The Bible constantly warns against a merely mercenary relationship with God - a friendship of convenience or self-interest. We should not love God simply because doing so will produce many consolations in our life. We must enter a true relationship, were we fall in love not with His benefits, but with Him.
Meditatio “This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Imagine yourself as the leader of an association, business, or social group. If you wanted to brand your followers with a sign that would make them easy to recognize, what would you choose? Would they all wear the same clothes? Would they speak a particular language? Would they would be experts at a particular trade or manufacture a unique product? Jesus did something completely revolutionary. He “branded” his disciples with his very self, but left them free to make him visible by loving others. Saint John says that “God is love” (1 Jn 4:16). Love is the imprint of God’s very being upon us, within us. If the world is going to see God, it will only see him to the extent that you and I are willing to make him visible in our relationships with one another. How much do you and I want to make God visible? True, loving one another is a difficult task. It’s about living as Jesus did, continually giving our lives away. That’s what love does. It goes out of itself in search of the good of the other, so as to give the other life. But it’s also about openness to receiving the love God offers us through the other. And that has its challenges too. The possibilities for how to spend the years of our lives or even just the present moment are immense. Jesus invites us to a life of loving one another so that the world might believe, so that he might be made more visible, so that we might be identified as his disciples—branded with love. It’s not that we have to tattoo a heart on our arm, but it is as though love is what we wear. Love is what we speak. Love is what we are experts at. Love is what we produce. You can’t touch or feel it, but you know he is there. Oratio Jesus, you are my Master. I really do want to be recognized as your disciple. Loving others is the path I must walk. Left on my own, the task would be impossible. But you have given us everything we need to make that mutual loving possible. You have given me your Word and the Eucharist to daily nourish your love within me. Your Holy Spirit continually alerts me to the daily opportunities to show your love to others. Help me to be docile to the Spirit’s lead. Contemplatio Jesus, may all whom I meet today recognize a little bit more of you in me.
Daughters of Saint Paul. (2011). Easter Grace: Daily Gospel Reflections. (M. G. Dateno & M. L. Trouvé, Eds.) (pp. 74–75). Boston, MA: Pauline Books & Media.
Meditatio “… whoever receives the one I send receives me …” I wonder how easy it was to receive the apostles or disciples, grimy with road dust, hot, tired, and hungry, bearing a message that sounded unbelievable. Was it easy to welcome them? Was it easy to accept their message? I find it amazing that people did come to believe—and in such numbers. In those first years following the resurrection, Christianity spread swiftly throughout the Roman Empire. Only one explanation seems possible: it was a miracle of grace. If we reflect, we see that our own lives are also marked by grace. We may have received the faith as children from parents and teachers. We may have received it as adults—through books, friends, a counselor or spouse—perhaps after much seeking and soul searching. In any case, how could the faith have come to us except by means of grace? So, what does the Scripture citation mean for me? I have faith already: who will Jesus send me today? Do I still need an apostle or disciple to show me the way? Well, I really may. I might want to give this some thought. It’s also possible, however, that Jesus will send someone for me to help—a needy person like those he searched out during his earthly life and ministry. He may want to continue that ministry through me today. He may want me to greet a lonely neighbor at my door, an annoying relative on the phone, a physically or mentally challenged stranger in the supermarket, a co-worker in the lunch room whose lifestyle I don’t agree with, an acquaintance on the bus whose accent I can hardly understand. He may want me to engage this person in conversation in order to communicate his mercy and unconditional love through me. He probably also wants to communicate to me through this other, even though the other might not measure up to my concept of a devout and knowledgeable Christian—or might not be a believer at all! So, am I ready?
Oratio Lord Jesus, our Teacher and Shepherd, you once said that whatever we do to the least ones we do to you (see Mt 25:40). Help me to remember this when I encounter someone in need. Help me not to be so wrapped up in my own needs, wants, and plans that I can’t greet, listen, converse, aid, and learn. Moment by moment, give me the light to see what I am called to say and do. Give me the courage to follow your inspirations. Help me to forget myself more often and focus on you and others instead. Amen.
Contemplatio Whom might Jesus send me today?
Daughters of Saint Paul. (2011). Easter Grace: Daily Gospel Reflections. (M. G. Dateno & M. L. Trouvé, Eds.) (pp. 64–65). Boston, MA: Pauline Books & Media.
It is no longer in my power, To change, correct or add to the past; For neither sages nor prophets could do that. And so, what the past has embraced I must entrust to God. O present moment, you belong to me, whole and entire, I desire to use you as best I can. And although I am weak and small, You grant me the grace of Your omnipotence. And so, trusting in Your mercy, I walk through life like a little child, Offering You each day this heart
Burning with love for Your greater glory.
St. Faustina Divine Mercy in My Soul Notebook 1 #1
Bless every mother and every grandmother with the finest of your spiritual blessings today. Confirm in her heart and spirit the work of her hands and the love that she has so freely given to those children under Your care. Validate her worth daily so she has no reason to doubt whether she is loved, valued, and cherished in the eyes of her Heavenly Father. Create in her a deep sense of your protection and trust, so that worry and fear will disappear as she places her loved ones into Your care. Let her know that every prayer she has prayed and every encouraging word she has spoken on behalf of her children/grandchildren has been transformed into sweet, fragrant offerings before Your throne. Whisper deep within her spirit the sweet words she longs to hear from You—that nothing can ever separate her from Your love. Help her to nestle daily into the promises of Your Word, standing with faith on the things You declare are true. Let her know that You reward faithfulness, but that true success doesn’t lie in her accomplishments or accolades. Let her rest in the knowledge that she has done all she can—and that she and those she loves—truly belong to you. Bless her with a servant spirit so she can teach her own the joy of hearing one day, “Well done!” Remove any guilt, false or real, and replace them with Your amazing grace and forgiveness. Help her see her children or grandchildren through Your eyes, knowing that in Your hands is the safest place they can ever be. Calm every doubt, and strengthen her confidence in the Only One who can bring good out of any situation. Teach her that she cannot meet every need of her child’s life, but that You can. Give her wisdom and guidance to train those precious children in Your path, and then to leave the results to You, Lord. Help her to love without limitations, to pray without ceasing, and to live without regrets. Bless her with such a sweet dependency on You that she will acknowledge her inadequacies, yet recognize and accept Your reward of praise—and Your sense of pleasure in having her as Your own beloved child. Where prayers may still seem unanswered, and dreams are not yet realized, open her eyes to see beyond this world to a Hope that never disappoints, and to a Father who will never leave or abandon her. Give her courage to persevere even in the most difficult moments of her life. Bless her with honesty, integrity, and a playfulness that shows her children she is human, yet unswerving in her desire know You. Let her joy be contagious; let her passion be pure; and let her life overflow with all the blessings she deserves—on special days, and on every day of her life. In Jesus’s name,