Not Burdensome

Not Burdensome

During 8th period yesterday, I found myself embroiled in an unexpected debate on modesty.  It was interesting, albeit slightly frustrating, to hear the girls present the woes of being asked to dress modestly.  And, to a degree, I would agree with them that the rules of dress tend to be more strictly enforced for women.  They argued about short shorts and the horror of needing to cover their shoulders.  Even in their discussions, they admitted that modesty was enforced differently by different teachers and that one rule didn’t always work the same for everyone.  The true problem, however, is one of feeling burdened. Continue reading “Not Burdensome”

Graced

Graced

Anger is like a dead weight.

The fool thinks that anger will invade only one area of his life.  He thinks that anger can be compartmentalized from the rest of one’s feelings and actions.  That fool thinks that the heart can be subdivided, anger for some and happiness for the rest.  He is wrong.  

Or she.  

Or me.

After days of being angry, I decided to not be.  I will not, of course, downplay the workings of grace.  Grace was imperative for me to see what I was choosing to do to my own heart.  In the beautiful mystery that is God, the Holy Spirit prepared my heart to receive the graces needed to take a step away from the anger and frustration. Continue reading “Graced”

The Good Thief

Jesus said to his disciples: “Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour when the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into.  You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”  (Luke 12: 39-40)

Jesus compares His Second Coming to a thief coming at night.  As the Gospel was being proclaimed at Mass, I was struck by the phrase “he would not have let his house be broken into.”  Of the many ways Jesus could describe His Second Coming, He chooses at this time to say that He is like a thief who breaks into a home.  Obviously, the master of the house would want to protect himself against any thief forcing entrance into the house.  The immediate connotation is a negative one: be prepared so Jesus doesn’t break in.  What is the other option?

In John’s Gospel, Jesus is the Good Shepherd and also He is the door.  Entrance through His door means salvation.  But He mentions a thief and says that a thief doesn’t enter through the door but comes only to steal, kill, and destroy.  So is Jesus like a thief or is He a door?

What about if He is actually both?  Jesus stands at our hearts, knocking, gently persistent, asking for entrance into the deepest recesses of our being.  We choose if we open the door to Him or not.  He waits, patiently.  Yet there will come a day when waiting is no longer an option, when our refusal to acknowledge Him will come face-to-face with the reality of Who He is.

Will you open the door for Him?  If not, He will not be kept out and He will find a way in, like a thief, stealing through the chinks in our armor, stealthily slipping into the cracks in our fortress.  Yet if Jesus came to give us life, how could He also come to “steal, kill, and destroy” like a thief?  To us in the midst of our sinfulness, the act of taking away our addictions, habits, and struggles will seem like thievery.  It may seem like it is killing and destroying us to be stripped of that which we have made to be our personal god.  An experience of authentic self-denial can help us see the death that must occur when we have not opened wide our hearts to Christ.

He will break into our house.

That experience of a break-in will be unique, but He daily breaks into our world.  He isn’t hiding, but He isn’t forcing us to acknowledge Him today.  He is breaking into my world through the sky filling with a sunrise palette.  He is breaking into my world through the student who insists on keeping a ten-minute running commentary during a surprise fire drill.  He is breaking into my world by placing me in difficult situations I never thought I would have to encounter.

I can recognize His breaking in, or I can pretend like it never happened.  He can be a door or a thief.  Either way, He will enter into my life, it is simply a matter of method and perspective.

And so we strive to let the Good Thief in through the Door.

The One who persistently calls your name, knocks on the door of your heart, and ushers you into an abundant life.

He will come again whether it be His Second Coming on earth or at our death.  We will encounter Him in His glory and realize, with total certainty, who He is.

Do you want the Thief or the Door?

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Free Will

Why free will?

I have a decent grasp theologically on the role of free will.  It is a necessary aspect of our humanity and God desired us to choose Him rather than to be forced into being with Him.

I wouldn’t have done it this way.

Which is yet another reason (if you needed one) that you can thank God that I am not God.

I am not that generous or that loving to create all of everything and then simply let them choose me or not choose me.  With all power and perfect knowledge, I think I would be a bit more forceful than God.

Currently, the Lord is allowing me to see how little power I actually have.  It should be simple for me to grasp it, but it is taking a while for it to sink into my dense brain.  I cannot make anyone do anything.  Even with the best reasoning, the most loving disposition, and gentle truth, I cannot push someone to do something they don’t want to do.  Or, at least, I cannot make them desire it.  The choice may be clear for me, but if it is not for them, then nothing I do or say can change them.

A brief survey of the culture and the world and I am mentally snatching free will from others, those who don’t use it correctly.  (Of course, I would be one of the first to admit that I would also need my free will revoked on many, many occasions.)  I think I am solving all the problems by removing the ability to choose the wrong.  The multiple choice questions seem to be tripping humanity up, and so I cleverly devise a test they cannot fail: choose A.  No questions, no other options.  Wouldn’t that be perfect?

Obviously, God had something else in mind.  What if it was better to give humanity choices, so that rather than all choosing A (purely for lack of another option), some would choose A because they desired it?  That must yield greater glory to God.  Not a mindless group of robots, but living, breathing, willing beings who follow God because they choose it.

Regardless, my heart still revolts against the reality that I can do nothing to make someone want something.  Perhaps this cardiac revolution is a good thing.  It can teach me that I am little and must always remember that.  It can teach me that my will is the only thing I can actually control and to seek to make it in complete accord with God’s will.  It can teach me that rather than constructing perfect arguments or dwelling in frustration, I can turn to prayer, something that slips beyond the bonds of time and is mysteriously used to further God’s plan.

The gift of free will is a mystery.  As a mere human, I cannot fully grasp why God saw it best to give these finite beings such a gift.

“Here the will of God is done, as God wills, and for as long as God wills.”  –St. Gerard Majella