A reading from the book of Isaiah 43
But now, thus says the LORD, who created you, Jacob, and formed you, Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name: you are mine. 2When you pass through waters, I will be with you; through rivers, you shall not be swept away. When you walk through fire, you shall not be burned, nor will flames consume you. 3For I, the LORD, am your God, the Holy One of Israel, your savior. 4Because you are precious in my eyes and honored, and I love you.
10You are my witnesses, my servants whom I have chosen, To know and believe in me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, and after me there shall be none. 11I, I am the LORD; there is no savior but me.
Through the power of God’s word, may His spirit make His presence, that His promise may be accomplished in your life. May the blessing of Almighty God come upon us in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
“Oh sweetest love of God, so little known. Whomever has found this rich mine is at rest.” That is from the Sayings of Light and Love, by Saint John of the Cross. Truly, we are meant to know the love of God from the inside.
Maybe once, we practiced our own religion – perhaps when we became teenagers and we started to think for ourselves, we went through growing pains, that development process when we were trying to discover our own identity apart from our parents and family.
A normal part of the development of faith as a human being, be you male or female, is that young people will eventually begin to disengage themselves emotionally from their mother, father, and immediate family in order to discover their own individuality and what makes them unique. What they had normally previously assumed, received, and trusted in, starts being called into question. Everything is called into question.
We start to question everything and there’s a distrust of authority, especially religion. We can’t always fully and immediately explain religion with reasons that are at our fingertips. Often, in matters of faith, we have to have faith before we receive understanding.
But the problem is that when we question matters of our faith, we take the position of pride. ‘Unless I understand, I won’t believe. Unless you prove it to me, you won’t have my trust.’
We become aloof, and eventually, little by little, our faith can shrink. An erosion process based on the lack of trust happens. Eventually, we can even become strangers to God, ‘enemies of the cross.’
I also experienced this erosion process and became an enemy of Christ and the cross, but by God’s grace, He called me back to Himself. He calls all of us differently, at different times in our lives, and at different times of our growth. Usually, He will use a crisis to wake us up and to recognize our vulnerability, and need to get down on our knees, to recognize that we’re not all in control and that we are not invincible.
The fundamental first step of any recovery from any addiction or dysfunction requires that one act of humility – ‘I can’t save myself. I can’t cure myself. I need the humility to ask for help.’ This is when breakthrough happens.
However, the way and wisdom of the world says that to be powerful means you are independent and autonomous. You need nothing else besides yourself. That is strength. That is power. That is exactly what the serpent said to Eve in the original garden.
To create distrust, the serpent said, ‘What? God said that? Oh no, let me reframe the situation for you.’ This false perception and perspective was part of the deception to break down trust that would eventually lead to disobedience.
He said, ‘God only said that because He knows that if you eat from the tree, you are going to be like Him. He doesn’t want competition. He wants you to be submissive. But if you eat that fruit, you know what? You’re not even going to need Him anymore. You are your own person. You are your own god.’ That is exactly how we, and most especially the younger generation, are being challenged in our faith.
We are at a war, at war between light and darkness, and our souls are at stake. Our choices make the difference in our destiny. Where does this battle begin? – in the mind, and in our thoughts. If we don’t’ guard our thoughts, our thoughts will become our words. If we don’t guard our words, our words will become our actions. If we don’t guard our actions our actions will become our habits and our character…And our character becomes our destiny. (to be continued)
Copyright 2017, Father Robert Barcelos, OCD. All Rights Reserved