You are at the end of week one! And where do you find yourself? What is your response thus far?
Have you discovered more of who God is?
Have you discovered more of His love, His strength, as you are aware of your weaknesses?
Is there some hurt, some pain, some recognition of discipline and correction as you dive into this self-reflection?
Consider these thoughts of Thomas Merton:
All sin is a punishment for the primal sin of not knowing God. That is to say all sin is punishment for ingratitude. For as St. Paul says (Rom. 1:21) the Gentiles, who ‘knew’ God did not know Him because they were not grateful for the knowledge of Him. They did not know Him because their knowledge did not gladden them with His love. For if we do not love Him we show that we do not know Him. He is love…
Our knowledge of God is perfected by gratitude: we are thankful and rejoice in the experience of the truth that He is love…
There is no neutrality between gratitude and ingratitude. Those who are not grateful soon begin to complain of everything. Those who do not love, hate. In the spiritual life there is no such thing as an indifference to love or hate. That is why tepidity (which seems to be indifferent) is so detestable. It is hate disguised as love.
Tepidity, in which the soul is neither ‘hot or cold’ – neither frankly loves nor frankly hates – is a state in which one rejects God and rejects the will of God while maintaining an exterior pretense of loving Him in order to keep out of trouble and save one’s supposed self-respect. It is the condition that is soon arrived at by those who are habitually ungrateful for the graces of God. A man who truly responds to the goodness of God, and acknowledges all that he has received, cannot possibly be a half-hearted Christian…
Gratitude, though, is more than a mental exercise, more than a formula of words. We cannot be satisfied to make a mental note of things which God has done for us and then perfunctorily thank Him for favors received.
To be grateful is to recognize the love of God in everything He has given us – and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him. Gratitude therefore takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder and to praise of the goodness of God. For the grateful person knows that God is good, not by hearsay but by experience. And that is what makes all the difference…
Gratitude is therefore the heart of the solitary life, as it is the heart of the Christian life…
We live in constant dependence upon this merciful kindness of the Father, and thus our whole life is a life of gratitude – a constant response to His help which comes to us at every moment.
- Thomas Merton
(Found on p. 62 in Space for God - 2nd edition, by Don Postema, 1997, CRC Publications, Grand Rapids)
For what are you grateful today?
Hear this encouragement:
Hebrews 121-13 (NIV)
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”
Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.
Tomorrow we begin our contemplation of the life of Christ, His virtues and incarnation. May you prepare to fix your eyes on Jesus!