As Christians, we must wrestle, and if we are true, ultimately resign ourselves to a great paradox. This great paradox is that to die in Christ is to really live; to have life more abundantly. We are called to be crucified with Our Lord. To despise our earthly inclinations is to accept Heavenly aspirations. To receive Heaven, during our daily lives, is to reject what the world would have us attached ourselves to because the world limits and twists our desires. However, what keeps us from embracing the Cross? Yes, there will be sufferings, but they are not in vain as the world would have us believe. The sufferings give way to a greater consolation in sorrow and a more defining sense of self in Him. Christ, who knows us and loves us perfectly, has prepared the way for us. If only we would entrust ourselves to Him more fully, we would be made ultimately free from all earthly anxieties and be able to build up our neighbors more effectively.
As I was walking the JSC grounds outside in this winter’s brisk temperatures, I reflected on a passage in the Gospel of Matthew 23: 25, which reads:
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You cleanse the outside of cup and dish, but inside they are full of plunder and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, cleanse first the inside of the cup, so that the outside also may be clean.”
I realized that we are all susceptible to the pride that corrupted these scribes and Pharisees, those who were especially learned and whose role it was to lead people to God. I fear for myself – I am not as learned as these Pharisees, but I have an education and I am a minister. The more I minister, the more I should fear that I am just as corruptible as any of the scribes and Pharisees who Jesus admonished in this passage in Matthew’s Gospel. After recognizing this holy fear, then, there is this pang of desire in the heart to be more than one who is not sinful, but rather good. And moreover, willing to go beyond simply just being a “good person.” Yet there are obstacles within me that I cannot budge in order to be the soul who also embraces the Cross to the full extend as I could. After all, who wants to suffer even if it should lead to good things? It is a hard road. Still, the heart will desire what it desires for Love of the Lord.
While pondering these things, I observed the frigid layer of ice that coated the limbs on the trees. The iced trees were lovely as they glistened in the sun. On one tree, buds appeared to be forming- like one aching for spring. In the winter’s frost, all these potential blossoms were frozen in place. I, too, am like these buds frozen in place. There are things in me that keep me hesitating on my path with the Lord. These hesitations are my “maybe’s”, “what if’s”, “I should’s” and sometimes just a plain “no” or “not yet” to the Lord in various situations and seemingly small day-to-day decisions.
Yet I too desire to grow, and are we not all all aching for our new spring time? With the Lenten season upon us, perhaps it would benefit us to ask ourselves before the Lord in prayer, “Where do I need to grow? Do I desire to blossom for You, Lord?” I do not want to be like the corrupted scribes and Pharisees. So I ask together with our readers, do we hate our sin? We should not hate ourselves, for we are a beautiful creation of God, but do we hate and despise what holds us back from God- those little decisions which we do have control over? Where are we cold? Where do we hesitate as one still frozen in place? Do we trust God enough with these parts of ourselves that needs His grace?
Jesus does all the hard labor by way of grace in us, do we allow Him to help us “cleanse the inside of the cup” so that we may be transformed? What do we cling to that keeps us from moving forward? What do we have to let go of so that we have at least one empty hand to receive Our Lord’s scarred hand? To let Him guide our way? If you cannot receive Christ, can you ask the loving assistance of Our Blessed Mother, your guardian angel, or to the saints? Rest assured that all of Heaven awaits with anticipation to help us receive the Lord, we need only to ask.
Let us, then, long for spring during these remaining weeks of winter, and allow the Lord to melt away especially all those cold parts of our hearts that are indifferent, angry, frustrated, dormant, and struggling. The Lord, and Our Blessed Mother, is waiting to perfect us, to clean us from the inside so that we may be clean all over. by means of grace. Let us let them do their eternal work so that we may not just be good people, but saints.“I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” -Ezekiel 36:26