There's a reason why we make New Years Resolutions…every year. We dream of not only doing better things, but being better persons. Why not start now with these 5 tangible leaps of faith?
"On this mountain the LORD of hosts will provide for all peoples A feast of rich food and choice wines...On this mountain he will destroy the veil that veils all peoples...he will destroy death forever. The Lord GOD will wipe away the tears from all faces; The reproach of his people he will remove from the whole earth; for the LORD has spoken." Isaiah 25:6-10
Leap of faith #1: Go to confession. Even if you haven't committed a 'mortal' sin, this is the Christmas season to embrace the Prodigal Father in the only honest way possible, as a Prodigal son, or daughter, of the Father. There is still time! Three weeks until Christmas. Three weeks is enough time to find a quiet spot and review all that we have done, and failed to do, in our lives, and make an honest confession. And after this honest confession, this is the season to frequent the confessional--not out of unhealthy, and unrealistic, guilt, but out of appreciation for the Merciful and life changing grace which flows from this Sacrament of Christ's Mercy.
If you're not Catholic, and cannot avail yourself of this wonderful Sacrament, make a heartfelt confession to God in Spirit and receive Him into your heart at Sunday worship.
Leap of faith #2: Receive the Eucharist immediately…and often! Think about it. What greater present could you possibly give yourself than Jesus Himself? Furthermore, what greater gift could you possibly give your family and friends than your time, effort, and attention, bathed in the Spirit of God?
If you aren't Catholic, please read John Chapter 6, and research what these early Christians had to say about it:
St. Ignatius of Antioch (50-107 A.D.), St. Justin Martyr (100-165 A.D.), St. Irenaeus of Lyons (125-203 A.D.), St. Ambrose (340-397 A.D.), and St. Cyril of Jerusalem (315-386 A.D.)
"Even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil; for you are at my side With your rod and your staff that give me courage." Psalm 23:1-6
Leap of faith #3: Let's reconcile with both God and neighbor! This can be accomplished by two seemingly contradictory acts. The first is to make a list of all those we have hurt. Then pray to God for Mercy in our offenses, while praying for the victims of our sin. And, if possible, if it doesn't cause more problems, seek forgiveness and reconciliation through a sincere apology.
Second, we must start rattling cages! Yes, rattle the cages of the comfortable. If we think that faithful discipleship is a mixture of Mr. Rogers and SpongeBob SquarePants, nothing will ever change, in, and around us. Contrary to popular misconceptions, Jesus wasn't a passive waif! The Cross was a courageous, and bold, statement about Love. We must do the same. This could mean joining peaceful Pro-Life demonstrations, or writing letters to the editor on social topics. It certainly means voting for Catholic-Christian friendly politicians--or, at least, the lesser of two evils. Most uncomfortably, though, it means the self-examination of our conscience on a daily basis.
"Comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable."
"Jesus summoned his disciples and said, 'My heart is moved with pity for the crowd, for they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, fear they may collapse on the way.' The disciples said to him, 'Where could we ever get enough bread in this deserted place to satisfy such a crowd?' Jesus said to them, 'How many loaves do you have?' 'Seven,' they replied, 'and a few fish.'" Matthew 15:29-37
Leap of faith #4: Let's start measuring our discipleship by Jesus' summons to find him in 'the least of these my brethren.' This doesn't necessitate a daily trip to the local soup kitchen, though that would be fine. Rather, it means reevaluating the way we treat all of our family members, all of our co-workers, all of our acquaintances, and all of the people we run into during our daily activities in the community and our parish. Which ones do we treat as the least? Maybe, just maybe, we have been treating 'the least' of Jesus' manifestations with the least respect.
Leap of faith #5: Don't believe the hype of the super-Christian! No matter who you are, you have valuable talents, valuable energy, and valuable time, necessary to building up the Kingdom of Heaven. The Church--in the Spirit of God--necessitates a hierarchy in Bishop, priest and deacon. But any other hierarchy is not a hierarchy of 'Holy Orders,' but the power play of 'the powers that be.' Join, participate, and never take a definitive 'no' to your sincere and respectful Christian self-offering.
Remember, most of the Pharisees rejected Jesus' self-offering. How's that working for them?