Christina Mayeux reflects on our need to imitate St. Peter and open ourselves to God's saving power.
“Do not be afraid. Open wide the doors for Christ!”
This opening quote and thought for the week for the Second Week of Lent from St. John Paul II enthusiastically and simply expresses what we all should strive to do these next few weeks as we endeavor to become free from the burden of worry. Through this book study, we will read, reflect, and pray together as we ask the Lord to help us to eliminate this troublesome and often debilitating suffering in our lives.
What are the doors that St. John Paul encourages us to throw open? I believe he is speaking of the doors of our hearts, which may until now have be closed off out of fear and worry. As a society, we have endured the stressful realities of a global pandemic, civil and political unrest and division, and other difficult societal issues. Along with these, each of us carries our own cross of problems, burdens, and hardships in our personal and family lives.
All of these cares and worries combined have taken a toll on many of us individually. Thankfully, as Gary Zimak points out in his book Give Up Worry for Lent!, the fact that you have chosen to read this book and participate in the book study indicates that you and I are responding to the Lord’s call and pursuing the best and only answer to this problem of worry. A daily encounter with Jesus Christ will lead us to the peace we desire.
Opening the doors of our hearts to Christ so that he can heal us and remove worry from them is not an easy task. As Gary points out, those of us who worry like to be in control. Instead of maintaining a spirit of openness, we are closed in on our worry, grasping, clutching, and clinging to it. We hold on to our anxieties and are so often afraid to let them go. Perhaps the reason we cling to our worries is because we feel that by worrying, we have some sense of control over the situation or outcome. Maybe we have lived so long with our fears that they have become familiar to us and we don’t know how to live without them.
Whatever the reason we stubbornly refuse to let go of our habit of worrying, one thing is clear, as Gary reminds us throughout the book. We cannot learn to let go and be free from our worries without the help of Jesus. We cannot do it alone. Only through the power of Christ can we be healed and freed from this burden of worry and anxiety.
We are reminded that our freedom from worry will likely not happen overnight, but rather, will be a process that takes time. How can we practice and experience the virtues we need while we undergo this process? Through prayer, specifically asking the Holy Spirit for these fruits and gifts, we will obtain everything we need. Gary says that the Holy Spirit is the one to turn to because He specializes in joy and patience and brings peace as well. Along with the other fruits of the Spirit, joy, peace, and patience are essential for Christian living and will help us to learn to let go of fear and worry.
Our prayer can be the simple exclamation of St. Peter as he became afraid and began to sink after walking on water, “Lord, save me!” As long as Peter was open to the supernatural power of Jesus as he stepped out onto the water, he miraculously defied nature and did what seemed impossible. It was only when his faith and trust wavered, and he began to doubt that he began to descend beneath the waves.
If we imitate St. Peter and call out for Jesus when we begin to sink into worry and fear, we can be assured that we will receive the help we need. We can listen to and act on the words of the great St. Pio, who urges us to “open your soul more and more to Divine Hope, have more trust in the Divine Mercy, which is the only refuge of the soul exposed to a stormy sea.”
I love that toward the end of the week’s reflections, we are encouraged to list and ponder all of the great blessings that the Lord has given us. Not only do we find amazing examples of God’s love and power throughout the Bible, but when we pause to examine our own lives, we are sure to recall many times and situations when he has come through for us in incredible ways.
Let us remember to reflect upon God’s goodness and merciful care for us as we walk with Jesus on our journey through Lent. We should especially recall and meditate upon His Passion, death, and Resurrection and the power of the Eucharist as we prepare our hearts for the solemn observance of Holy Week and the celebration of Easter Sunday. Through our daily encounter with Christ, may we all reach Easter Sunday with hearts free from worry and full of joy as we celebrate the glorious Resurrection of our Savior!
- What are some specific ways we can “Open wide the doors for Christ” in our personal and spiritual lives this Lent, as St. John Paul II urges us to do?
- Peter called out, “Lord, save me!” as he began to sink beneath the waves while walking on water. How can I prepare to respond by calling out prayerfully to Jesus when I face fearful situations in my own life?
- Gary Zimak encourages us to think of and list our fears. After listing them, what are some positive, consoling, and truthful thoughts that we can also list to challenge and correct our worrisome thoughts?
Did you miss this week’s Facebook Live with author Gary Zimak? Review it now!
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Copyright 2021 Christina Mayeux
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