Sunday, November 8, 2009

WWJD? Love Them (and us) Anyway


     Doing the right thing can be difficult when the opposition seems overwhelming, when people start to belittle or threaten, interrogate and intimidate, express anger and outrage, but we are called to do God’s will anyway. We are also called to love those who persecute us.
     We are to carry out what God calls us to be, do, and say despite any opposition. Family and friends may shake their heads and scoff at us, but if we are firmly grounded in prayer and closely walking with the Lord, then nothing is impossible. If we are willing to set our hearts and minds on the Lord, then we will not withhold any ounce of energy or strength, any of our time, talent, or treasure from the efforts He calls us to during the course of our lives.
     Noah had the charge of building an enormous ark and was the laughingstock of his neighbors, but His strength and conviction came from a higher source than something as fickle as public approval; he had the courage to withstand human humiliation because he knew he was carrying out God’s will.
     Moses wasn’t very popular with the people when God called him to tell them how they needed to change their ways in order that their hearts might be opened and softened so they could receive God’s love.
     Job’s friends hassled him relentlessly when everyone and everything in his life was taken from him, yet he refused to condemn the Lord.
     The Blessed Virgin Mary submitted to God’s will that she become the Mother of Jesus knowing fullwell that others would assume her pregnancy was the result of a sinful act, and by Jewish law, punishable by death. St. Joseph had the fortitude of faith to listen and obey when God told him to take Mary as his wife and believe that the child growing within her was of the Holy Spirit.
     Jesus was scorned by public officials, abandoned and denied by His friends, tortured in every possible way, because He was living out His Father’s will. What did He do before His sorrowful Passion? He prayed fervently and listened with His heart set on carrying out the Lord’s will.
     He listened and said yes to God, knowing the bitter punishment He would pay for the sinfulness of humanity. He loved us anyway, knowing all the while He was going to feel the agonizing weight of all our sins, be scourged at the pillar, crowned with thorns, mocked and humiliated, made to carry the cross he would be nailed to, then spend three horrifying hours hanging on it suffocating before He breathed His last.
     He saw all the evil in the world past, present, and future, and decided to love us anyway. What better way to open ourselves to this love than to follow Christ’s example, especially when those we care about most challenge, hurt, or disapprove of us. It is then we must remember to do what Jesus has always done and love them anyway.
     During a struggle to discern God’s will and live it out, I penned the following prayer in March of 2008:
     Lord, so often we seek the approval of our family, our friends, our colleagues, and society, and are easily swayed by their opinions. Please help us have courage enough to turn to You when we need guidance, and put Your view of us, Your wishes for our future, and Your thoughts about our words and actions, above those of the people around us.
     You alone know our hearts completely. You alone know what is ultimately the best for us. Inspire us to spend more time listening to You so it is easier for us to separate Your will from our own and those of the people closest to us. Protect us from despair and disillusionment by arming us with the truth, the strength to do Your will, and the wisdom to submit everything we are and have to You. Amen.
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