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Photo-Ready or Free?

The Gospel today provides us with some of the most compelling and even scary imagery to launch us into a more sincere relationship with God.

I entered the convent thinking it would be easy to develop friendships with all my sisters on the basis of our common love for God and our common charism. I soon realized my definition of relationships and friendships, like everything else, had to be surrendered to the Lord. As I embarked on the adventure of surrender, I discovered the wildly beautiful way God acts. I have discovered this so often that I have grown to expect it: Our Lord always gives back one-hundredfold. It may not be exactly what I was expecting, but it has always been the abundant fulfillment of my heart’s most authentic desire. God not only purified and strengthened my understanding of friendships, but He also gave me strong friendships I would have never dreamed were possible. The key was I had to give Him the permission to mold and heal my heart.

It is not easy, but He is so faithful.

I try to give Him this permission to transform my heart every day and sometimes several times a day. And this is essential because I want to be living the things I speak about in mission. This consistency is the only way. Besides, inauthenticity is stinky. And I think that’s the point of the Gospel today.

Our Lord Jesus makes a strong statement in the Gospel. He warns us to be very careful not to be spiritually dead and decaying interiorly while obsessing about being photo-ready. (Matthew 23:27) Photo-ready may be today’s equivalent of a whitewashed tomb.

God knows we cannot stand being fake and we thrive on authenticity. He made us this way. This is why Christ Jesus expresses His desire for this total harmony for each of us in today’s Gospel. This is tough stuff, but it is freedom.

The powerful truth is He not only teaches us, but He also gives us every grace we need to follow.

Instead of worrying about being photo-ready today, can you instead think about how to be photo-authentic? Consider turning yourself over to God for all necessary improvements!

Sister Maria Kim Bui is a Daughter of Saint Paul, women religious dedicated to evangelization in and through the media. She is originally from Tempe, AZ, spent most of her fourteen years in religious life in the northeast, and is part of a bilingual evangelization team of sisters serving in Texas. Find out more about her here.

4 Comments

  • Reply
    Bridget
    August 30, 2017 at 7:31 am

    I struggle with how to “turn yourself over to God.” What does that mean?

  • Reply
    Clare
    August 30, 2017 at 2:56 pm

    I struggle with what this means too. People say surrender to God but I’m not sure what it means on a practical, real basis 😩

  • Reply
    Emily
    August 30, 2017 at 5:59 pm

    For me “turning over to God” means not trying to control everything and being open to what God wants out of my life. I think it’s so easy to get caught up in trying to follow the “5-year-plan” or trying to achieve a perfect life or in wanting to have it all that we forget to stop and look at what God wants in our lives. It leads to lots of frustrations when life isn’t going according to my plan because I think only of what I want out of my situation right now without considering anything bigger. We also need to meditate on our future plans and desires in prayer with God. Invite Him into our decision making and having my heart open to what God wants from me, even if it always isn’t what I want or think is best in the moment.
    A good suggestion from the priest in my parish was our “homework” to meditate on in prayer this week. Think about your purpose in life. Is it driven by God or by people and things? By a desire to be holy and go to heaven? Or rooted in relationships/things/the riches of this world? I also like to take my planner with me to adoration sometimes, just to talk to Jesus about my week and what is upcoming and what has happened in my life. Often I find that I took on too much and didn’t leave time to rest or to pray and reflect.

    Hopefully this helps a little!

  • Reply
    Sarah
    August 31, 2017 at 9:47 am

    A few things came to mind with the question of “what does it mean to turn yourself over to God.” Maybe it’s not turn over, but accept. Like, try to accept the body God has given us. We don’t need to be photo ready for the world. We are beautifully created in God’s eyes. Second, try to accept the space God put us in. He needs us where we are when we are.

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