Monday, February 16, 2015

I Can Do All Things...

Most of us (Christians, at least) know the verse, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." - Philippians 4:13

People seem to quote it when running a marathon, battling cancer, finishing a PhD, or some other amazing accomplishment.

Well, I recently heard a presentation by Kimberly Hahn on this verse that totally changed my perspective.  (See here if you're interested.)  She says she used the verse throughout her life to say, "I can do laundry through Christ who strengthens me," and, "I can stand in this long line through Christ who strengthens me," and other daily things like that.  I guess I just used this verse as another guilt trip in the over-achieving, perfectionistic, self-hatred vein - ALL THINGS.  All the things.  Everything.  All the time.  All virtues, all accomplishments.  Now.  Hurry up already, you're supposed to be able to do them all through Christ.

Life, in fact, is lived moment by moment, day by day.  It's those little moments like laundry and standing in line that we sometimes need the most help to endure.  And, this ties into the spirituality of Therese of Lisieux, the Little Flower.  Therese is not my official patron saint, but I have taken her on, or rather, she took me on.  Why didn't I connect that little way with "all things" before?  "I can do all things (made up of many small things) through Christ who strengthens me."  I think Kimberly Hahn really hit on something so true and profound here.  

I can endure another traffic jam through Christ who strengthens me.

I can smile at my annoying coworker through Christ who strengthens me.

I can pick up my husband's towel off the bathroom floor through Christ who strengthens me.

I can forgive through Christ who strengthens me.

The possibilities are endless because our lives are made of these small things that, in turn, make up ALL THINGS.  It's the small moments that contribute to the marathon, cancer treatment, or the PhD. Even if your life is not spent jumping from grand accomplishment to grand accomplishment, it's the small moments that contribute to life, where most of us live most of the time.  We are called to holiness.  Holiness comes in ordinary moments.  Small moments.  Moments in which we have a choice.  Do we redeem those moments of laundry and waiting in line, or wish them away?  We can claim them through and for Christ.

It reminds me of what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says about Christ's death on the cross, in paragraph 605 (link here if you're interested), that Christ died for all of us, without exception.  "There is not, never has been, and never will be a single human being for whom Christ did not suffer."  Christ died for ALL.  But he died for each of us, individually.  If we were the only ones who lived, he would have chosen to die for us.  In making that choice for all persons, across all time, Christ died for all.  

Sometimes it is much more meaningful to understand the larger concept ("all things" and Christ dying for all), by understand the smaller concept.  I can do all things - every, little thing, big and small, important and seemingly insignificant - through Christ who strengthens me.  Christ died for all - every person, every man, woman, and child who has ever lived or ever will live.  

On that note, I can finish my Monday through Christ who strengthens me.  I hope you can do the same with a renewed sense of peace that Christ is with you, and you can do all things.    

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