Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Rejoice in the Lord for Strength

By Beth DeCristofaro

Ezra read plainly from the book of the law of God, interpreting it so that all could understand what was read. … He said further: “Go, eat rich foods and drink sweet drinks, and allot portions to those who had nothing prepared; for today is holy to our LORD. Do not be saddened this day, for rejoicing in the LORD must be your strength!” (Nehemiah 8:8, 10)

He said to them, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest. Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals; and greet no one along the way. Into whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this household.’ If a peaceful person lives there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you. (Luke 10:2-6)

Jesus, my Brother, draw me to you as your favorite.  Help me to accept the joys and the sorrows in my life content that my labors are for the divine harvest and that the abundance of that harvest will be mine by your gracious generosity.  I thank you every day for the wonder of your presence by my side, oh My Best of Friends. 

St. Therese’ life helps us understand today’s readings which appear quite contradictory on their face.  In Nehemiah, the Israelites were dealing with a tumultuous and fragile transition from exile to a mostly destroyed land where foreign peoples have taken their former homes.  In Luke, Jesus tells 72 disciples that they must go forth carrying nothing in order to perform dangerous work.  The Israelites are encouraged to rejoice in the Lord while Jesus exhorts his disciples to identify and establish peace in God’s Word.

As a girl, St. Therese underwent a spiritual event causing her to turn her normal, me-centered life into a life centered on God’s love.  She convinced her family and the church to allow her to enter a life of prayer as a Carmelite nun and was “gifted with great intimacy with God.”[i]  Therese’ insight was that her happiness, her strength lay in God not in herself or her life.  Her life was filled with struggle, just as Jesus’ disciples’ lives and the lives of the Israelites.  But in her profound relationship with Jesus, Therese never lost her childlike wonder and joy

One of my favorite stories from Therese is that when cleaning the convent, Therese would gently pick up and deposit outside, alive, any spiders she came across. Shivers!  What shocking – completely “not me” action - might I do today to break through boredom, complacency, fear, overconfidence or other self-centeredness which keeps me from being Jesus’ Best Friend and rejoicing in God’s Will?

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