This was a really productive Bible study for me this evening. I really enjoyed answering my questions and reflecting upon the Word of God. Here are three things which I came across this evening that were of particular significance to me:
1. “To deny oneself is to disown oneself as the center on one’s existence.” — The Catholic Study Bible (Pg. 1283; MT 16:24)
2. Sin thwarts us in our vocation as God’s children. Pp. 549, Catechism of the Catholic Church
3. Regarding the Transfiguration: “Peter did not yet understand this when he wanted to remain with Christ on the mountain. It has been reserved for you, Peter, but for after death. For now, Jesus says: ‘Go down to toil on earth, to serve on earth, to be scorned and crucified on earth. Life goes down to be killed; Bread goes down to suffer hunger; the Way goes down to be exhausted on his journey; the Spring goes down to suffer thirst; and you refuse to suffer?'” — St. Augustine, Sermo 78, 6: PL 38, 492-493, cf. Lk 9:33
Sin is, to me, a fixation on self. A feeding of that which is of the earth and of ourselves. A selfishness of mind, body and spirit. A turning from His will, in the preference of our own. By pleading with God to remove all suffering from our life, we are asking not to be a part of Christ’s redemptive suffering on the cross. And to choose not to take up our cross and suffer alongside Him, we are choosing also not to share in his Resurrection and kingdom. Instead, we should choose to take up our cross, and suffer alongside our Lord — but not blindly. We should always unite our suffering to his for a purpose. Somehow, God will make our suffering efficacious for those purposes. We should not waste our suffering, but have it be used as redemption for others. Enter fully into the body of Christ and give fully of ourselves — not only the good parts and the surplus of ourselves and our possessions, but of our suffering, pain and need. When we have given of ourselves until we are empty and wrung out, will we truly know what it means to submit completely and receive back all the grace of our Lord. The more we empty of ourselves, the more we have room for Him.
Lord, in the words of John the Baptist on this day of the Baptism of our Lord, help me to decrease in myself, so that He who dwells within me can increase.
Also, at the beginning of Vocation Week, let us remember the words of Fr. Mark’s homily today (he quoting someone else, I just forget who): “There is no VAcation from your VOcation.” How true. May we always live according to God’s plan for our life. Please join me in praying for people’s discernment of the vocation God has in mind for them, and the acceptance of this calling, whether to the priesthood, diaconate, religious life, married life or single life; may all of God’s people live for the glory of Him according to their state of life.