Saint Athanasius, bishop. Memorial
John 16: 20-23a
Jesus said to his disciples: "Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will grieve, but your grief will become joy. When a woman is in labor, she is in anguish because her hour has arrived; but when she has given birth to a child, she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy that a child has been born into the world. So you also are now in anguish. But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you. Amen, amen, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you."
Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe in you with a simple faith that carries me through life’s ups and downs. I trust in your loving providence that guides my every footstep along the paths of life, though I do not always know where that path will lead me. All I know is that if you are with me, I have nothing to fear. I want to love you more. Thank you for allowing this time with you.
Petition: Lord, grant me the gift of an unshakable hope that brings about joy.
1.The World Rejoices Watching television or movies, reading magazines or listening to the radio, we recognize that there is, ultimately, one product being sold: happiness. “Wear this…, drive this…, visit here… and you will be happy.” Aristotle said that every human action is ultimately motivated by the desire to be happy. The world seeks and promises easy and immediate gratification of that desire. Sacrifice is considered anathema to any human fulfillment: If you aren’t fully satisfied with your situation, change it.
2. You Will Weep and Mourn Yet the world’s promise of happiness devoid of any sacrifice is false. Because of original sin, suffering entered into the world. There is no one who doesn’t suffer. Any appearance to the contrary is an illusion, a lie. This is important to remember in our moments of difficulty. Suffering isn’t exclusive to the Christian. If it seems at times as if the “bad guys” always get ahead, don’t be tempted: “Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for him; do not fret over those who prosper in their way, over those who carry out evil devices. Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath. Do not fret--it leads only to evil” (Psalm 37:7-8).
3. Like a Woman Giving Birth I imagine if you were to describe the process of being born to the unborn child and he could respond as to his opinion on the matter, he would reply with an emphatic, “No thanks, I’m quite fine where I am!” Something analogous happens to us in this life. Despite the difficulties, we often prefer that which we know to the unknown: “Lord, I want to go to heaven, but not today.” Yet suffering, when accepted with a humble faith, is like the birth pangs for our entry into eternal life. It helps us realize that this earthly life isn’t everything. It helps us to focus on the essentials. It teaches us to love, which is the best preparation for union with God. With this perspective, we will come to recognize that it is this suffering accepted in faith which brings about our greatest joy.
Conversation with Christ: Dear Lord, help me to accept with a spirit of faith those crosses which you place on my shoulders out of love. Let me live generously according to your will, realizing that in fulfilling your will I cannot go wrong.
Resolution: I’ll give continuous thanks to Christ for the various circumstances throughout the day today, especially the least pleasant ones.
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