The Holy Spirit makes us discern between trials, which are necessary for the growth of the inner man, and temptation, which leads to sin and death. We must also discern between being tempted and consenting to temptation. Finally, discernment unmasks the lie of temptation, whose object appears to be good, a “delight to the eyes” and desirable, when in reality its fruit is death.
A good interior relationship with God is an indispensable ingredient for a happy life. For only when this basic relationship is in order can all other relationships prosper. That is why it is important to learn and practice all one’s life long, from childhood on, to think with God, to feel with God, to will with God, so that love will follow and will become the keynote of my life. When that occurs, love of neighbor will follow as a matter of course. For if the keynote of my life is love, then I, in my turn, will react to those whom God places on my path only with a Yes of acceptance, with trust, with approval, and with love. To characterize love of neighbor, Holy Scripture employs a very wise and very profound expression: “to love one’s neighbor as oneself”. It requires no quixotic or spurious heroism. It does not say: “You should deny yourself and exist only for the other; you must be less concerned about yourself and more about the other.” No!—“as you love yourself”. Not more, not less. If we are not at peace with ourselves, we cannot really love anyone else. If we cannot accept ourselves, we will also reject the other. True love is righteous: to love myself as a member of Christ’s body—that is where it leads. Oneself as others—to be freed from that false perspective with which all of us are born, that the world revolves around me alone.
From: Auf Christus schauen, pp. 110–11
Ratzinger, J. (1992). Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. (I. Grassl, Ed., M. F. McCarthy & L. Krauth, Trans.) (p. 276). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.
The apostolic mission is sometimes to sow without being able to see any fruits. At other times it is reaping what others have sown with their words, or with their pain offered up from a hospital bed, or with their hidden and monotonous work which has remained unnoticed by human eyes. Whichever is the case, God wants sower and reaper to rejoice together? The apostolate is a task which both gives joy and demands sacrifice as we go about our sowing and reaping.
The apostolic task is also work that is patient and constant. Just as the farm-laborer knows how to wait and wait until the first shoots appear above the ground, and wait still longer till harvest time, so must we know how to persevere in bringing souls to God. The Gospel and our own experience teach us that grace usually takes time to bear fruit in souls. We know too about the resistance many hearts put up against grace, as our own heart may have done at some time. We will then help others by having more patience (which is closely related to the virtue of fortitude) and a constancy that will not readily turn into discouragement. We should not try to gather the crop before it is ripe. It is this very patience that moves us to be understanding with others, for we are convinced that souls, like good wine, improve with time.
Waiting patiently should not be confused with negligence or with plain abandonment. It is quite the opposite. It moves us to employ the most appropriate means for the particular situation that the person we want to help is in at a given moment - an abundance of the light of doctrine, more prayer and cheerfulness, a spirit of sacrifice, a deepening of our friendship.
It may sometimes seem that the seed has fallen on rocky ground or among thorns, and that the fruit we are hoping for is taking a long time to make its appearance. At these moments, when we see that the green blade does not come up when we want it to, we have to reject any trace of pessimism. You are often mistaken when you say, 'I brought my children up wrongly: or 'I did not know how to do good to those around me.' What happens is that you have not achieved the result you were hoping for, that you do not yet see the fruit you would have wished for, because the harvest is not yet ripe. What does matter is that you have sown the seed, that you have given God to souls. When God wants, those souls will return to him. You may not be there to see it, but there will be others who will gather in what you have sown. What matters is that Christ, on whose behalf we have made so much effort, will be beside us.
from In Conversation with God by Francis Fernandez Volume 3 pp. 133-134
Nothing Is Beyond Remedy For Those Who Hope In The Lord
Souls have to be encouraged to aim very high; they have to be impelled towards Christ's ideal. Lead them to the highest goals, which should not be scaled down or made less lofty in any way. But remember that sanctity is not primarily worked out with one's own hands. Grace normally takes its time, and is not normally inclined to act with violence or irresistible force.
Encourage your holy impatience, but do not lose your patience ... Just as the farmer, with the wisdom of centuries, does not lose his patience, we must learn to aim very high in sanctity and apostolate, waiting for the right moment, without ever losing heart. We will frequently have to start again with our unmodified ambitious resolution.
We need to be able to wait and to struggle with patient perseverance, with the conviction that overcoming a defect or acquiring a virtue does not normally depend on sporadic and violent effort, but on humble constancy in the struggle, the constancy of trying time and time again, counting on God's mercy. We cannot, because of impatience, cease to be faithful to the grace we receive. That impatience, generally, has its roots in pride. We have to be patient with everyone, says Saint Francis, but first of all with ourselves.
Nothing is beyond remedy for the person who hopes in the Lord; nothing is totally lost. We always have the possibility of being forgiven, and of beginning again; humility, sincerity, repentance ... Then we begin again. We have to correspond with God, who is determined that we shall overcome all obstacles. We experience deep joy each time we begin again, and during our time on earth we will have to do that many times, because we will always have faults, deficiencies, weaknesses, sins. We must be humble and patient. God allows for our failures, but He also expects many little victories from us throughout our lives, victories that we carry off each time we are faithful to an inspiration, to a motion of the Holy Spirit.
from In Conversation with God by Francis Fernandez Volume 3 pp.149-150
Prayer, without a doubt, is the most powerful weapon the Lord gives us to conquer evil. But we must put ourselves into the prayer. It is not enough just to say the words; it must come from the heart. And prayer needs to be continuous. We must pray no matter what kind of situation we find ourselves in. The warfare in which we are engaged is ongoing, so our prayer must be ongoing as well.
Lectio Matthew 19:23–30 Meditatio “… for God all things are possible.…”
The disciples are clearly startled when Jesus tells them that the rich have such a difficult time entering the kingdom of God. It was commonly believed that riches were a sign of God’s blessing or favor on the person—“Happy are those who fear the LORD, who greatly delight in God’s commands … Wealth and riches shall be in their homes; their prosperity shall endure forever” (Ps 112:1, 3). Jesus’ saying contradicts a culturally accepted belief. When the disciples hear it, they are probably thinking, “If it’s that difficult for someone whom we believe enjoys God’s blessing to enter God’s kingdom, then we don’t have a prayer.” It is more difficult for those who are wealthy to trust in God. Their money, or the possessions that their wealth can afford, can become their idol. This idol can easily become the source of their ethics; they are driven to hoard instead of to give, to treat people as a means to increase their wealth, and so forth. Jesus, however, states that the economy of the kingdom of heaven is different. Those who are able to give up material possessions, land, or loved ones for the sake of the kingdom of God will inherit eternal life. They are the ones who populate the kingdom of God. The economy of the kingdom is inverted—those who give away will receive what cannot be purchased: salvation. Therefore, a person’s net worth is valued not by what is earned, but by what is given away. This is the economy of the kingdom of God because this is how God acts. The kingdom itself is a gift—given by God. It cannot be purchased; it has no price tag attached. It is impossible for anyone to attain it on one’s own because the kingdom of God is unattainable. It is a pure gift that, in order to be possessed, must be given and received. Oratio Jesus, I am so used to getting what I need by hard work, by setting goals and pursuing them. It is difficult for me to understand any other way of achieving what I desire. Help me to understand, by the gift of your Spirit, that you invite me to accept your kingdom as a gift, not to achieve it as a prize or possession. Enlighten me to know what you are inviting me to give up for the sake of the kingdom. For that act of giving up may open to me the possibility of understanding the economy of your kingdom. Amen.
Contemplatio Jesus, what is impossible for me is possible for you.
Daughters of St. Paul. (2011). Ordinary Grace Weeks 18–34: Daily Gospel Reflections. (M. G. Dateno & M. L. Trouvé, Eds.) (pp. 50–51). Boston, MA: Pauline Books & Media.
Neither fear nor self-interest can convert the soul. They may change the appearance, perhaps even the conduct, but never the object of supreme desire... Fear is the motive which constrains the slave; greed binds the selfish man, by which he is tempted when he is drawn away by his own lust and enticed (James 1:14). But neither fear nor self-interest is undefiled, nor can they convert the soul. Only charity can convert the soul, freeing it from unworthy motives.
CHRIST: My CHILD, though you may plan all things and arrange everything with the greatest care, you will still have many opportunities to exercise the virtue of patience. You cannot eliminate the unexpected, the unforeseen, and the unavoidable. In many cases your best remedy and weapon will be an intelligent patience with yourself as well as with others. 2. Every man has his daily share of troubles and trials. Sometimes it may be bodily pain and discomfort. At other times it may be mental or spiritual suffering, some annoyance, disappointment, or anxiety. Sometimes you may feel that I have deserted you. Then again, you may have to bear misunderstandings, misinterpretations, or even bad will from your neighbor. In fact, there are times when you are a burden and a bother to yourself. 3. Everybody would like to be free of these trials, but it cannot be. They are a part of your earthly life. Wherever you turn, you will always find My cross in one form or another. Patience will help you to bear it more easily. This virtue will help you keep your soul at peace, so that you may continue to walk toward Heaven in time of trials. THINK: l see only too clearly how wonderful a virtue patience is. It is the key to peace, and even joy, in time of trouble and suffering. I need never be surprised, resentful, disappointed, or sad when things go badly for me. Wherever I go, I bring with me one of my greatest troubles and burdens-myself, with all my unreasoning desires and endless wants. Through the virtue of patience I can gain greater possession of myself. I shall more easily see how to deal with the trials facing Me.
PRAY! My Jesus, King of true glory, You embraced a life of suffering and trials for love of me. You mounted a throne of shame and agony for my sins. Can I expect, or even desire, a life of ease, with everything going as I wish? When I consider what You chose to suffer for my sake, the disappointments, hatred, ingratitude, humiliation, injustice, and more, can I want a life of planned successes and pleasant friendships? No, Lord. If I really love You, I shall desire a share of Your cross in my daily life. Teach me patience to accept the heartaches, aggravations, and disappointments which come my way. Make me more like You in a life like Yours. No greater glory is possible to any man. Amen.
The saints are those who struggle right up to the end of their lives, who always get up each time they stumble, each time they fall, and courageously embark on their way once more with humility, love, and hope.
My dearest son, if you desire to honour the royal crown, I advise, I counsel, I urge you above all things to maintain the Catholic and apostolic faith with such diligence and care that you may be an example for all those placed under you by God and that all the clergy may rightly call you a man of true Christian profession. Failing to do this, you may be sure that you will not be called a Christian or a son of the Church. Indeed, in the royal palace – after the faith itself – the Church holds second place, first propagated as she was by our head, Christ; then transplanted, firmly constituted and spread through the whole world by his members, the apostles and holy fathers. And though she always produced fresh offspring, nevertheless in certain places she is regarded as ancient. However, dearest son, even now in our kingdom the Church is proclaimed as young and newly planted; and for that reason she needs more prudent and trustworthy guardians lest a benefit which the divine mercy bestowed on us undeservedly should be destroyed and annihilated through your idleness, indolence or neglect. My beloved son, delight of my heart, hope of your posterity, I pray, I command, that at every time and in everything, strengthened by your devotion to me, you may show favour not only to relations and kin, or to the most eminent, be they leaders or rich men or neighbours or fellow-countrymen, but also to foreigners and to all who come to you. By fulfilling your duty in this way you will reach the highest state of happiness. Be merciful to all who are suffering violence, keeping always in your heart the example of the Lord who said: I desire mercy and not sacrifice. Be patient with everyone, not only with the powerful, but also with the weak. Finally be strong lest prosperity lift you up too much or adversity cast you down. Be humble in this life, that God may raise you up in the next. Be truly moderate and do not punish or condemn anyone immoderately. Be gentle so that you may never oppose justice. Be honourable so that you may never voluntarily bring disgrace upon anyone. Be chaste so that you may avoid all the foulness of lust like the pangs of death.
All these virtues I have noted above make up the royal crown and without them no one is fit to rule here on earth or attain to the heavenly kingdom.
Saint Stephen of Hungary (Instructions To His Son from the Office of Readings)
No one in the world can change Truth. What we can do and should do is to seek truth and to serve it when we have found it. The real conflict is the inner conflict. Beyond armies of occupation and the hecatombs [e.g. the sacrifice of many victims] of extermination camps, there are two irreconcilable enemies in the depth of every soul: good and evil, sin and love. And what use are the victories on the battlefield if we ourselves are defeated in our innermost personal selves?
Today our Lord forcefully reminds us that we need to receive him in Holy Communion in order to participate in the divine life, to overcome temptations, to foster and nourish the life of grace born in us through Baptism. Whoever receives Communion in a state of grace participates in the fruits of the Holy Mass and obtains benefits that are proper and specific to the reception of the Sacrament. He receives Christ himself, the source of all grace, really and spiritually. Thus, the Holy Eucharist is the greatest sacrament, the centre and summit of all the rest. The true presence of Christ in this sacrament gives it an infinite supernatural effectiveness.
There is no greater joy in this life than to receive our Lord. When we wish to give ourselves to others we often give them something that belongs to us, or something we know to symbolize a deeper attitude of affection, of love. But we always encounter some limitation to our self-giving. In Holy Communion, divine power surpasses all human limitations: under the Eucharistic species, Christ gives himself to us completely. Love achieves her ideal in this sacrament —compete identification with the person loved and longed for. When two pieces of wax are put into the fire, they melt and become as a single thing. Something similar occurs when we participate in the Body of Christ and in his Precious Blood. Truly there is no greater joy or greater good than to receive Christ himself in Holy Communion with dignity.
From In Conversation with God by Francis Fernandez Volume 4 P.341-342.
Place your mind before the mirror of eternity! Place your soul in the brilliance of glory! Place your heart in the figure of divine substance! And transform your whole being into the image of the Godhead itself through contemplation.
Every time I hear anyone speak of the Sacred Heart of Jesus or of the Blessed Sacrament I feel an indescribable joy. It is as if a wave of precious memories, sweet affections and joyful hopes swept over my poor person, making me tremble with happiness and filling my soul with tenderness.
The self can be a jealous gatekeeper that clamors for all the attention and does not want us to go deeper. Moreover, the Evil One likes to discourage us and arrogantly charges us with the sole responsibility of fixing ourselves – a dead end! Jean-Pierre de Caussade knew well that when healing is needed for the damaged, dysfunctional self, God seeks to heal the soul, from where the most salutary healing will spring forth and endure. When the soul is tended with care, the self thrives.
Trust In God, Use What You Have, Find True & Lasting Joy
Sickness and trouble are not a sign that we are far from God or that he has rejected us. Look at the lives of great saints of our day―for instance, Thérèse of Lisieux and Bernadette of Lourdes. No, we don’t believe in a God of small deeds who lets his favorites win lotteries and capriciously ignores the others. He is too great to act like that. . . He will always respond to real prayer, though! You’ll often see sick people, who know how to pray, getting better. That’s not necessarily miraculous. It is often the natural result of living in the milieu of his peace and grace. I could be cured miraculously of leukemia, and that would be good. If I’m not cured, that’s good too, and it won’t bother me a scrap. All that I am concerned about is what his plans are for me; the only life that interests me is one lived for him. . . one day at a time, supported by prayer.
Takashi Nagai - A Song For Nagasaki - The Story of Takashi Nagai, Scientist, Convert, and Survivor of the Atomic Bomb by Paul Glynn, S.M. pp.237-238
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning! This Sunday, the liturgy celebrates the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord. Today’s Gospel passage recounts that the Apostles Peter, James and John were witnesses to this extraordinary event. Jesus took them with him “and led them up a high mountain apart” (Mt 17:1) and, while he prayed, his face changed in appearance, “shone like the sun”, and “his garments became white as light”. Then Moses and Elijah appeared, and began a dialogue with Him. At this point, Peter said to Jesus: “Lord, it is well that we are here; if you wish, I will make three booths here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah” (v. 4). He had not yet finished speaking when a bright cloud enveloped them. The event of the Lord’s Transfiguration offers us a message of hope — thus shall we be, with Him —: it invites us to encounter Jesus, to be at the service of our brothers and sisters. The disciples’ ascent up Mount Tabor leads us to reflect on the importance of disengaging from worldly matters, in order to make a journey toward heaven and to contemplate Jesus. It is a matter of being attentive to the careful and prayerful listening of Christ, the beloved Son of the Father, seeking intimate moments of prayer that allow for the docile and joyful welcoming of the Word of God. In this spiritual ascent, in this disengagement from worldly matters, we are called to rediscover the peaceful and regenerative silence of meditating on the Gospel, on the reading of the Bible, which leads to a destination rich in beauty, splendour and joy. When we meditate in this way, with the Bible in hand, in silence, we begin to feel this interior beauty, this joy that the Word of God engenders in us. In this perspective, the summer season is a providential time to cultivate our task of seeking and encountering the Lord. In this period, students are free of scholastic commitments and many families take their holidays; it is important that in the period of rest and disengagement from daily activities, we can reinforce our strengths of body and soul, by deepening our spiritual journey. At the end of the stunning experience of the Transfiguration, the disciples came down the mountain (cf. v. 9) with eyes and hearts transfigured by their encounter with the Lord. It is the journey that we too can make. The ever more vibrant rediscovery of Jesus is not the aim in itself, but spurs us to “come down the mountain”, energized by the power of the divine Spirit, so as to decide on new paths of conversion and to constantly witness to charity, as the law of daily life. Transformed by Christ’s presence and by the ardour of his Word, we will be a concrete sign of the invigorating love of God for all our brothers and sisters, especially for those who are suffering, for those who are lonely and neglected, for the sick and for the multitude of men and women who, in different parts of the world, are humiliated by injustice, abuse and violence. In the Transfiguration, the voice of the heavenly Father is heard saying: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him!” (v. 5). Let us look to Mary, the Virgin of listening, ever ready to welcome and keep in her heart every word of the Divine Son (cf. Lk 2:51).
May our Mother and the Mother of God help us to be in harmony with the Word of God, so that Christ may become light and lodestar throughout our life. Let us entrust to her the holidays of all, so that they may be peaceful and fruitful, but above all the summer of those who cannot go on holiday due to impediments of age, to reasons of health or of work, to economic restrictions or other problems, so that it may be a time of eased tension, gladdened by the presence of friends and of happy moments.
When I see that everything around me is collapsing, increasing evil and darkness that may engulf me, I need to remember the words of Saint Paul: where sin increased, grace abounded all the more (Rom 5:20). If I see my personal selfishness or egoism in those around me, I can see it as an opportunity to look for the solution in the one place I can find it. I need to turn to the one who loves me and unceasingly transmits his redeeming graces on the altar. In my difficulties, he is here and now closer to me than ever. The chosen people’s forty years of wandering in the desert mirrors humankind’s journey towards God. It is an image of my history too. I can detect in it some of my own temptations to doubt in the face of what seems to be overpowering. For Moses, who led the wandering during this time, it sometimes seemed that everything was falling apart. He felt as though his life was one big failure. Perseverance seemed to bring him to the breaking point. The Bible sums up his extraordinary perseverance: He endured as seeing him who is invisible (Heb 11:27). I need to be reminded that everything is taking place according to God’s will or at least with his consent. After all, he foresees it all from the beginning and decides how opposition to his will can best be utilized. “Wicked men,” writes Saint Augustine, “do many things contrary to God’s will; but so great is his wisdom and power, that all things which seem adverse to his purpose do still tend towards those just and good ends and issues which he himself has foreknown.” And somewhere else: “For almighty God…because he is supremely good, would never allow any evil whatsoever to exist in his works if he were not so all-powerful and good as to cause good to emerge from evil itself.”
Consider, children, a Christian’s treasure is not on earth, it is in heaven. Well then, our thoughts should turn to where our treasure is. Man has a noble task: that of prayer and love. To pray and to love, that is the happiness of man on earth. Prayer is nothing else than union with God. When the heart is pure and united with God it is consoled and filled with sweetness; it is dazzled by a marvelous light. In this intimate union God and the soul are like two pieces of wax moulded into one; they cannot any more be separated. It is a very wonderful thing, this union of God with his insignificant creature, a happiness passing all understanding. We had deserved to be left incapable of praying; but God in his goodness has permitted us to speak to him. Our prayer is an incense that is delightful to God. My children, your hearts are small, but prayer enlarges them and renders them capable of loving God. Prayer is a foretaste of heaven, an overflowing of heaven. It never leaves us without sweetness; it is like honey, it descends into the soul and sweetens everything. In a prayer well made, troubles vanish like snow under the rays of the sun. Prayer makes time seem to pass quickly, and so pleasantly that one fails to notice how long it is. When I was parish priest of Bresse, once almost all my colleagues were ill, and as I made long journeys I used to pray to God, and, I assure you, the time did not seem long to me. There are those who lose themselves in prayer, like a fish in water, because they are absorbed in God. There is no division in their hearts. How I love those noble souls! Saint Francis of Assisi and Saint Colette saw our Lord and spoke to him as we speak to one another. As for ourselves, how often do we come to church without thinking what we are going to do or for what we are going to ask. And yet, when we go to call upon someone, we have no difficulty in remembering why it was we came. Some appear as if they were about to say to God: ‘I am just going to say a couple of words, so I can get away quickly.’ I often think that when we come to adore our Lord we should get all we ask if we asked for it with a lively faith and a pure heart.
From A Catechism on prayer, by St John Mary Vianney
God wants us to be his instruments for making his redemptive work present in the midst of secular tasks, in ordinary life. But how can we be good instruments of God if we do not ourselves really cherish our life of piety, if we do not really have a personal relationship with Christ in prayer? Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? The apostolate is the fruit of love for Christ. It is He who is the Light with which we are to give light, the Truth that we must teach, the Life that we have to communicate. And this will only be possible if we are men and women who are united to God through prayer. It is moving to see how, in the midst of so much apostolic activity, Our Lord gets up early in the morning, a great while before day, to talk to his Father God, and to entrust the new day to him, a day that will be full of attention to particular souls.
We must imitate him. It is in prayer, in talking to Jesus, that we learn to understand, to remain cheerful, to welcome and to appreciate the people God places in our path. Without prayer, the Christian would be like a plant without roots. Such a plant quickly dries up, and cannot bear any fruit. Throughout our day we can and we must speak very frequently to God. He is not far away. He is close to us, beside us. He always hears us, but more especially at those times - such as this .....; that we dedicate expressly to speaking to him, without remaining anonymous, in person-to-person contact with him. According to the measure in which we make ourselves open to God's demands, our day will become supernaturally effective and we will find it easier not to interrupt our dialogue with Jesus. It can truly be said that our apostolic life is worth what our prayer is worth.
Prayer is always fruitful. It is capable of sustaining our whole life. It is from prayer that we will obtain the strength to face up to difficulties with the assurance and equanimity of the children of God. We will obtain that perseverance - constancy in our friendship - that all apostolate needs. This is why our friendship with Christ has to grow deeper and more sincere each day. This is why we must seriously make up our minds to avoid any deliberate sin, to keep our hearts for God alone, to try to get rid of the those useless thoughts which often leave the way open for faults and sins. We need frequently to rectify our intention, directing our whole being and all our works to God.
It may sometimes happen that we have to struggle against discouragement, which can make us think that we are not improving in our personal prayer. If this should happen, it is then easy for the devil to tempt us to give up prayer. We must never give it up, even if we are tired and cannot give it all our attention, even though we don't experience any affections at all, even though (without our wanting it) we find we are very distracted. Our prayer is the mainstay of our life and the irreplaceable condition for doing any apostolate.
From In Conversation with God by Francis Fernandez Volume 3 pp.17-18
Here is what I want you to do…to love God’s goodness within yourself, and his immeasurable charity, which you will find in the cell of self-knowledge. In this cell you will find God. For just as God holds within himself everything that shares in being, so you will find within yourself memory, which holds and is well-suited to hold the treasure of God’s blessing. There too you will find understanding, which makes us sharers in the wisdom of God’s Son by understanding and knowing his will, a will that wants nothing but that we be made holy. When we see this, our soul cannot be sad or shaken, no matter what happens, for we know that everything is done with God’s providence and tremendous love…. Getting back to self-knowledge: I tell you, you will also find there the gentle mercy of the Holy Spirit, the aspect of God that gives and is nothing but love. Whatever the Spirit does is done because of love. And this movement of love you will find within your own soul, because our will is nothing but love, and its every affection and movement comes from nothing but love. It loves or hates whatever the eye of understanding has seen and understood. How true it is then…that within the cell of your soul you will find the whole of God. And he bestows such sweetness, refreshment, and consolation that no matter what may happen we cannot be shaken, because we have been made big enough to hold God’s own will. How? By getting rid of all selfish love, by getting rid of everything that is not God’s will.
As for my God, may his mercy go before me. (Psalm 59:11) Imagine driving down a crowded street with only the use of your rearview mirrors. The idea is laughable—and more than a bit dangerous. It just doesn’t make sense to drive while looking backward. This isn’t a bad image for our spiritual lives. Most of the time, we need to be looking forward, not backward. Sure, we need to glance back to check for blind spots or to assess our progress—like when we review our day or learn from past mistakes. But overall, we need to be looking forward if we want to move forward. And so today’s Responsorial Psalm talks about God’s mercy going before us. You might think of mercy as a gift that deals with your past. And it is. Mercy reaches back to cover your sins. But the Hebrew word for mercy (hesed) here can also mean “God’s grace and favor,” his loving kindness toward us that never fails. This broad, expansive definition tells us to do more than just seek God’s mercy for our past sins and failings. It urges us to entrust our future to his provision as well. In today’s first reading, Jeremiah is focused on the past. He laments the day he was born, and he recalls how he “sat alone” under the weight of God’s hand (Jeremiah 15:17). It wasn’t easy being a prophet, and Jeremiah struggled bringing God’s words of warning to his people. But as he poured out his heart, God broke in and gave him a vision for his future: “I will free you from the hand of the wicked,” he promised (15:21). Comforted in the knowledge that his future was covered by God’s merciful love, Jeremiah continued on. God wants to do so much more than forgive our sins. He wants to give us his guidance, his comfort, and his protection. So press forward, confident that God’s mercy and grace will go ahead of you. It’s the difference between driving with just mirrors and driving with a large clear windshield.
“Lord, I entrust my future to you.”
Daily Thought from The Word Among Us (www.wau.org)