Sing! Sing! Sing !

November 17, 2018

“ Christ’s peace must reign in your hearts, since as members of the one body you have been called to that peace. Dedicate yourselves to thankfulness. Let the word of Christ , rich as it is, dwell in you. In wisdom made perfect, instruct and admonish one another. Sing gratefully to God from your hearts in psalms, hymns and inspired songs. What ever you do, whether in speech or in action, do it in the name of the Lord Jesus. Give thanks to God for the Father through Him. “

( Colossians 3:15-17 )

In Colossians, Paul ( speaking for both himself and Timothy) is writing to the Church at Colossae, where he has never been. It is strictly through Epaphrus, who was the disciple who brought the Good News and did the work of building the church in Colossae. The chapter of Colossians is brief, as it only contains one letter, composed by Paul, in his typical style of writing, where there is a warm greeting in the name of the Lord, then some bit of news, or information. This is followed by some general instruction, then admonishment to give clear instructions on the Christian teachings, and finally some reassurance, so edification, and a closing of the letter in warm reassurance in love.

This section of the letter comes from the instructional part of the letter about three quarters of the way through the chapter.

This reading has 2 parts. First, part talks about peace, the second about our praise and worship of God.

Lets take a moment and look a little deeper.

“Christ’s peace must reign in your hearts, since as members of the one body you have been called to that peace”.

In the scriptural thoughts that come to mind, I can recall one or two instances where Jesus got just generally upset, or annoyed, or angry. All in all though, if we only got upset twice in our lives, that is pretty good.

My father was one of those people who never seemed to get upset or angry at almost anything. I mean, that life’s little inconveniences just seemed to roll off his back. Through my entire life I can remember a grand total of one time I ever heard him raise his voice. There was a deep seeded peace about him that I admired and his command of that peace in his heart was something I was always amazed over.

I have spent a good part of my adult life attempting to emulate the peace and presence my father masterfully garnered. Not unlike the spiritual life, this is one of those things that is a life long journey.

Wisdom is found in adversity. It is through the adversities that we face that we are given pause to consider the origins , the resolution, the outcome, and analysis of what we are going through . It is not that we will have the answers. In fact it is a blessing when the answers are clear. Take for instance the Israelite’s wandering in the desert. They wandered in the desert because of their disobedience.

They would make covenants, and break them just as quickly and they suffered for that disobedience, and after they were forgiven they would break the next covenant. Here we are in current times, and looking at our society here we are doing the same stupid things. We just have never gotten the picture.

I digress…

The adversities we face are a gift from God ( even if occasionally unwelcome). For out of the trials we face a greater good is what God has planned for us. It is not that God’s plan would not be carried out if we did It is simply to give us opportunities to exercise our free will to both co-operate with Gods plan, to grow in faith, and to gain the wisdom that comes from that process. All that so that you can help to bring about the Kingdom of God, and so that you can be testament, and a channel of grace for others.

Then comes the second part..

“ Sing gratefully to God from your hearts in psalms, hymns and inspired songs. What ever you do, whether in speech or in action, do it in the name of the Lord Jesus. Give thanks to God for the Father through Him. “

I can remember my mother recounting stories about family trips and vacations that her family used to take in the car. These were usually “ out of state “ trips and since they lived in Texas by todays standards it takes a full day of driving to get out of that state. So, these were not short trips.

She used to tell us that during those trips her family would sing hymns and not just melodies but in 4 part harmony.

Its not really about whether or not you can sing like Pavarotti or if you voice is more suited to the shower , it is the intent, and content of what we sing that is important. Bach is reported to have said that “ He who sings, prays twice”. When we sing there is a both a physical and a spiritual response in the human body and mind. There is a stirring of the soul. All you have to do is sing hymns that are worthy of God and allow the soul to begin its ascent.

I remember one music minister saying there are 2 types if singers, upstairs singers , and downstairs singers. Everyone should sing to God with all their hearts.. and give thanks !

May God give you the gift of His peace !

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Come To The Water !

November 3, 2018

“ All you who are thirsty, come to the water !

You who have no money, Come, receive grain and eat ;

Come , without paying, and without cost,

drink wine and milk !

Why spend your money for what is not bread;

your wages for what fails to satisfy ?

Heed me , and you shall eat well,

you shall delight in rich fare.

Come to me heedfully,

listen , that you might have life .

I will renew with you the everlasting covenant,

the benefits assured to David “. (Isaiah 55: 1-3)

In the world today we have people who are, over worked, over stressed, over sensitized, over committed, over stimulated, and pretty much just “over it”. Our lives, our jobs, our families, our friends , demand what little time it is that we have because of the lives we lead.

People have left the church in favor of “rest” believing it is easier or better to be able to sleep in on Sunday. It is much more relaxing to go camping or to do something else more fun than getting up early and going to church.

Mankind , can be historically speaking , rather thick in the head. This situation is not new, nor different. We seem to be a little slow to learn all the same lessons we have been re-learning over and over again.

In this reading, Isaiah, is calling us all to get ourselves aligned with Gods will for us. To enter into the spiritual banquet God has prepared for us, in order that we may be spiritually fed. The invitation is there for each one of us. To come and live with Christ., a gift that is freely given.

Why would you stay away, spending your time and your efforts, and your money for something that would ultimately be of no consequence, that will not help you in the long run. In the Body of Christ , the church , is communion with God. There is hope, there is life ! A spiritual feeding that goes beyond the short fare that is this life. Eating and drinking of this world will not satisfy the hole you have in your heart. It is the spiritual feeding you receive that will give you life.

God is sitting quietly, calling… waiting.

Isaiah says that if the Israelites enter into the banquet, that God will renew with him the covenant He made with David.

David wanted to build God a house, but God said to David, what kind of house can you build Me ?

Because of Davids faithfulness , God said he was going to build a house for David . This was of course not a physical house, this use of the word meant an earthly dynasty for David and his descendents.

As it turns out, David eventually looses that dynasty through sin, but it eventually is consummated in the Eucharistic covenant at the Last Supper.

Through out the history of recorded time, Mankind has entered into covenants with God, Man has walked away thinking that something was better , then came the trials, and finally a return.

That pesky free will is right there, presenting you with choices , giving you the ability to choose what is good and holy. Its not fun, and its often challenging, but is ultimately there to bring you closer to God and to bring about His will. The reason that we have so many problems today is that we keep trying to exercise our will out of step with Gods will. Placing God first in your life will make the other things you are wrestling so hard to fix, work themselves out.

Give your life back to God, and He will make you whole again..

May God give you the gift of His peace !

Decisions… Decisions…

October 27, 2018

“ May the Lord increase you and make you overflow with love for one another and for all, even as our love does for you. May He strengthen your hearts, making them blameless and holy before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His holy ones.”.

(1 Thessalonians 3:12-13)

In this passage, Paul finds himself in a deep and prayerful desire to see the church in Thessalonians grow and thrive and that their faith would persist. The church in Thessalonia is being constantly persecuted on all sides, From the pagans , and from the Jews as well. As a result of the circumstance he also fears that they might not be able to withstand the persecution and loose faith. It is the desire of all that the church there grows, and the people grow in faith and holiness, but the circumstances under which they find themselves are difficult.. and while choices can be difficult, ultimately discernment of the best and highest good is ultimately the goal, faith in Jesus Christ.

Does this sound familiar to you ? In fact this sort of scenario is played out both within, and without the Church since the beginning of recorded time. God calls us, brings us to a trial, and we find a question or a conflict that needs a resolution, This might be a simple question, or it might be something that is much more massive with the repercussions being far reaching ( even if just in our own views ).

I once heard this ( extreme but explanatory) method to distinguish the difference.

Lets say you were hungry.. and had not eaten for a long period of time. As you were walking down the road , you smelled a pizza coming from a nearby restaurant, and you needed to eat. On the way, you catch sight of a man drowning.

Now, you both have the directive from God to care for creation , which includes your own body. So eating is part of that care.. and so that is a moral good. Saving the life of another person, is not only a moral good, but a HIGHER moral good, and in fact faced with a choice most people would choose to save the man as opposed to ignoring the man and going to get pizza instead.

The closer the level of perceived “goodness” becomes, the higher level of discernment may be necessary and ultimately the highest level of good chosen.

This Moral theology we express is ultimately governed by the law of Love. Jesus provided us with us with 2 laws we can always rely on in matters of moral theology:

  1. Love of God.
  2. Love of Neighbor.

If the action you are proposing to take does not fulfill these laws, then the choice is simple.

Sometimes the heavy lifting is involved and the answer is not as clear as possibly you might like.

At these times, we might need to employ the scriptural axiom “ Seek the council of every wise man !”

( Tobit 4:18) Seek out a priest, deacon, or friend that is strong in their faith and has theologically sound judgement and reason.

In all things pray for wisdom, pray for guidance, and pray that the will of God bedone in all things.

May God give you the gift of His peace !

Be The Lampstand !

October 15, 2018

“ We possess the prophetic message as something altogether reliable. Keep your attention closely fixed on it, as you would on a lamp shining in the dark until the first streaks of dawn appear and the morning star rises in your hearts First you mist understand this – there is no prophecy contained in Scripture which is a personal interpretation. Prophecy has never been put forward by mans willing it.

It is rather that men impelled by the Holy Spirit have spoken under God’s influence. “

2 Peter 1:19-21

This passage of Peter was written while Peter was in prison awaiting his own martyrdom. During this time Peter is writing to encourage the church to praise God, to sure up the unsteady, to warm against false prophets and encourage the faithful to live lives of holiness as they await the second coming of Christ which ( he believed ) would be imminent.

In this particular reading, Peter is focusing on the Old Testament and its reliability and faithfulness as not just something that was the outcome of any personal interpretation of what some one else said, or even a particular prophets interpretation of what was revealed to them by God. It was in fact the those prophets were impelled by the Holy Spirit to be the instrument of God’s voice. Therefore to be believed and witness to.

The passage “ Keep your attention closely fixed on it, as you would a lamp shining in the dark until the first streaks of dawn appear and the morning star rises in your hearts”, is so very relevant today.

We are baptized into the roles of priest ( to offer prayers ) and prophet ( to go forth and spread the Word of God to all nations, and make disciples) and King ( the royal priesthood), to in our role as prophets we need also need to be lights in the darkness, Just like a scientist takes samples and puts them under a magnifying glass in order to see and understand what a sample contains and how to relate to it, so too, are we to be the magnifying glass for others. So that they too can see and understand.

We need people of faith to step forward in faith, to know what it is that informs their faith and the reasons for it. 1 Peter ch 3 tells us to “ always be ready to give an reason ( explanation) for your faith”, and to do so with kindness, gentleness, and reverence. Give as much as you are able, or knowledgeable of but also know that it is also OK to say “ I don’t have an answer for you at this moment, let me get back to you and I will find an answer for you”, and then do it !

Study Study, Study. ! Study Scripture, there is so much to know, Then the more you know, the more that you know that you don’t know. There are bad translations of the Bible, get a good one. Get a version that has the original Greek and Hebrew languages and really look at what was originally said and how it has been translated in different versions. When Encyclicals come out, or letters from the Vatican, don’t take someone else s condensed version of what is said, go to the Vatican website and read what was written for yourself. This will remove any other human bias or agenda.

Study, by talking about your faith with others. Just like steel is sharpened against a stone, so your understanding of your faith will be sharpened by letting it see the light of day, by discussing it with others who may have a different understanding, and it is in this way that you will not only learn but be informed, but if there are questions or confirmations you will return to scripture, and if its still unclear ask your pastor, or several people whom you trust for clarifications. We must be the lamp stand also that holds up the Light , for all others to see in the darkness.

In the beginning of Saint Francis’ work, he set about quietly rebuilding a church stone by stone, and in time others, seeing what he was doing, began to ask what he was doing, and then of course why. He was the lamp stand , through silent action, through his example, and became the light of millions today.

Today I invite you all to become the lamp stand for others, to be witness and example..

To be the magnifying glass that causes others to look deeper into the Pascal Mystery…

To be the Priest, Prophet, and King you were baptized to be.

May God give you the gift of His peace !

Transitus “Homily “

October 7, 2018

The Journey… The Dream… and Love

September 21, 2018

“ Make my joy complete by your unanimity, possessing the one love, united in spirit and ideals. Never act out of rivalry, or conceit; rather , let all parties think humbly of themselves, each of you looking to the others interests rather than his own.

In everything you do , act without grumbling or arguing ; prove yourselves innocent and straightforward. Children of God beyond reproach in the midst of a twisted and depraved generation – among whom you shine line the stars in the sky while holding fast to the Word of life. As I look to the Day of Christ, you give me cause to boast that I did not run the race in vain or work to no purpose. “

( Phillipians 2,: 2-4, 14-16 )

As Franciscans we are called to be peacemakers, and bridge builders, the caretakers of all creation, through the love of God. The story behind these passages lie with the Apostle Paul who was in prison at the time of this writing, and word had reached him of a few things that were a little out of sorts with the young church in Phillipi. There were issues where some of the young members were a bit caught up in vanity and status. There was also some others who were circulating around the community with heretical ideas and papers. It’s nice to know that in over 2 thousand years somethings have not changed. Although it would be nice if some did … but I digress.

As a result there was some in-fighting and bickering amongst the community. This was not a huge problem, but enough that it caused concern enough that Paul wanted to write. Not only to admonish those who were not acting in accordance with their faith, but to give encouragement.

Note that for most of the Apostles when they were writing in order to address an issue of some sort, there was a bit of a formula to the epistle. First, a greeting, that is warm and loving as an elder would to a younger family member. Then comes the admonishment where there is an outline of what is wrong , not pointing the finger at a person, just a general statement. Finally, push of encouragement and praise to God and His love for us.

There is a catch phrase if you will, that Franciscans use, which was the title of a book by Murray Bodo , is “ The Journey and the Dream “ . I think it is likely fair to say that there are very few Franciscans who did not at some point read this book, and gain insights about themselves and their lives.

The “Dream” is the idea of our Christian and Franciscan lives. “The Journey” is the life we live here on this earthly plane. People who are not on a spiritual journey to God, can only see the “dream “.

Since they are outside, they can only see their perception of the ideal. They can only know, that this is the ideal, that does not correspond identically to path that the person who is struggling is taking. Of course that person will fall short of the ideal. We all do.

It is only by going inside, by entering into your own spiritual journey towards God, that you can understand “The Journey” in light of “ The Dream”. It is not hard for me to say that I am not perfect. I fail… I sin…. I am flawed, and I fall short of the Dream. As a Christian, as a Franciscan. I fail.

It is in our failure, and through our faith, that God is reaching the best part of us if we allow ourselves to be formed. If we take the time to work on our faith, we can be better than we are. Will we still fail even if we are on this “Journey” ? Sure ! We will fail, and we will fail a lot. Possibly, however, not quite as often. We will be better, and we will love.

Forgive others….. Forgive yourself….. Love is the law.

May God give you the gift of His peace !

Trails and Endurance…

September 16, 2018

“ My brothers, count it pure joy when you are involved in every sort of trial. Realize that when your faith is tested this makes for endurance. Let endurance com to its perfection so that you may be fully mature and lacking nothing.

If any of you is without wisdom, let him ask it from the God who gives generously and ungrudingly to all, and it will be given him. Yet he must as in faith, never doubting, for the doubter is like the surf tossed and driven by the wind. A man of this sort, devious and erratic in all that he does, must not expect to receive anything from the Lord.”

(James 1: 2-8 )

OK .. Trails/Temptations … Testing …Endurance/Perseverance.. Maturity… hmmmm Got it.

OH wait ! We are missing a few things in here. Our faith life,… Our Spiritual life is not unlike our earthly life in this regard. There are temptations to do things that in our minds we know are not right, or not good. Sometimes that voice is circumvented by our initial desires to do or get whatever it is that we are being tempted by , somehow believing that we will not have to worry about the consequences.

When you were little maybe that was candy or sweets you wanted and even though you knew it was not good for you, You did try to eat that entire bag of Halloween candy and later paid the price for it.

Possibly when you were a bit older, maybe you snuck out of the house to go to a party or spend time with someone. I am willing to bet that might not have ended in the best possible way. Maybe you smoked cigarettes or you were not careful of what you ate or drank. Those also had consequences.

My parents were both teachers. Admittedly I was not the best student. Not because I was not capable of getting better grades than I did, but because I was not convinced of the value of getting good grades.

Since I only had to worry about that once a quarter.. it was not at the forefront of my mind.. Well, at least until those pesky consequences came along. Not only did I not get good grades, but then I was put on restriction.

On the other hand, when I got to college and finally figured out why it was important, well.. that was different. I studied , applied myself and made it into the Honor Society, while working a 12 hour a day job 5 days per week and supporting a house. I gained endurance because there was something that was important. AH ! There it is.. something important.

There were challenges, hard days.. temptations ( like sleep) and tests.. but I knew in my heart that I was doing some thing important and I had to endure. In pressing forward, in doing the work… in discerning the right path.. I knew what needed to be done..

Just like our earthly life, our spiritual life is full of these challenges, temptations, pain and work that needs to be done. It would be easy to take the easy road… But the easy road is a LIE. Satan is the father of lies. He knows what is our there and he wants to tempt you with lies whispered into your ear, that says that you don’t need to do the work that is yours… that you don’t need to listen to the voice of the spirit , that still quiet , nagging voice that is from God that calls to you.

In the Garden of Eden. Satan tempted Eve, he told her she that she could be like God, that she would not die if she ate of the fruit. Eve allowed herself to be tempted, and in turn Adam allowed himself to be tempted as well. In the end death entered the world because they fell.

When you are faced with trials or temptations, and you need help ( like we all do ) then it is time to reach out and pray for wisdom. Pray for discernment. ! Ah,, but there is a catch.! You have to step out in faith !

You say to yourself , OH , well so how do you have faith if you …well…. don’t ? or are lacking in one area or another ? It is not that you have faith that God will give you what you want. He will give you what is best for you. You only need to pray with a heart that is open. A heart that is true in its desire to know, love and serve God. A heart that wants to join itself to God’s Holy Will/

Then you wait. Keep a prayerful vigil, and pray for the wisdom to understand to discern His will for you.

May God give you the gift of His peace !

What a life !

September 9, 2018

“As to the extraordinary revelations, in order that I might not become conceited I was given a thorn in the flesh , an angel of Satan to beat me and keep me from getting proud. Three times I begged the Lord that this might leave me, He said to me, “ My grace is sufficient for you, for in weakness power reaches perfection.” And so I willingly boast of my weaknesses instead, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, with mistreatment, with distress, with persecutions and difficulties for the sake of Christ, for when I am powerless, it is then that I am strong. “

( 2 Corinthians 12: 7-10 )

Our physical bodies lie to us with an obscene regularity. Saint Francis used to call his body “Brother Ass” and it was his desire to bring his physical body under strict control so that its only joy was in doing Gods Holy will. There used to be a saying back in the 1970’s that said “ How can it be wronng, when it feels so right”. This is the fallacy that is what happens in the world. But by and large the things that usually feel “good” to the body usually is not what is “good “ at all.

You might wonder why exactly it was, that Jesus, did not simply take Paul by the hand and heal the affliction ? Possibly insight into that question, could provide insight into why it is that the Lord may say “no” to our petitions.

Consider for a moment Paul’s history. Paul, when he was Saul, was prone to extremes. He persecuted Christians. Not just occasionally, or just because he was given direct orders to do it. He gave himself over to it. To say that he threw himself into his work would have been an understatement. Then look, at what happened when he became Paul, he was converted, and he was there, completely committed to this process, and so here again, his proclivity was to throw himself into his work.

God, is Our Father. Like our earthly parents, He loves us, and desires only what is best for us. When we do not receive the things we ask for, it is not because He does not love us, or does not want to give us what we are asking for. Instead, it is because there is a greater blessing , a greater good that comes out of the situation. It is important to note that this greater good is possibly either not something we will get to see or understand in this life, AND it is also true that the greater “good “ that is to come about might either not be the blessing for you, it may be the blessing that occurs for someone else.

There is some exegetical discussion that can be had to say that Paul could have had a health issue of some version or other. We don’t know if this condition ever left him.

I don’t know about you, but usually when I suffer some physical illness or malady, I usually tend to be subdued, and withdrawn. Paul says he was given his pain, his suffering in order that he not become too proud, or to become conceited. Consider for a moment, that Jesus told you, that you could heal the sick, and that you could make the blind see. Image that Jesus told you that you could do all that and much , much more ! Do you believe that for some people, it might be easy to fall into the belief that this power came from them ? Or that the fame that would spread across the land concerning what it is that you might be able to accomplish , even though it was not you but Christ who did the healing, do you think it might be possible for someone to loose themselves , even for a moment, in pride, or in position ?

Look at the great healers and spiritual mystics of the church. Every one of them suffered because of their “gift”. Saint Francis, St. Therese, St. Padre Pio, St. John of the Cross, and the list goes on and on.

A thorn was given to them, and an angel of satan to beat them. It was where they suffered.. It was occurrences in their lives to insure their humility. Most importantly, is was not that they were given these gifts, it was not in how they suffered, it was instead in how they responded, how they endured,

and how their faith was not only, not shaken, but in fact grew. It was through their response that wrung out the testament to their faith in God and through that testament droves of souls were convicted, converted, and confirmed.

Through the ages these simple men and women and been testament to faith in Jesus Christ not only in their lifetimes, but through the ages.

So, if you want to leave a legacy that will truly stand the test of time. Spend your earthly life in pursuit of becoming a saint. You will suffer, you will have joy, you will be persecuted. On the other hand, you will have family, you will be fed, and given shelter from the spiritual storms, and an awesome retirement plan !

May God give you the gift of His peace !

We are Peacemakers…

September 2, 2018

“ All of you should be like-minded , sympathetic, loving towards one another, kindlly disposed, and humble. Do not return evil for evil or insult for insult. Return a blessing instead. This you have been called to do that you may receive a blessing as your inheritance.”

(1 Peter 3:8-12 )

I think that it is safe to say, that sure we are all nearly like minded at the end of Holy Mass. Then, however, we are called out to go and become what we have received, to be food for others.

Sometimes that seems nearly literal, in that those in the world would like to cut, bite, chew and swallow us up. It is also possible that due to some issue we are dealing with , that WE become the one who gets presented with an issue pervasive to our thoughts and then WE become the one who bites, chews or swallows up the other. Worse yet, that we allow that thing to fester within, to grow, to hold on to the hurt and perceived injustice, and allow that to reign in our hearts.

This behavior brings about a 19th Century idom commonly referred to as “ Who kicked the cat”. The idea of this idiom, is that someone in a higher authority brings their anger or aggression into a situation and then lashes out on the next equal or lower person in position and then that agression gets passed down the chain until the person or persons who are least in position gets “kicked” and is just forced to either take it out on the family cat, or just generally on another person with no recourse..

As Franciscans we are called to be servants, to all, to have a preference to serving the least among us. The disadvantaged, the poor, the marginalized. Our brothers and sisters are the ones at every part of this “food chain”, We are called to be peacemakers, and bridge builders.

In this scenario, if , instead of passing on the anger, instead of passing the hostility, the hurt, the pain, on to the next person or thing, we could be the one who loves, we could be the one who listens, who communicates, who tries to dissolve the issues to get to the root of the matter and to diffuse the negative with the love of God.

Everyone has a basic need to be heard, and to be understood, in order that they become whole and grow as healthy well adjusted people . The line of communication is essential for any relationship. Spouse, family, co-worker, client , stranger. By and large, this has more to do with ME than it does with the other person. How it is that we receive what is presented to us. How it is that we are able to respond , how it is that we are able to filter what is presented and get to the root of what is needed.

We can not be more invested in being “right” than we are in building bridges. We need to be both educators, AND students of others. Stating, is not the same as commnicating. If both parties are not listening, but talking communication can not occur.

I had a client once who would not allow anyone to talk for the first 5 minutes of the phone call, because he would talk, and would not allow anyone to talk until he had communicated everything he wanted to say and refused to stop talking until he had completed communicating everything he wanted to say. It was so, because he he believed he had all the information the person who answered the phone would need to take care of him. More often than not, he was mistaken. After he stopped talking then he was ready to communicate. We could then begin to fix his problems and at the end he was happy.

Start by listening. Ask questions to find out what is needed, and then consider if what you are going to say next will help the other person on their journey towards God.

Finally, pray first, last and always. Sincerely pray for the other person, pray for understanding, pray for wisdom, pray for our own understanding, and that the will of God will be done in this and all things.

May God give you the gift of His peace !

Suffering and Love…

August 26, 2018

“Let your love for one another be constant, for love covers and multitude of sins. Be mutually hospitable without complaining. As generous distributors of God’s manifold grace, put your gifts at the service of one another. Each on the measure he has received. The one who serves is to do it with the strength provided by God. Thus, in all of you God is to be glorified through Jesus Christ. “

( 1 Peter 4 8-11a )

In the backdrop of this story Peter is addressing the people in the five provinces of Asia Minor. These were a people who were undergoing persecutions, and alienation from their former beliefs, their former friends, and basically everything that they had previously known.. They were suffering both in ostracism but the persecution in their newly chosen faith.

The entire chapter of Peter was meant to both encourage these new Christians, but to provide an example of Christian life.

Like many other parts of scripture.. “ the old becomes new” in how it is that these passages become God speaking to us today for exactly the same reasons, and with the same type of purpose applied to each one of us.

The church here on earth, made up of humans, who are subject to the stain of original sin, with all its human failings, with all of their own individual weaknesses, suffers, and struggles, and sometimes fails because of its humanity.

It is important to realize that the church IS the body of Christ. If the church were just any other human organization, it would have failed long ago. It is not, however just a human organization, It is the Body of Christ. Consider, that the example that Jesus gave to us while here on Earth, is exactly how it is that we are to view not only our mission and existence as “Church” , but our life as brothers and sisters in Christ, who suffered for us.

Isaiah 53-1:12, gives us the vision of the “Suffering Servant”. Can you not also see in this reading ,

how it is that just as Christ did suffer, so the church suffers, and we as members of His body also suffer ?

More importantly, is not just that we suffer, but HOW we suffer, and what it is that we DO with that suffering. We are to first follow the greatest commandment which is to LOVE. We are to “assigned with wicked men (Isaiah 53:9), and we suffer.

Like all suffering, there is a larger purpose. The trials we suffer are there in order to be redemptive, and ultimately salvic in effect. If we suffer, we can choose to enter into cooperation with the will of God, in bringing about His kingdom. In the offering of our suffering in union with the suffering of Jesus Christ, in being the conduit of His graces, in being testament to faith in Jesus Christ.

Indeed, it can be through our suffering that we will see, that either in this life, or the next, that we will see “His offspring” ( Isaiah 53:10) , and we will see that the will of God prospered on earth as a result, and through that process, we will not only grow in our own faith, but we may also be the sower of the seed that bears good fruit in the Kingdom of God.

Take heart brothers and sisters, for our Lord said from the beginning, “ you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church,*and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.

(Matthew 16:18)

Remember that even since the time of the disciples, Satan has come among those in the church, and done evil within our midst. The church suffered because of it, but ultimately, we triumph overwhelmingly through our faith in Christ. It is not me, it is Christ within me.

May God give you the gift of His peace !