Monday, March 12, 2012

How can you say no?

Women of Faith:
We all say we want the same thing—to end up in heaven—eternity--favor with God—final perseverance.

So then why is it that we have such a difficult time saying no to everyone else, to all the things we get asked to do each day, but yet when it comes to God’s two commandments we say no so many times?

God gives us just two main commandments that encompass all of the others: "Which is the first of all the commandments?" Jesus replied, "The first is this: Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these." Mk 12: 28-31

I used to think of final perseverance as “at death,” but I realize that I need the grace of final perseverance every time I make a choice on how to answer God’s call in my life—to apply these two commandments to all of the others: to have no other gods (entertainment, camping, sports); to not speak God’s name in vain (to speak untruths); to keep holy the Sabbath (choosing church before another god); or to not lie or kill with my words or actions (hurt someone with gossip, or put someone down). Do I have the grace to not say “no” to God and to keep living as His Spirit guides me?

The Crucifixion: the fifth sorrowful mystery of the rosary: the meditation refers to “final perseverance.” Father Mike referred to that “grace” yesterday in talking about who remained at the foot of the cross with Christ at the end—John, the youngest apostle—who was the only apostle who didn’t run away in fear of being persecuted; Mary Magdalene, the sinner who asked for forgiveness and was granted God’s mercy; and Mary, his mother, who never said “no” to God.

Mary’s grace: to say “yes” even when the choice means I will be looked down at by much of society—when I chose God on Sunday, instead of sleeping in or other entertainment; when I choose to promote “pro-life,” instead of “equality” and the right to choose; when I defend God’s plan for marriage one man, one woman and as a lifetime commitment—not equality and it’s too much work or he/she just isn’t treating me right.

Mary Magdalene’s grace: to ask and to give forgiveness unconditionally, 7x70, no matter how badly I have been hurt—Christ died for us, to forgive us, there was no blame of anyone for why He had to die on the cross. He could have “saved” himself, He could have walked away, He could have chosen to say no—but he didn’t!! He took the blame for all of our sins. Do we take the blame for our own? Do we accept the responsibility for when we haven’t loved God or our neighbor, our spouse or a family member enough?

John’s grace: to totally trust in God, like a child trust’s their parent to protect them, without fear of persecution, retaliation or condemnation. Do we trust God enough to tell a coach “no” and make a decision to prioritize God and church rather than the game on Sunday? Are we will be willing to accept whatever “punishment” is given to our child as a small sacrifice for God? Do we trust that we will be protected by God when we love unconditionally in our marriages? Are we ready to accept the sacrifice of serving our spouse even when they don’t seem to appreciate all we do for them?

Do you have Mary, Mary Magdalene’s and John’s grace to be at the foot of the cross? Do you say “no” to God by your choice to make something other than God your choice? Are you persevering in God’s commandments—to not put something else before God, to keep Holy the Sabbath, to not gossip, to not envy (keep up with the Jones’), and to not get angry when things don’t go your way?

Come, Holy Spirit, enkindle in me the fire of Your love. May Your grace help me persevere so that I will never say “no” to Our Heavenly Father. Thank you for all of those people in my life who serve as an example to me, because they lovingly accept their sufferings; because they completely trust Your will; and especially for those that love me unconditionally—even when I “mess up” or hurt them with my own choices. Amen.

Thorns in His head, Spear in His side, Yet it was a heartache, That made Him cry. He gave His life, So you would understand. Is there any way you could say no to this man?

If Christ Himself, Were standing here, With His face full of glory, And His eyes full of tears. And if He held out His arms, And His nail-printed hands, Is there any way you could say no to this man?

How could you look into His tear-stained eyes, Knowing that it's you He's thinking of? Could you tell Him you're not ready now, To give Him your life? Could you say that you don't think you need His love?

Jesus is here, With His arms open wide. You can see Him with your heart, If you'll stop looking with your eyes. He's left it up to you, He's done all that He can. Is there any way you could say no to this man? Words from “How can you say No” sung by Steve Angrinaso

My prayer this week is that none of you will say “no” to God—he is calling YOU!!

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