Sunday Relections
Michæl McFarland Campbell  

Security: placing it in God not ourselves

Some thoughts for the Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C), Sunday 26 June 2022.

Following Christ means transferring our security

In today’s Gospel we read that Our Lord Jesus Christ is travelling to the city of Jerusalem for the last time. Along the way, He meets three men who have heard His call in their hearts. These encounters teach us three tough lessons about what it means to follow Christ. However, I’m only going to concentrate on one of them.

To follow Christ, we have to transfer our sense of security. We have to relocate it from ourselves to God. We have to unlearn our lifelong lesson of relying on ourselves for success and happiness. We have to learn to rely wholly upon God, plugging all our efforts in life into His Grace.

This is what Our Lord Jesus Christ means when He says that,

Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head.

St Luke 9:58 RSVCE

Christ is trustworthy, but He is not predictable. When we follow Him, we have to agree to go one step and one day at a time. He refuses to give us a full route map in advance. When we follow Him, we have to stop pretending that we can keep our lives under control all by our own efforts. In accepting the friendship of Christ, we agree to follow Him, to put our lives under His leadership.

We know by looking around us that foxes and birds have the security of their instincts and natural habitats. Christians, however, are on an unpredictable adventure. We simply do not know where God will lead us. We do not know what He may ask us to do. When we join Christ’s army, we have to hand him a blank cheque.

Elisha’s example

The prophet Elisha gives us an eloquent example of this transferal of security in the First Reading. When Elijah comes and calls him to become his successor as Israel’s prophet, Elisha goes back home to tie up loose ends. And he really ties them up. Elisha was a farmer, where his whole livelihood, his whole way of life, was linked to the farm. This was how he made his way in the world. Up until the time of his calling, this was the source of his security.

But, when God makes His will known, Elisha doesn’t hesitate to break completely with that former way of life. He doesn’t just leave the farm behind. He actually slaughters the most important farm animals and burns his most precious tools. In so doing, he offered them to the Lord as a sign that from now on he will depend on God for his livelihood and his happiness.

Not everyone is called to serve God in this way, not everyone is called to consecrate themselves completely to the Church. But all Christians are called to make a spiritual offering to God of our oxen and our ploughs, of those things, talents, or activities that we tend to depend on instead of depending on God.

God can only fill our lives with the meaning and fruitfulness we long for if we put Him first, trusting that He will lead us better than we can lead ourselves.

Resurrecting the Morning Offering

Each one of us wants to make this transfer of security from self to God. That is why we are at Mass. We know that we need God. We know that only by depending more fully on Him will our lives take on the meaning and fruitfulness for which we all long.

But how do we do it? How can we become more faithful followers of Our Blessed Lord, more hope-filled disciples, more stable and authentic Christians? This transfer of security from self to God is a virtue. It is the virtue of hope. Like all Christian virtues, this one was planted in our souls like a seed when we were baptised. It is already there. We just have to help it grow. We do this by exercising it.

One of the most effective ways to exercise this virtues is by practising the long-standing tradition of beginning the day with what is called a prayer of “morning offering”. Like all exercises, physical, mental, or spiritual, it is better if it is done regularly. Daily, if possible.

This is a prayer that we say before the day begins — maybe right when we get out of bed, maybe after showering, before we go to breakfast. It’s a short prayer, but everything is put in perspective:

Thanking God for the gift of another day;

Asking God for guidance and protection;

Renewing our commitment to accept and do whatever He asks of us as we continue on the adventure of following His unpredictable path.

This week, let’s resurrect this wise tradition, so we can all exercise more energetically this great virtue of hope, a virtue that foxes and birds don’t need, but that is absolutely essential for us.

Today, Jesus will come to us once again to assure us of His all-powerful Love. When He does, let us assure Him of our trust. Nothing will please Him more.

Sample morning offerings

A modern version

O eternal and ever-blessed Trinity, Father Son, and Holy Spirit, with all the angels and saints, I adore you. From the bottom fo my heart I thank you for all the favours and benefits you have bestowed upon me, but especially for having preserved me during the night, and for giving me this day to serve you. I wish to live only for you, for greater honour and glory, and for the salvation of souls. O good God, preserve me this day from all sin and all occasion of sin.

O loving God, I begin this work day by offering everything I am and do to you. Help me accomplish all the day’s necessary tasks, to be wise in making decisions and earnest in completing my work. Let nothing distress or overwhelm me. Help me to depend on you for the energy, wisdom, and courage I need to do an honest day’s work. And then help me to let go of any concerns and anxieties. Amen.

A traditional version

O Jesus through the most pure Heart of Mary, I offer You all my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day, for all the intentions of Your Sacred Heart, in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world, in reparation for my sins, and in particular for the intentions of the Holy Father the Pope. Amen.

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