Daily Reflection from The Word Among Us

I thought the reflection today from the Word Among Us was very good and wanted to share it.

“Whoever loses his life will save it.” (Luke 17:33)

 

Have you ever missed the bus, lost your job due to downsizing, or felt forgotten by someone close to you? It doesn’t feel good to be left out. Imagine, then, what it must feel like to be left out of Jesus’ Sec­ond Coming. None of us wants that! But it’s unnerving, isn’t it, that we won’t know when Jesus will come again. We don’t want to miss it, so we have to be in a state of con­stant readiness.

The good news is that Jesus has made it easy for us to be prepared. He wants to see us ready! He liked to compare the kingdom of God to a banquet—the more people come, the merrier. Yes, there is a dress code, but we have all the clothes we need. Let’s look at three particular items that are vital to any spiritual wardrobe.

First, keep your conscience clear. Even small sins can cloud our vision of the Lord and his calling for us. That’s why it is important for us to examine our conscience and repent often. It’s also why we should make regular use of the Sacrament of Rec­onciliation, an excellent way to receive even more of God’s grace to resist temptation and grow in virtue.

Second, love others. Over and over, Jesus tells us to place the wel­fare of others above ourselves. He even commands us to love others as he has loved us. And since his love is unconditional, ours should be too. Keeping our hearts and our hands open especially to the poor and needy keeps us open to the Lord himself (Matthew 25:40).

Finally, stay close to Jesus. As you draw near to him, he will draw near to you. His love and mercy will become clearer, and you will find yourself changing to become more and more like him—and more and more ready for his return.

Time and time again, Jesus asks us to be ready for his coming. He wants to give us his inheritance of fellowship with God for all eter­nity. If we clothe ourselves with these three practices, we won’t have to worry; we will be ready in an instant!

“Jesus, I want to be with you at your heavenly banquet. I know that you make it possible, so help me to do my part today. I love you and all that you do for me!”

Great Reflection On What It Means To Be Holy

Here is an excerpt from a commentary on St. Josemaria Escriva by then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (Benedict XVI). It clearly puts the goal of being totally for God in view of anyone willing to struggle to give themselves totally to Christ.

I thought this was a very appropriate excerpt for All Saints Day.

In thinking about this, I remember the Lord’s words in John’s Gospel: “My Father is working still” (5,17). These are words that Jesus spoke in a discussion with a few experts in religion who did not want to recognize that God can work even on the Sabbath. This is still an ongoing debate, in a certain way, among the men and womenalso Christiansof our time. There are those who think that after creation, God “withdrew” and took no further interest in our daily affairs. To this way of thinking, God can no longer enter the fabric of our daily lives. But we have a denial of this in Jesus’ words. A man open to God’s presence realizes that God is always working and is still working today: we must therefore let him in and let him work. That is how things which give humanity a future and renew it are born.

All this helps us understand why Josemaría Escrivá did not claim to be the “founder” of anything, but only someone who wanted to do God’s will and second his action, his work, precisely, God’s. In this regard, Escrivá de Balaguer’s theocentrism, consistent with Jesus’ words, means being confident that God did not withdraw from the world, that God is working today, and that all we have to do is put ourselves at his disposal, make ourselves available to him, and responsive to his call, is an extremely important message. It is a message that helps to overcome what can be considered the great temptation of our time: the claim, that after the “big bang” God withdrew from history, God’s action did not stop with the “big bang” but continues in time, both in the world of nature and in the human world.

Thus the founder of the Opus said: “I did not invent anything; another is acting and I am merely ready to serve him as an instrument”. This is how the name and the whole reality that we call Opus Dei is profoundly linked with the interior life of the founder who, while remaining very discreet on this point, gives us to understand that he was in a permanent dialogue, a real contact with the One who created us and works for us and with us. The Book of Exodus says of Moses (33,11) “thus the Lord used to speak to Moses as to a friend”. It seems to me that even if the veil of discretion may hide many of the details from us, nonetheless from those small references one realizes that the words “speaking as to a friend” can very aptly be applied to Josemaría Escrivá, who opens the doors of the world to let God come in, work and transform all things.

In this light it is also easier to understand what “holiness” and the “universal vocation to holiness” mean. Knowing a little about the history of saints, knowing that in canonization processes their “heroic” virtues are investigated, we almost inevitably slip into an erroneous concept of holiness: “It is not for me”, we are inclined to think, “because I do not feel able to achieve heroic virtues: it’s too exalted an ideal for me”. Holiness then becomes something reserved for the “important” [people], whose images we see above the altars, worlds apart indeed from us normal sinners. However, this is an erroneous concept of holiness, a wrong perception which has been correctedand this seems to me to be the main pointby Josemaría Escrivá.

Heroic virtue does not mean that the saint works out a “gymnastics” of holiness that ordinary people could not tackle. It means, instead, that God’s presence is revealed in the life of a person; it is revealed when the person could do nothing by himself or for himself. Perhaps basically, it is a question of terminology because the adjective “heroic” was badly explained. Heroic virtue does not actually mean that someone has done great things by himself, but that situations arise in his life independently of anything he has done: he was simply transparent and available for God’s work. Or, in other words, being holy is nothing other than speaking with God as a friend speaks to a friend. That is holiness.

Being holy does not mean being superior to others; indeed, a saint can be very weak and make many blunders in his life. Holiness is profound contact with God, being a friend of God; it is letting the Other act, the One who really can guarantee that the world is good and happy. If therefore St Josemaría speaks of the common vocation to holiness, it seems to me that he is basically drawing on his own personal experience, not of having done incredible things himself, but of having let God work. Therefore a renewal, a force for good was born in the world even if human weaknesses will always remain. Truly we are all able, we are all called to open ourselves to this friendship with God, not to let go of God’s hands, not to give up, turning and returning to the Lord, speaking to him as to a friend, knowing well that the Lord really is the true friend of everyone, even of those who cannot do great things on their own.

8 Beatitudes for Politicians

Some years ago, I discovered the writings of Cardinal Francois-Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan. He gave a retreat to Pope John Paul II and his staff. The Pope was very moved by his presentations and told him to write them down to share with people. They were published as a book called Testimony To Hope. It’s a great book that testifies to the power of faith in hard times. The Cardinal spent 13 years in a communist concentration camp and nine of those were in solitary confinement. He learned to share and reflect the love of Christ and greatly impacted the people around him. He’s a great example of the saying, “Bloom where you are planted”.

I found his website and didn’t realize he had served on the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. While in Italy he gave a presentation on 8 Beatitudes for politicians.

Here they are:

  • Blessed the politician who well understands his role in the world.
  • Blessed the politician who personally exemplifies credibility.
  • Blessed the politician who works for the common good and not for his own interests.
  • Blessed the politician who is true to himself, his faith and his electoral promises.
  • Blessed the politician who works for unity and makes Jesus the fulcrum of its defence.
  • Blessed the politician who works for radical change, refusing to call good that which is evil and using the Gospel as a guide.
  • Blessed the politician who listens to the people before, during and after the elections, and who listens to God in prayers.
  • Blessed the politician who has no fear of the truth or the mass media, because at the time of judgment he will answer only to God, not the media.