Sunday, January 29, 2017

Reflection for the 4th Week of Ordinary Time, Part 1

Monday – The Crazy Man

The man had been crazy for so long that no one could remember what he had been like sane. He lived among the tombs, essentially testifying to the deadness of his life. Indeed, he was more dead than alive, more beast than human. He howled day and night, and no chain could hold him, nor any man hope to control his wild fury.

Until, that is, a different sort of Man arrived on the scene. The demons who possessed the crazy man recognized Jesus immediately. They made the man run to Jesus, fall down before Him, and cry out, “What have You to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure You by God, do not torment me!”

Bystanders witnessing this scene were astounded, and they whispered frantically among themselves. “Son of the Most High God?” “How could this crazy man know Jesus?” “Look at him, falling down there!”

Jesus calmly asked the demon's name and received the response “Legion,” for many demons inhabited the man's body. Then, He unceremoniously sent all those wicked spirits directly into a herd of swine, which promptly dashed over a cliff and drowned in the sea.

The crazy man was no longer crazy. He sat peacefully at Jesus' feet, clothed and calm, perfectly in his right mind. He wanted to remain with Jesus, but Jesus told him to go home to his family and return to his normal life. But the man never forgot what Jesus, what God, had done for him, and he proclaimed it to everyone he met with a heart and mind now filled with gratitude and love.

Tuesday – The Great Cloud of Witnesses

Isn't it amazing that we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses? Who are these witnesses? They are the holy people of every time and place, the saints and the saints-in-training who testify to us of God's love and mercy.

They might be the daily Mass crowd at the local Catholic Church who pray so fervently. They might be the volunteers at the local food shelf who see themselves as God's instruments in serving the poor. They might be the catechism teachers who learn right along with their students as God guides them all closer to Him.

They are certainly the canonized saints of the Church who pray for us that we might make it home to be with them for all eternity. They are also the saints who are in Heaven but have not been officially canonized. They, too, pray for us, perhaps even more-so, for they include some of our dearest loved ones. They are even the souls who are still being purified in Purgatory, who pray for us as they gratefully welcome our prayers for them.

Indeed, we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses who never cease to strengthen our faith, bolster our hope, and show us God's love in action. Thanks be to God!

Wednesday – God Remembers

God remembers who and what we are. The psalmist assures us of this when he says, “He remembers that we are dust.”

That might sound a little harsh to us. Dust? We're more than dust, aren't we? Yes, we are because God has breathed soul and spirit into us, but we are also body and therefore from the earth.

We are fragile, weak, and sinful creatures. We often do the exact opposite of what we should do. As fallen human beings, we tend toward sin, and without God's grace, we have no chance of ever overcoming our sinful desires and habits.

God remembers all of this. He knows us perfectly, and that's a good thing because He takes our weakness, our earthiness, our dust, into consideration and deals with us according to who and what we are. He freely provides His grace to help us. He gives us chance after chance to repent when we fail to grasp His grace and use our reason and free will to make good choices. He continually offers us kindness, compassion, and mercy.

Aren't we lucky that God knows us so well and loves us so much anyway?

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