Wednesday, February 5, 2014

“Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones. And when you have finished your daily task, go to sleep in peace. - God is awake.”

God of our life, there are days when the burdens we carry chafe our shoulders and weigh us down; when the road seems dreary and endless, the skies grey and threatening; when our lives have no music in them, and our hearts are lonely, and our souls have lost their courage. Flood the path with light, run our eyes to where the skies are full of promise; tune our hearts to brave music; give us the sense of comradeship with heroes and saints of every age; and so quicken our spirits that we may be able to encourage the souls of all who journey with us on the road of life, to Your honor and glory. – St Augustine

Gospel Text: (MK 6:1-6)
Jesus departed from there and came to his native place,
accompanied by his disciples.
When the sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue,
and many who heard him were astonished.
They said, “Where did this man get all this?
What kind of wisdom has been given him?
What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands!
Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary,
and the brother of James and Joseph and Judas and Simon?
And are not his sisters here with us?”
And they took offense at him.
Jesus said to them,
“A prophet is not without honor except in his native place
and among his own kin and in his own house.”
So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there,
apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them.
He was amazed at their lack of faith.

I have often asked myself what it was that moved some of the great martyrs of the Church to give up their lives for the Faith.  How was it that Maximilian Kolbe could stand toe-to-toe with the German commander of Auschwitz and ask to take the place of a condemned prisoner?  Can anything be compared to the courage of young Blessed Jose Sanchez del Rio or St. Maria Goretti?  There is a long list of martyrs that runs through the twenty centuries of Christianity, and it is the blood of these martyrs that waters the seeds which will grow into the next generation of saints. 

Courage and faith may be the two virtues lacking most in the modern world.  We are afraid.  We fear what our friends might think if we hold them accountable for their actions.  We fear how the world might view us if we say a prayer in public or if we try to talk with a stranger about Jesus.  And most of all, we fear the invitation that we sense on our hearts to radical holiness.  We know that we are not content to merely rise each morning, go through our daily routine, look for a few fleeting moments to say a quick prayer and then go to bed, only to rise and repeat day after day after day.  But what if, one day, we did something different?  What if, just for a day, we listened to our heart and pursued that desire to do something radical for God?  What if, just once, we did not take offense at Him and instead truly listened to Christ knocking at the door of our heart?  He is there, day in and day out, always knocking.  In the past, He has always asked us, “Will you let me in?”  Now, though, His question has changed.  Now when He knocks, we hear Him ask, “Will you let me out?”

The Gospel message has to be proclaimed to everyone in our lives, and despite all our complaints and objections, Jesus has chosen us for the mission.  It has been entrusted to us.  Now we must respond.  He desires to use our gifts and our abilities in ways that we could never imagine, but if we give Him permission, we will be amazed at the things He will do through us.  Then we will not be offended by Him.  We will only be in love with Him.  He will not be amazed at our lack of Faith.  Rather, we will be amazed at its abundance.  We each must move forward to the people in our lives who desperately need to hear the Gospel message and preach it to them.  We must speak Christ’s words, carry on His work, and always strive to walk in His footsteps whether the scribes and Pharisees of today approve of our actions or not. 

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