Devotional Thought of the Day:
22 In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary. 23 And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect those parts that should not be seen, 24 while the more honorable parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. 25 This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. 26 If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad. 27 All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.
1 Corinthians 12:22-28 (NLT2)
The more fragile and vulnerable the persons are, the more we have to recognize their worth. Their dignity has to be aided, loved, defended and promoted. This is not negotiable
You see the videos start to come out this time of year, the football games where, i the last minutes, a young man is substituted in, and runs the entire field for a touchdown, cheered on by the players of BOTH teams.
Usually, the young man is affected by Down’s Syndrome, or perhaps is autistic. He usually just hangs out with the team, and wins their friendship by their determination to do whatever they can do. And so the “reward” for being part of the team is the run for the touchdown, The chance to be the star of the game and the center of attention for an accomplishment that only someone “normal” could make.
Yet oddly enough, it is that play that the teammates will remember all their lives, it is that moment that will impact them more than the trophies, more than the victories, it is that moment that defines them.
While it appears to be all about the young man who will score, it is about more than that. While it appears to be something to boost one person’s self-esteem, it is far more than that.
It is about our collective soul, about the fact that we aren’t just a group of individuals, but that we are, one people.
And as such, we cannot deny the dignity of an individual without comprising the entire body of humanity, without the entire community of mankind.
And yet we do this, as trash-talking has moved off the court, and off the field, into our daily lives. We see it constantly as criticism, so widespread in our culture, is so rarely constructive, but meant to belittle, to tear down, even destroy those we see as so different from ourselves.
Yet, all we are doing is destroying ourselves. When we fail to see the dignity in the baby in the womb, or the elderly person who only can devote their time to prayer. When we can’t see the work of God in the creation of our adversaries, when we try to eliminate the people in our lives who are a pain in our ass, what we are doing is crushing ourselves. We don’t know how weak and vulnerable they are, though we all know we need to find God as our refuge….as our safe place.
The answer to this, in my opinion, is understanding the nature of our baptism. For there, Paul tells, the Romans and Colossians, we are joined with Christ’s death, and raised with Him. We are united to Him, and we are promised that hear the Spirit replaces our heart with Christ’s, and our minds are renewed to be like Him.
But if this happens to one of us, it happens, they become part of the whole Body of Christ. And the great cloud of witnesses cheers us on, as we run the race set before us, which Christ has already won for us all.
So, before you open your mouth, before your fingers type that next message on social media, this about the blessing of your baptism, and the blessings the other person has received or hopefully will receive soon, and instead of tearing them down, hand them the ball… and run beside them in the race!
Pope Francis. (2013). A Year with Pope Francis: Daily Reflections from His Writings. (A. Rossa, Ed.) (p. 329). New York; Mahwah, NJ; Toronto, ON: Paulist Press; Novalis.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
10 and have put on the new self. This is the new being which God, its Creator, is constantly renewing in his own image, in order to bring you to a full knowledge of himself. Colossians 3:10 (TEV)
871 Tell him slowly: Good Jesus, if I am to be an apostle, and an apostle of apostles, you have to make me very humble. May I know myself. May I know myself and know you. Then I will never lose sight of my nothingness.
875 Lord, help me to be faithful and docile towards you, sicut lutum in manu figuli, like clay in the potter’s hands. In this way it will not be I that live, but you, my Love, who will live and work in me.
Each of us suffers from a delusion about who we are.
Some of them are simply naive, the young kid who thinks they will be the next Tom Brady ( or in my day Roger Staubach), the beautiful lady who thinks she is too fat, the average guy, who believes he is God’s gift to women, or the person that believes they are worthless, and beyond hope.
We each live, caught in the maze of self-delusion. We don’t really know who we are, or what we are worth, or why we are worth anything.
This is one of the benefits of having a relationship with God; for as we are drawn closer to him, as He transforms us, our identity becomes clearer and clearer. An identity that finds contentment and serenity in knowing we are God’s creation, His masterpiece, the children He loves.
There is a paradox in this quest for self-awareness, in our search for the answer to “Who am I?” It requires an incredible amount of humility to realize the masterpiece (Eph 2:10) that we are. It requires that we intimately know and are aware of God here, in our lives. Not just the doctrine of His omnipresence, but the presence of God, the real, active, intimate presence of God in our lives.
That is what it means to have a full knowledge of God. We aren’t talking about theological knowledge, but moving with God, dancing with Him, confident of His presence and guidance. It is then, as He reveals Himself to us, that we realize what our transformation is going to result in when it is complete. Being in the image of God, not that we will be gods in our own right, but that we will have the qualities He has, especially the quality of being able to love purely. The transformation happens as God strips away those delusions, as He draws our eyes to Him, This is what Jesus meant when He taught, “25 For if you want to save your own life, you will lose it; but if you lose your life for my sake, you will find it.” Matthew 16:25 (TEV)
Is this easy? Nah. We are still going to pick up our self-delusion, dust them off and try them on again. We will try to convince people are far better than we are. We are still going to battle what we’ve convinced ourselves of, that we have no worth. Which is why we don’t do this journey alone, it is why we have each other, pointing each other to Christ, reminding each other that God is at work and that He promised all things work for good for those who love God.
He is with you, and the more you know that the more you can cry out to Him, and have the confidence that He listens, answers, does and transforms you!
So relax, stop trying so hard to find yourself, relax and realize He is your God. AMEN!
Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 3091-3094). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought for our Days:
3 I’m speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it’s important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him. Romans 12:3 (MSG)
821 Work with humility. I mean, count first on God’s blessings, which will not fail you. Then, on your good desires, on your work plans—and on your difficulties! Do not forget that among those difficulties you must always include your own lack of holiness. You will be a good instrument if every day you struggle to be better.
We are no different than the children who put on superhero costumes for Halloween.
There is a part of us that wants to be the best, at something, anything.
Especially the idea that we are the best at what we do, whether it is a parent needing the hero for their kids, or being the superstar at work, the one everyone turns to, that everyone counts on, the person who is indispensable.
We want to be the heroes
We’ll even attempt to the difficult, the impossible if that will lift us up, not just for the praise, but for the acceptance. For heroes are always accepted, aren’t they? They always are welcome, aren’t they?
But this desire to be accepted, to be the hero, to be indispensable will fade, or we will fail. For we can never do enough, not for those whose favor we want, but to assure us own hearts that we will never be forgotten.
Compare this drive to the idea of humility, the idea of knowing who we are based on who God is, and what He does for us. I love that St. Josemaria says that humility is counting first on God’s blessings. Humility then is not a matter of self-abasement. It is not primarily an understanding of who we are, of recognizing our talents and limitations. That comes into play, but even then, that should drive us back to the first step.
Who God is: our Father, our Brother, our COmforter, our deliverer, our Lord, and Shepherd. WHat He does for us, creation, reconciliation, and as we are united to Jesus, the miracle of holiness happens to us. We are holy in Him, in no other way, yet so incredibly transformed by the Holy Spirit.
This happens as the Spirit enables us to trust, to depend, to have faith in God, who loves us.
You want to be the hero? Why? You have one, and that Hero has provided what you need, accepting you, making you His child, treasuring you!
Humility is found in depending on this. The Lord, your God, is with you…always!
Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 2912-2916). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
28 We know that in all things God works for good with those who love him, those whom he has called according to his purpose. 29 Those whom God had already chosen he also set apart to become like his Son, so that the Son would be the first among many believers. 30 And so those whom God set apart, he called; and those he called, he put right with himself, and he shared his glory with them. Romans 8:28-30 (TEV)
68 It is all too easy to say: “I’m useless; nothing turns out right for me—for us.” Apart from not being true, that pessimism masks a great deal of laziness. There are things you do well, and things you do badly. Fill yourself with joy and with hope on account of the former; and face up to the latter—without losing heart—to put things right; and they will work out.(1)
It creeps up on us slowly, like a tiger stalking its prey. We are doing okay, perhaps struggling a bit, and then, as things seem to fall apart, it strikes.
It’s our fault, the reason we aren’t successful, or happy, or even simply content. Sometimes even when we are achieving our goals, because we aren’t achieving them fast enough, or the results aren’t as awesome as the next guy.
We beat ourselves up, perhaps we listen to voices of our pas, the voices that were trying to spur us on, but tore us down.
We think we are failures, no good, useless, that nothing good will ever come from us. So we extend ourselves, we go after some other proof that we aren’t worthless. A better car, another degree, a nice house, We try to find success in our children, or perhaps in our ancestors. We find distractions, support groups, we listen to “positive thinking” speakers, and we surround ourselves with people who we think will lift us up…. and they don’t, for they are the same as us,
That is where faith, where confidence in God comes to play.
He’s promised all will work out for good – all things! All things! Even what we perceive to be our failures. Maybe especially in those times, as we get to our wits end, as we are bottoming out.
It is then that we have to remember He is with us, it is the only answer to the despair e feel. But as we find the joy that is found in knowing God, in understanding what His presence means, in realizing His promises are for us; we find the joy, the peace, the mercy to realize there is something more going on in life. That God is here, crafting everything into something that is a blessing beyond our wildest hope.
Filled with that joy, we leap into life, we take the opportunities that come, not to bring ourselves glory, but to see God glorified. To know that our lives are in His hands, and there is no better place to be.
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 506-509). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Discussion and devotional thought of the day: Another interesting thing popped up at the end of my devotions this morning.
” Don’t expect people’s applause for your work. What is more, sometimes you mustn’t even expect other people and institutions, who like you are working for Christ, to understand you. Seek only the glory of God and, while loving everyone, don’t worry if there are some who don’t understand you.” (1)
I have to admit a problem with this one, not that I like applause, but rather that I like confirmation. A strong amen at the end of the sermon, a “like” or a “share” on one of my posts that has a special meaning to me. (as opposed to those where my sarcasm and cyncism rules) I want people to grasp how deep and wide and broad and high is God’s love for them in Christ, and they instead get the point about social action I want them to realize that we need to rid ourselves of idols, and they focus in on giving to others. I want them to realize the key to worship is realizing they are in the presence of God, and the use my writings to either attack or defend the worship flavor they prefer.
How frustrating it is when people don’t get it!
I need to step back at these points, to realize my blindness is as desperate as theirs, just on different issues.As maybe the depth of their trust and appreciation of God’s love. My job isn’t to stimulate their growth to be like me, but to help them focus on Jesus. To see His glory, not to admire my turn of the phrase.
As I’ve spent the last year reading the works of St Josemarie Escriva, I look back and see somethings that have resounded in my soul, and others well, I would try to argue with him about if he were around. Some I need to think through, some like today’s, well hit me between my eyes (see yday’s blog – you’ll see my point.
So maybe I will just write – and if it blesses you praise God, and if you don’t care for it, or don’t get it – That’s okay. The only thing you need to get is Jesus, -who will rescue you from your sin. (Not sure its a sin – it is…don’t think it is – check against scripture – it probably is) Let Him rescue you, let Him bring you to glory…
Know His love, revel in the relationship you have with His people in His presence….
Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 1068-1072). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.