Saturday, April 19, 2008

God Encourages Us

A reflection on the Mass readings for April 19, 2003 (Acts 13:44-52; Jn 14:7-14) by Mother Maria-Michael Newe, OSB.

The readings are just filled with light. I’ll just read a little bit of what I was thinking of this morning. Have you noticed how often jealousy and envy keep getting stirred up? It just seems like that is the very way that evil comes in and says “Let me talk to you a little bit.” And if there’s something boiling, it just takes a little stirring to make it bubble over.

It says: “When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and with violent abuse contradicted what Paul said.” (Acts 13:45) Well, envy and jealousy come when we are seeking to be built up from the outside rather than from the inside. The outside being the world, the inside being God. Our true source of strength is from the fountain of life. We know from the Samaritan woman what Christ says: “If you knew the gift of God and who is saying to you ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” And he goes on to say: “But whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst. The water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (Jn 2:10) Eternal life.

You know, envy and jealousy have a very long history. We all know it began with the fall of Satan, Lucifer, it says: “I saw him drop like lightning from the sky.” That was a long drop. When you try to reach that high, the fall’s going to be a splatter. And then we have Adam and Eve and their fall. And then we have the fall of Cain, who was jealous of Abel. It’s so interesting how God is encourages Cain. “The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not. Cain greatly resented this and was crestfallen. So the Lord said to Cain: ‘Why are you so resentful and crestfallen? If you do well, you can hold up your head: but if not, sin is a demon lurking at the door: his urge is toward you, yet you can be his master.’” (Gen 4:4-6)

Everything that encourages you to fight sin is of God. Therefore we need the gift of discernment. And as the Pope said yesterday, discernment is about choosing between good and evil. It’s that plain. We need the gift of discernment in our lives, so ask for it – so that you can have God cheering you on, saying “Lift up your head, child of God.” Give the best of what you have to God. I think that’s part of the reason why St. Benedict says that the abbot is allowed to love one more for the sake of obedience and good works. Obedience is about giving your will – that’s what is dearest to man--his will. That’s something that urges us on to look at obedience not as a “have to”, but as something we get to give to God. I think the more we see it as a gift, we won’t feel the a burden of being “forced” to do it. Instead we think of it as “I get to do it.”

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