Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles
himself shall be exalted.” Matthew 23:12
Last Friday was the 100th day of school at St. Mary’s and that’s cause for a huge celebration! We spend days and days doing math activities to reinforce the concept of the number 100…it’s big stuff. In the spirit of changing things up this year, my wonderful partner teacher suggested the two of us dress up like we were a hundred years old. We were quite a site, let me tell ya! Actually I’m still seeing flecks of grey hair paint every now and again and I’m still itchy from that head to toe polyester I was wearing. The kids weren’t quite sure what to think of us at first but the silliness made for a great day.
When we had finished afternoon prayers and sat down to read a story one of my little lovelies cuddled up right beside me patting my “helmet-like”spray painted hair and said, “Mrs. Wohlfert, you look so pretty." She was admiring the three awful pieces of chunky plastic jewelry I had around my neck to accessorize my nightmare of an outfit like they were precious jewels. For one little moment I wanted to scream… “Are you kidding me…pretty…I’m in 30 year old polyester from the Good Will store!” I’m so glad I didn’t say anything because I would have missed the heart-melting statement she made next. She smiled and said, “You look like my great-grandma. She’s in heaven now and I miss her.” My eyes got a little wet and I felt humbled by her connection.
I read something recently that reminded me about the importance
of being exalted by others. We’ve all probably had an experience with someone who let their talent, fame or money go to their head in an arrogant way and these folks give “being exalted” a bad name. Nobody wants to see themselves become swallowed up by pride, ego and bragging so all too often we do an about face the other way and don’t allow ourselves to be exalted. Sincere compliments and praise from others for things done well, or in a Christ-like way are God’s way of letting us know He is pleased.
There is a real danger in never accepting affirmation. Scripture calls us to give and to receive…that includes compliments. It’s an awful feeling when you are trying to respond to something wonderfully done with a heartfelt compliment and the receiver rejects it or feels the need to shoot a compliment right back to you like an IOU. God calls us to be gracious and humble in all things. Practice your humble and simple “thank you” so the next time someone feels called to exalt you, you’ll know just what to do!
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of 5 people you think need to be exalted then get busy with the list. The harder part of the homework today…be ready to accept kind words from others with humble gratitude.
Blessings on your day!
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
Saint Augustine gave a sermon once in which he proposed a kind of self-test to see if we truly love God; Suppose God proposed you a deal and said “I will give you anything you want. You can possess the whole world. Nothing will be impossible for you…nothing will be a sin, nothing forbidden. You will never die, never have pain, never have anything you do not want and always have anything you do want….except for one thing; you will never see my face.” St. Augustine closed with a question; did a chill arise in your hearts, when you heard the words, “You will never see my face”? That chill is the most precious thing in you; that is the pure love of God.
Every time I read the wise words of this story I get such a wave of desire…desire to try harder to be holy! I realize after reading St. Augustine’s words I have a renewed sense of purpose…a new strength…a new hope. I think we work so hard at doing the “right thing” maybe we forget just what we’re working for. It’s easy to get into the habit of doing good things so others will think we’re “nice”. In the words of our parish priest, Fr. James,“nowhere in the bible are we called to be nice!” We are called to be holy, called to be uncomfortable, called to realize sometimes the Gospel’s hit us sideways…and that’s ok! We are called to do the hard work of following Christ…being His hands and feet on earth and that, as we all know, isn’t always easy. There are days, when that offer from God St. Augustine talked about seems like a great idea! Those are the times we need to set out with new energy to do His work and know it isn’t without great blessing and reward.
I read this story tonight and then I told the room full of teenagers listening, “Our number one task is to get to heaven! Everything we do, say, listen to, watch and everyone we hang out with will either help us get there, or draw us away so pay attention!” The temptation is there to think one little thing here or there won’t matter but it’s still a step away from our task. The most powerful thing I can think of to make those decisions easier is to remember what’s waiting for us in heaven…the face of God. That’s something worth fighting for…that trumps everything! We just have to remember it!
A Seed To Plant: Print the words to St. Augustine’s sermon and read them
every day this week. I’m willing to bet if you let these wise words really sink into your heart, living the Gospel message will have a new meaning!
Blessings on your day!
…Make straight the way of the Lord... John 1:23
A couple summers ago I was asked to speak at a convention in Canada. I was excited and I made sure I had the proper paperwork required to cross the border. As the trip drew closer, I began to get a wee bit anxious because I had never crossed the bridge into Canada alone and driving to the heart of Detroit to get to the bridge was not an adventure I was looking forward to. I left home that June morning with my coffee, my GPS and a bunch of prayers! As I was following the GPS through downtown Detroit I realized there was a lot of construction going on both in the city and on the entry to the bridge. The GPS had me turning left and right and circling through neighborhoods I would have never chosen to visit! I was getting frustrated because I could see the giant bridge but just couldn’t find my way there. Finally I saw a huge orange sign attached to a tall chain link fence that said, “ALL BRIDGE TRAFFIC: Ignore GPS directions and follow orange sign instructions.” Hallelujah, my path was made straight! I heaved a huge sigh of relief…so big a sigh in fact; I didn’t notice I pulled into the Customs lane for French speakers only! God has such a sense of humor! Luckily it was 6 in the morning so there was no traffic back up and the lovely little French speaking Customs agent also spoke English. PHEW!
I realize often that my walk with Christ is very much like that trip to Canada. I know heaven is where I want to go, but sometimes my journey towards that destination can get a little twisted and off course. The world likes to give us directions. Society and media are full of formulas, products and gadgets designed to make us healthy, wealthy and wise. Just like my GPS, directions and diagrams just spew out for every ear to hear but that doesn’t always mean it’s going to point us in the right direction. Quite honestly, if we’re looking to the world to point us to the straight path…we’re in BIG
trouble! Growing up I can recall my parents talking with other adults about how the world was “going to hell in a hand-basket” and they would shake their heads in frustration at one of the phrases of the day, “If it feels good do it!” Well, folks, if we look to the secular world to set our course, they are still sellin’ the same line…except now the phrase comes with illustrations and they’re on nearly every channel.
I loved the giant orange sign I saw that June morning. It made things crystal clear! Sometimes we ask for a sign…an assurance…some direction for our path and we stumble around looking for something like that big orange sign and we throw a hissy fit when we can’t see it. Well, maybe we’re not looking
in the right place. I would be willing to bet each of you reading this has the perfect instruction sign…it’s called the Bible! If you’re looking for the straight path, pull out the ultimate “direction manual” and spend some time studying His word, I guarantee you’ll find information even more helpful than that orange sign in Detroit! I don’t’ think He cares if our path is straight…He just cares that we’re moving in His direction.
A Seed To Plant: Take a few quiet minutes to just sit with Scripture. Ask God to open your mind and your heart as you read over familiar passages or simply crack it open and read where your eyes rest. See what he draws you to and then let those words wash over you like a warm rain and ask Him to use them to set you on the path that leads to Him.
Blessings on your day!
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