For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. (John 3:16)
I urge you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship. Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2)
All of us, gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18)
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23)
For the love of Christ impels us, once we have come to the conviction that one died for all; therefore, all have died. (2 Corinthians 5:14)
Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. (Matthew 16:24)
Christmas has ended – a grace-filled time when we celebrated the birth of Jesus Christ, God-made-man. How grateful we are that God our Father would send his only Son to earth to become one of us. Why would God do such a thing? We could of course give many theological reasons including sin, the cross, redemption, etc. But perhaps the simplest explanation comes from looking at it through the lens of love. Only love would do such a thing (John 3:16).
As we begin a new year, how can we respond to such love? What will we say to our Father when we receive Jesus in the Eucharist? A simple “thank you” seems inadequate. One way is to make 2012 a year when we give our lives more fully to our Lord Jesus Christ. It’s not easy to give our lives to the Lord. We may wonder: What will God ask me to do? Will I have to part with something I treasure? Just what will God do with this gift of self that I am offering to him (Romans 12:1)?
Here is the best part of the Christian life: When you give your life to the Lord, he takes it, fills it with his grace, and gives it back to you transformed (2 Corinthians 3:18). He makes your life overflow with the fruits of his Spirit including his love, joy, and peace (Galatians 5:22). And as a result, you end up happier and more fulfilled than you ever were – even if you are called into a new and demanding area of service to your family or to others. You may be called to take up the challenge to love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Maybe you know someone with a serious illness who needs prayers for healing. Maybe you need to pray that a family member or relative would give his or her life to the Lord. Or maybe you are hoping for victory over a sinful area that keeps tripping you up. Don’t box God in. Instead, expect the unexpected—as you give your life more fully to Christ and make him truly your Lord and Savior. That’s what the love of God will do!
So don’t hold back. Even if you’ve done it many times before, let 2012 be a year when the love of God impels you (2 Corinthians 5:14) to give your life more fully to Jesus. And watch to see how he gives it back to you.
“Lord Jesus, take my life. I give it to you. Let it be yours completely. I give you my whole heart, and I believe that you can move any mountains in my life! Fill me afresh with your Holy Spirit so that in 2012, I will deny myself, take up my cross, and follow you.”
Many thanks to The Word Among Us (www.wau.org) for allowing me to adapt meditations in their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission.
Questions for Reflection/Discussion by Catholic Men
1.Take some time to meditate and reflect on the Scriptures at the beginning of the article. What do you think God is trying to reveal to you through them?
2. John 3:16 is a much quoted Scripture. How would you relate the message of this Scripture with the meaning of Christmas?
3. In the article, we hear these words: “When you give your life to the Lord, he takes it, fills it with his grace, and gives it back to you transformed (2 Corinthians 3:18). He makes your life overflow with the fruits of his Spirit including his love, joy, and peace (Galatians 5:22).” In what ways has this been true in your life? Be specific.
4. Regarding God’s great love for us, the article poses this question: “As we begin a new year, how can we respond to such love?” How would you answer this question?
5. The article mentions several examples of how we can put into practice our response to God’s love. Which ones resonate with you? What other ways may God be calling you to put into practice your willingness to give your life more fully to him?
6. Take some time now to pray for the grace to give your life completely to Christ in 2012, so that you will be able to deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow him. Use the prayer at the end of the article as the starting point.