Fr Rodney Kissinger, S.J
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us, and persevere in running the race that lies before us while KEEPING OUR EYES FIXED ON JESUS, the leader and perfecter of faith.” (Heb. 12:1-2)
“KEEPING OUR EYES FIXED ON JESUS” – the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world – my Lord and my God - true God and true man - the way, the truth and the life – meek and humble of heart – who knew what is in man - the medium and the message – the greatest expression of the love of God for us - the greatest expression of the human response to that love – yesterday, today and the same forever – who alone can satisfy the insatiable cravings of our heart – who has not only gone on before us to show us the way - but also goes along with us as our guide and companion - whose presence is like a “pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire at night” - awareness of His presence makes our journey of faith a joyful, exciting adventure.
“KEEPING OUR EYES FIXED ON JESUS” – and not on myself – my sins, faults and weakness - I am a sinner – actually in the past – potentially in the future – and always carry this treasure in a very fragile vessel - my free will is my greatest dignity but also my most awesome responsibility - when we fix our eyes on ourselves we become discouraged and lose heart – when we fix our eyes on Jesus we are reassured – we become confident and enthusiastic – without Jesus we can do nothing – but with Jesus we can do anything he wants us to do.
“KEEPING OUR EYES FIXED ON JESUS” – who assures me that God loves me unconditionally with a love I cannot earn or ever be worthy of – that he loves me not as I could be or should be - but as I am with all of the physical warts, psychological quirks and spiritual infidelities – all that I have, all that I am, all that I ever will be, is a spin-off from the reality God loves me – my response to God is a spin-off from my realization of the reality that God loves me.
“KEEPING OUR EYES FIXED ON JESUS” – and not on perfection - perfectionism leads to arrogance, hypocrisy, or to a breakdown - striving to be perfect I become a spiritual hypochondriac, always self-consciously examining and analyzing myself - resulting in paralysis by analysis - perfectionism is dangerous at best - if we discover that we are getting more perfect we become proud, which is the worse sin of all - if we discover that we are not getting more perfect we become discouraged, which is one of the greatest obstacles to spirituality - the truth of the matter is that we really never know - the closer we get to God, the further away we realize we are - striving for perfection turns life into a big “ego trip” - I love God, not because He is worthy of all my love but because I want to be perfect - I help the neighbor in need, not because of compassion and love, but because I want to be perfect – striving for perfection also makes me critical and judgmental - not only of myself but also of others - striving for perfection also makes us unhappy - because we are striving for the impossible - and the harder we try the more miserable we become - and we make everyone with whom we live equally, if not more, miserable.
“KEEPING OUR EYES FIXED ON JESUS” – and not on others – on what others may say or think about what we are doing – human judgments are superficial – we judge by appearances – only God can read the conscience and heart – apparent success is not always real success – our friends think we are better than we are – our enemies think we are worse than we are – we foolishly seek human praise, acceptance and esteem – how many wonderful things are left undone because of the fear of what others may say or think – how many foolish things are done to win the praise of others.
“KEEPING OUR EYES FIXED ON JESUS” – and not on the cross we have to bear - the cross is an inevitable fact of human life - we enter the world in the pain of another and we leave the world in our own - and between the entrance and the exit there is more of the same – the cross can make us or break us - no one can escape it - each one has to solve the problem of the cross for himself - there are three possible solutions - the first is to deny the inevitability of the cross - to set out in pursuit of all the pleasure we can find - and ward off all pain, sorrow and disappointment - this is really no solution at all - how can you avoid the inevitable - the second possible solution is to admit that the cross is inevitable - and to make the best of a bad bargain - to grit our teeth and endure what we cannot cure - this is a better solution than the first - but it commits us to a dull, dreary, monotonous, passive existence - the third possible solution is to accept the invitation of Jesus - -to pick up our cross daily and follow him - an opportunity to prove our love for him - then life becomes a great adventure – we find that his yoke is sweet and his burden light - our suffering is transformed into sacrifice - we realize that it costs to be a lover - the language of love is sacrifice - no matter how dark the prospects become we never lose heart - because the victory is certain.
“KEEPING OUR EYES FIXED ON JESUS” – and not on the world created by man – a world which is the result of sin and which is an enticement to sin - a world that is at enmity with God - a world over which Satan has dominion - which he uses together with the flesh, to tempt us - a world that hates Jesus and all that belongs to Him - a world that is the irreconcilable enemy of God - whose principles are diametrically opposed to the principles of Jesus - a world that is beamed to us day and night through the media which is constantly proclaiming the trinitarian god of “rugged individualism, hedonism and consumerism” - which promotes conspicuous consumption as a way of life - in which we buy what we don’t need, with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like - if we depend on the acceptance and approval of others what happens if they do not give us their stamp of approval?
“KEEPING OUR EYES FIXED ON JESUS” and not on the work we do for him. Jesus does not want our work he wants our love, our heart. He judges us not by the amount of work we do but by the intensity of our love. Apparent success is not always real success. Often we reap what others have sown and sow what others will reap.
“KEEPING OUR EYES FIXED ON JESUS” and not on our feelings of devotion and consolation. Feelings are fleeting, not constant. Religion is not primarily in the feelings but in the intellect and will. What we are seeking is the God of consolation not the consolations of God.
“KEEPING OUR EYES FIXED ON JESUS” – as the evangelists describe him in the Gospels - the most magnetic human personality ever to walk the face of this earth - who spoke with authority - called a spade a spade and was no respecter of persons - who loathed the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and told them in no uncertain terms - who made a whip and drove the buyers and sellers out of the temple - rough, simple fishermen leave their nets and boat to become his disciples - learned doctors sit at his feet to hear his wisdom - tax collector leaves his money table to follow him - multitudes, captivated by his preaching, follow him for days forgetting even to provide food for them selves - sinners seek him out to be forgiven - the sick fight their way through the crowds just to touch the hem of his garment - a rich, dignified leader of the publicans, because he was too short to see over the heads of the crowd, shinnied up a sycamore tree just to get a look at him as he was passing by - a powerful leader of the Pharisees comes to him at night to profess his belief in him – and finally the chief priest says that this man must die because the whole world has gone out after him.
EYES FIXED ON JESUS” – so that we might know him more intimately,
love him more ardently and follow him more closely – the secret
of Christianity – the secret of being contemplative in action –
the secret of happiness.
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