From the Deacon’s Desk: Prayer and Inspirational Thoughts
Our Psalm this week says “Lord, it is good to give thanks to you!” As I return to writing my weekly reflections, it is with great gratitude and humility before God and each of you. Praise God – my cancer is removed before it had spread! By God’s grace my surgery moved forward from late March to mid-February and finally to January 7. I am grateful for the skill and care of the medical team which has cared for me. And I am particularly thankful for the many prayers, masses, rosaries and novenas which have been said. I am thankful for the cards, notes and the meals from so many. I am thankful for the spiritual support, friendship and ministry I received. Mostly, I am thankful for a loving wife who has cared for me even as she has had her own challenges to deal with. As I continue my recovery, I look forward to a renewed spirit of being “fully devoted to the work of the Lord!”
February 27 – Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
St. Paul tells us in his letter to the Corinthians this week, “Be firm, steadfast, always fully devoted to the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” But Jesus is giving us difficult lessons to digest these weeks. From “love your enemies and turn the other check” last week, to three statements of truth this week. First, we need to understand truth – the source of all truth – Jesus Christ! The truth of Christ calls us to a humility that recognizes the will of God in all things and accepts, embraces and submits to that will. Second, it’s easy to look at the shortcomings of someone else and be critical; but it’s important that we take the time to address our own shortcomings first, that we might see clearly to help others. Finally, our actions must reflect God’s gift to us. If they don’t, then we are in fact rejecting his salvation. We always depend upon the mercy of God, but we have to respond to this mercy by doing our best to live the Christian life. These all point to the notion that you have to get your own house in order to effectively help others. In many ways, they are a call to humility and introspection. They challenge us to get our priorities right, to get our head on straight, and to have our behaviors and actions reflect what Christ has modeled for us.
Perhaps in a time when there is so much anger, so much finger-pointing, so much hatred, so much polarization in our country – it would behoove all of us to take a moment and step back and reflect upon our attitudes before passing judgement on those of others. We would do well to heed St. Paul’s words and focus fully and completely on the work of the lord with an attitude of humility and mercy. I think that is a caution Jesus would offer to us as well. As we enter Lent, we are given the opportunity to enter the desert and reflect upon our needs and relationship with Christ, and the changes we need to make, that we might be Christ to others. Lent is a good time to figure out how we can give a little more to Christ.
Maybe we can look at ourselves a little more closely, look to replace some of the bad with the good, and maybe we can see a little more of that good in others. Let’s get our house in order that we might be known by the fruit we produce. It is only by the grace of God that seeds of goodness are planted within us and only by his grace and will that we are able to spread those seeds. Perhaps that’s our Lenten goal – that we will have our hearts and minds further shaped by the Teacher and as a result we will more and more become “like the teacher.”
As Vincentians, we focus on helping others who are in need. This is noble work that we do. We can sometimes get so wrapped up in this though that we forget that our primary purpose is to grow in holiness ourselves. When we lose sight of that, we lose perspective and become ineffective or burn out. This gospel – and Lent – serve as reminders to us to pay attention to our needs and relationship with God. It is that relationship which gives us the strength and perspective to effectively minister to those in need. How do I work to renew my relationship with Christ continually? How have I helped to be a beacon of mercy and compassion in this time of great distress?
Father, you are the source of all that is possible. Help me to always bring my needs and the needs of others to you in prayer. Give me the humility to recognize the need I have for you in my life. Grace me with the desire to spend time with you that I might have more to give to others. I pray all of this in your Son’s name. Amen