Thursday, January 7, 2016

Thursday after Epiphany: Led by the Spirit

“We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” but hates his brother, he is a liar.” 1 Jn 4:19-20

The readings today inspire and challenge. They get at heart of the matter, of the Christmas season, of the revolutionary nature of God’s love. We are called to love with deeds and words, with those we like and dislike, with our enemies as well as our friends. It was hard for the community that helped write the Gospel and the Letters of John. It is hard for me.

It is more difficult when I give into a spirit of self-pressure and self-reliance. That the burden of love rests upon me. Then what is hard becomes harder. Yet, when I allow myself to be led by the Spirit, the difficult becomes the possible.

Jesus begins his public ministry led by the Spirit. The Spirit guided him to baptism in the Jordan River. The Spirit drove him to the desert for a 40-day preparation. The Spirit steered him to the synagogue in today’s Gospel to proclaim the messianic passage from Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord” (Lk 4:18-19).

I am deeply struck by the loving sacrifice of my mom over the holidays. Throughout the week of my family visit, she was constantly cleaning, cooking, preparing meals and rooms for everyone. She would ask us children and grandchildren to help, but she was always in service. While serving, she tried to be in communion with God. She listened to songs and podcasts from the Vatican or from the Jesuits in Vietnam. It was self-care and MORE. She was letting the Spirit lead her. She has always been an inspiring force of self-giving love for many people. At 73, she is even more so for me.

As I journey into 2016 with many tasks and projects, I am invited to lean more into this blessing through my mom. As I allow the image of her serving with God to flood my awareness, through short pauses and longer moments of prayer, I find myself more willing and sensitive to the Spirit. I can imagine loving with greater sacrifice because I am first loved by God, through my mother. Slowly slowly, I am joining Pope Francis in living out God’s incarnate love through a “revolution of tenderness.” 

What blessing over the holidays inspires or challenges you to greater life? Would you consider taking a pause or a longer period to let this grace flood your awareness and guide you?

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