March 10, 2016 – Thursday in the 4th Week of Lent
Saint for the day: John Ogilvie (c. 1579-1650)
“God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in him might have eternal life. (John 3:16)
Anyone who has attended (or watched on TV) any arena sports game in recent years will recognize the above scripture quote which is always displayed from the stands by dedicated persons who want to proclaim this promise from John’s Holy Gospel. It has become the most well-known scripture verse of all times. The only drawback to this kind of endeavor is that, to be effective, it must include some “action step” on the part of the reader. It’s a reminder to all of us that we can’t just give “lip-service” to God without believing in our hearts what we say with our lips. The same thing happens with what I call, “devotional Christianity,” where someone proposes that all we have to do is say such-and-such a prayer every day and we’ll be given “a free ticket past ‘go’ with no hitches!” That’s why the Church puts today’s Gospel up against the scripture from the Book of Exodus showing how easy it is for us to see and take advantage of the gifts that God pours into our lives and then say something like, “Thanks, a lot, God, but we’ll make it on our own from here!” That’s why spiritual directors will always say, “We’re not there until we’re actually stepping into the grave. The one advantage that most of us have is that we’ve been down this road many, many times and we still often end up like the Israelites – lost in the wilderness. That’s why I always recommend that people take little steps in their attempt to follow the Lord more closely.
In these days when our Holy Father has proclaimed “A year of mercy” we need to make this real in our own lives by looking closely at the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy and making every attempt to incorporate them into our daily life. We don’t have to do all of them at once but we can at least try to focus on one of them at a time. I often find it helpful to put these “works” in the form of questions: “do I (or when do I) give drink to the thirsty? Or, “do I (or when do I) comfort the sorrowful?” Just imagine what our world would be like if each of just worked on just one or two of these “works” during Lent? But this is just the point. We don’t have to become perfect tomorrow or the next day, just try to do some helpful work for someone today, and see what kind of “blessing” you get on the rebound! All you have to do is look at the lives of almost any saint to see what they did to be so honored. Lots to think about today. And I note that here on the St. Dominic’s web site, there Is an easy way for you to let me know how you’re doing in this regard. Try it and I’ll do my best to respond. Today’s “homework:” look up the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy. Amen!