Saturday, March 1, 2014

This independent, self-sufficient approach to life is the fundamental sin of so many of us... It is the refusal of grace.

I will trust Him. Whatever, wherever I am, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him; in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him; if I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him. My sickness, or perplexity, or sorrow may be necessary causes of some great end, which is quite beyond us. He does nothing in vain. - Blessed John Henry Newman (Roman Catholic Cardinal)

Scripture Text: (JAS 5:13-20)
Is anyone among you suffering?
He should pray.
Is anyone in good spirits?
He should sing a song of praise.
Is anyone among you sick?
He should summon the presbyters of the Church,
and they should pray over him
and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord.
The prayer of faith will save the sick person,
and the Lord will raise him up.
If he has committed any sins, he will be forgiven.

Therefore, confess your sins to one another
and pray for one another, that you may be healed.
The fervent prayer of a righteous person is very powerful.
Elijah was a man like us;
yet he prayed earnestly that it might not rain,
and for three years and six months it did not rain upon the land.
Then Elijah prayed again, and the sky gave rain
and the earth produced its fruit.

My brothers and sisters,
if anyone among you should stray from the truth
and someone bring him back,
he should know that whoever brings back a sinner
from the error of his way will save his soul from death
and will cover a multitude of sins.

In the first reading from James today at Mass, one can hear the writer implore people to become dependent on our Lord.  If you are suffering, pray to God: depend on him to grant you the grace you need to get through the suffering.  If you are in good spirits, pray to God in praise—recognize your joy is the fruit from your dependence on God.  If you have sinned, pray to God for forgiveness—depend on him for the grace for your soul to be at peace again.

As the reading from James states and the analogy from Jesus intimates, dependence on Jesus is overwhelmingly beneficial.  Jesus was hoping that his disciples would connect with memories of their own childhoods as well as with the reality of the children right in from of them.  Children are completely dependent on their parents for their health, for their sense of being deeply cared for and for their food.  And because they are so freely dependent, they can then enjoy each moment of their day.  Each day is filled with discovery, with the joy of being with others, with no worries about anything else.  And because of this, they can feel deeply joyful; they can go through their day and get ready to sleep with nothing left on their minds to worry about.  They can begin and end each day in peace.

Jesus invites us to do the same. 

When we are physically, emotionally or spiritually suffering, he invites us to be dependent on him.  In a way, our suffering can “clear away” our day-to-day worries.  Some of these seem quite small when we are in pain.  And that “clearing away” leaves room for us to focus on our Lord.  To become dependent upon him.  And when we do, we are assured by our Lord that our one step toward him will be met with an incredible amount of steps by him toward us.  As we become more dependent upon Jesus, we will feel the showering of grace he is constantly sharing; we will find more joy and more peace in our lives. 

Sometimes as we grow from childhood to adulthood, through many joys and struggles, we are hesitant to be dependent, even with our God.  Jesus invites us to place our hesitancy to the side and walk toward him, to depend on him.  It is a way to truly follow him, it is a way to get through the toughest challenges in deep peace, and, it is a way to feel the deep joy that our Lord so wants us to experience in our daily lives.

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