24 March 2007

2 Corinthians 12: Boasting in Weakness

2 Corinthians 12:

3 And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows—4 was caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell. 5 I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses.

One of the saints, I believe it was St. Bernadette Soubirous, once said that she believed the stories of saints should relate not their strengths and triumphs so much as their faults and struggles. No doubt this was how she wanted to be remembered as well, by her weaknesses; one who indeed saw the glory of heaven in the face of the Blessed Mother! Certainly, God is glorified in the triumphs in our lives and in our intense religious experiences, and these are beautiful things. But how much more is He glorified in our weakness? For in our weaknesses and struggles, which are particularly before our eyes in Lent, the strength of God must carry us. We are changed and molded more nearly into the image of God.

As Easter approaches, I encourage you all to take advantage of these last days of Lent to encounter God in your weakness through the sacrament of Reconciliation. Let us delve into the recesses of our consciences and bring to light all our human limitations. Let us then place them before the God who is limitless, in love, in mercy, in perfection, and invite Him to live in us more fully so that His strength may cover our weaknesses.

9 But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.

20 March 2007

2 Corinthians 8: "For...though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor..."

2 Corinthians 8

7 "But just as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us—see that you also excel in this grace of giving."

In this passage, we see an exhortation (that is, a strong urging) to almsgiving. Along with prayer and fasting, almsgiving is one of the spiritual acts of penance to which we are particularly called during Lent. It is a way of giving of ourselves for the benefit of another, just as Christ gave His everything for us that we might live. It is also an act of worshiping God, by giving something that we want for ourselves up to God and letting Him have control of it, because He is God and we are not. The most basic way of doing this is to tithe, but alms entails giving over and above that.

So almsgiving is all well and good when you have the wherewithal (ie, money) to give, to the poor or charity, or maybe your friend who’s hungry and forgot lunch money and doesn’t particularly need to fast today. What if you don’t have money? (a circumstance I find myself in plenty of the time, maybe some of you can relate.)

We can give the alms of our time to God. This Lent, I really wanted to pray a mystery of the rosary a day, but I knew I would not be able to set aside the full 20-30 minutes that would entail. However, I noticed I had a lot of little random pockets of wasted time in my day, particularly walking to classes and taking the bus. I felt that, rather than just letting my mind wander, the Lord wanted me to consecrate this time to His Mother. So I started praying the rosary during these times, usually just a decade or maybe two at a time. In this way, I’ve said a full 5-decade rosary every day this Lent; or at least every day I’ve had somewhere to walk! This is almsgiving: finding where we have a little extra we’re not using, and letting it go somewhere useful.

We can also give the alms of our love and/or attention to our brothers and sisters. This one is often hard for me. I get preoccupied with my own thoughts and feelings, and don’t always want to give my patience to someone else and listen to them, or take the time and thought to pay a compliment, or make the effort and take the risk of smiling at someone I don’t know very well to let them know I think they’re a great person, made in the image of God. It entails finding in myself the love God has given me and, rather than hording it to make sure I feel ok with myself, dispensing it to someone else. But every time I do this, I find I receive so much more in return, from God and my fellow creatures, and that God is changing me and giving me more to give away.

In almsgiving, too, we come one step closer to really being poor for the sake of the God who became poor for us. This is the greatest blessing; for when we have nothing, we know that we need nothing but Him.

16 March 2007

2 Corinthians 4: We Have This Treasure in Jars of Clay

10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.

11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body.

12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.”

In this season of Lent, we are particularly conscious of this death that is at work in us. We begin Lent by receiving ashes on our foreheads, the ancient sign of sorrow for sins. We are then admonished to “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the gospel” or reminded “Remember, oh man, that you are dust and unto dust you shall return”. The latter message reminds us of our own mortality; that our life comes from God. He has numbered our days, and we have no say about when we will be born or when we will die. Our spiritual life also comes from God, for none of us can come to Him without His grace. It is His life in us that makes us alive in Him. He is the treasure, and we are the jars of clay.

In turning away from sin to be faithful to the gospel, we also experience death. Maybe we have friends who lie, or gossip, or take the Lord’s name in vain, who act in selfishness and pride instead of in love, and maybe we do too. Maybe it would be so much easier to fall into sin, to act on selfish impulse, or in anger, or to lie instead of being honest, or whatever it may be that we struggle with. But as we become dead to these things, we become free to live the life of God, and allow Him to live more fully in us. As we resist the temptations to indulge our senses in the here and now, we take our vision away from the passing things of this earth that cannot bring us lasting happiness or fulfillment, and train our sights on the invisible God who is infinite and does not fail to satisfy.

18 "So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

05 March 2007


[Monday 3/5] 1 Corinthians 13

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, and it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails."

Here is a passage we have all heard many times- at weddings especially. Many Hallmark cards pick this up- as a nice fluffy discourse on love. It is easy for us to consider the love of God, that he cares for us and wants us to know Him and be happy.

The response part is where most of us start to feel the pinch. We greatly prefer to consider HIS love for us than our love for Him. We are called to love Jesus and therefore to love others in the SAME WAY that He loved us.

This is how we are to respond:
"Strive for this, pray for this, desire this -- to be stripped of all selfishness and naked to follow the naked Jesus, to die to self and live forever for Me." --Thomas a Kempis, the Imitation

For us to truly know LOVE, we must meditate on CHRIST CRUCIFIED. For us to truly LOVE- we must beg Him for the courage to JOIN IN THE DEATH OF CHRIST by dying to ourselves.

02 March 2007

Friday 3/2 [1 Corinthians 10]

v 12+13 "So if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall! No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it."

Do not be afraid! No temptation can be too great for us- and Satan has no new material. God always provides us with a way out.

v31 "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all fo rthe glory of God."