Devotional Thought of the Day:
But if we confess our sins to God, he can always be trusted to forgive us and take our sins away. 1 John 1:9 CEV
We need not worry about success because our love is guaranteed success, even if it does not move our neighbor to respond. For if we are one with Christ as members of His body, then our love is part of Christ’s love. It is not just an imitation from afar but a participation from within. And Christ’s love is guaranteed success, even though it was crucified in us and often continues to be crucified by the world. It is guaranteed success not because of its intentions or goals, but because of where it comes from: the Son’s perfect obedience to the Father.
671 “Jesus remains silent.”—Iesus autem tacebat. Why do you speak, to console yourself or to explain yourself? Say nothing. Seek joy in contempt: you’ll always receive less than you deserve. Can you, by any chance, ask: Quid enim mali feci?—“What evil have I done?”
Defending ourselves has become a national past-time it seems.
Some of us do so by going on the offensive and pointing out the flaws in others. Unless we are brave, we do this by social media. That way we add another layer of defensive offense to our armored position.
Others of us just back to the old ways, and attempt to rationalize and justify whatever it is we have done wrong. To explain why it was better to do it “our” way. We might even blame it on God, projecting some command, twisting it, to make us look better. After all, we were just obeying orders!
Maybe we fear that taking the silent approach simply confirms our guilt and the shame that goes along with it. But surely, we aren’t that concerned with what “they” think?
Escriva notes that we will earn less contempt than we deserve, and I believe that is true. Kreeft points us to the fact that if we are crucified for being wrong, let it be crucified for loving others. Hard concepts to act upon, and yet, that is what we do.
This is completely logical! If we are accused of anything else but loving God and those around us, we deserve the scorn. If we are accused of doing that which is truly loving, then we are in the same situation as Jesus, and are assured that HIs sacrifice was used by the Father, so would ours be. He wins when that happens, and because we dwell in Him, so we win as well!
Either way, defending ourselves is worth so little…
So what if we are guilty, what if they are right? What if we are the ones who have done wrong?
1 John says it is simple to take care of that…
Let God absolve you, go to your pastor or priest, and let them tell you what you need to hear, what devours the guilt and shame, leaving behind joy and freedom. And the ability to know the same love that nourishes our very soul, which enables us to love sacrificially. Even if the sacrifice is our very lives.
So either we are loving as we should, proving God is with us, or we are corrected by our error and absolved to love as we should.
Either way, defending ourselves would simply get in the way…
Rejoce, the Lord is with you, and He will take care of the situation!
Peter Kreeft, The God Who Loves You (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 26.
Escriva, Josemaria. The Way . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
19 And I will give them singleness of heart and put a new spirit within them. I will take away their stony, stubborn heart and give them a tender, responsive heart, 20 so they will obey my decrees and regulations. Then they will truly be my people, and I will be their God. Ezekiel 11:19-20 (NLT)
933 Jesus, may my poor heart be filled from the ocean of your Love, with such big waves that can cleanse me and expel from me all my wretchedness. Pour those most pure and ardent waters of your Heart into mine, until my desires for loving you are fully satisfied and I can no longer hold back my response to your divine ardour. My heart shall surely break then, dying for Love, and pour out that Love of yours which, in irresistible and most fertile, life-giving torrents, will reach other hearts that will beat through contact with these living waters, with the pulsating force of Faith and Charity. (1)
At all times and in every race God has given welcome to whosoever fears Him and does what is right. God, however, does not make men holy and save them merely as individuals, without bond or link between one another. Rather has it pleased Him to bring men together as one people, a people which acknowledges Him in truth and serves Him in holiness. He therefore chose the race of Israel as a people unto Himself. (2)
For many of us, this is the last day before the beginning of Lent.
I’ve already seen people posting on FaceBook and Twitter the things they are going to give up. The usual list appears, chocolate, sugar, alcohol, they’ll read the Bible where they used to watch their favorite television shows, they’ll give up going to the movies, using the money to help those in homeless shelters. Even some have dared say they will give up FB, or Instagram, ( maybe this explains snapchat invitations rising?
People are willing to give up things that do them damage, to attempt to control the cravings that so easily entice them, To enter into a time of discipline, to make sacrifices. Those that have been at it for a while also know they need to replace these things with better habits. If they do not the temptation will rise, and failure will happen like it did with our New Year’s resolutions.
I have a suggestion if you are still looking for something. Even if you have already decided on something, consider this as well. It will be tough; it will be challenging. It will cost you something you are not that willing to give up.
Give up your isolation, your individuality. Give up your defensive walls that have been so carefully erected and protect your pride and self-esteem. Get involved in people’s lives! Let them into your life. Even those with whom you struggle to get along. Talk to them, invite them to sit next to you at church, or go and sit near them. Find ways to let them into your life, and love them.
This isn’t easy, yet for those who trust in Jesus, it is His nature. It will take faith, not in your strength, not in the hope they will change, but in trusting in Jesus promise. Remembering God is with you, right there in those moments, you can depend on His promise, that all will work for good. He knows your love, He chose you, He will take care of you.
It is God’s design, it is how we are to live, not just loving God but loving His people, and all the people whom He would call His own. The words from Vatican II struck me this morning, as did St. Josemaria Escriva’s. The nature of being transformed by God’s love gives us a new heart, a heart from which His love pours out, to those around us.
So go and get involved in that Bible Study, even encourage someone to join you. Take a step of faith and take on a new ministry at church. Buy that homeless guy lunch; talk to that lady sitting by herself at the table next to you as you eat dinner with your family at a restaurant. (Even invite her to join you!)
Trust in God’s love! Know He is with you! See Him in each of those you meet! Then this sacrifice of you, will not seem like a sacrifice at all. It will be a great joy!
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 3294-3298). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
(1) Catholic Church. (2011). Dogmatic Constitution on the Church: Lumen Gentium. In Vatican II Documents. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana.