Thursday, May 28, 2015

Not Allowing Yourself to be Discouraged from Making Decisions Right for You

In today’s Gospel, Mark 10: 46-52, Jesus leaves Jericho with his disciples and a sizable crowd.  Along the roadside, He meets a blind man begging. As the blind man hears that Jesus is passing by, he shouts: “Jesus, son of David have pity on me.” The crowd attempts to silence the man. We can imagine the crowd shouting:  “Keep still. Don’t bother Jesus. Who do you think you are wanting such and such?”
Crowds might not be shouting at you as you attempt to approach Jesus or to do what the Lord is urging you to do: take care of yourself, take responsibility for your blindness, seek the help you need, take steps to secure the job you want, the career to which you aspire, or, yes, the vocation to which you feel called. Sometimes it only takes one person to discourage us from doing what it is we need to do. Who are you allowing to control your life, to stop you from making the decision you know you need to make?

Bartimaeus ignores the crowd and continues making his need known to Jesus. I encourage you to go to Jesus and ask for what it is you need so as to realize your deepest longings!  Let Jesus booster your faith in the power within you to get your needs met!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Accepting One's Vocation in Life

In today’s Gospel, Mark 10: 28-31, Peter complains to the Lord:  “We have given up everything and followed you.” Jesus responds: “Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the sake of the Gospel who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age: houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come.”

In answering the call to leave “houses and brothers and sisters and mothers [and fathers] and children and lands” is certainly a challenging demand. No one escapes this call to leave, though some, both parents and children, put a lot of effort into avoiding this leave-taking.  Parents or grandparents might want to cling to their children, not letting them go or not letting them grow up. Children, also, may refuse to grow up and leave “the nest” so to speak. 

Let us go to Mary and Jesus. Both model accepting God’s call. Mary says “yes” to the angel:  “Behold, I am the handmaiden of the Lord. Be it done to me according to God’s will.”  Every man or woman belongs to the Lord, is God’s son or daughter and has been sent here to carry out a specific mission within marriage, religious life, priesthood or the single life. Each child is temporarily loaned to his/her parents until such time as leaving “houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and…lands” to carry out that mission.  Jesus leaves heaven and comes to earth to take on human nature, submits himself to Mary and Joseph for a time, and then also leaves Mary to take up the mission for which He was sent to earth: to give His life for His flock.  Neither Jesus nor Mary escaped the sufferings involved in carrying out the will of the Father for the sake of the salvation of humankind, so you and I would inherit eternal life.

What do you need to do to be ready to leave “houses and brothers and sisters and mothers [and fathers] and children and lands” to take up your role and responsibilities as an adult?

Monday, May 25, 2015

Come, follow Me

In today’s Gospel, Mark 10: 17-27, a young man runs up to Jesus and says: “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”  Jesus tells him to keep the commandments. The young man assures Jesus that he has done that his entire life. “Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him, ‘You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’” The man walks away from Jesus sad; he is not ready to follow Jesus in that way. Jesus looks around at his disciples and says: “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the Kingdom of God!”   

Are you struggling with letting go of the one thing that keeps you from responding to Jesus’ invitation to follow Him? What is that “one thing”  that holds you back from taking that next step in realizing the vocation to which God is calling you:  to embracing the demands of marriage, of committing yourself to a life’s partner, to accepting the call to religious life or priesthood or the single lifestyle?  Ask Jesus to show you what it is that you lack, that you need, in order to move forward in the realization of your vocation in life.  Take the time you need in prayer: spend time before the Blessed Sacrament, in the solitude of your room, in the quiet of nature, seeking the answer to that question.

Be not afraid. Jesus, also, looks at you with a deep love. Gaze upon Him as He gazes upon you! He holds sacred the answer you need to face! May you have the courage to listen for that answer!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

God's Call to Change Course, to Make a Decision

Oh, the richness of the readings of today’s liturgy and the great love of our God for each one of us.  In the first reading, Acts 22: 30; 23: 6-11,  the Lord says to Paul, who has encountered all kinds of problems in his ministry, “Take courage. For just as you have borne witness to my cause in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness in Rome.”

Is God saying to you: “Take courage. For just as you have borne witness to my cause” in your work with youth, in your parish involvement, in your volunteer activities for the poor as a single person, I am now calling you to do so as a married man/woman, as a member of a religious community, as a priest?

In the responsorial psalm of today’s Mass, Psalm 16, we say to the Lord: “My Lord are you. O Lord, my allotted portion and cup, you it is who counsels me; …I set the Lord ever before me; with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.”  Is God counseling you in regard to a specific vocation in life? A specific career? A difficult decision?   If so, which choice do you make?  As you grapple with this question, are you remembering that God is at your right hand and are therefore at peace with the questioning?  Or are you disturbed, trying to figure this out all by yourself in secret?  Maybe it is time to “come out of the closet” and talk to a trusted friend, a vocation counselor, a priest, a deacon about this struggle, a school counselor, a qualified spiritual director.

“Be not afraid! It is I,” Jesus said to the petrified apostles trying to stay afloat on a stormy sea. “Be not afraid! It is I” questioning you, disturbing you enough so as to notice My calling!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Seeking God's Will: Seeking Truth, Discerning Truth

In the Gospel, John 17: 11b-19, Jesus says to His Father and ours: Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth.”

If you are seeking to bring your will into harmony with the Lord’s, whether that be in choosing  your vocation in life, your career or any other weighty decision, it may be helpful for you to recall the truth that Jesus prays for you right now as He did before going to His death. He says to the Father: “Consecrate, ” your name,  in the truth. He wants you to know the truth about which vocation is right for you, which career will energize you, and thus give life to others, which decision is truly the one you need to make.
I encourage you to step aside for a while, go to a quiet place, a place of prayer and sit with the Lord, pondering the truth of the above reflection.  In that quiet space, you will know that God touched you, consecrated you in the truth. The first time, or after repeated times of seeking God’s will in solitude, you will know what that will is. “Be stouthearted and wait upon the Lord” (Ps. 27:14).

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Facing Hardship when Making a Life Choice or any Choice that is Right for You

Like Jesus, Paul, in the liturgy’s first reading, Acts 20: 17-27, is looking back on his life as well and is about to go to Jerusalem, where, like Jesus, he faces hardships and imprisonment." He says to us: "I consider life of no importance to me, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to bear witness to the Gospel of God's grace.”

You, like  Paul and Jesus, have been given a task to do here on earth within a vocational call:  married,  single, a member of a religious community or as a diocesan priest.  Both Paul and Jesus were called to do the work the Father gave Him to do as single persons. Most of the apostles were given a work to do as married men but also as apostles.  In which vocation is God calling you "to bear witness to the Gospel of God's grace"? 

Both Paul and Jesus learned obedience from what they suffered (cf. Hebrews 5:8). Like Paul and Jesus, as we bring our wills into harmony with God’s will for us, as we give glory to God by  the Gospel values we embrace,  we will meet hardship, be mocked and ridiculed. We will, from time to time, be rejected on account of our beliefs, our choices, or confidence in what the Lord God, what Christ Jesus, is asking of us through the Spirit.  Some persons  are likely not to understand our choices and may object loudly while others may be supportive. 

When you are ridiculed, made fun of, questioned  about the vocation in life that is right for you, the partner in life that is right for you,  the religious community that is right for you; yes, the career choice that is right for you,  do you run away from that choice so as not to rock the boat, to avoid suffering?