This Lent I’m trying to understand the ways I can grow my relationship with God during times when life is really great. Three months ago, someone wonderful came into my life. Since then I have not spent as much time talking to God and continuing to work on my relationship with Him. It happens; sometimes we get distracted by circumstances in our lives. In this case, I’m so happy and occupied in my day to day life that I feel less of an impulse to lean on God for counseling, advice, and strength. I still believe God is the perfect source of love, fulfillment, and purpose, but I’m wondering if it’s possible to continue to grow close to Him in a significant way when I’m not suffering. There’s a special type of humility, grace, and closeness that comes in suffering with Jesus that I want to maintain during times of great happiness.
I was praying before Mass this past Monday, asking God about how to give glory to Him when times are good so that our relationship can continue to grow as it did when I was going through more difficult times. The word “gifts” came to mind. I had the thought that I was to reflect more on what I could do with the gifts I’ve been given in my life to benefit others. Fast forward to the Gospel that day – Luke 6:36-38:
“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
During the homily, Father reminded us to share our gifts with others. The word “gift” had come up again. I’m both surprised and not surprised by the consistency in the messages I receive while practicing my faith.
Another example of this consistent messaging happened while attending a lecture given by a priest in our parish on the Sacraments of Initiation – Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist. One of the audience members asked Father if he had heard an explanation that had helped him grasp the concept of the bread and wine becoming the body and blood of Christ during the Mass. In his response, Father made an off-hand comment that it was just the reality. If Jesus says this is my body, then what else do we need? I keyed in on his use of the word reality. I watched a special on Catholicism during which the concept of consecration of the bread and wine was explored. The narrator described how even though the physical substances hadn’t changed, the reality had. I had heard the same message from two separate sources, and what made it especially interesting was that Father said it very off the cuff, not like it was something he had been taught and was just reciting.
This week I feel as though I’ve been asked to consider how I can use my gifts in times of happiness for the benefit of others more effectively. I was also reminded of the consistency of God’s message in our lives, and to keep listening.