Tuesday, October 11, 2016
What Should I Do?
God recently sent some people to cross my path, opportunities for me to serve Him. They had in common the anxieties that come at a crossroads in life. They were at a point of change in their lives and wondered: “What should I do?” Oh, they certainly weren’t asking me that question, but they WERE asking it of God --- but He seemed quiet, and so they spoke anxiously to me of their plights. And if God gave them any answers through me, well I certainly wasn’t aware of it, but I did add them to my prayers.
The Sunday Gospel this week was about the ten lepers, who asked Jesus to heal them. He responded by telling them to “Go show yourselves to the priests” (as was Jewish law for those who thought themselves cured), and on the way they were healed. But, “one of them turned back, praising God at the top of his voice, and threw himself at the feet of Jesus and thanked Him” (Lk 17:11-19).
Now certainly there are many things to reflect upon in this Gospel, but the thing that caught my eye --- in light of my recent conversations with strangers --- was that Jesus TOLD THEM what to do. Then the ten went off, but one came back, contrary to what Jesus told him. He disobeyed a direct order from God!! And for his reward Jesus said: “Go on your way, your faith has saved you.”
So often in my life I come to point where I know change is necessary, and others do too, like the people I met. And we ask God: “What should I do?” But in this Gospel the ten lepers perceived what God wanted them to do, and they did it, but the story didn’t end there. And, as I perceived on this day, THAT IS the real story to note from this Gospel.
When we pray to God to know His will for us, “What should I do,” we should first turn to the resources He has already given us: the Gospels, the Church, prayer, and yes people He puts into our lives --- He speaks to us through all these things --- to search out His will. They all can be a source of direction, of what we should do or how we should proceed, and many of us are open to these aids He gives us --- but we think the story ends there. We start off intending to do a good thing, proceeding in a good way, but with our anxieties lessened we stop looking for His will, because now WE believe WE KNOW the way.
Perhaps you may recall the words I wrote last week as I reviewed the book: My Heart Will Triumph. In my review I quoted some words of the visionary Mirjana Soldo, where she summarized the call of Mary and Jesus to love our neighbor, every one of them, because each is a spark of Jesus Himself (which is why He can inspire us through them). Mirjana identified all the different types of people we might meet, good and bad, and said we must see Jesus in them all, and she concludes with “And, perhaps most importantly, in yourself.”
In the Gospel ten lepers heard the word of God and properly started out, but only one heard Him speak again in his heart. He heard Jesus in himself, and knew what he must do. He went back and gave Him praise and thanksgiving, and stayed to hear more. That is the story of this Gospel, and the one we must hear. We must never think we are alone in our lives; Jesus is always with us. “Those who think they can make something truly worthy of their lives depending only on their own resources shut out the authentically transforming grace of God. What’s more, the Pharisees thought they were in communion with God. That kind of self-deception should make each one of us take a close look at our own relationship with the Lord. The human heart was infected with mortal selfishness by original sin. Gratitude, the most beautiful flower, directly contradicts self-centeredness, and softens hearts. It brings smiles and gladness. What a pity that it is as rare as it is lovely.” (The Better Part, Meditation # 210)
In the Gospel, the one former-leper put a priority on gratitude for all Jesus had done for Him. “What a pity that is so rare.”
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“We are so wrapt up in ourselves… anxious to be admired and to win applause and esteem … for this creature whom we love more than every other, ourself. “
“O Lord, help me to understand well that my work has eternal value only in proportion to the love with which I do it, and not to the success or failure it may or may not have … for me.”
--- Divine Intimacy, Meditation # 333
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This morning God gave me an example of the above reflections, how He is willing to speak to us, if we are willing to hear Him in the means He gives us.
Last night I perceived it strange when I said my evening prayers and meditations and time seemed to have stopped. Usually when I finish my night prayers I may have 5 minutes --- but usually less --- to read from whatever spiritual reading I have on hand. Last night I finished my prayers and was surprised that I had 30 minutes before my adoration hour ended. And I began reading, where I had left off, a book titled: Peter, Keys to Following Jesus (by Tim Gray). The book provided new insights for me to understanding St. Peter, and his relationship with Jesus.
This morning, before mass, I said my morning prayers and meditations and again time seemed to have slowed, since I rarely complete them before mass begins. This morning I had 5 minutes, and so I again opened the book on St. Peter. Then something struck me. Among my morning prayers I read a chapter from the New Testament and a Psalm each day. This morning I finished 1Peter, and put my book mark at the beginning of 2Peter for tomorrow. And then I read in the book I was reading on St. Peter these words: “Peter wrote his Second Letter from prison in Rome, a very dark place indeed. This is how the Church and each of us should hold on to the sufferings and glorification of Christ --- as a lamp that lights up the darkness in our own time.”
“Second Peter,” “hold on to the sufferings,” and “the darkness in our own time” were words which resonated with me. And I thought of those people at a crossroads in their lives, and I thought of our country, and the perceptions of darkness in our times, and the fact that I was coincidently reading both the New Testament letters of St. Peter and a book about St. Peter at the same time. THIS is an example of how God speaks to us through His word, and through those He brings into our lives. If only we would give Him the opportunity, by reading Scripture, reading spiritual works, PRAYING (and even fasting), and looking for Him in EVERYONE we meet, we would see and hear Him, and His loving will for us. Even, and perhaps especially, in our dark times.
As for me, I will be paying close attention to the Letters and book about Peter, and what it might mean in my life. I am confident God has something to say to me. “Speak Lord, your servant is listening.”