Saturday, February 7, 2015

Jesus Shows Us How To Please God

February 7, 2015
Saturday of week 4 in Ordinary Time
or Saturday memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Jesus Shows Us How To Please God
He guides me in right paths.

We all want to please God. And it is not just out of fear or desire for reward; we want to please him just because he is good and is good to us. We want to show love for him; we just don’t always know how.

Jesus shows us how.

The Gospel tells us that Jesus sent his twelve Apostles on a short mission to “proclaim that all should repent”—that is, change their minds about everything, which is what metanoia means. To accept the Good News is to change our minds about:

1. our relationship with God, that gives us our identity: by Baptism we “become Christ” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 795); each of us is a “new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Colossians 3:10; Ephesians 4:24); a “new creation” (2Corinthians 5:17); we all say, “It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20); we are divine children of the Father, inspired and guided by the Holy Spirit;

2. our purpose and goal in life: we “have been raised with Christ, we seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God” (Colossians 3:1); we live now, not for ourselves, but for Jesus, who lived and died for us (Romans 14:7), and to let him live in us (Galatians 2:20) to continue his mission of giving life to others with us, in us and through us in everything we do; we seek before all else “the kingdom of God and his righteousness,” knowing everything else will be given to us as well (Matthew 6:33); we live to bring about “the mystery of his will,” his “plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in Christ, things in heaven and things on earth” (Ephesians 1:9); for which we must “grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,” as “each part… working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love” (Ephesians 4:15);

3. our guidance system: we have been “transformed by the renewing of our minds, so that we may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2); we no longer live by written laws (Ephesians 2:15), much less by the laws or desires “of the flesh,” but we are “led by the Spirit” (Romans 7:6; Galatians 5:18), guiding us from within to live the New Law of Christ (Matthew 9:17; 13:52; John 13:34; Romans 8:1), so that we might be “perfect, as our heavenly Father is perfect” (Mathew 5:38).

4. our relationships with others: the “new commandment” of Jesus is no longer to love our neighbor as ourselves, but to love one another just as Jesus has loved us (John 13:34; 15:12); and to value good relationships with others above our rights, our possessions, our time, the respect due to us, and our hurt feelings; preferring even to die ourselves rather than to kill another (Matthew 5:39; 16:25); not just avoiding evil, but positively doing good to those who are hungry, badly clothed or housed, sick or in prison, foreigners or friendless (Matthew 25:34); because by sharing in the divine life of God our Father, we are brothers and sisters of all the redeemed, with whom we form one body “in Christ” (Romans 12:4; Ephesians 1:19), sharing one life and united in the “communion (koinonia) of the Holy Spirit” (Ephesians 2:15).

All that is pretty daunting. But there is follow-up.

When the Apostles returned from their mission and “reported all they had done and taught,” Jesus said to them, “Come away by yourselves and rest a while.” So they “went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted place.”

But it wasn’t to be. “When the people saw them leaving… they hastened there on foot from all the towns and arrived at the place before them.”

Then Jesus revealed his shepherd’s heart.  When he “saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.”

He still does. The Lord is “our shepherd… he leads us… he guides us in right paths.” He shows us day by day how to grow into living by his New Law, how to please the Father, how to listen to the Holy Spirit. He told us before his ascension into heaven to “remember, I am with you always, to the end of the world.” He hasn’t “left us orphaned” (John 14:18). If we trust him and read his word, he will show us little by little how to please God.

And the Father, “the God of peace,” who brought Jesus up from the dead to be “the great shepherd of the sheep,” will “furnish us with all that is good, that we may do his will.”  God himself will “carry out in us what is pleasing to him through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.”

So do I choose to let Jesus show me how to please God?

Pray: “Make me know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth, and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all day long” (Psalm 25:4).

Practice: Before everything you do, ask Jesus to do it with you, in you and through you.

Discuss: How much do you think about just pleasing God? As much as you think about pleasing your spouse? Your boss? Your friends?

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