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By Fr. Joseph, MIC (Mar 20, 2009)
Readings: Hos 14:2-10; Mk 12:28-34
Because of Me you bear fruit! Hos 14:9
There are times in the spiritual life when people get discouraged and are led down the road towards despair and despondency. Maybe a man is struggling to convert from a sinful life, but he just can't seem to get over the hump. Or maybe a woman is trying to follow the path of holiness but feels like she is spinning her wheels.
These two situations are reflected in the circumstances of today's readings. The first reading deals with the struggle of Israel's call to conversion. In the Gospel, Jesus outlines for us, the very heart of the law, the demanding way to holiness — that is, the call to love God with everything you have and to love your neighbor as yourself.
Why is this so hard for so many souls? Sometimes, people are tempted to despair and become despondent in their spiritual journey because they are trying to do the impossible — to live for God by themselves. Indeed, the call to holiness or personal conversion is an impossible task — when a person chooses to go it alone.
We need to realize that the power to change ourselves does not come from within us but from God alone. This key point becomes evident in the first reading when God reminds the Israelites, " 'I am like a verdant cypress tree' — because of Me you bear fruit!" (Hos 14:9). Only by the power of God can we attain any spiritual growth.
The one thing that we need to do is give our "yes" to God. This cooperation should lead us to turn to God more in prayer and receive the Sacraments more frequently. Especially from the Sacraments flow the graces that nourish our souls, so we can go further down the path of conversion and holiness. We can start by resolving to attend Mass more often and getting to confession at least monthly. Then, God will honor our dependence on Him.
Holy God, help me to realize that, without You, I truly can do nothing. Continue to form me in humility, so I may grow in my dependence on You. Amen.