Thursday, July 15, 2010

All the glory goes to God!

At Mass this morning, the first reading was from the prophet Isaiah. He spoke one of my favorite verses: "O LORD, you mete out peace to us, for it is You who have accomplished all we have done." Amen!

We don't accomplish anything. God accomplishes it through us!

This leads me to ponder...
How do we in our culture respond when we accomplish something good?
Do we pat ourselves on the back, or do we give praise, honor and glory to our loving God?
Next time someone gives you a compliment on something, listen to your response.
Is it a simple "thanks" or a "thanks be to God" ?

Many times when I meet people living on the streets or in the shelters and ask, "how are you doing?" They respond, "very well, thanks be to God."
If someone living without family or possessions can give thanks to God, then why can't we publicly give glory to Him for His gifts within us?

Are we too uncomfortable giving glory to the Him whom without we could not breath a single breath?
Do we pretend it's because we don't want others to feel uncomfortable?
Most likely it's because we want to keep things all nice and agreeable. We would rather deny that our Lord alone is responsible for any accomplishment than risk persecution.

Let us ask Jesus to help us remember His and our Blessed Mother Mary who didn't take any of the credit for her accomplishment when asked by Elizabeth "how it is that the mother of my Lord should come to visit me?" but instead gave glory to God replying, "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior."

Yes, many of our homeless brothers and sisters do share stories of their daily hardships, but they are still able to thank God because they know it is only through Him that they are able to wake up and make it through another day. Their faith continually astounds me.

Still, there are countless others who don't acknowledge God exists or Jesus as their Savior, but God is still with them. He created them in His image! I recently talked with a man like this. He shared that he is not a believer.
Praise be to God that He allowed me to have a conversation with this man. It was a true gift.

I met "Tom" months ago during our Saturday lunch in the park. He and his friend, "Bob" always show up together. They both had "respectable" lives before living on the street. Bob was an accountant. Tom, a businessman. Divorce and other circumstances led them away from the Lord to life without a home.

Now, we have talked many times about one thing or another, but this one Saturday I felt the Holy Spirit leading me to go deeper with them. Trust me, I am not courageous enough without the grace of God to delve into many of the conversations on the streets. I have been tempted now and in the past to sit for hours in contemplation with the Lord, thinking this is the better way to get closer to Him only to be shown that playing board games with with my kids, folding laundry, taking a walk with my husband or preparing dinner for the family is the most beautiful prayer when done in love. That's why I love that quote at the bottom of this blog. Yes, Christ is truly present - Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity - in the Eucharist. He is also present in every one we meet. We have only to ask our Lord for eyes to see and ears to hear Him.

Spending time in the presence of Christ on the streets began with prayer and continues to be rooted in prayer. It is a prayer that begins with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament - in Holy Mass and in Adoration. He helps me to let go, lay down my agenda and give everything over to His Will. It is only through Him, with Him and in Him that I am aware of the privilege of spending time with His poor.
Each person involved with serving lunch on Saturdays is a living prayer. There are many from different churches and walks of life that reflect the light of Christ and see the dignity of each and every person we meet. I believe this is why people come back to the park to eat on Saturdays even though they have other places where they could be getting food.

Back to my story about Bob and Tom...
As we were chatting, I asked if either of them had problems with drugs or alcohol.
Tom opened up and said he struggles with drugs. I had shared with him earlier that I, too, was deep into drugs for years after high school and know it was only through God's grace I am still alive and standing today. That's when Tom said, "to be honest, I am not a believer."

A lengthy conversation ensued. How utterly amazing it was that Tom would be honest with me! During our talk, I prayed to be open and loving as we spoke about life, God, faith, doubts, etc...
God is with Tom whether he acknowledges Him or not.
At one point, I looked him in the eye and said, "do you know how much Jesus loves you? He loves you so much, no matter what you've done." I can't really describe Tom's face or body language when he heard that, but something happened within him. The Holy Name of Jesus has power.

I challenged him to take time to pray to God in the coming week.
There was a little humor involved as I encourage him to pray, "God, you know I don't believe in you, but if you are there, show me."

Only God knows His plan for allowing us to talk that day. I am thankful He is helping me to have more compassion and see His presence in everyone. God knows how uncomfortable it is for me many times to talk with and accept those of other faiths or those who don't have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Praise and honor and glory to our Almighty Father Who is so merciful and patient! He works with my close-mindedness. He softens my stony heart.

So if Tom shows up next Saturday high on crack will I still love and accept him? Will I still trust that God is near Tom even though he is apparently turning his back on him? Of course! Why?? Because this is our faith! Our loving Father tells us to love the sinner and hate the sin. He does that with us EVERY DAY - loves us despite our sinfulness. And He "demonstrated his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
If that's not good news, I don't know what is!

By God's grace, we can give Jesus glory, honor and praise for ALL that He accomplishes through us. Try it next time someone gives you a compliment for a job well done.

May the Lord be with you today and always.