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Change My Heart

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When one gets hurt and injured, we instinctively flee to someone, or somewhere, to find comfort and solace -  a haven, if you will. Once there, one of two outcomes will likely occur: we are comforted because we received the care that was needed, or we seek someone/somewhere else because it did not do it well enough. For the previous, if too much care is given, we may find ourselves developing almost an "Allegory of the Cave" mindset (from Plato), meaning that even though we know there is something more out there (such as pain or suffering once we leave the comforting place), we choose to stay here because it is only safe and comforting. This, however, would breed ignorance to everything else surrounding us, depriving us of a more real life of experiences, or the ability to connect with others in a deeper way. That being said, the other outcome here does not exactly bear great fruit either: jumping from person to person or place to place just to avoid having to hear or experience something we are trying to avoid, which stunts us from being able to grow emotionally or spiritually as well.

During a recent Sustaining the Mission seminar, one presenter talked about how we are afraid to be vulnerable or accept feedback that challenges us to grow more deeply. This got me thinking about an old song that we would hear at home growing up. Now, you'll have to pardon me here in not remembering fully the name or lyrics of the song, but one verse in particular stuck out: "Change my heart, O God!" 

For me, this always meant that we are asking God to change us, making our hearts more true, and changing us into His own image. Finding that haven that we seek for the hardest of times, in God. But God also reveals unto us hard truths that we must be willing to accept and to allow the change that we may pray for to actually take place; it is one thing to simply ask for the change of one's heart to happen, but to actually act upon it and allow that change to take place requires work and dedication. It is from this concerted effort and work that we can find a footing in the raging waters of life knowing faithfully that God will, indeed, change our hearts...but only when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable and work to keep ourselves from falling back into our own personal caves. 

A New Way of Living

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Todays gospel passage, Matthew 5:20-37 is a long and tough one. At first, it doesn’t really make much sense. What do you mean Jesus, when you say, “If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away,” and “Until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place?” Jesus is serious about sin, but he is also serious about how much he loves us. His plan from the beginning of time was to go to the cross in our place.

Religious leaders often confronted Jesus about the law to see what he had to say. Most Jews had a perception that he would get rid of the law, because Jesus did not scrupulously follow those traditions. Jesus was creating a new order – a new way of living that was to be the way of the Kingdom of God. This new way of living is not “fair” like the old covenant law. It is very unfair. This is because Jesus’ love is very unfair. He took the law a step further. In a way, he is saying, “because I have shown you self-sacrificial love, you must also do the same.” His love is unfair. We don’t deserve it. In the same way, we must also choose the cross. He’s talking about living righteously – offering one’s total self on behalf of others. Jesus didn’t come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it. We talked
about this a lot on retreat.

I pray that you accept this high calling and do not take it lightly. Because Jesus gave everything of himself for us, we are also called to do so for the sake of others and for the Kingdom that we long for.

Posted by Samantha Taylor
Tags: love, law

Take a Step Toward Sainthood

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Sometimes when I hear stories of the Saints, especially those who have stories of heroic martyrdoms, I can feel discouraged, because I wonder how on earth I could ever live a life of that much virtue or a life of holiness that I could courageously die for my faith or suffer through chronic pain or emotional sufferings without complaining.  

Recently, a friend started to tell me the story of one of her favorite Saints, St. Cecilia, who was a second century martyr, and I was prepared to be overwhelmingly discouraged by her story. However, instead of telling the whole story, this friend shared with me one moment of the story that she had been meditating on. Because it was just one moment of the story, I found myself saying, “I can imitate that virtue in her! That one thing is not too hard for me today!” 

Sometimes prayer feels overwhelming too; there are so many hurting people in our lives, Scripture can be confusing, or maybe we don’t know where to start with the Lord.  

Today, the Lord’s invitation to Peter and Andrew is simple: “Come after me.” He doesn’t expect them to have it all figured out. He just invites them to take a step as they begin to follow him. St. Cecilia, when asked her name as she stood on trial for her faith, was able to respond: “my name is Cecilia, but my more beautiful name is that of Christian.” She probably did not have the courage to say those words on her first day of following the Lord, but little by little as she took one step at a time, she came to know the Lord and the great gift of her faith. Don’t be afraid to take one or two steps this week. The Lord is good and just wants to love you!  


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