Posts Tagged ‘faith’

Three Men of the Cross – Part IV

August 12, 2017

Here we have come to the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus. The third man crucified on Calvary, and the focal point upon which we find ourselves. Like the first two men, the time Jesus spent on the cross was really not spent in a vast amount of conversation with those who were present. In fact, we only know about 3 conversations that Christ had during his crucifixion. The first, was the conversation he had with Mary and John, where he gave John responsibility for his mother, and in turn had given John in love to His Mother. The Second, was the conversation that Jesus had with Dismas, where he told him that he (Dismas) would be in paradise with Him that very day. Finally, the third were the final words Jesus uttered, That were not directed to those standing around but instead were directed towards God, the Father.

Let us consider for a moment how Jesus’s journey through the crucifixion is not too unlike the small share it is that we have in our daily lives. In our lives we go out into the world. We work and try to do the things that we need to do to make things function. At the same time , for people of faith, our daily lives are just a minuscule splinter of our own crosses. We begin each day in prayer and in a firm effort to get out in the world and try to live a life that is worthy of the giver of the gift.

I have a rule that is usually pretty solid in life, ( aside from the Holy Rule of the Order) that serves me fairly well. Basically, You need to have at least one area of your life where things are going well and it gives you joy to be in that place. The problem begins when there is no where in your life that is currently giving you joy. It is also possible that the area of your life that is giving you problems has begun to take over the joy that you would normally be having in other areas of your life and there is no longer a balance there. In other words, you are experiencing your own small crucifixion and you have been nailed to the cross that you are attempting to carry.

When life gets to this point, its time for a change.. Jesus, knew that He was going to leave, and in the midst of the passion, He put his mother in the care of John. This was a sign of the times. for at that time particularly for women, who were single they were needing protection, and care. Someone to look after them. At the same time He loved John. John had a job to do, and at the same time, Jesus entrusted John to His mother. His mother the archetype of Christian virtue and love, would keep John on the straight and narrow and insure the care of those He was leaving behind.

Like Jesus, we try our best to take care of what was necessary to insure things went the right way. Sometimes, we get it right, and sometimes we fail, but that part does not matter in the grand scheme of things. This was what was going on in the first conversation. Tidying up the initial loose ends that needed His care before he went to deal with the matter at hand.

The next phase is that we deal with the job that needs doing. We carry on with our day.. we have people who do not support us,, or at least we might not see that support us, or just become another voice in the crowd of people who would like to add or lend support to the issues that you are facing.

All things have a season, just because one voice is not agreeing with where your going, or what your doing, it is not a reason to shut them completely out. As a Franciscan, we are called to be bridge builders. It is our calling to develop channels of communication, and to find common ground through which peace may reign. The conversation with Dismas as a statement of faith, An assent to the will of God. In our world when presented with challenges, it is up to us to build those bridges, to open channels of communication, and to be brave enough to make those statements and stand on the side of faith even when there are those who are around us, chiming in and echoing the worldly views, that are not of the Kingdom of God.

The last conversation, is actually in this story, as it should be in ours.. the FIRST conversation. Consider that before Jesus entered into the crucifixion, he started his Passion, by first entering into prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. As an example for us all, He started all things in prayer, and after the Crucifixion was at an end, He completed that work again with prayer.

We all have a different calling, a different path, but the process is still the same. Give it to God, first, last and always…

May God give you the gift of His peace !

Three Men of the Cross- Part III

August 5, 2017

Three Men of the Cross – Part III

The third robber on Calvary was Gustus. Gustus is seen as the unrepentant robber. He is the one who echoed the taunts of the crowds and the soldiers who said to Jesus, that if he was truly the Son of God that he should come down off the cross, and save Himself and in fact the other two as well. Gustus was as history records, rebuked by Dismas, who asked if he in truth had no regard for his immortal soul.

So Gustus, who was convicted of robbery, and was sentenced to death, seems to not really have much regard for not only his own situation, but in appearance, had no regard for the others as we know, we have no real knowledge of Gustus, no back story, and no insight into what happened with him or in his life prior to this point.

We can however, consider some differing possibilities about what his story might have been. We can tell he was angry, or at least possibly resigned to his lot in this process. Possibly, since the Romans had typically executed their criminals in pairs, he and Dismas had an opportunity to talk things over. Review their lives together, consider, for a time, what life might have been like if they had made other choices. Possibly, they discussed what it is that they would have liked to do if they were not in jail, or reminisce about lost loves, or loved ones.

They might have had the time to talk about how it is that they found themselves in this position. It does however seem a bit more likely that Gustus was just an angry man. He could have been angry about his life, or about his love, or about his work. We just don’t know. Possibly he and Dismas were friends and at that moment Gustus just thought that Jesus was some nut case.

Consider for a moment. that possibly at some time in our lives you or I or someone we know and love, has become Gustus. Possibly you were angry, over some part of your life you may have felt you had no control over. Possibly you lost something, that was of great value to you. Maybe you lost someone. You were angry, beyond words. Possibly you lashed out. Possibly you found yourself in a fight, that was either verbal or physical. Maybe you were judged in some way that made you feel that you were not being judged fairly, or treated fairly for that matter.

The result of how it is that world might judge you , or treat you might also bring you to that point of utter frustration.

God gives us tests in life, and those tests can frustrate and bewilder us. These tests are usually meant to teach us something, or to provide opportunities to be a conduit for Gods grace. We do not always get to know that. Which is sometimes the point. It is also at times quite frustrating.

I believe it is safe to say that during the course of our lives we have all failed. I know I have failed more times than I can count. I did not always understand, or wish to understand. During the course of our failures, it is quite possible ( even usual in some cases) where we are not always immediately repentant. In the heat of the moment, our human failing can take over. Once we realize that we have failed at that point and when cooler heads prevail,, we can think through the situation, or talk it over with someone and come to the conclusion that we probably already knew, but were not ready to accept.

Now consider, the brothers and sisters who are in prison. There are entire groups of prison ministries set up to share the love of Jesus, with those who are currently incarcerated. These brothers and sisters, are Gustus as well. They are angry, they are in their own crucifixion or sorts. They might be at a point where they are not ready to accept the love of Jesus, Let alone the love of a brother or sister. In prison, there is time to sit and ponder, what has happened. Time to ponder how they got there. Time to try to work through their path to sanctification, if they are ready to do that. It is also true that they have time to just sit, and be angry, and lash out , like Gustus, at the Christ of those who try to help.

I wanted to share a story, about a prisoner, who was condemned to death by the state. When the time came, the prison chaplain went to be with the prisoner, to bring Christ to him. It was the holiday season… The state likes to execute prisoners around the holidays as they believe it will bring the victims closure.

As it turned out.. while the Chaplain was with the prisoner, his wife, was with the prisoner’s family at the church nearby. She was being Christ to them. Shortly before the scheduled hour, the victim’s family arrived at the same church. There was sharing, a coming together, they prayed together, and then the Chaplains wife, knowing that both families were from out of town, invited them both to dinner… It was Thanksgiving Day.

We must realize that we too are, or at least have been, Gustus. In this light, we need to be able to get through the human failings, and realizing that we too are broken, fallen people, we can also accept the love of Christ from others, and in turn, take the love of Christ to others..

May God give you the gift of His peace !

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… .

Pass the Salt …. Please!

July 8, 2017

In the United States, Independence Day, which is a national holiday, fell on a Tuesday. As it turns out, I also received a Jury Summons for Monday. Now, for those who are not from the United States, or who might not be familiar, I will explain at least on a surface level, the Jury Summons.

In the United States, if you are accused of a crime, you have the right to a trial by a group of citizens who are called to sit through the trial proceedings, and are given some instructions on the law that has been supposedly broken, and then that group of people decide the guilt or innocence of the person or group that is on trial.

It is part of our duty as citizens, when called upon to serve. We receive a letter from the court (Summons) to show up on a day and time, to see if we will be selected to serve as a person ( juror) in the group that determines the guilt or innocence during the trial.

Needless to say, it is something you are required to do as a citizen, unless there is some compelling reason why you can not serve. Among some, there are jokes about how to get out of doing this type of service. In some cases it is blatantly obvious who is trying to get out of the service, but did not want to get in trouble for not showing up. I see this service as part of a moral obligation to not only
help provide morally correct justice for the parties involved, but also, because this is part of our duty,” to render unto Caesar, that which belongs to Caesar”.

I have received five such calls to service. In that time, I have never been selected to sit in on a trial. By and large, the day ends up with me being sent home after spending a rather long day sitting in a room with approximately 100 other citizens from all walks of life.

The courthouse where I reported for duty is, interestingly not far from a church that is there to serve the downtown area. Since I was let go a bit early, I thought to myself, this is a perfect opportunity to go to Mass that would be starting shortly..

I have worked near the downtown area previously and enjoyed the opportunity to attend a noontime Holy Mass. So I hastened to the church where I arrived shortly before the 2nd Reading. I have to confess that I honestly do not remember what the second reading or the Gospel was (hanging my head).

I can tell you something that stuck with me about the Homily. First, I have to tell you though, the Holy Mass was being con-celebrated by two Franciscan friars, and admittedly it did my heart good to see friars since I do not get that opportunity often as of late.

Anyway, the thing that stuck in my head was a story that the homilist was telling about his days as a novice, and how it was that one of the Novice Masters was a former Trappist Monk. One day while they were sitting there at a meal, the Novice Master explained that in his former life, they were not to speak even at meals, and so they had to sign for the salt if that was what they wanted.. As time went on , and they got to know the individual monk, they just knew that is was needed and it would be passed to them.

This calls to mind 2 different passages. The first, being Genesis 4: 9 and the second is Luke 11:5 .
In Genesis 4:9 is the telling of the story and Cain and Able, ”
Then the LORD asked Cain, Where is your brother Abel? He answered, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” Here we are reminded , in fact, that we are held to account for what happens to our brothers and sisters in this life. Much like the Trappist monk, we as Franciscans who live and work in the world , and even for those who are not Franciscans, we are called to strive to learn and understand the needs of our brothers and sisters, who are not in the same place as we are, but who have the same basic needs that we do, and to work to provide the basic needs of our brothers and sisters. Even so, that they do not have to ask us. We as we progress in faith, will, like the monks, begin to understand and through insight, be able to know what those are, and to work towards being the conduit of the graces that we have received.

The second reading is from Luke 11:5-8 ”
And he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend to whom he goes at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, for a friend of mine has arrived at my house from a journey and I have nothing to offer him, and he says in reply from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked and my children and I are already in bed. I cannot get up to give you anything.’
I tell you, if he does not get up to give him the loaves because of their friendship, he will get up to give him whatever he needs because of his persistence. ”

The story behind this story is that Christ is teaching the disciples about prayer and the importance in persistence in prayer. There is another facet here, however, as it relates to this story.

The man who is in need is going to his friend, his brother, and asking for not only food, to provide to his guest, but is seeking mercy from his brother. Jesus never says if the man got up to provide the requested bread or not. What is clear however, is that just as the monk who is asking for the salt for his meal, the man in the parable who is asking for bread, has a need. We as brothers and sisters, have the capacity to share our graces, our blessings, our very selves with our brothers and sisters.

At the end of days, when we stand before the Throne of the Almighty, and He asks that same question to us “Where is your brother ?” We will have nothing there to answer, except … ” see I have brought him with me…”

May God give you the gift His peace !

Lather….Rinse… Repeat !

July 1, 2017

“See what love the Father has bestowed on us in letting us be called children of God !
Yet that it what we are. The reason the world does not recognize us is that it never recognized the Son. Dearly beloved, we are God’s children now; what we shall later be has not yet come to light. We know that when it comes to light, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. Everyone who has this hope based on Him keeps himself pure, as He is pure.” ( 1 John 3: 1-3 )

Some of you who might not be aware, 1st John, ( also second, and third ), come near the end of the New Testament and is not part and parcel of the 4th Gospel. This letter, written by John, was written during a time when the church was going through a period of heresy. Particularly Gnosticism, which denied the humanity of Jesus. or Docetism. In the docetistic heresy, the followers believe that Jesus was purely divine, his body made almost ghostly and so his passion death and resurrection would have been purely appearance sake.

Today, we have a vast number of heresies and different versions of apostasy. In Johns time it was no different. there were people roaming about preaching all kinds of whacky stuff. In Johns letters, and particularly in this letter there was a certain thematic progress to them. These were meant to drive home the principles of Christian faith and life.

Sometimes we need a little reminding of the things that are important in our faith lives.
It is important that we study. It is important that we memorize our faith, our beliefs and it is vitally important that we not only BELIEVE , but that we know WHY we believe the things we do, and where those things come from.

Priests, and Deacons when they go through formation , they take classes in the practice of exegesis.
Exegesis is simply the process of reading, studying, asking questions, and then finding the answers to those questions in preparation for sharing that information with others.

This practice is not just for priests and deacons. It is something that everyone should be doing. Now, i am not saying everyone should go out and get their own interpretation of what the Bible says or anything of that sort. What I am however saying, is take a good long hard look at your faith life. Consider all the things that you believe, and then start asking the questions. Not the easy ones.. not the ones you might have learned in the Baltimore Catechism, or in some of your nursery school rhymes. Lets tackle something with a little meat on it. Let’s ask some of the hard questions that you don’t have answers for. READ and STUDY and figure things out. What you will find is that you will inevitably have MORE QUESTIONS…. When you find you do not have answers, then go and ask your pastor, or a clergy or lay person you trust.

You need to keep asking questions. My father used to say to people.. “What ever it is that you are ( meaning your faith ), then be the very best ( that faith person ) that you can be. Ask the hard questions, and keep asking them until you are satisfied with the answers.

John, is telling us in this passage, we need to realize the awesome gift that we have been given, as children of God. The reason we suffer persecution in the world is because they who are not Christian, do not recognize Jesus as the Son of God.

Further on in these letters John reminds his audience, to break from sin, to keep the commandments, to become detatched from the world ( be IN the world, but not OF the world.). and finally to be on guard against the enemies of Christ. By this he means to be weary of those who would try to lead you away from your faith.

Today, the world is in great need of saints. It is every single Christians vocation to be a great saint. It is up to us to choose to fulfill the plan that God has intended for us.

My prayer for each of you is that the Holy Spirit that dwells within your bosom be enflamed in your heart, and become a raging inferno in seeking Gods holy will and fulfilling it.

May God give you the gift of His peace !

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 !