|“Must I give up my….?” —Judges 9:9, 11, 13|
If the Lord calls us to leadership, we sacrifice our time to lead for Him. We also sacrifice what we could have done with all that extra time if we weren’t leading His people. A sacrifice involves freely giving up something for the Lord. What we get back from the Lord is not the object; the important thing is what we give to the Lord. God prefers sacrifices freely given from a generous, loving, obedient heart.
I am one of those who has been blessed to have been called to God’s service “the first thing in the morning” (see Mt 20:1). For forty years now, I have labored in the vineyard for Jesus. Occasionally I struggle to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus (Heb 3:1; 12:2) rather than on the reward for serving Him. At times, I find myself asking: “Must I give up” my best years (most of which are behind me)?
The answer God has always given me, and all of His people, is “Yes, you must give up. Give up your time, your dreams, your money, your life. Don’t deny me anything. I will be your Strength.” As to the reward for serving Him, God declares in His Word: “Look out that you yourselves do not lose what you have worked for; you must receive your reward in full” (2 Jn 8). “Do not, then, surrender your confidence; it will have great reward. You need patience to do God’s will and receive what He has promised” (Heb 10:35-36).
|Prayer: “May He give to all of you a heart to worship Him and to do His will readily and generously” (2 Mc 1:3).|
|Promise: “The last shall be first and the first shall be last.” —Mt 20:16|
|Praise: St. Rose was known for her life of severe penances and her care of the needy in Lima, Peru, especially slaves and native Indians.|
So we must not complain, brothers, as some of them complained, as the apostle says, and perished from the serpents. What fresh sort of suffering, brothers, does the human race now endure that our fathers did not undergo? Or when do we endure the kind of sufferings which we know they endured? Yet you find men complaining about the times they live in, saying that the times of our parents were good. What if they could be taken back to the times of their parents, and should then complain? The past times that you think were good, are good because they are not yours here and now.Whenever we suffer some distress or tribulation, there we find warning and correction for ourselves. Our holy scriptures themselves do not promise us peace, security and repose, but tribulations and distress; the gospel is not silent about scandals; but he who perseveres to the end will be saved. What good has this life of ours ever been, from the time of the first man, from when he deserved death and received the curse, that curse from which Christ our Lord delivered us?
If you have now been delivered from the curse, if you have now believed in the Son of God; if you are now well versed or trained in sacred scripture, I am surprised that you should reckon Adam to have had good times. Your parents carried the burden of Adam as well. Indeed it was Adam who heard the words: In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, and you shall work the ground from which you were taken; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth to you. He deserved this, he received this, he was given this as the result of God’s just judgement. Why then do you think past times were better than yours? From that Adam to the Adam of today, toil and sweat, thorns and thistles. Have we forgotten the flood? Have we forgotten those burdensome times of famine and wars? They were written about to prevent us complaining of the present time against God.
What times those were! Do not we all shudder to hear or read of them? So we have rather cause for congratulating ourselves than grounds for complaining about our own times.
|” ‘I shall be with you,’ the Lord said.” —Judges 6:16|
Gideon asked: “If the Lord is with us, why has all this” misfortune “happened to us?” (Jgs 6:13) God simply answered: “I shall be with you” (Jgs 6:16). Jesus’ disciples “were completely overwhelmed” (Mt 19:25) at His “impossible” demands (Mt 19:26). Jesus’ answer was: “I am with you always” (Mt 28:20).
Humanity is in a rough spot. We have a fallen nature, a twisted heart (Jer 17:9), and are prone to self-deception. God doesn’t throw money at our problem, enroll us in self-help classes, or simply eliminate our problems. God’s answer is to send us Jesus, ” ‘Emmanuel,’ a name which means ‘God is with us’ ” (Mt 1:23).
We need relief from suffering; Jesus is with us in our suffering to strengthen us and guide us safely through our crosses. We need money; Jesus is with us as our Wealth (Phil 3:8). We are victims; Jesus is with us as a fellow Victim, our “Vindicator” (Jb 19:25) and “our Justice” (1 Cor 1:30). The Lord is with us as our Love (1 Jn 4:8), Peace (Eph 2:14), Strength (Phil 4:13), Counselor (Jn 14:26), Wisdom (1 Cor 1:30), Life (Jn 11:25), and our All.
Would you rather have good health, or the God of health? Would you rather have a life with no problems, or God with you amid your problems? Would you rather have the supplies you need, or the God Who can supply all things? (Phil 4:19) To prefer the loot instead of the Lord is to live a preview of hell, that is, a life without God (see Catechism, 1035). The great reward of heaven is not riches, but being with the Lord forever. Choose Him now.
|Prayer: Lord, when I have You with me, I have all I need.|
|Promise: “It is I Who send you.” —Jgs 6:14|
|Praise: The Lord raised Mary from lowly teenager to reign with Him as Queen of heaven and earth (Lk 1:52).|