Posts Tagged ‘#CanticleReflections’

You Who Were Once Far Off…Or Me ?

May 3, 2018

“ Now in Christ Jesus, you who were once far off have been brought near through the blood of Christ.
It is he who is our peace, and who made the two of us one by breaking down the barrier of hostility that kept us apart. In his own flesh he abolished the law with its commands and precepts, to create in himself one new man from us who had been two and make peace, reconciling both of us to God in one body through his cross, which put that enmity to death “ ( Ephesians2:13-16 )

In this passage Paul is talking to the Ephesians, about how it is that in the process of His ministry, and in his preaching, and in his life, Jesus put an end to the divisions between not only the factions within the Jewish faiths, but also an end to the division between Jew and Gentile ( pretty much anyone who was not of the Jewish faith).

Remember that Paul spent a vast majority of his public ministry, working to being the faith to Gentiles and spreading the word of God among those who knew had not grown up with the idea of God as the Jews understood Him.

Paul is trying to explain that Jesus showed us how it is to build community, regardless of where it is that we started from, or where you are now !

We need to be mindful that we have a number of spiritual leaders in our lives. It is easy to put them on a pedestal and look up to them, believing that they are good and holy people. We would like very much to believe that we are good and holy people. If we take the time and really analyze where we are in our spiritual walk, and do some critical review of it, that we can clearly see where it is that we have work to do. Our God, being good and loving, and wanting what is best for us, will show us where our flaws are, whether we want to know them or not.

Recently I was at a meeting, and admittedly sleep deprived and nerves already a bit frayed when someone touched on a personal hot button. Now, mind you, there is nothing quite like thinking you are in a good place, and it’s all good when your talking about generalities and abstracts, but now when things hit home.. NOW we are getting to the meat of things. Needless to say, I was rather strong in my response. I was not wrong in what I said, but definitely wrong in HOW I said it. Shortly after I ceased speaking, I realized that possibly, I might have hurt the feelings of one or two others, and so
after the meeting was done, I sought them out and apologized and attempted to explain my reaction, and entered into a discussion with them about how they felt and why.

I tell you this because we need to understand that the people who are the leaders, are leaders, yes, but they are human. They are flawed and broken, they have feelings and patience ( and a limit to them no matter how loving they are). This is exactly the same bridge we need to be crossing when we deal with people of differing faiths, people who are not where we are, people who might seem different, but in truth are the same.

In this letter, Paul is reminding us that you may believe that you are in a good place and others are “far off” but through the blood of Christ, I promise, you have been brought nearer, to where they are, than they to where you are. My mother used to say.. “ Life is a matter of perspectives”. This phrase used to be trotted out usually about the point where I was angry about this or that thing, or at this or that person. As much as I hated it at the time, it did cause me to think about it.

So today, brothers and sisters, let us work on not being the one who is “far off” , but accepting that no matter how much we may feel like we are in a good place, that WE ALL are still far off, and work on building the community of global faith, that Jesus tried so hard to get us all to see.. To build a global community of love and acceptance. To build a place where even a flawed brother like me, will find a place of forgiveness. And lets begin to build that global place by building the first place in our hearts.

May God give you the gift of His peace !

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Who Will Separate Us From God ?

March 4, 2018

“Who will separate us from the love of Christ ? Trial, or distress, or persecution or hunger, or nakedness, or danger or the sword ? As Scripture says… “ For your sake, we are being slain all the day long, we are looked upon as sheep to be slaughtered.” Yet in all this we are more than conquerors because of Him who has loved us. For I am certain that neither death nor life, neither angels nor principalities, neither the present nor the future, nor powers , neither height nor depth nor any other creature, will be able to separate us from the love of God that comes to us in Christ Jesus, Our Lord.”

Romans 8: 35-39

Are you struggling today ? Are you trying to find your footing ? Feeling lost, or depressed ? Unloved by someone, or feeling lost ? Feeling a certain void ?

If I could give you this passage, and have you think about this message. Ask you to take some time and REALLY think about this scripture and what it means for you.

I want to go back for a moment to last weeks reflection, where we talked about salvation. Do you remember how I shared with you that the Franciscan view is that Jesus did NOT come to into the world because of SIN… He came into the world because of LOVE.

For God so LOVED the world … Not for God thought the world was a totally wretched placed and all of humanity was so sick and twisted with sin that letting them kill His son was the only way to fix it all. NO..

Consider this passage, and examine the depth of Love it contains. This , brothers and sisters is a declaration of undying, unending and eternally abiding love. There is nothing that can separate us from the LOVE of God. From the very beginning.

Remember that “ In the beginning was THE WORD, and THE WORD was with God, and THE WORD was God, and THE WORD was made flesh, and dwelt among us. “ (John 1:1)

THE WORD is Jesus Christ, and notice that Jesus was not an after thought, not a remedy, but instead always has been and there in Love from the very beginning and was part of the plan of the world.
THAT plan is like a great jigsaw puzzle. Each person, each life, each vocation , each soul, is a piece.
That piece is unique. It only works when it gets put in the place it was meant to be, when it joins together and clasping together with the other parts.

You are like that piece. You are unique ! You have a purpose, a reason , a vocation that only you can fulfill in this life. I don’t mean vocation in a career sense, I mean a spiritual/ministerial vocation, a function in the puzzle of life. And it only works because in that piece, fitting into that puzzle, you are there to touch other lives, other souls. You are grasping together with others.

The picture on the face of the puzzle is the story of salvation. Yours, and theirs, throughout all of the history of mankind. This type of unending, unflinching,, undying love that God has for us that is
there for us every day. God in the Trinity, is the great love of our lives. No matter where you are in your life, there is nothing that can separate us from the LOVE of God. If you have faith, if you allow yourself to experience and share that love with others. You will know that in the end, it will be as it was in the beginning, nothing but the love of God.

May God give you the gift of His peace !

We are Bound to Thank God for you…

January 5, 2018

” We are bound to thank God for you always, beloved brothers in the Lord, because you are the first fruits of those whom God has chosen for salvation, in holiness of spirit and fidelity to truth. He called you through our preaching of the good news so that you might achieve the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. ” ( 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14 ).

In this passage, Paul is writing to the church in Thessalonika and like most of the other letters that Paul sent to these church communities, he is giving them greetings, and encouragement, and some direction as well.
Like many parts of the church history there are times in various communities where things go a little awry and the church has to step in and make some necessary corrections in a pastoral and fraternal way.

In the background of this reading Paul has a few items he needs to address. First, is apparently there were a few in the community who were not really doing what was in the agenda in the way of work, AND,
they were busy minding everyone else’s business but their own. It does not really tell us much about what it was, but that really was not the point anyway.

Lets take a note of something that I really, love, which is how Franciscan it is.. that when Paul went to Thessalonika to spread the Gospel, what happened ? He worked, and not just a little it says in this passage that,
they strained, they worked hard in order to insure that they were not a burden to others while they were there. They did not come in and expect that everyone would just open their homes and let them stay. It is logical to assume that the time necessary in order to spread the Gospel, to teach, and to develop a church that would have enough of a local foundation to be able to stand on its own would take time and effort.

The story goes, that Saint Francis and another brother were walking through a town in the pre-stated objective that they would be preaching the Gospel. They performed many charitable acts, but the brother was anxious to get to the business of preaching. Near the end of their journey the brother asked when they were going to start to preach. St. Francis said, we already have. ” Preach the Gospel at all times. .and when necessary use words. “.

The apostles certainly did this. They went to Thessalonika and worked and while they worked, this was so that the community there would have an example of what to do, and how to build the church there.

It was also important for Paul to give encouragement which is the point of this particular part of the story. You can tell that the church in Thessalonika is important to Paul.. in a way it is like a parent, whose child has gone away to school or off to work, and they want their child to know of their love for them. It has that familial feeling. In a traditional sort of style, just as we read from the Gospels, the style of instruction to the Jews, there is a history, something that causes them to remember where they are and what they have done, or some part of the prophecy, or covenant that they knew, or possibly some trial or tribulation they went through in order to learn some important lesson.

Here Paul is just giving them a reminder of their bond, and how it is that this community was one of the first, and they are almost obligated it would seem, to thank God for these people., that they were called , that they have the work ahead to get to the salvation this is there for them. THAT is the work, and the standards that they are held to, and the standard we are held to. This does not mean we are perfect, and it does not mean we are not to fail, or be understanding of either our own failures OR the failures of others. It simply means this is the goal we are working towards.

Paul gives is the example in how we are to approach people in a fraternal correction, to do so in a positive light, to do so in a way that is supportive, loving, sensitive and by way of example, we can show others how to do that same thing we are attempting. We should be able to give encouragement, share our own journey, and provide formation in a positive light.

In the same way, I want to encourage all of you, my brothers and sisters, to spend time working on your own formation, your own spiritual development. It is part of the work we are given, as part of our faith family, to learn as much as we can, and discern the meanings for our lives, and apply those things not only to our own lives, but in helping our brothers and sisters along the way.

Remember that the biggest challenge we have, is the battle over our own will, over our own natures, over our own inclinations.

My Father used to say ” What ever you are, be the best that you can be… ask the hard questions, and learn “.

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 !