Monday, March 20, 2017

With Our Whole Heart

By Scan by NYPL [Public domain], 
via Wikimedia Commons

By Melanie Rigney

So let our sacrifice be in your presence today as we follow you unreservedly; for those who trust in you cannot be put to shame. And now we follow you with our whole heart, we fear you and we pray to you. Do not let us be put to shame, but deal with us in your kindness and great mercy. (Daniel 3:40-42)

Remember your mercies, O Lord. (Psalm 25:6a)

Peter approached Jesus and asked him, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.” (Matthew 18:21-22)

Jesus, You showed us how to die—and how to live. Hold my hand and guide my way, so that I am afraid of neither.

It was an unusual conversation to have at 5:30 in the morning, which made it all the more of a gift.

I’d been up for an hour, preparing for a weekend getaway, when I received a group email from a friend and business associate. What was she doing up that early? She’d left me a phone message the evening before, so I shot her a note to see if we could chat. And so we did.

One of the topics was our recent diocesan women’s conference at which Imaculee Ilibagiza was the speaker. You likely know her story, even if you don’t remember her name: she’s written and spoken extensively about the Rwandan genocide when she spent three months in a tiny bathroom with seven other women… only to find out when she emerged that all nearly her entire immediate family had been killed. Imaculee eventually found the faith to forgive her family’s murderers.

“Someone told me, ‘I couldn’t do what she did,’” my friend said. “And I told her maybe you’re not called to. Maybe if you’re 90 percent there, that’s enough for right now. Or maybe if you’re 10 percent there, that’s enough for right now.”

It got me to thinking. Could I spend three months in a tiny bathroom with seven other people? I hope I never have to find out. Could I forgive people who destroyed people I love? I hope so. Which is the greater death of self? Maybe that depends on who you are.

It’s been said that few of us are called to martyrdom in the traditional sense. But aren’t we all called to it every day, as we struggle to set aside our reservations about people and situations… and follow with our whole hearts? For in Him, we will always find mercy, regardless of what the world dishes out. Imaculee knows that. She lives it, and so do countless others we know—including those with whom we have deep conversations at 5:30 in the morning—though perhaps not in as public ways.

Journal about an attitude or reaction you desire the Lord’s help in letting die.

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