Three Men of the Cross – Part IV

August 12, 2017

Here we have come to the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus. The third man crucified on Calvary, and the focal point upon which we find ourselves. Like the first two men, the time Jesus spent on the cross was really not spent in a vast amount of conversation with those who were present. In fact, we only know about 3 conversations that Christ had during his crucifixion. The first, was the conversation he had with Mary and John, where he gave John responsibility for his mother, and in turn had given John in love to His Mother. The Second, was the conversation that Jesus had with Dismas, where he told him that he (Dismas) would be in paradise with Him that very day. Finally, the third were the final words Jesus uttered, That were not directed to those standing around but instead were directed towards God, the Father.

Let us consider for a moment how Jesus’s journey through the crucifixion is not too unlike the small share it is that we have in our daily lives. In our lives we go out into the world. We work and try to do the things that we need to do to make things function. At the same time , for people of faith, our daily lives are just a minuscule splinter of our own crosses. We begin each day in prayer and in a firm effort to get out in the world and try to live a life that is worthy of the giver of the gift.

I have a rule that is usually pretty solid in life, ( aside from the Holy Rule of the Order) that serves me fairly well. Basically, You need to have at least one area of your life where things are going well and it gives you joy to be in that place. The problem begins when there is no where in your life that is currently giving you joy. It is also possible that the area of your life that is giving you problems has begun to take over the joy that you would normally be having in other areas of your life and there is no longer a balance there. In other words, you are experiencing your own small crucifixion and you have been nailed to the cross that you are attempting to carry.

When life gets to this point, its time for a change.. Jesus, knew that He was going to leave, and in the midst of the passion, He put his mother in the care of John. This was a sign of the times. for at that time particularly for women, who were single they were needing protection, and care. Someone to look after them. At the same time He loved John. John had a job to do, and at the same time, Jesus entrusted John to His mother. His mother the archetype of Christian virtue and love, would keep John on the straight and narrow and insure the care of those He was leaving behind.

Like Jesus, we try our best to take care of what was necessary to insure things went the right way. Sometimes, we get it right, and sometimes we fail, but that part does not matter in the grand scheme of things. This was what was going on in the first conversation. Tidying up the initial loose ends that needed His care before he went to deal with the matter at hand.

The next phase is that we deal with the job that needs doing. We carry on with our day.. we have people who do not support us,, or at least we might not see that support us, or just become another voice in the crowd of people who would like to add or lend support to the issues that you are facing.

All things have a season, just because one voice is not agreeing with where your going, or what your doing, it is not a reason to shut them completely out. As a Franciscan, we are called to be bridge builders. It is our calling to develop channels of communication, and to find common ground through which peace may reign. The conversation with Dismas as a statement of faith, An assent to the will of God. In our world when presented with challenges, it is up to us to build those bridges, to open channels of communication, and to be brave enough to make those statements and stand on the side of faith even when there are those who are around us, chiming in and echoing the worldly views, that are not of the Kingdom of God.

The last conversation, is actually in this story, as it should be in ours.. the FIRST conversation. Consider that before Jesus entered into the crucifixion, he started his Passion, by first entering into prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. As an example for us all, He started all things in prayer, and after the Crucifixion was at an end, He completed that work again with prayer.

We all have a different calling, a different path, but the process is still the same. Give it to God, first, last and always…

May God give you the gift of His peace !

Three Men of the Cross- Part III

August 5, 2017

Three Men of the Cross – Part III

The third robber on Calvary was Gustus. Gustus is seen as the unrepentant robber. He is the one who echoed the taunts of the crowds and the soldiers who said to Jesus, that if he was truly the Son of God that he should come down off the cross, and save Himself and in fact the other two as well. Gustus was as history records, rebuked by Dismas, who asked if he in truth had no regard for his immortal soul.

So Gustus, who was convicted of robbery, and was sentenced to death, seems to not really have much regard for not only his own situation, but in appearance, had no regard for the others as we know, we have no real knowledge of Gustus, no back story, and no insight into what happened with him or in his life prior to this point.

We can however, consider some differing possibilities about what his story might have been. We can tell he was angry, or at least possibly resigned to his lot in this process. Possibly, since the Romans had typically executed their criminals in pairs, he and Dismas had an opportunity to talk things over. Review their lives together, consider, for a time, what life might have been like if they had made other choices. Possibly, they discussed what it is that they would have liked to do if they were not in jail, or reminisce about lost loves, or loved ones.

They might have had the time to talk about how it is that they found themselves in this position. It does however seem a bit more likely that Gustus was just an angry man. He could have been angry about his life, or about his love, or about his work. We just don’t know. Possibly he and Dismas were friends and at that moment Gustus just thought that Jesus was some nut case.

Consider for a moment. that possibly at some time in our lives you or I or someone we know and love, has become Gustus. Possibly you were angry, over some part of your life you may have felt you had no control over. Possibly you lost something, that was of great value to you. Maybe you lost someone. You were angry, beyond words. Possibly you lashed out. Possibly you found yourself in a fight, that was either verbal or physical. Maybe you were judged in some way that made you feel that you were not being judged fairly, or treated fairly for that matter.

The result of how it is that world might judge you , or treat you might also bring you to that point of utter frustration.

God gives us tests in life, and those tests can frustrate and bewilder us. These tests are usually meant to teach us something, or to provide opportunities to be a conduit for Gods grace. We do not always get to know that. Which is sometimes the point. It is also at times quite frustrating.

I believe it is safe to say that during the course of our lives we have all failed. I know I have failed more times than I can count. I did not always understand, or wish to understand. During the course of our failures, it is quite possible ( even usual in some cases) where we are not always immediately repentant. In the heat of the moment, our human failing can take over. Once we realize that we have failed at that point and when cooler heads prevail,, we can think through the situation, or talk it over with someone and come to the conclusion that we probably already knew, but were not ready to accept.

Now consider, the brothers and sisters who are in prison. There are entire groups of prison ministries set up to share the love of Jesus, with those who are currently incarcerated. These brothers and sisters, are Gustus as well. They are angry, they are in their own crucifixion or sorts. They might be at a point where they are not ready to accept the love of Jesus, Let alone the love of a brother or sister. In prison, there is time to sit and ponder, what has happened. Time to ponder how they got there. Time to try to work through their path to sanctification, if they are ready to do that. It is also true that they have time to just sit, and be angry, and lash out , like Gustus, at the Christ of those who try to help.

I wanted to share a story, about a prisoner, who was condemned to death by the state. When the time came, the prison chaplain went to be with the prisoner, to bring Christ to him. It was the holiday season… The state likes to execute prisoners around the holidays as they believe it will bring the victims closure.

As it turned out.. while the Chaplain was with the prisoner, his wife, was with the prisoner’s family at the church nearby. She was being Christ to them. Shortly before the scheduled hour, the victim’s family arrived at the same church. There was sharing, a coming together, they prayed together, and then the Chaplains wife, knowing that both families were from out of town, invited them both to dinner… It was Thanksgiving Day.

We must realize that we too are, or at least have been, Gustus. In this light, we need to be able to get through the human failings, and realizing that we too are broken, fallen people, we can also accept the love of Christ from others, and in turn, take the love of Christ to others..

May God give you the gift of His peace !

3 Men of the Cross, Part II

July 29, 2017

Last week, we took a walk through a historical perspective of the crucifixion of Jesus. This week, I would like to take a look at Dismas .

Dismas, was the man who guilty of robbery, and was executed , it happens, on Jesus’ right . Gustus the other robber, was crucified on his left side. If you remember from last week, The crucifixion of the leader of a group was traditionally done so that they hung in the middle, of the group for all the others to see, and so that they could suffer additional anguish over what they had caused.

Since both Dismas and Gustus were already to be executed for their crimes they had some additional time to ponder their crimes while in prison. When the hour had come, and Dismas was on the cross,
He was silent, to spite the taunts and jeers that were being hurled at Jesus.

Eventually, when Gustus decided to join in the taunting of Jesus, it was then that Dismas finally spoke up. He rebuked Gustus for his taunts, and asked Jesus to remember him when he entered into His kingdom.

Lets take a moment and put ourselves in the shoes of Dismas.

There is no back story for Dismas. We don’t know anything about what he was like, or what his life was like, or his circumstances. We don’t get to know if he had a family, or if he had relatives who were living, or anything at all. We are only left to understand that at the end of the 11th hour, he got to a crucial point, and finally went to Jesus for forgiveness.

We are Dismas. Or at least we have been at some point. Or maybe not quite yet.. ?
Consider that we are all suffering for the burden of our sinful nature. We are fallen, and broken, suffering and being crucified.

We all sin. Our sins are different for different people, but we still sin. The point is how we deal with the sin. You told a “little lie”, She took paperclips from the office. He uses chemicals to escape his reality. She over charges for purchases. You might force employees to work more than necessary.
The sins are many, the reasons many, the answer is still the same.

Lets say that one of your great challenges in life is your patience. You have none, or at least little. You do not suffer fools gladly ( or even not so gladly) . Because of this you do not show the love of Christ, or the face of Christ to your brothers and sisters. You try, and you fail, your pray about it.. you ask God for forgiveness and patience, and you really do try.. and then you go out into the world and something happens and then it happens again. You get upset with someone. At the end of the day, you are right back having that same conversation.

At the same time, we need to be able to look beyond the current circumstance of those who are busy in the process of working out their own salvation. In our current day and age social media allows us to keep in touch or find again those souls we might have lost touch with over the years. Sometimes if we have the opportunity to open our hearts we may learn that what we viewed about someone at one point in time, may change, in light of other information.

Since we are our brothers keeper, we have the responsibility to look past the sinner who is on the cross on the other side of us, and see with the heart of Christ, someone who may be trying to find their way. they might have had some time to consider that they too are sinners, and are seeking the face of Christ, in order to ask forgiveness, for hope, and understanding.

We are all Dismas, we are all seeking forgiveness, we are all seeking to be remembered when Jesus comes. We need to be ready to understand the other, in light of the repentant sinner that we are trying to be.

May God give you the gift of His peace !

The Three Men of the Cross

July 22, 2017

Three Men of Calvary… We Are All Three

The crucifixion as an event was filled with some points of interest. To get a good understanding of what occurred we need a sense of what was going on in the area at the time.

Roman rule was fairly new to them, and during that time robbery, theft, and murder were somewhat commonplace and a pretty big issue that the Romans were trying to get under control. The Roman way of dealing with that, was execution by crucifixion. It was cruel, it was not quick, and it allowed, for an extended period of time, the opportunity for others to watch them die and consider that possibly they would not like to meet the same end, and amend any ideas they might have had of breaking the laws.

Another curiosity, is that, generally speaking, the Roman method of execution was, at least in practice, to execute people two at a time, unless….. they happened upon a group of people they caught in the act of the crimes, in which case all the people who were responsible were crucified at the same time. If this were to happen, AND the person who was the leader of the group, or band , or rebellion could be identified, that person was executed in the middle of the grouping of people so that they would not be missed and would be identified as such.

From this, then, we can know that the crucifixion of Christ was an oddity. Consider what happened in the Garden when Jesus was taken into custody. ” And Jesus said to the chief priests and temple guards and elders who had come for him, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs? ” ( Luke 22:52) . So here Jesus is treated as such.

In addition, it is noteworthy that He is crucified in the middle of the three.. This would tend to signify that He was the leader of the group.. He was in charge… Then, there is the other two men. So, history records that the other two actually were robbers Since they were crucified with Jesus it appears that Jesus’ crucifixion was an addition… or an after thought of the day. In perspective, it was the other two men had been in jail for a while awaiting their execution, and Jesus’ trial, and judgment occurred on the same day as the others, after all the delays and passing Him back and forth etc. Finally , with Roman efficiency, they decided that since they already had an execution scheduled, why not just get this over with, and crucify Jesus at the same time. It would make efficient work of the issue and put it to a final resolution and make the locals happy all at the same time.

I went all through this explanation because it helps to gain an objective non-theological view of the occurrence in order to understand, as one friar used to quip.. ” The story behind the story ” .

Now on to the other two men. The two other men who were crucified with Christ were , Dismas and Gustus. Dismas was the robber who was crucified on Jesus right side, and Gustus on his left side.

In the coming few weeks, I would like to beg your indulgence , as we will examine these men, and their circumstances. Stay with me.. I hope you enjoy our journey together !

May God give you the gift of His peace… .

See What Love The Father Has For Us !

July 15, 2017

“See what love the Father has bestowed on us, in letting us be called children of God !
Tet that is what we are. The reason the world does not recognize us, is that it never recognized the Son.
Dearly Beloved, we are God’s Children now; what we shall be after, has not yet come to light. We know that when it comes to light, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. Everyone who has this hope based on Him keeps himself pure, as He is pure. ” ( 1 John 3:1-3 )

It is easy for us in our worldly presence, trying to live a spiritual life, to get bogged down, with not only the imperfections of others, but even our own. We are frustrated by the way we get treated by others, or how others are treated , even by people we know and love.

Our employers, our boss, our friends, our family, other brothers and sisters, heck, we don’t even really treat ourselves the way we should. Possibly, it is we who find ourselves in the situation that we have failed to treat others the we should, either by circumstance, or emotion, our own personal failings.

It would be very easy for us to fall into the pit of despair or depression because of the way the world can treat us. We do, however, have reason for our joy !

Look at John… all those years ago… talking to brothers and sisters who are fearful, disheartened, maybe a bit disillusioned. He is reminding them of the great gift they have received. Just as the 12 were also fearful, disheartened, and in some cases disillusioned at the setbacks in their own walks.

John reminds us that the world will not recognize us as its brothers and sisters, as children of God, because it did not recognize God in Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us. It is no wonder we are still fighting today, to try to get people to recognize God in our brothers and sisters. Children who were born with the imprint of the Most High !

How can we expect for the broken world, who did not recognize God, who was before them, to see God in the poor, the suffering, the aged, and those who are marginalized, even in our own brothers and sisters.

Possibly, it is because the world is not unlike Herod , who feared the Son of God when He came to earth, because the world has tried to claim for itself, something that does not belong to it, and in fear of losing the things that is has tried to take from God, or from the children of God, that it puts in place the machinery of sin to try to keep glory for itself.

At the same time, Brothers and Sisters, take heart ! For even if the world does not recognize us for who and what we are, we are in good company. It is up to us to continue to carry on the fight for good and right, for faith and hope, and mostly for peace, and love. It is important for us never to give in to despair, and sin. These are tools that Satan uses to try to separate us from God.

John reminds us that at the end of this earthly battle, we have something even greater that awaits us.
We have all had moments when the Spirit inflames us, and our hearts are afire with the love of God and everything in the world seems right, peaceful, and loving. So much more, then, will it be for us when we get to see God.

This is when we will get to see God face to face, Our loving Father. We will be the prodigal children, returning home, to the Father, who will rejoice with us.

The last part of the reading, John sticks in a final reminder..

” Everyone who has this hope, based on Him, keeps himself pure… as He is pure.”

This reminder is reminiscent of Jesus’ reminder to the disciples to “Be Holy even as your Father is Holy” (Matthew 5:48 , 1 Peter 1:16 )

This is to say that even in this daily world of suffering and strife, we are to carry on in doing what the Lord showed us while He was here on earth, and that is , to Love.

May God give you the gift of His peace !

Pass the Salt …. Please!

July 8, 2017

In the United States, Independence Day, which is a national holiday, fell on a Tuesday. As it turns out, I also received a Jury Summons for Monday. Now, for those who are not from the United States, or who might not be familiar, I will explain at least on a surface level, the Jury Summons.

In the United States, if you are accused of a crime, you have the right to a trial by a group of citizens who are called to sit through the trial proceedings, and are given some instructions on the law that has been supposedly broken, and then that group of people decide the guilt or innocence of the person or group that is on trial.

It is part of our duty as citizens, when called upon to serve. We receive a letter from the court (Summons) to show up on a day and time, to see if we will be selected to serve as a person ( juror) in the group that determines the guilt or innocence during the trial.

Needless to say, it is something you are required to do as a citizen, unless there is some compelling reason why you can not serve. Among some, there are jokes about how to get out of doing this type of service. In some cases it is blatantly obvious who is trying to get out of the service, but did not want to get in trouble for not showing up. I see this service as part of a moral obligation to not only
help provide morally correct justice for the parties involved, but also, because this is part of our duty,” to render unto Caesar, that which belongs to Caesar”.

I have received five such calls to service. In that time, I have never been selected to sit in on a trial. By and large, the day ends up with me being sent home after spending a rather long day sitting in a room with approximately 100 other citizens from all walks of life.

The courthouse where I reported for duty is, interestingly not far from a church that is there to serve the downtown area. Since I was let go a bit early, I thought to myself, this is a perfect opportunity to go to Mass that would be starting shortly..

I have worked near the downtown area previously and enjoyed the opportunity to attend a noontime Holy Mass. So I hastened to the church where I arrived shortly before the 2nd Reading. I have to confess that I honestly do not remember what the second reading or the Gospel was (hanging my head).

I can tell you something that stuck with me about the Homily. First, I have to tell you though, the Holy Mass was being con-celebrated by two Franciscan friars, and admittedly it did my heart good to see friars since I do not get that opportunity often as of late.

Anyway, the thing that stuck in my head was a story that the homilist was telling about his days as a novice, and how it was that one of the Novice Masters was a former Trappist Monk. One day while they were sitting there at a meal, the Novice Master explained that in his former life, they were not to speak even at meals, and so they had to sign for the salt if that was what they wanted.. As time went on , and they got to know the individual monk, they just knew that is was needed and it would be passed to them.

This calls to mind 2 different passages. The first, being Genesis 4: 9 and the second is Luke 11:5 .
In Genesis 4:9 is the telling of the story and Cain and Able, ”
Then the LORD asked Cain, Where is your brother Abel? He answered, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” Here we are reminded , in fact, that we are held to account for what happens to our brothers and sisters in this life. Much like the Trappist monk, we as Franciscans who live and work in the world , and even for those who are not Franciscans, we are called to strive to learn and understand the needs of our brothers and sisters, who are not in the same place as we are, but who have the same basic needs that we do, and to work to provide the basic needs of our brothers and sisters. Even so, that they do not have to ask us. We as we progress in faith, will, like the monks, begin to understand and through insight, be able to know what those are, and to work towards being the conduit of the graces that we have received.

The second reading is from Luke 11:5-8 ”
And he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend to whom he goes at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, for a friend of mine has arrived at my house from a journey and I have nothing to offer him, and he says in reply from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked and my children and I are already in bed. I cannot get up to give you anything.’
I tell you, if he does not get up to give him the loaves because of their friendship, he will get up to give him whatever he needs because of his persistence. ”

The story behind this story is that Christ is teaching the disciples about prayer and the importance in persistence in prayer. There is another facet here, however, as it relates to this story.

The man who is in need is going to his friend, his brother, and asking for not only food, to provide to his guest, but is seeking mercy from his brother. Jesus never says if the man got up to provide the requested bread or not. What is clear however, is that just as the monk who is asking for the salt for his meal, the man in the parable who is asking for bread, has a need. We as brothers and sisters, have the capacity to share our graces, our blessings, our very selves with our brothers and sisters.

At the end of days, when we stand before the Throne of the Almighty, and He asks that same question to us “Where is your brother ?” We will have nothing there to answer, except … ” see I have brought him with me…”

May God give you the gift His peace !

Lather….Rinse… Repeat !

July 1, 2017

“See what love the Father has bestowed on us in letting us be called children of God !
Yet that it what we are. The reason the world does not recognize us is that it never recognized the Son. Dearly beloved, we are God’s children now; what we shall later be has not yet come to light. We know that when it comes to light, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. Everyone who has this hope based on Him keeps himself pure, as He is pure.” ( 1 John 3: 1-3 )

Some of you who might not be aware, 1st John, ( also second, and third ), come near the end of the New Testament and is not part and parcel of the 4th Gospel. This letter, written by John, was written during a time when the church was going through a period of heresy. Particularly Gnosticism, which denied the humanity of Jesus. or Docetism. In the docetistic heresy, the followers believe that Jesus was purely divine, his body made almost ghostly and so his passion death and resurrection would have been purely appearance sake.

Today, we have a vast number of heresies and different versions of apostasy. In Johns time it was no different. there were people roaming about preaching all kinds of whacky stuff. In Johns letters, and particularly in this letter there was a certain thematic progress to them. These were meant to drive home the principles of Christian faith and life.

Sometimes we need a little reminding of the things that are important in our faith lives.
It is important that we study. It is important that we memorize our faith, our beliefs and it is vitally important that we not only BELIEVE , but that we know WHY we believe the things we do, and where those things come from.

Priests, and Deacons when they go through formation , they take classes in the practice of exegesis.
Exegesis is simply the process of reading, studying, asking questions, and then finding the answers to those questions in preparation for sharing that information with others.

This practice is not just for priests and deacons. It is something that everyone should be doing. Now, i am not saying everyone should go out and get their own interpretation of what the Bible says or anything of that sort. What I am however saying, is take a good long hard look at your faith life. Consider all the things that you believe, and then start asking the questions. Not the easy ones.. not the ones you might have learned in the Baltimore Catechism, or in some of your nursery school rhymes. Lets tackle something with a little meat on it. Let’s ask some of the hard questions that you don’t have answers for. READ and STUDY and figure things out. What you will find is that you will inevitably have MORE QUESTIONS…. When you find you do not have answers, then go and ask your pastor, or a clergy or lay person you trust.

You need to keep asking questions. My father used to say to people.. “What ever it is that you are ( meaning your faith ), then be the very best ( that faith person ) that you can be. Ask the hard questions, and keep asking them until you are satisfied with the answers.

John, is telling us in this passage, we need to realize the awesome gift that we have been given, as children of God. The reason we suffer persecution in the world is because they who are not Christian, do not recognize Jesus as the Son of God.

Further on in these letters John reminds his audience, to break from sin, to keep the commandments, to become detatched from the world ( be IN the world, but not OF the world.). and finally to be on guard against the enemies of Christ. By this he means to be weary of those who would try to lead you away from your faith.

Today, the world is in great need of saints. It is every single Christians vocation to be a great saint. It is up to us to choose to fulfill the plan that God has intended for us.

My prayer for each of you is that the Holy Spirit that dwells within your bosom be enflamed in your heart, and become a raging inferno in seeking Gods holy will and fulfilling it.

May God give you the gift of His peace !

Love Is The Answer…..

June 24, 2017

” You know the times in which we are living. It is now the hour for you to wake from sleep, for our salvation is closer than when we first accepted the faith. The night is far spent; the day draws near. let us cast off the deeds of darkness, and put on the armor of light. Let us live honorably as in daylight; not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual excess and lust, not in quarreling and jealousy, Rather, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh. ” Romans 13:11-14

We are hard-headed. hardhearted, and a slow to learn ( if ever we learn) bunch of degenerate children. You have to sit back and wonder why God bothers with us at all. We fight, we complain, we rebel, we are champion sinners, and who knows how many times we keep doing the same silly, backward, things over and over again.

Paul. who is the author of this passage, is trying to get the believers to understand where they are on the journey. There are issues of faith running around.. If you remember the passage in Matthew 22:20 , where they are asking Jesus about paying taxes to the Roman Empire. Just to prove the point, here again the citizens are still struggling the same questions that Jesus already answered ! They still had not understood, and still fighting with the same questions.

Paul is trying to tell them … Yes, you still have to do what Caesar tells you.. and YES, you still have to pay taxes.. because you live here, this is the authority in place at this time..

There is a special note I would like to inject here for our Franciscan brothers and sisters, consider for a moment your vocation. Recall the words you spoke on the day you took your profession. Our vocation, our calling, our job in the Kingdom of Heaven, ( for Franciscans, and for Christians as a whole) is to be “in the world.”.

What does that exactly mean for us ? Are we still this hard-headed ? Jesus told us … Because we live “in the world” , that means that we have to participate in the processes involved in living in the world.
We have to pay taxes. We have to obey the laws of the place where we live. We have to “pay the dues” of living in the place where we are.

We are “in the world” but we are not “of the world”. We belong to Christ. We have responsibilities, that go along with belonging to the Kingdom of God. There are things that are expected of us.

The passage before this reading explains the rule of the Kingdom of God is LOVE. If we do no evil to our neighbor, ( or wish them evil ) then the law if fulfilled. He reviews with them the 10 Commandments. and then comes the reading above.

This is meant to spur them on in their faith, to get them to try to excel in doing good works. To keep them from falling into sin.

Now consider, that every day, you start out your day, saying your morning prayers, and you ask God for the strength, and wisdom and perseverance to keep from some particular area of sin, or the occasion of it.

Then at night in the cool of the evening, you have the time to reflect on the day. You have the time to pray, and you feel bad, because you fell into some trap of sin. and it happened AGAIN .. and you find yourself the next morning having the same conversation with the Lord. You feel terrible… you think maybe you are the worst disciple ever… EVER ! Well, maybe not ever.. but still pretty bad.

Take heart ! You see, the saints, all of those people who were the super heros of humanity, they became saints NOT because they did not sin. They became saints by putting forth super human effort in attempting to live the gospel virtues. In short, these folks became saints because of the fact that they tried above all else, to live the law of LOVE !

I want to encourage each of you, to strive as best you are able, to live the law of love. Jesus made it as simple to remember as He could. Just two things you have to remember !

Love the Lord your God, with all your mind, heart, and soul.

Love your neighbor as yourself.

He did not say it would be easy. I can tell you from personal experience that everyone fails… Particularly on the second rule. Do not lose faith in this journey because you fail, OR because someone else failed to love you. Your neighbor might fail in loving you… but God never will !

Again it is not that we FALL, but how we RISE ! Rise with FAITH ! Rise with HOPE and rise with LOVE !

May God give you the gift of His peace !

May You Attain Full Knowledge …

June 18, 2017

“May you attain full knowledge of God’s will through perfect wisdom, and spiritual insight. Then you will lead a life worthy of the Lord and pleasing to Him in every way. You will multiply good works of every sort and grow in the knowledge of God. By the might of His glory you will be endowed with the strength needed to stand fast, even to endure joyfully what ever may come, giving thanks to the Father for having made you worthy to share the lot of the saints in light. He rescued us from the power of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of his beloved Son.” Colossians 1:9-13

This passage from scripture is the opening lines of encouragement from the Apostle Paul, who was writing to the Colossians, along with Timothy who was traveling with Paul. What comes before this passage though is subtle, but noteworthy. Paul recognizes Epaphas, who he recognizes as a ” fellow servant”, or disciple of Christ. What is also important to note here is that there is no recorded point in time where Paul ever actually went to Colossea. Instead, Paul taught the true faith to Epaphas, who converted, learned and then took that seed of faith and returned home to Colossea, and spread it through the countryside converting the people and passed that faith to the people and the future saints who lived there.

So, you say to yourself, great ! So what does that mean for us here ? Glad you asked !

It is important because Paul did not have to go and hold the hand of Epaphas in order to pass on the light of faith and the Word. Paul had faith in the seed he planted. It really had little to do with Epaphas. Although, Epaphas did have an open heart, and believed the Word when he heard it. Paul trusted that Word would spread. Just as Jesus, entrusted the twelve apostles, who in and of themselves were not perfect, did not always have perfect faith, but still trusted in the seed of faith that they were given..

This idea of having the pure seed of faith being transmitted to others in a sometimes imperfect manner is pretty much how it goes. This should give us encouragement in the faith that we have received and to participate more fully in the charge that we are given to pass on this faith as Epaphas did. We don’t have to do it perfectly, we just have to do it. We also don’t need the sledgehammer approach, where we are pounding the seed into the skull of the person receiving it… All we have to do is plant the seed, and walk away.

We have to have faith that the seed we plant, is what God will use for His will. The seed that is planted, will not always bloom before our eyes. We may never get the opportunity to see the results of the seeds we plant. We must trust in God. We must trust that the Lord will use the seeds we plant in the continuum of His divine will.

The beginning of this passage says “may you attain full knowledge of God’s will through perfect wisdom and spiritual insight…” Maybe the saints eventually ended up at this place, but for the rest of us, this is the destination, and the journey is where we spend our time… at least if we make the effort.

Much like the planting of those seeds of faith, where at times we may get to see a glimpse of the results, possibly the beginnings of the results of our labors, we will likely never see the complete result, or even understand what it is that will occur as a result of that work, which would be in Gods will for mankind. The one truth that we know about Gods will to an absolute certainty is that Gods plan for us is as basic as the first truth we learned as children. God’s will for us is to …. know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him.. so that we can be with Him in Heaven.
Ask someone who is your elder, if the life that they currently have, is the life that they dreamed of, or planned for in their youth. If their lives were the same now as what they had planned for it to be maybe after high school, or even after college ( if they went to college and attended after high school).

I would venture to say that nearly none of them can say that their lives turned out as they originally planned. This is the difference between where mans will differs from God’s will. We could attempt to understand, or discern where God had a hand in the things that have occurred in our lives, It is even possible that we could see a facet of how things happened the way that they did. This enlightenment is not just for our own understanding. This enlightenment is there so that we have the opportunity to not only be enriched in our own faith,, but to fulfill our mission to share that faith with others just as Epaphas did in Collosea.

God can take the one small seed, one small act of faith, and use that one act to help bring about the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth. This is what Paul was praying for and encouraging the Colossians towards… and what I encourage you towards today, the same way that Saint Francis did hundreds of years ago… Preach the gospel at all times.. and when necessary, use words..

May God give you the gift of His peace !

Mind Your Business….

June 9, 2017

“Anyone who would not work, should not eat. We hear that some of you are unruly, not keeping busy but acting like busy-bodies. We enjoin all such, and we urge them strongly in the Lord Jesus Christ, to earn the food they eat by working quietly. You must never grow weary of doing what is right, brothers”. ( 2 Thessalonians 3:10-13 ).

In this letter Paul is writing to the community because there are people who are not really doing their part and are taking the time from the work they should be doing, and instead making themselves busy dealing with affairs of others.

In the world today, much is said of those who are not gainfully employed, or under employed. The world looks at these souls and judge them. They are judge to be lazy, guilty of sloth. They just don’t want to work. Indeed, there are those who were brought up not to value work at all, or were taught not to value certain types of work, because they were considered somehow “less” or not really something to be desired.

Society has been equally disowning of people who have been challenged in their educational processes.

In fact, we still struggle in this area. We understand, for instance, that different people learn by differing methods. We have not gotten to a point where we can effectively transform that knowledge into the individual student. How they learn, and then transform that into an educational process that works for that student.

There are budget concerns.. ” We can’t possibly create individual plans for each and every students!.. We simply can’t afford either the staff, or the budget concerns.” This is a common issue in education. Then those who do not learn in the traditional ways, are by and large, relegated to “lesser” jobs. They are told, ” You don’t have what it takes to go to college… you should find a trade , or go to work in retail or fast food. You might not think this goes on today. You would be wrong.

But I digress…

The problem we have, is that work is today, not something of value for most people. The employers, do not value the work of the people who work for them. They value instead the spreadsheet. The statistics that look nice and green. As long as those numbers look right, and positive, then everything is fine. Otherwise, there are only numbers and that the shoulders are broad enough to receive the pat on the back approvals of those closest. The company ( or owners ) no longer feel any obligation towards those people who toil in their firms.. after all they are numbers… replaceable, something that is replaceable in very little time with another body eager to fill it. Who spend their time “dumbing down” the process so it is easier to replace the last body that fell under the wheel of their taskmasters whip. For them their world is “gray”…. no black or white… just the gray of how the story is spun.

There are employees who, no longer have a work ethic. Who do not care about the job they do. Who’s sole concern is how little it is possible to do, in order to keep a paycheck. They do not care about the tools they are given, or the people for whom this work is done. As long as their numbers are passable, that go up to the “ivory tower” of management, then its good enough. There is no loyalty to the company that they work for, because they already know the company has no loyalty or care for them as people.

So why should we care about work ?

Work, is a gift from God. We work in order to gain a just wage. It is through that work, that we gain a just wage through which , we tithe. Tithing is not just money. Tithing is time, talent and treasure. That thing which we offer to God, through our family, through our brothers and sisters, and as a way to sanctify our day.

Paul is also quick to instruct the Thessalonians to conduct themselves in an upright and honorable way.

We too, should spend our efforts in public and in private, working on our own sanctification. It is through this type of work. Working honorably, and justly; working on our own sanctification, will be the greatest tool we have at our disposal to bring about the Kingdom of God.

Will we falter ? Sure we will. Will we slip ? Of course we will. It is not how we FALL,… but how we RISE !

May God give you the gift of His peace !