Friday of the Fifth Week of Lent

Father Henri Nouwen wrote:

“Your life can be lifted up and offered to God in thanksgiving.  You will know the enormous spiritual difference between living your life out of gratitude for God’s love and friendship, and living your life trying to earn God’s friendship.”

At first glance this seems like a strange statement.  After all, if you’re truly grateful for God’s many gifts, your response may look exactly like the response of someone trying to earn God’s friendship.

When you go to mass every Sunday, or even every day, are you showing gratitude or are you trying to earn some grace?  No one knows but you.  The same goes for helping the poor, loving your neighbor, or keeping any of the commandments.  Any of those things can be seen as signs of gratitude for God’s love or seeking God’s love.

The difference is inside all of us.  And that’s what counts.  See, that’s why God tells us not to pass judgment on one another.  Two people can be doing the very same thing for two very different reasons.  As Father Nouwen wrote,

“Life is a struggle and choosing to live the struggle gratefully and humbly as a child of God makes all the difference between a fulfilled life and an empty life.”

Most of you will be staying for the Stations of the Cross.  As we travel with Jesus on his road to Calvary for the last time of this Lenten season, we should be filled with gratitude for His suffering for us and, as the second station says, be glad to bear our own afflictions in union with Him.

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