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Opening the Door to God’s Blessings

Updated on July 20, 2021

“The Holy Spirit sweetens the yoke of the divine law and lightens its weight, so that we may observe God’s commandments with the greatest of ease, and even with pleasure” ~ Saint Lawrence of Brindisi

As is oftentimes the case with the great Old Testament Prophets, stark warnings of chastisement, such as the one delivered by the prophet Micah on Saturday are followed up with a message of hope, a hope rooted in the indescribable mercy and love of God. We’re reminded of that today in our 1st Reading (Micah 7:14-15, 18-20) as the closing words of this passage rhetorically ask:

“Who is there like you, the God who removes guilt and pardons sin for the remnant of his inheritance; Who does not persist in anger forever, but delights rather in clemency, and will again have compassion on us, treading underfoot our guilt? You will cast into the depths of the sea all our sins; You will show faithfulness to Jacob, and grace to Abraham, As you have sworn to our fathers from days of old.”

Guilt isn’t always a terribly rational emotion. Many a good and kind person has been crushed under its unforgiving weight..Saint Padre Pio would oftentimes say "Any mental picture of your life that focuses on past sins is a lie and thus comes from the devil. Jesus loves you and has forgiven you your sins, so there is no room for having a downcast spirit. Whatever persuades you otherwise is truly a waste of time. It is also something that offends that heart of our very tender Lover. On the other hand, if the mental picture of your life consists in what you can be or could be, then it comes from God.” Yet we know that a thorough examination of conscience, performed frequently, is vital to the formation of a selfless and moral life. Finding the right balance can, for many, take a lifetime. The Gospels help tremendously of course, as do the Communion of Saints, ordinary men and women who faced the same trials and tribulations that we do today. They struggled with such things as obedience and being ostracized ~ or far worse ~ by the godless in their midst..

Obedience comes to the forefront in today’s Gospel (Matthew 12:46-50), wherein Jesus teaches that obedience to God’s will makes those who were mere disciples his close relatives. “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” Jesus asks of those who inform him that his Mother Mary and the Apostles were waiting for him outside. “Whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother” Jesus says in conclusion.

Yes, Jesus made His Mother and ours, She who would go on to be crowned the Queen of Heaven, wait so that he could teach those in his midst the importance of obedience to God the Father. Lest we think He was disrespecting the Virgin Mary in saying this, let us remember the most perfect and obedient way in which our Lady surrendered everything to the will of the Father. Jesus’ words were instead the utmost sign of adoration and respect for His Mother; if only we all could obey the will of the Father as Mary did.

When all is said and done, discipleship is a matter of obeying commandments. Listening to and obeying commands is wired ever so closely to love of He who commands, and since love is nothing but the willing of the good of the other, the obedience that Jesus speaks of is a surrender to the one who wants nothing but what is best for he or she who has the wisdom and humility to assume the role of the “surrenderer” if you will.

Obedience, a virtue reflected upon a number of times in past Essays, has somehow managed to become viewed as undesirable in recent times, a sign of weakness, an inability “to think and act for one’s self.” The irony here of course is that the exact opposite has come to pass. With church attendance plummeting and anti-Christian sentiment on the rise, it is now those who strive to obey every teaching of God who find themselves on the proverbial island. Those on the other hand who capitulate to moral relativism and the “go along to get along” mentality, part of that ever-growing herd who cannot (or simply choose not) to think for themselves, they are the ones who have chosen to blindly obey the gods of materialism, ego and excess. To quote G.K. Chesterton, “a man who attacks the Christian religion in the modern world is not an unheard-of or extraordinary person. The extraordinary person is the person who defends the Christian religion."

“The first degree of humility is prompt obedience.” These were the words of the legendary Abbot Saint Benedict, whose Feast Day we celebrated just 10 days ago Obedience to God is proof of our love for Him. It demonstrates our commitment and faithfulness to God. Obedience opens the door to God’s blessings in our lives.

“Dear heavenly Father, make me an obedient child. Let me listen and obey your instructions. Enable me to be ever conscious of your ability to see all things and your desire to bless us immeasurably.” ~ Amen

Today, July 21st, marks the Feast Day of Saint Lawrence of Brindisi. A prolific Theologian, Priest, Author, and one of only 36 Doctors of the Church, Saint Lawrence, astonishingly enough, was fluent in 8 languages. He is the Patron Saint of Brindisi in Southern Italy.

Saint Lawrence of Brindisi, Priest & Doctor of the Church, pray and intercede for us!


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