In the Responsorial Psalm today we prayed, “To You, O Lord, I lift my soul.”
These words that King David composed to God are really beautiful and we know that there were certainly times in his life when they were true. But we also know from history that he did not always lift up his soul to God. Certainly he kept his eyes fixed on God and his soul lifted up to our Lord when he battled Goliath as a young man, nurtured his holy friendship with Jonathan, and continually chose to do good towards Saul while he was being persecuted by him. However, after fighting many battles for God and particularly for “Right Worship” of God, he became comfortable in his relationship with the Lord. He stopped fighting battles with his army and he became slothful. His lack of vigilance opened the gates for many of his vices to become operative.
First, his sloth fed his appetite for lust. He saw Bathsheba bathing on a roof and instead of averting his eyes he objectified her in his imagination and then in his actions. After committing adultery with Bathsheba, they discovered they were pregnant so David tried to cover up his sin through lying, attempting to get her husband drunk, and ultimately by making sure her husband was killed in battle.
Like David, a number of us have had experiences with God which have drawn us to lift our souls to Him and Him alone. However, if we do not nurture our relationship with God through vigilant prayer and good works as Jesus Christ speaks about in our Gospel today, then there is no doubt that we will start to look towards the finite passing pleasures of this world to satisfy our hungry hearts.
Many of us have attended courses with the Theology of the Body Institute and encountered God’s love in incredible ways. But the bottom line is this: It does not matter how much healing and redemption we have received in our relationship with God and His people. If we are not vigilant, we too are susceptible to falling from grace.
So how do we practically remain vigilant in prayer and good works so that we may remain faithful in “Lifting our Souls to God?”
I think for starters, we all have to write out some form of a “Rule of Life.” This means that we keep a calendar and every Sunday we write on our calendar when we are going to spend time with Jesus along with our other activities we have for each day. If we do not carve out time for Jesus every day then He will not be a priority and if He is not a priority then He will most likely get overlooked. If Christ gets overlooked then we will probably get caught up in the busyness of the day and forget to pray. If we forget to pray then we will cease to lift our souls to the infinite God and begin to lift our souls to the passing finite pleasures of this world.
Along with carving out time every day in our calendar to spend with our Lord we should also examine what our dominant vices are and cultivate the virtues that oppose them throughout the week.
By cultivating the virtues that oppose our vices and consistently spending time with our Lord, we will open ourselves up to the graces we need to lift our souls up to the Lord in this life and thus for all eternity!
FR. JOSHUA JOHNSON is a priest for the Diocese
of Baton Rouge. He is a presenter in Altaration and the Founder of www.brsaints.com. Fr. Johnson attended TOB 1 in April of 2014.