Remember back in March when I wanted to try something new? Yeah, you know, when I would let the Lord guide my finger through my trusty leatherbound Ignatius RSV-CE Bible and see what He had in store? Yeah, my last one was written at an awkward time for me. Old Goat-legs (I have always envisaged the devil being (besides a bright angel of darkness) as a Pan-like creature with hooves and horns … something phenomenally ugly and evil) was messing with me, my pride, and my insecurities. Luckily, I think my guardian angel whomped him a good few times back into the pit then. Things are different now.
I figured I may as well try again. Besides, it’s always interesting how God makes His presence known in many ways. Here are my verses:
“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, `A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also. But all this they will do to you on my account, because they do not know him who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. It is to fulfill the word that is written in their law, `They hated me without a cause.’ But when the Counselor comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me; and you also are witnesses, because you have been with me from the beginning.” (John 15:18-27 RSV-CE)
Yep. God’s pretty good, I’d say. Especially considering what I will be doing in less than two months.
I have always loved this quote because in it Christ reminds His followers that He has undergone trials and suffering at the hands of those who hate Him. In fact, as we all know, He offered Himself up to die at the hands of those who hate Him. I believe he said this to give use hope that though the world may hate us for what we do in imitation of our Divine Model, the rewards and graces gained by our following through with His directives vastly outweigh the fleeting lauds and fame we may get by following the ways of the world. The crown of glory Christ offers us is worth infinitely more than anything the world and the Lord of Darkness could ever offer us.
I also glean from this excerpt that Christ is exhorting us to follow His teaching not just in what we say but by our actions. Again, Christ reminds us that there will be much suffering for taking the so-called “high road” and that we will be mocked and defamed by those who seek to promote that which is contrary to the Truth of Christ but there will also be much joy, even in this world though at times, it will be hard to see. While there will be people who will call us “backwards,” “closed-minded,” “too old-fashioned,” and other such codswallop, there will be those who will be attracted to our way of life because it aspires to something higher than ourselves and the “here and now.”
And He finally promises to send a “Counselor” (the Holy Spirit) that will help us to witness to Him. This is to assure us that though we may be abandoned by people because of our being followers of Christ and His teachings, we are never truly alone because we are always accompanied by and enlivened by the Spirit. This Spirit, Who guides all of us and the Church on our pilgrim journey back to the Lord, will never abandon us and is always willing to give His grace to us. This alone can be very reassuring when one is going through trials in life. The Spirit will never deceive us or lead us away from truth. Truth is from whence we derive our true happiness.
How does this all apply to me? How does it not? How does it not apply to all of us as followers of Christ?
As I contemplate what I am about to undertake, the very depths of my heart cannot help but utter a “Domine, non sum dignus.” (Lord, I am not worthy). Who am I with all of my flaws … some more pronounced than others, that I would be called? I am a pretty crooked piece of iron. But God never said no to a project. He converted Saint Paul from one of the great persecutors of the Church into one of her greatest missionaries and defenders (not that I am anywhere as important as he).
But God does not make mistakes. When he chooses someone to accomplish a mission, He will provide them with the grace and virtue to overcome their own flaws so long as they put their faith in Him and His Providence. We can do nothing without His grace. We may try to rely on ourselves but as fallen beings, we are more prone to falling. The key to recovering from falling is picking ourselves up from the pit, which the Evil One digs rather deep so we may fall into despair, and return to God and entreat Him to forgive us and grant us the grace to grow stronger so that next time we may not fall for the same trick of the Evil One.
The Evil One is very crafty. I can speak from experience (all of us have experiences of the Evil One’s work it just varies with the person) that he is very patient. He will wait. And wait. And wait until the “perfect” moment comes when we feel the safest in ourselves that he will strike. He tries to chip away at us and our resolve. He hates it when we are living the life Christ would have us lead. He hates it when we are doing His will. He hates it when we are strong in our faith in God. He will do anything in his power to cause us to falter and lose hope.
In fact, it is just when the Evil One is testing that our faith in God should be strong. Not only will it put him into a tizzy but it will also strengthen our relationship with God like gold tested in a furnace. The gold is cleansed of flaws and impurities in a furnace. The soul is cleansed and strengthened when it is put to the test and maintains its resolve. That which does not kill us can only make us stronger.
I have had to remind myself of this fact many times. There have been times when I have wondered if I am really sincere in this whole endeavor. Am I serious? Or am I just follow what other people have told me they can see me doing with my life. But then I stop, think about it, pray about it, and talk about it with my confidante and every thing seems to feel and be right. And whenever I spend time with my sisters, it just becomes more and more sure. Every time I open my Felician Book of Prayers and pray the same prayers my sisters past and present have prayed, I feel this sense that I am not alone and that I am on the right path.
I guess what I am trying to say (though I guess I got kinda tangential), is that living the life Christ meant for us to live was never meant to be easy, especially considering how upside-down our world is. The easiest thing for us to do would be to just give up and go with the flow of the world and its egocentric and hedonistic philosophy. But what good does that do us or the world for that matter? All it does is throw it the world into a deeper pit. We are called to be salt and light for the world. It’s not easy but that which is easily gained is seldom worth having.
May we all come to rely more on Christ and the Spirit to be our inspiration and our guide through our life. May we all ask the Spirit to enliven and strengthen our faith in Him so that we may be an example by our words AND actions even when it is not convenient, popular, or easy. Not only will we reap many blessings and graces for ourselves but it will also help others and advance the Kingdom of God on Earth and we, as soldiers for Christ, are called to live the life no matter what the cost.
All right. I am going to try to post here more often than I have lately. I appreciate your comments. They help me improve my content and all that fun stuff. If you have any suggestions, please, do post them herein.
Have a blessed Feast of Saint Martha!