Posts Tagged ‘Gospel’

Who Will Separate Us From God ?

March 4, 2018

“Who will separate us from the love of Christ ? Trial, or distress, or persecution or hunger, or nakedness, or danger or the sword ? As Scripture says… “ For your sake, we are being slain all the day long, we are looked upon as sheep to be slaughtered.” Yet in all this we are more than conquerors because of Him who has loved us. For I am certain that neither death nor life, neither angels nor principalities, neither the present nor the future, nor powers , neither height nor depth nor any other creature, will be able to separate us from the love of God that comes to us in Christ Jesus, Our Lord.”

Romans 8: 35-39

Are you struggling today ? Are you trying to find your footing ? Feeling lost, or depressed ? Unloved by someone, or feeling lost ? Feeling a certain void ?

If I could give you this passage, and have you think about this message. Ask you to take some time and REALLY think about this scripture and what it means for you.

I want to go back for a moment to last weeks reflection, where we talked about salvation. Do you remember how I shared with you that the Franciscan view is that Jesus did NOT come to into the world because of SIN… He came into the world because of LOVE.

For God so LOVED the world … Not for God thought the world was a totally wretched placed and all of humanity was so sick and twisted with sin that letting them kill His son was the only way to fix it all. NO..

Consider this passage, and examine the depth of Love it contains. This , brothers and sisters is a declaration of undying, unending and eternally abiding love. There is nothing that can separate us from the LOVE of God. From the very beginning.

Remember that “ In the beginning was THE WORD, and THE WORD was with God, and THE WORD was God, and THE WORD was made flesh, and dwelt among us. “ (John 1:1)

THE WORD is Jesus Christ, and notice that Jesus was not an after thought, not a remedy, but instead always has been and there in Love from the very beginning and was part of the plan of the world.
THAT plan is like a great jigsaw puzzle. Each person, each life, each vocation , each soul, is a piece.
That piece is unique. It only works when it gets put in the place it was meant to be, when it joins together and clasping together with the other parts.

You are like that piece. You are unique ! You have a purpose, a reason , a vocation that only you can fulfill in this life. I don’t mean vocation in a career sense, I mean a spiritual/ministerial vocation, a function in the puzzle of life. And it only works because in that piece, fitting into that puzzle, you are there to touch other lives, other souls. You are grasping together with others.

The picture on the face of the puzzle is the story of salvation. Yours, and theirs, throughout all of the history of mankind. This type of unending, unflinching,, undying love that God has for us that is
there for us every day. God in the Trinity, is the great love of our lives. No matter where you are in your life, there is nothing that can separate us from the LOVE of God. If you have faith, if you allow yourself to experience and share that love with others. You will know that in the end, it will be as it was in the beginning, nothing but the love of God.

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 !

Franciscan Crown – The Annunciation

March 25, 2017

The Annunciation – Franciscan Crown Rosary Part I

“And the angel said to her in reply, “The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.

And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren;

for nothing will be impossible for God.”

Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her. ” ( Luke 1 : 35-38 )

Annunciation, to announce or proclaim in an authoritative way. We are as Christians called to announce and proclaim the Good News of Jesus to all the world.

We, as Franciscans, are called through the words of St. Francis to “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.”.. Why is this important ? It is important because we are called into action first, and then using words.

When the angel appeared to Mary, he greeted her, and gave her the the news. and her Magnificat, her surrender, and ascent to the news, and to the will of the Heavenly Father, was a very important part of the salvic action.

Because of the fact that we were created with free will, the angel presents the request.. and Mary says “yes”. She could have said “no” .. or let me think on it for a while.. and instead chose surrender.

Because Mary said “yes” Jesus was born into this world. Because Mary said “yes” , she risked everything in this life that she knew. Everything in her earthly life , including her own life, could she have lost as a result of being an unwed mother who was betrothed to a man. She risked, scorn and her reputation, she risked her family and friends.

We are given the opportunities and the options to have our own mini-Magnificats to proclaim the Gospel through the choices we are given every day. We are given the chance to say YES.. to God, Yes to the job that we are given to proclaim God through our lives, our actions and our words.

In a society which is full of mis-information, and indifference, to a world which is starved for truth, and love, it is given to us, to share the Truth of Jesus Christ, and His Love with all. Ultimately, our entire lives need to be ordered towards the Divine Truth, towards God, and His will. That requires our ascent to His holy will.

Doubt, is at the very “tap-root” of Satan’s plan. Satan does not want you to believe that you have this call within you. It is only by living the Gospel through your life and words that Jesus may convict others. Just like Mary, it is through your actions, through your word, where you can choose to be the vessel God uses in order to bring the love of Jesus Christ into the world that is in so much need of it.

*** The first Mystery***

The Annunciation – The Angel of the Lord appeared unto Mary. Let it be done unto me according to Your will.

” We meditate on surrender of our will unto God”

We pray for forgiveness when we have not surrendered our will,

and when we failed to proclaim Christ, in word and deed.

For our failure to follow the Franciscan Rule of life,

For our failure in loving our Brothers and Sisters,

Our Father…

May God give you the gift of His peace !

Again, there were crowds…

February 19, 2017

” In those days when there again was a great crowd without anything to eat,a he summoned the disciples and said,

“My heart is moved with pity for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat.

If I send them away hungry to their homes, they will collapse on the way, and some of them have come a great distance.”

His disciples answered him, “Where can anyone get enough bread to satisfy them here in this deserted place?”

Still he asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” “Seven,” they replied.

He ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground. Then, taking the seven loaves he gave thanks, broke them, and gave them to his disciples to distribute, and they distributed them to the crowd.

They also had a few fish. He said the blessing over them and ordered them distributed also.

They ate and were satisfied. They picked up the fragments left over—seven baskets.

There were about four thousand people ” ( Mark 8: 1-9 )

In this Gospel there are plenty of points of interest to share.. First, this story of the miracles that Jesus performed for us, was not just a sign of God;s love for us. It was a per-configuration of the Last Supper. and the Paschal Mystery.

Consider these things….

First, there were the crowds, ” In those days there were AGAIN a great crowd without anything to eat..” In this there is the idea that there were always people who came, people who needed to go to see Jesus. There was a never-ending stream of people who needed Jesus.

They were hungry. They were hungry both in body and in spirit. This had been the case before Jesus came, and to spite what had happened when Jesus was present with us, it is still true today. People hunger, they are hungry both for lack of food , even though there is food enough in the world to feed them, and they are hungry in spirit, even though Jesus came to give them spiritual life.

Jesus is moved with pity for the crowd. He knows they are hungry and that He can not send them home without trying to care for their needs, so that they will make it home safe and sound. In this same way, Jesus knew prior to His passion, that his disciples, would need strength for the journey they were to undergo that weekend, and throughout time until His return. He wanted to be sure that there was a way for us to make it through this spiritual journey, through the journey of our daily lives, and to arrive home in Heaven, safe and sound.

” His disciples answered him, “Where can anyone get enough bread to satisfy them here in this deserted place?” …. The disciples who were with Jesus are sitting there trying to figure out how all this is going to happen. It seems like such a hopeless position to be in. There are so many people and so little they had to share. A hopeless position to be in, or so it seemed. Indeed, the same thing happened in His Passion. The disciples felt hopeless and it might not have appeared as though there was anything to be done.

Just as in this narrative, Jesus in the Last Supper also provided food for the journey. He gave us His body and His blood as food for the journey of our daily lives.

Just as in this narrative, there are crowds, hundred, thousands, millions of people who hunger, in body and in spirit. Sometimes, we are still the disciples who sit in despair and ask God, what are we to do, there are so many, and we have so little.

We are called to be Jesus to others. We are moved, with compassion for our brothers and sisters, who have traveled long and far in their journeys. On the road of life and they are looking for spiritual and/or bodily food for their journey. We are called to take what we have, our time, our talents, and our treasures, and provide for our brothers and sisters.

Sometimes, we are the crowds, we are still hungry, and tired from our own journey. We have been on this road, on this journey and we too are in need.

We are also called to be the loaves and fishes, where Jesus takes us, broken as we are, and provides a way for us to be the food for the journey of our brothers and sisters. It is however, like everything else on this journey, up to us, to choose to become what we have received.

In the words of one musician, ” Christ has no hands now, but yours…” Go forward today, and become what you have received.

May God give you the gift of His peace !

Touching the Hem of His Garment…

November 19, 2016
She Touched the Hem of His Garment... (Matthew 9:20)

I have been spending time this week  thinking about the woman who touched the hem of Jesus's garment who had been suffering from bleeding for years without relief.  

The woman is not named, however, we can assume she was well enough known that they knew how long she had been suffering from her ailment. 

How many of our brothers and sisters that we know suffer ? Do we know people who live near us, or even in some remote corners of the world who suffer.  Some suffer and do so for long periods of time in the silence and isolation that comes from not wishing to be a burden to others.

Do we know others who are hungry in your town .
in a nearby place. ?   How do we feel ?  What does it mean to you ?  To us ?  To the Community ?  

What about the elderly ?  Those who are alone in their homes ?  Do they suffer for long years because  they have limited incomes, because their bodies are not as strong, or resilient. 
They suffer because they have lost someone possibly their spouse, they suffer loneliness.

There are brothers and sisters who suffer in our midst and we never know.... we never see... we never ask... 

In this story there is no mention of others who went to help her, no mention that anyone reached out to Jesus to tell Him of her suffering.  

All we really know from the story is that she was suffering, she traveled a great distance to get to Jesus, and had faith to know that if she touched the hem of his garment that she might be healed. 

This story should give us eyes to see those who might be suffering in our midst. It should give us not only a voice in prayer to those who suffer but also put flesh to the words, through works of corporal mercy, to motivate us to action in love.  

The story should also give us hope and inspiration!    This poor suffering soul, garnered the strength, maybe in the a last effort to try to receive a healing putting monumental effort into her faith.  In an complete act of her will, in a total surrender to God's will for her she gathered her strength and pushed on through the journey... through the crowds.. through the hardships to seek Jesus.   

Possibly, like some of us, there might have been moments or two, where the earthly realities were a challenge not only to our physical lives, but our faith lives as well.  Maybe like you, she had fear of approaching Jesus that he might gaze at her, or reject her, or maybe she had fear that he would look at her and know what sins she carried.    

Do you have these kinds of fears ?  Do you stay away because you fear others... or because you maybe even fear God ?  Do you no want to approach God because you feel unworthy, or ashamed ?    Take the example of the woman in this story.  In our faith lives we all fail !   We all have struggles.  Even the greatest of the saints had challenges.   They all sinned ... We all have the challenge of sin in our lives.

Jesus was aware of what had happened, as soon as it happened He healed the woman.  Interestingly, as soon as it happened the story says He called out to ask who it was.  Now, have you ever wondered why he called out ?     This was Jesus, He already knew who it was, and what happened. So why did he bother asking, and calling out ? 

Jesus called out to the woman, just as He calls out to us today.  He called out because He wanted the woman to complete her own journey.  She confessed her illness, she came to Him and told him of the healing she needed, and she needed Him, just as we do. 

So in your challenges in your faith life, in your struggles you face day to day, in the deep reaches of your hearts, be like this woman and push all of your will through to the heart of Jesus.  He will be there  for you too, He will heal you too.... He loves you too !

May God give you the gift of His peace !

Blessed are the Poor in Spirit…

September 24, 2016

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May God give you the gift of His peace !

Holy Communion and Its Denial To an Individual…

July 18, 2015

Holy Communion and Its Denial To an Individual…

” Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself (1Cor 11,27-29) ”

” The denial of Holy Communion can be the effect of the imposition or declaration of the canonical penalties of Excommunication and Interdict (cf. cann. 1331 §1, 2º; and 1332), but there are other cases in which Holy Communion must be denied, apart from any imposition or declaration of a canonical penalty, in order to respect the holiness of the Sacrament, to safeguard the salvation of the soul of the party presenting himself to receive Holy Communion, and to avoid scandal.
There seems to be some confusion on the part of some who seem to belive the the denial of Holy Communion to certain people is used  primarily as a punishment for acts committed by the person being denied Holy Communion.   In the case of a person who has been Excommunicated for one reason or another, the denial of Holy Communion is just a side effect of the fact that they have left the teachings of the church, they no longer belong to the Body, and so should be recieve Holy Communion as they are no longer part of the Body, and can no longer “become what they recieve”. ( ibid. Code of Cannon Law 915 )

Now in more recent times across the world, there are those who have not been able at one point or another to recieve Holy Communion due to the fact that they have publicly supported and embraced some act or process, or belief that is intrinsically evil, and therefore against the Churches teaching.

Let us take for example a politician who supported or even implemented legislation that would allow for abortion and its promotion  as a preferred method of family planning, or birth control.  Possibly they were involved in the promotion of a union between people of the same sex, or infantcide, for the purposes of medical research or organ harvesting.

Such a person would be denied Holy Communion if, after being counseled, and educated in the issues involved, that they persisted in their actions or possibly even promoted these evils to others to bring them into schism, or grave sin.

But a deeper look into the reasoning is more essential to our understanding of why this would be the case.

The priest, is the shephed of souls.  He is like a physician.  The first oath of a physician is ” To Do No Harm..”.
The priest has the overwhelming responsibility of the care and feeding of the souls within his particular flock.
Like a physician, he looks at the soul before him.  He does the triage, and diagnostics, and develops a prognosis and plan of treatment.

Just like in medicine, the idea is the give counsel, not to press the soul into submission, but rather into understanding.  To provide information and counsel for what is going on in their lives spiritually and what needs to be done to correct the problem. This so that the soul involved can have a cooperative place in the assent of the healing and process of correction.

Just like a medical patient, the patient has the free will to decline the treatment, and to do what ever it is that he or she wants to do.  They  would be free to go outside the Doctors care to seek solice and comfort in the world. The Doctor has a particular responsibility to the patient and to the community to do no harm, and to provide the best care possible.  That care is not only for the sake of his own soul, but for the sake of the soul of the person who is in sin.

Just like in medicine, the healing process is not always a pleasant experience.  The “medicine” is bitter, or the surgery is painful at the outset.. and it takes work, trust and understanding.

Just like in medicine, the soul who presents themselves for healing, will go through struggle, there may need to be some medicinal (spiritual) therapy that is necessary before the healing begins to take shape in the form of a spiritual,healing.

THe priest can not in good conscience, provide communion to a soul to which damage might be done, as his first mission is to the pastoral and spiritual care of those in his charge..

The Christian has the responsibility as well to examine their own conscience, in the light of the Gospels and Church teaching, to make the determination if they are able to recieve Holy Communion worthily, and make a restoration if that is not the case.

I pray this provides light for the your journey.

May God give you the gift of His peace !   Pax Tecum !

Read Here the words of St Francis Admonition to the Clergy..
“Let us attend, all clerics, to the great sin and ignorance, which certain men have concerning the Most Holy Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ and the most holy Names and His written words, which sanctify the Body. We know, since there cannot be a Body, unless first it is sanctified by the word. For we have and see nothing corporally of the Most High Himself, in this age, except the Body and Blood, Names and words, through which we have been made and redeemed from death and life (1 Jn 3:14). However all those who minister such holy mysteries, should consider within themselves, most of all those who minister illicitly, how vile are the chalices, corporals, and altar linens, where the His very Body and Blood are sacrificed. And by many in vile places He is placed and abandoned, borne about in a wretched manner and consumed unworthily and ministered to others indiscretely. Even His Names and writted words are sometimes tred under foot; since the bestial man does not perceive the things that are of God (1 Cor 2:14). Is not our piety stirred concerning all these things, when the pious Lord Himself offers Himself into our hands and we handle Him and consume Him each day with our mouth? Or are we ignorant that we must (one day) fall into His Hand? Therefore let us correct quickly all these things and the others; and wherever the Most Holy Body of Our Lord Jesus Christ has been illicitly placed and abandoned, let Him be removed from that place and let them be placed in an honorable place. All these things all the clerics together are bound to observe according to the precepts of the Lord and the constitutions of Holy Mother Church. And those who will not have done this, let them know that they must render an account before the Lord on the day of judgement (cf. Mt 12:36). This has been written so that it may better be observed; let them know themselves to be blessed by the Lord God, who would have it copied.”

History Teaches Us That History Teaches Us…..

July 4, 2015

History Teaches Us That History Teaches Us…..
I thought I would start with this tautology.  History teaches us many things,and in the study of history, we not only learn about who we are, and were we come from, but it also teaches us what errors were made, and one would hope that it would also teach us about what direction we are heading in, or what directions to avoid, and what errors we should probably not want to make again.

Now, lets suppose that we have a group of people who all want to play a game of cards.  There is an official book of card games written by Hoyle, that would teach you everything you ever wanted to know about cards in a rather exaustive way if you tried to sit down and take it all in, in one sitting or reading.

It is therefore helpful if someone has read the entire section of the book that applies to the game one is trying to play, and become conversant in the rules and subtleties of the game, in order to share this information with others to allow them to go down the correct path, and not either make errors in the play of the game, or to just make up the rules as they go along in error.

Now, if no one has read the book, and has no clue about the rules, and direction of play, then how would you expect that they will ever get to a meaningful game of cards ? Eventually everyone would stop playing and leave the game because no one understands how to play and the excitement of the gathering has worn off, they are all bored, and just leave.
The Bible, sacred scripture, and particularly the Gospels , Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, are what holds to rules to the game of life and our relationships not only to God, but to each other.  The study of the Bible is needed in a life  long class and review.
You may ask why it is that we need that.  After all if you read the Bible, you know the stories, they are familiar, so you should be fine to play the game.

Not so much.  Unlike the well known Hoyle book of card games, the Bible, is the living breathing word of God.  It is a living document, meaning that our understanding of the Bible and its application to our lives changes.  How it is that we read a passage, and we take the understanding of the passage, from Gospel to Life.. we apply what we read from the Gospel and apply that to what ever is going on in our lives today.

We know that the situations and struggles and needs we have today, are going to be different than they will tomorrow, next week, next year,etc.   So we take what we read, and discern how it is that this applies to our lives in the current day, in our situation and it speaks to us.   It can if we allow it to direct the path of our lives.

We come to understand how it is that this make the Bible come alive for us.

There is also a second part to this, because the Gospel is not just for you as a tiny branch, it is meant for all the world.
To fulfil the mission that God has given us, we need to share the Gospel !  Giving Life to the Gospel through our witness, through our own story of faith.

We share our story, and possibly someone else shares their story.  Possibly you go to Mass and you hear a Homily that is a different facet from what you saw.  It is a lesson, a spiritual feeding you get that gives you another understanding and from that feeding, you become what you receive and share Christ with others.
In the current age, we are in desperate need of on going adult catechesis, adult formation.  We need people who understand how important it is to be educated in our faith.   It is not an insult or an embarrasment to say that you don’t know something about your faith.  It should be an embarrassment that you do not go out and find the answers to that which you do not know about the faith that you profess.

I knew one man who when he met someone who was not of our faith, and was told by the other person that they were of a different faith, his  favorite answer was this.   ” What ever you are…. go and be the very best in your faith that you can be.  Ask the hard questions, and search out the answers to the questions you have,until you are at peace”.  This should be true of us as well.

We should be asking the hard questions, we should be looking to find the answers for what we believe and why we believe it.
Because of the lack of education, because we have fallen into a  spiritual reletivism of sorts, almost a Sophist-ic view of our faith, where the generation of ” I’m OK, Your OK” and cant we just all sit around the campfire and sing Kum Baya.. has caused us to raise an entire generaltion of adults who have no spiritual roots, or at the least shallow roots.

This has given rise to the state of current affairs where we have people who leave the faith, because they don’t have answers for the questions they are seeking, or they are worse yet, getting those answers from a secularized, governmental agency that pushes their view on children whos parents know no better.

Start reading, start learning, and start finding the answers you have questions for.  Talk to a priest, or deacon, and someone who  really knows their faith well.
If you are in the position where you are asked a question you don’t know the answer to, say to the person who is asking the question, that you dont know, but you will research the answer and get back to them, and then do it.  You will both learn and grow in faith.
Remember that “welcoming” and “affirming” are NOT the same thing.  We welcome everyone, but we will not affirm them in their own sin, or in our own.  Separation of the sinner and the sin are paramount.  LOVE your neighbor,and hate ALL sin, yours and your neighbors.   Our faith was based on community, and it is through community that it must be lived.

May God give you the gift of His peace !
Now is the time, and today is the day, when people of faith must stand, and live their faith, and stand for the faith that they profess.

Care and Feeding of the Sheep…

December 19, 2014

Care and feeding with Love

In the Franciscan charism our desire for spreading the faith happens largely through example.  Living the Gospel life is a never ending process of going from Life to Gospel and the Gospel to Life.

What does this mean  ?  Well it means that in the course of our daily lives we find ourselves in situations that are challenging for one reason or another, and since as our parents used to tell us.. ” There is nothing new under the sun”  We can return to the bible and find situations that are similar, or at least something in teachings that are relevent.

After prayer and consideration we move to applying what we know of scripture to the life we live.  Through this constant ebb and flow of spiritual awareness, we gain a constant process of the awareness of God in our lives and are constantly in the process of refining, and redefining our relationship with a not only with God but with our brothers and sisters.

It is in this way that we choose to spread the Gospel and our faith with others by our attempting to live the example of our faith through our lives.

This brings us to the question of how it is that we approach people of other faiths. People who are knowlegable about their own faith can get into reasonable discussions about their faith and the faith of others.   There are some dangers in trying to share with others.

By and large, dialogue in faith matters should approach this dialogue in the manner of sharing information as opposed to a battle to see who is “right”.  This is a difficult thing to do at times because there is so much mis-information that is given. Then there are the experiences of each person, which becomes their own reality or experience with their faith journey.

In the discussions of faith, the biggest enemy that needs to be fought, is that of ignorance or the subject matter.   Education coupled with faith are the keys to unlocking the door to understanding and conversion of heart.  This process of learning, is a life long process and is ever changing.  You also will not grow if you dont have questions to ask, and then seek the answers with an open heart.

May God give you the gift of His peace !

Another Mustard Seed.

January 29, 2010

Greetings Brothers and Sisters and Peace be with you !

Today we have continued to read from the Gospel of Mark ( Mark 4:26 +).    In the Gospel we find Christ once again attempting to teach the crowd that has gathered about the Kingdom of God.   He gives them parables so that they could more easily understand.   The crowd was probably a mixture of those who did not believe Jesus, and those who may have believed, or wanted to believe but did not understand, and finally the disciples.

Jesus again gives us the picture and imagery of the mustard seed.  The smallest of the seeds.  This tiny seed grows into a huge plant.   Luke 17- tells us that if we had faith the size of a mustard seed we could move mountains just by saying to the mountain to move.    Again the mustard seed.   This was something that these people could relate to , something for them to grasp and understand.     He is reaching out and attempting to get those who do not understand to grow, to learn , and to reach outside themselves.

Is it really so different for us ?  Even those who go to church every Sunday and listen to the same Gospels being read, or the same readings year in and year out.  The its not the Gospel or the reading that changes, it is our understanding, and our application that changes.   Like the turning of a diamond, different facets glitter as light passes through the stone.   So it is with us.  The message ( the stone) it didnt change we just looked at the message differently and understood something new.  We gained insight into the kingdom as a fruit of the Spirit.    Now back to the mustard seed.

What we DO with that insight, wisdom and knowledge is our mustard seed.  I need to take that and plant it.   Share your thoughts, share the wisdom with someone else, or just share the love of God which was part of your knowledge through action, or word.  This does not mean you have to become a preacher.  Saint Francis told his brothers in the Rule of 1221 – “Let all the brothers however preach by their deeds.”     So it is with us.   Our most powerful witness to the Gospel is in how we live our lives.

The seed will grow.. the seeds of your acts of love will multiply.  You may not get the opportunity to see the fruits of the seed in this lifetime,  but you will surely see them in heaven.    The seed is small, it does not take great efforts, and the harvest will be in the multitudes.    Love, Love, Love !