The Lord is King. He reigns over Heaven and earth, over the entire universe. Nothing happens that He does not know about, that He does not ordain or allow for a reason. He holds all of creation in existence. Everything obeys His commands, and His commands are perfectly right and perfectly just and perfectly merciful. They are exactly suited to each creature's nature.
Everything obeys those commands, everything, that is, except human beings. For God gave human beings free will. He gave them a choice to embrace or resist His kingship, to obey or disobey, to be His loyal subjects or renegades. But if they resist, disobey, and behave as renegades, then they must suffer the consequences that follow from rejecting the right rule of their King. Things will go wrong in their lives and in their hearts and, worst of all, in eternity if they continue to deny God's perfect rule.
So we must ask ourselves: Is God King over our lives? Do we recognize His reign and obey His commands? If not, are we prepared to face the consequences of turning our backs on the King of the universe?
Tuesday – In Times of Adversity
Today's first reading from the Book of Sirach offers some practical and helpful advice about how to cope in times of adversity. When trials come and threaten, here is what we must do:
1. Make a firm commitment to serve the Lord no matter what. Place yourself at His disposal.
2. Remain sincere and steadfast, trusting that God wants only the best even though you may not be able to see what that is.
3. Listen in order to understand. Listen to God's word in Scripture. Listen to the wise advice of others. Listen to the saints who have lived through times of trials, too.
4. Cling to God. No matter what happens, hold tightly to Him as your rock and shelter. Don't ever let go.
5. Be patient. This, too, will pass.
6. Realize that God is giving you an opportunity to learn and grow through trials and sufferings. He is polishing you and teaching you.
7. Firmly believe that God will never leave you and that He will help you through all your trials with all the grace you need to come out a stronger, better person on the other side.
8. Wait for God. His timing is perfect.
9. Hope for good things. God will give them to you when you are ready to have them. He is even giving them to you right now, even in the midst of what seems like the worst of trials.
10. Love God. Just plain love God.
So may it be. Amen.
Wednesday – Peter's Advice
St. Peter knew how to be a servant leader, and he was eager to share that knowledge with other priests and with anyone in a leadership role.
First off, Peter says, leaders must take care of those they lead. The word translated as “tend” is poimainō, and it literally means “to shepherd.” Leaders guide and protect. They make sure those in their charge have what they need to succeed.
Second, leaders do this willingly, not because they are forced or because they will profit somehow, but because they want to, because they truly care and are concerned about those they lead.
Third, leaders don't let their authority go to their heads. They don't “lord it over” others. The Greek word here is katakurieuo, and it refers to exercising a kind of decisive mastery that fully controls others. Real leaders value others and allow them room to act on their talents and abilities and to make decisions. They recognize the dignity of those they lead.
Fourth, leaders set an example. They offer a reliable model of how to behave and how to do a job. To do this, of course, leaders must get right in and work alongside others.
Those who are leaders, then, ought to listen to and follow St. Peter's wise advice about leadership because he learned from the best Leader of all, Jesus.
(Information about Greek vocabulary comes from HELPS Word Studies on http://www.biblehub.com/.)