Devotional Thought of the Day:
20 Then Jesus went home. Again such a large crowd gathered that Jesus and his disciples had no time to eat. 21 When his family heard about it, they set out to take charge of him, because people were saying, “He’s gone mad!” Mark 3:20-21 (TEV)
910 Your ideal, your vocation: it’s madness. And your friends, your brothers: they’re crazy. Haven’t you heard that cry deep down within you sometimes? Answer firmly that you are grateful to God for the honor of being one of those “lunatics.”
It’s been a while since mad was a synonym for crazy, but the idea is that you are not in control of your emotions, and your emotions are in control of you.
It sounds like an odd description for Jesus, the one who is fully God, fully man! Especially the fully God part. Can God really be mad, crazy, a lunatic? There were times people were sure he was insane, a raving madman.
Who else would tell people to love their enemies? To not stand against what was evil? Who would demonstrate these were not just sayings, but would actually prove the logic of the madness.
And while we may doubt the sanity of some of his followers, Jesus did tell us the world wouldn’t understand our madness, even to the point they would persecute us.
There is another word for the madness, in Hebrew, it is cHesed; in Greek, agape; in Olde English, it was Charity; in modern English, the depth of the word love. An affection, a care for someone where you do what is best for them, no matter the cost. Where you put their salvation before your comfort, and often times, their comfort before you own need, or wants, or desire.
Not just those like you, Jesus makes that clear in Matthew 5. All people.
Which means you must know His love, and how it put you first, without any thought of cost. To know God’s love…because He loves us, we love Him.
This is madness to the world, but it is God’s logic, God’s love… it is reality.
Escriva, Josemaria. The Way (Kindle Locations 2116-2118). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Discussion and Devotional Thought of the Day:
11 “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My commandment is this: love one another, just as I love you. John 15:11-12 (TEV)
749 Your charity must be adapted and tailored to the needs of others… not to yours. (1)
It sounds simple and nice, this idea of loving one another.
I think we romanticize it, not in the sense of erotic love, but in the idea of some kind of peaceful utopia. That all we need is love, and somehow the world will straighten out, the Middle East conflicts will resolve, the kidnapped girls in Nigeria will come home, those who have suffered from hurricanes, earthquakes, and drought will find all they need.
Love, and the relationships, the deep intimate relationships that are created and bound in love are the farthest thing from some restful utopia. Ask any mother who has to care for a newborn, There is a deep level of love, but it isn’t all cooing and cuddling. It’s waking up every 2-3 hours to feed and change them, it is dealing with sickness, even when you are sick, it is learning to discipline and teach, it is sacrifice, it is work.
Intimate relationships between soldiers are no different (again we aren’t talking sexual – but simply things so close they can’t describe the bond between them, the extend they will go for their brothers, the sacrifices they make, without hesitation, without thought of cost. It simply is a bond that goes beyond description, that means more than life itself.
In these two examples, and in so many others, the words of St Josemaria are found to be true. Love isn’t about our needs… its about life lived in community, loving others as much as we love ourselves. Walking in the steps of Jesus, who did this better than us all.
In the book of Romans, I was amazed by how many times the prefix syn/sun shows up, How many times the concept is one where we are joined to each other, and the Holy Spirit is likewise joined to us. It is an incredible journey, not just theologically, but together. We share in our calling, our joys, our sorrows, in prayer, in being gathered in hope, and in prayer. Romans isn’t just about the mission and the question of predestination, it is not just about Justification and gifts and Israel.
It’s about a life lived in relationship – a deep relationship between God and His people. A life that can be messy, and painful, that can be sacrificial to the point of heroic, a life that is full of Love… May God enable us both to desire this, and to do it… with Him
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 3118-3119). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
1 I may be able to speak the languages of human beings and even of angels, but if I have no love, my speech is no more than a noisy gong or a clanging bell. 2 I may have the gift of inspired preaching; I may have all knowledge and understand all secrets; I may have all the faith needed to move mountains—but if I have no love, I am nothing. 3 I may give away everything I have, and even give up my body to be burned —but if I have no love, this does me no good. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (TEV)
18 But someone may say: So you have faith and I have good deeds? Show me this faith of yours without deeds, then! It is by my deeds that I will show you my faith. James 2:18 (NJB)
111 Your faith is not operative enough; it seems that you are over-pious, rather than a man who is struggling to be a saint. (1)
For centuries, the church has fought over the issue of how faith and works are seen in our salvation. It is not a new fight, a new argument, and historically, it is like the mystery of a pendulum. In simpler words, we see the church, and even denominations of the church swing from one extreme to the other. First the extreme of trying to save ourselves through our work, trying to find the way to discipline ourselves, forcing ourselves to do things, so that we can prove the change. As we fail (and often miserably at this) we go to the other extreme, rediscovering that we are saved by faith alone, and not by our own merit. The pendulum then swings to the extent that we consider our works and our faith completely separate. We heavily criticize any attempt of spiritual discipline, even if it doesn’t involve us.
If we take a breath, if we ignore the pendulum swing, we see the common error, and possibly see the solution that James points out, that the comment from Escriva touches upon. The struggle to be a saint is not about our appearing pious or holy, It is not about what we do to make ourselves good, or even just look good. It is not about having miraculous powers (though those may appear), it isn’t about having the right words, or even being able to make the wrong words seem right. Knowledge fails as well as faith. We can be quite successful by making our selves into martyrs, annoying the hell out of everyone.
If those things aren’t birthed in love, they are worthless, and that is where both faith and works are born, and where they find their synergy. Where their find themselves working together, energized by the Holy Spirit together. For both faith and works are not native to us, but rather are the work of God in us, transforming us, Neither faith nor works save us, if they are faith generated within us, apart from the Holy Spirit, or works that we are doing to gain God’s favor. That is why St. Josemaria talks about it places operative in something other that being over-pious.
For being pious, or holy is not about what we do, it’s about being broken enough to let God do what He would do, in us. It is about being humble enough to remember that we are in God’s hands, not our own, It is there, in God’s hands, where faith is strengthened, where we find the love that is the power source for the miraculous, that sustains our trust/faith in God, that finds the desire and ability to sacrifice for others. It is that love that testifies of Christ, even until our death.
To live as a saint, is to live within the glory of God, within His love, firmly secure in His embrace of our hearts, our minds, our very lives.
It’s a struggle, not to be pious, not to prove our devotion, those aren’t the struggles of being a saint.
The struggle of the saint is to dwell in the love, to give up our rights, our ideas, our quests to prove ourselves worthy. Instead, the struggle is to see His work in our lives, as He takes charge, to see His will be done, to depend on Him for sustenance, and to know mercy – both know we’ve received it, and to know we can show it. To get through times of temptation, and to know we are protected and delivered from evil.
To be be able to say with our whole heart – that to God belongs all the kingdoms of our lives, that He is the power that establishes and sustains us, that to Him all glory belongs……
Faith and works? They come from knowing God is God, and we are His beloved people.
It’s that simple.
Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 664-665). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.