Readings for May 2, 2021
Psalm 22:26-28, 30-32
1 John 3:18-24
I like to portray myself as someone who doesn’t always follow the rules. And sometimes that’s true. But more often, I am a rule follower. Much to the chagrin of my self-proclaimed cool guy persona, a firm respect for rules seems to be embedded in who I am. I think that it is, at least in part, because following rules can be pretty easy. It doesn’t take a lot of brainpower or effort, I just need to do as I’m told. No decisions, very little ambiguity, straight and narrow. And often, that’s how I “live my faith,” simply following the rules, knowing exactly when to stand, sit, genuflect, bow, kneel, stand, and kneel again. I love it! And I am often inclined to share that love with other people, which is to say that in addition to rule following, I’m also pretty good with words, and I typically use a lot of them to explain the rules to others.
But St. John calls me out. “Let us not love one another with words or speech, but with actions and truth.” And as John defines it, truth is resting in Christ’s presence. So John wants me to both act, and rest. I spent some time reflecting on John’s apparent contradiction and here is what I think John meant: every action I take should be rooted in and coming from the loving place in my heart that has found rest in Christ’s presence. Love is a continual, daily re-commitment of my faith. I believe that is the key to all of this faith stuff: we can follow rules in a pretty benign, uninvolved way, but we cannot act in love and rest in love without being, well, in love. And that love is born of faith, acts in faith, rests in faith, and then becomes the reason by which following God’s commands makes sense.
For me, resting in Christ allows me to discern, and make sense of, the love behind the commands. And when that rests within me, I can go about following the rules and acting in love with all that I do. Without it, my actions, like my words, will fall short of the love with which they were intended.
Only for today, I will seek to live the livelong day positively without wishing to solve the problems of my life all at once.
Only for today, I will take the greatest care of my appearance: I will dress modestly; I will not raise my voice; I will be courteous in my behavior; I will not criticize anyone; I will not claim to improve or to discipline anyone except myself.
Only for today, I will be happy in the certainty that I was created to be happy, not only in the other world but also in this one.
Only for today, I will adapt to circumstances, without requiring all circumstances to be adapted to my own wishes.
Only for today, I will devote 10 minutes of my time to some good reading, remembering that just as food is necessary to the life of the body, so good reading is necessary to the life of the soul.
Only for today, I will do one good deed and not tell anyone about it.
Only for today, I will do at least one thing I do not like doing; and if my feelings are hurt, I will make sure that no one notices.
Only for today, I will make a plan for myself: I may not follow it to the letter, but I will make it. And I will be on guard against two evils: hastiness and indecision.
Only for today, I will firmly believe, despite appearances, that the good Providence of God cares for me as no one else who exists in this world.
Only for today, I will have no fears. In particular, I will not be afraid to enjoy what is beautiful and to believe in goodness. Indeed, for 12 hours I can certainly do what might cause me consternation were I to believe I had to do it all my life.
-Pope St. John XXIII