For this I labor and struggle, in accord with the exercise of his power.

 

Saint Peter Claver, Priest (Memorial)

 

Athletes who perform at the highest level train constantly: stretching, running, lifting weights, and working out winning strategies.   They dedicate all their physical and mental powers to their sport.   Winning is always key!

There’s no question that St. Paul also labored and struggled—but for the gospel.   He traveled constantly.   His bold speech prompted both Jews and Greeks to furious indignation. And he was beaten, imprisoned, and exiled because of his preaching.   But for all his heroics, Paul had something more than the physical and mental drive of an athlete on his side.   He had “the exercise of [God’s] power” working within him (Colossians 1:29).

All this talk about laboring and striving can sound exhausting.   But here’s the good news:   today’s Responsorial Psalm (Colossians 1:29) offers us a glimpse of what it looks like for us to take hold of this divine strength.   Interestingly, it begins with the word “rest” (Psalm 62:6).   As we learn how to be relaxed, peaceful, and at ease in God’s presence, we are filled with his strength and endurance.   As we come before him to get freed from guilt and shame, he tells us that he has always loved us, and he relieves us of our burdens.

What might this rest look like?   Maybe it means confessing something you feel guilty about.   Maybe it means setting aside, for a time, projects or activities that keep you too busy to relax in God’s presence.   It definitely means sitting quietly with Jesus:   pondering a verse from Scripture, gazing on a crucifix or an icon, or quietly repeating his name.   All of these can calm you and convince you that “the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).

Even if you don’t “feel” more rested after being with the Lord, trust that his grace has filled you and will continue to fill you.   It isn’t always easy, and feelings might tell you that you cannot take the next step.   Certainly Paul must have felt like that time after time, but he kept moving forward.   God strengthened and supported Paul, and he will strengthen and support you too.

“Jesus, help me to rest in you so that I can work in the strength that comes from your power in me.”

Psalm 62:6-7, 9
Luke 6:6-11

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