A quick read of today’s Scriptures produces a rather somber, somewhat disturbing tone…one all-too-appropriate for a Monday morning! The selection from early in Isaiah’s writing presents a picture of God’s people gone astray, challenged through the prophet by God who has "had enough" with the people. In a similar vein, Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel selection talks about wholehearted dedication to proclaiming the Gospel, even to the point of taking up crosses, putting aside family, and even losing ones life for His sake. What a sober, challenging picture for us as 21st century disciples!
Yet both Isaiah and Jesus add a twist to their message: "…cease doing evil…learn to do good…", "…whoever loses his life for my sake will find it…". There is reason to follow Jesus and live for the Lord, IF we are willing to move beyond our own desires and to personally take on the mind and heart of Jesus. No doubt, life can be a bit crazy, not everyone will understand…and in it all Jesus points the way to a meaningful and fruitful life.
A classic, well-known prayer comes to mind: "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things that I can, and the wisdom to know the difference." While trying to follow the Lord, to share in that God-given serenity, courage and wisdom to change our own lives and be God’s agents of change for others…in Jesus we can indeed move beyond our limitations and foster growth for ourselves and our world.
Today we pause to ponder the challenges we face, as did Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, the "lilly of the Mohawks" in the 17th century. How are we "doing good" and being just towards our brothers and sisters? What talents and limitations do we bring to joining Jesus in proclaiming the Good News in our day? Can we "take up our cross" and find life by simple acts of Christ-like love and service? A tall order…
With Isaiah of old, Blessed Kateri of the 17th century, and with other "saints under construction" of our own day, we say "yes" to Jesus by faith-based lives.
Fr. John Schork, C.P. is the coordinator of the Passionist retirement community in Louisville, Kentucky.