Monday, June 17, 2013

"Anything" Bible Study- Week 3

Anything Bible Study Week 3

Monday- Today's verse is one that should be very familiar to Catholics- It is Luke 1:37-38 where Mary accepts her mission to be the mother of God.

From the book: "The very thought of doing anything demands everything. We have to face our fears. If we believe he is real, if we believe he has an eternal heart, we have to face the fact that a God like that may mess with our temporary comfort..." (Jennie Allen, Anything: The Prayer That Unlocked My God and My Soul, pg.53)

From the catechism: CCC#494 At the announcement that she would give birth to "The Son of the Most High" without knowing man, by the power of the Holy Spirit, Mary responded with the obedience of faith, certain that "with God nothing will be impossible": "Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word." Thus, giving her consent to God's word, Mary becomes the mother of Jesus. Espousing the divine will for salvation wholeheartedly, without a single sin to restrain her, she gave herself entirely to the person and to the work of her Son; she did so in order to serve the mystery of redemption with him and dependent on him, by God's grace..."

My observations: After reading today's verse, I looked online for the definition of a handmaid. Most of the dictionaries said that a handmaid is a female servant; a subservient person. Some of the synonyms for handmaid are house girl, housekeeper, and maidservant. When meditating on these words, I began thinking of the duties of a handmaid. She is to keep the house- cook, clean, and look after the house of the mistress. In the book of Genesis, the handmaid, Hagar, was used to produce a child for the barren Sarah.

Now, what did Mary offer to do for God when she proclaimed she is the "handmaid of the Lord"? I think she offered to perform all of the duties I mentioned above. Later in the Bible, we will learn that the Christian Church is the bride of God. Well, she cannot have children of her own so she used Mary to produce the child who would start it all. Mary looked after the Christian Church, serving it by raising Jesus from a boy so that he could save us all from sin. She later served the Church after the death and resurection of her son by proclaiming the Good News along with the disciples. Mary was most definitely a handmaid.

Now I wonder how I can become a handmaid? Well, I suppose I should follow Mary's example and serve the Christian Church as a slave to the will of God. Whatever he asks of me- anything- I should be ready, able, and willing to do it!

Tuesday- Today's verse is 2Corinthians 4:1-18. St.Paul is telling us to look to the invisible and not the visible.

From the book: "Then she said a line I will never forget: 'You have to thank God for the seemingly good and the seemingly bad because, really, you don't know the difference.' The hardest things in her life have brought her the deepest relationships. The hardest things have become the things that define the most beautiful things abut her. The hardest things in her life have given her more of God." (Jennie Allen, Anything: The Prayer That Unlocked My God and My Soul, pg.59)

From the catechism: CCC#227[Faith in one God] means trusting God in every circumstance, even in adversity. A prayer of St Teresa of Jesus wonderfully expresses this trust:

Let nothing trouble you/ Let nothing frighten you
Everything passes/ God never changes
Patience/ Obtains all
Whoever has God/ Wants for nothing
God alone is enough

My observations: Momentary afflictions are only making us stronger Christians. The more we trust in God, the stronger we become. When I read this passage, I was depressed because I have so much stress in my life right now. My dad has cancer and is having some complications due to the treatments he is recieving, I am getting burnt out from going to school online for the past two years, and then I have my daily work of caring for my children and living off very little income. This was getting too hard for me. When I read this passage, it opened my eyes to see that I need to look ahead and take one step everyday- one foot in front of the other- and soon it will all be in the past. I ask you if you are reading this to also take your worries and give them to God and place one foot in front of the other until it all passes. 

Wednesday- 2Peter 3:9 says "The Lord does not delay his promise, as some regard "delay", but he is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance."

From the book: "He calls the shots on what happens to us in this short stint here. He calls them, whether we want to let him or not. Our faith must remain greater than our pain and fears." (Jennie Allen, Anything: The Prayer That Unlocked My God and My Soul, pg.61)

From the catechism: CCC#30"Let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice." Although man can forget God or reject him, He never ceases to call every man to seek him, so as to find life and happiness. But this search for God demands every effort of intellect, a sound will, "an upright heart" as well as the witness of others who teach him to seek God..."

My observations: The Lord does not delay his promise, he gives us time to get right. He wants all souls to repent, he doesn't want anyone to go to hell. He is trying to give us time so that we can seek him and repent of our ways. We just have to be willing to do our part, even when we don't understand what He is planning for us.

Thursday- Today's verse is from the Gospel of Luke. Jesus tells us to love our enemies and to do unto others as we would have them do unto us...

From the book: "We know from Jesus' strong commands to love even our enemies that he is not advocating neglecting our relationships or those who depend on us. He is saying, 'Wake up! This pursuit of me may cost you everything you hold dear, everything you love here. It may cost even your life. And until this life gets small, really small, you won't truly follow me. Because loving this life too much will affect your love for me. It also will affect what you are willing to do for me.'"  (Jennie Allen, Anything: The Prayer That Unlocked My God and My Soul, pg.68-69)

From the catechism: CCC#2844- Christian prayer extends to the forgiveness of enemies, transfiguring the disciple by configuring him to his Master. Forgiveness is a high-point of Christian prayer; only hearts attuned to God's compassion can receive the gift of prayer. Forgiveness also bears witness that, in our world, love is stronger than sin. The martyrs of yesterday and today bear this witness to Jesus. Forgiveness is the fundamental condition of the reconciliation of the children of God with their Father and of men with one another.

My observations: Loving and forgiving one another, including our enemies is important. If it wasn't, Jesus would not have spent so much of his precious time on Earth preaching about it. I think Mother Teresa really sums it up in this quote:
It is not enough for us to say "I love God". I also have to love my neighbor. In the scriptures, St John says that you are a liar if you say you love God and you do not love your neighbor. How can you love God whom you do not see, if you do not love your neighbor whom you see, whom you touch, with whom you live? And he uses a very big word, "You are a liar." It is one of those words that is frightening to read, and yet it really is true.

Friday- In today's verse, also from the Gospel of Luke, Jesus tells us to give up our possessions (Luke 14:33). In today's consumer driven culture, this is a tough pill to swallow.

From the book: "In Luke 14 Jesus had a large crowd following him. I am sure he was thinking something like, You are following me now because it is easy, but you do not know that following me may cost you your lives." (Jennie Allen, Anything: The Prayer That Unlocked My God and My Soul, pg.68)

From the catechism: CCC#2544 Jesus enjoins his disciples to prefer him to everything and everyone, and bids them, "renounce all that [they have]" for his sake and that of the Gospel. Shortly before his passion, he gave them the example of the poor widow of Jerusalem who, out of her poverty, gave all that she had to live on. The precept of detachment from riches is obligatory for entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven.

My observations: In today's culture of more, more, more, this passage is really hard for us to follow. It seems that it is engrained in us to want more of everything. No matter how much we already have, it is never enough. During Lent, I often try to live out this passage by setting goals to decrease what I own or to decrease spending on unnecessary items. This is truly something that we should be working on daily, year round. We need to fight society's "yes yes yes" with a resounding "no no no".

Come back next week for Week 4 Reflections!

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