Yesterday was a difficult day for most. As we stood outside in the cold tolling the bell and praying a divine mercy chaplet for our country and the unborn, it’s somber notes echoed through my soul. The news was inundated with images of women saying, wearing and doing some very strange things, all in the name of progress. From celebrities claiming they wanted to blow up the white house to women wearing sexual images on their heads, all had one thing in common. Pride and fear. Their eyes spoke of a fear that someone was going to take away something they wanted to hold on to. Their freedom, their desires, their dreams. They had been manipulated by a deceitful enemy into believing that the gift of life was a burden and to be a real woman meant not being a woman at all, but becoming exactly like the men of old.
What is the antidote to fear and pride? Humility and hope. It’s realizing that God came as man, incarnate in flesh to show us a better way. That being a human being means being a reflection and image of that God. That his plan for us is not broken. That we should not be ashamed of who we are. Too many of us think we must change ourselves, and we convince others that if they feel this way or that way that they aren’t who they should be. So we spend thousands of dollars of cosmetic changes to try and make us look like what we society has convinced us we should, when all we need to do really is become comfortable with who we see in the mirror.
Today in the Gospel Jesus reminds us that doing the will of God makes us family. Brothers and sisters of the Lord. It’s not a slight to Mary, as some would have it seem. Rather it’s a reminder of her perfect yes to God’s will. It’s showing us that we too are asked to say an unconditional yes to who we are, to God’s plan, no matter how difficult it seems or how dark the day may become. We are the light of the world gathered together at the feet of Christ learning daily. That when we say yes we are living life to the fullest of what we are created to be. We no longer feel uncomfortable in our skin, no longer feel ashamed of who we are or what feelings or desires we have.. But realize we have been complete all along, even in our brokenness.
What does that mean to you and I when we see such images of people filled with fear and pain? It’s a reminder that they too are created in God’s image. That in them we get a glimpse of the Garden of Gethsemane. It’s a moment to comfort our savior in His hour of need. Not a moment of condemnation or to trivialize what He is feeling, but to journey with Him and say I know that it’s scary. I know that you are afraid, but God has a perfect plan for us. To be an example of humility, hope, and charity. It’s a moment to be Church to a hurting nation. A moment to understand and to understand we have to listen.
In that first reading we have this beautiful line:
Then he says, Behold, I come to do your will.
He takes away the first to establish the second.
By this "will," we have been consecrated
through the offering of the Body of Jesus Christ once for all.
Consecrated. Set apart. Chosen. That’s our hope. Not a prideful and vain hope, but rather one filled with the humility of knowing that none of us are worthy. The world is not going to believe any of our words until we show them that we live it. We can claim we love everyone but until our actions show that we do, until we have begun to pour our lives out like the very cup which Jesus drank, until we too can look in the eyes of others and truly say I am here for you… then we aren’t living our own calling as brother and sister. A brother protects, he stands up for his siblings, and he guides. A sister nourishes, heals, and hopes. We are called to both… are we ready to do as we pray? Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.
Saint Frances de Sales understood this. In his lifetime he worked till his feet froze and bled trying to teach others about Christ and His Church. He listened for God’s will before embarking on things He wanted to do and in all ways served even at the detriment of his own health. Too often in society we are encouraged to put ourselves first, then worry about others. That’s why we have this very movement in our midst. Christ instead challenges us to be least of all, and too choose others over ourselves. Francis didn’t encourage a dry, dreary life of penance and brokenness, but one of joy, laughter and dancing. He showed us the true freedom and elation of doing God’s will. It’s about time that we embraced that, and that begins by looking into Jesus eyes in the Garden and saying, “I love you.”
His servant and yours,
“He must increase, I must decrease.”
A reflection on the readings for daily Mass, January 24, 2017. The Memorial of Saint Frances de Sales