Friday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time


Remember the days past when, after you had been enlightened, you endured a great contest of suffering.


The New Testament sometimes recalls the ready reception the world gave to the gospel. Saint Luke says,
"They ate their meals with exultation and sincerity of heart, praising God and enjoying favor with all the people."
But that favor could evaporate almost overnight and they would suddenly face ostracism, public humiliation and real persecution. Today we hear the Author of Hebrews remind his people of the "great contest of suffering" they endured. It would come again. We know that now but the Author probably knew it then.
Those Jews and gentiles who expected life as a Christian to be easier than their former way of life left the Church soon after entering it. Life in the Truth will never be easy, nor should it be. It is not carefree and secure even within a tight knit community of believers like a monastery, convent or friary. Giving one's future to the Lord does not mean leaving one's troubles behind. More often, openness to the Lord leaves one available to family, neighbors and old friends; they remind us both of our regrettable past and continuing bad habits. For even the most ardent among us sometimes pray with fatal confidence, "Okay God! I've got it. I can take it from here!"
And then there is the skepticism, mistrust and hostility of those who frankly despise Truth.
The saints assure us there is consolation in prayer. It is a grace the Lord gives us and we welcome it. Because it comes from God we cannot manage those opportunities; they come like ocean tides. We receive them with gratitude, with the full awareness that the flowing tide will ebb, leaving us beached, high and dry.
The same saints urge us to remember the days past. During the days of consolation we should not forget the sorrows of the past. When life gets difficult and we are staggered by frustration, disappointment and sorrow we should remember that we have enjoyed pleasant times.
This practice tempers our mood swings. We learn to accept with gratitude whatever the Lord gives us. As Job said,
"The Lord gives, the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord."
And, "We accept good things from the Lord. Should we not accept the bad?"

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.