Posts Tagged ‘#colossians’

We Are Travelers…

December 16, 2017

” May God our Father give you grace and peace. We always give thanks to God , the Father of our Lord ,Jesus Christ , in our prayers for you because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love you bear towards all the saints – moved as you are by the hope held in store for you in Heaven. You heard of this hope through the message of truth , the Gospel , which has come to you , has borne fruit, and has continued to grow in your midst, as it has everywhere in the world.” ( Colossians 1:2b-6a)

By way of a little background, in this passage Paul is writing a letter to the Colossians and it is meant as both encouragement and instruction. The church in Colossae, was new, and growing and vibrant, but Paul, had been unable to this point to be able to travel there or meet with them personally so everything he was learning about the community he was learning by way of Epaphras. Epaphras was the head of the church in Colossae..

The letter is a result of Epaphras’s time with Paul in prison in Rome. The reason for the letter came about as a result of Epaphras’s concern for the church, and some incorrect teachings that seemed to be creeping into the body of the church, as well as some encouragement.

I would like to take some time to take a page from Epaphras’s book, and offer not only some encouragement, but a little instruction as well.

When you enter an Order, and go through the initial formation processes, it can feel a bit like you are going to school, and indeed , to a degree, you are. There is a great deal to learn, and to consider, to think on and write about. The subject matter can be very simple, and it can be very weighty. That initial process can be very intensive and after that process has completed, You have the opportunity to shift focus a bit from the interior workings, The initial learning or getting up to speed , the graduation if you will, and then you have the chance to shift your focus to an outward gaze. To look into the community, and into the world, and begin anew to feel your way through the processes.

One of the things that becomes very apparent in a very short period of time is that everyone lives out their own vocation, their charism, their spiritual life in very different ways. Your community can at time fluctuate between what might feel like your immediate family, or your extended family.

Either your brother or sister, with whom you are very close, or maybe like that inappropriate uncle that gets invited to family functions ” because he is family”… They don’t “act right”, and maybe don’t behave or think about things in the same way that the others in the family does. What ever that thing is, basically you have a familial love for them, but occasionally they really annoy you.

As my Mother used to say…” Life is a matter of perspectives…”

It is important, to remember that regardless of what your vocation is in this life, the responsibility for the formation of your spiritual journey rests squarely on your own shoulders. Sure, there is a certain responsibility of the person who is doing the teaching, to separate their own opinion and editorializing from the true teachings of the church, but it is the sole responsibility of the individual to seek out what is the truth, and the differences between what is the central “required” truth, and what is simply the other soul, being at a different place or a different expression of the journey that they are on.

The fact that there are so many different Orders within the church, is testament to the differing ways within which will find the truth in their faith, and yet still find that there are so many different and yet beautiful expressions of their faith !

I want to encourage you on this road of your faith life, to never quit seeking, never quit asking difficult questions and once you have found the questions, then go out and seek the answers for yourself, and then take what you have found and review that with a pastor or priest, religious, or someone you might recognize who has been at the same point you are , or further down the road of their faith journey. Test out your information, get new insights, and learn from the process.

Finally, be patient, solicitous, kind, and loving with those who might not be where you are on your journey, because they too, are seeking truth, and seeking answers. Help them along their journey, if they are asking, even when they can’t find it within themselves to ask.

May God give you the gift of His peace !

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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 !