Posts Tagged ‘#bear’

Control and Treasure…

May 10, 2018

“There is a certain spiritual wisdom which we express among the spiritually mature. It is not a wisdom of this age, however, not of the rulers of this age, who are men headed for destruction. No, what we utter is God’s wisdom: a mysterious, a hidden wisdom. God planned it before all ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age know the mystery; if they had know it, they would never have crucified the Lord of Glory. Of this wisdom it is written :

“ Eye has not seen, ear has not heard,
nor has it so much as dawned on man
what God has prepared for those who love him “

Yet God has revealed this wisdom to us through the Spirit. “ ( 1 Corinthians 2:6 )

No matter how much things change, they are exactly the same. The folly of mankind lived out suffering growing from some misguided notion, that the world has better things to offer us, if we can control more of it. If we own more of it… If we exercise dominion over more of it !

It is something that we tell our children.. make sure you get a good education.. no one can take that from you.. Make sure you have enough education because it will open doors for you, it will give you a job so you wont have to work, or work so hard. Climb the ladder, become the boss, or own your own place so YOU can be the boss, and then no one can control what you do ! You need to get ahead.
You need more, so that you have a comfortable life. So that you have more control over your life.

In some fields of work, the ego, the control, and the ability to lord that over others is more prevalent. It is there from the smallest businesses… to the largest of corporations, to governments, all wanting to exercise control to see who will “win”.

Lets look for a moment at WHY it is that this thought process is not a bad thing in theory, however the practice is where we lost something important.

It starts with what we receive. You did not get your job, or your education, or your opportunity on your own. There were people who sacrificed, people who taught, people who cared, and people who provided for you to get where you are. While it may be true that you may have worked hard to get where you are, and you too may have sacrificed, and labored to get where you are, it was there, because someone else built it, bought it, made it, or taught it into being so that you might avail yourself of it.

At the very core of those opportunities is God. God in his infinite wisdom granted to you life. Things were set before you so that you have the opportunity to grow. You accept or deny either part of that reality, and you have not fulfilled your purpose.

Consider for a moment that when you accept those gifts that are placed before you, that there is a responsibility that comes with those gifts. There was a book/movie that quipped “ With great power comes great responsibility…” I tell you that you have no power, save for the free will you were given to make one decision, whether to accept the gift of faith, or not. Even THAT power was given to you so that you have an opportunity.

With the gift that was given to you, comes at a cost. The cost of being a disciple means that you have a responsibility to your brothers and sisters. To care for them.. To love them… To feed and clothe them…
to help them in this world, along their own path. To share, and to teach… and to do as much of that as you can in the short time we are given on this earth.

Oscar Wilde I believe was the one who said a man is judged by the quality of his enemies. I tell you this is not true. I can tell you, that man is judged by his capacity for LOVE and his journey of faith.

At the end of our earthly life. God has assured us that we will not be able to comprehend the level of riches that await us in heaven.. I can testify, that the greatest treasure I have is the love that Jesus has for me and you.

May God give you the gift of His peace !

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Advent…It’s Here !

December 2, 2017

Advent…. It’s here.

“And do this because you know the time; it is the hour now for you to awake from sleep. For our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed;

the night is advanced, the day is at hand. Let us then throw off the works of darkness [and] put on the armor of light;

let us conduct ourselves properly as in the day,* not in orgies and drunkenness, not in promiscuity and licentiousness, not in rivalry and jealousy.

But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh.” ( Romans 13:11)

This is the very beginning of the season of Advent. Advent means to come. It comes from the Latin Ad ( to ) Venire (come). It is applied to the church calendar as the season prior to Christmas. It is set aside for us as a period, not unlike Lent, as a time of preparation, a spiritual house cleaning if you will.

Not unlike Lent it has been a time of fasting and praying. In fact there was a period of time when there was a 40 day fast that was just like Lent. ( without the fish frys). If we look at the time of Lent and the time of Advent as mirrors of each other, both have certain characteristics that are very similar in tone and purpose.

Both serve the purpose of preparing our hearts as a birthplace for Christ to reign, a channel through which God may share the blessings of Heaven with and through us. Prior to His arrival however we have a little preparation to do.

As a child the time previous to the holiday season, there was a certain amount of that ” spring cleaning” that my mother would always have my brother and I to do. There was silver to polish, vacuuming, scrubbing and There was a brass table to polish and well as the candlesticks that stood on either side of the fireplace. Dusting the furniture and all of that came after taking care of the animals we had. ( which in itself was an 8 hour job).

Yes, the preparations were something that we as kids did not look forward to in the least, as we would rather have been exploring the forest that we lived in, or the just relaxing around the house. On the other hand, once all the work was done, and night had fallen, there was a cool nip in the air, and we would turn off the lights in the livingroom, and light a fire in the fireplace. The house took on that certain feeling of “Hearth and Home”. When the holidays came, and we were able to entertain guests, and share our home with friends and family there was a certain comfort, a certain joy to be able to serve them and make them feel at home.

The same thing applies to our spiritual lives. Paul is telling us to use Advent as a time to remove from our hearts the spiritual “baggage”. that we need to throw off. Those things that belong to the dark, and not to the light. Those things that we have been holding onto, that do not aid us in our spiritual journeys, those things that hold us back from serving Christ, or keep us from being the conduit of the blessings, or keep us from helping someone else from seeing Christ because of our actions.

So let us work on throwing off those works, those deeds, and put in some of the work in those areas of our lives to prepare our hearts for the coming of Jesus. Throw out those pains, and grudges, lets fix those broken relationships. Let’s be the one who extends the olive branch, and extends the hands. Let us be the Christ in the season, and really live the life of faith we profess.

May God give you the gift of His peace !

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 !

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 !

Baking Bread with Brother Bear ( Part IV)

February 13, 2016

Baking Bread with Brother Bear ( Part IV)

“He spoke to them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast* that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch was leavened.” ( Matthew 13:33).

We come to the final ingredient in our reflections on baking breads. Yeast ( or leaven ) comes in many forms.
There are dry instant yeast, there is active dry yeast, there is bulk cake yeast, there is liquid yeast, there is baking power, or baking soda, and there are of course wild yeasts.

there are yeasts that are captured as wild yeasts, but are then cultivated and perfected over years. Some over hundreds of years that are kept alive through their feeding and care taken for their colonies.

Yeast is what gives bread its lift, or volume. It is responsible for the little knooks and crannies, and pockets that are part of the bread we eat. In fact the well trained eye can discern different characteristics about the bread and the bread making processes by looking at all those little knooks and crannies that we all know and love.

yeast in a number of cases will also impart a certain flavor characteristic to the bread it is used in making.

Lets look at some of these things..

First, as it says in the opening scripture. A little bit of yeast will leaven the entire loaf. This is true.. it does not take a vast amount of yeast in order to create a healthy colony of yeast within the dough. There are sugars within the flour that will give the yeast all it needs to develop and grow. These small yeast cells are mixed and kneaded which spreads the yeast throughout the entire loaf.

The yeast will spread and as it grows and spreads it will cause the dough to inflate.. this is what is refereed to as the “rise”. Traditionally after the first rise, the dough is deflated, and kneaded, and formed into what ever its final shape it will take for a second rise before baking.

Much like the yeast we use for baking bread and the processes involved, this too, applies to our spiritual lives.

We are are injected into our own world, there are elements for our basic survival, but is that enough ?
Of course not ! Like this yeast, we like the yeast take on the responsibility, for sharing our faith with others.
We take on the challenges of daily life where we share that faith not just through what we say, but what we do.

We have been given the “great commission” as it is referred to by some, to go forth and make disciples of all nations. This means we are to share our faith with others. As Franciscans, we follow the example of Saint Francis when he said, ” preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary use words ! “. We must have our actions speak to our faith, we must make our lives radiate our faith through our actions.

Like a yeast we will impart a certain flavor profile to the community within which we live, as part of our faith lives lived in our communities and the lives of those we touch.

Like yeast that is lack luster or does not produce good results, the resulting bread will be dense, bland, and not very useful. The same thing is true of a person who has no faith, or very little faith, or who has faith but does not live that faith to the fullest possible reach.

Alot can be told about the yeast or the process of the bread making by examining the knooks and crannies.

Like the yeast it is our job to make room for everyone, it is our job to make sure that each cell within the community has room to grow and develop. Like yeast we must lift the life we are given, and the community we support so that it develops to its fullest potential.

We need to be mindful of our part in our own faith lives. That we become the leaven within our lives, with our communities, at work, at home, or at Church or in the marketplace. It is important that through our lives we lift others through how it is that we live our faith, through our actions, and through our words.

Like any master bread baker, we must study recipes. There are some who cook by recipes, and there are those who learn about recipes, and then cook feeling their way through experiences, and develop an experiential feel for their baking and their dough. Our faith life is much the same.. there are those who learn about their faith lives and only go through baking mechanically going through the process. There are others who take their life experiences and apply their faith lives to those experiences and then developing their lives through living it.

How ever it is that you work on your faith life, work on it, live it, and share it, to the glory of God !

May God give you the gift of His peace !