02 May 2009

The Grace to be Changed

In today's Gospel, the Lord speaks haunting words to some of his early followers, "Do you also want to leave?" It is easy to forget that not all of the Lord's followers persevered in their new lifestyle. For just before this question, the evangelist tells us that "many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer walked with him." This is a very sad but often overlooked aspect of discipleship: not all those who set out to follow the Lord respond to the grace of perseverance.

As is the case in many new undertakings, the beginning steps of following the Lord closely are not always difficult ones and, often, they are lined with consolations and tangible graces. At some point, however, we discover that following the Lord is hard work -- and heart work. We come to realize that if we are going to follow Him seriously, we must make changes in our lives. It is not easy to be open to changing the ways we behave, respond, react, think etc. but we learn quickly that the road to discipleship is lined with opportunities to conform our lives ever more closely to the Lord's gentle and humble manner. For the grace to recognize and embrace these opportunities, let us pray. For the grace to resist the temptation to return to our "former way of life" -- be it in how we act, think or spend our time -- let us pray.

"Perseverance is the most desirable gift we can hope for in this life, and the one which, as the Council of Trent says, we cannot have but from the hand of God, who alone can assure him that stands, and help him up that falls."
St. Francis de Sales

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