Posts Tagged ‘Love’

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 !

See What Love The Father Has For Us !

July 15, 2017

“See what love the Father has bestowed on us, in letting us be called children of God !
Tet that is 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 be after, 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 )

It is easy for us in our worldly presence, trying to live a spiritual life, to get bogged down, with not only the imperfections of others, but even our own. We are frustrated by the way we get treated by others, or how others are treated , even by people we know and love.

Our employers, our boss, our friends, our family, other brothers and sisters, heck, we don’t even really treat ourselves the way we should. Possibly, it is we who find ourselves in the situation that we have failed to treat others the we should, either by circumstance, or emotion, our own personal failings.

It would be very easy for us to fall into the pit of despair or depression because of the way the world can treat us. We do, however, have reason for our joy !

Look at John… all those years ago… talking to brothers and sisters who are fearful, disheartened, maybe a bit disillusioned. He is reminding them of the great gift they have received. Just as the 12 were also fearful, disheartened, and in some cases disillusioned at the setbacks in their own walks.

John reminds us that the world will not recognize us as its brothers and sisters, as children of God, because it did not recognize God in Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us. It is no wonder we are still fighting today, to try to get people to recognize God in our brothers and sisters. Children who were born with the imprint of the Most High !

How can we expect for the broken world, who did not recognize God, who was before them, to see God in the poor, the suffering, the aged, and those who are marginalized, even in our own brothers and sisters.

Possibly, it is because the world is not unlike Herod , who feared the Son of God when He came to earth, because the world has tried to claim for itself, something that does not belong to it, and in fear of losing the things that is has tried to take from God, or from the children of God, that it puts in place the machinery of sin to try to keep glory for itself.

At the same time, Brothers and Sisters, take heart ! For even if the world does not recognize us for who and what we are, we are in good company. It is up to us to continue to carry on the fight for good and right, for faith and hope, and mostly for peace, and love. It is important for us never to give in to despair, and sin. These are tools that Satan uses to try to separate us from God.

John reminds us that at the end of this earthly battle, we have something even greater that awaits us.
We have all had moments when the Spirit inflames us, and our hearts are afire with the love of God and everything in the world seems right, peaceful, and loving. So much more, then, will it be for us when we get to see God.

This is when we will get to see God face to face, Our loving Father. We will be the prodigal children, returning home, to the Father, who will rejoice with us.

The last part of the reading, John sticks in a final reminder..

” Everyone who has this hope, based on Him, keeps himself pure… as He is pure.”

This reminder is reminiscent of Jesus’ reminder to the disciples to “Be Holy even as your Father is Holy” (Matthew 5:48 , 1 Peter 1:16 )

This is to say that even in this daily world of suffering and strife, we are to carry on in doing what the Lord showed us while He was here on earth, and that is , to Love.

May God give you the gift of His peace !

Love Is The Answer…..

June 24, 2017

” You know the times in which we are living. It is now the hour for you to wake from sleep, for our salvation is closer than when we first accepted the faith. The night is far spent; the day draws near. let us cast off the deeds of darkness, and put on the armor of light. Let us live honorably as in daylight; not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual excess and lust, not in quarreling and jealousy, Rather, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh. ” Romans 13:11-14

We are hard-headed. hardhearted, and a slow to learn ( if ever we learn) bunch of degenerate children. You have to sit back and wonder why God bothers with us at all. We fight, we complain, we rebel, we are champion sinners, and who knows how many times we keep doing the same silly, backward, things over and over again.

Paul. who is the author of this passage, is trying to get the believers to understand where they are on the journey. There are issues of faith running around.. If you remember the passage in Matthew 22:20 , where they are asking Jesus about paying taxes to the Roman Empire. Just to prove the point, here again the citizens are still struggling the same questions that Jesus already answered ! They still had not understood, and still fighting with the same questions.

Paul is trying to tell them … Yes, you still have to do what Caesar tells you.. and YES, you still have to pay taxes.. because you live here, this is the authority in place at this time..

There is a special note I would like to inject here for our Franciscan brothers and sisters, consider for a moment your vocation. Recall the words you spoke on the day you took your profession. Our vocation, our calling, our job in the Kingdom of Heaven, ( for Franciscans, and for Christians as a whole) is to be “in the world.”.

What does that exactly mean for us ? Are we still this hard-headed ? Jesus told us … Because we live “in the world” , that means that we have to participate in the processes involved in living in the world.
We have to pay taxes. We have to obey the laws of the place where we live. We have to “pay the dues” of living in the place where we are.

We are “in the world” but we are not “of the world”. We belong to Christ. We have responsibilities, that go along with belonging to the Kingdom of God. There are things that are expected of us.

The passage before this reading explains the rule of the Kingdom of God is LOVE. If we do no evil to our neighbor, ( or wish them evil ) then the law if fulfilled. He reviews with them the 10 Commandments. and then comes the reading above.

This is meant to spur them on in their faith, to get them to try to excel in doing good works. To keep them from falling into sin.

Now consider, that every day, you start out your day, saying your morning prayers, and you ask God for the strength, and wisdom and perseverance to keep from some particular area of sin, or the occasion of it.

Then at night in the cool of the evening, you have the time to reflect on the day. You have the time to pray, and you feel bad, because you fell into some trap of sin. and it happened AGAIN .. and you find yourself the next morning having the same conversation with the Lord. You feel terrible… you think maybe you are the worst disciple ever… EVER ! Well, maybe not ever.. but still pretty bad.

Take heart ! You see, the saints, all of those people who were the super heros of humanity, they became saints NOT because they did not sin. They became saints by putting forth super human effort in attempting to live the gospel virtues. In short, these folks became saints because of the fact that they tried above all else, to live the law of LOVE !

I want to encourage each of you, to strive as best you are able, to live the law of love. Jesus made it as simple to remember as He could. Just two things you have to remember !

Love the Lord your God, with all your mind, heart, and soul.

Love your neighbor as yourself.

He did not say it would be easy. I can tell you from personal experience that everyone fails… Particularly on the second rule. Do not lose faith in this journey because you fail, OR because someone else failed to love you. Your neighbor might fail in loving you… but God never will !

Again it is not that we FALL, but how we RISE ! Rise with FAITH ! Rise with HOPE and rise with LOVE !

May God give you the gift of His peace !

Mind Your Business….

June 9, 2017

“Anyone who would not work, should not eat. We hear that some of you are unruly, not keeping busy but acting like busy-bodies. We enjoin all such, and we urge them strongly in the Lord Jesus Christ, to earn the food they eat by working quietly. You must never grow weary of doing what is right, brothers”. ( 2 Thessalonians 3:10-13 ).

In this letter Paul is writing to the community because there are people who are not really doing their part and are taking the time from the work they should be doing, and instead making themselves busy dealing with affairs of others.

In the world today, much is said of those who are not gainfully employed, or under employed. The world looks at these souls and judge them. They are judge to be lazy, guilty of sloth. They just don’t want to work. Indeed, there are those who were brought up not to value work at all, or were taught not to value certain types of work, because they were considered somehow “less” or not really something to be desired.

Society has been equally disowning of people who have been challenged in their educational processes.

In fact, we still struggle in this area. We understand, for instance, that different people learn by differing methods. We have not gotten to a point where we can effectively transform that knowledge into the individual student. How they learn, and then transform that into an educational process that works for that student.

There are budget concerns.. ” We can’t possibly create individual plans for each and every students!.. We simply can’t afford either the staff, or the budget concerns.” This is a common issue in education. Then those who do not learn in the traditional ways, are by and large, relegated to “lesser” jobs. They are told, ” You don’t have what it takes to go to college… you should find a trade , or go to work in retail or fast food. You might not think this goes on today. You would be wrong.

But I digress…

The problem we have, is that work is today, not something of value for most people. The employers, do not value the work of the people who work for them. They value instead the spreadsheet. The statistics that look nice and green. As long as those numbers look right, and positive, then everything is fine. Otherwise, there are only numbers and that the shoulders are broad enough to receive the pat on the back approvals of those closest. The company ( or owners ) no longer feel any obligation towards those people who toil in their firms.. after all they are numbers… replaceable, something that is replaceable in very little time with another body eager to fill it. Who spend their time “dumbing down” the process so it is easier to replace the last body that fell under the wheel of their taskmasters whip. For them their world is “gray”…. no black or white… just the gray of how the story is spun.

There are employees who, no longer have a work ethic. Who do not care about the job they do. Who’s sole concern is how little it is possible to do, in order to keep a paycheck. They do not care about the tools they are given, or the people for whom this work is done. As long as their numbers are passable, that go up to the “ivory tower” of management, then its good enough. There is no loyalty to the company that they work for, because they already know the company has no loyalty or care for them as people.

So why should we care about work ?

Work, is a gift from God. We work in order to gain a just wage. It is through that work, that we gain a just wage through which , we tithe. Tithing is not just money. Tithing is time, talent and treasure. That thing which we offer to God, through our family, through our brothers and sisters, and as a way to sanctify our day.

Paul is also quick to instruct the Thessalonians to conduct themselves in an upright and honorable way.

We too, should spend our efforts in public and in private, working on our own sanctification. It is through this type of work. Working honorably, and justly; working on our own sanctification, will be the greatest tool we have at our disposal to bring about the Kingdom of God.

Will we falter ? Sure we will. Will we slip ? Of course we will. It is not how we FALL,… but how we RISE !

May God give you the gift of His peace !

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) !

Blessed are the Peacemakers…

November 4, 2016

Blessed are the peacemakers,

for they will be called children of God. ( Matthew 5:9)

How is it exactly that I am a peacemaker ? Let’s take a quick jump ahead in Matthew a couple of chapters to Mattew 7.. where we are quickly reminded that we need to ” remove the plank from your own eye, before tremove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye” ( Mathew 7:5)

Being a peacemaker is primarily about the renovation that is necessary in our hearts, and preparing our hearts as a suitable place for Jesus to dwell, more so than it is a resolving conflict between others.

Preparing to be a peacemaker brings us to a place where we have to understand what peace is, how it is that we need to form our hearts, our conscience, our own understanding.

First, everyone sins. every single person no matter who we are, what our position is, what our vocation is, indeed no matter how hard we try.. we all suffer from the effects of sin. You might say to yourself. .” Well that’s great ! So why do I bother even to try ?”.. Thats a good question.. God did not promise us that our lives would be easy once we tried to live a faithful life. In fact, its going to be nearly the opposite. The people who are living easy lives that are not worried about life at all, those are the people who need to start asking questions. But I digress, back to ourselves.

In being a peacemaker we should be engaged in a daily examination of our own consciences. A review of where we might have failed today… This week.. This month.. It is a point where we look inside and see where we have acted, or failed to act. Did I cause conflict ? Did I cause pain ? Was there something I could have done to make a situation better for one of my brothers or sisters and I failed to do so ? Did I fail to show Christ to my brothers and sisters in difficult situation ?

Could I have helped ? Was the way that I helped part of the issue … part of the conflict ? Did I get of the way, to let Christ shine through the work I was needing to do ? Remember that NO converts were ever won with a sledgehammer.

“Earthly peace is the image and fruit of the peace of Christ, the messianic “Prince of Peace”. By the blood of the cross , in His own person he killed the hostility, He reconciled men with God and made his Church the Sacrament of unity of the human race and of its union with God…” ( CCC# 2305)

The Church is, just as we should be the sacrament of Peace within the world, and within ourselves and within each brother and sisters, whether they are inside or outside the Church. Just as being a peacemaker has to start within the individual and their relationship with God properly formed. Those individuals then formed may work on the formation within the Body of Christ ( the church) and let that be an outpouring of peace unto the entire human race.

Peace requires sacrifice. It requires commitment, it requires work. Jesus showed us how to love our brothers and sisters. He showed us how it is that we are to have peace with God, and then with our brothers and sisters.

We have not listened…

We have not learned…

We have not loved …

Saint Francis’s Peace Prayer begs ” Make me a channel of your peace…. ” This is our prayer, and our mission. If we love our brothers and sisters, then peace with reign and flow through us. We become what we profess. We become the instruments of peace within our hearts, within hour houses, within our Church, and within the world.

May God give you the gift of His Peace !

All Is Not As It Seems…

September 10, 2016

All is not as it seems..

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Patience is a Virtue…

July 16, 2016

Patience..

“For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered* for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in his footsteps.” 1 Peter 2:21

I begin with the confession that, patience has been a lifelong challenge. It always seemed that the more that I sought after peace, quiet and tranquility, and the times when I desired it most, that was when the greatest challenges to that peace would come about.

In my younger years I did not suffer fools lightly, and I had a rather short length of patience which means that this particular cross, and blessing, is a journey I am painfully aware of, and painfully close to.

You may ask why is this a blessing as well as a cross. I grew up in a very “black and white world”. This meaning that things were either right or they were not right. Yes, was yes… No was no. Your word was your bond, and that word was held against your personal honor and the honor of your family name.

Growing up, these were the things that were important. God, family, friends, honor, and grace. These ideas, as we got older were weighed against the hardships of life, and of a world who increasingly did not hold these same ideas in as high regard.

This was where the journey began.. or was it ?

As Franciscans we love our Lord, and we love Him, in many ways. Some of those are germain to this discussion. We love Jesus and we praise Him poor and crucified.

Jesus was, and is, the very model of patience. Think of Him… Jesus, who us bore every measure of patience for you and for I.

Jesus, who is the Son of the Living God, who is the King of Heaven, who for love of you and I came to earth, not as a King, or a royal of any sort. He came to Earth as a slave, a slave to poverty and to a human existance. He came to Earth not in luxury, but in complete poverty. He had no home, and no warm bed to be layed in. He came not into royal robes to wrap Him and keep him warm. He came to a barn, born with the lowest ,born with animals.

He was wrapped in those wretched rags, instead of the finery He deserved. He CHOSE to come humbly… patiently. He suffered this confined, lowly human existance. Even when he first arrived humanity was already trying to kill Him. Already despised.

Jesus almost from birth lived his life with no stable home. He was moved from place to place, to avoid the hatred of the world. Jesus, King of the Universe, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, had to bear with the Blessed Mother and Saint Joseph and earthly parents who did not always understand that He ” had to be about His fathers work”.

When he went about His Earthly preaching ministry, He was insulted, and people tried to lay traps for Him to try and discredit Him. The world hated Him for the message he was bringing.

Jesus suffered in His holy passion. When He labored with a heavy heart knowing that His time was near. He suffered when His friend betrayed Him. He suffered when He was taken away in ropes. He suffered being slapped. He suffered being spit upon. He suffered the taunts and jeers of the people who turned on Him. He suffered then He was scourged , whipped and beaten unto the point where He barely resembled His human self.

Jesus suffered when they tortured every part of His body, and then He suffered forcing Him to carry the burden of the instrument of His own execution… His cross. He suffered carrying that cross through the streets.. He suffered while these people tore off His clothes. He suffered when they put thorns on His head… He suffered when they drove iron nails into His body and into the wood.. He suffered when they drove the lance through His holy side.

Jesus suffered every moment of agony until His body could no longer contain the soul of this King.

Jesus suffered through a death reserved for the very worst criminals. He suffered this agonizing death in a place reserved for the most despised with the bones of others who had died there laying around.

Jesus did all of this for you and for me, for love of you and for love of me.

Jesus loves us without measure, so much that He suffered, died and rose again.
Jesus suffered all this and yet He STILL carrys us patiently. Forgiveness for the sin of the world. Your sin and mine. Jesus suffers, and yet He still loves us without end.

Jesus loves us so much that He shares Himself in the sacrifice of Holy Mass. Giving of HImself to us… through us…. with us… in us.. for us.

Jesus showed us how to be patient, and how to live a holy life. Jesus gave us the sacrament of reconcilliation to forgive our sins anew, AND still teaching us how to be patient.

One final admonition, brothers and sisters, Do not allow yourselves to be deluded, or misled. The sin of pride, is often covered in the illusion of patience.

When we are injured, hurt, suffering, we must ask ourselves why we hurt, and what is the root of the matter. We must search our very deepest hearts, and
go into deep upon deep. We must know that “we are what we are before God, and nothing else”, and then relate that knowledge to the point of our patience.

We have trials, and tribulation in our lives as a way to teach us.. Like sandpaper is used to bring out beauty in wood, our trials, if we are wise, are used to teach us to be
more patient. Patient with others, and patient with ourselves, and to teach others.

For the gifts you are given… even patience… is not yours ! You were given that gift as well, as a steward, to be used and shared for the benefit of your brothers and sisters..

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

Mary At The Tomb

April 1, 2016

After the ressurection Jesus appeared to Mary first, and told her to gather the disciples and prepare for His return

Much as in the rest of life, often times we are given the cross of waiting. At times this wait can be most difficult parts of the journey we face.  Things will be better… tomorrow.  Things will improve later on.   ” The sun will come out tomorrow!”..
unfortunately today, now is what the experience is.   When Jesus first appeared to Mary, He told her not to hold on to Him.

Mary held on to Jesus’ feet and He did not want to be held because he had yet to ascend.  Mary, of course did not want to let Him go.
Let us consider for a moment, that part of the reason, Jesus did not want to be held, was not for Him, but for HER !
In the early morning hours, she had been through loss, and heartache and we in the pit of dispare.  She had not quite understood, that
He would be returning, or that he lives.  He needed for her to be the spark that lit the fire.  He needed for her to start her own
journey to gather the others, to spread His word, to follow His will.  None of that could occur, IF, she did not let go and have faith.

We as Franciscans value a spiritual poverty.  A detachment from worldly possessions, things, position, or power.  There is a very simple
and profound reason for this.  These earthly posessions are the very same things that separate us from our brothers and sisters, and
ultimately from God.  There are great books written on the value, and practice of poverty.  In the parable of the rich man, a young man
asks Jesus what he must do to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  Jesus tells him he must go and sell what he has, give the money to the
poor, and then come and follow Him.  The friars of the first orders, they sell, or give away all their posessions prior to entering
the monestary.  Same thing goes for the Poor Clare nuns.   The Secular Franciscans, embrace a poverty that is both a spiritual and
practical poverty according to their station and means.  Although there have been great debates over the centuries about what poverty
means or entails, all agree that any posession that keeps one from God, or the service of God, or His will should be removed.

It is not only about posessions, it is also about the intangibles that we hold on to. Is it truly the thing we hold, or the thing
that holds us ?    Currently all over the world there is a thing, called the “Tiny House Movement”.   In our current society, where
people seem to be wanting ever larger houses, and ever larger spaces to not only store or house their vast numbers of posessions,
but also in an effort to have their own “space” or room for this or that function.  Ultimately it is a point of posession.
MY House… MY office… MY space… My Car.. MY stuff.     In this Tiny House Movement, the concentration is to build smaller
houses that are mobile. Generally, these houses are on trailers and are generally speaking have a foot print not much larger than
one or two rooms in a traditional house.   The goals are usually financial independence, and freedom to travel, freedom of time.
There are good things about this movement, and ultimately something to be learned from it.  This much like the Franciscan view is
a reduction of what is not needed.  Posessions, over work, etc. and an intentional way of living that leads one to experience freedom
on some varied levels.  The difference, possibly, in some cases, is that for Franciscans, and a number of other clergy and seculars,
that ultimately our efforts are directed solely so that we can serve God.   Not so we can serve our own needs, wants and desires,
it is so we can share, with our brothers and sisters to help to get them along their own road of faith.   However, I digress.

The process of living simply, is much larger than the lack of desire to posess something. It is instead a release of those desires, for something larger… something better.  From a worldly perspective, living simply means that you occupy a smaller space, with fewer posessions, which means that is costs you less ultimately for your basic expenses.  It means that you can, if you choose, live without the need for more income, which is relative to fewer hours at a job, freeing you up to spend that time doing something else that  would be ultimately either more productive or more enjoyable.

Living simply gives one the freedom, if one so chooses, to travel where ever the heart desires.  possibly instead of less work it just provides more free flowing income.  This would allow one to do more with that expendible income than what was previously possible with the same level of actual income from the same amount of work.

In the end, as you can see, it is a tool.  A hammer can be used many ways.. its intent is to be used to build things.   Living simply is a tool we as Franciscans use, to free ourselves from the desire for, posessions, or the upkeep that comes with them.
Consider this story of  St. Francis and one of the brothers.

One day St. Francis was walking with one of the brothers who said, Brother Francis, I think I would really like to have a book…
St. francis said, Are you sure you really want a book ?.. If you have a book, then you have to have a shelf.  If you have a shelf then you need a wall.. and other walls to hold it up.. and a roof.. and a door, and a lock to secure it.   Then you have to watch the house that the book is in and it will require maintenance…. Are you sure you really want a book ?
Instead of posession and power we can instead use that to care for our brothers and sisters and creation.   It does not mean that we all have to live in extreme poverty.  If you are not a priest or religious brother or sister, then you have to live in the world and work in the world. If your married then you have a spouse who may or may not share your idea of what simple living would entail.
You might have children who have needs that differ from yours , and there are the impacts to those people.  There are valuable lessons in simplicity, * IF*  those lessons are directed towards God, to teaching life lessons, to teaching the value inherent in all of creation, and to teach others by our example what it means to be a Christian.

But wait !  what has all of this to do with Mary at the Tomb ?  Glad you asked.    Lets consider Mary Magdalene… look at what happened to her.. she went from living a less than perfect life, to following Jesus around with nothing…  serving Him and others.
She at the tomb was heart broken and probably pretty much a basket case.   When Jesus first appeared, she then had to wait. She had to let go.. but she had to let go for something greater.

In the same way Mary had to let go. We too must let go.  We must let go of our own vices.. our prejudices, our hatred, our greed, our own desires for more, in order to make room for God.  We need to let go of those things in order to allow God to work within us, and work with us.  In the end, Jesus will appear for us, within us, and through us to others.

May God give you the gift of His peace !

Love Is The Law…..

November 15, 2015

Love is the Law…..
If there is one answer to the question of life and world and everything ( as much as most “Hitch hikers Guide to the Galaxy” would like to have us believe the answer is not 42.  The answer to life, the world and everything is God. and the Law of God is love.

Jesus came not because of sin, but because of love.  You have only to look at scripture to find evidence of this in nearly every corner.  One of the most famous of the Biblical scriptures is John 3:16.   ” For God so LOVED the world that he sent his only begotten son…”.

In the gospels there is the story of the legal scholar who asked Jesus what is the greatest commandment.  His reply was easy.
Love the Lord your God with all your mind heart and soul and then, love your neighbor as yourself.

Now consider this :

” Christs call to conversion continues to resound in the lives of Christians.  THe SECOND CONVERSION is an uninterupted task for the whole Church who ” clasping sinners to her bosom, is at once holy and always in need of purification, and follows constantly the path of penance and renewal”. ( CCC #1428 ).

We are called to a dual process of daily conversion.  Let us consider the following scenario :

You rise in the morning, you faithfully say your morning prayers and consider the all the great and wonderful possibilities for the day.  You have started off the day in a good place.  You pray for peace, peace in your day.  You pray for patience, and to be the example of the good disciple  that you know in your heart you desire.  Then you leave your house. you get in your car and that  person cuts you off nearly causing an accident.  You get to work and someone decides to yell at you, or about you.  You become frustrated and that little monster that we all have decides to come out.

At the end of the day you return to your home, you sit and do your evening prayers and you settle in to contemplate on the reading, or enter into the Our Father and adding your intentions and you drag yourself like a little child you knows they did something not so good, and shuffle your spiritual feet and look down at the ground and you know you failed at your efforts today to be the hands, feet and voice and vessel of Christ.  You were not the exemplary Christian, You feel terrible, you feel defeated and some days you might even feel like you just can not get any of these things right !
Let us examine the case of Peter.  What happened to Peter during the Passion ?  After having gone through all of the daily trials and tribulations, and after having been with Jesus, and even after being warned about the experience, Peter fails, and denies Jesus  time and time again. Later on when he realizes the mistake he made, realizing the failure he had committed, he goes on to lead the way for many many converts and disciples.

Most people consider “conversion” in the idea that they we some other faith or denomination, and “became” a Christian, and became a Catholic.  This idea of conversion is static, like some of our brothers and sisters consider “being saved” as an event.

Instead conversion has a starting point, but the end point occurs when you enter the beatific vision.  Everything in between is a constant process that includes, study, application, failure, and renewal.

It is important to know that God loves us, and like Peter, forgives us for the places where we fall or fail.  It means that we acknowledge our own sinfulness.  We acknowledge that we fail, and we acknowledge that we are not perfect beings.  It also means that in our human-ness we must also reach to a place where we can also acknowledge that others go through the same struggle, and understand that they too are imperfect.   We must acknowledge that they are not at the same place that we are.  They might be even on a different road that we are.  We must be in a place where we can love and forgive others who may not even be on the road at all, but who also feel the weight of their own failures.

Pray for those who have little or even no faith at all.  Pray for those who struggle with their faith.  Pray for those who are going through trials in their faith.  Pray, hope and don’t worry.

May God give you the gift of His peace….