Thursday of the First Week in Ordinary Time (January 11, 2018): How to win battles without using God as a weapon

Thứ Tư, 10-01-2018 | 16:22:58

Today’s Readings:

1 Samuel 4:1-11
Ps 44:10-11, 14-15, 24-25 (with 27b)
Mark 1:40-45

USCCB Podcast of the Readings:

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Mark.

A leper came to him and kneeling down begged him and said,
“If you wish, you can make me clean.”
Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand,
touched the leper, and said to him, 
“I do will it. Be made clean.”
The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean.
Then, warning him sternly, he dismissed him at once.
Then he said to him, “See that you tell no one anything,
but go, show yourself to the priest
and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed;
that will be proof for them.”
The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter.
He spread the report abroad
so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly.
He remained outside in deserted places,
and people kept coming to him from everywhere.

Good News Reflection: 

Why were the Israelites defeated in today’s first reading? And why did God allow the Holy Ark of the Covenant to be captured?

The Israelites had failed to discern and follow God’s will. They thought that having the Ark in their possession guaranteed a victory for them. We make the same mistake when we use the Bible or Church documents (today’s Ark of the Covenant) to prove our point in arguments or when we use it as a weapon to judge and condemn morally erring people.

Have you ever wanted to use Church Law to force others into attending Mass, warning them about mortal sin and eternal damnation? We have only the best of intentions, right? But this is no better than the ploy some Protestants use to “save” Catholics when they quote from our Church’s teachings — out of context — to claim that we’re going to hell.

To win a battle, we cannot use apologetics; it’s a tool for explaining Church teachings to someone who’s already interested in hearing the explanation. Testimonies and a faith well lived is the first explanation of our faith. These show the truth and prepare others to hear the truth.

Before defending any truth, we must first pray and discern if the time is right to speak up. Unless the Holy Spirit has first prepared the hearer to recognize the truth that we speak, we’re only wasting our breath. We can do more harm than good. We’re carrying the ark into battle without the Lord’s protection.

If you want to promote change in others, first pray for insights about their inner motivations: What makes them do what they do? How is sin motivating them to continue sinning? And why? Listen for the Lord’s inspiration on how to meet some of their needs, thus giving them the gift of Christ before mentioning the name of Christ. Watch for the Lord to lay the groundwork — their soil must be tilled and fertilized. Your prayers will help wither the weeds as the Gardener does his work.

During this preparation time, speak the truth silently but loudly in the way you live. Although this might seem to be too little, it’s much more effective than verbally trying to force others to change. Wait for the Lord’s “go ahead, speak up now.” Until he provides the words to speak, the truth will only cause arguments and failure.

When people are ready to hear the truth, they ask questions or show a desire to find help for an inner struggle. This is your cue. You are now in a position of ministry. You can take the ark onto the battlefield and sit down with the enemy and open it together to look at the truth that it holds.

Isn’t that how God converted you?

Today’s Prayer:

My Lord, may my works speak louder than my words, may my life shout higher than my voice and may I let Your Spirit work more good deeds through me. Amen.

© 2018 by Terry A. Modica

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