Thursday of the 3rd Week of Lent
March 23, 2017
Today's Saint Quote: Rafqa
You have to understand very well that Jesus descends...
Lord, heal the divisions that exist in my heart so that I can let You reign in my life and become, together with my brothers and sisters, an unconditional servant. Amen.
The best way to defeat evil, according to Jesus in today's Gospel passage, is to attack it with the strength that comes from being "with" Jesus. But how can we be with Jesus if we can't see him or hear him because he ascended to heaven?
When his body left the earth, he sent his Spirit down to enliven his followers with the power to be like him. The Church and all those who believe in him and imitate him are now his Body on earth. When we're with believers, we are with Jesus.
This is why being Christian means being Church. We cannot be Christ's Body without belonging to the Church. Therefore, whenever members of the Body choose to stay away from Mass, or whenever parts of the Body neglect opportunities to be active in parish life, they are denying who they really are.
Think of the empty seats at church. Think of the people you know who have been baptized or are good, loving people but they are not fulfilling their identities as the Body of Christ. How disempowering this is! Inactivity by parts of the Body causes weaknesses that make us all more vulnerable to evil.
Apart from the community of believers, we might feel strong in self-sufficiency, and for a while peace can reign as we live out our desires and plans undisturbed. However, this never lasts. Life happens. Disaster hits. Evil targets us, because it recognizes how vulnerable we are and it seizes the opportunity to turn our gaze away from God.
Individualism that relies on self-sufficiency is not as beneficial as it seems. By its very nature it creates division. As long as we think that we don't need others, we neglect to work on building unity. Jesus said, "Those who are not with me are against me." Since he lives within other Christians, if we choose not to join them in community relationships, we're acting against Jesus himself!
Jesus also said, "Those who do not gather with me scatter." There's no middle ground. We should be gathering people to us and building a community spirit by letting them experience the presence of Jesus within us. If we don't attract people to the Savior within us, or if we push people away, we're dividing them from whatever Jesus wants to give to them through us.
Are you part of the gathering or the scattering?
If we try to gather people around us by using our money or company status or position in the Church, we are not bringing Jesus to them. But if people are magnetized to us because they're attracted by our love, our kindness, our patience, our prayerfulness, our God-given talents, or our Spirit-filled wisdom, they encounter Jesus when they interact with us. Therein lies the strength of community and the power to overcome evil.
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