They did not tell people that God would make things better for them in this life; the focus was on eternal life, the salvation of their souls. As we know, some disciples gave up everything to be in the company of the Apostles and follow the “New Way” of being in relationship with God. Many disciples were persecuted and some were martyred.
In the reading from the Acts of the Apostles Peter and Paul,
“…strengthened the spirits of the disciples
and exhorted them to persevere in the faith saying,
‘It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God.’”
Are we willing to make the sacrifices that are necessary in order to be faithful to the Gospel?
Jesus himself tells us we must deny ourselves, take up our crosses and follow him. We cannot allow our appetites and desires to dominate our life. If we live only for our self, we close our self off to the graces God wishes to give us and are destined for unhappiness. If our lives are not ordered to God, they are disordered.
What are some of the hardships you have endured? What is your most difficult trial?
No matter how bad we had it on our worst day, there will always be others who will have had it much worse and yet experience great joy. Others will allow their trials to overwhelm them. They continue to look at their problems and in their imagination they become bigger than reality, bitter and depressed.
The challenge is to experience our hardships in the light of Christ’s love and sacrifice for us. If we unite our suffering with the suffering of Christ it becomes redemptive for us, and others as well. Not only that, Christ also lessens the weight of our burdens just as he promises. Hardships are necessary because they help us to become dependent upon Jesus Christ; to discover “his strength in our weakness.” There are some people who would never have turned to Christ except for their hardships.
Jesus says, “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you,
so you also should love one another.”
What is the desire of your heart?
When Jesus tells us we must love one another, he makes it a new commandment because he says we must one another as he has loved us. In other words, we must love with a supernatural, sacrificial love. It is only possible to love in a supernatural way, if we love God first above everything else, because He is the source of all love and everything that is good. If God is our first love it will be possible for us to reach our potential in loving ourselves and others.
We can only love as Christ has loved us if that is the desire of our heart. If that is our desire, we will ask for the grace to be faithful to what has been revealed to us through the Scriptures and the Church. We will make a commitment to pray every day, to live the sacramental life and to continue to be formed in the Faith.
What is your destiny?
God has great plans for all of us that require us to surrender our will to His will. In His will we experience unconditional love and mercy which lead to happiness now and forever. If our will is in opposition to His will we are destined for unhappiness.
Lord, give us the grace to put our total trust in you so that you may be our hope in adversity and we may be victorious in our struggles.
To learn more about your Catholic faith, tune into Catholicism Live! It is a weekly series connecting issues of the faith and Church teachings to daily life. Visit CatholicismLive.com to see our upcoming topics.