In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus says, “All things are possible with God.” The apostles lived with Jesus for three years and witnessed His many miracles and good works, yet they were reminded by Jesus many times that “all things are possible with God.” Today, we seem to be even less convinced of that statement.
Many of us watch TV and get discouraged with all the “bad news.” Most of us respond by complaining how bad things are and how it is getting worse. Complaining doesn’t help and usually leads to apathy and inactivity, which just adds to the problem.
St. Albert Hugo, a Jesuit priest who died in 1952 and was canonized in 2005, had a devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. He said, “Jesus as God and man has a love for us that shone clearly through His life. If we could only realize this ideal in our lives: What does the heart of Jesus think of this or that? And endeavor to think and feel as He does, this would enlarge our hearts and transform our lives! But, we can’t be content by just savoring the love of God, we must repay it with concrete love in return. Christianity is summed up in the word ‘love’ — an ardent desire for the happiness of our sisters and brothers.”
Do you want to change the world? Then start with yourself. Stop complaining and start transforming — change your heart and mind to think and act like Jesus did and develop an ardent desire for the happiness of others.
Prayer: Jesus prayed all of the time, especially before big moments in His life. Why should we think we are any different? When you feel stressed or angry, ask God for guidance in that moment. How is He calling you to respond? Pray for more humility and surrender your troubles to God. Pray to stop comparing yourself to others and thank God for what He has given you. Pray to unite your suffering with Jesus’ for the good of others. Bottom line: We weren’t created to do this on our own. We need God. Develop the habit to pray instead of complain.
Fasting: Jesus fasted and reminded us that when we fast “you may not appear to others to be fasting.” When we brag, it puts the spotlight on me, even when doing something religious. But, when we fast without calling attention to it, the focus is on God or others. Fasting frees us from being attached to material things and opens our hearts to be filled by God. Sometimes our desire for happiness for our sisters and brothers requires suffering and self-denial, just like it did for Jesus.
Almsgiving: Many of Jesus’ parables are about money and possessions because He knew that trust in God is a struggle between God’s providence and our own self-reliance. Jesus told us that “where you treasure is, there also will be your heart” and “you cannot serve God and wealth.” The Catechism of the Catholic Church (1822) states that “charity is the theological virtue by which we love God above all things for His own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God.” Generosity is a byproduct of gratitude. Do you want to grow in generosity? Thank God daily for all that He has given you.
“All things are possible with God,” but it starts with our own personal transformation and then putting it into practice. Here’s a suggestion that each of us can begin today. Pick one hour of the day that no matter who you encounter during that time you will have “an ardent desire for the happiness of our sisters and brothers.” In other words, whoever God puts before you in that hour, you will put their needs before your own. This counts for everyone you meet in the hour — people you know or people you don’t know, and people you like or people you dislike. After you do this for one hour a day, bump it up to two hours, and so on. Go at your own pace, but be intentional and persistent. Do it every day and gradually, over time we can all develop the virtue of charity. Invite others to do the same. Share your “holy moments” with others. Then, watch the world change from “bad news” to the “Good News” of Jesus.
David Baranowski is the director of stewardship education in the Archdiocese of St. Louis. He and his wife are parishioners at Assumption in south St. Louis County.