Thursday, February 15, 2018

Gospel Thoughts Today: First Day of Lent - Keep Your Ego in Check

When my grandson Colton was beginning to walk, every attempt he made would result in all of us cheering for him (which created a huge grin on his face every time)! He somehow knew he was doing something special when he heard each of our high pitched voices praising his impressive ability! When his toddling became steadier, he would get a look on his face as he was about to walk . . . one that knew he was going to make his Mimi (or anyone in the room) become even more animated than usual. An ego in the making? It can be if the only positive reinforcement a child receives is doing something right or new or grand. If there is no love while disciplining when they make mistakes, they will seek to find it somewhere else. Teach your children the value of humility by showering them with love and encouragement. Give them what they need at home so they don't go searching for it in places which lead them away from Christ. Give them Jesus for times when we aren't there to praise them or bandage up their wounds. Teach them to rely on Christ . . . always!

Today's Gospel (Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18) reminds us to tuck away the ego and do good deeds for love of Christ:

Jesus said to his disciples: “Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father. When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, so that your almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

“When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

“When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites. They neglect their appearance, so that they may appear to others to be fasting. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to others to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.”

In Volume Seven, St. Damien emphasizes the importance of keeping ego out of what we do for Jesus:

"Many of your struggles can be minimized with constant acts of Holy Indifference. Jesus, along with all of His many helpers, needs you to be His hands, His heart, and His representatives. He can get the work done through you quite easily. You are a part of the work but not the whole work. Let me make this even clearer. If you remain small, understanding that without the help of God you are without power, He can do the greatest things through you. When man swells in his heart and feels that it is he himself who is accomplishing these things, the trouble begins. Egos are difficult friends and dreadful rulers. Keep your ego on a very short leash and understand that your merit lies in your obedience to Christ. Do not take credit for what Christ does through you. He cannot entrust great missions to you if your ego swells with each success. When your work is successful, praise God. When your work fails, praise God. When the sun shines, praise God. When the rain falls, praise God. Do you get the idea? You serve Him and He will do great things through you."

Lay apostles, the above quote reminds me of the first time I met Anne a lay apostle to interview her. Every time I asked a question about her, she immediately told me this wasn't about her, it was about Christ. She is one woman with her ego in check. Actually, there is no ego involved here. With all the hearts changed through this apostolate around the world, it is actually quite amazing there is no ego. Exactly why she was chosen to be one of His messengers in this time. So the next time your ego rears its ugly head, think about Anne. Think about all the negativity she has endured over the years. Think about how keeping her ego out of it has drawn so many back to the Church. She has profoundly affected my life. Not only through the Volumes and books, but with loving support she has given me personally. I couldn't be more blessed.

Thank you, Lord, for all the ego swells I have overcome with humility. Thank you for Anne and this apostolate. I am so blessed You chose me to be a part of it!

God bless,

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