Wednesday, August 1, 2012
What a person is before God, that he is and nothing more.-St. Francis of Assisi, “Admonitions”
This is certainly true, for there is only one objective Judge that matters since there is only one Judgment that matters. Life on Earth is but a short toil where we are born into Death (Sin) and God’s mercy gives us the chance to choose an eternal life in Christ.
If we truly are nothing more than what we are before God, how does God see us?
Of course, God loves us and sees us as his beloved adopted children, but parents are not always proud of their children’s actions. In response to this the parent set rules so that the child will not get hurt.
In the cases of our own parents, often there are objective consequences to breaking these rules, such as a spanking or getting grounded, but in relationship to God, the consequence is rejecting God-which is rejecting life-by choosing sin, which is Death. Therefore we disconnect ourselves from the highest Good for something less good and by doing so bite the hand that feeds us.
Despite this, God gives us the gift of freedom and waits for us to choose him freely. Freedom is not living a life where no one tells you what to do but living a life where we can choose what is good. This is why sin enslaves us: it makes us more unable to choose God and this is also why the grace of God is the key to gaining freedom, for it is the key to choosing the highest Good at all times which is God.
What is the appropriate response to God’s grace?
The answer is with a heart of thanksgiving. All good things come from above, therefore if we would boast, let us boast in the Lord (2 Co 10:17). It is the Lord who gives us all things; we merely accept or reject his gifts. When we accept His gifts, even those of virtue, then let us rejoice in His Name. We should never let us set ourselves in comparison to others for this is the sign of a proud heart. The first problem with comparing ourselves is that we make the assumption that we know how much of what we are comparing has been given to the other and how much of it they have rejected, for it is not the amount that we receive but the manner in which we receive it. If we receive the greatest gift but are not thankful for the gift then the gift is in vain for it did not lead us closer to Christ. An example of this would be the Eucharist which means thanksgiving. If we are not thankful for Christ, body, blood, soul, and divinity, then how are we accepting God great gift to us. We may accept it bodily but if we do not tell him to enter into our soul the gift was in vain because it was rejected. We might as well spit in the face of Christ on his walk to the crucifixion when we receive him with indifference. On this note let us ask the Lord to more fully open our hearts so that we may not reject any of His gifts.
The humble heart is the one who recognizes their gifts are from God and responds in thanksgiving through both their actions and words. The humble heart also recognizes their rejections of God’s grace and asks for assistance in more fully accepting his grace, therefore the humble man is in constant thanksgiving and in asking for help, that is his prayer.
The proud soul will compare himself to his neighbor and boast against the ones he sees as inferior and envy those to whom he feels inferior. His prayer is never one of gratitude but ingratitude, never being content in his gifts for there is always someone superior to him within his eyes. But according to the eyes of God the only thing that makes him less then another is his lack of humility. May we ask the Lord today for a thankful heart, and therefore, a humble heart. The Lord exalts the humble and the proud He humbles. On the feast of St. Alphonsus Liguori, Bishop and Doctor of the Church, let us ask him for his prayers. St. Alphonsus Ligouori, pray for us.