Mt 4:12-25 He Withdrew
Sometimes it is necessary to take a few steps back. “When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. “
Sometimes it is necessary to take a few steps back in order to reflect, regroup and renew oneself. Who have I become? What kind of man do I want to be? Yes, the Lord loves me in my reality; he loves me unconditionally. And yet, he reaches down to me in order to lift me up. He came from Heaven to earth to lift me up from hell to earth, and from earth to heaven.
I am not exaggerating. Is it not true that we can sink to the never-ending bottomless pit?
Jesus took some time off. He prayed. He asked his Father, What must I say? The response came back. “Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.” In other words, continue the ministry of the Baptist, and make it new and improved. These are the same words the Apostles used as soon as the Lord departed from their sight on Ascension Day. They followed the words of the Lord. They followed his life. But first, they took some time off. They reflected, regrouped and re-emerged.
I must make a commitment. I will not allow anything or anyone to stop me from preaching the Gospel and living up to the Lord’s expectations. I want to be a Saint this year. What must I say and do? There are certain truths that are true for all of us. First, declare the truth to yourself: I am a sinner. This is the first step that I must take. Second, my sin is killing me. By recognizing this, I am actually moving forward right now! Third, I need a Savior! I need the Lord. Allow the Lord to re-emerge, come back to life, in your life; to be the center and foundation of your life. Dedicate yourself to the Lord. Allow him to fill your empty hands with good things!
An engineer who worked in Kenya once told me that when a native receives a gift, regardless of how small or sparse it may be, they always receive it with both hands – one on top of the other – as if it were heavy, priceless, or overflowing. They understand the value of a gift. In the silly 70’s we were all taught that we receive the Eucharist with both hands in order to avoid that it falls. How practical the Church is! But in all truth, there is much more to it than practicality. Are we not receiving something priceless, amazing and overflowing?
Today, let us emerge from our shelter, from our hiding place and place all our obstacles, difficulties and sins on the table. Let us examine them carefully and feel disgust for them. Let us reflect and renew our commitment to the Lord. Let us all say, Never again!
May the Lord in his goodness give to us the grace of perseverance, courage and love to never waste a single day or hour, or talent, or gift on SIN. May we fight the good fight - retreating if we must – but only to regroup and renew ourselves once again for the battle that is in front of us.
May God bless us all this New Year with his unrelenting love.