Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? Or what can one give in exchange for his life? (Matthew 16:24-26)
Christ is the answer!
Does it seem as if the world has gone mad? There are times when living centered on Christ allows the Holy Spirit to create a crystal clear picture in our hearts of who we are and what is expected of us as missionary disciples. When seeking to follow Christ, a path, narrow as it is, is laid before us and we are asked to choose. In today’s world, possibly much like early Christianity, this choice will require personal sacrifice.
As we observe the chaos stirring around us, Christ is calling each one of us, as His disciple, to a very special purpose. That purpose will bring us joy and peace even in the most difficult circumstances. We must seek that purpose as choose our path. That purpose, if it is aligned with the will of God, will build His kingdom.
Before we understand that purpose, we must make an active choice to respond to God’s grace. Our choice is a path of good or evil. There is no neutral ground. The path of good is a decision we must make with all our heart, mind and body. It will not be easy and we will fall. Yet, we live in great hope of the loving mercy of our God. He knows our heart.
Our choice to live based on our love for God and all that He has to offer does not allow us to stand neutral in tumultuous times. If we fail to choose, we are, in essence, choosing the side of evil.
Christ himself states:
“The Amen, the faithful and true witness, the source of God’s creation, says this: “I know your works; I know that you are neither cold nor hot.* I wish you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.”” Revelation 3:14-16
It is no accident that we have been given a taste of what it will be like to have the sacraments taken from us through the “pandemic” of the last several months. The future will require of each of us a greater portion of the virtue fortitude that will only be found through the grace God affords us in the sacraments.
Every waking moment is an opportunity to choose Him. If we believe in the mercy of Christ and the treasure our faith, we must be willing to stand for truth under all circumstances.
We know the devil is one of the most clever creatures ever created and will paint evil as good. That said, how can we decide what is a path to good and what is a path to evil? The answer is: Look for its fruits.
“By their fruits you will know them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?
Just so, every good tree bears good fruit, and a rotten tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. So by their fruits you will know them.” Matthew 7:16-20
Seeing the good and rotten fruits of this world is now a moral imperative. Slow down, suppress emotional thinking and observe the outcomes. The devil was the angel of light before he rejected God and all His goodness, as the purveyor of all evil, as stated previously, he will present an evil temptation as a good. It feels good, looks good and sparks an emotional outpouring? Try it. This will lead you down the wrong path each time. Each of us has a responsibility to act prudently and look for the facts.
In the chaos of this world, it is fairly easy to look for the fruits and ask yourself these questions:
Does the chosen path support life from conception to natural death?
Does the chosen path build up traditional marriage and families?
Does the chosen path feed and cloth the poor?
Does the chosen path produce religious vocations?
Does the chosen path work for the common good?
Does the chosen path respect a natural right of property ownership?
Does the chosen path recognize the dignity of all persons as understood by our faith?
These are questions we cannot overlook. As Christians, we embrace all the Christ teaches us.
Know that the little one’s ability to deceive us is beyond our understanding without the grace given to us by God. Without the grace of God, we will be deceived. We need only to look at how the devil attempted to deceive Christ to comprehend how he will attempt to deceive us:
“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights,* and afterwards he was hungry. The tempter approached and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread. He said in reply, “It is written: ‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.’”
Then the devil took him to the holy city, and made him stand on the parapet of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down. For it is written: ‘He will command his angels concerning you’ and ‘with their hands they will support you, lest you dash your foot against a stone.’”
Jesus answered him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.’” Then the devil took him up to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in their magnificence, and he said to him, “All these I shall give to you, if you will prostrate yourself and worship me.”
At this, Jesus said to him, “Get away, Satan! It is written: ‘The Lord, your God, shall you worship and him alone shall you serve.’” Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and ministered to him.”
At first glance we may think, what is the harm in drinking water or eating bread. Most of us also know the draw of power and money is strong. Do not fall for the devil’s tricks.
The downfall of this current evil is its arrogance. A lack of humility will cause evil to overplay its hand. This overplaying of its hand will lead to death and destruction. In this we can identify evil, reject it and witness its downfall fall.
Have hope! Do not let these times cause you consternation. We have the pillar and foundation of truth to guide us. Lean on the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Christ is the answer!
JMJ, pray for us!
God is good,