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Ways to Die to Self

First Reading: Hebrews 4:12-16

The word of God is living and effective,
sharper than any two-edged sword,
penetrating even between soul and spirit,
joints and marrow,
and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.
No creature is concealed from him,
but everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of him
to whom we must render an account.

Since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens,
Jesus, the Son of God,
let us hold fast to our confession.
For we do not have a high priest
who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses,
but one who has similarly been tested in every way,
yet without sin.
So let us confidently approach the throne of grace
to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 19:8, 9, 10, 15

R. (see John 6:63c) Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.
The law of the LORD is perfect,
refreshing the soul;
The decree of the LORD is trustworthy,
giving wisdom to the simple.
R. Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.
The precepts of the LORD are right,
rejoicing the heart;
The command of the LORD is clear,
enlightening the eye.
R. Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.
The fear of the LORD is pure,
enduring forever;
The ordinances of the LORD are true,
all of them just.
R. Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.
Let the words of my mouth and the thought of my heart
find favor before you,
O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.
R. Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.

Gospel: Mark 2:13-17

Jesus went out along the sea.
All the crowd came to him and he taught them.
As he passed by, he saw Levi, son of Alphaeus,
sitting at the customs post.
Jesus said to him, “Follow me.”
And he got up and followed Jesus.
While he was at table in his house,
many tax collectors and sinners sat with Jesus and his disciples;
for there were many who followed him.
Some scribes who were Pharisees saw that Jesus was eating with sinners
and tax collectors and said to his disciples,
“Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
Jesus heard this and said to them,
“Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do.
I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”

NAB

I just wanted one thing to work out like I planned, just one.  I just wanted one thing to work the way it does for the other women.

These were the thoughts that jumbled my head only a few weeks after giving birth to my daughter. She was my rainbow baby—the light after the storm of miscarriage. And here I was in the lactation consultant office, three weeks after my second unexpected c-section because breastfeeding just was not working. A perfect combination of circumstances had me at the end of my rope, but of course I couldn’t give up. If I gave up, if I took any route except exclusive breastfeeding, I’d be taking the easy way out and, more notably, I’d be failing yet another part of motherhood.

The meeting was almost over when, like a reluctant soul who slips into the confessional at the last possible minute, I made my confession. It wasn’t working and not only that—I hated it. When I wasn’t angry, I was resentful. The struggle to exclusively breastfeed was affecting my home life and impacting our mother-daughter bond. I sat there, pouring out my miserable failings as a mother to my sweet lactation consultant, Deborah.

When I was done, she reached out with what I can imagine was the strength and care of her namesake—the Biblical Judge and Prophetess of the Israelites—and reminded me that she was a mother and she understood. She reminded me that life is filled millions of ways to die to the self—some people give a part of themselves, others give up a part of themselves. Both roads were potentially challenging and potentially sanctifying

In today’s Gospel, Christ looks past what the world sees as He sits to eat with the sinners and tax collectors. He sees who they are on the inside. Don’t forget, as I had, that God sees our innermost self. So when the world tells us that we’re not enough, when they tell us we’re taking the easy route be assured that only He can see your heart and your intentions. Your life will give you countless opportunities to turn struggle into sanctification. You have not failed God because your path is different or your talents are different or your body works or does not work the same as others do. Remember that God sees past everything to the very reflections of our hearts. If He can see us so clearly, then we should trust Him as we walk that road He has made just for us.

Don’t look left or right in comparing yourself with how others are doing “it”—whatever it may be. Focus on what He has in mind for your path.

Molly Walter is a Catholic convert, wife and mother to one crazy five year old, a new baby girl, and four saints in heaven. She uses her degree in Theatre more as mother than she did while in the business. She enjoys reading, knitting, and rescuing third class relics from Goodwill. Find out more about her here

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