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Friday, second week of Advent (St. Juan Diego): For My Benefit

December 9, 2011

Blessed St. Juan Diego’s Day!

His story can be found here.

Grant that Your people, we pray, almighty God,
may be ever watchful
for the coming of Your Only Begotten Son,
that, as the author of our salvation Himself has taught us,
we may hasten, alert and with lighted lamps,
to meet Him when He comes.
Who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Isaiah 48:17-19 (if we learn from God, we will prosper)
Psalm 1:1-6 “Those who follow You, Lord, will have the light of life”
+ Matthew 11:16-19 (some people won’t follow anybody)

This is for my benefit.

That’s not so easy to say (or to believe!)
especially when you’re buried under a mountain of homework
or sweating through a pop quiz.

Nevertheless, it’s true…
especially when your Teacher’s divine.

I, the Lord, your God,
teach you what is for your good,
and lead you on the way you should go.
-Isaiah 48:17

It’s no fun being unequipped and ill-prepared for your role in life,
fumbling about frantically,
hoping nobody notices that you haven’t the faintest idea what you’re doing.
It’s depressing to be lost, wandering around aimlessly
or running pell-mell in the wrong direction.

God wants to spare us all that.

If you would hearken to My commandments,
your prosperity would be like a river
-Isaiah 48:18

He wants to equip us to share His joy in our accomplishment (see Matthew 25:23),
to give us a sense of direction, meaning and purpose in life.

But even the best of teachers cannot benefit the pupil
who refuses to do the hard work of learning.

What comparison can I use to describe this breed?
They are like children squatting in the town squares,
calling to their playmates:
“We piped you a tune but you did not dance!
We sang you a dirge but you did not wail”
-Matthew 11:16-17

God is teaching…and whatever lessons He sends or allows are for our benefit,
no matter how burdensome or distasteful they may seem to us.
We need to respond.

He gives us His Word.
We need to study it.

He calls us to commune with Him in prayer.
We need to set aside time to be fully present to Him.

He gives us opportunities to practise the virtues and works of mercy
in our own trials and in the needs of others
(you don’t get good at much of anything without practise).
We need to draw on His resources to persist in meeting the challenges.

He calls us to the wedding feast of the Lamb (the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass).
We need to launder our baptismal wedding garment (through sacramental Confession)
and attend.

It’ll show, come test time:

Blessed the man who…delights in the law of the Lord
and meditates on His law day and night.
He is like a tree planted near running water
that yields its fruit in due season
and whose leaves never fade.
Whatever he does, prospers.
Not so the wicked, not so;
they are like the chaff which the wind drives away.
-Psalm 1:1,2-4

As any good teacher will tell you, the Teacher does not “give” the grade.
He simply reveals to us the grade we’ve earned–how well we’ve responded to His teaching.
He cringes to give low marks.
He stacks the deck in our favor, longing to give us all glowing reviews.
But He is Truth.
Fruitful trees will rejoice in His approval. Chaff will simply blow away.

Whatever lesson God has for you today, it’s for your benefit.
Be a fruitful tree!

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