On December 12, 2020, I gave my life to God.  Again.

Reflecting upon this realization that I was promising to do God’s will, not my own, yet another time in my life, I wanted to consciously be active in this dedication. In the past, I have said the same words of promise to God, then gone home from the retreat, the conference, the Mass, and continued my life. MY life, not His. 

In today’s Gospel, we read:  “No one sews a piece of unshrunken cloth on an old cloak. If he does, its fullness pulls away, the new from the old, and the tear gets worse. Likewise, no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the skins are ruined. Rather, new wine is poured into fresh wineskins.” (Mark 21-22)

Similarly, I cannot continue to pour my renewed devotion to God into the same wineskin. I cannot continue my ways. I cannot act as though this miraculous, beautiful moment of encounter with the Lord does not require complete change. Instead, I must pour myself into a new wineskin. A new way of holding and presenting myself. 

I often recall Pope Francis’ call to the millions of youth gathered in Poland at World Youth Day 2016 as he said, “The times we live in require only active players on the field, and there is no room for those who sit on the bench. Today’s world demands that you be a protagonist of history because life is always beautiful when we choose to live it fully, when we choose to leave a mark.”

Therefore, I cannot sit still. I cannot continue down the same worn path, the same unenthusiastic living. It’s unauthentic. It is not actively living God’s will. It is selfishly hiding and hoarding the joy that I have been given. 

I ask you, my brother or sister, are you celebrating new wine? Are you placing your new wine in the new wineskins of new joy, new practices, new selves? Where are you placing your new wine? 

Read Pope Francis’ World Youth Day 2016 message in full by clicking here or watch the video by clicking here.

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Veronica Alvarado is a born and raised Texan currently living in Michigan. Since graduating from Texas A&M University, Veronica has published various articles in the Catholic Diocese of Austin’s official newspaper, the Catholic Spirit, and other local publications. She now works as the Content Specialist in Diocesan’s Web Department.

Feature Image Credit: Kym Ellis, https://unsplash.com/photos/aF1NPSnDQLw

Daily Reading

 

Saint of the Day

 

In twelve-step programs, one of the tools used for spiritual growth is the “three A’s”: Awareness, Acceptance, and Action. Each of our readings today highlights one or more of these steps in a spiritual growth process.

Awareness

St. Paul beautifully describes the awareness we need as Christians: that we cannot separate our bodies and souls when it comes to morality and our relationship with Christ. We must have interior and exterior moral integrity, for the Holy Spirit dwells within us. Once we know this, we can move toward accepting and acting on this truth.

Acceptance

In our First Reading, we see young Samuel with some awareness that someone is calling him. Like many of us, though, he goes to the wrong place, with pure intentions, when God calls. With the help of Eli, however, he accepts the call of God and becomes ready to put His will into action.

Action

In our Gospel, we see the first apostles going through these three phases rather quickly They become aware that Jesus is Messiah through John’s word, accept that truth, and spring into action, following Jesus and telling others about Him. 

Our psalm also speaks of this process: the psalmist becomes aware of God stooping toward him, he accepts God’s call, saying, “behold I come,” and he acts on God’s call to announce His justice to the vast assembly.

Sometimes I wish that God’s call for me were as explicit as the calls that Samuel and the apostles received. For most of us, though, the path to awareness of God’s will for us means prayer, to grow closer to God, and quiet meditation, so that we can hear God speaking in our hearts. Once we are aware, then more prayer and mediation come in to help conform our wills to His so that we can accept it. Then, when we act on our acceptance of God’s plan, our prayers and meditation can give us the strength to carry out God’s will.

So then by prayer, meditation, and following His will, we grow closer to God. That is what spiritual growth is all about!

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J.M. Pallas has had a lifelong love of Scriptures. When she is not busy with her vocation as a wife and mother to her “1 Samuel 1” son, or her vocation as a public health educator, you may find her at her parish women’s bible study, affectionately known as “The Bible Chicks.”

Feature Image Credit: Pexels, https://pixabay.com/photos/clouds-landscape-mountain-range-1837129/

Daily Reading

 

Saint of the Day