Saturday, October 03, 2015

Bring You Back Enduring Joy

“Fear not, my children; call out to God! He who brought this upon you will remember you. As your hearts have been disposed to stray from God, turn now ten times the more to seek him; For he who has brought disaster upon you will, in saving you, bring you back enduring joy.”  Baruch 4:27-29

“Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For I say to you, many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.”  Luke 10:23-24

The privileges of discipleship sounds like an oxymoron to me.  For the small price of picking up your cross daily and walking to the execution site, God will remember you and bless you.  Is there any wonder why Faust sold his soul? 

Using Mephistopheles as a messenger, Faustus strikes a deal with Lucifer: he is to be allotted twenty-four years of life on Earth, during which time he will have Mephistopheles as his personal servant. At the end he will give his soul over to Lucifer as payment and spend the rest of time as one damned to Hell.  The bargain with Lucifer is much more attractive sounding than the alleged list of the privileges of discipleship. 

Today, Lucifer takes many forms.  That new bright red Mazda.  The rose gold iPhone 6s.  The fancy new executive job.  These bright, shiny objects blind us to the promises of Christ. 

There is a famous story told of St.  Therese of Avila.  As she founded and visited convents, Teresa often traveled the rugged roads of Spain. One time her saddle slipped, and she found herself head down under the belly of a donkey as she crossed a stream. Complaining to the Lord of her treatment, she heard him reply, “Teresa, whom the Lord loves, he chastises. This is how I treat all my friends.” She replied tartly, “No wonder you have so few!”[i]

The Lord might have more fair-weather friends if he wooed them with sugar and honey instead of bitter lemon juice.  We might not fully appreciate the privileges of discipleship if they were earned the easy way. 

How do we make the turn back to the Lord?  Not alone. While Jesus is not making house calls like he did with the Roman centurion or Peter’s mother-in-law, just like turning away requires us to give in to forces pulling us away from right relationships, it helps to have…help.  Family.  Parish.  Community.  Group. Co-workers. Teachers. Coaches. Mentors.

The Holy Spirit sends these and more into our lives to bring us back because as Baruch reminds us, God remembers us.  No matter what ways we are chastised.

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