How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” Romans 10:15
On the cover of your handouts are the feet of Mother Teresa. Before starting this talk, I had no idea that her feet were severely deformed. The picture shows the striking difference between God’s idea of beauty and our cultures. The only place you would hear the feet of mother Teresa described as beautiful is in the Bible – our theme verse - How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” Romans 10:15
The World says that beauty is flawless perfection; God says that He makes us strong when we are weak, not perfect. The world’s beauty is fake, plastic, manufactured; God’s beauty is pure, authentic, and natural. The world claims that beauty can only be attained by makeup, surgery, starvation, or Photoshop, but the Word of God says that our beauty and joy come from the Lord.
The world’s beauty will be lost, but the beauty found in Christ will stand forever. Charm is deceptive and beauty fleeting; the woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. – Proverbs 30:31.
This message is nothing new for most of you. If you‘ve been to a Girls Retreat here before, you’ve heard it every year! We all KNOW that we should strive for inner beauty over exterior beauty, but how many of us really practice that? Do a quick self check. Honestly. How much time this week have you spent on keeping your outward appearance looking good? Doing your hair, putting on makeup, checking in the mirror between classes to make sure it still maintained. If you’re anything like me, you could probably add at least a few minutes a day putting on outfits and taking them off , throwing them on the floor, searching for a cuter shirt or better jeans, looking in the mirror, repeating the process at least 2 and then walking out the door saying you have no clothes. Throw in accessories – earrings, purses, shoes.
Maybe you don’t do all of these things, but the way you look is still on your mind A Lot. Now compare this to the amount of time that you have spent in prayer this week, serving the homeless, or bringing the gospel to someone who has never heard it before. You know in your heart better than anyone else if the idea of true beauty is a struggle for you.
For the majority here, including myself, it is something we have to battle with every day. The pull between believing the lies of the world in which we live and that the devil whispers into our ears and the Truth that God places in hearts. The intensity of the battle between lies and truth is why we talk about this year after year. We come here to be refreshed, renewed and reminded of the words God speaks. We come here so that together we can encourage one another to grow in the beauty of the Lord and to grow apart from the impossible ideals that are world places over us.
Today we hope to learn the best beauty secret – that our beauty comes from the JOY and love of the Lord, that we are most beautiful (as the verse says) when we are sharing this joy with others and bringing them good news.
So it sounds great, but how do we start to acquire inner joy and beauty. How do we take our feet, one of the roughest, dirtiest, parts of our body and make them beautiful.
We begin by letting Christ wash our feet.
then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him
When we let Jesus wash our feet, we are handing over to Him the dirtiest parts of our lives to repair and make clean. Sometimes, like Peter, we sometimes want to deny him access to those parts of our lives that are covered with the dirt and mud that culture can throw our way. There are many reasons why we don’t want to let Jesus near our feet – pride, deception, hardness of heart, but I want to focus on one particular reason that we sometimes don’t let Jesus take away our sorrows.
Attention. We like the attention that it brings us. Some of us like to sulk in our suffering because we know it draws a crowd. Have you ever called a friend and she doesn’t answer? So then you send her a text that says call me ASAP, awful day. Of course, a good friend would probably call right away. It can kind of getting addicting. You know someone will call or listen to you if you’re having guy troubles, your parents are being unreasonable, you’re depressed or you’re stressed. So then we get stuck there. We don’t really want to give over our insecurities, boyfriend’s issues, and depression or over stressed life to God because we actually like to stay there and it’s comfortable.
There comes a time when we grow in our maturity and our faith enough to start choosing to live a joy filled life over living in a darkness that gets us attention. You will find that when you start living with joy, you will attract more than you ever could in your sulking, moodiness, and drama. But it is a choice that we must make.
I encourage you to take time to pray today about this. Are you hiding your true joy because of your need for others? If you are, let Jesus fill the need for attention. Feel His love, as He gently removes some of the hurts and pain in your life with His healing touch. When you let Christ enter in and cleanse you from deep within, you will experience the type of joy that radiates beauty. I know that it can be so difficult to choose joy in suffering. Sometimes we just want to share with others all that is going on in our lives. To a certain extent that is good and healthy, but at other times we are just robbing others of the joy that they have.
The fruit is that more peace has come about my own suffering. Helps me grow. We, as Christians are called to do this in Philippians 4:4 when it says "Rejoice!" and "Be full of joy in the Lord". Not just when we feel like it, but ALL THE TIME.
St. Therese encourages us to do this as well when she says, “I always see the bright side of things. There are people who always take everything from the most painful point of view. I do just the opposite. If I am faced with pure suffering; when heaven is so black that there is no bright spot to be seen anywhere, I then make that itself a source of joy.”
Your suffering will lead you to the glory of the Cross, to the victory that has been won. You might feel like this isn’t for you. Jesus has been in your life since the day you were born. However, Jesus can only give to you what you give over to Him. It may be the sins you don’t want to give up or the ways that other have hurt you, but you must cast your cares upon the Lord. Just as Zacheous, the tax collector, made the first move towards getting to Jesus by climbing up in that tree, you have to choose to move. Then you can let the Healer work in your life.
After you experience this cleansing, we respond.
Your life will change. Your trials will still be the same, your parents might still be mean, the boy you like may not even know your name; but you will have a peace and a hope. You will live with a purpose.
But some people choose to respond like this-
* Show video from SNL *
I really wanted to show this skit because it is funny and because it so clearly illustrates how some people respond to Jesus. Jesus heals us and performs great miracles in our lives. God pours out blessing upon blessing – food, shelter; clothes, warmth and we just stand there eating our bag of chips. We don’t respond.
Other people can over respond, just like the news reporter and miss the true meaning. Her excitement was obviously forced and not genuine for the person. We can sometimes do this too.
We can learn from the Mary, of Martha and Mary on how to respond.
Mary took a liter of costly perfumed oil made and anointed the feet of Jesus and dried them with her hair; the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil. John 12:8
After Jesus cleanses our feet, our heart should ache to respond in a genuine, pure, and loving way. Mary worships the Lord at His feet with her whole being. She gave everything and did not count the cost. Can’t you just smell the beauty of the oil as it fills the house? Our joy can do the same thing in the presence of others. When we sit at the feet of Jesus our joy can fill the whole place in which we are kneeling. This is one way of evangelizing during worship with out saying a word to anyone, but the Lord.
In Exodus 3:5 Do not come any closer," the LORD warned. "Take off your sandals, for you are standing on holy ground.
The Lord asks us to take off our sandals and stand on the holy ground. Take off what is comfortable to us and stand before Him as pure as we can. This is how we enter into deeper worship and then in turn are filled with a joy and a beauty that can be shared. There will be a few talks today that go more into what worship is and should be, but we cannot be beautiful into we worship with the joy that God intends.
The beauty the world calls for does not involve much sacrifice. You can take the easy way out with almost everything these days – diet pills, plastic surgery, hair extensions, tanning booths. You want it and the next day you can have it.
The beauty that comes with the joy God intends for us comes with Sacrifice. Just as the feet of Jesus were pierced as they were nailed to the cross, we too are called to a life of Sacrifice. Many times to understand fully what God intend beauty to be here on earth, we must sacrifice our own pride, our standards, and what others think of us.
Just a side note - This is not to say that we don’t care at all about how we look, dress, or act – we must still have modesty and dress in a way that brings glory to God. If we dress or look a way that says we don’t care at all about ourselves, than we send a message to others that we do not value the person God has made us to be.
There is a fine line that we walk of caring just enough what we look like and not allowing it to become an obsession.
The sacrifice that we must make involves doing the hard things in life. From a fashion stand point, this may mean sacrificing not buying the hottest fashion trend because it does not reflect modesty or not buying the most expensive make up so that we have more money to give to the poor. From a spiritual stand point this means taking time to pray daily, going to Mass as often as we can, fasting, and serving others.
We take time to learn about and grow in the virtues - Prudence, Justice, Fortitude, Temperance, Faith, Hope, and Charity. Becoming a virtuous person means that we set aside our own human desires, we sacrifice; to embrace what God instructs us is holy. These virtues will help our joy to radiate to others, but they take time and effort to develop. To really become filled with Joy, we put Jesus first, Others Second and yourself last. We look for ways each day to practice this – whether it is giving away our last piece of gum, biting our tongues when we could gossip about someone, or replying with a respectful “Yes, Mom” when she asks us to do something for her. A true sacrifice should be something that is difficult for us to do and causes us to step outside of our comfortable lives.
We allow Jesus to Wash Us, we worship Him, we sacrifice, and then we are able spread the Good News. When Joy is in our hearts, we can’t help from sharing it with everyone. In life when something good happens, we share about with everyone. I do this with coupons. Mom and Dad Roach do it with Weight Watchers. When you are expiring something exciting, you can’t keep from talking about it.
When you really, REALLY, experience to the fullness the love of Christ, it won’t be a burden to share or an embarrassment. Everywhere you go you will want to bring it up in conversation. You will look for God moments each day. When you see someone struggling in darkness, you will feel moved to reach out to them in some way and not feel creepy about it. Evangelization is not just meant for those preachers on TV. You and I are called to share the news that Beauty does not come from the quick fixes, that we can be set free from the lies and restrictions of our society, that there is a God who wants to know us so deeply and desperately that He speaks to us continually if we are only willing to listen.
I heard a homily the other day in which the priest was saying that those people who are most angry and bitter towards the Church, you know the ones who argue about EVERYTHNG, that those are the people who are seeking but do not yet know it. They are the ones that we need to speak the Truth in love to and not give up praying for her. There are people who are hungry and thirsty for God in their lives and trying to satisfy themselves in a million other useless ways.
Those are the people who need your light and your joy. They don’t need a super model, they need someone who is willing to put themselves on the line, to risk their reputation at school, to just sit down and to tell them who Jesus really is and what Jesus can really do in their lives. You can not reach others if you are always complaining, gossiping or starting your own drama. That’s what everyone does. You have to be the difference. You are called to stand apart, like a star in the sky that shines brighter than any other. Your beauty will come not from your likeness with your peers, but for your difference. The way you handle life’s setbacks, annoyances, and problems is your witness to the world. The way you respond with hope when there is despair will allow you to share the Good News.
Watch and wait as the more you share, the more beautiful your dirty old feet become.
When you are the bearer of this good news that is when your beauty shines forth the most. When you serve the broken, as Mother Teresa did, your light becomes so strong that others cannot deny it.
I want to close with a passage written by Bishop Fulton Sheen in the book Three to Get Married. He pretty much says everything I just babbled about in one paragraph.
Umbrellas to remind us that “ the only ones who are truly beautiful are those who look beautiful when they come out of the rain” . I put it in the Love eraser to remind us that our beauty is rooted in the Love and the Joy of the Lord.