Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Getting Up

First Reading: Acts 14:19-28
Psalm: Ps 145:10-13ab, 21
Gospel: Jn 14:27-31a


From the very first, we are taught that, if we fall down, the most important thing is that we get back up again. There are a number of phrases out there that emphasize the general idea: "Winners never quit, quitters never win", "No pain, no gain", et cetera... We are always encouraged to go just that little bit more when we think that we've got nothing left. If you embrace this mentality there are two things that are certain: first, you will fall short of the goal sometimes, and second, if you persist, you will excel.

One could say that it is a model of faith. A good friend likes to remind me that you should be careful when praying for patience, because you will be tested. I tried it a few times, and those were particularly trying weeks (though I was learning patience by the end). We do our best to avoid bad habits, but occasionally we slip up. We try to avoid temptations to sin, but somehow it just keeps happening. Paul writes in his letter to the Romans an all-too-familiar thought:
The willing is ready at hand, but doing the good is not. For I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want. - Romans 7:18b-19

Fortunately, Paul also knew something about getting back up after a failure. In today's reading, he is stoned by a crowd that earlier was attempting to declare him a god. He is then dragged outside of the city and left for dead. When he is surrounded by his friends, he gets back up and re-enters the city. He even returns publicly later to encourage the faithful to persevere.

Jesus himself fell three times on his way to Calvary. He knows the walk and how difficult it is for us to get back up when everything seems too much. But he got up, both on the Via Dolorosa and from the grave. And, like an older brother helping his younger siblings in their trials, he has come to help us get up and carry on, so that when we finish our journey here, we will be honored for completing the race.

Heavenly Father, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Thank you for sending your son, our Lord, to help us get back up in times of difficulty. We are grateful for his example, and that of the saints, to guide us and encourage us through our own trials. We pray that we might be an example for others, and that our perseverance in faith be a beacon to those who are in darkness. We ask all of these things in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

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