An Upward LifeFr. Barnabas Powell
He arrived in the US with $26 in his pocket from an Eastern European country. In his native land, he sold music records (remember those!) to make ends meet. But he spent every penny he had to buy an old computer that costs as much as someone made in a year in his country. He then set about learning to write code for computer programs.
Yesterday he sold his fourth start-up company for several million dollars.
We have all heard these stories countless times. The truth is opportunities are amazing when one is willing to work hard, take chances, and develop their God-given abilities. But, there are as many “riches to rags” stories as well where someone with all kinds of advantages squanders their “head start” and ends up broke and homeless. And then there are all of us in between these extremes.
But what is the pattern of a consistent and focused life? To be sure, it’s easy to use economic status as a measure of success, but most of us know in our hearts that money doesn’t guarantee a joyful and peaceful life. Anyone with an ounce of spiritual insight knows that mere economic success is not the end all of a full and peaceful life.
So, what is the pattern that offers us a clear direction toward that peaceful and contented life all of us long for and many of us seem to constantly miss?
We get some help today in our Epistle Lesson. I love this time in the Church Year when the Church calls us to read an entire Epistle in the New Testament at one sitting, and today’s the day. We are called to read the entire book of Jude since today is the day we remember St. Jude. St. Jude was a kinsman of the Lord Jesus and preached in Mesopotamia, Arabia, Idumea, and Syria, and, it is said, completed the path of his divine apostleship by martyrdom in Beirut in the year 80. Written after the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, his is the last of the Catholic (General) Epistles to the believing Jews in the Diaspora. His name (a variant of Judah) means “Praise.” (from goarch.org)
Jude gives us a peek into a pattern towards that life we all long for in verses 20-23: “But you, beloved, build yourselves up on your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit; keep yourselves in the love of God; wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And convince some, who doubt; save some, by snatching them out of the fire; on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.”
So, here’s the pattern – Build yourselves up in the Faith; Pray in the Holy Spirit; Keep yourselves in the Love of God; Wait for the Mercy of Jesus (There’s your INTERNAL checklist). Then (here’s your EXTERNAL checklist) Convince some; Save some; and Show some mercy! So, the pattern of a peaceful life has both INTERNAL and EXTERNAL components to direct us toward the life we are meant to have through our faith.
Today, take some time to quietly sit and look over this pattern given to us by the Holy Spirit through His servant Jude. Consider how our life of faith feeds each of these steps along the path toward our true life. Ask yourself if you are focused on building yourself up in the faith; praying in the Holy Spirit (this is knowing how to pray so well that your prayers and the Spirit’s prayers are on the same page!); keeping yourself in love with God; and are you waiting patiently for the Lord’s mercy in your life no matter what your circumstances.
This INTERNAL checklist will enable you to automatically keep the EXTERNAL checklist! Are you following the pattern to real life?