One of the beautiful components of Catholicism is the ability to receive Jesus’ Flesh and Blood every day. Without going into detail, I was recently struggling with feeling disappointed in a situation, and on my way to daily Mass, realized the root of the disappointment was my pride.
Imagine my surprise, when God spoke to me through the readings presented at Mass. After going home and looking up the verses in the Bible, I was able to read the preceding verses as well. Taken from the New American RE Bible, found at the United States Council of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) website, James 4:8-17 states:
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you of two minds. Begin to lament, to mourn, to weep. Let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy into dejection. Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you. Do not speak evil of one another, brothers. Whoever speaks evil of a brother or judges his brother speaks evil of the law and judges the law. If you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is one lawgiver and judge who is able to save or to destroy. Who then are you to judge your neighbors?
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we shall go into such and such a town, spend a year there doing business, and make a profit” – you have no idea what your life will be like tomorrow. You are a puff of smoke that appears briefly and then disappears. Instead, you should say, “If the Lord wills it, we shall live to do this or that.” But now you are boasting in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So for one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, it is a sin.
These passages are loaded with enough thoughts to write several blogs. Yet, today I will only address two points which resonated with me.
I found comfort in my situation by the quote, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” Since that day, I have spent a significant amount of time trying to figure out ways to draw near to God, especially as our family is in the pre-move hustle and bustle, saying goodbye to friends and activities, and focusing on where we are going to live next. To draw nearer to God, I have developed the mantra found at the bottom of the Divine Mercy image – “Jesus, I trust in you.”
The second part of the passage that struck me was the phrase, “You are a puff of smoke that appears briefly and then disappears.” The day I heard that passage, I needed the reminder I usually get every couple years when time to move – my time in a place is limited.
This year, it dawned on me time here on earth is limited, and therefore I need to make every second count. Not in a, “Go out and do whatever I want,” sense; instead, I need to prepare myself for accounting for my actions, and spending the rest of eternity in the afterlife (hopefully it will be Heaven). In order to account and prepare for what comes next, there is no room for pride.
Coming to that realization helped me to find beauty in a moment I was struggling. And, I was so grateful for the gentle, God-driven reminder that not only is my time limited, but to draw closer to Him.