Monday, August 22, 2016

Encourage Your Hearts

James Tissot [No restrictions or Public domain],
via Wikimedia Commons

By Melanie Rigney

May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting encouragement and good hope through his grace, encourage your hearts and strengthen them in every good deed and word. (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17)

Say among the nations: The Lord is king. (Psalm 96:10)

“Blind Pharisee, cleanse first the inside of the cup so that the outside also may be clean.” (Matthew 23:26)

Have mercy on me, God, in accord with your merciful love; in your abundant compassion blot out my transgressions. Thoroughly wash away my guilt; and from my sin cleanse me. (Psalm 51:3-4)

Who doesn’t love a fun flirt, a sweet crush, a mild infatuation? We stand straighter, dress better, and perhaps are wittier in hopes of capturing the other person’s attention. We try to appear to be more than we know we are.

And then life goes on. Nothing materializes, and we return to being ourselves. Or something does materialize. And the more time we spend with the other person, we realize that we idealized him or her, and start to learn about habits that annoy us. And we go back to being ourselves because being that person we were during the flirtation simply takes too much effort. Slowly, we reveal the inside of the cup, clean or otherwise… and hope we’ll be loved anyway. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t. But we delude ourselves into thinking the more attractive we are on the outside, the longer it will take for the other person to find out about some of the dregs within.

With God, it’s a different story. He knows all about us, inside and out… and loves us as we are. It’s real love, love built to last if we’re willing to embrace it. That said, we know loving God isn’t effortless, anymore than loving a family member or friend or complete stranger is. It takes patience and sacrifice. It takes striving to become what the Lord knows we can be, whether we’re in the midst of tragedy and sorrow, amazing joy, or, as we often find ourselves, somewhere in between. It is made easier by the gifts described in today’s first reading, the grace that encourages our hearts and strengthens them as we find the courage and faith to cleanse the inside of the cup.

Pray for the awareness today of the ways in which the Lord is encouraging and strengthening your heart.

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