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Doing God’s Will Doesn’t Have To Feel Good!


 

Catholic speaker Gary Zimak discusses the fact that it doesn't always feel good to do God's will

“Father, if you are willing, remove this chalice from me; nevertheless not my will, but yours, be done.” (Luke 22:42)

In the course of my travels, I have met many people who genuinely desire to follow God’s will. Many of those same individuals, however, are concerned that they aren’t doing a good job with the task. Do you know why they are concerned? It’s primarily because they don’t “feel” like doing what God wants. Let’s be honest, my friends…enduring suffering, reaching out to those in need, stepping out of our comfort zone and forgiving people who have hurt is generally doesn’t “feel” good. What we need to remember, however, is that a desire to do God’s will has nothing to do with feelings. Rather, it is a conscious decision.

When Jesus asked His Father to let the suffering pass Him by, He was expressing natural human feelings. The Lord could have suppressed these feelings, but He chose not to. By doing so, He reminds us that it’s perfectly acceptable to dislike suffering and to ask God to remove it from our lives. In spite of that aversion to suffering, however, Jesus chose to consciously submit to His Father’s will. Instantly, a feeling of fear was transformed into an act of obedience and love.

Back in the days when our twins were babies, my wife and I didn’t exactly plead with one another for the chance to feed them when they woke up in the night. Even though we loved Mary and Elizabeth, neither one of us “felt” like waking up to comfort them. While it didn’t “feel” good, we did it because we loved them and it was God’s will that we tend to the needs of our children. Despite what we may hear or believe, love isn’t necessarily a feeling. While there are often emotional feelings associated with love, it is primarily a decision. We can choose to love someone, even if we don’t “feel” like it. Submitting to God’s will when we don’t “feel” like it is a great way of expressing our love for Him.

Don’t be too hard on yourself when you don’t always enjoy doing God’s will. Sometimes it’s not fun for me either and it certainly wasn’t always fun for Jesus. Doing God’s will isn’t about feelings…

It’s about LOVE!

Dear Lord…Thank You For My Enemies!

 

For the most part, people who read my blog care about becoming more spiritual. If I had to guess, I’d say that the vast majority of my readers are just like me…Catholics who want to learn more about the Church’s teachings and grow closer to Christ. Despite wanting to follow the Lord’s commands, however, some of us tend to struggle with pride and often have a bit of a short fuse. Speaking for myself, there are times when I conveniently overlook (or even ignore) some of the core teachings of Jesus Christ because of my pride. In my opinion, one of the Lord’s most difficult teachings is the following:

“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44)

The words of Christ are clear and there’s really no wiggle room…He’s telling us to love not just those who love us back, not just those who ignore us, not just those who annoy us, but OUR ENEMIES! That means those who threaten us, insult us, curse at us and even want to harm us physically. That’s a really powerful and challenging commandment. It’s also one I fail at (to some degree) every day and I know I’m not alone. If we’re going to get to Heaven, however, this is a command that we’re going to have to understand and follow. Rather than look at this challenge negatively, let’s turn the tables and address it in a more positive way. As crazy as it sounds, I propose that we learn to thank God for our enemies. Once we begin to do so, we’ll find it a lot easier to love them. Why should we be thankful for our enemies?

They Allow Us To Be More Like Christ – As Christians, we should be striving to imitate Jesus at all times. Reading through the Bible will remind us of just how many enemies He had. His teaching was rejected, He was thrown out of towns, He was threatened and challenged, and finally, He was humiliated, tortured and put to death. By experiencing rejection and hatred, we can share in Our Lord’s suffering and understand some of what He experienced. Without enemies, this would not be possible.

They Let Us Love As Jesus Loved – Can you imagine enduring what Jesus went through and still being able to say, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34)? To a lesser degree, every time we love someone who offends us, we love as Christ loved. When we forgive those who offend us, we imitate Jesus.

They Help Us Conquer Our Pride – I like to be “right”, especially when someone tells me that I’m “wrong”. When challenged about a variety of issues, I have a tendency to want to win the argument. Often that desire (even when trying to defend the Faith) causes me to fall into sin. By learning to walk away and let someone else “win”, I become a bit more humble. Now, this doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t proclaim the truth – not at all! We should (especially when it comes to the teachings of the Church), but we must always keep in mind that our words aren’t responsible for converting others. Rather, it’s the work of the Holy Spirit. If we plant some seeds and get rejected, that’s OK. We did our job…God will do the rest.

They Remind Us Of God’s Mercy – When people attack me, I remember all of the times that I attacked others. Throughout my life, I’ve treated many people unfairly. My words and actions have often be hurtful and offensive. I’ve been sarcastic and arrogant. But, in spite of it all, Jesus never stopped loving me and was always ready to forgive me. I should do the same for others.

They Are Often Right – Although it can be sheer torture, the accusations and insults of our enemies often open our eyes to the fact that we’re wrong. We can become so blinded by our sinful habits that we don’t even notice them. Sincerely listening to the words of our enemies, even though they may sting, can make us see that we need to make some changes in our lives. That is an invaluable gift.

Loving our enemies is challenging, but is necessary if we expect to get to Heaven. With God’s grace and by learning to appreciate their presence in our lives, we can better live our Catholic Faith and be an example to those around us. Thank you, Lord, for allowing me to have enemies!

Join The Fraternity Of Kindness

 

(Listen to Following The Truth on BlogTalkRadio every Friday at 8 PM Eastern as Gary discusses the book, “The Hidden Power Of Kindness” by Father Lawrence Lovasik!)

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:1-2)

In my life as a Christian, one of the most difficult things for me to do is to love everyone. Even though Jesus commands me to do this (John 13:34-35, 15:12, Matthew 5:43), loving everyone does not come easy for me. While it’s easy for me to love people who are nice to me, I have a REALLY hard time loving those who don’t love me back. Although it’s difficult, I need to take the Lord’s command seriously IF I expect to get to Heaven! Fortunately, I recently ran across a very simple method of putting Jesus’ instruction into practice.

In his book, The Hidden Power Of Kindness, the late Fr. Lawrence Lovasik urges that we all become members of the Fraternity of Kindness.

This “organization” has no officers, no meetings and no dues. In fact, its rules are simple. There are three little don’ts and three little do’s. Brilliant in their simplicity, these do’s and don’ts will put us on the right track for loving everyone:

DON’TS
1. Don’t speak unkindly of anyone.
2. Don’t speak unkindly to anyone.
3. Don’t act unkindly toward anyone.

DO’S
1. Do speak kindly of someone at least once a day.
2. Do think kindly of someone at least once a day.
3. Do act kindly toward someone at least once a day.

If we violate any of these rules, Fr. Lovasik suggests the following actions:

1. Make a brief act of contrition (ex. “My Jesus, mercy!”)
2. Offer an apology, if possible.
3. Say a little prayer for the one to whom you have been unkind.

Although the Fraternity of Kindness is not an official group, living by these “do’s and don’ts” will allow you to follow the Lord’s command to “love one another” and keep you on the road to Heaven. Just don’t forget to ask the Lord for the grace necessary to carry them out. If we try to do this on our own, it’s not easy, but…

“With God nothing will be impossible!” (Luke 1:37)

If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. (1 John 4:20)

An Advent Challenge: Love Your Enemies!

Dear Lord,
So far today I’ve done all right.
I haven’t gossiped, cursed, or lost my temper.
I haven’t been greedy, grumpy, nasty, selfish or overindulgent.
I am really glad about these things.
But, in a few minutes Lord,
I am going to get out of bed,
and from then on,
I’m probably going to need a lot more help.
Thank You,
In Jesus’ Name. Amen.  (Author unknown)

Most of us will chuckle when reading this prayer, but isn’t the message really true?  One of the most difficult aspects of being a Christian is dealing with people.  Especially challenging is Jesus’ command to love one another.  Even more difficult is the Lord’s command not just to love those who love us back, but to love those who annoy us and to love those who (gulp!) hate us…our enemies!

If I had my choice, here’s how I would like to practice my faith.  I’d take a prayer book, rosary, and my Bible and sit in church or an adoration chapel for several hours each day.  I would be able to speak with the Lord, feel His presence and experience total peace.  Although it’s not impossible, it is very difficult to commit sin while I’m in church.  By using this approach, chances are good that I wouldn’t be sinning that much.  Therefore, achieving my salvation would be a “piece of cake”.  Brilliant strategy, right?  The only problem is that this is not even close to what the Lord wants me to do.

Like it or not, most of our lives are spent interacting with people.  We must deal with family, friends, coworkers, fellow students, store clerks, uncaring receptionists at doctor’s offices, demanding supervisors, customers who scream at us because they are not happy and individuals who absolutely don’t like us and want to make us suffer as much as possible.   Do you get the picture?  Some of these dealings are just not going to be pleasant.  Fortunately for us, the Lord gives us some guidelines to follow:

I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. (John 13:34)

That’s fine, I can handle that.  How about if somebody treats me badly?  What should I do then?

Then Peter approaching asked him, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times. (Matthew 18:21-22)

This is getting tough, but I think I’m still good.  If someone apologizes, I have to forgive them.  I guess the only exception to this “love one another” thing is when someone hates me and makes no effort to be nice.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:43-48)

Now, my friends, you see what being a Christian is all about…and it ain’t easy!  In order to call ourselves followers of Jesus, we must love as He loved.  How did He love?  By forgiving those who tortured, mocked and crucified Him.  To make matters worse, the reason He was on the cross in the first place was to redeem all of mankind, which included the very people who were putting Him to death.  And despite the fact that they laughed at Him, beat Him, and hung Him on a cross to die, He forgave them!  In the same way, Jesus expects us to do the same to those who mistreat us.  While it sounds impossible, it isn’t.  The only catch is that we must ask for help.  We can’t be expected to accomplish this on our own.  If we pray and receive the Sacraments frequently, we’ll receive the graces necessary to pull this off.

The season of Advent is all about preparing for the coming of Christ.  We should be using the time to turn away from our sinful behavior so that we’re better prepared to meet Him.  For the remainder of this Advent season, why not pledge to pray for and be kind to that individual who hates you?  Ask the Lord to bless that person and offer thanks for having them in your life.  Why?  Because without that person, you wouldn’t be able to fulfill Jesus’ instructions to “love your enemy”.  Loving that enemy will help you to get to Heaven one day.

Even if you don’t have any real enemies, I’m sure you can think of a really annoying and difficult person for whom to pray during Advent.  That would be a great use of the next few weeks.  Personally, I’m glad to be able to share this post with my Internet followers and speak about it on the radio.  For, when asking everyone to pray for the most difficult and annoying person they know, I know I’m going to get some prayers directed my way!

Do something good for someone you like least today.  (St. Anthony of Padua)

The Greatest Love Story Of All Time

“Pause before the tabernacle by yourself, for no special reason, even without saying a thing, simply remaining in His presence, contemplating the supreme gestures of love contained in the consecrated Bread.” (Blessed Pope John Paul II – April, 1995)

On the eve of the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, it would be wise for us to spend a few minutes meditating upon the mystery of Jesus’ Real Presence in the Eucharist.  When you enter the Church and see the tabernacle, think about the birth, death and resurrection of the Lord.  Jesus became man, suffered and died out of love for you.

As you genuflect before the tabernacle, think about that love.  It’s a love that we too often forget.  Then, when it’s time to receive Our Lord in Holy Communion, pause for a minute.  As the priest raises the little white host and says, “The Body of Christ”, remember the words of the late Archbishop Fulton Sheen:

“The greatest love story of all time is contained in a tiny white host.”

Thank you, Jesus…I love you too!