Posts Tagged ‘faith’

Why Is There Suffering ?

June 3, 2017

” Praised be to God , the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation ! He comforts us in all our afflictions and thus enables us to comfort those who are in trouble, with the same consolation that we have received from Him. As we have shared much in the suffering of Christ, so through Christ do we share abundantly in His consolation. If we are afflicted it is for your encouragement and salvation , and when we are consoled it is for your consolation., so that you may endure patiently the same sufferings we endure. Our hope for you is firm because we know that just as you share in the sufferings, so you will share in the consolation” ( 2 Corinthians 1:3-7)

Suffering, is one of the biggest questions we get asked. Mostly it is formed in the question of WHY ?

Why does God, who is almighty and omnipotent , and who is pure love, permit suffering to occur in the world. Why does it happen to those who are innocent, or young, or of some other circumstance ? Through our own questioning, we seek to find reasons for the suffering which seem particularly to make the least amount of sense to us.

Why death ? Why disease ? Why abuse ? Why is there war ? Why does God not just wipe away all of these things or maybe even some of those who cause these things to occur ? He could just point his celestial finger, or conceive of it happening and it would be so.

This is a valid question, and one deserving of an answer. There is only one answer, however, there are two circumstantial responses, pastoral, and theological. By this I mean, we would not necessarily want to provide a theological response to one who is grieving, and not really in a position to reason out the answer to this question.

That being said, lets take a look at the basis of suffering in our lives, its root, and its end result.

First, we know that all suffering, and death are a result of original sin. ” As a result of original sin, human nature is weakened in its powers, subject to ignorance, suffering , and the domination of death, and inclined to sin ( this inclination is called concupiscence .” ( CCC# 418 )

We also know that as a result this fallen nature, with its sin, suffering and death, were transmitted to all human kind.

That sounds all horrible and nasty and full of doom and gloom. It might have been so, but consider for a moment, that if we look back through the entire recorded history in the Bible, we saw where human kind , and in particular the Jews and later Christians, would inevitably sin, doubt, fail and fall.

Just as regularly, however, did God in His infinite wisdom and mercy, have a plan in place that would provide for the redemption and forgiveness of mans failures. It is always in Gods plan that man should grow, and mature and come into union, into relationship with Him.

Knowing this, we can look with confidence and with faith to God in our suffering knowing that He loves us, and wants what is best for us. There is however more to this story !

Is anyone among you sick? He should summon the presbyters of the church, and they should pray over him and anoint [him] with oil in the name of the Lord, and the prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up. If he has committed any sins, he will be forgiven.” ( James 5:14-15) .

What we know is that during the time Christ was with us, He of course healed many people of their sufferings, just as he does today. However, through the church he has also given the gift of healing

both to those within and outside the Magisterium. Of course, in there are 2 of the seven sacraments are specifically for healing. First is Extremeunction, or the Anointing of the Sick. The second sacrament of healing is Reconciliation, of course.

It is interesting to note that the sacrament of Reconciliation is offered in the light that, again, that it is always part of Gods holy will that mankind be united with Him. These are graces given to us by God.

Now, still there remains that nagging ” Why ?” question that is perpetually present.

The answer comes here :

“because of the abundance of the revelations. Therefore, that I might not become too elated, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel of Satan, to beat me, to keep me from being too elated.

Three times* I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me, but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me.”

(2 Corinthians 12:7-9 http://www.usccb.org/bible/2corinthians/12)

In every instance of healing that has occurred in scripture there were reasons those healing s occurred, either for the benefit of those who were present, or for the individual in need of the healing.

We are, through baptism, Priest ( laity) , Prophet, and King ( royal priesthood of Heavenly Kingdom).

Through our priesthood, ( as lay people) we are called to make gifts, offerings, and sacrificial offerings.

These come in various forms. Our work, our lives, our tithing ( time, talent and treasure) and also in our suffering.

In both an informal, and a formal sense, when we suffer in minor ways, illness, tribulations etc. we are given the opportunity to offer our sufferings up to God in union with the passion of Christ for not only our own sins, but for the sins of the entirety of human kind.

Through the sacrament of Extremeunction, we are given the opportunity to formally offer these things and to receive the graces necessary to carry those through. In addition, we are given opportunity to not only advance our own salvation, but the salvation of all mankind and to help in bringing about the Kingdom of God.

Like many other things that happen in our earthly life, there are opportunities we are presented with on a daily basis. What we do with those opportunities is up to us. It is the blessing that comes with a free will, we can either choose to unite our daily lives more closely to God, or do nothing.

This of course in no way means that you should not pray for healing, or relief from the suffering that either you or a loved one is enduring. It just means that if you are the one suffering, that you have the opportunity to make something good and salvic come from your suffering. If it is a loved one who is suffering, then it gives you the opportunity to help by your prayers, and leading them to understand the opportunity they have for grace to be part of their journey..

May God give you the gift of His Peace !

God’s Mercy…

May 20, 2017

Gods Mercy….

‘Just as you once disobeyed God but have now received mercy because of their disobedience,
so they have now disobeyed in order that, by virtue of the mercy shown to you, they too may [now] receive mercy.

For God delivered all to disobedience, that he might have mercy upon all.’ ( Romans 11:30-32 )

This passage is Paul talking is talking to his fellow Isrealites.. the Jews, of which he was one. and he is attempting to get them out of their “superiority complex” and get them to understand that they too sinned. Not only did they sin, but they sinned greatly, and God in his infinite love showed them mercy. They fell into sin which allowed them to be put into exile.. to learn of the great mercy and love of God. Now, it is the Gentiles who have fallen into sin, and they too will learn the lesson that the Jews should have learned that God indeed is loving and has infinite mercy.

Pain can be a mercy. Now before you all run off and think I have lost my mind and get any odd notions.. Consider this… How many souls have come to God in pain. How many souls reach the near end of their ropes, stripped of their preconceptions, feeling alone, and beaten, having suffered at the hands of the world. Who suffered through illness, pain, calamity, and then….. THEN.. it is that they come to realize that there is nothing…. they are nothing without God.

How many on their death beds… how many in fear and trembling ? For themselves, or those they love.
When you are at the mercy of another soul, who deigns to serve God, in the service of their brothers and sisters.

Think of the love and mercy Christ gave us on the cross. Think of the pains and challenges you have faced in your lifetime. You are given graces beyond recognition. You are given mercies you do not know, or even understand. The developement of your travels towards sanctification are held in the river of mercy poured out on all the world.

Consider the breadth of pain a teenager goes through as they attempt to figure out their world. Emotions that run the gambit, relationships and all the turbulence that goes with it. The terrible 2’s when infants are trying to figure out their world. Or when seniors get away from their jobs and again have to figure our their world.

Come to think of it, we pretty much spend a vast amount of our lifetimes trying to “figure it out”. All the while God has already given us the blueprint. We are however, like the Israelites of the Biblical era , hard headed, and hard of heart… and we do not listen.

God’s Love and Mercy endures forever…

May God give you the gift of His peace (and mercy) !

For Dust Thou Art…

March 4, 2017

Remember Oh Sinner, “For Dust Thou Art, and Unto Dust Thou Shalt Return… ” ( Genesis 3:19)

By the time this post is shared, Ash Wednesday will have passed for this year. As it happens I am writing this a few days ahead of Ash Wednesday simply because we were reminded this week at Mass that Ash Wednesday and Lent was already upon us !! Where did the time go ?

In most locale’s the church has dispensed with using this passage as part of the Rite of Ashes, in the Liturgy of the Mass, In favor of the passage “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” ( Mark 1 : 15) .

I think it was interesting to see the circumstances surrounding these two passages.

First, the Genesis passage. In this passage, God is talking to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, and they collectively pretty much made a royal mess of things in their world. God was in the process of telling them how it was going to be from that point forward, since they just could not follow instructions. This is same passage where God told them that there would be pain in child birth, and they would have to till the soil and make their living by the the sweat of their brows etc. .etc.

Now, then there is the passage in Mark, where it had already come to pass that Jesus was beginning his earthly ministry and trying to get people to follow the instructions they had been given. Jesus had also, after being baptized went through the temptation in the desert, and then at the beginning of His ministry, John got arrested and thrown into prison.

How do you like that ? There is John, doing what is right, following along with the plan God had set out for him and BAM ! He gets thrown in jail and treated like the dirt. Meanwhile, everyone else was out there living it up. How did THAT happen ?

In any case, lets fast forward a few thousand years.. and here we are. Do YOU sometimes feel like John ? You try to do what is right, and good and then BAM ! life comes along and throws a wrench inside the works.

You get a few ways to look at this. Either you can decide that it was just not worth doing and it would just be easier to let it all go and have fun. OR – You could say, that it was all your fault because at some point this was God’s way of punishing you for something that happened in your past and its just what you deserve and that’s fine.. BUT, that sort of leads us back to the first part of the options, and neither one of those are true.

God, does not work in that way. Instead, we already know we have a loving God, who already knows our heart and wants what is best for us. Sure, things happen, and yes, those things are at times not what we had in mind, but they are ultimately for our good.

The usage of the passage of Genesis has fallen out of usage in some circles as it does not have the ” warm and fuzzy” tone, that the passage in Mark has. If you take some time to review the current state of affairs in the world, we could use a little sobering catechesis on where it is we stand, spiritually speaking.

In this time of our lives, while remembering that our God is a loving God, and He loves and cares for us, it does not mean that we can just run out and do what ever we like. God gave us free will, but there are consequences to having that free will.

During this Lent, let us spend this time, in doing some serious “spring cleaning” in our spiritual house and work on those areas that we all need work in.

Most of the diocese, have teamed up and gathered priests to go around to the different parishes, to make the Sacrament of Penance very accessible to everyone. This is a great place to start.

Prepare your soul, and make straight your path, for the Kingdom of God is at hand !

May God give you the gift of His peace !

Blessed are Those Who are Persecuted for the Sake of Righteousness…

November 12, 2016

 

“Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness ” ( Matthew 5:10)

So, before we dig in too deep, you need to understand what it is that righteousness means in Matthew’s Gospel. In this case, it means you are acting in accordance with Gods law, or in his will. It means that in your heart, your making efforts to conform your own will, to that of the Heavenly Father, and then, you are working to form your daily actions, your choices, your actions to work to bring about the Kingdom of God on Earth.

Well, this is a good thing, BUT, it does not stop there. Jesus, gave us the model of life and also gave us not only in word but in action the way that we are to handle the persecution we encounter in our daily lives.

We saw how it was that Jesus, true God and true man, suffered through His humanity. He was born into poverty. He was born a refugee. He experiences all of the challenges, and issues that man had to offer. He tried to live a virtuous life, and still He suffered His humanity.

We can see through the Gospels, how it is that He showed love, how He gave everything He had to give. You can read the stories of His compassion for others. How it is He tried to teach everyone.

If a normal human were born today, and tried to live a moral life, they would be considered a good person and loved by those who know them well enough.

Jesus, showed us not only how to live but how to suffer for the sake of righteousness. Jesus was insulted, and scorned by the society He lived in. He did not return their insults… their hatred,

Jesus was spat upon, and beaten. He did not return their actions with pain He could have inflicted.

Jesus stripped , beaten, imprisoned, and treated like a criminal, crucified, and buried in a grave not made for Him. In a human existence even His earthly death and burial was a suffering of extremes.

We are challenged , as Jesus was challenged. Why ? Because we live with other people. We carry the stain of original sin, we suffer from our own human failings. Guess what ? They do too.

My mother used to say ” Life is a matter of perspectives…”. She was quite correct in our dealings with others. What you believe to be “right” or “correct,” might not be what your brother or sister thinks is right or correct. Their priorities are not yours and yours are not theirs. In fact what you see or read or hear may mean one thing to you, but something totally different to a younger, or older person.

Think about how you hear the Word, when scripture is read , and how it means one thing now, but a few years later, something totally different gets revealed to you. Life has a way of teaching us different things at different stages, and in different circumstances that we encounter.

We may suffer for the understandings of others, for their perspectives. The important thing is that we do not inflict suffering on others, who’s understanding is different than our own. Instead, Jesus gives us a plan of action. Jesus taught…. we should teach. Jesus bore the sufferings of others … we should carry that burden. We should not be afraid of suffering for righteousness because when we do, and we do so in the loving example of Jesus, then this indeed is a grace from God.

We are human, and we fail. They are human, and they fail. I am human, and I fail.

For those who try to live a good and moral life, who try to live a holy life in conformity with God’s will, it becomes painfully evident of where we fail. Maybe you loose your temper, or a curse slips, or you find some place in your heart that harbors a grudge, or hatred, or malice.

The fact that you recognize that sin for what it is. The fact that you see that there is a place for you to work on your soul, your humanity, is not only cause for reconciliation, but a sign that you can thank God for the fact that your conscience is formed well enough to recognize your own failings, and a desire to change, and the first step on the road to bearing sufferings for the sake of righteousness.

May God give you the gift of His peace !

 

Blessed are the Meek…

October 9, 2016

” Blessed are the meek,

for they will inherit the land ” ( Matthew 5: 5)

Great ! Who are they, and why do they get to inherit the land ? More over, why did Jesus include this part of the scriptures ? Why was it important ?

First, we have to remember, that the Beatitudes, were part of a sermon Jesus preached, particularly aimed at the disciples. The audience, in any manner, in public speaking is important.

OK , you say.. but the disciples were already people of good heart, and faithful…. and your right.
Lets backtrack a bit to the first question. Who are the meek ?

Meekness is the fine art of attempting to master ones own head and heart. I say attempting because this is a life long journey. To sift through ones heart. To work at being able to be “less” in ones own estimation. To be able to allow Jesus to be more in our lives. In order to allow Jesus to be more, we have to be willing to be less in our own hearts and minds.

In order to be less, we have to work at allowing Jesus to be in the forefront of our relationships with other people. Jesus needs to be what it is that others see when they look, and interact with you. For them to see Jesus in us, we need to be willing to be accepting, and welcoming, when our human mind might be less so. We need to be able to calm the storm that rages in our hearts and in our minds, in order to see more clearly the view of the other person. We need to be able to hold love in our hearts, while the storms of life rage around us. We need to be humble in our own estimation and lift up our brothers and sisters around us.

The road to meekness is like an old country dirt road, full of pot holes, that are the result of being pummeled by the rains of the storms of life, and oppression of the vehicles of life that have run over its length. Of course, you can use the road. Of course it will get you to the destination. You will however, have to pay attention to what your doing. You will need to check your navigation from time to time to make sure that you don’t slide off the road while avoiding those pot holes.

Jesus included this particular lesson on meekness and humility, and used this language, because
it is something that the disciples would have know well. In the book of Genesis, while Abram and Lot were discussing which one would claim land for their possessions and tents for their cattle to graze etc. Abram in meekness went to Lot and said, that the land was big enough for them both, and said to Lot, that he could choose the land he wanted first. Lot chose the Jordan plains and Abram chose took the area of Canaan that was left. Abram built an altar and praised God. and God said to Abram, Look all around where you are toward the north, and the south, toward the east and west. All the land within sight I will give to you and your descendants forever. I will make your descendants like the dust on the ground when men succeed in counting the specks of dust on the ground then they will be able to count your descendants”. ( Gen13: 11:17 ) In the Psalms it also says ” A little longer, the wicked will be no more, search his place well, he will not be there; but the humble shall have the land for their own to enjoy untroubled peace” ( Psalm 37:10) .

One of the paradoxes in our earthly life is that while we go through the challenges in this life, time just seems to crawl. At the same time however, time moves quickly. It passes and once we become adults, and start to make our way in this world, time just flys by and before you know it the time left to you is short.

Meekness is an important virtue for us to work on as disciples of Christ, for a few reasons. We need to first work on the splinter in our own eye, that is our pride, our luke warmness, our temperments.
At the same time it is important because the first testimony that we give to others about our lives of faith, others receive by observing how it is that we live our lives.

Saint Francis said ” Preach at all times, and when necessary use words ” .

May God give you the gift of His peace !

Blessed are They Who Mourn…

October 1, 2016

Blessed are They Who Mourn…

“Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted “ ( Matthew 5:4 )

It is easy to consider this part of the Beatitudes to be fairly self explanatory. However, mourning is never an easy thing, or necessarily clear. Sure, there has been laid out for us all those “Stages of Grief” to try and gauge where someone else is, or even where we are, in our mourning processes. It does not really view this process in relation to ones faith. In fact, with this type of mourning, the only place where God is brought into the “clinical” understanding is at the stage of Bargaining.

All of that version of mourning, deals with the loss of a loved one, and more recently, a pet. Mourning has a great deal of other facets. We also mourn the loss of relationships, jobs, pretty much everything that has to do in connections of any type with other people.

What is vastly more important, is our relationship with God. We as humans suffer from our own human weaknesses, and frailties.

We are blessed with free will. This means we can choose to do what we like, whenever we like. However, there are, of course, consequences to our actions. God has given us rules to live our lives by, and when we sin, whether in a big or smaller way, it damages our relationship with God.

At times, there might be a time when you hear a parable, or a scripture passage, or homily, or sermon, or just reading some spiritual work, where it becomes clear to you, that at different points in your life, or in your day, that you failed.

Welcome to the club ! Congratulations you are human ! However, this does not mean we get to throw up our hands, and just say “ This is all just part of life, I didn’t do anything worse than other people have done.. So I’m fine !” Your not fine ! You still have to go through the process of understanding what you did, and what caused you to do that thing, whatever that was, and to have a contrite heart, being sorry for the sins where you failed, confess those sins, and then make amends where you can, and work to work on fixing those human failings that caused the issues to begin with.

In other words you need to go through a mourning process, where you actually mourn the results of the sin, the loss of the relationship with the people involved, the damage done, to your own soul, and to the relationship with God. You have to deal with the consequences.

The good news is that Jesus tells us, if we go through this process, we too will be comforted. We will be comforted and He has provided for this not only through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, but also through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit, font of wisdom, that enlightens our hearts to holy reason and fans the flame that lights the fire of our souls…

Blessed indeed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted, and indeed they will grow in faith !

May God give you the gift of His peace !

All Is Not As It Seems…

September 10, 2016

All is not as it seems..

A few months ago, I noticed a change in the neighborhood.  There was a house, that at one time was being used for one man, who lived there, but also ran a plumbing business out of it.  THe house was sparsely furnished, and the plumber who lived there seemed to be quiet, and only on an odd occasion would have friends over and have a get together with his friends or possibly they were employees.. but they did not seem like employees.

Anyway, one day while I was on my walk to work, I noticed a “For Sale” sign in the front yard.  I never saw anyone going there to tour the house, and not much later the sign came down.   Approximately a month later, all of a sudden the house we filled with about 4 or 5 older gentlemen, and the only vehicle that was there was a white unmarked van.    Walking past the house a couple of times a day, The people who lived there would say hello as I passed.

During those moments where I passed, I began to wonder who they were and why they were there all the time.

One Friday afternoon, while I was on my way home they invited me over to share a beer with them.  I explained that I did not want a beer, however, I would come over and sit down and visit with them for a while.  They instead offered some water, which I greatfully accepted.

Some of them, because of the Tau Cross I wear, asked me if I was “one of those church people who wanted to convert them,,,,”.  We have a number of different religious groups who frequent the neighborhood knocking on doors and asking to share their faith with us.
We also have them not only in English, but also in Spanish by well meaning folks who only speak a single language.

I proceeded to explain to them that I am still working on fixing the things that need fixing within myself, rather than trying to fix others, but if I could help someone else on their journey, then I would happy to share.

Once we got past that hurdle, they were all very warm and inviting, and would greet me as I passed on my way to or from work.  If I was not in a hurry, I would stop and talk for a bit and see what was going on.

Soon I finally learned what was going on with the people who lived there and how it came to be their home.  It seems that these men, were all homeless veterans, and one city employee, who owned the house, had provided the house to these men, so they could transition back into what ever their normal life was, prior to their homelessness.

In talking with these men, I learned a little about their journeys.  One of them, used to get up early in the morning, and would greet me every morning, and in his way attempt to give me encouragement for the days journey.  On the way home he was always there waiting to welcome me back home.  A few times, he waited for me to pass the house, and joined me in my walk to the bus stop.  In those walks, I learned that he was going to visit his family from whom he was estranged.  He was taking food, and going to do work at the house and help out the family.  He said it was not much, but it was everything he could do in showing his love for them.

One day the man was not there any more. He was gone for a couple of days and there was no one outside to greet me on my walk.  A few days ago one of them was sitting outside as I passed on my journey home, and I asked him what happened to the other gentleman, as I had not seen him for a while.  He explained that the man had returned home to his family and they had moved north together to begin rebuilding their lives again.
The point is that in the beginning of this journey, the very human view, might have been to be afraid of these people because they could have been any type of criminal, or addict.   It would be easy to judge from outward appearances that these would be people who were not desirable to have living in your neighborhood.

Investing ones time and effort in reaching out by inviting conversation, by hospitality,
by being open to anothers story, we can break down the walls of assumption, or appearances, and learn the true heart of the other.

Love, is the lesson.  Love of neighbor. Love of “the other” in our lives. These are the things that bring about the opportunities to share Christ with others.  Not by force, not by abuse, and not by the use of methods that are more akin to winning a battle or war.  Sharing Christ is done first, through acts of love that we share.
May God give you the gift of His peace !

Modesty….. More Than What You Think

August 27, 2016

There was a young man stands in the midst of a crowd of people, takes a gun from his pocket and proceeds to point it straight up into the air and fires it. He does not hit anyone, near him, and says nothing, and does nothing else.

This caused some problems, as you might imagine.

Lets examine the issue a bit more closely. The story above does not really tell us too much about anything other than their factual occurrences. First, lets examine some possibilities about what occurred with those who were standing around. First, the people who were in the crowd.

What was going through the minds of those people who were standing around the young man who fired the gun ? We do not know for sure, but we can imagine. They heard a loud noise, and initially they might have been frightened, scared, shocked, or maybe disoriented. A few moments later for those who were closest, possibly the those feelings and emotions might have evolved into different feelings..

If they were really close and knew where the noise came from, if might have caused people to try and neutralize what they might perceive as the physical threat. Depending on where they were in the world, they might construe as celebration, or possibly think nothing at all about it.

Then we come to the question of the person who made the decision to fire the gun. There is really only 1 question that lingers. WHY ? Why did they do that ? What brought them to that decision ? What were they wanting to accomplish ? Did they accomplish the result they desired ? In the end, was it good for them ? OK, possibly more than one question !

So we have an entire process. We question the impetus, thought or inspiration for the action, followed by the act itself, and then the resultant of the action.

I know, at this point your probably asking yourself what does this have to do with Modesty ? Be patient, anyone who knows me, knows there is always a story to tell and its a process.

Let’s take a look at Modesty and what is really is, and how we address it.

Modesty is not just about your clothing choices. Modesty consists of humility, poverty, relationships, respect, and dignity.

Modesty as with all things has its root planted firmly in God. It is our relationship with God that brings us to the understanding that life is sacred at each point, and at every age, from conception to natural death. If you truly understand that the life of every person is sacred, and a gift from God, then we can also understand everything we do from the time of our birth, until the time of our death, is directly connected to our

relationship with God.

This relationship consists of a spiritual poverty. The we give up attachments, and allurements of this world in favor of a life based in faith. We save certain parts of our selves only for God, to live, and to love as Jesus taught. This modesty is counter cultural in today’s society.

Modesty is humility in the giving up of desires, whether they are fashion, or lifestyle or pleasures of other sorts. It is accepting that we give those things up because they are not pleasing to God, and are detrimental to our relationship with Him, and our own spiritual growth.

Modesty is also about our relationship, with other people.

I read an article from a theologian who said that modesty had absolutely nothing to do with others. ( Here is where the story comes in.) Like the man in the story, his actions had a direct and effective reaction, or response, to those around him. At the same time it also had an effect on him personally.

As Christians, our first and best testament, our best witness, comes from the example of how we live our lives. A person who not only dresses modestly, and has a respect for life, that includes their own bodies, and desires spiritual growth for themselves and others, will have a life that is testament to the beauty of a life lived for God.

May God give you the gift of His peace !

Gentleness…

August 12, 2016

Gentleness…

“ I, then, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love.”
(Ephesians 4:2)

Paul wrote the epistles to the Ephesians during the time he was in prison in Rome. During Paul’s time in Rome he was imprisoned not once but twice, and at the end of the second occurrence he was martyred.

Paul for a long time had not lived what would be considered an easy life after his conversion. I think some times we tend to romanticize the life of the Apostles. We somehow confuse the life they lived because of their proximity to Jesus. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The apostles lead the same life the Jesus lived during his earthly ministry ( save for the passion and various other divine aspects). Basically the lives of homeless nomadic people who were not particularly liked in the places they visited or preached in.

Paul, who was about the business of converting souls and spreading the Gospel news, was imprisoned in Rome and his captives and persecutors were not kind if anything they were abusive and hateful, distrustful, hateful of him and this new religion that he was busy trying to spread about. He did not belong in polite Roman society, and did not think that Caesar was a god to be worshiped and since he basically had no home, no income, no assets to speak of he was of little use to them as a whole because he had nothing to contribute in their view.

Does this in any way sound familiar ?

Consider for a moment that in the world climate the view of Christians as a whole has suffered, and
the world even in countries and regions where the church has been deeply embedded for centuries have people who no longer believe in God, or who despise any sort of faith life, whether its their own or others. There are places in the world where people who are of different faiths are persecuting
Christians for the faith that they profess and love. Has history really changed ? No, not really.

Like some, we have people who profess one thing however, what they do in the lives is totally different. That also has not changed.

Just as in Jesus time we have those who would try to persecute us, and make it legal to do so.
We have those who would try to separate parts of our lives from other parts in order to extricate the influence of God from within the gates of our hearts and lives, both public and private.

The times have not changed at all, only the people in the story have changed.

Paul, along with the other disciples, had to endure all manner of hatred, violence, persecution not to mention the human experience of living homeless in the world.

Remember that Paul, although an Apostle, was very much just a human. He has the same feelings, the same issues, the same challenges as all of the other people of his time. In the view of the world, he had gone from the very peak of his professional life, a pharisee , and one favored by society , to the very bottom of society. He went from worldly riches, to worldly poverty.

“He is able to deal patiently with the ignorant and erring, for he himself is beset by weakness ” (Hebrews 5:2)

In our daily lives, we also face challenges to our efforts towards gentleness. Those usually occur in the course of encounters with other people. When we encounter the basic human-ness that is the nasty hectic, feral, emotional, psychological, socialistic, sorts of failings not only in others, but in ourselves.

We fail at gentleness in the same breath, if you will, that we fail in forgiveness. They are in a way like box cars. the failure at gentless comes..
then the failure in forgiveness follows.

We as brothers and sisters, suffer from our humanity, and all our faults that come along with them. Lets say that we are at work and we engage
or get engaged in a conversation which becomes emotionally charged. It hits some nerve in one or the other. One person gets upset.. then another gets upset. Both feeling that they are in the right.

Maybe once we are out of the heat of the moment, we realize, that we were not as gentle with the other person as we could have been. We sit with God and we pray about it.. and resolved to do better at being gentle and loving and kind.

The next thing you know, another encounter, and maybe you know it in the moment, or maybe even after the next encounter now you not only feel bad that you were maybe not as gentle as you could have been in the moment, but on top of that you FAILED … AGAIN ! It’s frustrating and now you feel twice as bad since you are aware of it and your human failings are sitting there staring you in the face.

Our walk through faith and ALL the failings could be very disheartening, IF it were not for the fact that these times when we are aware of those failings and we try , and we work on our spiritual lives and strain and struggle through all these emotional traumas, are exactly the times when
we can rejoice ! We can rejoice in our trails and sufferings because these are exactly the times that God is close, and the spirit is working with us.

The mere fact that we realize that we failed means that God also knows and loves us and loves the fact that we struggle so with our spiritual lives. We struggle because we love Him. Because we want to be closer to God, because we want what ever is His will for us.

God knows…and loves you for the struggles you carry. So, carry your struggle forward. Work on the failings you have. Do not be disheartened when you fail, just acknowledge them, make amends where you can, and understand that some struggles will be with you for life… and that is not necessarily a bad thing.

Failure is only a bad thing if we know we have failed, and do nothing about it.

“Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near”
(Philippians 4:5)

Onward… upward… Homeward !

May God give you the gift of His peace !

By Way of Confession…

June 11, 2016

By way of confession…

I have been going through a bit of a dry spell the last

couple of weeks.  I was looking for inspiration as to what it

was that God wanted me to share with you and I had mulled

over a few things but nothing came to mind immediately.
So, in a very Franciscan traditional way I prayed about it

and then, I went to scripture and opened the Bible 3 times

and found scriptures on in different places in the Bible.

So, without further adieu, here is what God laid before me.

First, 2 chronicles 28:5 In this scripture the King Ahaz has

sinned and offended God and because of that, their land, and

possessions and husbands, wives and children are all taken

away and imprisoned.

Second was proverbs 20:17  Which says that man finds bread

sweet  when it is got by fraud, but  later his mouth is full

of grit…

Finally- Mark 16:19-20 – where Christ ascends into

Heaven to take His place at the right hand of The Father.
SO, the question is what does God want to tell us today in these passages ?

It is simply this..We are given the responsibility to be the good stewards of the many varied graces and gifts that we are given.  Because of free will, we have the freedom to choose what it is that we do with the gifts we are given.

We desire greatly, to take on the work of our own travel down this road working on our own sanctification.  We make plans, and because of our fallen nature we fail.  Everyone falls, and it is something we all understand.  The important part of this is what happens when we fail.

On our own person journey to sanctification, we understand that we will do our best to falling into sin and error.  It is grace that causes us to desire to go down this road.

One of the things about our knowledge of faith is that the more we know… the easier it may seem that we fall into error.   You might pray.. Lord, help me with my patience.  I really desire to work on my patience so that I will be peaceful and more like you.

The Lord, wishing to fulfill our desires which is inevitably good for us, will no doubt provide you with the opportunity to work on your patience.    On the short side of that ride, it indeed might not be fun, and indeed, you may fail.  In fact you may fail a number of times.

You need to have to resolve to pick yourself up and continue on your journey to work on your patience, or what ever your working on, because ultimately we understand that even though in our human-ness we might fail, we have victory.

As for the bread that might be sweet, but eventually turns to grit ?  This is an admonition for us to have faith, and walk the path that the Lord has set before us.  Nothing of value is to be gained, by trying to set aside the work that God has put in front of us.  It might seem like it would be enjoyable to set that cross aside, but inevitably it will not end well for you because you would not gain from the lessons that those trials were meant to teach you.

In the end, Christ is victorious and ascends, and we who may suffer through our earthly trials and trudge through the pains and pressures of carrying the daily cross that He asks of us, we will go ahead and do that, and try to find the joy here, all the while attempting to help our brothers and sisters along their journey…. why ?

Because we already know that in Christ, we have already won the battle and in the end we will be victorious and ascend in Him.

May God give you the gift of His peace !