Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Crossing the Threshold of Hope
“For this we toil and struggle, because we have set our hope on the living God, who is the savior of all, especially those who believe.” 1 Timothy 4: 10
I think that all of us can recognize that we can be better than what we are right now. Don’t misunderstand me: I am not talking about the unattainable standards of the world to be more talented, more skinny, more popular or more savvy. If we hold to the secular standards of this world, there is no higher call to perfection than to have lots of friends, money and material possessions and to do whatever you want whenever you want. But we know this is a system designed for failure, a system with no hope; because if our goal is to be “skinny enough” we’ll always see ourselves as fat. If our goal is to be popular, there will always be someone who doesn’t like us. If our goal is to be more talented, there will always be someone better than us. We will never match-up.
Just today I saw a short video on the Guinness Book of World Records and the guy they were interviewing said that he thinks the book is still so popular because people want to know they are special and talented and can do something that no one else can do. Perhaps this is true, but what if a year from now someone else builds a bigger giant whoopi pie than you and you can never beat them? Are you somehow less special?
What I am referring to is the call, as Christians, to be all that God created us to be. Jesus says in Matthew 5 that we are called to be “perfect” as God the Father is perfect. Perfect in what way? Saying the rosary the best (not too fast, not too slow)? Being on time for Mass every Sunday? Going to confession every day? Fasting better than everyone else? Of course not. He is calling us to the perfection of LOVE. And can’t all of us do better in this regard? I know I could be more kind at times; more patient. I could sacrifice a little bit more, whether it be that dessert, or spending more time with my kids. I know God loves me just the way I am, with all my imperfections and brokenness, but He is not satisfied with the way I think, talk or act all the time. And His challenge to be better than what I am at certain moments is not for His sake, but for mine.
The problem is that we can allow Satan to corrupt this desire we have for being all that God is calling us to be into something like trying to live to the world’s standards. We can become scrupulous and get bogged down in our failures. But Pope John Paul the Great called this “threshold” between who we are and who we are called to be, a threshold of hope. How can this be? Because for one thing, God’s love for us is not dependent on whether we succeed or not; and secondly, because with His grace, all things are possible. By asking God for His grace and then cooperating with it, we can be who God created us to be. And this should fill us with hope, not despair. May we always strive to be perfect in love.
Dear Jesus, I desire to be perfectly loving as You are. Give me the grace to become who You created me to be. Never let me be satisfied with where I am at, while at the same time, never let me get bogged down in my failures. Amen.