Friday, August 14, 2009

The Simple Path

"The fruit of silence is PRAYER.
The fruit of prayer is FAITH.
The fruit of faith is LOVE.
The fruit of love is SERVICE.
The fruit of service is PEACE."

from Mother Theresa's writings

Prayer, faith, love, service, peace - this road map to Christ is our simple path in life. It's not simple meaning easy, but simple because with Christ there is freedom. Following Christ gives us a freedom that the world and all it's trappings can never give.

The freedom comes through our baptism into Christ's family where the supernatural virtues of faith, hope and love are bestowed upon us. We can not take credit for our increasing faith, hope or love, though we can pray to be more open to these virtues which help us to love God more and grow in holiness.

Through prayer, we grow in faith. This faith compels us to love Christ more and more, which then leads us to serve Him through acts of charity toward our neighbors. Through selfless acts of charity, the Lord helps us grow in humility. When we are more concerned with loving Christ and all that He stands for and loving our neighbor with this love, then falling to last place in line becomes easier.

Notice I did not say EASY, but easier. Being last, unpreferred, unnoticed or approved of is not easy by any means. But, with God's amazing grace, through faith, it does get easier the more we trust in God's divine providence.
Through this service or humility comes peace - the peace of Christ. This peace is that of knowing that whatever may come, He is in charge and has us in the palm of His hand through it all.

Trusting in the world's ideas, solutions, etc... really is the hard path if looked at through the lense of faith. The world's notions change with the passing seasons, but God never changes. He is always loving, always merciful. If we just persevere, He will lead us to the promised land. True, that promised land may be far different from what we asked for.

When faced with troubles, such as disease or death, that threaten to steal our peace, Our Lord Jesus Christ spoke of His love for us, saying, "I have told you this so that you might have peace in Me. In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world." John 16:33

By opening ourselves to the grace of God, there is freedom in trusting. Trusting in His Truth that He will "never leave us, even unto the end of the I will never forsake you or abandon you."
Thus we may say with confidence: "The Lord is my helper, (and) I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?"
Hebrews 13:5-6

When the questions and the storms surround us, we must step back and listen to the soft whisper inside. Faith will lead us to take the simple path of a young child who trusts his parent. The child doesn't rationalize whether they understand the answer of the parent (this changes in the teen years!!). He doesn't sit up at night wondering how his father will pay the mortgage. The child has faith and believes and goes out to play.

That is why when the disciples approached Jesus, He asked, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said, "Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. "

Obviously, the kingdom of heaven is the goal we strive for as we walk the simple path.

Some examples:

A wife/mother of four gets pregnant and can't afford another child. She and her husband think the "simple path" would be to murder (abort) their unborn child, so as to continue on the path they think is right for them. This was the story last night outside the Eastern Avenue Abortion Clinic in Grand Rapids. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, here's what happened after the father talked to a sidewalk counselor...

"A couple went in very fast, telling me they already had 4 kids and couldn't afford another one. They were very determined to have an abortion that night. After half an hour they came out and he came right over to me and said "Tell me more about what you said about adoption." He was quite broken. She interrupted and said she already had given up a baby to adoption, "it's not easy seeing your baby and giving it away." He asked many questions and took the 'Pause' DVD, she was shaken but undecided. Pray for this young couple. From the way they were acting I believe they will not abort their baby. God uses our words, as inadequate as they are. As quickly as they ran in, they heard the words about adoption and it touched their hearts."

The simple path of Christ will lead this couple to a deeper peace than the "simple path" of abortion. The road may be rocky and full of thorns, but our Lord will lead them through, and His people in Grand Rapids will rise up to help as they have many times for many women in situations such as this.

While walking downtown, a nicely dress working man comes across an elderly man struggling to cross the street with his shopping cart. It is very clear that the man with the shopping cart is homeless. Well, he and his cart are blocking the way of the other man who is trying to get back to work after his lunch break. Crossing the street to avoid the homeless man would seem to be the "simple path" in the working man's eyes.

As he grumbles to himself, the soft voice within spurs him on to slow down and help the man instead. Through this small act of love, the working man experiences of peace beyond his understanding.

Now, the "simple path" he may have taken by crossing the street would have kept him in bondage of selfishness and fear. By taking the simple path of Christ, he was free and will, no doubt, take this freedom and peace back to those in his workplace and beyond. The ripple effect occurs either way.

Let us pray today and always that, through the grace of God, we can help lead others on the simple path of Christ and that we open our eyes to where God wants to lead us through others.

Also, pray for our hearts and minds to continually be open to receive His love through those in need. With God, we can move mountains that the world deems unmovable.

Remember, "God + 1 = an army" - St. Theresa of Avila

Pray for so many on the streets in the summer heat. Tempers flair, desperation increases... May God's holy angels surround and protect those on the streets around the world.

Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like yours. Amen.