Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A whole year of animation ! What's it all for ?!

March 01
: Giving up everything to follow Jesus

Daily Reflection from Holy Spirit Interactive Online


When Ralph and I moved our family from New Jersey to Florida at the end of 1994, we left behind many friends, a great parish in which we were deeply involved, my staff position as Coordinator of Adult Education, and the beginnings of the New Jersey version of Good News Ministries. It didn't make sense to us or to anyone we knew that God would want us to leave all that behind.

Following Jesus doesn't always make sense, but that's what makes holiness a great adventure! We followed him to Florida, but we didn't understand why he led us here until 30 days after we arrived. That's when we met a priest and a ready-made team of volunteers who'd been asking God to supply leaders who could launch Good News Ministries of Tampa Bay.

The words of today's Gospel reading came to mind.

Whenever God asks us to give up something, he replaces it with blessings that amount to "a hundred times more," i.e., more than we can imagine. He does this when we give up money and other material possessions for the sake of serving his kingdom. He does this when we give up our ideas of how we should spend our time. He does this when we let go of the past in order to move into the future that he has planned.

Why does following Jesus mean giving up everything? Today's first reading explains it. Giving up what is sinful is a sacrifice that makes peace with God, because it pleases him. Giving up what is good because of loving concern for others is a sacrifice of praise, because we glorify God the Provider through our generosity.

We don't give up these things in order to "bribe" God to repay us. That's a selfish attitude! Generosity gives homage to the Lord because it means we truly love and care about those whom he loves. When we're "not sparing of freewill gifts" we're gladly sharing what he's given us because we know it will benefit others.

What percentage of your income do you put into church collections? This is a measurement of how well you understand the blessings of being generous. Are you withholding donations to the Church or Good News Ministries and other charities because of a fear that you'll need the money later? What could improve in the lives of others if you sacrificially ignored the self-centered message of fear?

We grow from letting go. We become more useful to God's kingdom if we dare to trust him when he asks us to give up what we seem to need – in other words, if we choose to follow Jesus and enter into his ways of living and loving.

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