Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Gospel Thoughts Today: The Struggling Servant

Guest blogger today is Annie. She wrote this years ago and boy is she still on point today! This is so good I just had to repost:

Does anybody remember a few years ago when Swine flu was all the rage in the media? Did anybody else get that? Well, I took that little fad quite seriously, and not being one to do things halfway, I got it three times. Yes, three. My crap autoimmune system just thought it was the most exciting thing ever, so I stayed sick with it for about nine months. I remember that year on my birthday, two good friends standing by my death-couch wearing smiles that looked more like grimaces, one holding a candle-lit cake that I could not eat and the other holding a gift-wrapped bottle of Chloraseptic throat spray. Happy birthday! A few years later, in college, I was in the hospital busily having a stomach surgery to get diagnosed with Crohn’s disease (you know, just your average college student) and they wouldn’t let me eat solid food for a full week. I like to think I dealt with that about as well as Mother Teresa might have . . . if Mama T had owned a cell phone and been the kind of gal to repeatedly throw it against a wall and howl at her friend to give it back so she could throw it again until somebody fed her, and by the way, was it time for more painkillers yet? (Somebody once saw me with low blood sugar, then went home and invented the word “hangry” to describe the scene. It caught on.)

My point is, I am the kind of person who actually worried when Ebola hit the headlines. I know my way around a hospital and probably took more sick days in high school than days where I actually attended (I can mentally picture my year head nodding vigorously in agreement with that statement). That’s why today's Gospel (Luke 4:38-44) was particularly consoling for me, and I think anybody with an experience of illness could draw comfort from it:

After Jesus left the synagogue, he entered the house of Simon. Simon’s mother-in-law was afflicted with a severe fever, and they interceded with him about her. He stood over her, rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up immediately and waited on them.

At sunset, all who had people sick with various diseases brought them to him. He laid his hands on each of them and cured them. And demons also came out from many, shouting, “You are the Son of God.” But he rebuked them and did not allow them to speak because they knew that he was the Christ.

At daybreak, Jesus left and went to a deserted place. The crowds went looking for him, and when they came to him, they tried to prevent him from leaving them. But he said to them, “To the other towns also I must proclaim the good news of the Kingdom of God, because for this purpose I have been sent.” And he was preaching in the synagogues of Judea.

Simon’s mother-in-law stands out a lot in this Gospel passage. I love that her first instinct upon being cured was to get up and start serving those around her. We should all try to be more like Simon’s mother-in-law, serving Christ cheerfully, and less like the clingy crowds who don’t have enough faith to let Jesus carry on with His work and focus on our own. (Says the girl who literally wailed at a chocolate cake commercial when she had to go gluten-free. Whatever, I’m working on it!) Whether you’re afflicted by a physical illness, a mental disturbance, or a circumstantial hardship, this message reassures that there is no problem that God cannot diminish if you ask Him for help.

The following message from Volume One further affirms the promise that we will be taken care of, and underscores the value in our suffering:

“I am with you, child. I feel your weakness and sickness and will adjust your responsibilities accordingly. This will pass. Offer your suffering to Me so that I can nourish souls, especially souls who are in error and in danger of falling away. My heart aches for them. They feel they have been abandoned, yet it is they who have abandoned the true faith. Suffer willingly for them, little one. We must draw them back with goodness and joy. A true follower of Mine is joyful and serene. When you see Christians who claim to be following Me, but they are sad and morose, you should be alert. Despair and depression do not come from Me. My followers are given hope and a lightness of spirit, despite difficulties. If you, yourself, notice you are feeling sad more often, it is because you are not connected to Me through prayer and the sacraments. Be vigilant about your faith and you will not falter. I am with you. I will never leave you. Ask Me for courage and courage will be yours.”

The first thought in my mind upon reading this passage was “Adjusted responsibilities?!?! YESSS!!!!!!” But I think the point is also to have faith in God’s plan and wisdom, as well as His ability to lift your burden when the time is right. We are advised to suffer cheerfully, willingly, serenely, joyfully, and hopefully . . . Oh, kind of like Simon’s mother-in-law I guess. (And kind of less like me in the hospital!) If this seems impossible, maybe remember that sometimes struggling is serving, and all you have to do is your best. Aim for at least willing, then, work on cheerful!


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