"You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you odd." ~Flannery O'Connor

Sunday, January 21, 2007

"Rejoicing in the Lord is how we must endure"

Today's readings at Mass—if you haven't heard them, click the box in the right sidebar—communicate the true grounds for authentic self-esteem and joie de vivre. That was clarified for me today both by the homily I heard at a perfectly ordinary Catholic parish and by Fr. Philip Powell, OP's podcast homily for today.

Our value consists not in what we do, what we have, or even on who on earth happens to love us. It consists in being loved by God; and what God loves in each of us is what he creates, irrevocably, in creating us. That is often disbelieved and, even when believed in principle, often obscured by psychological handicaps or chronic misfortune. Thus over the years I have learned that a great many people, including many Christians, think rather little of themselves and even less of life in general. Even among the successful and attractive, one often finds deep insecurity: they fear having nobody and nothing because they believe that, having nobody and nothing, they would be nothing—or at least nothing worth bothering with. As for life in general, not for nothing have I heard it said, more than once, that if this is what the gift of life is, then God would do better to take it back and stick it. And I am certain that such a thought is far more widely harbored than stated. When we are fundamentally insecure or disgusted with life, we tend to either hide that with stratagems that can't be counted on, or settle more or less openly for muddling through until what is hoped will be a merciful end. Little wonder that, when neither works, suicide is not infrequently the final resort. But there is an alternative to all the above: a real encounter with Jesus Christ.

I cannot tell you how to make that happen if you haven't had it. I am not a saint, and I very much doubt that it can be made to happen anyhow. Being sovereign, God cannot be manipulated. But it is always a real possibility because he is always seeking us out. Perhaps the best most of us can do is learn, in prayer and by whatever other means are given us, how to stop running and be found. When we are found, we can and will rejoice. When we rejoice, we neither can nor will settle for just muddling through. We will endure; and we will triumph.
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