Monday, January 5, 2015

Continuous effort - not strength or intelligence - is the key

“I am not concerned that you have fallen -- I am concerned that you arise.” ― Abraham Lincoln (16th U.S. president)

Gospel Text: (MT 4:12-17, 23-25)
When Jesus heard that John had been arrested,
he withdrew to Galilee.
He left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum by the sea,
in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali,
that what had been said through Isaiah the prophet
might be fulfilled:

Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali,
the way to the sea, beyond the Jordan,
Galilee of the Gentiles,
the people who sit in darkness
have seen a great light,
on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death
light has arisen.

From that time on, Jesus began to preach and say,
“Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

He went around all of Galilee,
teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom,
and curing every disease and illness among the people.
His fame spread to all of Syria,
and they brought to him all who were sick with various diseases
and racked with pain,
those who were possessed, lunatics, and paralytics,
and he cured them.
And great crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, and Judea,
and from beyond the Jordan followed him.

Nothing gets in God’s way.

Jesus’ determination tells us that God is never confounded or frustrated in his plans. As soon as one servant is arrested, another takes his place. As soon as one obstacle shows up, a way through appears. This pattern, which repeats itself through all of history, reveals a God who is always at work, bringing his plan to fulfillment. We see it in the succession of the Old Testament prophets as well as in the stories about Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. We see it in the New Testament, in the birth of the Church at Pentecost and the Acts of the Apostles.

God is always moving forward, always inviting us to keep moving forward with him. It may be unsettling when we are able to see only pieces of his plan as it unfolds. Even John the Baptist, as he sat in prison, was probably unsure. He sent his disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?” (Matthew 11:3). And Jesus did for John what he wants to do for us: he pointed to all that he had done so far as proof of God’s handiwork.

A look back at your life probably demonstrates signs of a God at work. Are you anxious about tomorrow? Take a deep breath, and remember that God is hidden around every corner. He sees the future and is already at work there. Do you feel stuck right now? Don’t worry. God is working a way out for you. Keep believing and trusting in him. Focus on preparing your heart through prayer to hear and respond to him. In his own time and in his own way, he will “release” you so that you can take the next step in following him. And the next. And the next……………….

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