Posts Tagged ‘cross’

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… .

Voce mea ad Dominum clamavi….

October 4, 2015

For the uninitiated, or non-Franciscan amongst the readers, The Transitus is the celebration of Saint Francis from this life to eternal life.  Oct 3rd was the night and then into Oct 4th which is the Feast day of St. Franics.

This particular night is one where the entire Franciscan Family from all over the world join in celebration of our founder, and spiritual example, who was an example to all men and women, and who lived all the way through until death the “little way” and clung to his faith in super human fashion.

In life and in death Francis lived the evangelical counsels to the utmost and even until the last of his breath, he lived the example of Christ, poor and crucified for the brothers and sisters.
At the time of the announcement of his pending death, he rejoiced.  Praising and welcoming our Sister Death, and had the friars to sing ..All Creatures of our God and King…

At the time of his death.he and the brothers began with singing Psalm 142 “Voce mea ad Dominum clamavi…” … ” I have cried my voice to the Lord I have deprecated (supplicated) my voice to the Lord .”  he was said to have seen death enter the hut where he lay on the ground, poor and naked. He had one of the brothers to announce Sister Death like a hearald at court.. an honored guest.. For indeed this Sister Death would be the one who would accompany Francis and introduce before the Lord to his Heavenly Father face to face.
Francis said to his brothers, ” My Task is done, may Christ teach you to do yours…”

So living in the example of St Francis is not a easy way to go.  It the path one is called to…  Its not about puppys, and flowers and trees and butterflies.     Its about following Christ.   Its not all love and hugs, or celebrations and socialization.  Its about work.  It is about poverty, chastity and obedience.     But more than anything else.. its about LOVE.

Gods two great commandments.  LOVE God with all your heart, and then LOVE your neighbor.

Think about that for a bit.  LOVE is the commandment.  Not an option.  The human experience of LOVE is full of pain and suffering. It is also full of tremendous joy , and peace, and happiness.   Ask any parent.

That LOVE …. the LOVE of God, and also the LOVE of neighbor causes us to have various crosses laid before us. These crosses are not ones we may want, or even think we need.   The cross might be a job, or a health issue.  It might be a family member, friend , neighbor or even someone you might not like very much.

Your cross might be internal, a problem, and addiction, a failing, a weakness, or something that others might not see or that you believe anyone would understand.    Maybe your cross is your patience, or lack thereof.  Maybe it is all of these or something totally different.

Here is the kicker.  If we believe what it says in Romans 8:28 ” We know that all things work for good for those who love God,* who are called according to his purpose.”, and we know to a certainty of Gods love for us.  The other side of the coin comes to us from Mark 8:34 ” He summoned the crowd with his disciples and said* to them, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.”

So you see there really is very little in the way of mistake about what is head.  We must go forward, pick up our crosses, whatever they are, and follow Christ.    We know its not going to be fun.  We know its going to be work. The fact of the matter is that God loves us, and not only do we ask for God’s will to be done, but what ever that cross is, what ever that work is, what ever it is that we are brought to, we will be brought through and on the other side at some point, we will be able to see were it is that God has guided us and cared for us, and done what was needed for our eventual happiness and good.

In all things Christ is victorious.  The end result of that is that we also are ultimately victorious in Christ, all we have to do  is pick up our cross, and love !

May God give you the gift of His peace !

Picking Up Your Cross Daily….

February 7, 2015

The Picking Up Your Cross Daily..

Matthew 16:24 .. “Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,* take up his cross, and follow me”

In Matthew Chapter 16 there are big things happening.. Jesus is prepping the disciples for Ministry.. for his Passion and Death and the Resurrection.  There is the institution of the Papacy with Peter being the first Pope and sacrament of Reconcilliation.

All this in just a few short paragraphs.

In our own work-a-day world for the average person, the person who gets up, goes to work every day, trudges through the day, and comes home.. maybe gets a couple of hours to relax and then does it all over again.. seemingly on this one giant tread mill of life.  It can be easy to miss the spiritual, world to place that on hold after Saturday evening or Sunday Morning Mass.

In the Franciscan Charism we have something we call ” The Journey and The Dream”..

There is THE DREAM part, where we have an ideallic goal, where we have this utopian existence, everyone (mostly ourselves) lives our Rule of Life, and we live in peace and harmony with everyone and all creation.  We are as close to sinless as we can manage to  be, and Our Father in Heaven is most pleased with the things on Earth.   Our Communities are places of mutual respect, and love and everyone works together for the benefit of the whole, and world lives at peace.

Then there is THE JOURNEY.. The journey is that nasty, dirty, very humanness of the Church and the world.  Where not everyone has the same vision, where not everyone has the same plan of how to achieve THE DREAM.  It is filled with our own failings and sinfulness and those of our brothers and sisters.

It is filled with the circumstances of life and the effects of sin and degradation.  Greed, envy, lust, and pride and every other kind of sin imaginable.  Any one of which comes to effect those who do their very best in the struggle to live good and holy lives.

No life, no geographic area, no occupation, no vocation, nor any other kind of person is immune to the effects of sin who live in the world.   So, whats a poor soul to do when faced with this seemingly overwhelming place where things seem so inescapable ?

We turn to God, to our faith, to our Church, to our families and friends, to those who are people of faith who share this journey.

In our daily lives we are faced with so much.  This much is true but we are also GIVEN SO MUCH !

Anyone who works in any kind of ministry will tell you that its a tuff row to hoe.   It is very human work, There are great sadnesses and great joys.  Just as any other kind of work. It’s all very human.

For people of faith, who are entrenched in the battle to conquor their own minds, hearts, and bodies.  Who are battling to tame and control the evils that lurk around in their own persons, it is so very easy to see failings.

If you go to work, and someone is trying to help you, and from the sheer frustration of the day, you growl at them in sheer frustration. Later it occurs to you that you failed to control your tongue or your emotion, and you feel not only sorry for the fact that you let things get to you, and you took it out on them, but you also feel like you failed in your efforts to win that battle, over that moment.. or that day.

You apologize to the person and ask their forgiveness and maybe you go to Reconcilliation and you feel worn down by the failings.
Maybe that list is long.  Maybe not…

Do you ever wonder why it is that Priests, Deacons and Religious Brothers and Sisters have the requirement of praying the Liturgy of the Hours every day ?   It is an anchor.   It is a renewal.   To pray every morning and every night and to make your entire life a prayer and to get your life centered in the life that is not of this world.

I have friends at work who look at their jobs and they are not happy.  Their lives are not happy and the job is a major component of that life.  They would like not to have to work, or would like more of this or that.

My mother used to say “Life is a matter of perspectives”.  It was usually something she pulled out when my brothers and I were not happy about something or we were attempting to figure out why someone would behave this way or that way, or we just disagreed with someone in our own way.

In traveling the road of faith you will eventually find that you may find yourself in one situation or another that is not exactly what you planned, and indeed may not be extremely pleasant.  This usually means that one of a few things is true.  Either, there is something there that you are supposed to learn, OR  ( and I know this might be a shock to some ) ITS NOT ABOUT YOU !   You might actually be there because you are the tool that God is using to bless someone else who is in need.   It may be that God is using you as a function to bring about His Kingdom and teach someone else.

In both these cases, it is up to us to pick up our cross daily, and follow Christ in faith, because in faith we know that He loves us, and wants what is best for us, and we are His Body here on Earth and what ever small sufferings we have are nothing compared to the glories and bounty of the Kingdom of God !

May God give you the gift of His peace !

Beginnings and Endings ( Canticle of Simeon Part 1 )

June 6, 2014

“ Lord, now let your servant go in peace, Your Word has been fulfilled, my own eyes have seen the salvation which You have prepared in the sight of every people. A light to reveal You to the nations, and the glory of Your people Israel”.

The setting for this canticle is at the Presentation of the Lord. Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple according to the custom , that every male child who “ opens the womb”shall be consecrated to God.

Simeon who is present at the temple, and filled with the Holy Spirit recognizes Jesus as the Messiah and makes the canticle proclamation We really don’t know too much about Simeon. There were, interestingly 3 different Simeon’s in the Bible. First there was Simeon , son of Jacob and Leah. The second was Simeon, who, after his conversion took the name “Simon Peter”, and then lastly there was Simeon, who is the author of this canticle. Simeon just seems to enter the story with the same amount of fanfare that he leaves with. The name Simeon is derived from the Hebrew word “Shama”which means “ to hear (God)”. Which is appropriate as it was revealed to Simeon through the Spirit that he would not pass away without first seeing the Messiah.

 

The canticle story holds certain dualities or parallels between the story and the things that may occur in our own lives.

First , Simon receives the revelation that he will not pass until he sees the Messiah. In our faith life, we receive God at Baptism. Baptism is the beginning of our faith journey. Mary, His mother, and Joseph, brought Jesus to the temple to consecrate him to God. This echoes i our own journey where our own mothers and fathers , traditionally bring their children to be Baptized into the faith sealed for God. Simeon , not only gets to see Jesus, with his eyes, but he also got to hold and carry Jesus ! In the same way, we hold Jesus and carry Him not only in our hearts , but we carry Him when we share His love with others, when we care for our brothers and sisters. Through this canticle it would seem that Simeon , who is now of some advanced age seems to believe that His life is now complete. He can die in peace, knowing that his promise has been fulfilled and that he has seen Jesus.

On the other side of the coin, there is Jesus whose earthly life is just beginning. In fact, aside from the Incarnation/Nativity which were mostly private, this can be seen as Jesus first move into the public religious journey, as is our own Baptism. In the same way, there are many who feel that once they enter the life of faith, and they have the opportunity to hold Jesus in their hearts , much like Simeon , they no longer desire their earthly life. Instead they want to go to Heaven to be with God. The problem with this idea is that although for people of faith, the entire idea and purpose of our lives is to get to Heaven , there is more to our existence than this.

One of the first questions that used to be taught to every child was this : “ Why am I here ?”. The answer to this question is this : “To know God, To love God, To serve God, So you can be with God in Heaven”. It is important in this scenario that what it does not say is “ To know God , to Love God, and go directly to Heaven! “. To SERVE God is a major component in this concept. It means that you can not dump your entire journey , or the crosses it contains for you. No matter where you are on your earthly journey or what your circumstances are in life, if you are open to God’s will for you , if you seek God in your present life, If you can be like Mary and say to God “ let it be done to me according to Your will.” then this is where we begin serving God and journeying through the mystery of our own faith life. In this canticle we see the ending of Simeon’s journey and the beginning of Jesus’ public journey.

In the same way there are many such symmetries in our lives. One journey ends and another begins. A child is born, and a new journey begins. A parent passes away and their earthly jouney ends. A new love beings and another love relationship ends. One job ends and another begins. Throughout the entirety of our lives we experience beginnings and ending of various parts of our journeys. Like Simeon who spent his life waiting to see the Messiah, we too must sometimes wait. The waiting can be the service, the waiting can be the cross , the waiting can be the fire through which the life of faith you live can be tempered and purified.

Ad Majoram Gloria Dei !

Proclaim ! ( Magnificat Canticle Part I)

May 16, 2014

“My  soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord

My spirit rejoices in God my saviour

For He has look with favor on his lowly servant

From this day all generations will call me blessed !

The almighty has done great things for me and holy is his name !”

 

To proclaim something means that you speak with authority, or with certain conviction.  To say something with an absolute resoluteness.

How often in your life do you spend speaking in this way?   When speaking about proclaiming something  we normally think of a church or politics.

 

The setting for this canticle is very familiar, very happy.

Mary  who was already some weeks or months along in her pregnancy has gone to visit her cousin , who lived “in the hill country” . She has gone to help out her older cousin and to visit family for a while.

Even to this point , Mary has been a supermodel of virtue .  TO a young girl , so full of hope and faith and love.  SO resolute was her faith to say “yes” to the incarnation.  In her saying yes, she risked many things, or at least could have.  To be pregnant , and unwed, and it was not Josephs child.  In that situation she could have been rejected, or even stoned to death, killed for her faith.

 

At hits point however, Joseph has taken her as his bride, and has set about taking care of providing for Mary and his soon to be completed family.  Mary at this point not only had her visitation, but has had more confirmation on her journey as by this point Joseph had already shared with Mary the story of his visitation, telling him to not be afraid to take Mary as his wife.

 

Here again, we have Mary saying “yes” again to service and sacrifice going to visit her cousin in her time of need.  Here again Mary is given confirmation, where John, leaps in his mothers womb and Elizabeth recognizes what has happened, and declares to Mary she is the mother of the Lord.

Elizabeth makes a proclamation, She does not say “How is it that the mother of THE Lord should come to me”…

She says ” How is it that the mother of MY Lord…” making this her profession of faith.

 

Within our Baptismal sacrament  we become priest, prophet and King.

These are not titles.  These are roles.  These are life journeys that we are meant to fulfill, in the best possible and most humane way.

Mostly these are roles of service.  Service to God, and to our brothers and sisters.  Mary fulfills these roles within the context of her visit to Elizabeth.  She goes to serve Gd  with the work she will do for her cousin.  She proclaims God.  She proclaims and testifies to what God has done , and IS DOING with her.  She gives all the glory to God and exudes thanksgiving for the gift she has been given.

 

In many ways service to her cousin, we find a perfect example of how we should carry out the service to God in our daily lives.  To serve our brothers and sisters as we are able , to carry Christ with us and share him with those that we meet along the way, and to proclaim God , in our work, in our words and in our lives.

In todays world, we look at Marys canticle and fiat as the model of Christian living.  We go about our lives in a daily walk of faith.  In our walk eventually something happens and we are given choices to make.  Those choices might not be on the level or magnitude , or as life altering as the appearance of an angel with some message, but the choices are basically the same.

 

We may choose to take one path or the other.  We can choose to pick up a cross that is given to us.  Possibly it is not a cross that we choose , but is a cross we have , or that we realize we are either in the midst of, or don’t feel that we have a choice in.  Then this question , this feeling , this cross is , in fact the choice of faith.

 

Even if we find ourselves in the midst of chaos, in the midst of the pain, difficulty , or of some suffering , we can still choose !

You can choose to reject the cross you have before you, making that cross an external problem, viewing that as a detestable part of your life that you just have to put up with , work through, live with, and and hopefully never have to deal with again, or there is another path.

You can choose to accept your cross in faith.  A faith that knows who much God loves you and desires only what is best for you.

 

To own your cross is a very internal process.  To come face to face with the problems involved , to do it anyway.  The choices involved in your own cross may be difficult in the beginning.  Faith does not mean that there is no fear, no apprehension, no challenges.  It does not mean that the pathway through the cross is easier.

It means that in spite of those things we are faces with we know that God is greater !  We know that God has a plan for us.  We know that even if we do not see that plan, that there are blessings in every cross we carry and all we have to do is trust, and God will provide.

No go out  and PROCLAIM God with your lives  !

 

 

 

Victory ! ( Canticle of Anna – Part 1)

January 24, 2014

” My Heart exults in the Lord, My Horn is exalted by my God.

I have swallowed up my enemies, I rejoice in your victory.

There is no Holy One like the Lord.  There is no Rock like our God. ”

Life comes to us in peaks and  valleys .  We know the peaks because of the valleys, or do we know the valleys because of the peaks ?  This is one of those questions like ” Is the glass half full or half empty “?

Anna is clear in her statement here.  She s clearly in a peak experience, and is praising God for his blessings.  Your own peaks and valleys are different moment to moment, day to day, each point in time could be though of this way.  Possibly it is not by time. but by experiences we judge our peaks and valleys.   ” The Good Old Days” , or maybe ” The Dark Days” of some experience.  Our human nature , or our emotional experiences might cause us to assign these good and bad qualities to our daily lives.

These peaks and valleys are individual experiences, where your peak may be willing a game, or getting a promotion, r maybe running a marathon.  Someone else’s  peak  experience might be getting out of bed, or taking a pain free breath, or being able to feed their family.   You had those peaks today !  Did you notice ? Did you take the time to experience those moments ?

In the course of our daily lives we spend so much time trying to climb out of the valleys to the next peak that we miss the miracle of the moment !  We miss the blessings and graces we daily receive and some of those wen might miss all together unless we are brought low enough into a valley unless we are humble, unless we are shown some of the miracles we missed !

This then begs some of the questions :  Why do we have these peaks and valleys ?  Does God curse us with the valleys ?  Do these peaks and valleys mean we are on the right road or the wrong one ?

For the answer to these questions we first have to see how it is that God deals with us.   God , our Heavenly Father, deals with us and relates to us just as any parent would deal with his children.  He loves us. He cares for us and he only wants what is best for us.

As Christian parents we know the responsibilities of a parent includes  procreation, spiritual education, temporal and corporal welfare, and of which an academic education of the children entrusted to them is a part. God takes this responsibility and provides for all these things.  He provides for us a continuity of care that is never ending.  Just as with the children we raise , there are rules, boundaries.  Our lives are better when we follow the rules.

Why do we have peaks and valleys ?..

God tests those whom He loves.  In order to learn things in life we have tests.  Just we had in school we are given information, and at some point there is a test of life that comes along.  This is where we find our what we have learned.  A different method might be that there are the valleys, these tests, that we are given first, and then you learn something new. something different.  Through the eyes of faith we can see that through that valley we can see the hand of God.  We can see some new facet of faith that we did not see before.  Perhaps we do not see the reasons today, maybe we don’t get to see them until tomorrow, or it is just that we already understand Gods love for us and this particular valley was not meant for you at all, but for you to testify through the valley to the love and blessings and grace of faith in God.

It is through the peaks and valleys we learn. where we tae the cognitive and translate that into the concrete experiential learning and knowledge, that is applied to the next Peak or valley.    These valleys are not a curse from God.  That would infer some type of malevolence.  That wold be inconsistent with the God of Love.

Everyone has a cross.  Everyones cross is different, and those crosses can change daily, or moment to moment.  It is not a question of   IF  you carry your cross, but HOW you carry your cross.    Make your cross a Prayer and Praise !

It Is Not the Netherworld That Gives You Thanks ! ( Canticle of Hezekiah 6/6 )

January 12, 2014

“For it is not the netherworld that gives you thanks , nor death that praises you. Neither do those who go down into the pit await your kindness.  The living, the living give you thanks as I do today! Fathers declare to your sons, O Lord, your faithfulness the Lord is our  Saviour. We shall sing to stringed instruments  in the house of the Lord all the days of our lives ! ”

 

Hezekiah , realizing the blessing that he has received, is rejoicing and praising God .  He is joyful  an thankful for his healing and so he says this joy should be passed on to everyone !

The first thing that we can see is that Hezekiah , in his human nature , sees his crisis in human eyes, where this is a terrible thing and there is doom and gloom all about him, fearing for his earthly life.  In life there are crisis of every type and size.  From minor inconveniences, to catastrophic events.  In each case, the response to these crisis might be anything from grumbling and annoyance to pleading for rescue and relief.

The first lesson is that we are thankful.  Thankful for the blessing we already receive.  This is the easy part.  The Lord told us to love our enemies, and that it was not just our family and friends we need to love.  Even those who do not have faith do that.  The same is true here.  Those who have no faith at all in any god are thankful for relief from a difficult situation.

As Christians we need to be thankful all the time even in the midst of crisis. This is where the mark of faith resides.

The other part of this story that we do not have recorded for us is “the story behind the story” ! Consider for a moment that this is very much a story of single vision.   No one lives in a vacuum … Hezekiah was a king !  he had family, and servants.  Physicians , nurses, maids, probably a multitude of people literally at his beck and call.

We know nothing of these other people as their story is not recorded …. Who brought him water when he was thirsty ?  Who was it who stayed with him all night ?  Who wiped his face and put cool cloths on his head ? Who carried him in their hearts and prayers as they could no longer stay with him ?

All these people , to spite their positions or circumstances were effected by the crisis.  Each of these people  were given a cross to carry, a challenge.  Each of these people were also given a blessing !  It was an opportunity to engage in a corporal work of mercy.  It was an opportunity to offer their work as a sacrifice to God and to serve God through one who needed mercy.

The final facet of this story is that  through this story of fear and suffering, relief and praise is the idea that through the challenges we face in life there is an even greater opportunity to share our faith through the example of how we life our lives.   It is easy to praise God in the good times , when things are easy.  The test we get is how we live our lives and praise God when things are getting difficult.  Is also then that we have the greatest testament, the greatest witness, and our greatest opportunity both for ourselves, and all who are effected by their own service and witness to the glory of God !

 

 

 

Why ? ( Canticle of Hezekiah 1/6)

December 6, 2013

” Once I said in the noontime of my life I must depart.  To the gates of the netherworld I shall be consigned for the rest of my years”

In this part of the canticle Hezekiah seriously ill believes that he is going to die and at about 40 years of age, is sad that he thinks he will die at a young age  with so much ahead of him.

This sounds so thoroughly depressing, but what cant we learn from these ideas ?  Since the time of Paul and the original apostles  have people tried to predict the return of Christ.  In truth we do not know when Jesus will return.  Much like Hezekiahs’ illness something happens  that we do not expect or maybe even prepare for, and we are left to deal with the new reality of the situation we find ourselves in.

It is important for us to remember in these cases,  the story of Paul.  Paul says that he was given a thorn in his side and an angel of satan to beat him so that that he might not become too elated.  He asked Jesus a number of times to remove these and Jesus said no, that his grace was sufficient for him.  He also told him that it was when he was weak, it was then that he was strong.

People always ask why things happen to them or to those they love.  Why is there evil in the world ?   Why did this or that happen.  Im most cases we may never know the why.  In alot of cases the “why” or at least our ability to discern the purpose of what ever the situation is, depends on where we are in our faith life.

After the ” Storm has passed” and in the quiet we are able to look back over the span of what happened we are able to see the hand of God guiding, and molding us, teaching us what we were supposed to learn.

From the daily crosses that we carry,  to the disasters of the world that are life changing events, it is easy to fall into feeling weak and helpless.    The same “metal” that makes the  shield to protect us from evil, and that made sword that slays evil ,that  same metal is used as a plow to till the land and sew the seeds of faith, they are made of this same metal that is forged  and tempered within the fires, fueled by the wood of the crosses that we carry each and every day.  For it is in our weaknesses, in our trials, that God not only teaches us , forms us and makes us stronger, but if we allow Him, He will use us as his greatest witnesses and apostles to plant the seeds of faith for others, often without saying a word.

On Hating , Calculating, and Carrying …

November 4, 2009

In this mornings Gospel of Luke ( Lk 14:25-33 ) we listen to Christ telling us to hate our families and calculating the cost of building a tower, and picking up our cross.

Jesus tells his disciples that if they don’t hate their father, mother, sister, brother and even our own lives, then we can not be disciples of Him ?  But isn’t that something in direct conflict with the commandment to honor thy mother and father ?

On the surface this might seem to be so, but like most of the Gospel stories, you need to read the story behind the story. The Lord does not really want to you to HATE anyone.  We are supposed to love our neighbors as ourselves. The hate in this case is a detatchment from the things of this world.  We are to live for Christ not for the things of this world.  We are to practice a spirituall detatchment from the physical and tend toward the spiritual.

Calculate the costs before hand ?  We already know the costs and the balance sheet here.. Adam sinned against God and it was through one man that death entered the world.   God sent his son Jesus into the world through a human woman, to be truly human and truly divine.  Jesus paid the price for our sinfulness once and for all time.  At the same time he made us brothers and sisters to each other and to Him, so that we might share in the death to sin, and everlasting life with him in heaven.   That is the only balance sheet there is. Overwhelmingly, it falls on the side of God.   But wait.. there is one or two little extra things we still need to complete…   First is to pick up your cross.. and then to carry it daily with him.

To carry our crosses daily, to suffer our own humanity, and its failings. Work to overcome those human failings with the help of God, and to share that journey with our brothers and sisters who are the Body of Christ.

Men and women, were made in the image and likeness of God, each bears the imprint of the most high, each a dwelling of the divine.  If we believe this, then we will love and respect each other.  Even those who are different, or hold different beliefs than we hold.  God created them too.  We should love our neighbor as ourselves with an eye towards heaven and the heart of Christ.