Dear Visitors and Parishioners,
June 30, 2019
In this Sunday's gospel Jesus speaks of the severity and the unconditional nature of Christian discipleship: "the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head", "let the dead bury their dead", and "No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God." My brothers and sisters in Christ, I want to talk to you about a sustained effort in following Jesus in daily life.
Do not be afraid nor discouraged at hearing His instructions about the way to perfection and the demands of the kingdom. Pray for a burning desire to follow Him along this way. Make a daily effort to do so. Many people refuse even to consider such an effort. Others make a halfhearted attempt, but they turn away at the first sign of difficulty. Jesus' loyal followers try again and again, in spite of repeated failures. By their refusal to quit, they go far in the work of self-perfection.
Make your resolution to follow His example in your daily life. Then do your best to fulfill the resolution. Do not judge your progress by your feelings, nor by visible signs. Just purify your intention, concentrate on the virtue you need or desire, and strive to eliminate all natural self-seeking. How few are those who are really all for Jesus, those who try to please Him in all things simply because He deserves it.
True, this perfection is not reached in a day. However, it will never be reached if you never start trying. It is not easy to live entirely for the Lord, continually trying to control and direct your feelings and selfish desires for His sake. He shall stand by you to guide and strengthen you. Still, you will have to do your part. Make every effort to guide your thinking throughout the day, so that you may not lose sight of Him in your various activities. From time to time test your pure intentions by contradicting your natural desires.
Remember: it is not enough to make good resolutions. You must also make plans, practical plans about keeping the resolutions. Having done this, and having begged God's blessing, you should get busy with the virtue or fault in question. Failures need not discourage you. Rather, they should strengthen your determination to see this matter through. Your loyalty to Jesus will show itself in your refusal to abandon this glorious effort for Christian perfection. As far as Jesus is concerned, if you are willing to try, and to continue to try in spite of failures, He will be content with you. Sincerity and honest effort are the surest signs of unselfishness with God.
Let our prayer today be the following: Dearest Lord, this work of self-purifi cation is not the work of a day, nor is it easy. We long to make whatever daily ef fort is necessary. We yearn for the day when our thoughts will turn easily, almost naturally, to the higher things in life. We desire to see the eternal importance of the temporal matters which occupy us today. This will come with our spiritual growth. We must do what reading, reflecting, and praying we can, in order to gain the graces necessary for this degree of union with You. As we continue to practice mortification and self control, we shall come closer and closer to this spiritual state. Amen.
-'-Fr. Joseph-Mary Hertzog, O.P.