Tuesday, June 18, 2019

I Want to be Like God

The man who tends my grounds, a former neighbor whom I have helped for many years, called tonight: “My doctor called me with the test results.  I have spurs and crushed discs in my spine; they may paralyze me.  Will you take me to meet with the surgeon?  I’m scared.”
In the past week I’ve heard from a friend; she’s making what seems --- to me --- to be an unwise decision in her life, acting on emotion.  Another friend isn’t making a critical decision in her life, as she prays for guidance and is scared --- and angry.  Another person whose life has greatly improved with God’s help through me called for a ride to the store, “And I’ll need some money for my bills.”  And then, I’ve heard from my Godchild, who called me in tears because of the hand life has dealt her.
I so strongly want to fix all these things.  I pray for God to help these people who cross my path, and yet I know He has bestowed many blessings on me.  I can fix or ease many of their problems!  With my wisdom, I can make many better decisions than they can; I can tell them what choices they should make.  I can give them money.  I know a better way.
I so want to do these things a loving God would do, to ease their pains and sorrows.  Or, would He?
“When am I an instrument of God’s will?” is the question.  Am I acting with the compassion and mercy of God when I dictate the solutions to others’ problems?  Am I using my talents to their fullest?  I’ve always been told that I can have anything I want in this world; all I have to do is go out and work for it.  Doesn’t that apply to the deliberate work of loving my neighbor?
Another thing I’ve always been told is that I should pray for the gifts of the Holy Spirit; they were promised to us, if we sincerely desire them.  I have always prayed for the gift of Wisdom, to know the will of God for me so that I can do His will.  In many matters, I know He has often bestowed that Gift on me; I’ve written about some of those blessings.  But the Wisdom of God is not a one time or constant event --- “Here it is; you’ve got it.”  Rather, it is a sporadic and growing thing; we can never fully know the mind of God in this life.  No matter how much I want to be like God, I am still learning what God is like.
One of the things I’ve learned about God recently, is an understanding that God is not a repairman we call to fix all our problems --- as we perceive them.  If we, in our wisdom, were to perceive that some part on our car was causing us to have a reduced gas mileage, we could ask God to remove the part (or do it ourselves) --- but we might not know that removing that part may have a negative impact on its function to reduce pollution or increase our safety, more important things than a few cents saved in gasoline costs.  What we see as a problem, like with the car part example, sometimes isn’t the total picture, which God can see.  So sometimes He lets the problem continue, for a reason we cannot see or understand.  BUT, there is a reason for suffering; God does not act randomly.  And very often God’s wisdom and merciful solution to our problem is to not fix it as we ask Him to, but to be there with us in our sufferings and sadness, as a friend.  It’s like when we go to a funeral; our presence is a comfort to our friends.
I want to be like God; what I am learning is that God doesn’t fix everything --- least of all the way I would fix things.  Often God is just with us in our sorrows, as a friend.  If I TRULY want to be like God, THAT is the God I must grow more like, the compassionate, caring One.  I need to put aside my ego and my pride that I know the solution to my friends’ problems, and as God would, just be there with them in their sorrows.
And that is a most hard thing to do, to be like God, to love as He does.
The people who called me, in the opening paragraphs, call me as a friend, not a God to fix all their problems.  I need to remember that.

The Christian life is the continuation and completion of the life of Christ in us.  We should be so many Christs here on earth, continuing His life and His works, laboring and suffering.
-- St. John Eudes

“Other people may be satisfied with exterior success, with a hefty ‘bottom line.’  Christ is interested in every line.
Christ in My Life 
You care about what happens in my mind and my heart --- where only You and I can see.  Help me look there now; show me what is pleasing to You and what is not, and then change what is not.  Please, Lord --- You know I can’t do it on my own.  You know how self-centered and wounded I am.  If You don’t change my heart, it will never change.  Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart more like Yours.
-          The Better Part  Meditation 14.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

A Light in the World

Each Sunday morn I try to light a small candle at the foot of the statue of Mary.  First and foremost, I do it as a constant reminder to myself, and of thanksgiving to Mary in heaven, that it was Mary who never forgot me when my heart was so confused and alone.  In the eyes of the world I had achieved business, financial and social success, but I felt a failure.  Her call put me in the position where my heart could, in humility, accept the Holy Spirit, and I began my long faith journey with Him.  And I was never alone again.
That little candle is also for me, alone, to put my life in perspective today.  I may have started some great fires in my life, done great noticed and honored things, but I must never forget I DID NOT DO those things, I STARTED them, with a little flame.  Other people, other circumstances --- God! --- brought them about.  It was never just I, alone.  And so, each Sunday I light a little candle to remind myself, I am still that little fire in this world.  My age, my abilities and my circumstances make any major accomplishments unlikely ever again, but --- I am still a light in this world.  Even if God puts but on other little wick in my path, He and I can light another’s flame, and only He knows how far it will spread.
We all need to stop trying to light fires with our lives, let Him provide the fuel to continue our flame and determine its spread, the Holy Spirit and us, together fulfilling God’s plan for our lives.
My thoughts went here today as I read today’s Gospel (MT 5:13-16) on being the salt and light in the world.  This time the meditations in The Better Part (which I read daily) had Jesus Himself commenting on this Gospel passage:
Jesus:  My child, I know that you want your life to matter.  I created you with that desire, and I want to work with you to fulfill it.  Nothing you can do will truly matter if it is disconnected from my Kingdom, because only my Kingdom will last forever.  Even if you build magnificent buildings, climb to the top of the social ladder, or rule over thousands of people, what will you gain without linking your efforts and achievements to the most important mission of all, that of being salt and light for this dying and darkened world.  If you only help one other person to come into my kingdom, to enter into my friendship, it will be worth more than even the richest reward this world can offer you.  Come, follow me.  Be my ambassador.  Make all you do part of this privileged mission; let us work together, let me show you how meaningful life can really be.
                                    The Better Part, Meditation 12   (underlines are mine)

Monday, June 10, 2019

Review: Embracing Weakness

Instead of embodying a unitive humility, too many of us Christians instead spend a lot of time and volume on having all of the answers --- that others may or may not want.
Shannon Evans begins her book, Embracing Weakness – The Unlikely Secret to Changing the World, by telling of her great confidence that she knew her mission in life, to serve “a God who would supply me everything I needed,” but it was only a few sentences later when she spoke of her life being in despair, because “Nothing was going the way I had planned.”  Shannon discovers that the fullness of life that God desires for us includes relationships, and she didn’t know how to relate to others except through a position of strength.  She offered her strengths to others without understanding theirs, which were often what she perceived as their weaknesses.  And so, she began a long road to true humility, and true of love neighbor, and true relationships with neighbor and God.
I cried heaving tears on a cool tile not because my (poor) neighbor didn’t know Jesus the way I did. I cried because I didn’t know them like He did.
Every educated Christian will read Shannon’s words and lament: “That’s me.”  We so want to elevate the poor, and forget that Jesus went down to them, “for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  We count as success our giving food to the poor, but in the final chapters we see Shannon having them at her son’s baptism and then at her house for dinner, including the twenty-six-year old grandmother.
And so, we see what “embracing weakness” and loving our neighbor really looks like --- and are humbled.  This is a book to share and discuss, and pray over.

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It was Friday; I had just finished praying the Sorrowful Mysteries of the rosary.  On the tiny chapel were pictures of Jesus, Mary, and St. Kolbe, who in a concentration camp during WWII willingly gave up his life for a poor man.  I guess it was appropriate that, as I considered the words of this book on how to embrace weakness, I read the words of St. Kolbe on the topic:
Do well what depends on me, and endure well what does not.
-- That is the total perfection, the source of true happiness in the world.

-          St. Maksymilian Maria Kolbe (1894-1941)