Posts Tagged ‘Franciscan’

There is Cause for Great Rejoicing !

October 20, 2017

” There is cause for great rejoicing here. You may for a time have to suffer the distress of many trials;

but this is so that your faith, which is more precious than the passing splendor of fire-tried gold , may by its genuineness lead to praise , glory and honor when Jesus Christ appears. Although, you have never seen Him, you love Him, and without seeing, you now believe in Him, and rejoice with inexpressible joy touched with glory because you are achieving faith’s goal, your salvation. ”

( 1 Peter 1: 6-9)

Many, is the time, when we hear people who are in distress, or possibly who were in distress, because of their circumstances. Something happened to them, or possibly they just hear of the evil that roams the world. The disease, or the tragedy, or crime, or natural disaster… Possibly it is just a situation, that you are struggling through. A relationship difficulty, or a problem or set of problems at work, Possibly even a situation in the home, or at church that is at the heart of your distress.

Whatever it is, its a point of stress in your life. You basically get to a point in dealing with the issue to the point where it just seems easier to avoid it, that resolve it. It is easier to walk away, if you can than to take a deep look into the issue, and analyze it, and think through it.

You pray about it, right ?

So, why has not God delivered you from it ? Why has he not wiped away the source of this frustration, the person, the situation, the whole problem ?

Our God is a loving Father. Who, just as an earthly father should be, loving, and caring, seeking only those things that are most beneficial for our growth and well being.

It is at the very heart of our faith, to understand that God may not be the author of the things that happen in our lives, however, He does allow things to happen, that are designed for our benefit.

We are given the gifts of love, faith and free will, to decide for ourselves what it is that we will believe, and what it is that we choose.

Faith, like love is a choice. These are the gifts given to the Children of God. Our faith, is tested, over and over again. It is purified, it is molded, it is refined. Why ? Why is it that we have these things that cause us to much stress and why is it that God seems, from the viewpoint of design, to need to test and try our faith ? This would be an incorrect way of this view.

Our faith, begins like an infant. We begin to explore and learn about our faith at home, and at Church.

We gather information, and we have the faith that our parents give to us, We learn more as we age,

and gather more information. As we venture out into the world, into school, and on to the playground and interact with the rest of the world, we test out the things we learned.

We also learn that not everyone learned the same lessons we did at home. We learned that we are not at the same place, or understanding as other people. Our faith is tested. Not because God does not love us, or does not care, but conversely, because He does love and care for us. Maybe that little boy who pushed you down, or that little girl who called you names, was not God, but it was something that happened, and you chose, using your free will to blame God, instead trying to fix the problem, or learning a lesson about what might have caused the problem, or understanding that these things are not things that should happen to others.

Through out your life, from the very beginning of your life, you are tested, tried, and refined in your faith, IF, it is your free will to seek God through the process of your pain. If God is the question, then Love is the answer. We are not always privileged in the moment to see the hand of God in the things that we do or have happened to us.

I have, believe it or not, not always been the peaceful loving soul that I aspire to be. If in fact, I manage to forget that little bit of information, I have family and friends who are kind enough to remind me of it. Sometimes, it takes time away from the situation, time in contemplation, time in prayer, to be able to see that not all the challenges are bad. sometimes, they are there to give us insight, to give us understanding, or possibly just to remind us of the fact that possibly, we are all fallen, broken people.

Possibly, the other person, is struggling, hurting, challenged, and trying to work through their own salvation. They too are being tried and refined in their lives, and in their faith, and are trying to make good choices, and sometimes our own broken humanity, and theirs can both get in the way.

Our whole lives are set in motion towards the ultimate goal of becoming saints, towards salvation , towards Heaven. Choose, life! choose faith! Choose Peace! Choose Love ! This faith, is the stuff that the tempered steel of the armor protecting us in this world, and the purified, white hot, burning golden purity of faith we strive for until the day we stand before God.

We are, what we are standing before God, and nothing more !

May God give you the gift of His peace !

Advertisements

The Morning Commute…

October 14, 2017

I wanted to share with you all something that was one of those epiphanal moments that occurred to me recently.

As many of you know, I take a city bus to work for part of my daily journey, and then a walk that takes me another distance to get to my office. Recently, our fair city decided to make changes to the time schedule that the buses run on, but in addition, to the routes that the buses run on. this was of course touted as a change to better serve the patrons and make the travels more efficient.

In the end run, at least for me, it means a longer commute, and I must leave my house earlier, the buses are more cowded, and are standing room only already. So, this has not been an improvement. Pretty much no one that forced into these changes along the journey that I take, has been happy with those changes, and ultimately has meant more delays, and more missed connections, often by minutes, meaning between another 30 to 60 minutes of waiting until the next bus.

Now, yesterday I found myself sitting at approximately the midway point in my journey, after a missed connection, where I had about 30 minutes to sit and wait for the next bus. While I was waiting, the sun was just beginning to dawn over the horizon, and paint the sky in beautiful shades of reds, blues and gray hues. I could not help but to stop and watch the beauty of creation dawn, and how I became part of that scene. There was an older gentleman who was sitting across from me on the bus, who mentioned that he saw me praying my Divine Office, and he said to me in a thick Hispanic accent,

” I see you this morning making your devotions.. it is nice to see a young person doing that… ”

We left the conversation there.. as we both enjoyed the beauty of the sunrise.

As the time moved onward, and the beauty that was before us unfolded, I could not help but become drawn in to the moment. That reverie was periodically interupted by moments of mental awareness that i ought to be trying to keep an eye out for the bus that would be coming soon. Eventually, I allowed myself to return to the reverie of being taken in to the moments of simple thankfulness, and beauty,and awe, that were being unfolded before me.

During one of those moments that I forced myself out of peaceful observance, I noted that pretty much no one except the older gentleman and I , were taking the time to appreciate this awesome experience. Instead , most of my fellow travelers, who were on their way to work, were busy looking down the road we had just traveled , looking for the next connection, the next bus… the next part of the journey, or they were looking at down the road, to the place we would be traveling when their next bus arrived.

At this point, while my gaze fell back towards the rising sun, I could not help but consider that this moment in time, this little spec on the timeline of life, held within it a microcosm, of our existance on this earthly plane. We spend a good deal of time, either looking backward, at the points in life we have traveled, and possibly taking stock in the life we have lived or the decisions we have made. The other side, is that while some people are looking backward, The other group is looking forward , towards the future.

Both of these views can, in and of themselves, be both good or bad. They are good because we should take some time to review where we are in relation to where we have come from. It can be bad if we spend too much time dwelling there, in some lamentations, or sorrows. In the same way, looking forward, making plans, and having a direction that is directed towards God is time well spent. Spending too much time in what might be considered the “dreamers world ” in what might be or could be can also be dangerous.

Too much time in either place, keeps you from enjoying the presence of God in your life, the present of THIS moment. The ability to stop and appreciate a moment of pure joy, of pure beauty.

Brothers and Sisters, the human race spends so much time in these things that we miss the sunrises in our lives. Possibly, you might consider that our very lives are like the path of the sun, there is beauty in each stage, Not only should we stop and appreciate the sunrise, but as we approach our fellow brothes and sisters, we should stop and appreciate the SONrise, in each soul..

May God give you the gift of His peace !!

The Resurrection …

October 7, 2017

The Resurrection…

The Resurrection of Our Lord… This is THE quintessential point in our salvation history. It is THE defining point of our faith life where Jesus rises from the dead, and finally ascends to the Father, after making appearances on Earth to the disciples and a few others.

THIS is how it is that we know without a singular doubt that Jesus Christ was true God and true man. It is how it is that we know that there is life after death. It is how we can be sure that we will one day rise from death. It is how we can be sure that the things we are told are in fact truth. Beyond doubt, beyond what the world will call “reason”.

Everything that happens through out the course of our lives are little life lessons to prepare us for this transition from death into life. The problem is that we do not take the time to seek understanding, to seek wisdom, to seek the holiness of our daily lives. Lets take a look at some of the things that happen in our lives.

In infancy, usually there is the Rite of Baptism. In Baptism we are born into a family of faith. We are dying to a life of sin, and being born into a life of faith. We join a whole family and world of people who have taken this journey, we have a life ahead to build on this foundation.

As we grow, we struggle and we fail. These failures are a type of death, a loss , if we are wise, we seek the counsel of those who have more knowledge of our faith life than we do, and we grow from the experience. That growth is sometimes painful, sometimes difficult. We may not see the path before us, and we may not understand why we had to take that particular path. We may have had to let things go, or had people leave our daily lives. These are little deaths.

In time, we may find that we can see Gods hand in what was going on, or even what is going on. this small amount of insight, this small bi of wisdom, is a taste of the Resurrection.

In our lives we have people we love who leave us, either for a short time, or who we will never see again until we get to Heaven. We have loss of a job, or maybe we loose our home for some reason.
the losses we experience in this life, are all geared towards a transition. These losses, are there to give us understanding, to teach us that we are not just a people of this earthly existence. We are not of this physical plain….

The little resurrections we experience, those epiphanal moments, with those insights into the workings of the hand of God, those moments when we hear scripture readings and they ring into our lives and we come to understand a little about the workings of God in our lives. These little resurrections are there to teach us. They are also seeds that have been given to us, so that the very thing that we have lived, the very thing that we have freely been given, is the very same thing that we are charged with taking out, and sharing with others, because that is what our Baptism into this life of faith , this vocation that we have been blessed with, this gift, requires of each of us..

Through our Baptism, we are called to the vocation to be Priest, Prophet, and King. You are a priest called to be a blessing, to bless others as you have been blessed. You are a prophet in the sharing of your story, in the sharing of Jesus with others, You are king born into the royal priesthood of the men and women of faith with a sacred duty in the service of God. Your story is your faith, blessed, broken, and shared with the world.

May God give you the gift of His peace !

What Kind of House … (Before the Storm part II)

September 30, 2017

” Thus says the Lord:

The heavens are my throne,

the earth, my footstool.

What house can you build for me?

Where is the place of my rest?

My hand made all these things

when all of them came to be says the LORD.

This is the one whom I approve:

the lowly and afflicted man ,

who trembles at my word. ” ( Isaiah 66 :1-2 )

This is the second part of the reflection of Isaiah 66.

I have for years read this passage.. each time I am awestruck in the depth of its reach into our spiritual life. Let’s take a look..

In Isaiah 66 the back drop of this story sits squarely at the point of the beginning of the end of the Babylonian exile and a return of the land of Judah. God is giving them some things to consider in how it is they need to get back to living the kind of life within the divine plan for those who are living a Godly life.

Through Isaiah, God is telling those Israelites that He wants followers who are pure of heart. He does not need grand gestures made for man and not of God. A humble and pure heart is the thing that God desires most of all. Lets look at this particular passage.

In reading this passage, in the more literal read, if we ponder all the places , all the churches in the world, large or small, grand or humble, we have to consider, that at its very core, a Church, is a house of God. In light of this verse what kind of house can we build for God ?

In 1 Chronicles 17, David originally built a a house for himself and pitched a tent for the Ark of the Covenant, in advance of the arrival of both He and the Ark. After he arrived David took up residence in the house, and enshrined the covenant in the tent. Later on, after all the appointments of the priests and the people were all given assignments to live in the service of God within the tent, everyone else went home to their homes, as did David. David, in a fit of piety, felt guilty saying, here I sit in the house of Cedar, when the Lord , God, sits in a tent ! God said to David, I have lived all this time through my journeys going from tent to tent and never once have I said to them, ” Go built me a house”. (paraphrased ) ..

(Here comes the good part !)
The Lord God said to David, ” I will preserve your offspring after you, a son of your own, and make his sovereignty secure. It is He who shall build a house for me and i will make his throne firm for ever.”

OK so we have Jesus, Son of David, ( of the lineage of David ), His house the Church, and He is King of Kings. He ( Jesus,) , will build my house, (the Church on Earth ).. All this precursor to the coming of Christ.

How great is God .. How great an example of humility even before Christ trying to teach us how to live, how to love, and how to be humble and loving servants of God.

Next is the consideration, of how it is, that God, the omnipotent, omnipresent King of the Universe, Father of all creation, the Most High, I AM, deigned to come to Earth. Not because of our sin, but because of LOVE ! For God so LOVED the world that He gave his only begotten Son.

God came to earth. forced Himself to the life , the size , the life experience of a human, in order to save us, in order to teach us. What kind of house did we build ? What does the “house” of our heart look like ? Do we, like David, throw open wide the doors of our hearts, surrounding it with prayers and hymns of praise and thanksgiving ? Or, do we instead try to move in ourselves, to serve or glorify what it is that is full of the trappings of worldly desire and greed ?

We believe in the Real Presence of God in the Blessed Sacrament. In churches large and small, all over the world, God Almighty, comes. He comes in the sacrifice of the Holy Mass. He comes in the Word, delivered for our consumption and edification in the Holy Gospel and readings. He comes and stays, in the Blessed Sacrament. He goes with us as we leave to take Him out into the world to be shared with others. That which we have been freely and lovingly given, we freely give to others.

Before Mass.. After Mass.. In between weekends ? He waits for us ! He is waiting to see our efforts, our humility, our forgiveness of others, and mostly, our Love.

What kind of house can we build ? What kind of house are we building for God ?

May God give you the gift of His peace… and Love !

Before The Storm…

September 23, 2017

” Thus says the Lord:

The heavens are my throne,

the earth, my footstool.

What house can you build for me?

Where is the place of my rest?

My hand made all these things

when all of them came to be says the LORD.

This is the one whom I approve:

the lowly and afflicted man ,

who trembles at my word. ” ( Isaiah 66 :1-2 )

There are times in our lives that present us with opportunities to consider our lives..

To consider where our priorities are, and how it is that we “fit in” in the grand-er scheme of things.

These give us pause to understand exactly how little, how lowly, it is that we may consider ourselves, while we have spent our time trying to make ourselves somehow better, somehow greater.

We strive to make our way in the world. To carve our a life for ourselves.

We seek a good job. A job that might somehow be admirable, or valued by men in this day and age.

We seek not just a wage.. but a wage that would provide for us and our loved ones the sort of life that man sees as above average. A wage that would provide for our needs, our wants, any possibly those things that might be enjoyable.

We seek a nice home, a nice car, and some of the things that would allow us pleasures. Maybe, we also seek to be able to share those things with our extended family and friends. We spend time chasing after those things that in our minds eye, would make us comfortable and happy.

Recently, the world has experienced a number of storms and earthquakes, and as a result a large number of deaths, and destruction were left in their wakes. While those who might not be effected, take a moment and consider how terrible a thing that is, they inevitably may return to the duties of the day. returning to chasing after their dreams.. While those were were involved are having to come face to face with the new vision of their reality. That time for those who are facing these issues, and possibly, for those who take the time to reflect, they are forced at least for a moment to take into consideration the things that are important.

We, then, come to the understanding that God, is the great I AM. We can then understand that after God, we need to make choices in line with our faith, and follow the Law of Love.

All of those things that we worked so very hard for, that we saved for, that we chased after, have little meaning, and eventually fall away.

Corporations of today do not care about you. You are a cog in the wheel, you are replaceable. No matter how much you have attempted to make yourself valuable, irreplaceable, etc. In the end, no matter the manner of your departure, either by death, by voluntarily leaving, by firing, or by arrangement, your only worth to your company is your presence, and how much profit can be made by your work.

After something like a storm or earthquake, if the physical location is destroyed, they will not take care of you because of the loss of money that would represent. Who, then will take care of you and your loved ones ? What will you do ? How will you live ?

These are the thoughts that run through the minds of people faced with the possibility of loss. These ideas, and a number of others, give us pause to consider where we are, and what we are doing with our lives. It causes us to look at God for answers, for reasons, for help, for peace.

Next week I will share a bit more about this reading and how it reflects into our daily lives.. some of the things it means for us, and gives us some things to contemplate and reflect on. Until then….

May God give you the gift of His peace !

Looking in the Mirror

September 16, 2017

Looking in the Mirror…..

“Keep this in mind , dear brothers. Let every man be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for a man’s anger does not fulfill God’s justice Strip away all that is filthy , every vicious excess. Humbly welcome the word that has taken root in you , with its power to save you. Act of this word. If all you do is listen to it, you are deceiving yourselves.

A man who listens to God’s word but does not put it into practice like a man who looks into a mirror at the face he was born with: he looks at himself , then goes off and promptly forgets what he looked like. There is , on the other hand the man who peer into freedom’s law and abides by it. He is not a forgetful listener, but who carries out the law in practice. Blest will this man be in whatever he does.”

(James 1 :19-25)

I my daily walk, ( not every day, just periodically) we are challenged, and we may not always carry through with the part where we show Christ to others who may not be approaching us with the best of lights.

In this reading, which is interestingly found in one of the Evening Prayers, of the Liturgy of the Hours, I wonder of it was put there because someone had a particularly bad day once.

My daily prayer life consists of , at minimum,. prayers in the morning ( usually in my morning commute… I take the city bus to work).. and on the way home, and before bed, interspersed with spontaneous prayers, meals, etc.. I love the morning prayer time because it gives me time to get my head in the game, it starts the day off with God, it gives me time to reflect, that I don’t always get in other parts of the day.

It gives me time to ” look in the mirror” in the way of this reading, where I can see not my own reflection, but the reflection of God within me. By staring into that mirror, at the face of God, it gives time for the fog , the obstacles of the day, from the mind, and from the heart and soul, that gives way finally to a clearer image of God that we should be showing to others. The Christ, we should be sharing with others, the one they should see.

Eventually, though, through our own human failings, circumstances arise, and tempers flare, feelings get hurt, or that certain sense of righteous indignation kicks in, and what comes forth is not the face we saw in the mirror that morning. It becomes a hard day. You do your best to protect yourself, to correct errors, to do what is right, and just. Maybe you become invested in your efforts to keep things upright and correct, or just keep things afloat in the sea of insanity that has become your day or your life.

After your day ends, in the cool of the evening, apart from the battles, back in the quiet……. you take a deep breath, and begin to pray. If you are like me, this is usually the time when you realize, that you have failed at some point during the day. You did not show Christ to everyone, you were not the “do-er ” of the Law of Love. You failed today….. and you return to look in that prayerful mirror to remind yourself, to see God, to talk to that Christ you left in the mirror this morning, and hid along the way today.

But it was a failure for today, once, at one time. That does not mean that the human you in that mirror, is not there, or even shouldn’t be there. It certainly does not mean that your a bad person or even a bad Christian. It means that you are human, that you are faithful by the fact that you are back to look at this mirror, and are trying to find God within it, AND trying to carry Christ out into the world. The Christ you saw in the mirror, the pure example of the hearer, and the Do-er of the Law.

“The gifts of the Holy Spirit include, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” ( CCC #736)

By this, we know that we are already infused and have these fruits grafted onto us by virtue of our life with the Holy Spirit. Its up to us though, as in all things to engage our will, and work to develop these gifts, and carry them forward to that Christ may shine forth from our lives.

May God give you the gift of His peace !

They Will Beat Their Swords into Plowshares…

September 2, 2017

” He shall judge between the nations,

and set terms for many peoples.

They shall beat their swords into plowshares

and their spears into pruning hooks;

One nation shall not raise the sword against another,

nor shall they train for war again.

House of Jacob, come,

let us walk in the light of the LORD! ”

( Isaiah 2:4-5 )

We, Franciscans, are a peace loving bunch. We love all the brothers and sisters, all of Gods children. I work for the dignity of all people from the moment of conception until Sister Death comes to escort us unto the presence of the Most High.

We have been accused of being the “Hippeys” the “tree-huggers ” because of our love of creation. To a certain degree that could be true, but there is a difference. Our love of creation, the love we carry in our hearts for our brothers and sisters is squarely centered on the Holy Church and its majesterium.

Our love of creation, is centered on God the creator, as opposed to creation itself. It is our mission to bring souls to God, through the mission to carry Christ to our brothers and sisters in all we say and do.

to “preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary use words”.

I had always had in my heart the idea that this passage and the others in Joel and Micah, that basically retell this same story, were going to give us the idea of what it would be like on Earth, if people would put aside their sin, their hate , their greed, and just love God and each other. When we would never again have to worry about wars , or earthly powers driven by hate. Its the idea of the eutopian sort of existance.

Shortly after loosing myself in the reverie, I find that I again have to go through a little disconnect and deal with the reality of life on Earth. As a teen, my parents took me to a prison outreach ministry visit to the local prison. We went in, and we visited for a bit.. and I found myself sitting across from a man over a game of chess. As a youth I had no clue where to begin to have a conversation with this man. So I asked him, why he was in jail. He told me that he had raped, and murdered someone.

To say the least it was mind bending to be sitting there with this man who rather matter of factly told me of his journey that landed him in the prison for which he would be for life. I do not remember what those circumstances were, I only knew that there must of been something of a redemptive quality there because at the time my state still had the death penalty for murder.

Later in life while I was in college I took course work in Law, and was asked if I wanted to be a guardian -ad -litem the voice of a child or protected adult in court and doing investigations etc. I politely declined as I knew it was not what I wanted. I also turned down working in the prison ministry in my parish back then, because having been exposed to stories of the things that happened in prisons, I did not believe that I was able to make a difference there. They pretty much needed to go there, do their time, and then decide what kind of person they wanted to be.

I also knew that there were stories coming out of other ministers who had gone into those prisons of people who had real coversions, who had really found God in prison to spite their cirumstance.

I want to offer you a different view of this passage. That when we beat our swords into plowshares, and spears into pruning hooks, this is not just a eutopian view of what life might be like, it is a story of redemption, a story of salvation ! It tells us that we have the ability to change and to under go a metanoia of the heart. It means that we too can change, and grow, and develop in our lives while seeking God. We can take out the hate that is in our hearts, after beating them into plowshares using them to till the garden of our hearts for Christ to live and help us to grow.

May God give you the gift of His peace !

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 !