Over the last two weeks, we have been on a journey of learning how the Lord prepared His disciples after the Resurrection, how He showed up in and out of their lives and opened their minds to Scripture and today’s Gospel clearly affirms that. I mentioned that in order for us to live the Resurrection and be a disciple, we must meet the Resurrected Jesus Himself and that the principle way of meeting Him is in the Sacred Scriptures and asking Him to help us make the Scriptures a personal meeting. I also told you that it is important to get a book to write down what He is telling you because if God is speaking, we should be listening. Secondly, I said that we should read, and in fact the best place to hear, is in the daily readings the Church provides, and the way you do that is to simply read the text and look for something that stands out. You then set aside time – five, ten, twenty minutes – to be with the Lord in that Scripture. Ask questions. If distracted, simply go back to the text. Okay, we are caught up.
Today I want to take us one step further. How can we see the Lord working in our lives? Because if we don’t, we will see life as a great burden at times and also let the devil in to damage us with the daily things instead of profiting from them. Here is a hard truth and a beautiful truth: God does not allow anything to happen to you or I that cannot be profitable in our lives. He either allows or makes it happen. This does not mean that God likes evil but rather that He can use evil to bring about good. You can see how this is a hard truth because there is evil in the world that is insidious and makes us feel powerless and angry, yet the truth of the matter is God can use it to bring about great good.
I recently read a short story from, “Your Morning Offering,” sent from the Catholic Company about Blessed Margaret of Castello. She was born to a wealthy family who were so excited to have a child but Margaret was born a hunchback, dwarfed, blind and lame. Her parents were so ashamed and embarrassed of their daughter that they hid her away in a back room. She was eventually moved to a church with a small window where no one could see her. The local priest educated her. When she was sixteen her parents heard of a shrine where many miracles occurred so they took her there. They prayed earnestly for a miracle for their daughter but none happened so her parents simply abandoned her. She was taken in by the poor and became a Third Order Dominican. She was known for her great joy as she served the poor, the imprisoned and the dying. During her life, many miracles were worked through her intercession. Her body is incorrupt, as well.
So yes, God did not delight in the selfish and shame of her parents, yet He was able to use the evil for good and Margaret became a great saint and now rejoices and intercedes from Heaven. How do we see the work of God in our lives? Simply that God does not allow anything to happen that He can’t use for good. Everything that happens in our day can turn out for good if we allow God’s grace to be part of it. The temptations that happen are meant to help us grow in virtue and help heal and strengthen our lives. Let’s say you are a lustful person, looking at all the people around you as objects. You need to pray for the virtue of chastity and pray for those people so that they can respect themselves and pray others won’t use them. Next you need to ask God why you objectify others. It is probably because you treat yourself as an object and ask God to help you understand your dignity. If you can’t see dignity in yourself, you won’t see it in others. If you struggle with gossip, first of all you are not growing in holiness, you are focusing on others’ sins and no one grows in holiness focusing on the sins of others. Secondly, God is asking you to pray and love those other people. Maybe you are given an insight by the Holy Spirit into the other person’s suffering and you are using it to harm them. No, you are called to pray and love the other person. Once again, every thing, person or happening is in your life to help you to become a saint.
If you do these two things – examine your life each day and read and meditate on Sacred Scripture – you will be inspired to use those moments for grace instead of sin. In examining your conscience each evening you should examine yourself on two themes: What good things happened and how have I sorrowed God. What good things happened – how did I please God; how was I blessed; how did I respond to grace; what beautiful things did I see? How have I sorrowed God – what sins, did I commit; what temptations did I give into; what situations did I respond in a negative way to; what things did I not do that I should have? When you have done the second part, you will often see a theme in your sins. If you don’t, ask God to reveal it so you can.
This will lead to the next thing: what God is calling you to each day. When you see the theme, then you can start praying for the virtue and the similar situations that you will encounter the next day. You can also ask God to show you the root of that sin, why you respond poorly so you can have it rooted out. In the morning, pray again for the same things and you when you examine that night, you will start to see a change.
Along with this, you will see answers and the theme more clearly in your Scripture readings because we will start to see that God is clearly forming you in a direction and that is holiness. He is rooting out sins, healing wounds and preparing you for great works to be a disciple. If you do your daily examine and Scripture meditation, this will make you a disciple.