Meditation for the Day

Thursday of the First Week in Ordinary Time, January 16

May the Relationship of Love, Which You and I Are Fostering with Our God, Transform Each of Us Interiorly, So That the Witness Which We Give to the Faith Which You and I Profess Each Day May Be One of True Humility and a Deep Reverence for God.

We read today from the First Book of Samuel, “Let us fetch the ark of the LORD from Shiloh that it may go into battle among us and save us from the grasp of our enemies.”

Today’s First Reading reminds me of an article I once read about a certain pastor who was dismayed over some prayer cards he had found in the vestibule of his parish church. They were cards that had a nice little prayer to Saint Jude imprinted on them, probably the kind most of us have seen.

But it wasn’t the prayer that bothered him; it was what someone had typed on the bottom of each card: “Make 81 copies of this prayer, deposit nine copies in your church every day for nine days.  No later than the ninth day, your prayer will be granted.”

How many times have we received an e-mail which basically says the same thing: “This is a Novena started by ‘some person in some year.’ It has never been broken. Within 48 hours, send at least 12 copies to family and friends and watch what happens on the 4th day.”

It is as if the Almighty God and Lord of the universe could be manipulated so easily and made to do our bidding! And this was the feeling I got when I reflected upon our First Reading, for it was the same kind of mechanical, magical approach to God that the Israelites tried when they sent for the Ark of the Covenant as they faced the Philistines in battle. It didn’t occur to them to look inward for the source of their recent defeat.

Instead, they made the mistake in believing that they just didn’t use the right kind of magic, a strong enough “mojo” – “so let’s go get the Ark, and everything will be okay.”

Even the Philistines reacted as if the presence of the Ark had some magical quality about it – “Gods have come to their camp…Woe to us! This has never happened before. Woe to us! Who can deliver us from the power of these mighty gods?”

The quest for a “quick fix” and for easy salvation is a perennial one; and, if we are not careful, such thinking can leave us dangerously impoverished. Sadly, I know of some people who feel that the Rosary or the Scapular, or some other religious sacramental is a guarantee of eternal salvation.

There is no valid religious practice or experience which is not about transformation – transformation from within.  Wherever that internal transformation is lacking, we are wasting our time, and fooling ourselves into thinking that God can be manipulated or fooled.

Praying the Rosary, wearing the Scapular, wearing a religious medal are all wonderful signs of one’s faith, but they will not guarantee one’s salvation, IF we do not first look inward and change what needs to be changed on the inside.

Spiritually transforming ourselves into the image of Christ, allowing the Holy Spirit to work within us, transforming us into humble and obedient children of God – brings us into a right relationship with our Heavenly Father who has created and redeemed us out of Eternal Love.

And humility is that singular disposition within our human nature which opens the door to all the other virtues; and when that door is truly opened, God then bestows upon us an untold number of graces and blessings.

We see this in our Gospel Reading for today – “A leper came to [Jesus] and kneeling down begged him and said, ‘If you wish, you can make me clean.’ Moved with pity, [Jesus] stretched out his hand, touched the leper, and said to him, ‘I do will it. Be made clean.’

Our Lord saw into the heart of this man a humility and a respect which the Israelites did not exhibit in our First Reading. This leper was not arrogant; nor did he take Jesus for granted. Rather, with faith, he humbled himself and prayed, “If you wish, you can make me clean.”

If the Israelites had only prayed with humility – which would have guided them into a proper fear of the Lord, in which they would have been transformed interiorly to approach their God with faith, respect and a repentant heart – I am sure the outcome on that battlefield would have been very much different!

As the Fifty-first Psalm tells us, God will not spurn a humbled, contrite heart. And James tells us in his Epistle, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

May the relationship of love, which you and I are fostering with our God, transform each one of us interiorly – so that the witness which we give to the faith which you and I profess each day may be one of true humility and a deep reverence for the God who loves each of us beyond all human understanding, and who only wishes to bless us with every good gift.

For, as Scripture tells us, God truly “…bestows favor on the humble.”

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Please Comment, Like and Share, and Suggest to your Facebook friends – to spread the message of God’s Merciful Love.

Por favor Comente, Le Gusta y Comparta, y Sugiera a tus amigos en Facebook – en difundir el mensaje del Misericordioso Amor de Dios.

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Scripture for the Day

  • “Let us fetch the ark of the LORD from Shiloh that it may go into battle among us and save us from the grasp of our enemies.” (1 Samuel 4:3b)
  • “…Gods have come to their camp…Woe to us! This has never happened before. Woe to us! Who can deliver us from the power of these mighty gods?” (1 Samuel 4:7-8a)
  • “Pride goes before disaster and a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18)
  • “…all of you, clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another, for: ‘God opposes the proud but bestows favor on the humble.’” (1 Peter 5:5b)
  • Avoid profane and silly myths. Train yourself for devotion.” (1 Timothy 4:7)
  • “So humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your worries upon him because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:6-7)
  • “A leper came to [Jesus] and kneeling down begged him and said, ‘If you wish, you can make me clean.’ Moved with pity, [Jesus] stretched out his hand, touched the leper, and said to him, ‘I do will it. Be made clean.’(Mark 1:40-41)
  • “A humbled, contrite heart you will not spurn.” (Psalm 51:19b)
  • “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6b)

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Prayer for the Day

“O Most Holy Trinity!

As many times as I breathe,

as many times as my heart beats,

as many times as my blood pulsates through my body,

so many thousand times do I want to glorify Your Mercy.

“I want to be completely transformed into Your Mercy

and to be Your living reflection, O Lord.

May the greatest of all Divine attributes,

that of Your unfathomable Mercy,

pass through my heart and soul to my neighbor…

O my Jesus, transform me into Yourself,

for You can do all things.”

Saint Faustina (Diary, 163)

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