When a chap is in love, he will go out in all kinds of weather to keep an appointment with his beloved. Love can be demanding;in fact, more demanding than law. It has its own imperatives. Think of a mother sitting by the bedside of a sick child through the night, impelled only by love. Nothing is too much trouble for love.
—-Archbishop Desmond Tutu
There is a tale that in the first century a man came to Tertullian, a father in the early church. And in trying to justify some compromises the man had felt he had to make, commented, “I have to live, don’t I?” to which Tertullian is reported to have said, “Do you?”
The only certain happiness in life is to live for others.
Life is experienced at its best and fullest when we are loving and giving to others. Whether we are speaking of some random philanthropist or of the sacrifice of Jesus we are always touched when we see someone put others first. Such behavior moves our hearts and brings out the best in us. Giving behavior motivates us to become better people. Jesus said, “It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave.” Believers should be mindful that our calling is to give more that we receive. I agree so strongly with Tolstoy that the key to true happiness is to live for others, because that allows us to focus away from ourselves.
A journalist once asked Carl Sandburg, “What is the ugliest word in the English language?” After a few minutes Sandburg replied, “Exclusive.” The ugliness of exclusive depends upon whether we are among the included or the excluded. We pride ourselves on being members of exclusive clubs, living in exclusive neighborhoods, dining at exclusive restaurants, vacationing at exclusive resorts, belonging to exclusive churches. Being an insider carries with it a sense of pride and security. Most of us, however, have been excluded often enough to agree that exclusive is an ugly word. When we are among the marginalized, the rejected, the pushed-aside, or the left-out it hurts!
Our question is simple. Who is excluded from the love of God? The answer is simple – no one. That demands the next question. Who is excluded from the church? Of course, the right answer is no one, but we know better. Unfortunately, no one is not the right answer. People are excluded from the church because of tradition, sexuality, financial status, race, “not fitting” and a whole host of other reasons. Let us pray and do all that is in our power to make sure our church is not exclusive.
People who are already good, tend to be good and forgiving to me. People who are already resentful or negative, tend to be that way with me too. Why do I bother to take either the credit or the blame? It is mostly about them! Yet it still has much to teach me too.
This thought has two messages. First,understand that not all the bad things that come your way are your doing. Second, are you good or resentful? This brings you and me to a singular question.Have a I taken the time to look at my own behavior through this perspective?
In his heart a man plans his course …..
THE COURSE OUR LIVES TAKE WILL BE DETERMINED BY THE CONDITION OF OUR HEARTS !
IT’S IN OUR HEARTS THAT WE DETERMINE …..
- WHO WE WILL LIVE FOR ?
- WHO WE WILL SERVE ?
- WHO WE WILL LOVE ?
- WILL IT BE THE GOD OF HEAVEN OR THE GOD OF THIS WORLD ?
……….being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart.
“And this has been a comfort to me, that I choose Jesus as my Savior-by His grace. In my suffering and sorrow He has taught me that I should choose only Him for my salvation in my well being and sorrow.”
–Julian of Norwich
Long ago Julian found a way to touch the grace of God in difficult times of her life. In our very trying and difficult world , we too, can find this grace and make challenging times of life opportunities for growth and grace.
Prayer Thought – Lord help me to find and understand grace as it is freely given by you.
We are caught in a bitter conflict between flesh and spirit. Jesus has delivered us from sin, but not from the weaknesses and desires of the flesh. We have to reproduce in our life the Cross of Christ so that, have died sacramentally to sin in baptism, we may also put to death sin in our flesh by restraining our evil desires and bad tendencies. This is the basis of monastic asceticism. (Or the Christian walk)
—-Thomas Merton from Basic Principles of Monastic Spirituality
There is not one among us who has not felt the tug of war caused by the conflict of flesh and spirit. This conflict of soul lives in everyone, and the battle rages with little relief. As we face this reality and own it, the conflict takes on a new aspect. The acknowledgement of our fleshly weaknesses allows us to turn to the spirit that is promised by Jesus. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.(John 14:26) Through this spirit we can achieve small victories over our desires, but we have to work at it, and be vigilant.
Merton points to a very important, and the often neglected reality of sacramental grace. Through our baptism the community lift us up so that we might die to sin. That grace is an important tool in our battle with the flesh, and one that should not be neglected. When the congregation (community) says, “-we will so order our lives after the example of Christ, that this child, surrounded by steadfast love, may be established in the faith-” that pledge is the communion of saints in action. We must never abandon the strength that can be garnered from the sacramental community.
Two monks, Tanzan and a younger monk, were walking down a muddy street in the city. They came on a lovely young girl dressed in fine silks, who was afraid to cross because of all the mud.
“Come on, girl,” said Tanzan. And he picked her up in his arms, and carried her across.
The two monks did not speak again till nightfall. Then, when they had returned to the monastery, the young monk couldn’t keep quiet any longer.
“Monks are not suppose to go near young girls,” he said “certainly not beautiful ones like that one! Why did you do it?”
“My dear fellow,” said Tanzan. “I put that girl down back in the city. It’s you who are still carrying her.”
For the young monk, and for many of us, crossing the river can be the hardest task that we ever face. We find it exceedingly difficult to put something down, or to allow a difficult task to be in the past. Like the young monk we carry the burden far past the decision.
Prayer Starter – Lord release me for worry and anxiety today, and allow me to cross the river.
1Then God spoke all these words: 2I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery;3you shall have no other gods before me. 4You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me,6but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.
“What Satan put into the heads of our remote ancestors was the idea that they could ‘be like gods’ – could set up on their own as if they had created themselves – be their own masters – invent some sort of happiness for themselves outside God, apart from God. And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history – money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery – the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.”
—–C. S. Lewis
Prayer Starter — Lord we all seem to find gods to put ahead of You. Help me to serve YOU alone.
LENTEN PRAYER GUIDE