13 January 2012

Questions for an Ordinary Friday

1st Week OT (F)
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
St. Dominic Church, New Orleans

Traditionally, in the Church, Fridays are penitential days, days for fasting and seeking God's forgiveness. We mark Christ's Good Friday suffering and death on the Cross with abstinence and prayer. Though the day is almost over, let's spend these next four minutes asking ourselves a few tough questions. Not to beat ourselves up, or to heap up useless guilt, not to cause ourselves anxiety. Rather, let's ask these questions with the full knowledge that the Holy Spirit will reveal to us the truth about ourselves, our relationship with God, and with one another. The truth will always, always, always set us free. Self-delusion is the subtle work of the Enemy. Our best weapon against this attack is the bright, shining light of God's truth. We will use our gospel narrative this evening as a guide:

First, am I paralyzed spiritually? Have I been struck lame when it comes to doing God's good work? Is my prayer life crippled? Am I limping along in loving God and my neighbor? What (if any) element of my relationship with God is feeble and in need of healing?

Second, how faithful am I to my baptismal vows? Do I believe in God's promises? Do I truly enjoy being in God's presence, rejoicing in the knowledge that He is always with me? Do other see me as someone brimming over with faith, exuding trust in God and behaving in a way that makes that faith contagious?

Third, do I hear the Lord speak to me through family, friends, neighbors, co-workers? Can I hear the Lord in scripture addressing my doubt, confusion, and despair? Whom do I trust to bring me closer to Christ? When the Lord says to the paralytic man, “I say to you. . .,” do I hear him speaking to me? When Mark writes that Jesus sees the faith of the man's friends, do I hear him reporting my own faith? Am I a friend of the paralyzed man? 

Fourth, When I read that the Lord heals the leper, the man born blind, the hemorrhagic woman, and casts out demons by his authority as the Christ, do I believe that he can make me clean, relieve me of my blindnesses, my infirmities, and my demons? Do I live my life in the knowledge that the condition of my soul influences the condition of my body? That spiritual health contributes to physical health and vice versa? Do I understand that sin invites sickness?

Fifth, when I witness others prospering in the Lord's blessings, do I rejoice with them and give Him thanks? Or do I follow the example of the scribes and react bitterly; seeking fault, wallowing in envy and blame? Am I quick to accuse others of sin w/o first asking the Spirit to reveal my own faults, w/o first repenting of my own sins? Do I harden my heart to the joy others feel in Christ, and close my mind to the evidence of faith?

Finally, am I astounded at all that God has done for me and mine? Am I flabbergasted, gobsmacked, and thunderstruck at His kindness and generosity in providing me with all I need to come to Him in the perfection of Christ? Do I regularly say “Thank You, Lord” and report my abundant blessings to others? Those who see the paralyzed man healed at the word of Jesus glorify God. What do I do to give God glory? 

The truth will set you free, let you loose; it will unbind you and rush you out into the world to shout the Good News. Nothing about the truth is scary. Stare the Lie in the face and speak a Word of Truth.

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