Why We (even Luther and a Catholic Saint) Need a “Safe Place”
Thoughts that help us to adore Jesus, and encourage our devotion to Him..
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead 4 and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you. 5 You are being guarded by God’s power through faith for a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 You rejoice in this, even though now for a short time, if necessary, you suffer grief in various trials 7 so that the proven character of your faith—more valuable than gold which, though perishable, is refined by fire—may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; though not seeing him now, you believe in him, and you rejoice with inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 because you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls. I Peter 1:2-9 CSB
When we really come to admire and love the most sacred humanity of Jesus, we will discover each of his wounds, one by one. When we undergo periods of passive purgation, which we find painful and hard to bear, periods when we shed sweet and bitter tears, which we do our best to hide, we will feel the need to enter into each one of his most holy wounds: to be purified and strengthened, rejoicing in his redeeming Blood. We will go there like the doves which, in the words of Scripture, find shelter from the storm in the crevices in the rocks. We hide in this refuge to find the intimacy of Christ. We find his conversation soothing and his countenance comely15 because “those who know that his voice is gentle and pleasing are those who have welcomed the grace of the gospel, which makes them say: ‘You have the words of eternal life.’”
Second, I give thanks to him for these precious gifts, that he has revealed his name to me and bestowed it upon me, that I can glory in his name and be called God’s servant and creature, etc., that his name is my refuge like a mighty fortress to which the righteous man can flee and find protection, as Solomon says [Prov. 18:10]
I’ve heard people mock the youth for needing safe places, a
I’ve heard people make fun of brave people who state that they need a safe place.
Part of me wants to ensure those who make fun of others realize that they need a safe place as well. The easy way to do that is to firmly correct their errors! First, the error of their failure to love their neighbor. Second, their belief that they are beyond the need for a refuge, a sanctuary, a safe place.
Luther needed such a place; he wrote sermons and more than one hymn about the ability to find safety in the Mighty Fortress that is God. The words he wrote were not as much a doctrinal manifesto as the cry of a heart that needed comfort, that needed peace. Look a the words of his cry in what was never meant to be the battle anthem it has become. Look at the description of the prayer. He knew God was his safe place…
St. Josemaria also found that refuge, that place to hide, as he meditated on the love which welcomed the wounds borne at the cross. This is where we find the greatest and truly only safe place, where even sin cannot do its damage. It is paid for; it is forgiven.
At this point, in such a sanctuary, the words of Peter become so much more than words! Go up – and read them again!
There is an ability to deal with grief in various trials. It only comes in those intimate moments with God where we realize His ultimate plan. That amid the refining of our faith, as God removes all that is not of Him, that we find a joy that goes beyond anything we can explain. We may not even think of the eternity promised because we are now experiencing a foretaste of it as we rejoice in Christ!
This intimate grace, so full of compassion, so incredibly healing, as we find rest and peace, this is the glory of God, dwelling in us!
This is our safe place, amid the battles, the storms, the complications, the woundedness, and brokenness….
There are times I hate all of that… and yet… in an odd sense, I appreciate it all. For in it, when I don’t run, I realize I have a safe place….there… amid it all, in Jesus.
Lord, in the middle of life, when we are at our wit’s end… help us to remember that You are our safe place, our sanctuary, our Mighty Fortress. AMEN!
Oh – and stop making fun of people who know they need safe places – and invite them into yours!
Escrivá, Josemaría. Friends of God . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 43: Devotional Writings II, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann, vol. 43 (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), 201.
Hope for the hypocritical… (that means you and me)
Thoughts to Encourare us to Love Jesus
The chief priests took the silver and said, “It’s not permittedh to put it into the temple treasury, since it is blood money.” 7 They conferred together and bought the potter’s field with it as a burial place for foreigners. 8 Therefore that field has been called “Field of Blood” to this day. 9 Then what was spoken through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled: They tookC the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him whose price was set by the Israelites, 10 and they gaveD them for the potter’s field, as the Lord directed me. Matthew 27-6-10 CSB
But don’t forget that we are not the source of this light: we only reflect it. It is not we who save souls and move them to do good. We are quite simply instruments, some more, some less worthy, for fulfilling God’s plans for salvation. If at any time we were to think that we ourselves are the authors of the good we do, then our pride would return, more twisted than ever. The salt would lose its flavor, the leaven would rot, and the light would turn to darkness.
They were the chosen ones, the religious leaders of the day, set apart to point people to God, to assure them of the forgiveness of sin. Blessed by God, for the good of the people, they still sinned, as was evident not only in giving Judas the 30 pieces of silver for betraying Jesus, but by refusing to put the same money back where it came, labelling it sin money. We maybe thinking – what a bunch of zealous hypocrites… and we would be correct, well, mostly correct. Even in their hypocrisy, they served the poor and disenfranchised, creating a place where those deceased could be laid to rest.
He was one of the elite, on the the 12 disciples who was sent out to preach, to heal to cast out demons, and he did. But he couldn’t cast out his own . Most would account him amonf the most evil in scripture, forgetting that he did preach the word effectively.
And in judging the the priests and Judas, we show our own twistedness, our own evil.
St. Josemaria mentions the paradox – the more we credit ourselves with being holy and righteous, with doing our best, the more our pride pushes aside the work God is doing, the more we return towards the darkness we endured without Jesus. The Apostle Paul struggled with this as much as we do, read Romans 7.
For it is never our work that counts, but the work of the Holy Spirit within us that brings otheres to know Jesus, that helps them understand their forgiveness, that helps them rejoice in God’s presence.
And here is the amazing thing, that even when we deal with our brokenness, God is there, working tthrough us still. Even as He ministered to the poor and aliens with the money from the betrayal – as they fulfilled and ancient prophesy. So when we are drawn back to where we belong in Jesus, we find the work of God, and can be amazed.
This is the blessing of knowing Jesus…of living blessed, as we grasp the dimensions of His love, mercy and grace. To realize the depth of the promise that all things work for good, for those who love God and are called according to HIs desire.
You are one of those… if dwelling in the light – praise Him for His love, which courses through you. I sliding back into the darkness, if feeling guilty of you hypocrisy and betraying God, come and be healed again.
The Lord God is with you!
Escrivá, Josemaría. Friends of God . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Am I a Hypocrite? What if I feel like I am?
Devotional Thought of the Day:
(Jesus said) “Whenever you fast, don’t be gloomy like the hypocrites. For they disfigure their faces so that their fasting is obvious to people. Truly I tell you, they have their reward. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that your fasting isn’t obvious to others but to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. Matthew 6:16-18 (CSBBible)
8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord asking: Who will I send? Who will go for us? I said: Here I am. Send me. 9 And he replied: Go! Say to these people: Keep listening, but do not understand; keep looking, but do not perceive. 10 Make the minds of these people dull; deafen their ears and blind their eyes; otherwise they might see with their eyes and hear with their ears, understand with their minds, turn back, and be healed. Isaiah 6:8-10 (CSBBible)
I do not deny that, over the years, people have come to me and have told me with real sorrow: “Father, I don’t know what’s come over me, but I find I am tired and cold. My piety used to be so solid and straightforward, but now it feels like play acting …” Well, for those who are going through such a phase, and for all of you, I answer: “Play acting? Wonderful! The Lord is playing with us as a father does with his children.” (a few paragraphs on…)
“But, Father,” you ask me, “can one put on an act for God? Wouldn’t that be hypocritical?” Don’t worry: for you the moment has arrived to play out a human comedy before a divine spectator. Persevere, for the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are contemplating your act; do it all for love of God, to please him, although you find it hard. How beautiful it is to be God’s jester! How beautiful to act out such a role for Love, with a spirit of sacrifice, not seeking any personal satisfaction, but just to please our Father God, who is playing with us! Turn to our Lord with confidence and say to him: “I don’t feel like doing this at all, but I will offer it up for you.” And then put your heart into the job you are doing, even though you think you are just play acting. Blessed play acting! I assure you it isn’t hypocrisy, because hypocrites need a public for their pantomimes, whereas the spectators of our play, let me repeat, are the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit;
Since i was a little child, Jesus’s words above in red bothered me. I thought it was somewhat hypocritical, and even a lie to pretend what was going on wasn’t going on.
If you are fasting or suffering, why should you hide it?
I get the part of offering it up to God, but to pretend things are different than they are? Isn’t that being a hypocrite?
I have not only heard peopel ask how to deal with the “dry spells” of their faith, I have had them myself, and I am not talking about my childhood, or my time studying to be a pastor. I feel like giving up somedays, and other wonder why Isaiah didn’t! I mean – he walked into the gig – knowing he would have little or no effect! He did it anyway!
I had to read St. Josemaria’s words a few times over to get into the idea of “acting” differently than I am. To persevere in my acts of faith, of searching for the Lord’s pleasure and presence – knowing that I would not always get the satisfaction, at least cognitively.
And not getting the satisfaction cognitively….doesn’t mean it is not there!
And it certainly means that we are not hypocrites, we are not doing this for praise, we aren’t showing off our holiness, we are trying to love God, the God who loves us. We are trying to reach out to the One who came and reached out on a cross to show us His love. It isn’t acting – it is trying to do what we have done, where we have known HIs grace. He knows our hearts better than we, He is the one who empowers our faith as well as our will, and the very desire to keep moving, there is something that pleases Him.
Simply put, if you are worried about being a hypocrite, the odds are you are not. Continue to trust in Him, continue to do what you know will reveal His presence, and HIs grace… for even if you can’t feel it…
THE LORD IS WITH YOU!!
Escrivá, Josemaría. Friends of God . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Can You Hear Him NOW? Can I?
Devotional Thought for this day:
Look: to obey is better than sacrifice, to pay attention is better than the fat of rams. 1 Samuel 15:22 (CSBBible)
When Luther’s puppy116 happened to be at the table, looked for a morsel from his master, and watched with open mouth and motionless eyes, he [Martin Luther] said, “Oh, if I could only pray the way this dog watches the meat! All his thoughts are concentrated on the piece of meat. Otherwise he has no thought, wish, or hope.”
The workers in the marketplace had all day to spare. The one who buried his talent wanted to kill the passing hours. The one who should have been looking after the vineyard went off elsewhere. They all prove insensitive to the great task the Master has entrusted to each and every Christian, that of seeing ourselves as his instruments, and acting accordingly, so that we may co-redeem with him, and of offering up our entire lives in the joyful sacrifice of surrendering ourselves for the good of souls.
There was a commercial series that ran for a long time. It had a man walking around, in all sorts of places, asking someone on his cell phone, “can you hear me now?” In Deserts, forests, rain, sun, no matter where or how he was, he always made sure he was connected to someone. (we never did hear whether they could hear him)
As I read in 1 Samuel this morning, I realized that Saul’s issue was that kind of issue. He couldn’t hear God, and even when he could, too many things drowned out what he heard.
Saul was so unlike the dog who focused on the food forgetting everything else. He was more like the one who buried the treasure entrusted to him. Or the ones who abandoned the vineyard or the sheep because the wolves were near.
I am not any better, for just a moment ago, while writing this, an ad for a Can-Am Ryker caught my attention. I lost my focus on what God was trying to communicate to me. I lost track of this idea of focusing on Him so completely that His task becomes ours. So completely that we don’t think of the cost to us, but the blessing of others, as they come to know the God we say we love.
But how do we grow in our ability to pay attention to God? How do we mitigate the distractions? I do not believe it is something we force ourselves to do as if we simply whip our bodies into submission. It cannot be, for even the most disciplined people will eventually fail and give up.
I think Luther was on to something as he referenced the dog. The mongrel knows the meat’s taste, and it is beyond his power to not respond. He locks in on it, using every tool to make it his own; pleading eyes, speed, power, all of the tools to try and gain that which their heart and stomach are focused.
The Psalms testify to this desire as well!
1 As a deer longs for flowing streams, so I long for you, God. 2 I thirst for God, the living God. When can I come and appear before God?
Psalm 42:1-2 (CSBBible)
Some things cause us to respond, we don’t have to even think, because we have learned to treasure them. The smell of coffee does it for some, the smell of bacon for others. It might be playing that perfect instrument or driving a particular car, being on a golf course, finding the perfect shoe; these things are triggers for us. Once we sampled it, we have to return to it.
Following God is like that if our focus is on Him. The more we’ve experienced His love, the more we can’t live without it. The more we see Him work through us. The more we realize our role in redeeming this world, the more we want to see more people freed from the power of sin, Satan’s influence, and the fear of death, the more we want to see it happen and again.
Ministering to others becomes our meat that draws our attention, for there we know we are in God’s presence, we know He is there, and the transformation He has done in our lives…. A transformation that means He can work through us… as He ministers to others.
Lord, help us hunger for You and then satisfy that hunger by working in and thru us. We pray this in the name of the Father, the Son†, and the Holy Spirit! AMEN!
Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 54: Table Talk, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann, vol. 54 (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), 37–38.
Escrivá, Josemaría. Friends of God . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
What I Want to Be When I Grow Up….
Devotional Thought of the Day:
1 Take me as your pattern, just as I take Christ for mine.
1 Corinthians 11:1 (NJB)
For the Christian, the Mass also becomes an encounter of love. St. Josemaría lived it this way, and many are the testimonies of those who left renewed after participating in a Mass he celebrated. For example, Antonio Ivars Moreno, a student who attended a Mass celebrated by the founder in Valencia one day in 1939, notes:
“I didn’t miss a word. Not a single gesture. When he celebrated Mass he made all of us there feel that he had penetrated the depths of the great mystery of our Redemption. That Mass was truly the same sacrifice of Calvary without the shedding of blood.”
There was no room for distractions.
20 He kissed the altar, aware that he was kissing Christ himself. During the celebration, he knew himself to be at the center of the universe, of history, contemplated by God the Father and identified with Jesus Christ, the Eternal High Priest. He possessed a very lively awareness of the cosmic meaning of the Eucharist: “When I say Dominus vobiscum (The Lord be with you), even if I am alone with the one assisting me, I say it to the whole Church, to all the creatures of the earth, to the whole of creation, to the birds and the fish, too.”
21 He proclaimed the Word with the conviction that its pages were authentic letters from God to men, inspired by the Holy Spirit. At the moment of the presentation of the gifts, he brought there, together with the bread and wine, many intentions, and made himself spokesman for the sorrows, joys, yearnings, and plans of all humanity, beginning with those of his own spiritual sons and daughters.
When I was young, one of the nuns I had for a teacher sugggested we imitate saints for Halloween, rather than pirates or Spiderman or a police officer, fireman or soldier. The goal was to be able to share with others the saint’s story, and why we chose them.
I used to take the easy way out – and look at St Francis. Good guy, a bit odd, not well understood. I could ge that. I think now, I would choose St. Josemaria, and find a pattern of life in his life, where he was able to pattern his after Jesus’s life.
The above quote I think explains what I would desire more than anything. That people, when attending worship, would realize that they are in the presence of God, and that together, we have penetrated that great mystery of redemption. There are a few things, differences in practice because f thoelogy that need to be considered, but the general quote is that where i wish life could be found.
To be a spokesman for the sorrows, joys, yearnings and plans of all humanity, bringing them to Christ, Letting the Holy Spirit shepherd them, thorugh the word of God, and bring healing to them through the sacraments. What greater role could there be in life?WHat greater pattern to emulate?
TO help people see that God could work through one such as me, assuring them that He will make their lives a masterpiece? (that is the greatest role of the pastor/priest – to prove to people God can work in their lives, because he took wretches like us and has done so in our lives) It isn’t about us, we realize that each time we distribute the Lord’s Supper, each time we baptize a baby, or a 70 year old, or declare Christ’s forgiveness on those who are bring cleansed and renewed by the Spirit.
There is a pattern to long for, to have that impact on people, where they pay attention to the words we utter, because they are used to draw them closer to God….
Lord, I pray thatevery pastor, every priest would serve in such a way that this observation they declare to people is true, “The Lord is with You!” May that declaration convince their weary souls of this, and empower their love for another. AMEN!
Fazio, Mariano . Last of the Romantics: St. Josemaria in the Twenty-First Century (pp. 37-38). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Defeating the Idol of Time…
Devotional Thought of the Day:
While you are prisoners in foreign lands, your own land will enjoy years of rest and refreshment, as it should have done each seventh year when you lived there. 7 In the land of your enemies, you will tremble at the rustle of a leaf, as though it were a sword. And you will become so weak that you will stumble and fall over each other, even when no one is chasing you. Leviticus 26:34-37 CEV
684 So your talents, your personality, your qualities are being wasted. So you’re not allowed to take full advantage of them. Meditate well on these words of a spiritual writer: “The incense offered to God is not wasted. Our Lord is more honored by the immolation of your talents than by their vain use.”
We live in a culture that adores action, even as it hates inaction. Ambition is a virtue in today’s culture, and someone content with where they are at in life is odd and perhaps more than a bit eccentric.
Those who aren’t always moving, working their plan, aren’t considered lazy, or lacking motivation and drive. Everything in our society must be put to use profitably. We’ve made time an idol to serve, a god that demands all that we have, and more.
In the Old Testament, there were times of rest – Sabbaths. Weekly, monthly and even every 7 years, everything was supposed to rest, finding what it needed, not from work, but from the hand of God. In fact, part of the punishment for Israel’s sin in the captivity was due to not hearing God’s call to stop, to rest, and let the land find its rest. So during the captivity, God provided for the land what we did not. A time of rest, a time to recover, a time to let God provide.
I think this is St. Josemaria’s point in the quote from “The Way” I read this morning. I didn’t like it at first, for I understand the feeling that comes from inaction. I may have gotten past the idea of leaving food on my table as wasting it, but I can’t abide “wasting time” or even worse, not being able to use what God has gifted me with to help or disciple others.
Yet there are times to rest or to use Biblical/Agricultural terms, to lay fallow. To get past the guilty feeling, to simply leave it in God’s more than capable hands. Offer the stillness, the inactivity to Him. Indeed, to spend that time with Him. No agenda, no purpose, simply enjoying His presence.
A time where we don’t notice the passing of time. We just are there, in the moment, with Jesus.
The challenge is desiring this time, looking forward to it, not feeling guilty, but realizing it is time God would have us set aside, with Him. Yet that is the reward…time, with Him… communion with God, and the peace we need, in our lives.
Take the time, waste it in the world’s view, but take it and please God with offering it to Him.
Lord, help us realize the need to find rest in you, not just when we are exhausted and overwhelmed. Help us to not get to the point where like the Israelites, You have to take us captive, to get our lives and homes to rest, and the peace be restored.
Escriva, Josemaria. The Way . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Fall 7 times, get up 8? Yeah… uhhh…
When I saw this, I fell face downward on the ground. Then I heard a voice 2 saying, “Mortal man, stand up. I want to talk to you.” 2 While the voice was speaking, God’s spirit entered me and raised me to my feet, and I heard the voice continue, 3 “Mortal man, I am sending you to the people of Israel. They have rebelled and turned against me and are still rebels, just as their ancestors were. 4 They are stubborn and do not respect me, so I am sending you to tell them what I, the Sovereign LORD, am saying to them. 5 Whether those rebels listen to you or not, they will know that a prophet has been among them. Ezekiel 1:28-2:5 GNT
274 “Father,” said that big fellow, a good student at the Central* (I wonder what has become of him), “I was thinking of what you told me—that I’m a son of God!—and I found myself walking along the street, head up, chin out, and a feeling of pride inside …a son of God!” With sure conscience I advised him to foster that “pride.”
As I read the details of Ezekiel’s call, I resonate with the idea of falling on my face. THough usually for me it is not because of seeing the glory of God. Too often, it is because I’ve screwed up, or something in life has tripped me up, and I landed hard, as if I did a belly flop/face plant.
I hear the voice of my dad, “get up, brush yourself off, and take your stand!”
Except there are times that is impossible, what knocked me down seems improbable to deal with, if not impossible. All those proverbs about getting up one more time just seem, well, ignorant.
In the prophets case, God even prepares them for the rejection, for the fact that he will do a faceplant.
But in that position, there is some hope. There is the Holy Spirit that enters us and raises us to our feet.
You see there are days when the only way to get up, is to have God raise us up. There are days where we have to realize it is God that raised us up, and placed us where He knows we need to be.
To depend on Him for lifting us up? That’s a challenge! To depend on Him to keep us up is a whole different challenge.
It is in those moments, realize that we aren’t the first to fall down and think we can’t get up (or we are just tired and don’t want to get up) becomes helpful. What is even more helpful is what the student realized. That we are the beloved sons and daughters of God. That He is looking out for us, that He is caring and providing for us, that He doesn’t tire of picking us off, healing our bruised hearts and souls, and being our paraclete, the comforter called alongside to help us carrying our burdens.
As we realize that we also realise this, and pray it for each other
18 I ask that your minds may be opened to see his light, so that you will know what is the hope to which he has called you, how rich are the wonderful blessings he promises his people, 19 and how very great is his power at work in us who believe. This power working in us is the same as the mighty strength 20 which he used when he raised Christ from death and seated him at his right side in the heavenly world.
Ephesians 1:18-20 (TEV)
This is our God, and here we stand, we can do not other.
And with apologies to Martin, the reason we can stand is not because of our conviction that we are right, but simply because of the love, mercy and grace of God. Because He has made us His kids, because with all of His power supporting us, we can stand.
Escriva, Josemaria. The Way (Kindle Locations 728-731). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Don’t Ask, “What’s Important,” Ask, “Who should be Important!”
Devotional Thought of the Day:
12 Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a lunch or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or your rich neighbors—for they will invite you back, and in this way you will be paid for what you did. 13 When you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind; 14 and you will be blessed, because they are not able to pay you back. God will repay you on the day the good people rise from death.” Luke 14:12-14 GNT
656 It is through Love rather than study that one comes to understand the things of God. That is why you have to work, you have to study, you have to accept illness, you have to be sober—lovingly!
Far too often we define our faith by the set of doctrines we believe. As if we could ever completely understand the mysteries of God. As if our logic, through enough study, could transcend the gap between the human and the divine.
That isn’t how we were saved in the first place, (our small catechism reminds us that it isn’t “by our own reason or strength”) so why do we think it is the proper process for our growth in our dependence on God, on growing in our awe at the love of God.
Please here me, meditating on the word of God is important! Studying it with other believers is important as well. But it is not enough on its own, we simply cannot know enough.
We have to experience that love, we have ot come to know it, as Jesus does exactly what He tells us to do. He invites us to feast with Him. Not the angels and archangels, but the broken sinners, the ones who are not holy (yet), who are not just in how they deal with others, the ones who are weak, the spiritually blind, the ones everyone else writes off. He invites us to share in His body and blood, showing us the love, bringing us the experience that fills in all of the gaps where we simply can’t understand the mysteries of God.
It is that love as well, extended through us to others who are just as broken, just as blind, who also struggle with sin and its constant partners, guilt and shame. As we are conduits of that grace, as we reveal their need for God and God’s response to that need, we find our understanding of God’s mysteries growing. It is an amazing thing to witness the glory of God at work, to see the Holy Spirit bring to life the one who was spiritually dead.
That is why St. Josemaria says that understanding comes from love, not just from the study (though he mentions study again). It is seeing God’s care for the broken that we were to understand what we can’t, the incredible love, that is beyond our ability to understand but not to experience.
May Paul;’s prayer for the
17 and I pray that Christ will make his home in your hearts through faith. I pray that you may have your roots
Ephesians 3:17-19 (TEV)
Escriva, Josemaria. Furrow (Kindle Locations 2753-2755). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Does who I am, matter?
Devotional Thought of the Day:
21 Jesus looked straight at him with love and said, “You need only one thing. Go and sell all you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven; then come and follow me.” 22 When the man heard this, gloom spread over his face, and he went away
498 You are writing to me in the kitchen, by the stove. It is early afternoon. It is cold. By your side, your younger sister— the last one to discover the divine folly of living her Christian vocation to the full—is peeling potatoes. To all appearances—you think—her work is the same as before. And yet, what a difference there is! It is true: before she only peeled potatoes, now, she is sanctifying herself peeling potatoes.
The rich young man couldn’t see his goal of eternal life gained because he couldn’t change how he defined himself. And so he walked away, saddened, gloomy, dejected.
The younger sister, doing such a menial task as pealing potatoes, was able to do so, she didn’t see herself as peeling potatoes, she saw her work as being with God, nseeing the work He was doing in her, making her holy.
So is the difference between the young man and the young lady simply economics, that those who are poor find it easier to respond? Or is there something else at work here?
Could it be the same question that assaults so many people today, the question that betrays our hollow lives?
“does who I am matter?”
The young man had locked his identiry in, he was inable to define himself in relation to Jesus, even though where he was in that moment could have continued eternally. Many of us do that, whether we are rich or not. We lock our identity into our jobs, our relationships, our status in society. And then, evaluating that idenity, we find it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t make any lasting change.
We see this more and more, as people jump
People want an identity that matters, they want to make a difference. They want to have a significant role in life.
And a girl found such peeling potatoes. Not because of the work, not because of the significance of any role she had, but because she found had meant something to God.
That makes all the difference.
You and I matter to God, He values us, and desires that we spend time with Him, time now, and time for eternity.
He loves us enough to make sure this is possible.
So sit back for a moment, and think about the fact that you actually matter to God.
And then, go about your day, letting this define you. AMEN!
Escriva, Josemaria. Furrow (Kindle Locations 2163-2167). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
How to Have a Significant Life…
Devotional Thought of the Day:
18† And Melchizedek, who was king of Salem and also a priest of the Most High God, brought bread and wine to Abram, 19 blessed him, and said, “May the Most High God, who made heaven and earth, bless Abram! 20 May the Most High God, who gave you victory over your enemies, be praised!” And Abram gave Melchizedek a tenth of all the loot he had recovered. Genesis 14:18-20 TEV
24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you want to come with me, you must forget yourself, carry your cross, and follow me. 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. 26 Will you gain anything if you win the whole world but lose your life? Of course not! There is nothing you can give to regain your life.
Matthew 16:24-26 (TEV)
Gregory the Great: “In comparison with eternal life, earthly life might just as validly be called death as life. For what else is the daily wear-and-tear and deterioration of life but a long drawn-out dying?” … The question about death is, therefore, imperiously raised by life itself. It presents itself inescapably to anyone who is really concerned about life. But if one is not concerned merely exteriorly with caring for and preserving this life but seeks to fill it with meaning and so to give it its true greatness and potential, such a one will not ignore the question about the sense or senselessness of death.
285 Although you don’t amount to much, God has made use of you, and He continues to make use of you to perform fruitful work again and again for his glory. Don’t put on airs. Think what would an instrument of iron or steel say about itself, when a craftsman uses it to set golden jewelry with precious stones?
One of my favorite treatises on philosophy and apologetics is Douglas Adam’s much acclaimed five-book trilogy known as the Hitchhiker’s Guide ot the Galaxy. With the exception of an odd comment in the prologue, one might think it an Agnostic’s version of Pilgrim’s Progress, or Lewis’s Pilgrim’s Regress.
Journeying through the universe, the characters are searching for meaning, (except the Vogons who simply love to write modern poetry and contemplate the dried snot that escapes them.) It is a hilarious, cynical and sarcastic look at the world, and manmade religions. But it gets to the question – why are we here? What meaning does our life have?
Or a better question, do I have significance in this world? even in my small lonely corner of it?
Can we really stop caring about preserving this life, can we stop trying to delay this long drawn out process of dying, long enough to fill our lives with meaning?
Abraham found significance in life, after having rescued Lot and his family from captivity, as the King/Prince of Peace comes and gives him a meal of bread and wine. It was significant enough for Abraham to give a tenth of his earnings, recognizing this man as having come from God, to provide for and minister to Abraham. (for that is what the tenth is!)
That time with God, eating at His table, with the bread and wine, Body and Blood of Christ is the place where we find significance, it is the place where we are ministered to, because God values us. It starts there, and then, as we dwell in His presence, God uses us, even as the jeweler uses tools of iron or steel ( or aluminum today) to work with the gold and gems.
Our significance comes, not from what God uses us to make, the works he’s planned for us to do, but from the relationship, we have with God. THat He will then use us, our gifts and abilities to do things are indeed wonderful, but it doesn’t matter what is made… it matters the fellowship we have with Him in the process. We are guided by His hand, His eyes not only see what we are doing but imagine the end result we can’t see.
That is an amazing thing…
And as we go about our day, it is what we need to recall, what we need to remember, this presence of God, this walking with Him, because we are loved by Him… we are significant.
Ratzinger, J. (1992). Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. (I. Grassl, Ed., M. F. McCarthy & L. Krauth, Trans.) (p. 353). San Francisco: Ignatius Press
Escriva, Josemaria. Furrow (Kindle Locations 1378-1381). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.