Gospel LK 17:5-10
The apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith."
The Lord replied,
"If you have faith the size of a mustard seed,
you would say to this mulberry tree,
'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it would obey you.
"Who among you would say to your servant
who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field,
'Come here immediately and take your place at table'?
Would he not rather say to him,
'Prepare something for me to eat.
Put on your apron and wait on me while I eat and drink.
You may eat and drink when I am finished'?
Is he grateful to that servant because he did what was commanded?
So should it be with you.
When you have done all you have been commanded,
say, 'We are unprofitable servants;
we have done what we were obliged to do.'"
+Prayer: Breathe in me O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy, act in me O Holy Spirit, that my work too may be holy, draw my heart O Holy Spirit, that I love but what is holy, strengthen me O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy, guard me then O Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy. Amen
When I pray with this passage, I can’t help but hear Mother’s words to us as young sisters, they echo in my heart. Oftentimes, when newspaper reporters would come to Mother they would say, “Mother Teresa, do you know that everyone is calling you a living Saint?” I can recall her unperturbed, matter of fact response to them. Their words didn’t seem to either flatter her or interest her, it seemed to leave her utterly unaffected. She would say; “Holiness is not a luxury of the few, but its the simple duty for you and me.” She would say, “You too are called to holiness, it is nothing extraordinary, but rather the natural course for us all.” It was to say, that the duty of cooperating with the grace of God, was the duty of each one of us, as a child of God, to obey his/her Father and this obedience out of Love is what will make us holy. It is the very life of Christ, this self-emptying love out of obedience.
When you ponder the word ‘duty’ what rises in your heart? Do you feel fired up? or on edge a bit? Sometimes duties can make us feel very alive and sometimes they can make us feel more weighed down, why is that? When I think of duties a few things rise in my heart. Here are just a few that come into my mind: I feel responsibility with respect to my duties and that can weigh on me heavily at times, it can also take the edge off enjoying the duty at times. Perhaps there can be a distaste for those duties that I feel insecure in, or in adequate in and I find myself more reticent to pick up those duties first. At times, I can feel the sheer frustration of some duties because no matter how much love, time, and ‘heart’ put into the duty, there are very few results. Other times, some duties are a sheer joy because I can do what I love to do the most and because the duty comes with ease, with a certain 'naturalness’ I love doing them even more. The ease and the fluency can generate the impetus to stay at it and invest more into it and to pour myself more into it and so naturally I can see more ‘results’ or more immediate ‘kickback’. Our disposition then seems to have a lot to do with our desire to invest in the duty and make it truly fruitful and life-giving. So what is my disposition about the duty to grow in holiness? To be one in mind and heart with Jesus Christ? We have to be very honest here, because we oftentimes look at holiness as living this boring pristine dull life of negation, and we miss the Fire, the Love and the mystery and JOY, of that Personal Encounter with the Living Lord Jesus Christ. While our daily “duties” may or may not be to our liking, everything can be received with joy because our primary “duty”, our primary joy, is to belong to Jesus, to be holy. Take a moment with Jesus and tell him what you think a life of holiness looks like- and listen to what He says- wait for Him. We can discount this journey with Christ and view it as ‘over our heads’ when we look just at ourselves, we can feel insecure and we can pull away, we can run the risk of putting this ‘duty’ last on our list. Or putting less ‘heart’ into it, because we either see it, as not enjoyable, distasteful or over our heads.
Question: Do I understand that my growth in holiness means my growth in Love? Of receiving His Love and loving with His Love? What does this kind of Love really feel like in the depth my heart? Is it confining? dull? tedious? Is it Liberating? powerful? transformative?
Examen: Do I take this responsibility seriously as a child of God, to simply and peacefully commit my heart to obeying the voice of God, in His commands (commandments) and in His prompts (Holy Spirit)? When I meet with success do I give the glory to God and thank Him and give Him the credit for helping me do the difficult? When I meet with failure, do I leave that in the Lords lap, knowing I have done my best?
“ Holiness is only a very high degree of Love” (St. Mother Teresa)