Being, Keeping, Clinging, Focusing
Being Joyful Witnesses
To speak about Jesus and his divine work of salvation shouldn’t be a burden or a heavy obligation. When we go to people feeling that unless they accept our way of knowing Jesus, they are lost and we are failures, it is hardly possible to be true witnesses.
It is a great joy when people recognize through our witness that Jesus is the divine redeemer who opened for them the way to God. It is a true cause for gratitude and celebration. But we should also be able to live joyful and grateful lives when our witness with deeds and words does not lead people to accept Jesus in the way we do.
Keeping the Peace in Our Hearts
Whatever we do in the Name of Jesus, we must always keep the peace of Jesus in our hearts. When Jesus sends his disciples out to preach the Gospel he says, “Whatever town or village you go into, seek out someone worthy and stay with him until you leave. As you enter his house, salute it, and if the house deserves it, may your peace come upon it; if it does not, may your peace come back to you” (Matthew 10:11-13).
The great temptation is to let people take our peace away. This happens whenever we become angry, hostile, bitter, spiteful, manipulative, or vengeful when others do not respond favorably to the good news we bring to them.
Clinging to God in Solitude
When we enter into solitude to be alone with God, we quickly discover how dependent we are. Without the many distractions of our daily lives, we feel anxious and tense. When nobody speaks to us, calls on us” or needs our help, we start feeling like nobodies. Then we begin wondering whether we are useful, valuable, or significant. Our tendency is to leave this fearful solitude quickly and get busy again to reassure ourselves that we are “somebodies.” But that is a temptation, because what makes us somebodies is not other people’s responses to us but God’s eternal love for us.
To claim the truth of ourselves we have to cling to our God in solitude as to the One who makes us who we are.
Focusing Our Minds and Hearts
How can we stay in solitude when we feel that deep urge to be distracted by people and events? The most simple way is to focus our minds and hearts on a word or picture that reminds us of God. By repeating quietly, “The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want,” or by gazing lovingly at an icon of Jesus, we can bring our restless minds to some rest and experience a gentle divine presence.
This doesn’t happen overnight. It asks a faithful practice. But when we spend a few moments every day just being with God, our endless distractions will gradually disappear.
~From Henri J.M. Nouwen, Bread for the Journey: A Daybook of Wisdom and Faith