Blessings and Curses

Challenge: Proactively fast from manifestations of pride by implementing concrete actions of humility.
by Father Steven Reilly, LC | Source:

February 14, 2010
Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Luke 6:17, 20-26
Jesus came down with his apostles and stood on a stretch of level ground, with a great crowd of his disciples and a large number of the people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon. And raising his eyes toward his disciples he said: "Blessed are you who are poor, for the kingdom of God is yours. Blessed are you who are now hungry, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who are now weeping, for you will laugh. Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude and insult you, and denounce your name as evil on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice and leap for joy on that day! Behold, your reward will be great in heaven. For their ancestors treated the prophets in the same way. But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. But woe to you who are filled now, for you will be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will grieve and weep. Woe to you when all speak well of you, for their ancestors treated the false prophets in this way."

Introductory Prayer:  Holy Spirit, gentle guest of my soul, I open my soul now to you. Too often I am carried away by the immediate because I am so tunnel-visioned and oblivious to the greater spiritual heights. Superficiality corrodes my heart as I yearn for values that disappear as quickly as morning dew. I believe you will sustain me with your light and fortitude to strengthen my weak will.

Petition:  Lord, come down to my level to lift me up. I can do all things with you who give me strength!

1. Perseverance Comes from Grace
Jesus came down and stood among them on level ground, and they all gathered around him. This introduction is significant, because it demonstrates that God always descends to come to our aid. How often have we relied upon our own virtue reserves for strength only to come up short and frustrated? Let’s take a look at our New Year’s resolutions––are they still intact? Yet it is Christ who comes to us, giving us strength through his grace. We must never forget this lest we perpetuate our frustrations through constant failure. A secret to growing strong spiritually is to admit and accept our weakness and to turn to Christ, allowing him to act as God in our life. Christ knows what we are made of; he knows we possess within the depths of our souls great desires for good, but also forces of evil that can lead us toward ruinous decisions beyond repair. Looking at our weakness, let’s exclaim with Paul, “When I am weak, then I am strong!” (2 Corinthians 12:10).

2. God Knows Our Hearts
On the day of his inauguration Pope John Paul II forcefully proclaimed that Christ knows what is in man. Only he knows, and what is most heartening is that Jesus isn’t shaken. Jesus always sees within our heart a great potential for holiness, which explains why the Holy Spirit ceaselessly inspires us to greater virtue. He looks at us with eyes of hope, for “a bruised reed he will not break, a smoldering wick he will not quench” (Matthew 12:20). If we but accept our limitations and humbly open ourselves to his grace and divine plan, spiritual richness and fruitfulness will be ours for the picking! “With the light of God, the soul makes steady progress in seeing its own misery. (…)We can always sink deeper in our misery. And to the measure that we descend, we ascend, because thus we come nearer to God, for one can see God better from below, and thereby more sweetly enjoy his caresses and more intimately experience the charm of his divine presence” (Archbishop Luis M. Martinez, Secrets of the Interior Life).

3. Our Hearts Are Made to Love
Jesus begins his discourse praising poverty of spirit, which shows its importance. As Jesus raised his eyes to the crowd, his gaze penetrated their interior fortress––the heart––where battle is waged everyday, the battle between “serviam”––I will serve!––and “ non serviam”––I will not serve! The heart is made for love, but there within, a spiritual war wages battle between loving God or loving creatures, which really is love of self. There in the heart, battle for God’s will and plan must be waged relentlessly, because life and eternity is “for keeps.” “For it is impossible to achieve perfection without renouncing our possessions, without freeing our hearts of them. God will not take full possession of our hearts until everything else has been expelled. As long as the root of the last disordered affection that abides in us is not extirpated, the love of God cannot reign with full sovereignty” (Archbishop Luis M. Martinez, Secrets of the Interior Life).

Conversation with Christ:  Enable me, Lord, to keep my eyes always fixed upon the goal, which is you! Grant me the courage to root out attachments that keep me from loving you more and becoming the saint you have called me to be.

Resolution:  I will proactively fast from manifestations of pride by implementing concrete actions of humility.

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