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  • Sarah Raad

Practice

“The world offers you comfort. But you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.” (Pope Benedict XVI).

God the Father (Jacob Herreyns)

I have been reflecting on the Gospel according to Saint Matthew 23:1-12, where Christ advises that we should practice what we preach…


“Jesus said: ‘The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat; so practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practice. They bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with their finger. They do all their deeds to be seen by men.’” (Matthew 23:1-12).


I have been reflecting most particularly on this effort of practicing the Christian faith in our daily lives. And the saints practice the faith so beautifully… They are such a gift to us…


Thomas Malcolm Muggeridge was an English journalist and satirist who – after spending most of his life as an agnostic – converted to Catholicism in the 1980s. In explaining the reasons for his conversion, Muggeridge said that though many factors – including the Church’s defence of morals – influenced his decision, the real push for conversion occurred when he observed Saint Teresa of Calcutta because she was “living the Gospel in real life”. Muggeridge said, “Words cannot express how much I owe her… She showed me Christianity in action. She showed me the power of love. She showed me how one loving person can start a tidal wave of love that can spread to the entire world.”


I have been reflecting on this spread of Christian Charity – the greatest of the cardinal virtues – through the practice of faith after hearing about this story.


And it occurs to me to understand a little of why we pray for God’s will to be done… We use these words in the Our Father, which Christ taught us through His words and in practice, offered through His example in the Garden of Gethsemane. There, Christ said, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou wilt.” (Matthew 26:39).

It is important to understand the real implications of this perfect practice of surrender. For Christ said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in Heaven” (Matthew 7:21).

Scott Hahn explains the significance of this surrender of will to our Divine Father, in his book, “Understanding our Father”. Hahn explains that Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross created a new covenant between us and God and “… A covenant draws people not into a business partnership, but into a family relationship. Thus, a covenant is a union of wills. I don’t lose my will in God’s, any more than I lose my will in my wife’s. I unite my will to His. In doing so, I begin to live more perfectly in Jesus, the eternal Son of the Father, for He said, “I seek not My own will but the will of Him who sent Me” (John 5:30). I begin to live more perfectly the life of the Trinity.”


And this can be a very difficult thing – this practice of perfect surrender and Christian charity! For as Pope Benedict XVI said, “The world offers you comfort. But you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.”


And it is with a vision of greatness, that I can dare to pray!


For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.

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