Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Feb. 26, 2017 - Divine Providence

The Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time  A

Reading 1:  Isaiah 49:14-15
Response:  Psalm 62
Reading II:  1 Corinthians 4:1-5
Gospel:  Matthew 6:24-34

In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us not to worry. He reminds us that God cares for the birds and flowers. Then, He suggests that we are of more value than these. He reminds us that we cannot add a single moment to our lifespan. Yet, I am a first-class worrier.

Why? I try to avoid pain or trouble for others, and myself, by being pro-active. This has seemed to be a positive thing. However, I know it has me living in the future instead of the present. Hence, I often miss current opportunities to smell the roses.”

Also, there must be a deeper meaning to this admonition of Jesus. Yes, I am a worrier, but I seldom think of it as sinful. I seldom think of the fact that my trust in the Lord is not strong even after so many years of seeing the wisdom of God either at the time or in retrospect. Often, the Lord has been able to bring good out of what seemed bad. He has “written straight with crooked lines.”

One of my favorite spiritual reading books is Abandonment to Divine Providence, a classic by Jean Pierre de Caussade, S.J., which I first read when I was about 18 years old. I have decided to read it again since I still have not achieved the ideal practice of the “sacrament of the present moment” which it advocates.

Fr. de Caussade points out that Mary, the mother of Jesus, lived an ordinary life on the exterior level. However, her interior life was extraordinary because moment by moment her goal was to fulfill the Will of God. He notes that she “...looked upon all that she had to do or suffer at each moment as the gift of Him who fills with good things the hearts of those who hunger and thirst for Him alone.”

Later, Fr. de Caussade goes on to say that sanctity consists in doing the will of God, not in understanding His designs. That can be a big challenge for us. That requires trust.

That requires our remembering God’s action in our lives in the past. Our Jewish brothers and sisters model this for us in their celebration of the Feast of Passover. This yearly reminder of God’s faithfulness in the past is a strong basis for trust in the present.

I guess for us to grow stronger in our trust, we have to look at the pain and troubles of life not as some things to anxiously avoid, but to accept them along with the joys of life as part of God’s plan.

Let us remember that in order for plants [or us] to grow, there must be both sunshine and rain. Let us live with gratitude to the Lord at each moment, whether we are currently enjoying the sunshine or experiencing the rain, trusting that our Father knows what we need.

Spanish Translation of Reflection Above...

Divina providencia 

En el Evangelio de hoy, Jesús nos dice que no nos preocupemos. Nos recuerda que Dios cuida de los pájaros y las flores. Luego, Él sugiere que somos de más valor que estos. Nos recuerda que no podemos agregar un solo momento a nuestra vida útil. Sin embargo, soy un preocupado de primera clase.

¿Por qué? Trato de evitar el dolor o problemas para los demás, y para mí, al ser proactivo. Esto ha parecido ser algo positivo. Sin embargo, sé que me tiene viviendo en el futuro en lugar del presente. Por lo tanto, a menudo pierdo las oportunidades actuales de “oler las rosas”.

También, debe haber un significado más profundo a esta admonición de Jesús. Sí, soy un preocupado, pero rara vez pienso en ello como pecaminoso. Pocas veces pienso en el hecho de que mi confianza en el Señor no es fuerte, ni siquiera después de tantos años de ver la sabiduría de Dios ya sea en el tiempo o en retrospectiva. A menudo, el Señor ha sido capaz de sacar lo bueno de lo que parecía malo. Él ha “escrito directamente con líneas torcidas”.

Uno de mis libros favoritos de lectura espiritual es el Abandono a la Divina Providencia, un clásico de Jean Pierre de Caussade, S.J., que leí por primera vez cuando tenía 18 años. He decidido volver a leerlo, ya que todavía no he logrado la práctica ideal del “sacramento del momento presente” que defiende.

Fr. De Caussade señala que María, la madre de Jesús, vivió una vida ordinaria en el plano exterior. Sin embargo, su vida interior era extraordinaria porque momento a momento su objetivo era cumplir la Voluntad de Dios. Señala que “... miró todo lo que tenía que hacer o sufrir en cada momento como el don de Aquel que llena de cosas buenas el corazón de aquellos que sólo tienen hambre y sed de Él.”

Más tarde, el P. De Caussade continúa diciendo que la santidad consiste en “hacer la voluntad de Dios, no en entender sus designios.” Eso puede ser un gran desafío para nosotros. Eso requiere confianza.

Eso requiere que recordemos la acción de Dios en nuestras vidas en el pasado. Nuestros hermanos y hermanas judíos modelan esto para nosotros en su celebración de la Fiesta de Pascua. Este recordatorio anual de la fidelidad de Dios en el pasado es una base sólida para la confianza en el presente.

Supongo que para que crezcamos más fuertes en nuestra confianza, debemos mirar el dolor y los problemas de la vida no como algo que evitar ansiosamente, sino aceptarlos junto con las alegrías de la vida como parte del plan de Dios.

Recordemos que para que las plantas [o nosotros] crezcan, debe haber sol y lluvia. Vivamos con gratitud al Señor en cada momento, si estamos gozando del sol o experimentando la lluvia confiando en que nuestro Padre sabe lo que necesitamos.


  1. Oh my goodness, if I would stop worrying and trust totally in God’s plan I would surely be happier, healthier and lighter in spirit! Is it possible that we cling to worry to substantiate the age-old prerogative of Catholic guilt?! On a more reverent note, rarely have I considered Blessed Mother’s interior life in her role of wife and mother, and I felt a wonderful sense of peace thinking about it. I also liked Fr. de Caussade’s statement on sanctity, “doing the will of God, not in understanding His designs.”
    As I reflected on this week’s readings, I found myself going back again and again to St. Paul’s statement in Corinthians, “stewards of the mysteries of God.” That phrase captivated my attention.
    So what does a curious blogger do? They do a Google search! I found many thought provoking comments to my inquiry.
    Father Francis Hoffman points out that the Catechism of the Catholic Church uses the words “steward” and “stewardship” in several ways. No. 859 states “The Apostles are stewards of the mysteries of God,” No. 952, “A Christian is a steward of the Lord’s goods, No. 1117, “The Church…is the faithful steward of God’s mysteries,” No.2280, “We are stewards, not owners, of the life God has entrusted to us.” Several other points referred to taking care of the planet as entrusted by God to man.
    Regarding mystery, Billy Graham writes that, “A ‘mystery’ in Scripture is a previously hidden truth now divinely revealed, but in which a supernatural element remains unknown despite the revelation.” suggests that Paul is referring to two mysteries: first, Christ, as the mystery of God, and secondly, the Church, as the mystery of Christ. Paul and the other apostles were stewards of these two great mysteries.
    Christ is God made visible. Jesus said that “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). So, in its fullest sense, the “mystery of God” is God’s plan of salvation through Jesus.
    As for the second mystery, the Church is the manifestation of Christ. “As the Body of Christ, the church is the expression of Christ. When we see the church, we see Christ. When we come into the church, we come into Christ…The church is truly the mystery of Christ.”
    These explanations leave us with recognition that there is no knowing God apart from a personal relationship with Jesus. St. Paul and the Apostles dedicated their lives to preaching about Christ with the intent of growing the Christian community.
    I was deeply impressed with a statement I found on the Catholic Stewardship site: “In ancient Hebrew times something was blessed and made holy when one acknowledged to God that he had provided it as his most purposeful and personal gift. Thus, one praised and blessed God for this gift. When the rain was not just some natural phenomenon, but God’s watering of the earth to make it fruitful, then it became holy for the steward of the harvest.”
    As I contemplate the incredible mystery of Christ, God becoming man, though I cannot comprehend the depth of such love, I thank Our Heavenly Father for the personal and precious gift He has given me in Jesus and I pray for the courage and spiritual presence to continue the mission of Paul and the Apostles as a servant of Christ and a steward of the mysteries of God.

  2. Thank you, Sister, for the consoling and encouraging message.
    (St. Pio advises: "Pray, hope and don't worry. Worry is useless. God is merciful and will hear your prayer.")

    The following selections are from a commentary on Psalm 62 (the Responsorial for this Sunday) by Pope John Paul II:

    "The gentle words of Psalm 62 have just resounded: it is a hymn of trust that opens with what appears to be an antiphon, repeated halfway through the text. It is like a peaceful and strong ejaculatory prayer, an invocation that also becomes a programme of life: "In God alone is my soul at rest; my help comes from him. He alone is my rock, my stronghold, my fortress: I stand firm" (VV.2-3, 6-7).

    "As the psalm continues, however, two types of trust are compared. They are two fundamental choices, one good and the other perverse, which involve two types of moral behavior. Above all, there is trust in God, exalted in the opening invocation where there enters into the picture a symbol of stability and of security, like the rock, the "fortress"; that is, a stronghold and bulwark of protection."

    "The psalmist repeats: "In God is my safety and glory, the rock of my strength; my sure "refuge" (cf.V.8). He affirms this after having called to mind the hostile conspiracies of his enemies who try to "thrust him down from his eminence" (cf. VV. 4-5)."

    "There is then another trust of an idolatrous nature, upon which the person of prayer insistently directs his critical eye. It is a trust that searches for security and stability in violence, plunder and riches."

    "The appeal now becomes crystal clear; "Trust him at all times, O my people! Pour out your hearts before him." (L9). ... This appeal to reject misplaced trust and to choose that which leads us to God is relevant to everyone and must become our guiding star in our daily behavior, moral decisions and lifestyle."

  3. Sr. Annette,
    I usually don’t dish out seconds, but this comment of St. Katharine Drexel is so applicable to your post that I wanted to share it with your readers. Today is day three of the St. Katharine Drexel Novena and the reflection is entitled Peace; however, her message is one of trusting in the Lord. Mother Katharine writes, “Peacefully do at each moment what at that moment ought to be done. If we do what each moment requires, we will eventually complete God’s plan, whatever it is. We can trust God to take care of the master plan when we take care of the details. “ I pray that you, me, and all readers will learn to yield to the Master’s plan through trusting in His unconditional love for us. As He called Jesus His Beloved, so too are we His Beloved.

    St. Katharine Drexel, steadfast in trust, pray for us.