Daily Devotional for March 15-21
*This week’s reading from Catholic St Josemaria ‘Christ is Passing By”
As with other events in his life, we should never contemplate Jesus’ hidden years without feeling moved. We should realize that they are in themselves a call to shake off our selfishness and easy-going ways. Our Lord knows our limitations, our individualism and our ambition. He knows it is difficult for us to forget ourselves and give ourselves to others. He knows very well what it feels like not to find love and to discover that those who say they follow him only do so in a half-hearted way. Just think of those striking scenes, described to us by the evangelists, in which we see the Apostles full of worldly ambitions and merely human plans. Yet Jesus has chosen them; he keeps them close to him and entrusts them with the mission he has received from his Father.
He has called us too and asks us, as he asked James and John: “Are you ready to drink the cup” — that cup which means giving yourself fully to the will of the Father — “which I am going to drink?” Possumus!: “Yes! We are ready!” Is the reply of John and James. Are you and I really ready to carry out, in everything, the will of our Father God?
This is the day which the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad therein.
Have we given our Lord our whole heart, or are we attached to ourselves and our interests and comfort and self-love? Is there anything in our lives out of keeping with our Christianity, something which makes us unwilling to mend our ways? Today we are given a chance to set things straight.
But first of all, we must be convinced that Jesus is putting these questions to us personally. He is the one who asks them, not I. I wouldn’t dare even put them to myself. I am praying aloud, and each of you, silently, is admitting to our Lord: “Lord, how useless I am, what a coward I have been! How many mistakes I’ve made, over and over again.” And we can go further and say: “It’s good, Lord, you have kept me up with your hand; for, left to myself, I am capable of the most disgraceful things. Don’t let me go; keep on treating me as a little child. I want to be strong and brave and manly. But you must help me. I am a clumsy creature. Take me by the hand, Lord, and make sure your Mother is also by my side to guard me. And so, ‘we are ready’! We can; we will be able to have you as our model.”
Blessed by the name of the Lord from henceforth and forever more.
It is not presumptuous for us to say ‘we are ready’ . Jesus Christ teaches us this divine way and wants us to follow it, for he has made it human and accessible to our weakness. That is why he lowered himself so. “Here is the reason why he brought himself so low, taking the nature of a slave; he, the Lord, who as God was equal to the Father; he lowered himself in majesty and power — but not in goodness or mercy.”
The goodness of God wants to make the way easy for us. Let us not reject Jesus’ invitation; let’s not say “no” to him, turning a deaf ear to his voice. There is no excuse, we can no longer think we aren’t able. He has shown us by his example. “Therefore, I ask you with all my heart, brothers, not to let this precious example go unheeded: rather, follow him and renew your soul in the spirit.
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning it is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
Do you see how necessary it is to know Jesus and lovingly observe his life? I have often gone to look for a definition or a biography of Jesus in Scripture. And I have found it written by the Holy Spirit: “He went about doing good.” Every single day of Jesus Christ’s life on earth, from his birth until his death, can be summed up like that: he filled them all doing good. And in another place Scripture says, “He has done all things well,” he finished everything well, he did nothing that wasn’t good.
What about you and me, then? Let’s take a look to see if we have to put anything right. I certainly can find plenty to improve. I know that by myself I am incapable of doing good. And, since Jesus has said that without him we can do nothing, let us, you and me, go to our Lord and ask for his help, through his Mother, in one of those intimate conversations natural to souls who love God. I will say no more, for it’s up to each of you to speak to him personally, about your own needs. Do it interiorly, without the noise of words, now — while I for my part apply these counsels to my own sorry state.
Create in me a clean heart of God and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not from thy presence nor take thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation and by thy governing spirit establish me.
What did Christ do to pour out so much good, and only good, wherever he went? The Gospels give us the answer with another biography of Jesus: “He was obedient to them.” We must especially value obedience in the current environment of disobedience, rebellion and disunity.
Freedom is very close to my heart — that is precisely why I so love the christian virtue of obedience. We should all realize that we are children of God, and should want to fulfil the will of our Father. We should do things as God wants them done, because we feel like it, which is the most supernatural of reasons.
The spirit of Opus Dei [Catholic organization reflecting St Josemaria’s spiritual model], which I have tried to practice and to teach for more than thirty-five years now, has made me understand and love personal freedom. When God our Lord gives us his grace, when he calls us by a specific vocation, it is as if he were stretching out his hand to us, in a fatherly way. A strong hand, full of love, because he seeks us out individually, as his own sons and daughters, knowing our weakness.
Prayer: O give thanks to the Lord for He is good, for His mercy endures forever.
The Lord expects us to make the effort to take his hand, his helping hand. He asks us to make an effort and show we are free. To be able to do this, we must be humble and realize we are little children of God. We must love the blessed obedience with which we respond to God’s marvellous fatherhood.
We should let our Lord get involved in our lives, admitting him confidently, removing from his way any obstacles or complications. We tend to be on the defensive, to be attached to our selfishness. We always want to be top dog, even if it’s only to be on top of our wretchedness. That is why we must go to Jesus, so that he will make us truly free. Only then will we be able to serve God and all men. This is the only way to realize the truth of St Paul’s words: “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the return you get is sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Let us be forewarned, then, for we will always tend to be selfish, and this temptation can occur in many ways. God wants us to show our faith when we obey, for he doesn’t express his will with drums and trumpets. Sometimes he suggests his wishes in a whisper, deep in our conscience; and we must listen carefully to recognize his voice and be faithful.
I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
of the Creator of creation.
From St. Patrick’s ‘Breastplate’
He often speaks to us through other people. But when we see their defects or doubt whether they are well informed — whether they have grasped all the aspects of the problem — we feel inclined to disobey. All this may have a divine meaning, for God does not impose a blind obedience on us. He wants us to obey intelligently, and we have to feel responsible for helping others with the intelligence we do have. But let’s be sincere with ourselves: let’s examine, in every case, whether it is love for the truth which moves us or selfishness and attachment to our own judgment. When our ideas separate us from other people, when they weaken our communion, our unity with our brothers, it is a sure sign that we are not doing what God wants.
Let’s not forget: we need humility if we are to obey. Look again at the example Christ gives us: he obeys Joseph and Mary. God has come to the world to obey, and to obey creatures. Admittedly they are two very perfect creatures: Holy Mary, our mother, greater than whom God alone; and that most chaste man Joseph. But they are only creatures, and yet Jesus, who is God, obeyed them. We have to love God so as to love his will and desire to respond to his calls. They come to us through the duties of our ordinary life: duties of state, profession, work, family, social life, our own and other people’s difficulties, friendship, eagerness to do what is right and just.
Christ is Risen…Truly He is Risen!