A Knight Without Armor

He does not ration his gift of the Spirit. John 3:34

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1942 Salvador Dali

The internet abounds with articles on how to ration food and supplies during this time of Stay at Home Orders and quarantine. Some people may remember that during the Second World War certain commodities were rationed out to the general public. We have had to ration our medical supplies during the outbreak of the Coronavirus.

At wartime, when soldiers have a scarce amount of food, they have to ration it.  They only eat small measured portions each day so that the food will last as long as possible.  If they do not, they may run out and starve.  They do not hoard their food from each other but the take into account the daily needs of all.

What if this were the case with God and His grace?  What if the Holy Spirit were to say to us, “Now I’m only going to help you to a limited degree.  Once you use up the grace I’m offering you, you’re on your own.”  Ouch!  That would be problematic.

Of course, the good news is that God acts in the completely opposite way with us.  He commits to a full outpouring of the Holy Spirit and offers all the grace we could ever need or want.  The problem is that we often “ration” His grace anyway.  We don’t do this because we believe God is limited.  Rather, we often do it because we are afraid to let God unleash His almighty power in our lives. I know in my life I respond to God’s grace in a miserly fashion. I continue to measure out my love and devotion in a miserly way.

Speaking of soldiers, we celebrate today the memorial of St. George who was martyred by the emperor Diocletian because he refused to renounce Christ in 303 A.D. St. George is a hero of mine initially not because of any pious devotion but because of a picture I stumbled upon when I was a boy growing up in Moundsville, WV. I would often go to the public library to while away the long, hot summer days. Like any boy of nine or ten years of age, I loved tales about Knights and warriors. The library had a large picture book, of which the title escapes me, of warriors and knights down through the centuries.

 I would spend hours flipping through that book looking at the brightly colored pages of Roman legionaries and Knights on Horseback. There was a picture of St. George wearing the plate armor of a 15th-century knight on which was attached metal spikes. He was waist-deep in water wrestling with a great snake-like dragon and the dragon was being pierced through by the spikes.  Even today that is the first image that comes to mind when I think of St. George. 

The 11th-century preacher and Doctor of the Church St. Peter Damian paints a more realistic picture of St. George in one of his sermons. He writes; “St. George was a man who abandoned one army for another: he gave up the rank of tribune to enlist as a soldier of Christ. Eager to encounter the enemy, he first stripped away his worldly wealth by giving all he had to the poor. Then free and unencumbered, bearing the shield of faith, he plunged into the thick of battle, an ardent soldier of Christ.  Clearly what he did serves to teach us a valuable lesson; if we are afraid to strip ourselves of our worldly possessions, if we wish to ration our response to God’s grace, then we are unfit to make a strong defense of the faith.  As for St. George, he was consumed with the fire of the Holy Spirit. Armed with the invincible standard of the Cross, he did battle with an evil king and acquitted himself so well that, in vanquishing the king, he overcame the prince of all wicked spirits, and encouraged other soldiers of Christ to perform brave deeds in his cause…”

St. George did not hold back and did not look to the things of this world for comfort and protection. He responded wholeheartedly to God’s grace. Do not cling to things that cannot save. Do not continue to ration your love.

Reflect, today, upon what your life would look like if you let God do whatever He wanted with you.  What would change?  How would your daily life, your relationships, your words, your actions, and your future be different?  Intellectually speaking, we know it’s right to fully embrace the will of God in all things.  But when it actually comes to doing it, there is often much hesitancy. It may be fear of the unknown.  Or it may be that we do not fully want to change.  Whatever the case may be, God is offering you an unlimited amount of grace by the full outpouring of the Holy Spirit.  It’s up to you to decide if you will ration or not.

May God bless you.

Rev. Fr. Douglas A. Ondeck

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