God is My Strength

01-15-2023From the Pastor's DeskMonsignor Ellsworth R. Walden

“I am made glorious in the sight of the Lord and my God is now my strength.” This line is from the first reading at Mass today (Isaiah 49:3,5-6). In the Gospel for today’s Mass (John 1:29-34) John the Baptist points out Jesus to His followers and says, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”

Who is it that accepts me for who I am and inspires, encourages, and enables me to be fully alive. From the very beginning of our lives our parents are inspired, encouraged, and enabled to love us with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. As their children there is no sacrifice too great, no situation too difficult. That is the attitude and love we see in our Redeemer who gave His life on the cross for us. To love like that is to come to know what He meant when He said, “This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:12-13) Children are far more than friends, they an intimate and integral part of their parents. As baptized Catholics we are far more than friends of God, we are His children, brothers and sisters of Jesus, and united members of God’s family. When John the Baptist points out Jesus, he says he is the one who will take away the “sin of the world.” The ultimate sin is to walk away from God and go off on our own. But when we love like God loves us, when we sacrifice, forgive, and do good, we have inner peace. The “sin of the world” is the devil trying to pull us away from God and seeking to separate us from one another. Look at Jesus on the cross. The “sin of the world” tried to push God out of our midst and out of our lives. But Jesus refused to give up loving us. He rose from the dead and came back to us and for us. His ears are always open to our prayers and His heart is ever joyful in our presence.

We do not have to be perfect to be loved by God,“While we were still sinners Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) The “sin of the world” wants us to either ignore God or believe we are not worth his time. The “sin of the world” wants us to immerse ourselves in self indulgence, self pity, and self promotion. The antidote to that is to just sit and let ourselves be immersed in this line from the first reading today, “I am made glorious in the sight of the Lord and my God is now my strength.” Why is God my strength? How is God my strength? He is pure love, love that gives without counting the cost and is not deterred by our sins, failures, and weaknesses or lack of trust and hope. God is the strength I need to rise above anger, disappointment, procrastination, and confusion to live in the light of His love, wisdom, mercy, and truth so I can see the good I am and the power of my faith, hope, and love. How good it is to know inner peace in the present moment no matter what is going on around us and what is beyond our control or desires. When Jesus goes to console Martha and Mary after the death of their brother Lazarus, He responds to Martha’s complaint about her sister sitting with Jesus and leaving her to do the work of hospitality, “Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.” The Lord said to her in reply, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.” What is the better part? It is living every day through, with, and in Jesus. This is not just a pious thought or saying, but the life that is possible because I “am glorious in the sight of the Lord and my God is now my strength.” 

We focus on bodily health by eating the proper food and exercising. Our mental health and spiritual health are strengthened when our God is truly our strength.

I offer part of Psalm 63 and its Psalm prayer from the breviary for your spiritual reflection and nourishment.

O God, you are my God, for you I long;
for you my soul is thirsting.
My body pines for you
like a dry, weary land without water.
So I gaze on you in the sanctuary
to see your strength and your glory.

For your love is better than life,
my lips will speak your praise.
So I will bless you all my life,
in your name I will lift up my hands.
My soul shall be filled as with a banquet,
my mouth shall praise you with joy.

On my bed I remember you.
On you I muse through the night
for you have been my help;
in the shadow of your wings I rejoice.
My soul clings to you;
your right hand holds me fast.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be. Amen.

Psalm Prayer: Father, creator of unfailing light, give that same light to those who call to you. May our lips praise you; our lives proclaim your goodness; our work give you honor, and our voices celebrate you for ever.