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One Step Closer
Friday of the Twenty-Ninth Week in Ordinary Time
Jesus said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west you say immediately that it is going to rain—and so it does; and when you notice that the wind is blowing from the south you say that it is going to be hot—and so it is. You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky; why do you not know how to interpret the present time? Why do you not judge for yourselves what is right? If you are to go with your opponent before a magistrate, make an effort to settle the matter on the way; otherwise your opponent will turn you over to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the constable, and the constable throw you into prison. I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.”
Opening Prayer: My Lord, I come before you as your child, and I ask you to send your Spirit into my soul, so that his gifts might strengthen me, comfort me, sanctify me, and enlighten me to hear what you want to say today.
- Complacency: Jesus’s admonishing words tell us a lot, between the lines, about the attitude of those to whom they were addressed. His listeners were utterly complacent. Jesus’s thundering reproach was probably meant to shake off that complacency; he challenged them to read the signs of the times, and he did all that he could to free them from their blindness. How frustrating must it have been for Jesus to come to those who had been praying for the Messiah only to find that they neither accepted nor believed him, nor seemed willing even to have an open mind about him. We console Jesus when we fight against our own tendency to become complacent.
- Proactivity: It is not uncommon for a person to be quite focused on a specific goal (for example, to improve one’s prayer life or to grow in virtue), but to bluntly ignore the simple opportunities to actually advance toward that goal. A good program of life will help us to make concrete resolutions (little baby steps toward living a virtue) so that we can be more confident, by God’s grace, of growing in that virtue. It is true that the ideals of Christian life are lofty, but God always gives us some concrete step we can proactively take each day.
- Surrender: Ultimately, such a proactive attitude requires a lot of humility, for it underscores the fact that we cannot reach our high ideals with one powerful leap. Instead, our little steps to grow in virtue or to draw closer to God only have a chance of success to the degree in which they are aided, quickened, and elevated by God’s grace. Maybe that is why it is so difficult to proactively invest into our spiritual life; instead of relying on our control, it requires an increasing degree of surrender to the work of grace in us. May we be docile enough to allow Christ to work in our souls.
Conversing with Christ: Jesus, help me to shake off all types of complacency. Free me of my blindness. Grant me the grace “to interpret the present time” and the humility to make a small step in the right direction today.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will set a spiritual goal for myself and take the first step toward growing in that virtue.
For Further Reflection: One Step Closer will help you take the next step in your spiritual life. Its forty doses of clear, practical, and bite-sized reflections will inspire you on your journey to holiness, happiness, and your life purpose. Each reflection comes with a memorable motivational quote. It’s a book that you can understand, written in simple language that resonates; it gives you practical means to work on your strengths and it challenges you to be better: One Step Closer Book for Millennial Catholics by Catholic Life Coach, Anthony Freeman, LC.
Written by Father Gabriel von Wendt, LC.