Thursday, December 23, 2021

Are you being purified?

Sometimes, when we are going through challenging stretches, I think about whether God is refining us, or if life just happens.

I knew someone years ago who was having difficulty with a priest, and for a few weeks, she grumbled and complained about his behavior.  Then one day, everything seemed to turn and I asked her what changed.

"I realized," she said, "that maybe God figured I needed some pruning."

That always stuck with me, because from then on, her perspective toward the priest changed.  In her humility, she was able to see beyond how he irritated her and recognized God's presence in the situation.  Of course, that always leads to the question as to whether God brings us these challenges. 

I was thinking about all of this because I was reflecting on today's reading, which comes from the Book of Malachi in the Old Testament.  In Chapter 3 we are reminded that a messenger shall come who "will purify the sons of Levi, refining them like gold or like silver that they may offer due sacrifice to the Lord." 

Clearly, a "due sacrifice" is made possible through the refining process.

We do need to be purified in order to offer a sacrifice to God.  For instance, say you are a person of impatience, or you are critical of others, or maybe you make presumptions.  A worthwhile sacrifice to God can be made as a result of your work on diminishing these faults.  This doesn't happen through good intentions, but through our God-infused actions.  All of this is hard work.

As we celebrate the coming of the Savior of the World, Jesus, at his birth on Christmas morning, what sacrifice can we bring to the manger that will give glory to God?  What gift do we have to offer?

The best we have to offer is ourselves, purified in his grace.  We will never get it perfect, God knows.  But, if we allow him to "prune" us like my friend did, He just may turn our faults into refined gold or silver, showing us how to genuinely, deeply, love each other.

This Christmas, open your heart to God.  Let your own preconceived ideas fall away.  Give him your fears and anxiety.  Let him come to you and purify you so that you may find the happiness he longs to give you.  In doing so, you will discover the real Merry in Christmas!

Janet Cassidy

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