Looking back, I felt that just as Christ had to suffering the agony of Calvary and the scourging at the pillar, before His ultimate death on the cross--I had to suffer with my own cross.
I can say I’ve been on both sides of the spectrum. I remember seasons of my life when I was trying to grow in my faith but didn’t take my sins seriously. They were times when I knew I needed Confession but still received Eucharist week after week, in a “God-loves-me-anyway” but “I-make-my-own-rules” sort of way.
A teaser of our upcoming video!!
The Gospel of the Mustard Seed is one of Jesus’s most well known parables about the kingdom of God. Jesus is responding to the question, “What is the Kingdom of God like?” The Mustard Seed demonstrates that while the kingdom started small, with the coming of Jesus, it will and has grown far beyond imagination. Reflecting on this reading in the past I have easily shrugged it off thinking: Ya, ya if you have a little faith that is all it takes to grow into a great, big bush of faith.
When I was in high school, my family built our house. I remember spending hour after hour, week after week, year after year, working on our home--framing walls, running wires, plumbing, building cabinets and desks, tiling bathrooms, painting, and so much more. By the end of it, our hard work paid off in the beauty of the design, the craftsmanship, and the integrity that it took to build.
The Lord calls me to obedience so that I may live with joy but do I obey the Lord and firmly root myself in a life with Him? Only when I root myself in obedience to His commands and the demands of His love will I be able to receive the life-giving water that He longs to give me.
If I’m honest with myself, these are the same reasons I find myself not growing in virtue. The Lord has called me out. I must be vigilant, keep watch, and stay awake, not only for the day He comes again, but for what He is calling me to today.
In the Gospel reading for today, we see another instance of Jesus giving those petty Pharisees their daily dose of humility.
You see, I build those same towers with my accomplishments, to-do lists, impatience, and even bitterness towards events or people who I feel stand in the way of my goals.
I am mad, and right now, it’s the only way I know to talk to God.
My invitation to the banquet has nothing to do with my goodness, and everything to do with how loved I am by God.
I had a vision of something brighter. To see it though I had to look beyond the rejection that was smacking me in the face over and over again.
What comes to mind when you think of pride? Is it a co-worker who constantly boasts about his sales accomplishments? An athlete who takes all the credit for his success for himself? Maybe a middle school bully who used to put you down?
I am the type of person that tends to stumble through my day, kind of like a pinball machine, going to and fro, from thing to thing. Pretty typically, by the end of the day, I have to find a chapel to stop all of the to and fro-ness and ask Jesus to help me.
The problem is, any time I’ve tried to live by this popular saying, I’ve been left unsatisfied. Something wasn’t right. Trying to live like I’m dying, like I have limited time on the earth and need to cram in the things I haven’t done, somehow made me more fearful of death.
Obviously it’s natural to vent, complain, even Jesus became frustrated with His disciples at times.
“The devil isn’t here to ruin your day. He is here to ruin your ability to redeem the day. Once he takes that ability away, he steals your access to worthiness. He takes away your knowledge of your God-given gifts so that you can’t change your eternity.”
My friends clearly are living better and more fulfilling lives than I am. I find myself becoming envious of the “perfect lives” I see portrayed and as a result, I spend time and energy focusing on what I don’t have rather than appreciating what I do have. Sometimes, I may not hit the “like” button, even though I know I should.
They were big hands with large calluses. I could tell that they came from hard work. A few even looked like they had been bleeding recently. I looked up at the man receiving Communion and saw the sincerest smile, someone ready to become Christ through the reception of the Eucharist.
When my heart can't handle the sufferings of this world, I weep. I weep at tragedy, at the loss of a loved one, at the brokenness, and at the pain that comes with living. I weep when my husband and I desire a child but another month passes with a negative line on the pregnancy test.
The idea of sitting in adoration for an extended period of time requires me to psych myself up as if I’m about to run a 20 mile race. As frequently as I give friends advice to “take time alone with God” or “pray about it and see what you hear,” it’s advice I’m horrible at accepting. I begin and before long am convincing myself that God wants me to pray by serving others and being joyful in my work.
I’ve turned to gossip so readily because it felt easier, but in the end, gossip usually multiplied the conflicts I had, and often left me more at fault than those who had wronged me to begin with. The gossip I spread came back to me, along with feelings of betrayal and dismay from the friends I had spoken against.
It’s as if he’s humbly accepting that there’s little he can offer unless he invokes God’s grace through prayer first.
I didn’t know what to do or say and felt my motivation waning. However, the Holy Spirit was working around me and brought me what I needed most. I needed friends who were searching after Christ with me.
Once the weather stops being so hot and humid, I’m going to be so much happier. Once classes start, I’ll be able to focus and feel more connected to other people. I just need to buy two more skirts, and then I’ll feel ready for the school year to start. I just need a snack and a coffee, then I can tackle this project.
Isn’t it interesting that the main task that is given to the servants is to give food to the members of the household at the proper time? These are such specific instructions we are given to prepare for the second coming.
I smile thinking of Teresa’s baptism and how so many family and friend gathered with us to welcome her into the Church community, singing the litany of saints (and then laugh when I remember how she pooped, loudly, in the middle of it!).
I find it much easier in life to stay in my comfort zone. It’s easier to be complacent and comfortable. It’s easier to stay at home, to stick with what I’ve known, to stay where it’s safe. But so much beauty in my life has come from following the little nudges that say, “come and see.”
Because of this, reading today’s gospel challenges me to flip my notion of "being first" that I've been told by the culture I live in.