Sunday, November 11, 2012
If the Lord does not build the house in vain do its builders labor. (Ps, 127:1)
How many times we are taught to create our own path in life as if we knew what could bring us happiness, by fulfilling whatever shallow desires come across our path. We search these desires out and once they are attained we look to have more, never becoming satisfied, never becoming full. Instead we are like a fire, ready to consume, and the more wood that is thrown onto the fire the greater the fire of consumption and appetite grows. Once the wood is burnt, instead of going out like a normal fire, we stay the same size but without food. This is why if we search out our own path without seeing what will truly satisfy us we grow into a state of wondering the meaning of all this toil which gives us no rest and serves no goal except the goal of pain relief from lack of satisfaction.
Even if we find something that seems meaningful it is only because of those we see ourselves benefiting in the future. We act as though the viewpoint of this world is the same viewpoint as the eternal, for once we are in front of the face of God we will be concerned with how we fulfilled God’s will for us not we fulfilled our own will. Therefore, even if we see our life as meaningful at that time, it will lack all meaning at the point of death except for Christ and His eternal kingdom.
Even to look back on history we can see a difference between the Saints, and those who were great emperors or inventors. The emperors and inventors are remembered for what they have given us materially, what will disappear with our death, but the Saints are not just remembered but become a person within our lives who lead us into a life of fullness, love, happiness, and meaning, with persecutions and sacrifices. How could we truly express our love towards God without making sacrifices for Him, for otherwise our actions are not so much an act of love but an act of desiring. That is one of the reasons why God does not grant us everything we ask for in the way that we want it, for it would make God into nothing but a ‘wish fulfiller’ instead of an Infinite Being who desires to have a relationship of love with us. A relationship of love means there will be sacrifices, and God leads by example by allowing His innocent Son to take on the sins of the world and become crucified. We became redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. This is not something that God needed to do for he is complete within himself. This was an act of total love, needing nothing from us yet humbling himself, obediently accepting even death, death on the cross! (Phil. 2:8). Therefore the only appropriate response becomes an act of selfless love in return.
This act of love is our purpose, this act of love is what we have been made for, this act of love is the only action that will lead us to meaning, fulfillment, and blessedness. Within this act of love there is a desire to do what God wills in our lives and if we do so we still may become great inventors, or political figures; we may also become a loving janitor or construction worker. However no matter how great our accomplishments are in the viewpoint of the world, they will become next to nothing compared to our response to God’s love. We will not only be remembered for this response but we will build relationships from above with generations to come, pointing towards God and praying for them to become closer to Christ. Then we will become a house not built in vain.
Monday, November 5, 2012
We do not achieve holy recollection by Receiving but by denying-St. John of the Cross, "Sayings of Light and Love."
This may seem like an odd thing to say when we consider that we rely on God’s grace to do good works because of our fallen nature. However, at the heart of this saying is the implication that God will give us the grace to overcome all sinful difficulty, for God never gives us something that we cannot handle. The greater the difficulty, the greater the grace, and the greater the blessing, because these are the times that we realize our own weakness and are given the opportunity to pour our faith and hope into God and rely on his strength. This is what St. Paul means when he writes, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness. I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me.” (2 Cor. 12:9). The great question is why do we not overcome every sin with such graces from God? The reason is because we are not open to receive them for our hearts are focused and poured out into what is not God. This makes our souls like a dirty window on a sunny day, the Sun shines equally on the window whether it is clean or dirty, but a clean window allows the room to be fully open to the Sun’s light whereas the room that has the dirty window is only partially open to the light of the Sun. This dirt is caused by sins and any sinful habit that we have formed. Until we deny those sins and sinful habits we will not be able to open up our hearts fully to allow for God to have his light shine completely through us, so those in the room no longer see the window, but only the Sun shining through the window. This happens because the window has no dirt to interfere with the light of the Sun. So how do we clean our windows? We clean them by going to the sacrament of Reconciliation and confessing our sins fully and honestly, for if we are not completely honest and open then we are not giving Christ permission to heal us. Christ will not impinge upon our free will and only comes where he has been invited by a sincere heart, but once invited he will waste no time on arrival just sometimes his arrival is not in the form that we expect. That is why when we are not honest in confession and sorry for our sins, we are not fully inviting Christ to clean the windows of our soul. It is after we have been cleansed through the sacrament of reconciliation that we can experience the weight of sin lifted off our shoulders and have a fresh start once again of denying sin and allowing the divine light to enlighten our soul. It is important to realize that after we go to confession we will have to go again for we are sinful by nature, but in-between each visit we need to strive for improvement in the denial of sin. Often Christ will tug at our hearts to work on one imperfection at a time, for if he was to ask us to work at all of our imperfections at the same time, we would easily become overwhelmed and fall into the great sin of despair. Also it is important to realize, Christ will often use other people to help us overcome our struggles so that we can deepen our humility and our sense of being a part of the Body of Christ. Let us give thanks to God today for giving us the gift to be able to aspire to such a relationship with the One True God, which is the one gift that is worth dying to ourselves so that it may no longer be I who lives but Christ who lives in me (Gal. 2:20).