Recently I moved to a city that I knew very little about. It’s truly been a seamless transition, and I’ve actually forgotten that I’ve lived here for such a short time. What has made it such a seamless and easy transition, you ask? I have been welcomed with open arms.
One great source of welcome has been my new parish community. I’d heard a lot about this parish from other people in my age bracket. I went there and saw for myself how welcoming and kind the people were. At a recent event, a woman found out I was new to the parish and quickly made sure that I knew where she was sitting and that I was welcome to sit there, and introduced me to the people she was sitting with. On Donut Sundays, I know that can I sit at any table and find new friends. (By the way, I think every church should have an opportunity for fellowship after Mass or the Sunday service. Why is it not like this? That’s how community is built!)
Lately I’ve been reflecting on how this experience is bringing me closer to Christ. By experiencing His love through the kindness of others, I am coming to know in a greater way Who He is.
The chilling truth is that many people have left the Church because they didn’t feel welcomed. Any person who is new to a church should find smiling faces and people ready to talk to them and bring them into community. It is up to us, the Body of Christ, to witness to Christ’s love. When a person is welcomed to a church, they will begin to grasp in a greater way Who Christ is. They will be more open to learning about Him. We’re called to make disciples of every nation. Let’s start in our own churches!
“Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.” 1 John 2:9-11
1 John contains some strong convictions about love. When we have any trace of hatred in our heart, we are still in darkness. Our hatred for a brother or sister keeps us blind and from loving God and others as we should. Notice verse 11: “they do not know where they are going.” Our hatred leads to blindness, which leads to losing direction! We are no longer following Christ when we harbor hatred. Loving our brothers and sisters completely is living in the light.
Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal your heart and any areas of darkness. Ask the Holy Spirit for the grace to love–especially those whom are hard to love. Clearly, hatred is not compatible at all with following Christ. We must allow any hatred to be completely uprooted from our hearts in order to walk in the light.
Hatred blinds. Love illuminates.
“Keep your heart with all vigilance,
for from it flow the springs of life.”—Proverbs 4:23
It’s time for my monthly post over at Modern Ruth Project! This month, the theme is boundaries vs. intimacy. I bare my heart about when I have not followed the wisdom of this very important verse from Scripture. I share about the importance of guarding one’s heart and what it takes to build a healthy relationship.
Check out my guest post! Hope you are able to gain wisdom as you discern best how to guard the one heart that you have been given from above!
All I can say is that this has been a rough week. Sunday I sat in the car shop for 6 hours after church and paid over $300, a very unanticipated expense. Another unexpected event happened that evening that knocked me off balance and involved a dear friend. Not to mention I am perpetually feeling [very] stretched with my new schedule of working full-time and being a student, as well as trying to do all the basic things that life requires. It was a week where many things just seemed to go wrong from the start.
However, I thank Jesus that He extended His love through others. Many blessings were present in the midst of the setbacks of the week.
On Valentine’s Day, my roommate gifted my single self with a card & a few items to pamper myself with.
One night, I had a child care job taking care of a delightful and very intelligent 4-year old.
Today, I called in sick to work. Most of the day was spent in bed. This evening, a friend was unexpectedly in the area, a friend I hadn’t seen in months. My friend bought me a bowl of pho. It was so healing to talk over good food with a friend about what had been going on in my life and hear about the very exciting events recently happening in his life.
The pho was nourishment for my tired body. The kindness was healing for my bruised heart.
Don’t underestimate the power of kindness! The Lord can work through your actions to bring much healing.
The United States of America is entering a new chapter. For actually a few years, I have had the sense that the United States was going to enter a time of difficulty. I believe that the time of difficulty has now begun. Recent events have thrown my workplace into upheaval. Really, the entire country and, to some extent, the world, are in a place of uncertainty. There is a culture of animosity right now in the United States. At certain points, all of these events have been a lot to take in emotionally. I’ve been surrounded by them from morning to evening. I felt so weak and drained. Then, I felt the Lord telling me to live courageously. He confirmed this as every song that came on the radio seemed to echo the theme of courage and bravery! No matter where you are, YOU are being called to live courageously.
What does it mean to live courageously?
Living courageously means keeping your center on JESUS even when the world has gone crazy.
Living courageously means being PEACE in a world where anger and negativity is rampant.
Living courageously means walking HUMBLY with God even when you are surrounded by darkness and ego on every side.
Living courageously means casting out fear and replacing it with LOVE.
Living courageously means speaking up for JUSTICE for those who are voiceless.
Living courageously means RELIANCE on Jehovah-Jireh (God the Provider) when you don’t have a paycheck and wonder how you will pay the bills, or when you don’t know if you will soon have a paycheck.
Living courageously means being a sign of HOPE to others even when you feel weighed down by the burdens of your life and the world.
Living courageously means being a person of PRAISE as the storm rages all around you.
Living courageously means TRUSTING in God when all stability is pulled out from under you.
Living courageously means picking up your shield of FAITH and the sword of the Spirit, the WORD OF GOD and knowing they are your weapons.
Living courageously means staying in a place of PRAYER in a world that distracts and fills us with noise.
Living courageously means knowing that God’s POWER is made perfect in your WEAKNESS. (2 Cor. 12:9)
Are you ready to live courageously? It will not be easy, friends. Thankfully we have our perfect Heavenly Father to fight for us, His Son who endured every temptation that we do (without giving in), and the Holy Spirit who permeates every darkness and every fiber of our being. Let’s go!
It’s time to live courageously.
“Father, grant that I may be a bearer of Christ Jesus, your Son. Allow me to warm the often cold, impersonal scene of modern life with Your burning love. Strengthen me by Your Holy Spirit to carry out my mission of changing the world or some part of it for the better. Make me more energetic in setting right what I find wrong with the world instead of complaining about it. Amen.”~Taken from Living With Christ daily missal, June 7