Devotional Thought of the Day
26 Look at the birds: they do not plant seeds, gather a harvest and put it in barns; yet your Father in heaven takes care of them! Aren’t you worth much more than birds? 27 Can any of you live a bit longer by worrying about it? 28 “And why worry about clothes? Look how the wild flowers grow: they do not work or make clothes for themselves. 29 But I tell you that not even King Solomon with all his wealth had clothes as beautiful as one of these flowers. 30 It is God who clothes the wild grass—grass that is here today and gone tomorrow, burned up in the oven. Won’t he be all the more sure to clothe you? What little faith you have! 31 “So do not start worrying: ‘Where will my food come from? or my drink? or my clothes?’ 32 (These are the things the pagans are always concerned about.) Your Father in heaven knows that you need all these things. 33 Instead, be concerned above everything else with the Kingdom of God and with what he requires of you, and he will provide you with all these other things. 34 So do not worry about tomorrow; it will have enough worries of its own. There is no need to add to the troubles each day brings. Matthew 6:26-34 (TEV)
The teaching of Christ even requires that we forgive injuries, and extends the law of love to include every enemy, according to the command of the New Law: “You have heard that it was said: Thou shalt love thy neighbor and hate thy enemy. But I say to you: love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who persecute and calumniate you” (Matt. 5:43–44).
You are not happy because you make everything revolve around yourself as if you were always the centre: you have a stomach-ache, or you are tired, or they have said this or that… Have you ever tried thinking about Him, and through Him, about others?
There are a bunch of pictures on the internet this week, making fun of men who are suffering colds. Harsh and cruel to see when I am suffering with a cold. I thought I was over it, until this morning when I coughed so hard I strained a muscle under my collarbone. With a significant level of Pain, I am at work, trudging along when I came across the quote in blue above.
Ouch. Now my shoulder and my conscience hurt.
But the idea brings to light something I have been realizing more and more in the last few days.
We don’t’ take suffering well! We wil do anything avoid it, and if we can’t avoid it, we want peopel to share in it, as if their pity will somehow minimize the effect it has on us. If we complain enough, it is possible to get so addicted to the care, to the attention, that we will subconsciously make even the littlest inconveniences, critical.
It is amazing though, what can be accomplished through the suffering, even when through the times where we are ruled by our anxiety, when we pray and keep our focus on is Jesus. When we realise the love of God our Father, who cares for us. It is then we find the focus that enables us to push through, to care for ourselves, but also to care for others.
This is what the gospel reading is communicating to us. Know God cares, and if He watches out for us. more than He does for daisies, or birds or anything else. He cares for you.
Which brings me to topic #2 for the day, which is mentioned int he green quote.
We can make our emotional and spiritual injuries all about us as well, compared to being all about, well us. It may be the words stung us, or could hurt the people we care about. We wallow in the injustice like we just lie there in our bathrobe with a box of kleenex and a bottle of ginger ale, watching the movies or shows we have dvr’d months ago. Instead of being flooded with phlegm, we are overwhelmed by our hurt, anger, and resentment. We feel sorry for ourselves, and we want others to feel sorry for us as well. we go over and over the story, remembering the pain being greater with every re-telling, and we convince ourselves that this event, those words, that moment in time was why we suffer throughout our lives.
What we need is the gospel to free us, we need to look at the suffering and realize it is nothing compared to the life we have in Christ, and abundant life that resentment may cloud for the moment, but that Christ’s love and mercy burns through, healing us, reconciling us to Him, and therefore to the one who is also forgiven because of the cross.
Our abundant life isn’t wrecked by a cold (even when the cough causes us to pull a muscle. Even when the memories of injuries seem so dominant. For these things cannot separate you from the love you have in Christ.
Just look to Jesus and cry out, “Lord have mercy!”, and be confident that He has kept His promise…
Catholic Church. (2011). Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World: Gaudium Et Spes. In Vatican II Documents. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana.
Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 531-534). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
8 Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude. 9 Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will bless you for it. 10 For the Scriptures say, “If you want to enjoy life and see many happy days, keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies. 11 Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it. 12 The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right, and his ears are open to their prayers. But the Lord turns his face against those who do evil.”1 Peter 3:8-12 (NLT)
738 Those who zealously keep a “list of grudges” show themselves to be very narrow-minded souls! Such poor wretches are impossible to live with. True charity neither keeps account of the necessary services it renders all the time, nor takes note of the effronteries it has to put up with. Omnia suffert—it endures all things.(1)
“As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.” (2)
A few movies, the one that comes to mind first is Invictus, Morgan Freeman portraying Nelson Mandela using sports – something other than politics, to unite a people too long divided.
Assuming the movies and the books are correct, the most remarkable thing he did was not to survive nearly 3 decades brutally imprisoned, or becoming the first black president of South Africa. What is amazing to me is that he did it without (apparently) giving voice to the resentment that could have built up over those years. He didn’t take action and get revenge, something that he could have done, with the authority he wielded. What is amazing to me is that healing that happened to Mandela’s soul, healing that enabled him to lead in a way that din’t bring a pendulum swing to the nations politics, but rather seems to have ushered in a journey towards justice and making things right.
It would seem to me, that this freedom from the burden of resentment, of a thirst not for revenge but for justice, is what makes this man remarkable. It’s not something we do easily as humans, for our desire to hold onto our hurts and pain from being betrayed runs strong. Think of movies – how many conquer evil by force as opposed to by allowing themselves to be martyred? Think of the rush of… joy(?) we get when evil gets its due punishment, or our cries for justice for us, without thoguht of what it might cost others. Somehow, the power that Mandela received was not used for evil, for revenge and satisfying a demand for retrinution.
Personally, I think this is due to his faith, which seems to have grown during his imprisonment. The model of Christ who didn’t have to put up with the constant questioning of his work, the beatings, the crucifixion. The man who brutalized his followers would become a leader among those followers. His followers would face torture and death with the same kind of instinctive love, as they asked God not to hold sin against those who tormentented them.
This blog isn’t about praising those martyrs, or even Mandela.
It’s an invitation to know the freedom that they knew. To get rif of the resentment you’ve build up over the years, to rid yourself of the thirst for revenge. Realeased from that…evil, binding, crap, to find joy, to find joy even in serving those who previously treated us in an evil way. That is healing. That is what St. Josemaria, another man hated and treated evilly by both those who oppose Christ and those who claim to follow him, is talking.
I invite you to share in it… I invite you to an altar where it is made real. As Christ would feed you His Body and Blood, given as promised to you, in order to prove that sin, all sin, is forgiven.
SO drop it there… your sin, the sin committed against you… and rise to know a peace that goes beyond anything you could ever expect, that you could ever explain. Know Christ is with you, and all else… can be forgotten.
(1)Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 3072-3076). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
(2) Nelson Mandela – quote taken from: http://pastors.com/20-quotes-from-nelson-mandela-a-leader-who-truly-changed-the-world/
- On Mandela : Invictus (purelybooks.blogspot.com)
- Resentments & Forgiveness (pattypooh67.wordpress.com)
- Can a Christian Leader let his people fail? He must! (justifiedandsinner.com)
- Will God hear even me today, in this mood I am in? (justifiedandsinner.com)
- The Purpose of Theology (justifiedandsinner.com)
- Is it insane to keep doing/teaching/preaching the same thing over and over, and expecting… (justifiedandsinner.com)