After a brief vacation, the reflection returns.
You may find today's readings here.
When Jesus speaks in the gospel, he speaks of the trials that we must face in our lives: times where our faith falters, times when we mourn our losses, times when we chose to turn the other cheek instead of fight back, times when we strive for what is good, times when we show mercy, times when we see the good in situations instead of evil, times when we make peace, times when we suffer because of our goodness, and times when we are insulted or persecuted because of our faith in God, Most High. If we face the trials of life in this way, we are to receive a great reward in heaven. However, we will need strength and a strong identity to overcome these trials.
Our second reading today, tells us who we are and how we got that way. “See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are.” We have entered into God's family and become His children. We have done this by our participation in the sacraments and our willful commitment to them, but most of all, because God loves us and wills us to be a part of Him. In our sacramental lives, our baptism brought us into the family; our confirmation marked us with the seal of God in the Holy Spirit.
Our first reading, from Revelations tells us that John “saw another angel come up from the East, holding the seal of the living God. He cried out in a loud voice to the four angels who were given power to damage the land and the sea, “Do not damage the land or the sea or the trees until we put the seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.” I heard the number of those who had been marked with the seal, one hundred and forty-four thousand marked from every tribe of the children of Israel." In our confirmation, we have been sealed. We have been set aside for God's protection.
Our sacramental participation is further noted in the reading when it says, “Then one of the elders spoke up and said to me, “Who are these wearing white robes, and where did they come from?” I said to him, “My lord, you are the one who knows.” He said to me, “These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress; they have washed their robes and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb.” In our baptism, we receive a white garment. In our reception of the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist, we allow ourselves to be renewed by the Blood of the Lamb.
The attitude that Jesus asks us to have isn't easy, but the sacraments will give us the strength we need to live this way. The Eucharist and Reconciliation are sacraments designed to renew us throughout our lives. We can receive them every day if we desire. This may look crazy to the world, but the world does not know and does not understand God's goodness in giving us these sacraments. Our second reading tells us, “Beloved, we are God’s children now.” God isn't waiting for us to “get perfect” before we become His children. We are His children NOW, as we are NOW. We have been given the sacraments as a way to meet God where we are, and allow Him to lead us where he wants us to go. We do not know the end of this life, but we do know what lays beyond. I pray, for all of us, that we may live in the way of the Beatitudes, strengthened by the sacraments, and that we may celebrate with the Saints when we meet our reward in Heaven.