Trusting in God

St. Luke tells us that on one occasion our Lord was preaching by the shore of the Sea of Galilee and so many people wanted to listen to him that he had to ask for help. Some fishermen were washing their nets on the shore. They had finished the bulk of their work and were tidying things up, surely with the idea of getting home as soon as possible to rest. Jesus got into one of the boats, that of Simon, and from there continued speaking to the crowd.

The evangelist does not tell us what our Lord taught. He wants to draw our attention to other aspects that contain important lessons for our Christian life.

Struggle and trust

Perhaps Peter and his companions thought that Jesus, after finishing speaking, would return to shore and go on his way. But instead he turned to them and asked them to take up anew the work they were about to set aside for the day. They were surprised, but Simon had the greatness of soul to overcome his fatigue and reply: Master, we toiled all night and took nothing. But at your word I will let down the nets . [1]

They had worked all night—with nothing to show for it. They knew their work well, since it was their job and they had a lot of experience. But all this had not been enough to guarantee success, and they had returned tired and empty-handed. We can easily imagine their discouragement. Some, overcome by a feeling of uselessness, might even have been thinking of giving up that business entirely.

We know that the narrative ends with an abundant catch of fish. If we look for the difference between their success and the previous night’s failure, the answer is clear: the presence of Jesus. All the other circumstances of the second attempt seem less favorable than those of the earlier one. The nets not fully cleaned, the wrong time of day, the fishermen’s physical and mental exhaustion.…

Our Lord makes use of all this to give them, and us, a very important spiritual lesson: without Christ we can’t achieve anything. Without Christ, our struggle will yield only exhaustion, tension, discouragement, a desire to give up; without Christ we will try to fool ourselves by blaming circumstances for our lack of effectiveness; without Christ we will be overcome by a feeling of uselessness. But with him, the catch is abundant.

Sanctity does not consist of fulfilling a set of norms. It is Christ’s life in us. Therefore, rather than “doing something,” it consists of “letting something be done,” letting ourselves be led—but responding fully. “You are a Christian and, as a Christian, a child of God. You should feel a grave responsibility for corresponding to the mercies you have received from the Lord, showing careful vigilance and loving firmness, so that nothing and nobody may disfigure the distinctive features of the Love he has imprinted upon your soul.” [2]

When we struggle to be saints, the thread of our will meets the thread of God’s will and interweaves with it to form a single fabric, a single piece of cloth that is our life. This woven fabric has to become fuller and fuller, until the moment comes when our will is identified with God’s, and we are unable to distinguish one from the other, because both seek the same thing.

Almost at the end of his life on earth, Jesus told St. Peter: Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you girded yourself and walked where you would: but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go . [3] Before, you relied on yourself, on your own will, on your strength; you thought that your word was surer than mine. [4] And now you see the results. From now on you will depend on me and want what I want…and things will go much better.

Interior life is a work of grace that requires our cooperation. The Holy Spirit fills the sails of our boat with his wind. In responding, we have, so to speak, two oars: our personal effort, and trust in God, the certainty that he will never leave us. Both oars are necessary and we have to employ both arms if we want our interior life to advance. If either is lacking, the boat will start turning in circles and be very hard to control. The soul then, as it were, “limps along;” it fails to make progress and becomes exhausted, and easily falls.

If an effective decision to struggle is lacking, piety becomes sentimental, and virtues become scarce. The soul seems to be filled with good desires, but they prove ineffective when the moment comes to make an effort. If, on the other hand, everything is entrusted to a strong will, to a determination to fight without relying on our Lord, the fruit is dryness, tension, exhaustion, distaste for a battle that fails to draw any fish to the nets of the interior life and apostolate. The soul finds itself, like Peter and his companions, in a fruitless night.

If we notice that something similar is happening to us, if at times we fall into discouragement because we are depending too much on our own knowledge or experience, on our own will-power… and too little on Jesus, let us ask our Lord to come into our boat. Much more than the results of our own efforts, we are in great need of his presence. We see that our Lord did not promise them a great catch, and Simon did not expect it. But he knows that it is worthwhile working for our Lord: in verbo autem tuo laxabo retia , [5] at your word I will let down the nets.

Abandonment

Let us backtrack a bit and turn our attention to Jesus’ request. Put out into the deep, and let down your nets for a catch . [6] Duc in altum .Steer your boat into the deep water. To enter deeply into interior life, we need to give up keeping our feet on solid ground, totally under our control; we have to go where there might easily be waves, where the boat will rock and the soul realize that it doesn’t have control over everything, where we might sink if we fall into the water.

Wouldn’t it be safer on the shore, or where the water doesn’t come above our knees or waist, or at most our shoulders? Perhaps we would feel safer there. But on the shore no worthwhile fish can be caught. If we want to cast our nets for fish, we have to take the boat into the deep water and throw off our fear of losing sight of the shoreline.

How often Jesus chided his disciples for their fear! Why are you afraid, O men of little faith? [7] Don’t we too merit the same reproach? “Why don’t you have faith? Why do you want to control everything? Why is it so hard for you to walk when the sun isn’t shining in all its splendor?”

The soul instinctively tries to find reference points, signals that confirm it on its path. Our Lord often gives these to us, but we will not grow in interior life if we become obsessed by the need to measure our own progress.

Perhaps we have the experience that in moments of unease, when we aren’t sure of our course of action and are overcome by the desire to seek an answer at all costs, we end up attributing to some small circumstance an importance it doesn’t objectively have—a smile or a serious look, a word of praise or a rebuke, a favorable circumstance or a setback, can color with their bright or dark hues things with which they have no objective relation.

Growth in interior life does not depend on being sure of God’s will. An exaggerated desire for certainty is the point where voluntarism joins up with sentimentalism. At times, our Lord allows a lack of certainty which, well focused, helps us to grow in rectitude of intention. The important thing is to abandon ourselves in his hands, for it is by trusting in him that peace is found.

The goal of our struggle is not to provoke pleasant feelings. Often we will have them; other times not. A brief examination can help us discover that perhaps we are seeking them more frequently than we think, if not for themselves, then as a sign that our struggle is being effective.

We will find this, for example, in feeling discouraged when faced with a temptation to which we have not given in but which persists; in becoming upset because we find something hard and, we think, it shouldn’t be difficult for us; in noting displeasure because dedication does not bring with it the warm feelings we would like….

We have to struggle in what we can struggle in, without worrying about things that are not under our control. Our feelings are not totally subject to our will and we cannot try to make them so.

We have to learn to abandon ourselves, leaving the results of our struggle in God’s hands, for only abandonment, trust in God, can overcome this unrest. If we want to be successful fishermen, we have to take our boat in altum ,where we cannot reach the bottom. We have to overcome our desire to seek reference points, to be sure that we are going forward. But to attain this we have to rely on contrition.

Beginning again

Simon and his companions followed our Lord’s advice and they enclosed a great shoal of fish; and . . . their nets were breaking . [8] Those who came to help them also benefited from their daring, and the two boats were filled to overflowing, almost to the point of sinking. Such an extraordinarily abundant catch led Peter to realize the closeness of God and to feel himself unworthy of such familiarity: Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord . [9] Nevertheless, a few minutes later, they left everything and followed him . [10] And they were faithful till death.

Peter discovered our Lord in that extraordinary catch of fish. Would he have reacted the same way if his work the previous night had gone well? Perhaps not. Perhaps in an especially generous catch he would have recognized Christ’s assistance, but he would not have realized how close God was and that he owed everything to him. In order for the miracle to touch Simon’s soul, it was good that things had gone so badly the night before despite all his sincere effort.

Our Lord makes use of our defects to draw us to him, provided we make a sincere effort to overcome them. Therefore, in struggling, we have to love ourselves as we are, with our defects. Upon becoming man, the Word assumed the limitations that are part of the human condition, those against which we ourselves sometime rebel. On the path of identification with Christ, a key area is accepting our own limitations.

How often it is precisely the calm awareness of our own unworthiness that leads us to discover Christ at our side, because we see clearly that the fish we find in our net are not due to our own skill, but to God. And that experience fills us with joy and convinces us once more that it is contrition that leads us to advance in the interior life.

Then, like Peter, we throw ourselves at Jesus’ feet, and we leave behind everything—including the extraordinary catch—to follow him, because only he matters to us.

Prompt contrition marks out the path of joy. “Your interior life has to be just that: to begin…and to begin again.” [11] What deep joy our soul experiences when we discover in practice the meaning of these words! Never getting tired of beginning again: this is the secret of effectiveness and peace. Those who foster this attitude allow the Holy Spirit to work in their souls, cooperating with him, but without trying to take his place. They struggle with all their strength and with complete trust in God.


J Dieguez | Link

Footnotes: [1] Lk 5:5.

[2] The Forge ,no. 416.

[3] Jn 21:18.

[4] Cf. Mt 26: 34-35.

[5] Lk 5:5.

[6] Lk 5:4.

[7] Mt 8:26. Cf. Mt 14:31.

[8] Lk 5:6

[9] Lk 5:8.

[10] Lk 5:11.

[11] The Way , 292.

 

 

Advertisements

Lent, Suffering, and the Death that Brings Life

Lent is here, and quite frequently the weather suits the sombre tone of the season. Ashen gray skies and the bare reaching arms of trees create an atmosphere that is at once stark and solemn.

Yet this season is not entirely bleak or without hope. Warmer days replete with sunshine break up the gloom, and bird songs welcome the green buds shooting forth from once barren trees. Green grass breaks forth in clumps among the coarse and yellowed remnants of the year before. Spring is a time of death mingling with new life—the dormant world waking up with a lingering yawn.

It would be difficult to imagine a time more suited to the Lenten season, in which we remember the death of Christ, but also look forward to his glorious resurrection. It is a time when we remember the death that brings new Life. For the great paradox at the heart of Christianity is that a Death was the remedy for death. It was in losing his life that Christ brought new life to the world.

…. Catholic theology operates on the idea of participation. That is, Christ came to earth and died on the cross, not so that we could avoid death and suffering, but so that he could transform the inevitability of death and suffering from the inside out. By communion with him, by participation in his cross, we could receive eternal life.

After all, what is the fate of each and every human being? Death. It is the great equalizer. No matter how rich, famous, beautiful, or healthy we are, we will all die sooner or later. Death is the consequence of sin, for sin is a movement away from God who is Life itself. Sin is therefore by definition non-Life. It is death by its nature. And because our first parents chose sin, death is the fate of every human being.

Our enemy was gleeful at our demise. He meant for our death to be eternal, and for our physical death to be the gateway into eternal doom. But Christ came and changed all that. He embraced death and death could not hold him. He transformed it from the inside out, changing it from the gateway to eternal death to that of eternal life. In the words of the Byzantine liturgy, “He trampled down death by death.”

Put another way, Christ did not suffer and die so that we do not have to—he suffered and died so that our suffering and death could be transubstantiated into a means of life. He embraced the cross not to keep us from it, but so that our crosses could be changed from instruments of death into healing remedies that bring life.

As baptized Christians, we are members of the body of Christ. We are incorporated into him and we live in communion with him. This communion means that we share in his life—not by making some act of intellectual assent, but by living his life after him. And living his life after him requires carrying the cross after him and sharing in his death. The cross is the price of eternal life.

This is the meaning of Jesus when he said, “Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” Could there be any clearer sign that he did not come to keep us from the cross? No, rather he came to transform our crosses into the means of life.

Having been instructed by Christ himself, St. Paul understood this well. “I die daily.” “I have been crucified with Christ.” “God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” “The cross is foolishness to them that are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God and the Wisdom of God.” The cross was always in his heart and on his lips, for it was to him, as it is for us all, the means of eternal life.

Suffering is inevitable. To varying degrees, we will all suffer. And with a similar certainty, we will all die. It could be said that a cross lies at the heart of human existence. But the cross need not be a fate to be feared. Our Lord trampled down death by death. In the greatest paradox of all, he changed death into a means of life. What was once our doom is now our salvation.

“You must accept your cross,” said the holy St. John Vianney, “If you bear it courageously it will carry you to heaven.” This Lent, let us not fear or flee the cross, but carry it with love and with hope, as the means not of death but of eternal life.


(c) Sam Guzman | Link | Note: The entire article is available in the given link.

Peter Kreeft: St. Augustine ‘Is a Man for Our Times’

Philosopher Peter Kreeft has published 75 books on the Catholic faith. In his writing and his teaching (he is a professor at Boston College), he often revisits the works of classic philosophers and thinkers, such as Socrates, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Augustine and C.S. Lewis, introducing their inexorable logic to a new generation.

In I Burned for Your Peace: Augustine’s Confessions Unpacked, Kreeft explores timeless questions and leads his readers into a deeper understanding of the saint and his God.

Kreeft spoke recently with the Register about his most recent work, which looks at some of the “big ideas” found in the fifth-century writing of St. Augustine of Hippo.

 

There are so many vital works from Catholic intellectuals throughout the ages — from St. Thomas Aquinas to St. John of the Cross and St. John Paul II. Why do you consider Augustine’s Confessions the most beloved book in the world next to the Bible?

Well, first of all, polls support that. Augustine’s Confessions has been the single most read, reread and quoted post-biblical Christian book ever written. But, secondly, the reason the book is held in such high esteem is Augustine himself.

Historically, Augustine has probably influenced Christians more than anyone else outside of the Bible. Psychologically, he is a complete, compound and compassionate human being. He combines a compassionate heart and a great mind — and he’s a saint! He used the burning light (his mind) and his heart to get through to God. Augustine shows us the errors and truth — the byways, not just the main ways.

I would say that Augustine’s Confessions is actually the single most compelling and attractive and fascinating book ever written by a saint. It is, to the books of the saints, what A Man for All Seasons is to movies about saints — it’s No. 1. And that’s mainly because of the incredible conversation between brilliant thought and genuine love and passion, agony as well as ecstasy. His heart and his head are both at work.

 

What is the chief reason for Augustine’s broad appeal? Why does his message resonate with both Protestants and Catholics, with both men and women?

He’s a mirror. In reading Augustine’s story, we recognize ourselves. He shows us who we are or who we can be — our heads and our hearts; our sins and our virtues; our darkness and our light; our mistakes and our truth. He asks the questions that everyone asks: “How can I possibly conceive God? How can I find him?”

 

Augustine was one of the most prolific writers in the history of Christianity. Why do you consider his Confessions his most important work?

It’s important because it attracts people to a life of sanctity. It’s important because it has helped to shape the public history of Western Civilization — although for that, it’s not as important as City of God, which almost singlehandedly created the Middle Ages. But City of God is about 1,000 pages, so Confessions — with just over 300 pages — is much more accessible.

 

There are many nuggets or truths offered by Augustine in Confessions. Is there a single message that stands above all the others?

If you could state the theme in a single sentence, it would be the sentence on the first page of Confessions, which has been quoted more than any other: “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.”

 

Is that message — as profound and as universal as it may be — becoming less and less relevant in a world that seems to focus more each day on itself and less on God?

No, I think exactly the opposite is true: The more lost you are, the more relevant is a road map. So Augustine is a man for our times — not only because he shows us the twistings and turnings of the dark and crooked mind, but because he shows us the way out of sin and debauchery: the way back to God. Augustine is also extremely relevant in the modern world because he was a sex addict [before his conversion].

 

Augustine knew what it was like to push God away — to hold him at bay — while he experienced the attractions of the world. The danger inherent in this is that one may fall too much in love with the world and never know the joy of falling in love with God. What would Augustine say to those today who have fallen too much in love with this world?

The first thing he’d say is: “Be totally honest.” Experience — even the experience of sin — is a teacher. The world promises what it can’t deliver. What it promises is freedom, and what it delivers is addiction and slavery. Whether we’re talking about pride or lust or greed or any of the sins, they’re all addictive.

 

A recent CARA study reveals that children as young as 10 years old are leaving the faith, being drawn into the secular culture. The 500th anniversary of the Reformation is being celebrated around the world. Given that, may I ask you to reflect on your own conversion?

Well, first, I don’t buy that [about children being drawn into the culture]. What I mean is that the facts are there — children and adults are really being drawn away from their faith — but the explanation is wrong. The so-called “war” between science and religion is a fake war, which has absolutely no casualties. There is no study in the Christian world that supports that hypothesis. The real reason that people leave the faith is personal.

As for my own conversion story, I was motivated by facts, by truth. As an undergraduate at Calvin College, I read the Early Church Fathers. My goal had been to persuade myself that I was in the right church; but the continuity, the historical case, the seamless web of Catholic doctrine was overwhelming.

The best professor I had during my years at Calvin College taught philosophy. We became good friends, and I confided to him that I was thinking of becoming a Catholic. It turned out that he had almost converted when he was my age; and he was most sympathetic.

 

You point out that what Augustine confesses is, most fundamentally, God and his grandeur, not just himself and his badness. Isn’t Christianity’s journey a metaphor for the Christian pilgrimage from love of self to love of God, from the city of the world to the city of God?

Yes. What attracts most people to Augustine is the hope of redemption from a life of despair to a life of meaning. He’s not just conventionally confessing his faith in God; the reader senses that he’s truly standing in the presence of that God.

There’s a line in which Augustine says, “Don’t leave — read this book! Have your ear to my heart.” His heart is absolutely, fanatically in love with God. Augustine is like Job: His wildness gets him into a lot of suffering, but his restless heart — that famous line — is the key to the story. He doesn’t give up. He doesn’t substitute a smartphone for a real encounter with God.

 

You offer a template for the reading and appreciation of your book — one that encourages individual thought and consideration on the part of the reader. Have you used this template effectively in any other venue? In a class, perhaps?

Definitely. I’m a bridge builder because great books are written for ordinary people, despite our obstacles. If you can get in dialogue — Augustine is in dialogue with God — it’s an exciting thing, to read this book. Confessions is not just a research tool full of dusty old facts; you encounter a real person.

 

What is your next project? What can we look forward to in the months and years ahead?

Well, first let me also recommend a movie on Augustine put out by Ignatius Press, called Restless Heart. I’m skeptical of most religious movies, but this is truly excellent.

I’ve got a book coming out from Ignatius Press: Ecumenical Pensees: How Protestants and Catholics Can Learn from Each Other Without Compromising.

And at long last, a four-volume History of World Philosophy will be coming out, published by St. Augustine Press.

 

What question have I not asked that you would like to answer? What would you like to say about Augustine that you would like everyone to hear?

One thing I can tell you about my conversion that differs from some people’s experience: Typically, when Jews convert to Christianity, they’ll describe themselves as “completed Jews.” But when I converted, I didn’t become any less evangelical, but more.

When Augustine is depicted in art, he is always shown with a heart on fire in one hand and a Bible in the other. That image aptly describes the urgency of his search for God.

But, most importantly, read Augustine’s book. You’ll fall in love with him; he will change your life.


(c) Kathy Schiffer | Link

Trusting in God means letting go of what we want, Pope says

On Wednesday Pope Francis said having total faith and trust in God means recognizing that he always knows and wants what is best for us, even if it’s hard to accept because it doesn’t align with our own plans.

Wednesday, Pope Francis talked about what it means to have total faith and trust in God, acknowledging that he knows what is best, and always wants what is best for us, even if it is often difficult to accept.

“Trusting in God means to enter into his designs without demanding anything, even accepting that his salvation and his help should come to us in a different way from our expectations,” he said Jan. 25.

The Pope’s catechesis for the general audience in the Pope Paul VI hall centered on the story of Judith in the Old Testament, a woman who was “a great heroine,” he said, and an excellent example of the virtues of faith, hope and trust.

In the story, Nebuchadnezzar’s army, under the leadership of General Holofernes, is laying siege to a city in Judea, cutting off the water supply and thus “sapping the resistance of the population,” the Pope said.

“The situation is dramatic,” to the point that the people in the town are giving up, wanting to surrender to the enemy, he said. Faced with such despair, a leader of the people suggests that they wait only five more days. If God has not saved them by then, they will surrender.

But then Judith comes onto the scene, “a woman of great beauty and wisdom, she speaks to the people with the language of faith,” Francis said.

“You want to test the Lord Almighty,” the Pope said, quoting the words of Judith, who cautioned the people not to “provoke the wrath of the Lord, our God.” The Lord, she said, “has full power to defend us in the days he wants or even to destroy us by our enemies.”

Referencing the passage, Pope Francis told pilgrims that “we never put conditions on God and give up…instead hope conquers our fears.”

“He is a Father, he can save us,” he said. In this way, “a woman full of faith and courage gives new strength to his people in mortal danger and leads them on the path of hope, revealing this also to us.”

Judith shows us the path to trust, to “wait in peace, prayer and obedience,” Francis said, noting that this sort of resignation is not easy. We must do everything in our power, but “always remaining in the furrow of the Lord’s will.”

In off-the-cuff comments, the Pope said Judith was brave to trust in God as she did, adding that “this is my opinion: women are more courageous than men.”

We can and should ask the Lord for life, health, happiness, he said, but always “in the awareness that God is able to bring life even from death” and that we can experience “peace even in disease, serenity even in solitude, (and) bliss even in tears.”

“We are not the ones who can teach God what to do, what we need,” he said. “He knows better than we do, and we have to trust, because his ways and his thoughts are different from ours.”


By Hannah Brockhaus | Catholic News Agency | Link

Pope Francis: ‘never lose faith in God’s providential care

Pope Francis has invited believers to trust in God’s providential care while doing everything in their power to respond to the challenges that come their way.
He was addressing pilgrims gathered in the Paul VI Hall for the weekly General Audience.
Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni:
Resuming his ongoing catechesis on Christian hope Pope Francis recalled the courageous figure of Judith, and of how, during the siege of the city of Bethulia by the Assyrian general Holofernes, she urged the despairing population to reinforce its wavering hope in the Lord and ended up proposing a plan that led to victory over the enemy.
The example of this woman of great wisdom and courage, the Pope said, teaches us to trust in the Lord’s providential care, but also, in prayer and obedience, to discern his will and to do everything in our power to respond to the challenges that come our way.
“How often have we felt our trust in God waver? How many times has each of us, perhaps in desperation, been tempted to lose faith and expect the worst?” he said.
Judith’s faith, Pope Francis continued, inspires us to commend ourselves to the Father with trust and obedience.
And remarking on Judith’s courage, the Pope mentioned that in his opinion, women are often more courageous than men…
“Dear brothers and sisters, never impose your conditions on God, but allow Christian hope to defeat your fear. To trust in God means to be unconditionally part of his plan accepting the fact that we are given salvation and His help in ways that are different from what we expect” he said.
God, the Pope continued, knows exactly what it is we are in need of and we must trust Him because his paths and his actions are different to ours.
Judith, a woman full of faith and courage gave strength to her people who were in mortal danger and conducted them on the path of trust. We too, the Pope said, must heed the wise and courageous words of humble women…
“The wise words of grandmothers who often know what to say and how to give encouragement because they have the experience of life; they have suffered, they have trusted in God, and the Lord gives them this gift of showing us how to keep on having faith” he said.
Let us commend ourselves to the Father, Pope Francis concluded, with the same obedience that led Jesus, in the Garden of Gethsemane, to pray: “Not my will, but yours be done”.
(from Vatican Radio)

iPray with the Gospel: I Will Make You Fishers of Men

Jesus saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.

Matthew 4:12-23

Dear Apostles, what an astonishing reaction of yours. We don’t know ‘why’ Jesus decided to choose you and no others. We don’t know of any special talents you had or whether you could write, read, speak in public or answer basic religious questions about your faith… But there is something we know about you. When Jesus called you, you responded immediately. We don’t know what Jesus saw in you but maybe it was just that: that you were ready to say ‘Yes’ without delay. Perhaps Jesus called many others, but only you twelve were ready to leave everything and follow Him immediately.

Peter, Andrew, James, John, Matthew, Philip, Nathanael, all the Apostles!…Your reaction is astonishing. There was no dialogue, no negotiation, no questions and answers. You just left everything to follow Jesus and you didn’t care where or how, what for or for how long, who else was coming with you, what you would eat or drink or wear, where you would sleep, whether you would have holidays of any kind or a salary…

God could count on you, His Apostles, because you trusted Him. You help to understand it well: in God’s projects, you don’t see the plan and then follow Him; you follow Him and then you see His plan. We could say that in God’s plans, the ‘light switch’ is behind the door. You need to enter the room in darkness, to grope along the wall until you find the switch, turn on the light and, then, you see the room into which God called you. We don’t follow our vocation when we are 100% sure, because we can only be 100% sure when we first ‘follow’ it. Peter, Andrew, James, John and all the other Apostles, I ask your help today, with the powerful intercession of Mary, Queen of Apostles, to be able to follow God immediately, leaving behind everything He asks me to.


By Rev. George Boronat

Link: http://stjosemaria.org/ipray-fishers-of-men/

Pope Francis: Get moving if you want to follow Jesus

 

Commenting on the Gospel account of the paralytic who is lowered from the roof of the house where Jesus is teaching, the Pope said people follow Jesus out of self interest or because they are looking for a comforting word. Even if no intention is totally pure or perfect, he said, the important thing is to follow Jesus. People were drawn to Him because of the “things He said and the way he said them. They understood Him. He healed them and many people followed Him to be healed”.

There were times, said Pope Francis, when Jesus admonished people who were more interested in their own well-being than in the Word of God.

Don’t be Christians to look at life from the balcony and judge others

There were other times, continued the Pope, when people wanted to make Jesus King, thinking He was “the perfect politician!”. But they were wrong and Jesus “went away and hid”. Even so, the Lord let anyone follow Him because He knew that we are all sinners.

The bigger problem, confirmed the Pope, “was not with those who followed Jesus”, but with those who stayed where they were.

“Those who didn’t move…and watched. They were sitting down…watching from the balcony. Their life was not a journey: their life was a balcony! From there they never took risks. They just judged. They were pure and wouldn’t get involved. But their judgements were severe. In their hearts they said: What ignorant people! What superstitious people! How often, when we see the piety of simple people, are we too subject to that clericalism that hurts the Church so much”.

Reflecting on those who don’t move in their lives, Pope Francis referenced the man who “sat beside the pool for 38 years, without moving, embittered by life, without hope…someone else who failed to follow Jesus and had no hope”.

Encountering Jesus means taking risks

But those who did follow Jesus, continued the Pope, were ready to risk in order to meet Him, in order to “find what they wanted”. Going back to the day’s Gospel reading, Pope Francis said “the men who made a hole in the roof took a risk”. They risked the owner of the house suing them and taking them to court to pay for the damages.

They were ready to risk because “they wanted to go to Jesus”.

The woman who was sick took a risk when she furtively touched the hem of Jesus’ cloak: she risked being ridiculed. But she risked: because she wanted to be cured, “she wanted to reach Jesus. Remember the Canaanite woman: women risk more than men do! That’s true: they are better at it! We have to admit that”.

Following Jesus, the Pope went on, “isn’t easy, but it’s wonderful! And it’s always a risk”. There are times, he said, when we risk “being ridiculous”. But we achieve what counts: “our sins are forgiven”. Beneath whatever request we are making, whether it be for good health or for a solution to a problem, “there’s the desire to be healed in spirit, to be forgiven”. All of us know we are sinners, said Pope Francis, “and that’s why we follow Jesus: to meet Him. So we take risks”.

Beware of a soul that is static, closed and without hope

Let’s ask ourselves, concluded Pope Francis: “Do I take risks, or do I follow Jesus according to the rules of my insurance company?” Because “that’s not the way to follow Jesus. That way you don’t move, like those who judge”.

Do we follow Jesus because we need something, or do we follow Him because we are ready to risk? “This is faith: trusting in Jesus, having faith in Jesus. And with this faith in Him, these men cut a hole in the roof and lowered the stretcher down in front of Jesus so he could cure the sick man”. “Do I put my faith in Jesus?”, asked the Pope. “Do I entrust my life to Jesus? Am I walking behind Jesus even if sometimes I seem ridiculous? Or am I sitting still, watching what others are doing?” Am I watching life with a soul that is static, “with a soul that is closed with bitterness and lack of hope? We should each be asking ourselves these questions today”.

Link: http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2017/01/13/pope_francis_get_moving_if_you_want_to_follow_jesus/1285450