#MyMassTakeaway: A Thorn in My Side

Today’s the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time.

Find the Mass Readings here: 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time, July 8, 2018

My takeaway:

I’ve been a bit of a crabbycakes lately.

Everything is “a thorn in my side.” All of life’s little annoyances are like a bunch of tiny pricks.

I get St. Paul, in today’s readings. He begged the Lord 3 times to take away his burden.

I’ve been moping at God, too. Why don’t You just fix all of these little problems for me? Not yet? Well how about now. Or maybe now.

My eyes have been fixed on me and how every little thing is getting in my way.

I’ve become, as Paul said, “too elated.” Too proud. I have been looking for God, not to transform me, but to transform everything around me to fit into my perfect little worldview.

But St. Paul reminds me that God’s grace is enough for me.

It’s in these times of (very small) adversity that He wants to draw me closer to Him. It’s in these moments of (very small) sacrifice that I have the opportunity to enter into the greater sufferings of the Universal Church, and Christ’s suffering on the Cross.

These annoyances open the door to small trickles of grace.

If I allow them, the trickles will run together, and grow into a stream, a brook, a river. They will flow and rush and erode the nasty corners of my personality. They will carve away all that’s weak in me, and transform me into the person God wants me to be.

These moments of weakness, when I’m unhappy with myself, with others, with life. When it seems like thorns are pricking me with every step, these are the moments where God wishes to make me strong.

Not by changing my circumstances, but by changing me.

During Mass today, I realized my complacency in the offertory.

I write my little check and throw it in the basket while the priest prepares the gifts.  I wait for him to get the offering ready – the bread and the wine. And I wait for Jesus to take over with His offering – His body and blood, His very life on the Cross.

Once again, I’m looking for Him to change everything, to suffer everything, to endure everything, to fix everything for me.

But I’m not called to be a bystander at the Mass.

At the offertory, I’m called to give more than a few dollars, then wait idly by. I’m called to be more than an onlooker.

I’m called to enter in to the sacrifice.

To give my entire self as an offering.

It’s when I unite my personal sacrifice, all that I am, in union with Jesus’ sacrifice, that when He comes to me in the Eucharist, He can truly transform me.

Then, I will be ready to accept all the graces He wants to pour out to me.

Then, He can unite me to Himself and change me from the inside out.

So my God, my Jesus, today I’m going to try to embrace all my little thorns. All my little annoyances, burdens, and sacrifices.

I acknowledge their littleness before the great sufferings of my brothers and sisters in Christ. I admit the insignificance of my small suffering before the immense pain and suffering You endured when You sacrificed Your life for me on the Cross.

Nevertheless, I lay all my burdens, my thorns, before You today.

Not to remove them, but to surrender them to You.

Please use these small sacrifices as a channel of Your grace. Please unite them to the thorns You endured during the Passion. Please change my heart to be one with Yours.

Let my crabbiness dissolve. Give me renewed forgiveness, peace, and joy.

Let me be content with adversity, like St. Paul.

Humble me, and open my eyes to the power of redemptive suffering. Unleash Your power in me – the power of virtue, the power of grace.

Because when I’m weak, only then can I be strong.

Thoughts from my blogging friends:

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#MyMassTakeaway As we were going into Mass today, I told God there was only one priest I was hoping we wouldn't have today. We are blessed with amazing priests, but I knew there was a visiting priest this week and was hoping it wouldn't be him, because I love our priests' homilies and always get so much out of them. And wouldn't you know, it was the priest I didn't want. As I got a tad grumpy, I looked at the tabernacle and felt Jesus say in my heart, "Who are you here for?" Sometimes we get so focused on what we can "get" out of Mass and forget that it's really not about us. I'm there for Jesus, or at least I should be, and as long as he's there, then I'll definitely be "getting" something out of Mass. #mysundaybest #sundaybest #sundaybestsociety #sundayMass #Mass #Eucharist #homily #homilies #parish #church #timeforchurch #catholic #catholicchurch #catholicMass #catholicsonline #bissisterhood #zeliecreates #amdg #gloriam #gloriammarketing #forHisgreaterglory

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Ben and I attended Mass at Saint Al's in Houghton (the parish we attended in college and where we got married). The priest was ordained very recently, but he has been connected with the parish and university for a while. He joked that the gospel reading was kind of an awkward one for a priest coming back home. And though he gave a fantastic homily about evangelization, what stuck with me is how this vacation has felt like being at home. Almost anyone who has been up here can tell you that the UP is a special place, but one of the reasons it is so special to me is the effect it had on my faith. I don't think I would still be a practicing Catholic if I hadn't gone to school here and attended St. Al's. And I got to share this experience with my husband. Without our spiritual growth, our marriage would look very different (if it happened at all). And, the second reading is one of my favorite sets of Bible verses. I first encountered them about 3.5 years ago, and since then, they've held a lot of meaning for me. It was a great, blessed Mass and a wonderful vacation. Praise God! #MyMassTakeaway with @tojesussincerely #CatholicsOnline #ChristianBlogger #FaithBlogger #CatholicBlogger #yooperCatholic #sundayfunday

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#mymasstakeaway: Oh, St. Paul. Did you know that we would all have “thorns in the flesh”? That we would all have something we didn’t want, but that would ultimately make us stronger? 💪🏼 We think that applies to everyone’s marriage, too. Every.single.couple we know has a “thorn in the flesh,” so to speak. Infertility, super fertility, job instability, mental illness, chronic disease, you name it. Most (if not all) of us deal with multiple thorns. So that’s why we loved the second reading today. It was a good reminder that our thorns aren’t pointless – God is using them to help us grow! So don’t lose heart. Look to God together and remember His words: “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” 🙌🏼 #mysundaybest

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Some saints are hard to relate to, but when (St.) Paul says he begged God to relieve him of his suffering, I'm like, "You and me, both, Paul! You and me both!" More than most things, I get this — this prayer and begging for relief, and I'm thankful that this is an experience we hear about because it's a reminder for the times that we're saying that same prayer. It's a reminder that we're not alone. The other half of that experience is equally as important: that God responded and that His grace is enough, and that we can be at peace even when we're weak and even when we're not healed, because that's when God's power will be strongest within us and for us. I've experienced this at my weakest. I surprisingly felt closer to God in my darkest pain than ever before. So for me, this isn't a platitude but an experience, and I've learned that it has to be one (an experience) that we talk about, or else these words carry too much weight or too little. #mymasstakeaway PS. this photo reminds me of a perfume ad 😂

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Have you ever tried to call a “rebellious” family member or friend out of sin? Yeah. It goes over like a lead ballon. Ever tried to tell people to not live for this world? Usually you get a few eye rolls and laughs. It’s not easy to try and be a prophet. As baptized Christians we all are called to be one in some form. We are to call people out of sin, lead rebellious people back to God and proclaim the kingdom. It’s not very easy to do this with strangers. With people who are close to you, it’s downright hard. They know you. They know your faults and sins. You are just Amy or whoever to them, not some person trying to be holy. Even Jesus struggled with this. His family and friends didn’t want to listen to him. “Oh, it’s just Jesus again.” But, we are called, in our own way. God gave me lots of zeal and passion which for most of my life spilled out in anger and impatience, but I am learning to hone those things. I’m trying to be better in how I lead others to Christ. For those areas where I struggle, God’s “grace is sufficient.” I never know the seeds planted by my words or witness. Have a great Sunday, friends. Find a gigantic tree swing if you can, rest, and enjoy the day. 😀

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I want to know your Mass Takeaway too! Comment with your thoughts on the readings, your pastor’s homily, or anything that struck you during your time at Mass.

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