Reflection for Quinquagesima Sunday

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What are you living for?
For forever!

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

We are about to embark on our Lenten journey. In 4 days, we come to church to have ashes imposed on our foreheads in an act of desire – desire for repentance, change, and victory. These desires puts us on the side of Jesus so that we live in accordance with His way and in faith that His promised victory will be fulfilled for us.

Many people don’t get it. They might ask us why we take on ashes. What’s the point of our desire? Aren’t we generally good enough, victorious enough already?

If we are honest with ourselves and with them, we state a faith in Jesus and a victory beyond the here and now. We admit that Jesus is our life; that we have complete faith in Him and in His victory. We admit that the ashes symbolize our shortcomings in not living Jesus’ way of life. We state that we want to make our lives like His. Our ashes symbolize a fact and a desire – We want to fix our lives so we live as Jesus asked us to live. Then we will find eternal happiness and victory.

If we lived only by our own desires and practices our lives would be empty. We would always be chasing after perfection in what we want, but never find what we need. We know, in the end, that our ways, our desires, our wants and needs are ultimately unfulfilling. They offer no hope beyond today (and not that much).

By aligning ourselves with Jesus’ way, in striving to be steadfast, immovable, and always abounding in the work of the Lord we conform our lives – we focus on living the right way. Living Jesus’ way brings us to eternal life which is God’s offer and promise of victory. Jesus’ victory helps us along the way and brings us to perfection even when we fall short. His love covers our failures giving victory.

In taking on ashes, in working through the season ahead, we implore God’s help to get back on track. We ask Him to help us in living for what is greater and more powerful than any temporary desire; better than anything the world can offer. We place our trust in His mercy that overcomes all weakness.

What can the world offer? The world offers more work, rules, temporary solutions, and a day’s wage. Are they enough? Where will they lead? Nowhere! With faith, and a re-commitment to Jesus we live for glory. All else will fade except happiness forever – our complete victory in Jesus.

Reflection for the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time

I can’t do it anymore.
I have all you need to continue.

“This is enough, O LORD!”

Back at the castle, Jezebel heard how Elijah’s God had made hers look foolish. She also heard that her prophets were dead and that Israel had gone back to God. So she sent a little note to Elijah: “May the gods kill me if I don’t make you just as dead as my prophets!” She meant it. She had killed before. Elijah suddenly felt very alone. You can just imagine the people backing away from him. The wicked queen had sworn she would get him. Elijah needed a friend. He looked around, but it seemed like the only one standing with him was his personal servant. At such a frightening time in Elijah’s life, he needed reassurance, a reason to go on.

Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day’s journey into the desert. He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed for death.

Many of us have watched the Olympics. We have seen competitors break 34 world records and 67 Olympic record including 28 broken by Americans and 3 by Poles.

Manteo Mitchell of the United States 4×400-meter relay team was running when he felt the pop in his leg. He said, “It felt like somebody literally just snapped my leg in half”
The sprinter had half a lap to go in the first leg of the preliminaries and a choice to make: keep running or stop and lose the race. To him, it was never much of a choice.

He finished the lap and limped to the side to watch his team finish the race and qualify easily for the final. A few hours later, doctors confirmed what he suspected: He had run the last 200 meters with a broken leg.

We aren’t often confronted with the threat of being murdered, or having to finish a race with a broken leg, but Jesus knew that we would be confronted by all sorts of challenges, including the ones Jesus faced today, lack of faith, doubt, and murmuring. He knew that we all face the challenge of mortality.

Knowing all this, He gave us what we need to continue, to go on, and to have a hope that is more powerful than any challenge, even death.

Jesus is our strength. He is what we need to continue, the Bread that came down from heaven that gives eternal life. With Him and in Him there is nothing to fear, there is all we need to continue. With His strength we can not only finish the race, but finish winning!