Thoughts to encourage our love for Jesus!
“You are blessed when they insult you and persecute you and falsely say every kind of evil against you because of me. Matthew 5:11 (CSBBible)
St. Teresa wrote this admirable maxim: “Whoever aspires to perfection must beware of ever saying: They had no reason to treat me so. If you will not bear any cross but one which is founded on reason, then perfection is not for you.”
If I work out at a gym, I expect the next day I will be sore. That’s just cause and effect. It is reasonable and logical.
If I treat someone badly, I ought to be treated badly in return. I am the cause and the effect is just and right. (Even though I do not like it – one bit!)
But it is when I am treated unjustly, when I want to say, “I don’t deserve this,” or “they have no reason” as St. Teresa noted, that I encounter trouble. When I am trying to help, and I get mauled by the person needing the help. That is when I tire, and I grow weary and I want to just hang it up.
It is illogical, in this world where sin and brokenness abounds, to think that everything will be justifiable, that everyone will simply love us, because we are trying to show them Christ’s love.
It is also illogical when we know that Jesus says “love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you” (Matt. 5:44, and Paul teaches us to “bless those who persecute you, bless them and do not curse them” (Roman 12:14) to expect that we won’t have enemies and persecutors. We should expect opposition, and that the opposition is not reasonable, logical, and often painful.
Yet, it is wrong, it is sin, if we do not love, pray and bless them.
I don’t like that.
But that doesn’t give me the right to become as disobedient and unreasonable as my heart cries out to be.
And it doesn’t mean passively taking their abuse, for loving, praying and blessing them is as more active than hating, scheming against them, and cursing them. It requires to think about what is truly best for them, and to lovingly do those things, seeing them through.
It is not easy…to take up such a cross, such a burden. It requires realizing the love of Christ for us, even the love that drive Hi to the cross when our sin tortured Him (and the Father) and learning to find the rest and peace that comes from Christ dwelling in us. To understand that He is the answer to every injustice. This isn’t about living in the brokenness – it is about living in the love of God,
ANd for those that do not know such peace, may we pray they leave their dissonant, broken lives and are drawn into Christ as well.
Alphonsus de Liguori, The Holy Eucharist, ed. Eugene Grimm, The Complete Works of Saint Alphonsus de Liguori (New York; London; Dublin; Cincinnati; St. Louis: Benziger Brothers; R. Washbourne; M. H. Gill & Son, 1887), 427.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
10 Now there was a believer in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord spoke to him in a vision, calling, “Ananias!” “Yes, Lord!” he replied. 11 The Lord said, “Go over to Straight Street, to the house of Judas. When you get there, ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul. He is praying to me right now. 12 I have shown him a vision of a man named Ananias coming in and laying hands on him so he can see again.” 13 “But Lord,” exclaimed Ananias, “I’ve heard many people talk about the terrible things this man has done to the believers in Jerusalem! 14 And he is authorized by the leading priests to arrest everyone who calls upon your name.” 15 But the Lord said, “Go, for Saul is my chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as to the people of Israel. 16 And I will show him how much he must suffer for my name’s sake.” 17 So Ananias went and found Saul. He laid his hands on him and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road, has sent me so that you might regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Instantly something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he got up and was baptized. 19 Afterward he ate some food and regained his strength. Saul stayed with the believers in Damascus for a few days.
Acts 9:10-19 (NLT2)
675 It’s true that he was a sinner. But don’t pass so final a judgment. Have pity in your heart and don’t forget that he may yet be an Augustine, while you remain just another mediocrity.
How can we hate people as much as we do? Just a glimpse on social media this morning, I see people attacking homeless, immigrants, the President, the House of Representatives (both sides), athletes, Muslims, conservative Christians, those who have had abortions, those who are pro-life, Hollywood and Netflix, people who liked the new Star wars, and those that found major issues with it.
It is spiritually exhausting, all this hatred.
We not only judge their actions, but we also condemn them and assume they are and will always be demonic.
It is as if we don’t believe God is capable of turning them as if God has never had to deal with sinners before, and is incapable of transforming them into saints.
Ananias needed to be converted as much as Saul did. His reluctance shows it, as his faith wasn’t in the God who was transforming him. Did he think God didn’t know who He was sending him to baptize?
Do we believe God does not desire these people we hate to come to faith, to repent, to be transformed?
If we did believe their salvation was possible, would we spew our hatred out on Facebook and Twitter the way we do? Would we try to justify it when we are challenged on our words and actions?
I would imagine this affects us more than we know, go if we realized God could save them, then perhaps we wouldn’t hesitate to go to God, confessing our own sins, our own darkness, our own doubts.
We need to be cleansed of all sin, and all unrighteousness, including our doubt that God can save all people, that the cross paid for all sin. That in Christ, all can be considered holy. The more we trust in HIm to save and transform others, the more we will see what He is doing in us.
Trust Him, He is at work, seeking to save the lost, all of us.
Escriva, Josemaria. The Way . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought for our day:
22 Then Peter took him on one side and started to remonstrate with him over this. “God bless you, Master! Nothing like this must happen to you!” Then Jesus turned round and said to Peter, “Out of my way, Satan! … you stand right in my path, Peter, when you look at things from man’s point of view and not from God’s”
24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone wants to follow in my footsteps he must give up all right to himself, take up his cross and follow me. For the man who wants to save his life will lose it; but the man who loses his life for my sake will find it. For what good is it for a man to gain the whole world at the price of his own soul? What could a man offer to buy back his soul once he had lost it? Matthew 16:22-26(Phillips NT)
When you want to control your abandonment in the hands of God, the tenderness of your filial relationship is lost. Neither ideology nor psychoanalysis or sociological interpretation of the mystery knows of tenderness. Rather, they know the art of manipulation, not of caress.
You want the world to change.
You can’t understand why the problems in our society exist, why there is hatred, why people can’t work together. You want them to change (whoever “them” is) and you easily get frustrated by their actions.
I get that, I am tired of my own anger at people who are angry at people who are angry because they are reacting against what they perceived as unjust.
I’ve got some news for you (and it applies to me), the change and the peace we seek doesn’t begin with their change, it begins with the change that needs to happen in us, in you and me. It starts with your giving up all rights to yourself. It starts with your relationship to God. It starts with you letting God be God and trusting Him to do exactly what He promised to do in our lives. You need to let Him guide you in life, and listen and follow. Not partially, but totally.
As Pope Francis notes, you can’t really control your abandonment in the hands of God.
There is a reason for this, which he explains as “the tenderness of our filial relationship is lost”. What that means is that as we play God, as we determine we are in control of our lives, we forget and lose track of our relationship with God. We forget about the fact we are His beloved children (hence filial – that of a son), we forget that He desires we walk with Him. , we forget about the love our Father in heaven has for us.
All this happens as we try to take control of our destiny, for 10 minutes or for a lifetime. THat is what Jesus talks about in that trying to save our life, we lose, but if we abandon it to the care of the Father, to the guidance of the Spirit, to the work of Jesus on the cross, we gain it.
And we gain a sense of justice, a sense of righteousness that God fills our life with. We realize that righteousness means we love those we consider unlovable, and rather than just condemn those who acts are unjust and unrighteous, we put them in God’s hands, We pray that He would spare them by transforming them just as He is doing to us. We work to help them realize they are His beloved children and that He has saved them from their sin. That is how injustice is fixed, first as we remember that Jesus’ work has committed us into the Father’s hands, and then, abandoning our will, our destiny, our life into his hands, we see Him work miracles, reconciling others through our work, as He guides us to love them.
Easy? No, and yet yes. He does the work! We have to just stop fighting Him…..
The cost? Already paid for on the cross of Calvary. The blood of Christ that was spilled that sin would be covered, and separated from the sinner.
This is our hope, whether the injustice is minor, or national. That Christ came to redeem the ungodly, and we have seen it happen in our lives.
So go, in His name, and love.
Pope Francis. A Year with Pope Francis: Daily Reflections from His Writings. Ed. Alberto Rossa. New York; Mahwah, NJ; Toronto, ON: Paulist Press; Novalis, 2013. Print.
Discussion/Devotional thought of the day:
“Don’t fear God’s justice. It is no less admirable and no less lovable than his mercy. Both are proofs of his love.” Escriva, Josemaria
To think of Justice as an act of love is challenging, primarily because I don’t think we understand justice. We see it primarily as punitive, and in an eternal sense – there is something to that. But justice in scripture is also righteousness – and in that form, it cannot abide unrighteousness,
It seems to be that we want God to work on the injustice in the world, that which we see as not being righteous. The challenge is wanting Him to do the same in our own lives, even as we pray it occurs in our communities and countries. And ultimately, His righteousness is proven in how He deals with our unrighteousness – He keeps His promise – His sacred covenantal promise and makes a righteous people by putting their injustice and unrighteousness on someone else- that His justice may be seen.
May we find that love every day, as we look at crosses that surround us – testifying to His justice, His mercy and His love!