Posted by: mmreflections | January 13, 2014

Dealing With Dilemmas January 2014

…..the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light, on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death light has arisen.  From that time on, Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:16-17)

As we come to the close of our observance of the Nativity of Christ and the Feast of Theophany, we are embarking on a New Year most probably filled with many ups and downs, many decisions to be made and challenges to face.  We are encouraged to consider how we are going to face the many surprises and disappointments that this year will have in store for us.  Are we going to go about life in the same way as we have in the past year or are there some choices we can make which will bring us more peace and more blessings upon others.  Jesus calls his followers to repentance, which essentially is a call to change the way we deal with the vicissitudes of life.

On the Sunday before the celebration of the Nativity we heard, what for many people, a rather boring reading of the ancestry of Jesus Christ.  We overlook the significance or relevance of this long list of ancestors.  This particular reading is important because it points out the many characters in the genealogy of Jesus.  Not all are saints!  It might be good, for those interested, to look up these personalities in the Old Testament and to discover how varied and colorful they were.   Many did good things, many did some bad things and many did a mixed bag of good and bad.  Nevertheless, Jesus came into our world through this kind of family.  Quite like all the rest of us.  Most of our families are quite ordinary with a mixed bag of ancestors.

This presents us with the first of many dilemmas.  Many people who have impacted my life over the years have allowed their family backgrounds to set the pattern for their lives.  Some have accomplished very little because they had such poor images of themselves as a result of the families into which they were born.  The ordinariness of their families or the shady aspects of their families were used as an excuse for not moving beyond the background from which they came.  As a result, not trusting in the power of God, they always felt unfulfilled and angry.  Others coming from the same or similar situations chose to move beyond and have become most successful and have accomplished great things.  They chose not to allow their backgrounds to determine how they were going to live their lives.  As a result, trusting in the power of God to use them as his instruments, their lives are filled with joy and peace.

As we continue to reflect on the Nativity we see a series of dilemmas that faced all the people presented in the narrative.  Our Blessed Lady was faced with a dilemma when she receives the message from an angel that she would bear a child.  She didn’t understand how this could happen but she chose to submit to God’s plan for her.  Joseph faced a dilemma.  Do I put Mary away or do I submit to God’s plan.  The Wise Men must choose to go back to King Herod and tell him where Jesus was or do they submit to God’s plan.  Herod had a choice and he made a very tragic one.  As we continue on we can see the difference their choices made.  Even Jesus was challenged, when tempted in the desert, as he discerned how he was to fulfill his father’s plan for our salvation.  The first followers of Christ had to make a choice:  do we follow Jesus or go back to our old way of living?

As this year unfolds, we shall all be faced with dilemmas every day.  We will be confronted with the challenges that come up and must decide whether we are going to be faithful to our commitment to Christ and live his way or will we continue living in our old ways.  Will it be my way or God’s way?  Our children will have to face the dilemmas in school that arise as other children tempt them to ignore what they have been taught at home by good parents.  Husbands and wives will be faced with the challenges of living as good spouses and treating each other with love and respect or behaving selfishly.  Will we fulfill our responsibilities at home or at work honestly and faithfully or not?  All in the professions will have to decide whether they will be true to their vocations and live according to God’s will or succumb to the temptations of seeking wealth, fame and power, no matter the cost to their souls.

As we get started on this year’s journey, we are called to reflect on the changes that need to be taken in order to experience the peace that comes from living according to the plan of God.  Of course, we need the help that comes from God and is there for the asking.  As we pay close attention to the choices we make we will quickly discover the joy and peace that accompany doing what is right.

 “Happy is the man who obeys me and happy those who keep my ways.  Happy the man watching daily at my gates, waiting at my doorpost; for he who finds me finds life and wins favor from the Lord.”  (Proverbs 8:33-35)

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