Go with Less; God Will Provide

Christopher M. Fernandez is a Conventual Franciscan postulant in formation in Chicago. An ecologist by training, he hails from the Washington D.C. metro area. His views do not necessarily reflect those of the Franciscan Action Network.

By Christopher M. Fernández

“What were you arguing about on the way? But they remained silent. They had been discussing among themselves on the way who was the greatest. Then he sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all. (Mark 9:33-35)”

How many times do we find ourselves boasting about ourselves, about our Partyaccomplishments, or even about where we come from? How many times do we give or receive flattery with the desire for esteem or privilege? How many times do we selfishly put ourselves in front of others in our actions and words?

It is a hard reality for us to face, but we’ve all been there; walking amongst a bunch of friends, or maybe in an attempt to be outgoing in a new setting or among a new group of people or in a new workplace. We try to welcome praises, we speak pridefully, and we argue about how we are better, more qualified, or most skilled at something. Our arrogance, a vestige of the original human fault, once again corrupts us. This has been and will be the age-old issue in humanity.

God is always speaking! But are we listening? A lot of times we listen to what we want to, waiting for the “big” or “right” inspirations to fall into our laps. We settle for a mediocre faith-life, one with many unrealistic expectations, one that builds a large, ornate façade, an edifice built on quicksand. But how then do we build up on solid ground and root ourselves in rich and nourishing soil? After all, can a seed lift itself and plant itself in rich soil on its own? The Word of God is a lamp for our feet (Psalm 119).

As Christians we need to surround ourselves with people and environments that cultivate us and foster growth toward our baptismal calling. Unfortunately, sometimes, seeds fall on rocky, thorny, or even sandy ground. We don’t get to select our families, our upbringings, or circumstances; BUT, we do get to choose what to do with our experiences and how we allow our past to drive our futures. In this very time in human history, God is reminding us of the great need to seek healing from our wounds and brokenness, to reconcile with others, and to love our enemies. Naturally, none of us feel we can do it! How are we supposed to face our inner demons if it means having really tough, uncomfortable conversations with family and “friends” or even making decisions or taking actions, that even in truth and good intention, will cause upset, confusion, and division? My sisters and brothers, Christ has not called us to comfort, he has called us to Francis.Raingreatness. We must be vulnerable with God and ask that “he [may] be like rain coming down upon the fields, like showers watering the earth, that abundance may flourish in his days, great bounty, till the moon be no more.” Only His salvific love and mercy can purify, heal, and prime us for what is to come. As our love for God develops and moves us to praises of worship, so does our listening and our obedience. “[Once] you have purified yourselves by obedience to the truth for sincere mutual love, love one another intensely from a [pure] heart. You [will be] been born anew, not from perishable but from imperishable seed, through the living and abiding word of God (1 Peter 1:22-23).” We should imagine God the Father picking us up and joyfully planting us in rich soil, and actually ask for this! That we might be planted in unpolluted and uncorrupted soil.

“Where do the wars and where do the conflicts among you come from? Is it not from your passions that make war within your members? You covet but do not possess. You kill and envy but you cannot obtain; you fight and wage war. You do not possess because you do not ask. You ask but do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions (James 4:1-3).”

Where in our lives are we asking wrongly?!? How can we improve our prayer to be more than a list of rote intentions and supplications? How can we learn to carve forms of meditation and contemplation into our prayer and actually structure our days around prayer times? Are we praying enough with our families and communities beside that time obligated on Sundays? How are we stopping to sanctify our day and slow down to enjoy every moment?

It is vital that we listen to the living Word every day—which has so generously made Himself known and available to us—and additionally listen to that which he has set before us as a universal reminder to reflect and to pray, this being the gospel of creation. The Creator’s eminence holds by its divine nature that God is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent in all of Creation, while being distinct from it. Every day the Father strokes His brush across the earthly canvass and paints for us new stories, reveals to us new knowledge, and gives us an abundant harvest with the most perfect artistry. And the greatest thing about this Truth is that all creation is Christ-centered. God is the greatest gift giver, and we are lousy recipients. The largesse of the Father’s goodness to us spills over in the ingenuity of our sister mother-earth. She is after all, not superior or inferior to us, being born from the same mighty, immortal hand of God. Hence, we should do as these very words of St Basil: “Oh, God, enlarge within us the sense of fellowship with all living things; with our brother creatures to whom You gave the earth as their home in common with us. We remember with shame that in the past we have exercised the high dominion of man with ruthless cruelty so that the voice of the earth, which should have gone up to You in song, has been a groan of travail. May we realize that they live not for us alone, but for themselves, and for You, and that they love the sweetness of life even as we and serve You in their place better than we in others.”Francis.help

In the gospel readings from Mark, Jesus reminds us that joyful, trusting, innocent, child-like abandonment to God is a requirement to enter the kingdom of God. Spiritual childhood is the soil for humility and its sister virtues to flourish in our lives. We need to empty ourselves of desires that are acutely selfish—especially as these might be means of injustice to others. Anything we surrender to God is not lost. The USCCB has made this clear with regards to our socioeconomic structure: “the economy must serve people, not the other way around. Work is more than a way to make a living; it is a form of continuing participation in God’s creation. If the dignity of work is to be protected, then the basic rights of workers must be respected—the right to productive work, to decent and fair wages, to the organization and joining of unions, to private property, and to economic initiative.”

The Lord upholds our lives because we are His beloved creation. We must work as one to love others radically, even if that love is not reciprocated—just shake the dust from your feet (Luke 9:5). This starts in our own communities, espousing a need for respect of all life, advocating for fair wages, protecting rights for pre-born children, children and vulnerable adults relying on community or government support, caring for commonly shared natural resources and healthy, clean water, air, and soil and also having reverence for the natural place of Sister death in our lives and in all creation. As we celebrate the Transitus of St. Francis let us work again to renew our convictions in the gospel and go with less in a childlike abandonment. God will provide, go in the peace of Christ.Francis.Death

Prayer of St. Catherine of Sienna
Eternal God, eternal Trinity! You are a mystery as deep as the sea; the more I search, the more I find, and the more I find the more I search for you. But I can never be satisfied; what I receive will ever leave me desiring more. When you fill my soul I have an even greater hunger, and I grow more famished for your light. I desire above all to see you, the true light, as you really are. O eternal Trinity, with the light of understanding I have tasted and seen the depth of your mystery and the beauty of your creation. In seeing myself in you, I have seen that I will become like you. Eternal Father, you have given me a share in your power and the wisdom that Christ claims as his own, and your Holy Spirit has given me the desire to love you. You are my Creator, eternal Trinity, and I am your creature. You have made of me a new creation in the blood of your Son, and I know that you are moved with love at the beauty of your creation, for you have enlightened me. Eternal Trinity, Godhead, mystery deep as the sea, you could give me no greater gift than the gift of yourself. I recognize that you are the highest good, one we can neither comprehend nor fathom. And I know that you are beauty and wisdom itself. The food of angels, you gave yourself to man in the fire of your love. You are the garment which covers our nakedness, and in our hunger you are a satisfying food, for you are sweetness and in you there is no taste of bitterness, O triune God! Amen!

Published in: on October 3, 2018 at 6:04 pm  Leave a Comment  

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