Posts Tagged ‘#disciple’

From Consumer to Disciple..

January 27, 2018

” You likewise know how we exhorted every one of you , as a father does his children – How we encouraged and pleaded with you to make your lives worthy of the God who calls you to his kingship and glory. That is why we thank God constantly that in receiving his message from us you took it, not as the word of men, but as it truly is , the word of God at work within you who believe.”
( 1 Thessalonians 2:11-13 )

This weeks reading we return to the book of Thessalonians where Paul is attempting to encourage the community, by reminding them of the things they are called to as disciples of Christ. The first part of that reading says that he is asking them to remember that they are to live lives worthy of the call.

Worthy of the call to the kingship. It is Paul that feels the certain patriarchy, Paul feels , a certain responsibility because he went to Thessalonika to preach and founded this community. By this time the community had gotten quite large. As the community grows, it presents some certain challenges because the humanity of the people grows exponentially as the community grows. . It requires a little more hands on approach to governance.

We as humans, we tend to fall into a rut, we get comfortable… we get sometimes too comfortable. We get into a habit of certain things…. We get into the habit of going to church, the habit, the physical act of going to church, of showing up, of going through the motions, and as a result, can become complacent in our spiritual growth.

We need to take responsibility for our own formation, for our own spiritual growth. We have too often become the “consumer of church” . We go expecting to be entertained. We want it to be comfortable.. we want it to be nice.. We want it to be easy, and we want it to feel good ! absolutely NONE of that is what we are called to. The practice of our faith life is not comfortable, it is not easy, and it takes work.. .HARD WORK.

The kingship that we are called to is to know our selves, to know our failures, to have the responisbility
to the other, although they too are called the kingdom. They too are called to the same work. We have a responisbility to them, for them. Our call is to serve. In order to serve effectively, we must first take a good hard look at the state of our spiritual lives. Our spiritual education.

We have a 2 fold service. service to God, and service to our fellow man. Both of these require us to know and experience God in our daily lives. In our study, in our practice and our works.

In today’s world you don’t just walk into a job, where it is being a mechanic, or being a professor, or doctor… any kind of job and simply expect to begin working with no background. Likewise, you can not advance within that job, without additional study, practice, mentoring. Along with that training there will need to be some hands on work, or practical experience. Our faith lives are no different.

You are called to be Priest, Prophet and King, but you need some basic instruction from where to begin. Faith life becomes a point of practice. You take this basic information, and plug that knowledge into your day-to-day life. You develop understanding where you excel and others where you fail. You make changes and you grow hopefully.

The problem is that all too often people stop there. Sure, they go to church every Sunday. They consume what they are given in the way of scripture and sacraments, which is good and necessary.
It tends not to be enough. It is just enough so that you are maintaining the minimum. Its like going to the mechanics and getting the oil changed. You know you need to do it.. You do it so that you can keep going. It protects you so that your car will keep going. But its not enough.. there is work to be done.

When I first started studies as a Spiritual Assistant, I talked with a priest friend , who gave me this one piece of advise. If you want to grow in your faith. If you want to REALLY know the heart and soul of your faith, study the Gospels. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

In the heart of the Gospels you will find the true center of our faith. The things we are called to know, to share and to bring to others. You can not ” Go forth and make disciples of all the nations”…. if you don’t know what you’re making them disciples of ? !! Sharing your faith with others means that the people who you are sharing your faith with, will have questions. I dare say, that in sharing your faith, you too might have questions that you do not have the answers for….. AND THAT IS OK ! its GOOD !

The most intelligent thing, the most responsible thing, is to tell them something like :

” I don’t have the answer to that question, but I will find the answer for you, and let you know..”

Why ? It’s being honest, and the person who is asking the question, will hear the ring of truth. AND, honestly, if you don’t have an answer, then this will be a point of growth for you as well.

Too often we have become reticent in our study. To a certain degree, they can become repetitious. You will come to know the answers to these questions. They are usually pretty basic questions. People want to know why you believe this , or that ? Why do you DO this or that ? How do you know that God exists ? Why did God allow this, or not do that ? Give me a reference in the Bible, for your belief in this or that.

But guess what ? THAT too can become commonplace, and a habit. So then what ?

You will have to find answers to your own questions ! GO and seek out new questions, and find the answers, because if you find the questions, eventually someone else will have those questions too ! You can be the laborer who plants the seed of deeper faith and spread God’s kingdom. That seed will eventually bear fruit not only in their lives and in the lives of those that THEY touch, but in your own spiritual life as well.

Keep asking questions, and keep asking questions until you get more questions, deeper questions, until you run out of questions ( You never run out of questions ! ).

By your seeking, by your learning, by your faithfulness, you will answer the call to fulfill your vocation as a disciple of Jesus Christ !

May God give your the gift of His peace !

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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 !

Blessed are the Poor in Spirit…

September 24, 2016

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,

for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” ( Matthew 5:3 )

Great ! Who are the poor in spirit ? What does it mean ? How do you know if this is something that you have gotten a handle on or not ? Why is it important enough that Jesus listed this as the very first of the Beatitudes ?

These are good questions. Who is poor in spirit ? Franciscans hold as part of their treasured chrism, the idea of spiritual poverty. At the same time, neither has there been such a divisive point in nearly all of Christendom, as the idea of poverty, what it is, and how it is exercised.

For the majority who do not belong to religious orders, and who live our lives out “in the world”, there are 2 types of poverty.

First, what spiritual poverty is NOT. Spiritual poverty is not, an experience of material poverty borne of a lack of the basics of life. It is not the poverty of unemployment, or under employment where the struggles for day to day existence is a reality. It is not borne of slavery or a lack of control over ones livelihood or destiny. It is not the result of oppression or disaster.

It is also, not a point in our lives where we have been subject to this type of poverty, but have surrendered to the idea that there is no other reality for us, and so we just accept the fact as the status quo, and attempt to find some meaning there.

Instead, spiritual poverty comes through detachment from the material things of this world.

This is where you maybe thinking… “Thats all fine and good but I still have to live, and we can’t all live in a cave “.

Spiritual poverty, does not require that we are devoid of all material possessions. Instead, Spiritual poverty is an interior process. It deals with how it is that we regard the material things in the world, both in what we own, or use, or have possession of, or control over.

Most people have possessions. Great or small, it does not matter what that thing is.
What is important is how you regard that possession. You may legally own that thing.
but, what does it take to own that thing. Does it make you take time, efforts, money, or value of some sort, away from your relationship with God.

One day Saint Francis and one of the brothers, were walking along the roads of Assisi, and the brother said ” Brother Francis, I really want a book… I have thought about it , and I would really, like to have a book !”. Francis replied … ” OK, let’s say you get a book. If you have a book, then you need a shelf… you will need a wall to hold the shelf, a house to hold the wall, a door, and a lock to secure the house, and possibly people to guard the house and to make it comfortable… Do you really need a book ? ”

The Franciscan view of material possessions, is basically that we are guardians, of the possessions we are given. Our material possessions are a trust, that we hold which are not really possessions but blessings we are guardians of, blessings held for the benefit of others. Blessings we are given for a time, and to be passed on for the benefit of our brothers and sisters.

Well, thats great, except what happens when your married, or the other people in your life, in your family etc, are not in the same place that you are, or don’t really have the same view of poverty that you do ? Good question !

For this we look to another great Franciscan Saint, Saint Elizabeth of Hungary.

Saint Elizabeth was a Princess. She lived in a castle, had servants, and by outward appearances could have had anything her heart desired. These were the trappings of
a life in court. St. Elizabeth however, spent her time working tirelessly to care for the poor, and the needy in their country. She would go out at night, disguised as a regular common citizen, and take food and bread out into the streets from the kitchens in the castle.

Maybe your married, and have children. Your family did not choose poverty, so how do you work out the balance of how things should work. They have needs, wants, desires. You have to find balance in the difference, of how you deal with possessions, and at the same time, have peace in your home.

Spiritual poverty can also be a matter of relationship. In your marriage, or in your family relationships, in relations with all our brothers and sisters, your poverty may come in the form of accepting that your view, might be different from others. You may find that you will need to sacrifice your need to communicate, for the sake of leaving the relationship in tact.

Is the discussion, or the winning of the debate you are engaged in more important than leaving the bridge between you standing, and allowing a place where after the discussion is done, that it allows for your relationship to continue ? In poverty, you may need to accept that they do not agree with you, and you have to find language that allows your relationship to continue without being damaged beyond repair.

Spritual poverty, is, like many other parts of our life, a life-long process and possibly we never really get to the end of that journey until we are in Heaven. This is why is it that we Franciscans call it ” The journey and the dream”.

May God give you the gift of His peace !

Sin, Death, Life and Holiness

November 7, 2015

Sin, Death, Life and Holiness.

”  are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?

We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life.

For if we have grown into union with him through a death like his, we shall also be united with him in the resurrection.

We know that our old self was crucified with him, so that our sinful body might be done away with, that we might no longer be in slavery to sin.”

We were baptised into death… That’s sort of an interesting concept.  This passage speaks not only of our humanity, and our eternity, but also about our spiritual life on this earthly plane..

Suppose that this death we are baptized into comes not as our earthly death.  This type of bodily death came before Christ, and came in the passing of time from the very beginning of all life.  Instead, this death speaks about the death we are to experience
while we are still here on earth.

THere is a duality of life and death, for not only are we here living our lives we speak of being BORN again, and BORN into a life of faith, for this we live, at the same time we experience death. We experience death not only in the physical sense, but in a very spiritual way we experience death in how our old selves are put away, or our old lives are things we either put away, or
through the grace of God are put away for us.

We grow in knowledge, and wisdom, grace and love.  It is through this love that we gain knowledge and wisdom, through which the
old self slowly quietly dies, so that there is then room for the new spirit to be born within.

Make no mistake, these things don’t usually happen over night, some of those are life long struggles and things we work on over long, long periods of time.  One of the things about living a life in Christ is that the longer we are there, the more the old self dies off and the true spirit is revealed, then more is revealed.

We become acutely aware of our failings and our human-ness.  It is precisely this humanness, this stain of original sin, this fallen nature we have as people that make some of those struggles life long.  It is not that we are bad people, or even bad Christians, or unfaithful, or unspiritual.  It is precisely that we are human, that we are given the graces of wisdom to know that we have failed.

We are given free will, and the ability to reason, that allows us to see that we have all fallen, at some point, and it is precisely this grace, that allows us not only to grow in our faith, and in our spiritual lives, but that we have the capacity for forgiveness, for compassion, for mercy, for love.

It is through these graces, that we are called to a life of discipleship, to serve our fellow man, to bring the love of Christ, and His mercy to everyone through the example of our lives.  Through works of mercy.  Through how it is that we love.

The life of love is not an easy one.  It is also not optional.   It can be painful.  Love is painful at times.
How much more glorious is love, when the seeds you plant grow and bear fruit, and the seeds of that fruit are shared with others.
It is through a life of Love and service to others, that we put a “death” to our old selves, to sin, and gain a new life with God.
May God give you the gift of His peace !