Christ is risen!
“Take a vacation,” he said. Sure, I’ll take a vacation, but how? I’m busy. There are things that have to get done. People are depending on me. People expect me to be available to them. I HAVE TO work!
Sound familiar? Yea, I know, we Type A personalities tend to have a “Superman” complex, or, worse yet, a “messiah” complex! We are supposed to “save the world.” and yet, where does this ultimately prideful delusion take us? Toward exhaustion, broken relationships, unreasonable expectations, and ultimately, a crash. So, how are we to deal with the drive within us to “accomplish” things? It turns out the drive isn’t the problem. It’s the pride! It’s the notion that I, and I alone, can fix this or deal with that. To be sure, there are gifts and talents that all of us have that are unique and helpful. But the prideful notion that it’s all up to me, well, that only leads to a self-destructive delusion. Plus, it flirts with making my own talents an idol. The truth is Jesus is the Only One Who is indispensable! And He invites me to cast all my cares on Him because He truly does care for me!
Look at our lesson today in 1 Peter 5:6-14:
BRETHREN, humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that in due time he may exalt you. Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares about you. Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, first in your faith, knowing that the same experience of suffering is required of your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, establish and strengthen you. To him be the dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
By Silvanos, a faithful brother as I regard him, I have written briefly to you, exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God; stand fast in it. She who is at Babylon, who is likewise chosen, sends you greetings; and so does my son Mark. Greet one another with the kiss of love.
Peace to all of you that are in Christ.
St. Peter gives us invaluable insight into what the fathers call “nepsis” or “wakefulness.” And it all starts with Humility. But not just any humility. No, our key to peace comes when we actively and purposefully humble ourselves under the “mighty Hand of God!” And that happens when we relinquish the false notion of “control.” If we really do belong to God then we have to live that way! And in living that way we abandon the foolish delusion that we have “control” over anything other than our own disposition. There is so much external reality that simply is not in my control, so I have to let that go!
Then St. Peter tells us to “cast” all our anxieties on Him BECAUSE He cares for us! How many times have we suffered under the weight of our fears and worries all by ourselves and all the while our Loving Lord looks at us and asks “Why are you carrying this weight all by yourself? Don’t you trust Me?” So many of our prayers and liturgies are all designed to get us to take our eyes off ourselves and focus exclusively on God and His mighty Presence. And we let these prayers pass over us like water over a hard rock without taking the time to let these healing words of wisdom sink deep into our hearts! I will never forget the look of sheer joy in the eyes of one who had come to me for confession and she was at the point of losing her faith because of external events she had no control over. I looked her straight in the face and said “You don’t have to bear this alone. We will stand beside you and we will help you carry this burden.” It was such a relief to her to know she was no longer alone.
And all the while these weights borne alone do nothing but make it easy for us to miss the attacks of the evil one while we are weary and distracted by worry. These weights make us encumbered so that we can’t resist the devil or the temptations or the traps all set to knock us down and steal our joy! We assume we have to escape our troubles instead of peering through our struggles to see the WHY of our troubles and the wisdom the Lord is trying to teach us in our suffering. Because of that, we miss spiritual treasures meant to set us free and create a sense of purpose and peace! Plus, we foolishly buy into the lie we are suffering alone! And nothing could be further from the truth!
Jesus Christ wants to help you carry these burdens and ultimately turn them into stepping stones toward spiritual freedom and maturity! All of the events of your life, both good and bad and everything in between, have the potential of being the tools used by the Holy Spirit to make you into the person you were created to be! In the end, Jesus wants to restore you, establish you (make you stable and strong), and strengthen you THROUGH your suffering, SO THAT every event of your life is used to make you like Christ!
St. Mark, the writer of the Gospel of Mark, is a prime example of someone who truly cast his cares on Christ. Mark was an idolater from Cyrene, near Libya. St. Peter won St. Mark to Christ and Mark followed Peter to Rome where he was urged to write his Gospel that became one of the earliest witnesses to the Lord Jesus. St. Mark was martyred for the Lord in 68 AD because the pagans could not overcome the sermons he preached that converted so many.
Today, are you suffering, worrying, or struggling in some area of your life? Trust me when I tell you Jesus is standing by your side right now ready to help you with this heavy moment in your life AND He wants you to be attentive to His grace for you in this difficult time so that your life will reap the blessings of these lessons learned in the face of troubles. Our Normal O orthodox life is one where we are never alone and we are never abandoned. Thank God!
P.S. When you had received the Spirit’s grace from Heaven’s heights, you tore apart the webs of the philosophers; and on catching all of the nations in your net, O all-lauded Mark, you did offer them to your Lord, by preaching the Gospel of divine renown.