father; for the Father is greater than I.
And now I have told you this before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe.”

Meditation Reflection:

“As the world gives” tends to leave a person bitter and disillusioned.  It begins with promises of security and pleasure but lacks real permanency or loyalty.  After awhile we even struggle to relax during periods of calm, worrying that it won’t endure long.    Nothing seems to last and this causes anxiety in good times and in bad.

The philosopher Pascal lamented that man is but a feeble reed, easily brought to its end by the smallest ailment.  Most of our lives, he asserts, are spent trying to distract ourselves from the unsettling dread we feel when we take time to think about the purpose of our lives or the reality of our mortality.  He concludes that this universal experience supports the fact that happiness can be found in God alone:

“All men seek happiness. This is without exception…And yet after such a great number of years, no one without faith has reached the point to which all continually look. All complain, princes and subjects, noblemen and commoners, old and young, strong and weak, learned and ignorant, healthy and sick, of all countries, all times, all ages, and all conditions…A trial so long, so continuous, and so uniform, should certainly convince us of our inability to reach the good by our own efforts.” Pascal Pensees

Pope Francis observed that we have created an entire “throwaway culture,” marked by the readiness to discard even relationships and people as soon as they become inevitably difficult.  Consequently, he says, people begin to despair and make the assumption that they will never experience unconditional love.  Because they have never experienced mercy, they conclude that they never will.  As a result, they struggle in the darkness of sin, feeling alone and without the possibility of healing.

The fragility of our era is this,  too:  we don’t believe that there is a chance for redemption; for a hand to raise you up; for an embrace to save you, forgive you, pick you up, flood you with infinite, patient, indulgent love; to put you back on your feet.  We need mercy.” Pope Francis, The Name of God is Mercy

Christ however offers the peace every human soul longs for – permanent, deep, and healing.  Moreover, we do not have to chase after it like a greyhound that will never catch the rabbit.  Rather, Christ bestows His peace freely as a fruit of His unconditional love.  To receive this peace we merely need to enter into a relationship of love with Him. Relationship with Christ is merciful and enduring.  Jesus doesn’t throw us away when we become difficult or even when we betray Him. He persists in pursuing us, binding our wounds, and transforming our hearts. His greatest pain, he revealed to St. Faustina, is our lack of trust in Him.  To Mother Teresa, He said, “I thirst”; meaning He thirsts for our souls and relationship with us.

Relationships are risky – they require two people to both freely choose to love one another.  No matter how faithful, how loving, how sacrificial one partner is willing to be, if the other walks away the relationship ends.  Christ is the ultimate risk taker.  He loves us no matter what, even if that love is unrequited.  Moreover, the partner who walks away suffers the greatest loss because he or she closes himself off from the riches of the other partner’s love.  When we walk away from Christ, we close ourselves off from the love He longs to bestow upon us.

Jesus offers peace, love, and joy.  All we must do is live in a loving relationship with Christ.  To do this He says, we must follow His commands.  We live in a wounded world confused about authentic love.  Jesus teaches us through His commands and offers the perfect example for us to imitate.

We can chase after the illusion of love or embrace the God who is love.  If we choose the latter, God will dwell within us and our joy will be complete.  It feels more risky because it’s harder to see at first. Ultimately however, it’s the soundest reality and truest love.

Consider:

  • Jesus says, “Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.” What do you allow to cause you anxiety and fear?  Surrender each thing to the Lord and entrust your concerns to Him.
  • Reflect on the love of Christ. Consider the freedom and joy experienced by the saints in every generation for the last two thousand years.
  • Reflect on how Christ has blessed you over the course of your life. Then reflect on how He has blessed you this week. What needs has He met?  What has He conquered for you?  When have you felt the embrace of His love?  When have you experienced His beauty or glory?

Make a Resolution (Practical Application):

  • Examine your day each night or morning.  Thank God for His blessings.  Recognize when He came to your aid.  Identify when you failed to love Christ or your neighbor and ask for Jesus’ help to do better the next day.

 

~ Written by Angela Lambert © 2016

* To receive these weekly posts automatically in your email just click the “follow” tab in the bottom right hand corner and enter your email address.