by James Paulin
How can we choose the best day of our life? Life is full of events that have high expectations and in retrospect we might try to judge the significance. Birthdays, weddings, graduations, beginning a long sought career or striking it rich are all great days to consider. Getting over a threatening illness, through an operation or past a natural disaster or personal crisis might be considered getting a new lease on life. Some would claim a spiritual event would be the best day. A few would stop and be unable to claim the day that stood out above all others as one that marked a new beginning or a transformation. Many of us have been blessed with many important, beautiful events that have been the best of days, making it almost impossible to select just one. A true measure could be used if the real value is understood as the joy derived from the fulfillment of the inner person.
Great events in the lives of some historic people would suggest that the human will has the ability to determine pivotal moments by choosing not to achieve great things ourselves, rather to do something quite different by accepting the will and strength of God. Surrendering to God’s plan for each of us is powerful and transforming. The Bible is a succession of stories of the lives of people changed forever when a choice is made to trust in the will of God and depend on Him. Freedom of spirit is realized when Moses accepts the call to go and give God’s message to Pharaoh and when Jonah emerges from the whale and goes to Nineveh with a call for repentance. A woman about to be stoned to death for adultery is set free as she accepts the forgiveness of Jesus; the prodigal son returns from the errors of his ambitions into his loving fathers arms. These moments of surrender into God’s loving care bring the peace and security that other decisions lack.
The weight of obligations, unreasonable expectations or anxiety about failure can become a heavy chain that drags the spirit down constantly. Jesus calls out to all clearly, “ Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matt. 11:28-30
The highest ambitions of human aspiration are accomplished through desire and persistence. Inevitably, an overpowering factor inherent in our frailty invites surrender to our Creator as Jesus did on the cross. Calvary is the model of perfect submission to God’s will. Human in every way, Jesus Christ agonized as His sweat turned to drops of blood when He prayed in the garden after the last supper. He asked His Father if the cup of injustice, torture and death by crucifixion could pass away. His final words of submission are “ Not my will but thine be done.”
What would Jesus say if asked to pick the best day of His life? He performed many miracles and conversions in His life and crowds sought to hear the word made flesh but He transcended time and affected everyone the day He gave His life to gain the forgiveness of sinners. Born to reunite all of us to God’s tender care, this act of love is beyond compare.
We are a community of laymen and laywomen who, with vowed Passionists, seek to share in the charism of St. Paul of the Cross through prayer, ongoing spiritual formation, and proclamation of the message of Christ Crucified.