Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Discerning God's Will in Everyday Life and Everyday Decisions

Discerning the Will of God in Everyday Life:  In today’s first reading, Malachi 3: 1-4, 23-24, the Lord God says to us: Lo, I will send you Elijah, the prophet, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and terrible day, to turn the hearts of the fathers[mothers]  to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers/[mothers].”

We know, from that passage, that the will of the Lord is that we live, work, play and pray with each other in ways that lead to union with one another and away from divisive behaviors and attitudes. If the choices I make on a daily basis create animosity, hostility and divisiveness, I then know, for the most part,  that my choices are not in tune with the will of God. Looking at Jesus, we know that His choices led to freeing people from that which caused a gap between themselves and others, between themselves and His and their Father God. He was an instrument of God the Father in bringing about harmony in the world. Sometimes, for Jesus,  harmony was preceded by suffering and death, His death on the cross, in fact. From sacrificing and the giving of His all, we are saved from eternal destruction. Every day, doing God’s will, may require that you and I sacrifice our convenience, our  wills, to the will of another in love, respect, understanding and forgiveness.  When those virtues are being practiced, we then know that our choices are in tune with God’s will. And many times, a dying to selfishness, pride, and dishonesty (especially with self) is required!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Discerning God's Will

Discerning God’s Will: Today’s Liturgy,  1 Samuel 1: 24-28, and the Gospel, Luke 1: 46-56, hail two great women whose motivating force was to give God their all!  Selfishness, self-aggrandizement, self-centeredness were transformed by grace into God-centered motivations. If we are determined to allow God to bring our wills into harmony with God’s will, we, too, need to give God our weaknesses. God alone is able to make us into women and men who long for God’s will to be accomplished in us.  God prepared Mary to become God’s Temple, totally one with God,  by her Immaculate Conception (the graces won on Calvary given to her at the moment her parents conceived her).  You and I have those graces through our Baptism, Reconciliation, Eucharist, the Anointing of the Sick and all other ways in which God cleanses us of our sinfulness. Through God’s mercy we are made capable of being one with the Lord in our choices.

Discerning the will of our God is also grace! Let us ask for that grace in the same way as Hannah in 1 Samuel  1: 24-28 and Mary in the Annunciation, Luke 1: 38,  said: “Behold the Handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me according to your Word” and truly mean it!

Friday, December 18, 2015

What we Learn from St. Joseph

Discerning the Spirit’s Voice: Hearing what God is asking of us is no easy task.  In today’s Gospel, Mt. 1: 18-25, Joseph is wrestling with what to do about his betrothal to Mary, who is pregnant and the child Is not his.  We know that he trying to figure out how not to expose Mary to share and whether he should divorce her quietly. He does not consider keeping her as his wife when, in his sleep an angel of the Lord appears to him and tells him not to be afraid and, yes, retain her as his wife.  His discernment included the agony that sometimes involved  decision-making. It involved looking at several options and “sleeping” on his decision.  Joseph was not the only one concerned about the appropriate decision. So, too, was the Lord. God has a stake in whatever decision we make and sometimes we need to be totally at rest for God to make His will known. Yes, we need to let go of making any decision and relying upon God—his going to sleep on it may indicate that kind of surrender.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

What spirit I am following?

Today’s first reading, Genesis 16: 10-12, relates the story of Sarai’s treatment of Hagar, her servant whom she gave to her husband Abram to bear her some sons, as she herself  was barren.  Recall that God has promised Abram that he would have descendants too numerous to count.  He makes the same promise to pregnant Hagar when she flees out into the wilderness to get away from Sarai’s abusive, jealous behavior.  God’s messenger intervenes, meets Hagar in the wilderness, comforts her, promises her an abundance, listens to her groans/complaints, instructs her on naming her unborn child and sends her back to being a submissive servant to Sarai.  

Discernment:  Who am I in this Scripture passage? Sarai who ingeniously, following the law, gives Hagar, her servant to Abram, to bear the fruit that she was incapable of bearing? Like Sarai, do I look for ways to transform a barren situation into a fertile one? When I become the “fruitful” one, do I, like Hagar, look down on others less fortunate than I and, like Sarai, become jealous of those who are successful in ways that I am not?  Do I, like Hagar, flee into the wilderness  in an attempt to escape God’s plan for me when the going gets rougher than I thought it would? Who do I meet in my wildernesses? Do I recognize God’s messengers in my difficult moments or do I keep fleeing? Do I, like Hagar, brings my pain to the Lord, trusting that God will be listening?

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Discerning your Mission on Earth

Today we celebrate the feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist. Each one of us also has a nativity. To each one of us, as to John the Baptist, God says to us through the prophet Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you ” ( Jeremiah 1: 4-10, the first reading of the Vigil Mass for John the Baptist). John the Baptist, as we know, was filled with the Holy Spirit within his mother’s womb, when Mary came to visit his mother, Elizabeth.  Mary and Elizabeth ministered to one another and in turn to John. Each one’s vocation, mission in life, came to be in ways that were mysterious and challenging. Elizabeth was barren, advanced in years, felt humiliated by not bearing Zachary any children and was now beyond child-bearing years. Mary was called to be the mother of God and she was dumbfounded: how could this be; she had had no relations with a man. And John the Baptist, who is to prepare the way for the Messiah, is yet unborn!

Every one is known to God before God forms us in the womb. Every one of us is dedicated to the Lord in the womb, appointed for a special mission that bring others to the Lord, that opens their lives to the Spirit, that empowers them to recognize God’s gift of eternal salvation, that prepares them to carry out the mission Jesus entrusted to us from the cross: “Woman, behold your son; son behold your mother.” We are all called to be brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers to one another, to build a kingdom of justice in this world, to make the world a better place with God at its center.

In what ways has/is God preparing you for your mission? In what ways are you leading others to Christ, to the Messiah? In what ways are you building His Kingdom of love, justice, and mercy on this earth?

Friday, June 12, 2015

Everyone's Vocation: To Reveal God's Wisdom, To Make God Known

In today’s second reading, Eph. 3: 8-12, 14-19, St. Paul gives witness to his vocation, saying: “To me, the very least of all the holy ones, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the inscrutable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for all what is the plan of the mystery hidden from ages past in God who created all things, so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the principalities and authorities in the heaven. This was according to the eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our  Lord, in whom we have boldness of speech and confidence of access through faith in him.”

In each vocation, persons are given the necessary grace to, in the words of St. Francis of Assisi, preach the Gospel by their lives, and to use words only if necessary.  Each one of us is called to "bring to light for all what is the plan of the mystery God who created all things, so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known" to those with whom you live and work and pray.  To make God's wisdom in your life known, and,first of all,  to even know God's wisdom at work in your life, it is important to sit at Jesus’ feet and listen to Him. I encourage you to do that every day, opening to the daily readings of the day or to simply choose one of the Gospels in which to meet Jesus in person. Spend 5-10 minutes each day with Jesus in this way. Or use that time for quiet prayer, for listening to the stillness in which God is always a work within the very core of your being. Pay attention in quiet for 5 minutes each day. You will come to know the Lord in that stillness!  When your mind drifts, come back to the quiet uttering the name “Jesus.”

What grace has God given you? Is it the same as Paul's or is it different? What is it? How do you nurture it?

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

"You are the Light of the World"

“You are the light of the world….[Y]our light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father” (Mt 5: 13-16). 

When do you feel as though you are most readied to glorify your heavenly Father? When does your light seem to shine most brightly? When do you seem to be doing the most good of which you are capable of accomplishing?In which environment? In which situations? In which of life's vocations, do you believe you will let your light shine most brightly? What do you need for that to happen?

The honest answer to those questions will reveal the vocation to which God is calling you. Do you do the most good when you are supported by another person who cares deeply for you and wants to be your partner for life? That may indicate a call to the married state.  Does the light of who you are shine most brightly when you are giving yourself to others in ministry, in service to the needy and forgotten of society; when you take the lead in those kinds of ministries, unimpeded by another other responsibilities? If so, possibly you are being called to consecrate your life to the Lord as a woman/man religious and use all of your talent in carrying out the mission of the Church in a religious community. Are you most yourself and most generous, loving, caring, compassionate person you are your own, devoting your energy and talent in becoming your best self in a chosen career with no interest in marriage or religious life or priesthood? Perhaps that means you are called to the single vocation.

Monday, June 8, 2015

The Anchor of One's Vocation

Anchoring One’s Vocation in the Lord

In the recent Scriptures readings for the day’s liturgy we have been presented with the story of Tobiah’s marriage to Sarah, daughter of Raguel (Tobit 6: 10-11; 7: 1abcde, 9-17; 8: 4-9a).  The night of the marriage, before having intercourse, Tobiah and Sarah take time to pray.  Tobiah says to Sarah, “My love, get up. Let us pray and beg our Lord to have mercy on us and grant us deliverance.” The couple prayed and begged the Lord for deliverance that night from the evil that had befallen Sarah in seven previous marriages when each of her husbands died before having relations with her. They bless the Lord, praise His name, call upon the heavens and all of creation to praise God and then beg to be set free of any snares that lie in wait for them.

No matter to which vocation we are called, it is important that we anchor our life in a relationship with the Lord. Troubled waters, storms, turbulence are part of life. Any of those can throw us for a loop, capsize our “boats,” lead to disastrous ends. God and God alone is our
Savior in any walk of life.  Will I, like Tobiah and Sarah, put God first on the night of our “marriage,” whether that be to a life-long partner or to living a vowed life of a woman/man consecrated to the Lord or as a priest or a single person?

In what way are you, right now, taking steps to grow your relationship with the Lord?