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  My Witness

Vol. 6, No. 1, January, 2001

Letting Jesus Be Lord!
by Sr. Brigid Meierotto, S.N.C.

Sister Brigid This is the thirteenth in a series of articles entitled: "You Are Invited to a Profound Interior Renewal." We repeat the quote from the Vatican II Decree on the Church's Missionary Activity:

"Since the whole Church is missionary, and the work of evangelization the fundamental task of the people of God, this Sacred Synod invites all to undertake a profound interior renewal so that being vitally conscious of their responsibility for the spread of the Gospel they might play their part in missionary work among the nations" (*35, Decree on the Church's Missionary Activity).

In the spring 1987 issue of MY WITNESSES, we invited you to make Philippians 4:8, just one Scripture verse, a reality in your life. Why? - because such a transforming of your mind would result in a new you; a you filled with a confident hope in the love of the Father for you, for every human person, and for all creation; a you, able to share your hope in Jesus with others.

Well, it's a year since I encouraged you to enter into this transforming of your mind, and I am interested in knowing how many of you accepted the invitation. Secondly, how many of you persevered in thinking about "whatever is gracious..." etc. And, for you who persevered, how has your life changed? How have the people around you changed? These are very valid questions, because when we act on the Word of God, that Word within us will bear fruit, the fruit of the Spirit: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law" (Galatians 5:22-23).

Now, let's consider for a moment the possibility that you really tried to put Philippians 4:8 into practice in your life. But, the harder you tried to concentrate, the more efforts you made to hear the whisper of the holy Spirit within you, urging you to turn your thoughts away from discouragement, disgust, despair, resentment, bitterness, envy, jealousy, etc., the more you found yourself bombarded, tested, undermined by daily events, and by the people in your life.

If this has been your experience, then this article is specifically for you - take hope! Let's look at Romans 5:1-5: "Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us."

From this powerful Word we learn that we are standing in grace, living in grace; this grace being peace with God - all because of Jesus, Jesus, who died and rose, in order to give us this life. There is only one thing necessary for us to do in order to stay in this life: "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you" (John 15:12). What a role-model - Jesus! Because we are already standing in this grace, then we can have hope, the hope of sharing the glory of God - this is a hope to rejoice in.

What could possibly be greater than this rejoicing? Believe it or not, St. Paul says that there is more: "More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings..." It's a misprint, you say? No, it is the living Word: "More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings..." Why? Because we know "...that suffering produces endurance... " You see, endurance is a personal quality much to be desired. It gives an end result that we all want for ourselves: the winning of the race, victory over injustice, reduction in dress or pant size, a treasured friendship, joy after the storm, and much, much more. Endurance of this kind refuses to be conquered; it is the Spirit which meets the pressure of the sufferings of life and overcomes it. In his translation of Ramans, William Barclay uses the word "fortitude " here. Fortitude - one of the seven ministry gifts of the Holy Spirit - that power of the Holy Spirit enabling us not just to "hand on" but to actively move forward. "And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might (fortitude), the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord" (Isaiah 11:12).

As if endurance (fortitude) weren't enough to cause rejoicing, St. Paul says that there is still more: "...and endurance produces character..." What is character? the word that St. Paul uses for character is also used for a piece of metal that has been passed through the fire to remove any impurities. "in this you rejoice, though now for a little while you may have to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold which though perishable is tested by fire, may rebound to praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 1:6f). Endurance produces the proof, the character, of spiritual strength which comes from a purified heart.

What does character produce? "...and character produces hope..." Those who come through the fire of suffering can face life filled with hope. And what a hope! Our hope cannot be in vain, it cannot be disappointed because it is founded on God's love for us: "...and hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us."

So, take heart, this word of God is for the consolation of each of us who are engaged in spiritual combat whenever we set ourselves to serve the Lord. The cost of discipleship is high but we can pay the price with rejoicing, because suffering, in the end, if we endure, produces fruit: hope. On this hope we can count; its source is the Holy Spirit within us. Thanks be to God!


The following reflections are intended to bring this article alive for you as a valuable tool for your evangelizing:

First: Reread the article. Reflecting on the scripture texts. Ponder upon where you are in relation to having an attitude of hope in your daily life.

Second: Prepare yourself for prayer. Stand before the Father, realizing that He looks upon you with love. Pray the Our Father and the Hail Mary.

Pray: "Most loving Father, in the name of Jesus our Lord, I pray you to fill me with your Holy Spirit that my imagination, my memory, my thoughts, the intentions of my will, my whole person be for your praise."

Third: Take your Bible or this article and slowly read Romans 5:1-5:1 owning the words as your own.

Fourth: Now see where you stand in regard to the following reflections:

  1. For me to rejoice in my suffering means that I have to:
    a)  stop thinking of myself as "poor me"
    b)  keep my eyes on the goal that lies ahead
    c)  other ____________________________
  2. My resolution in regard to a life of hope is:
    a)  to pray ever day in thanksgiving for God's love
    b)  to accept each day's events with patience
    c)  other ____________________________
Fifth: Take this Word of God into your heart and pray: "Father, in the name of Jesus, I rejoice in my sufferings, because I know that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope. I place all my hope in you, trusting in the love, the power of the Holy Spirit that you pour out in my heart. Amen".

For Effective Evangelization:

Rely on this Word of God; each day ask the Holy Spirit to give you the opportunity to share your faith, to speak to others of the fruit of suffering that you have found in your life because of the grace of Jesus.

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