Surrendering to God

main image

I have to admit, Luke 23 makes me tear up every time I read it. The reality of Christ’s love that I don’t deserve through His bloodshed on the cross for me pierces straight into the depth of my soul as I hear my own words (paraphrased), “Jesus I deserve to be punished and you don’t. Remember me when you come into your kingdom,” and He replies, “Today you will be with me in Paradise.”

I remember hearing a powerful witness talk about Luke 23 my sophomore year of college given by a senior in our ministry. I was in tears realizing I was a lot more like the first criminal than the second. I believed I already knew everything because I grew up Catholic so I didn’t really need Him. Why was He worth fully trusting anyways? I was content with just “a little Church” in my life and would never be one of those “crazy Jesus people,” instead of humbly realizing that I was justly punishable for my sins and I was deserving of God’s wrath. I couldn’t see through the fogginess my own pride had caused. He was God and I was not. I asked Jesus if He would forgive me for thinking I knew better than Him. For demanding He prove Himself to me as a pre-requisite for believing Him and following Him. I was raised a cradle Catholic, but missed the whole point - Jesus came to rescue me from myself. He wanted me to place my faith in HIM instead of my own ability to rescue me. I realized I didn’t have much of a relationship with Him, but desired all that it could be. These were the first steps in giving up control and surrendering to Him. Jesus started to break down my walls I had built up so high that I myself was blind to it.

As I reflect on this passage today at a coffee shop in Brookfield, WI, my prayer is the same that it’s been since then: “Jesus, continue to remind me I can do nothing on my own - nothing apart from You. Help me trust that what You have to offer me is better than what I think I need, and forgive me for the ways I shut You out. Increase my trust in You and replace my pride with humility. Remind me that I need You. Help me fix my eyes on You alone, placing my faith in You, not myself."

He continues to respond to me, “Sami, take my hand and let me rescue you. I will be with you - right now and forever when you see me face to face in Paradise.”

On Bended Knee

main image

Fr. Timothy Schumaker shares reflections on some of the signs, symbols and gestures of our Catholic faith that we do so easily, to remind us why we do things so that we can bring more intentionality into them when we do them.

Why, when we enter and exit our pew, do we genuflect? The first thing we need to keep in mind is who we are genuflecting to, now obviously that is God, but we genuflect in a particular way to Jesus in the Eucharist.

You may notice that when Father Dennis and I come to the foot of the sanctuary we bow, that is because our tabernacle is not directly behind the altar, if it was, we would genuflect.

Now at its core, genuflecting is a gesture of obedience and humility as well as a sign of respect. In the Middle Ages when coming in the presence of a king one would genuflect with their left knee. Catholics genuflect to God with their right knee to show that God is not only a earthly king, but a heavenly one.

But there is something to this act which I did not even consider until I was doing research for this reflection. And that is that the very posture of genuflecting places us in a unbalanced and a vulnerable state. When genuflecting, we are easily pushed down, we are physically in a compromised position, we are at the mercy of the one we are genuflecting to.

The symbolism of this is clear, every time we genuflect we are placing our life at the mercy of God. We are speaking with our bodies and saying, Lord, I place myself, my life, at your mercy, to obey you in humility and respect, I place all of the sufferings, anxieties, all of the joys, of my life before you. They are all yours, do with them what you will. The beautiful part is that we are doing this to a God who has placed himself at our mercy, containing himself in a piece of bread, we are just doing to God what he has already done for us.

He Teaches the Humble His Way

main image

Do you ever wonder if Jesus was ever in a bad mood? The scripture stories of Jesus' cleansing of the temple and His cursing of the fig tree makes one wonder. Matthew's 21st chapter begins with Jesus' entry into Jerusalem, I imagine that is where HIs sense of urgency comes from. Jesus questions the Pharisees' righteousness. They are convinced that they are good while others are "bad" and have closed themselves off to spiritual growth. As I think about this gospel in our current situation and in what we as a global community are experiencing, I can't help but think that we all need to give ourselves a self-righteousness check. Imagine how our world would look if we all listened to each other, and instead of focusing on our own righteousness, we focus on becoming more humble. "He guides the humble to justice, and teaches the humble his way." (Ps. 25:4) What might be the result? A world with more compassion, mercy, and unity!