Saint Paul wrote these words in the first reading for Mass today:
“I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.”
This statement alone is enough to think about for the rest of the day. Saint Paul has such confidence in God, and in Jesus Christ. He leaves no room for doubt, that God will finish what He started.
Jesus Christ was conceived by the Holy Spirit, and then the Holy Spirit descended upon the Lord Jesus when he was baptized just before he began his earthly ministry. Jesus also sent the Holy Spirit to his Apostles on the day of Pentecost, which we celebrate as the birth of the church. The Holy Spirit gave birth to the church, beginning with Jesus’s conception, and He continues to guide the church and our personal lives as well.
Most Catholics have received the sacrament of confirmation at some point in their lives, whether it was when they were young, or when they joined the Catholic Church as an adult. The Holy Spirit began His good work in us then, and will continue to do so the rest of our lives. Sometimes the future may seem vague, without direction, or even hopeless or empty at times. We may cry out to God in prayer, asking Him for direction on what His will is for our life. Doubts may seep in that maybe He didn’t even hear our prayers, and yet, He does. God answers our prayers and completes His will for our lives, even though we may seem to wander a bit aimlessly through life at times. He even takes this into consideration.
God can weave such a beautiful story in our lives, even with the imperfect instruments of His grace that we are. One day, we may look back in hindsight and see His hand most profoundly at work in the story of our lives, even though we ourselves were often distracted by the fleeting circumstances we found ourselves in.
Saint Paul wrote that he considered the early Christian believers to be “partners with me in grace.” What a beautiful and most loving way to look at his fellow brothers and sisters in Christ! They were partners in grace. This is true for us too. We cooperate with God’s grace, through the action of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The trick is, to be able to recognize God’s grace at work in our lives. This is what the Pharisees in today’s gospel completely failed to do.
Jesus was having dinner at the home of one of the leading Pharisees, when a man suffering with dropsy came to him. (You may be wondering what dropsy is. It is edema, the retention of water in the body, similar to the symptoms of those who suffer from congestive heart failure.) Jesus cured him, but the Pharisees did not seem too happy about him doing this on the Sabbath, because Christ defended his actions:
“Who among you, if your son or ox falls into a cistern, would not immediately pull him out on the Sabbath day?”
Jesus healed this man of his affliction from water retention. It was no more a sin than rescuing a son or an ox from drowning in a well. Christ performed this beautiful miracle right in front of them, but they did not recognize that he really was the son of God. The son of the living God stood before them, and performed a profound miracle, and yet all they could do was to find fault with him.
Do you ever doubt God’s grace at work in your life? Would you recognize the workings of the Holy Spirit, that might be an answer to your prayers? Or would you shrug it off as some other natural occurrence? God’s acts of grace usually occurs during the small, everyday situations in our lives. Unlike the Pharisees, we just need to be open to them. May our hearts always remain open to Jesus, and to God’s grace at work in our life, like the man with dropsy in today’s Gospel. His life was transformed by Christ, and ours can be as well.
Daily Mass Readings:
Philippians 1: 1-11 / Psalm 111 / Luke 14: 1-6