Do you doubt God's love for you?
“For the Lord takes delight in his people....”
You are the center of God’s universe!
Those who have died and risen with Christ, those in whom the Son abides, those for whom Jesus answered to his Father with his life and with his death—they, you, are the object of God’s delight.
They, you, are chosen by God. Jesus spent his thirty-three years of life serving our needs with his own hands, wiping up our mess with his own blood, opening our future with his own death.
The life of the Word Incarnate was not a blip on the divine screen. For all eternity God will be serving us, bent at our feet in love and mercy and compassion. God makes the impossible, possible; the unbelievable, reality. What is unlovable will melt in his hands. What is ostentatious will thrill to be a cascade of lilies in a blooming field, clothed only with the brilliance of poverty. What is afraid will stand with the certainty of the resurrection.
We shy away from grandeur and expectations, but we are drawn with confidence by this extraordinary mercy that will delight us eternally.
O Love! You wash my feet and tend to my vulnerability every day!
Give me eyes to see you.
Do you want God to reach out to you?
“For the Lord will build up Zion; he will appear in his glory.
He will regard the prayer of the destitute,
and will not despise their prayer.”
God reaches out to the people who are his beloved.
Through the prophets, God tells them that their choice to love and follow other gods is a serious offense to their relationship with him. Now an incurable wound, an injury past healing, stands between them and God.
Nevertheless, God promises to restore the relationship. Look at this, God says, I shall restore you. When you return to your land there will be thanksgiving. Songs of joy will replace your tears, and happiness will fill your houses. God manifests his glory to his people by saving them, by restoring the relationship they have chosen to sever by disowning him. God manifests himself as the supreme sovereign, as the king of glory.
But God’s sovereignty is not characterized by a ruthless power, a selfish subjugation of everyone and everything to his own desires and ambitions. God is above our petty power plays and greater than our rejection of his love. God is love. God cannot be or do anything except love.
The whole universe is full of his mighty deeds. He manifests the splendor of his majesty by reaching out and saving what he has made, transfiguring and transforming us into images of his Son so that we too might one day participate in his glory for all eternity.
Transfigure and transform me in you,
Jesus. Fill me with the radiance of God. Amen.
Are you needing rest?
“...I have calmed and quieted my soul....”
God wants us to be content, as content as a baby in its mother’s arms.
I don’t know about you, but there is a lot about life today that makes this seem like a pipe dream.
A contented child in its mother’s arms experiences safety. Contentment also means being completely satisfied, with no need to look for anything else. A contented baby isn’t reaching out for diversion or entertainment. A quiet child isn’t squirming to get out of its mother’s arms to go running off down the street.
As adults, however, contentment doesn’t come so easily. We no longer experience personal, financial, or even national security. Each new release of a digital gadget restarts the itch of dissatisfaction till we have made the decision whether or not to purchase it.
Many of us don’t particularly like the role that is ours in the world: it might be too small, too tight, too hectic, too heavy. We cast around for something else that seems like a better fit.
Psalm 131 offers us a secret for contentment: look to God and not to yourself. See what God has done in his gracious and marvelous act of redemption. Renounce any source of significance or security other than God.
Are you overwhelmed with problems?
“For you are all children of light....”
This passage from St. Paul is exultant!
St. Paul reminds his beloved Thessalonians that they are now living in this world of light created by the Word!
Jesus, the Word of God, is the one whose words divide the light from the dark and create healing and wholeness. His words make things happen!
Whether we are alive or have died—and this is the key to Paul and to our own lives—we live in Christ. We, individually and as a community, have actually become Christ. When the Father looks at us he sees his Son standing in our stead.
In the midst of all our problems, whatever they may be, this is what gives us hope. We will never be alone! Jesus cares for each of us as if we were his very own self! We truly are.
When times are dark, Jesus has not forgotten you! He can’t forget you. Ever. You are in him.
Praying about it
Glory be to you, O Father, creator of the day, maker of the light.
We all know the wise advice: “Practice makes perfect.”
If we study hard, we can get a perfect score on a test. If we pay attention to detail and have a creative vision, we can execute the perfect project. If we are careful who we hire, we can create the perfect team. We’ll climb the corporate ladder if we do things right and avoid any misstep. Books tell parents how to raise perfect kids.
Perfection creates a lot of pressure. In the end, it’s an illusion.
I am grateful I learned early on through serious sickness that real “perfection” comes through suffering: through darkness faced, disaster overcome, temptation endured, sickness surmounted or surrendered to. When one has been taken apart and rebuilt through this process, then “perfection” does roll off our fingers: a perfection that is received. I don’t need to achieve or accomplish anything to be perfect.
I only need to surrender to what God is doing in me and through me in the world. It may look “perfect” according to others, or it may appear as a complete disaster like the crucifixion of Jesus. In either case, as long as God is glorified, it is perfectly fine with me.
Praying about it
Accomplish your will in me, my God. Right now I embrace
whatever your will may be. With all my heart I desire it. Amen.
Are you looking for relief in suffering?
“But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said,
‘Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.’”
A friend of mine speaks, somewhat resentfully, about her pains: “Jesus suffered, so that means I have to suffer too.”
The disciples’ cry of fear from the midst of a situation that threatens destruction would be just another one of those proofs that we can’t expect anything better of life than suffering.
Somehow, however, this type of reasoning makes God at once the cause of evil and the One who has no power or desire to save us.
What we see in this Gospel passage, instead, is the divine way in which God turns the tables on his disciples to teach us to see things from the divine perspective. From the center of a situation of fear and danger—a situation that he has allowed in their lives—Jesus does two things.
First Jesus states, I forbid you to go on fearing from this point forward (a more accurate translation of the Greek), and second, he approaches the boat. Jesus walks straight toward us in our personal crisis into the midst of the fearful situation.
God shows us that his love is more powerful than the dangers around us, and in our sufferings we can discover him taking up his abode in our frightened hearts and commanding, “Do not be afraid!”
Praying about it
Come, Jesus, right into the midst of my struggles.
In every crisis may I see you and fear no more.
Are you lonely?
“...the Lord has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them.”
The words of this Gospel reveal a lot about God’s stance toward the work of his creative love. They are words of mercy and words of action.
Sometimes we wonder where God is. Those who bear great sorrow in their hearts can often find themselves overwhelmed by questions and loneliness. Where is God? What does it all mean?
Zechariah’s canticle, however, proclaims that God is mercy and action. God never promised to rescue his people from the human condition.
Instead he did something so wondrous we could never comprehend it: he came to share our human condition with us. He was born. He grew up. He suffered. He was betrayed. He was alone. He died. And he rose from death and ascended into heaven where we are now able to follow.
Praying about it
Jesus, you showed us that what we experience as the human condition
does not contain the key to the riddle of our existence.
Only Love does.
Help us to gradually become strong enough to love
even in the midst of disappointment and pain.
May we share in the power of your salvific love,
that we might discover the ultimate meaning of our lives.