Tuesday, October 16, 2012

What's Inside

Tuesday: 16 October, 2012 –– 28th Week of Ordinary Time
Galatians 5:1–6 / Psalm 119:41–48 / Luke 11:37–41
What’s Inside....

We are easily obsessed with what can be observed. We try so hard to come across as competent, attractive, “right” –– and we bow to those things when they appear powerfully in others.  Unfortunately, religion can be one of the worst offenders. We can be deeply concerned about the impression we give to others in our churches, but not very careful about what is actually true in our hearts.  Over and over we find this is a big issue for Jesus.

Today’s Psalm selection is significant for me. Sometimes when I read Scripture I am aware of the Holy Spirit stirring me so that I notice particular verses in a special way. I then give attention to those verses by personal reflection and return to them again and again. Psalm 119 is long, and each section is part of Daytime Prayer over the four-week cycle in The Liturgy of the Hours.

Sometime during the process of resigning from my previous pastorate and entering the Catholic Church I sensed that “stirring” when these verses occurred (Monday, Week 2). There were people close to me who reacted badly to my journey and my heart took refuge in Lord, let your love come upon me / the saving help of you promise / and I shall answer those who taunt me / for I trust in your word. Then, as I faced the possibility of having no significant preaching ministry again, the next stanza took me deeper in trust: Do not take the word of truth from my mouth / for I trust in your decrees / I shall always keep your law / for ever and ever. And I knew the supplication was intimately connected to the affirmation –– the “right” to preach only comes to those who “keep your law”, or as a following stanza expresses it: Your commands have been my delight / these have I loved / I will worship your commands and love them / and ponder your will.

Even when I know that I do not fully keep God’s commands –– who can say, day after day, that he loves God with all his heart and soul and mind and strength, and his neighbor as himself? –– I know that I want to. I want to obey.... I want the Lord to be glorified in my life.... I want to serve my Lord and Savior (and not myself).

This means being honest before the Lord every day. This means being more concerned about an obedient heart and a clear conscience before God than what others think about me. Some (who are dear to me) may never understand how I could become Catholic (and may criticize me to the grave), but I have to keep integrity in my heart.  Others have lauded me to the skies for my “faith” and my “obedience” and told me (again and again) what a blessing I am to them for having come into the Church. That’s nice, but being praised for what is seen on the “outside” is not what people who follow Jesus are about.

All I know to do –– and this is, I think, the most significant thing the Lord has worked and continues to work into me –– is seek that place of abandonment where I learn to pray Mary’s response every day: “May it be unto me according to your word....”  That is the way we take care of what’s inside.

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