Friday, January 29, 2016

Strength in Weakness

"Don't mistake my kindness for weakness." Do you know who is responsible for that quote? Al Capone! This apostolate has definitely softened my demeanor. I have always tried to be kind, but in my younger days when kindness wasn't returned, I took it personally. And, I hate to admit this, I wasn't exactly a person who gave second chances. Everything was black and white to me. Either you are kind or unkind. Loving or unloving. Loyal or untrustworthy. Writing this makes me realize how completely superficial that sounds! I was a product of my environment growing up where I didn't trust anyone. As I have matured as a lay apostle over the years, Jesus has given me the gift of improved clarity. I see the layers where I had never noticed before. I understand people who treat me unkindly have other issues occurring and I just happen to be standing in close proximity to receive the hurt those issues have caused. To some, it may look like I am weak when I don't respond to negative behavior. Actually, the strength it takes to keep my mouth shut is much more difficult to master than the ease of lashing out (and I have not perfected this yet!). The humility that silence and smallness brings is what I strive for on a daily basis.  Some days I'm not even close, but most days I do pretty well. Remember, Our Lord rejoices in any attempts we make to emulate Him. 

In todays Gospel (Mark 4:26-34), Jesus teaches us how something powerful can come from something which seems weak:

Jesus said to the crowds: “This is how it is with the Kingdom of God; it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land and would sleep and rise night and day and the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how. Of its own accord the land yields fruit, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. And when the grain is ripe, he wields the sickle at once, for the harvest has come.”

He said, “To what shall we compare the Kingdom of God, or what parable can we use for it? It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth. But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.” With many such parables he spoke the word to them as they were able to understand it. Without parables he did not speak to them, but to his own disciples he explained everything in private.

In Anne a lay apostle's book Whispers From the Cross, she encourages us to be joyful even during the tough times:

"A farmer ploughing his field loves to reap what he has sown, yes, and this is good. He is getting it done. For us, I think we will rejoice when we can be like the farmer for whom one day is exactly like the next. He is as joyful turning over new ground as he is when taking in a harvest. It is about the movement, the service, regardless of what that movement or service is on any given day. That stated, there are times of natural joy. Now we must all pause. An apostle working hard for Jesus has to think for a moment. What time of natural joy is there? It all appears to be hard work. And yet, the joy is in that very hard work. The amount of straining necessary on a given day becomes irrelevant. There is joy both on the hard days and on the easier days. There is joy on the days when the harvest seems to be coming in and when the seeds are only being put down. There is joy on the days of hail storms and killing frosts as well as the days on which little work is necessary because the sun and warmth seem to be doing all that is necessary for the field assigned to this farmer. In this case, I think we are examining a very experienced farmer indeed. The seasons come and go and the work of the day is the work of the day. He spends no time wondering whether or not he should have been a farmer. He is a farmer and this is his field. He will farm until he dies and the challenges and discouragements of one day are allowed to melt into the joys and encouragements of another day with little or no excitement.  We need to be calm surveyors of our life during the off times lest the enemy lead us into rebellion and danger. During the times when we are off, down or ill, let us examine both the canvas as a whole and then our little place on it with certainty that without us something would be missing." 

Lay apostles, how will you respond to negativity today? Or, are you the one spewing the negativity? Either way, just today, practice humility. Return kindness for negativity. Love for hatred. Console the Sacred Heart of Jesus with your actions!

Thank you, Lord, for showing me how silence and smallness is a good thing! Please continue to put Your Heavenly Hands over my mouth when I am heading in the wrong direction!

God bless,

No comments: