God is still very present and at work in our lives today. I know this with my faith, but like many people persevering gets hard. Sometimes I wonder if God is hearing my unanswered prayers. I remind myself that St. Monica prayed for years and years for the conversion of her son, the great St. Augustine of Hippo. Or that St. Paul was a great sinner. He stood by approvingly while the first Christians were martyred. He had such a huge conversion experience that he was knocked off his horse. Or St. Francis of Assisi who gave up everything to live the gospel call in a most radical way. God worked in a very real and powerful way with each of them.
But that was long ago. What about today? Where is God now?
Have you heard about Jon Pedley? He is a British tycoon who is selling everything, including his 1.5 million dollar house to move to Uganda and live in a mud hut. Using the money, he will start a charity to benefit the poor in Uganda. Some may ask, “What would cause someone to do such a thing?” Only a deep love and calling from Jesus.
But Jon Pedley wasn’t always very devout. He described most of his life as “totally and utterly self-centered.” He even abandoned family to pursue his own self-interests. A near-death experience didn’t help to get him back on track either. “In fact, I came back worse because I thought I was indestructible. Nothing could beat me, not even death,” he said.
When I read the story about his conversion in the news, I thought, “Praise God! That still happens today.” So like St. Monica, I resume my unanswered prayers with faith that God hears me and that He will eventually answer them in His own wise way.
In the Gospel of Luke, we read these words of the child Jesus to his parents as he was found teaching in the Temple in Jerusalem. “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s House? But they did not understand what he said to them.”
Even as Mary called Joseph Jesus’ father, so would have Jesus called Joseph his father. But now that He has come of age, he speaks of God as His Father and His wisdom surprises the religious teachers. Even though Mary and Joseph know Jesus is the Messiah, they don’t understand when for the first time He reminds them of His origin. They have been accustomed to Jesus being their son. But now He reminds them of His Heavenly mission.
We can become accustomed to Jesus being our friend, our brother, our food, but do we accept Jesus’ call to take up our cross and follow Him ? How do we respond when He reminds us He is our Lord?
Jesus, Lord and Master, help my unbelief!
St. Joseph, pray for me to respond to the Lord’s call to follow Him.
In Luke, Jesus says – “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.”
Through the grace of the Sacraments, Christ has made it possible to be totally one with Him, to be transformed by Him. To not cooperate with the grace we have been given is to be an obstacle to the presence of the Kingdom of God. If the Kingdom of God is not apparent, it is because Christians have not “gathered”, but “scattered”.
Jesus, give me the desire of a deep conversion so that I may gather with you.
Our purpose for being on this earth is to know, love and serve God. In addition to our prayer and worship, it is essential that we obey and teach the commandments for the spread of the Kingdom of God. If we are faithful to what God has revealed to us through the scriptures and the Church, we will reach our potential for happiness in this life and be called great in the Kingdom of heaven.
O Lord, thank you for the Commandments, a foundation to live and and share our faith!
“Mommy, fix it.”
These are the words I hear everyday, all day long. My 2 year-old son thinks I can fix anything and everything. He is lucky that between my husband and me, we can fix most things he needs. (Except for last summer, when he broke a lamp in someone else’s house. That was something I wish we could have fixed.) Last week he found my husband’s glasses and had them twisted before I could stop him. He looked at me not knowing he had done anything wrong and simply said, “Broken. Mommy, fix it.”
Today as I was untangling some string, he repeated over and over, “Fix it, Mommy.” It doesn’t occur to him that perhaps there are some things we can’t do. He is completely trusting and unquestioning.
It was in this moment that everything was so clear. This is the childlike trust Jesus wants us to have in Him. “Jesus I’m in need. I trust you. Please fix it.”
by Sarah Stravitsch
So I will allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak to her heart. (Hosea 2:16)
Through the prophet Hosea, God speaks these words about Israel. How personal are the words—God wants to lead–allure–Israel so He can speak intimately to her heart. Israel had forgotten the God who led them out of Egypt and forgot the covenant with Him. They had become unfaithful and turned to idolatry and oppressed the poor. In the book of Hosea, God is described as a jealous, yet ever faithful, lover who seeks to take back His bride. In order to do this, God would have to strip Israel of the rich ornaments assumingly bestowed by her false lovers and thus bring her back to Himself. In doing so, He allures her to the desert where she has nothing. There she remembers His goodness and turns back to Him. The Israelites didn’t stay faithful to the covenants made through Moses and David, but Jesus came to restore the relationship. Through the everlasting Covenant sealed with His blood on the cross, these words from Hosea were fulfilled: “I will espouse you to me forever: I will espouse you in right and in justice, in love and in mercy; I will espouse you in fidelity and you shall know the Lord” (Hosea 2:21).
God isn’t just speaking to Israel in the Old Testament; these words are true for each one of us today as well. Sometimes it seems like God has stripped everything away in our lives and led us into the desert. Why a desert? A desert is desolate and hot, and if you have nothing with you then you must rely on someone else to survive. So it is that when we have turned away from God and become seduced by the world, we need to allow ourselves to be allured to a desert. There He can speak to our hearts.
Lent is a yearly reminder of the desert–of how desperate we are for God. It is a time of conversion: to examine how we have been unfaithful to God and turned away from Him, to repent, and then most importantly to turn around and follow God. It is a time to rely solely on Him. This Lent, how can you turn back to God and rely on Him? What is holding you back from giving Him everything?
For another reflection, read Hosea 11:1-7. In what ways has God provided for you and you didn’t recognize that it was Him or you didn’t thank Him?
The Church’s fundamental function in every age, particularly ours, is to direct man’s gaze, to point the awareness and experiences of the whole of humanity toward the mystery of Christ.
To direct man’s gaze toward the mystery of Christ – what does this mean?
To help direct man’s gaze toward the mystery of Christ, a Christian needs to be a true witness of the fullness of the Truth. Pope Paul VI in his Apostolic Letter titled Evangelization in the Modern World wrote: (#76)
It is often said nowadays that the present century thirsts for authencity. … The world calls for and expects from us simplicity of life, the spirit of prayer, charity towards all, especially towards the lowly and the poor, obedience and humility, detachment and self sacrifice. Without his mark of holiness, our word will have difficulty in touching the heart of modern man. It risks being vain and sterile.
Living as an authentic witness of Christ is helping “direct man’s gaze toward the mystery of Christ!” Invoke the Holy Spirit to guide you!
These two statements from Paul VI and John Paul II are good sources of meditation and perhaps even an examination of conscience during this Lenten Season.