Monday, January 29, 2018

Gospel Thoughts Today: Staying Clear of Chaos

I don't do chaos anymore. To the best of my ability, I don't let it enter my life. When it appears unexpectedly in the form of an attack, it's like shooting a BB gun at the hull of a cruise ship . . . doesn't even make a dent (thank you, Jay, for the great analogy!). But every once in while, multiple shots are fired instantaneously causing a sore spot. The initial impact stings, but the damage is minimal. As the pain diminishes, a bruise appears as a reminder of the incident. Eventually, it fades and is forgotten. How do we conduct ourselves when under spiritual attack? Well, I see two options. One, we can overreact, running around screaming our heads off, telling anyone who is willing to listen to the injustice of it all. Or, we can surround ourselves with heavenly armor. We can summon all of heaven . . . God, Jesus, Our Lady, saints, and angels to protect our souls from damage. We can pray the Rosary. We can ask loved ones to pray for us. And, most importantly, remain focused and prayerful. Evil will take advantage of every opportunity to draw you away from Christ. As lay apostles, we must demonstrate what Jesus and all of heaven have prepared us for in the Bible and Volumes . . . that His true followers are peaceful, calm, kind, loving and patient under any circumstances. Don't get caught up in the winds of chaos. Step into your spiritual armor and stay protected. Allow Christ to deal with those taking the shots. For sometimes what you thought would bruise is nothing more than a little red spot, disappearing within minutes.

In today's Gospel (Mark 5:1-20), Jesus clears the chaos quickly:

Jesus and his disciples came to the other side of the sea, to the territory of the Gerasenes. When he got out of the boat, at once a man from the tombs who had an unclean spirit met him. The man had been dwelling among the tombs, and no one could restrain him any longer, even with a chain. In fact, he had frequently been bound with shackles and chains, but the chains had been pulled apart by him and the shackles smashed, and no one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the hillsides he was always crying out and bruising himself with stones. Catching sight of Jesus from a distance, he ran up and prostrated himself before him, crying out in a loud voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me!” (He had been saying to him, “Unclean spirit, come out of the man!”) He asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “Legion is my name. There are many of us.” And he pleaded earnestly with him not to drive them away from that territory.

Now a large herd of swine was feeding there on the hillside. And they pleaded with him, “Send us into the swine. Let us enter them.” And he let them, and the unclean spirits came out and entered the swine. The herd of about two thousand rushed down a steep bank into the sea, where they were drowned. The swineherds ran away and reported the incident in the town and throughout the countryside. And people came out to see what had happened. As they approached Jesus, they caught sight of the man who had been possessed by Legion, sitting there clothed and in his right mind. And they were seized with fear. Those who witnessed the incident explained to them what had happened to the possessed man and to the swine. Then they began to beg him to leave their district. As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed pleaded to remain with him. But Jesus would not permit him but told him instead, “Go home to your family and announce to them all that the Lord in his pity has done for you.” Then the man went off and began to proclaim in the Decapolis what Jesus had done for him; and all were amazed.

In Anne a lay apostle's book Lessons in Love, she encourages us to leave the chaotic battles to Christ:

"It is my opinion that the enemy wants to draw us into conflict with each other and even though a person might be actively serving the enemy, it is not our business to do battle with him. Rather it is our business to do battle with ourselves, leaving Jesus Christ to do battle with the enemy, thus claiming or seeking to claim the soul. In terms of our brothers and sisters, meaning everyone in the world with us, no sins or behaviors, regardless of how bad, change this fact. If they are on earth, we must seek to bring them to the light through prayer and example and evangelization when possible and appropriate. I am in no way denying the call to protect and defend God’s truth in whatever way God asks us to do so. I am attempting to help us identify the real enemy."

Lay apostles, are you allowing others to create chaos in your life? Are you the chaos creator? There is nothing wrong with loving people from a distance. Set clear boundaries, and when attempts are made to step over those boundaries, bow out and let Jesus take over. We can't change anyone other than ourselves. Live a chaos-free life. Learn to assess where disruptions in joy and peace occur. Then make some changes. Christ is the only one we need to please.

Thank you, Lord, for teaching me to eliminate chaos from my life. And, for showing me how quickly prayer can change my attitude.

God bless,

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