American Catholic | Franciscan Media

Spreading God’s Love

Written by Melissa Overmyer | 7/24/17 11:00 AM

Early in the spring, when the sun first begins to warm the Earth, the sweet smelling fir trees growing high in the Mexican mountains begin to come alive with the sound of millions of fluttering wings. The Monarch butterflies, which have migrated all the way from Canada to find their safe haven amongst these branches, will awaken from their long winter’s nap.

These are not just any butterflies—these are the fourth-generation, Danaus Plexippus, the anomalies of nature. Unlike their parents and grandparents, who lived only four to six weeks, these will live up to nine months, even though they are genetically identical to their predecessors. This long lifespan allows them to do what would appear to be impossible.

Not only have they made the 1,500-mile flight in just their lifetime, they will now take to the skies once again and head back north! These will be the creatures that make the first leg of the journey back to Canada.

Once they awaken, soaring northward, they will be just like the rest of the species, living only four to six weeks and in need of only two things: food and a mate.

They can now drink a variety of flower nectar, but after finding a mate, they are diligently searching for milkweed leaves as these will be where they lovingly and intentionally deposit their eggs. These hatchling caterpillars will go through the normal life cycle of a butterfly, instinctively heading northward upon maturity.

 

Filled with Joy

We, too, are like the Monarch in that we are made to pass along the life we have received from God, spreading his love far and wide.

We are told to “go and make disciples”—“bear fruit.” This could seem daunting, if it were not for the grace of God. Our Lord can inspire and enable us to do far beyond what we could ever think to do on our own, things we might deem impossible.

The butterfly so joyfully goes from flower to flower, naturally pollinating each and every one. It’s not hard work, it just comes naturally.

Pope Francis in “Evangelii Gaudium” (“The Joy of the Gospel”) states this: “The joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew...I wish to encourage the Christian faithful to embark upon a new chapter of evangelization marked by this joy....”

We give out from that which we receive, that which fills us. Pope Francis states: “The joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus.”

Are you full of joy? If not, perhaps you are in need of an invigorating, refilling encounter with Jesus? If so, this simple prayer may express the desire of your heart:

“Jesus I need a fresh encounter with you! Please fill me with your Holy Spirit and with this bring me your joy. By your grace, I throw open the doors of my heart to you now. Please take my burdens and worries and give to me yourself! Please, dear Lord, come and fill me to overflowing so that I may spread Your joy to all I meet! Thank You, Lord! Amen.”

And then pause, sitting in Jesus' loving light and presence, picturing him filling you from the tip of your toes to the top of your head with himself—and smiling.

 

A Welcoming Hand

Pope Francis also writes that we do not need to impose the Gospel on others, we can simply propose it in a loving and natural way. As we encounter and interact with those along our path we can invite them to lunch, just to get to know them, if the door is opened—we can genuinely and from the heart, tell them our faith story (what difference faith in God has made in your life), then perhaps invite them to Church. People need this joyful encouragement, it’s called community and from it much fruit grows.

May you each and every day, have a joyful encounter with Jesus and then share the joy with all you meet.

Spread the love. And remember, don’t settle for creeping around, being earthbound in your ways and thinking. Be transformed by the renewing of your mind to God’s truth and love! Why?

Because you were born to soar!

This is the final post of a six-part series. Read the full series here: