Posts Tagged ‘Love’

The Unblemished Lamb…

April 19, 2018

“Realize that you were delivered from the futile way,of life your fathers handed on to you, not by any diminishable sum of silver or gold, but by Christ’s blood beyond all price : The blood of the spotless , unblemished lamb chosen before the worlds foundation and revealed for you sake in these last days. It is through Him that you are believers in God, the God who raised him from the dead and gave Him glory. Your faith and hope, then, are centered in God.

By obedience to the truth you have purified yourselves for a genuine love of your brothers, therefore, love one another constantly from the heart. Your rebirth has come not from a destructible but from an indestructible seed, through the living and enduring Word of God. “ ( 1 Peter 1:18-23 ).

There are a few things about this passage that are of importance for us to take stock in. In the first part of this passage Peter, is talking to the church explaining that it was Jesus, who delivered them from
the futile way. Now.. If we didn’t know anything about history, you might be inclined to think that this statement was all about the idea of them getting into the church and not following some generic path of sin. We know however, that this “futile way” that Peter is speaking about is actually speaking about the principle of “justification by law”. “The law” were all the rules and laws of the Torah that were passed on to every child.

“ The blood of the spotless lamb” this idea hearkens back to Exodus and the institution of the Passover feast. This is where the unblemished lamb is sacrificed that was the salvation of the slaves in Egypt. Jesus was the unblemished lamb that is our salvation today. Our faith and hope are centered in God alone.

It is of utmost importance that we take heed of one particular part of this scripture. This is paramount !
“ The blood of the unblemished lamb chosen before the worlds formation, and revealed for your sake in these last days” … think about that….. BEFORE THE WORLDS FORMATION..

This bears out the Franciscan preaching that Jesus did not come into the world because of SIN, he came into the world because of LOVE. There was no sin of man BEFORE man was created . Before the creation of the world ! Therefore, we know that the plan was for Jesus to come into the world because of Love, to be our Savior, our Lord.

In the end of this epistle Peter, gives them encouragement and instruction. We all need encouragement and building up of our faith lives. Just like the disciples in the early church we struggle, and we strive in trying to live out our faith. But what does Peter tell them..? He says to them that it is because of your faith, you struggle to love your brother. Keep going ! Keep loving your brothers from the heart.
Not a superficial kind of “ see you next Sunday” sort of thing. It is a deep and abiding love for our brothers and sisters that we must maintain and build on, not only for them, but the others in our communities because they see, they learn and they are also encouraged by the strength of the love we share.

Take peace then, not only in your faith, and in your brothers and sisters, but in the Lord the unblemished lamb, who rose from the dead, who was raised in glory, and who loved each one of you before the creation of the world.

May God give you the gift of His peace !

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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 !

From Consumer to Disciple..

January 27, 2018

” You likewise know how we exhorted every one of you , as a father does his children – How we encouraged and pleaded with you to make your lives worthy of the God who calls you to his kingship and glory. That is why we thank God constantly that in receiving his message from us you took it, not as the word of men, but as it truly is , the word of God at work within you who believe.”
( 1 Thessalonians 2:11-13 )

This weeks reading we return to the book of Thessalonians where Paul is attempting to encourage the community, by reminding them of the things they are called to as disciples of Christ. The first part of that reading says that he is asking them to remember that they are to live lives worthy of the call.

Worthy of the call to the kingship. It is Paul that feels the certain patriarchy, Paul feels , a certain responsibility because he went to Thessalonika to preach and founded this community. By this time the community had gotten quite large. As the community grows, it presents some certain challenges because the humanity of the people grows exponentially as the community grows. . It requires a little more hands on approach to governance.

We as humans, we tend to fall into a rut, we get comfortable… we get sometimes too comfortable. We get into a habit of certain things…. We get into the habit of going to church, the habit, the physical act of going to church, of showing up, of going through the motions, and as a result, can become complacent in our spiritual growth.

We need to take responsibility for our own formation, for our own spiritual growth. We have too often become the “consumer of church” . We go expecting to be entertained. We want it to be comfortable.. we want it to be nice.. We want it to be easy, and we want it to feel good ! absolutely NONE of that is what we are called to. The practice of our faith life is not comfortable, it is not easy, and it takes work.. .HARD WORK.

The kingship that we are called to is to know our selves, to know our failures, to have the responisbility
to the other, although they too are called the kingdom. They too are called to the same work. We have a responisbility to them, for them. Our call is to serve. In order to serve effectively, we must first take a good hard look at the state of our spiritual lives. Our spiritual education.

We have a 2 fold service. service to God, and service to our fellow man. Both of these require us to know and experience God in our daily lives. In our study, in our practice and our works.

In today’s world you don’t just walk into a job, where it is being a mechanic, or being a professor, or doctor… any kind of job and simply expect to begin working with no background. Likewise, you can not advance within that job, without additional study, practice, mentoring. Along with that training there will need to be some hands on work, or practical experience. Our faith lives are no different.

You are called to be Priest, Prophet and King, but you need some basic instruction from where to begin. Faith life becomes a point of practice. You take this basic information, and plug that knowledge into your day-to-day life. You develop understanding where you excel and others where you fail. You make changes and you grow hopefully.

The problem is that all too often people stop there. Sure, they go to church every Sunday. They consume what they are given in the way of scripture and sacraments, which is good and necessary.
It tends not to be enough. It is just enough so that you are maintaining the minimum. Its like going to the mechanics and getting the oil changed. You know you need to do it.. You do it so that you can keep going. It protects you so that your car will keep going. But its not enough.. there is work to be done.

When I first started studies as a Spiritual Assistant, I talked with a priest friend , who gave me this one piece of advise. If you want to grow in your faith. If you want to REALLY know the heart and soul of your faith, study the Gospels. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

In the heart of the Gospels you will find the true center of our faith. The things we are called to know, to share and to bring to others. You can not ” Go forth and make disciples of all the nations”…. if you don’t know what you’re making them disciples of ? !! Sharing your faith with others means that the people who you are sharing your faith with, will have questions. I dare say, that in sharing your faith, you too might have questions that you do not have the answers for….. AND THAT IS OK ! its GOOD !

The most intelligent thing, the most responsible thing, is to tell them something like :

” I don’t have the answer to that question, but I will find the answer for you, and let you know..”

Why ? It’s being honest, and the person who is asking the question, will hear the ring of truth. AND, honestly, if you don’t have an answer, then this will be a point of growth for you as well.

Too often we have become reticent in our study. To a certain degree, they can become repetitious. You will come to know the answers to these questions. They are usually pretty basic questions. People want to know why you believe this , or that ? Why do you DO this or that ? How do you know that God exists ? Why did God allow this, or not do that ? Give me a reference in the Bible, for your belief in this or that.

But guess what ? THAT too can become commonplace, and a habit. So then what ?

You will have to find answers to your own questions ! GO and seek out new questions, and find the answers, because if you find the questions, eventually someone else will have those questions too ! You can be the laborer who plants the seed of deeper faith and spread God’s kingdom. That seed will eventually bear fruit not only in their lives and in the lives of those that THEY touch, but in your own spiritual life as well.

Keep asking questions, and keep asking questions until you get more questions, deeper questions, until you run out of questions ( You never run out of questions ! ).

By your seeking, by your learning, by your faithfulness, you will answer the call to fulfill your vocation as a disciple of Jesus Christ !

May God give your the gift of His peace !

Advent…It’s Here !

December 2, 2017

Advent…. It’s here.

“And do this because you know the time; it is the hour now for you to awake from sleep. For our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed;

the night is advanced, the day is at hand. Let us then throw off the works of darkness [and] put on the armor of light;

let us conduct ourselves properly as in the day,* not in orgies and drunkenness, not in promiscuity and licentiousness, not in rivalry and jealousy.

But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh.” ( Romans 13:11)

This is the very beginning of the season of Advent. Advent means to come. It comes from the Latin Ad ( to ) Venire (come). It is applied to the church calendar as the season prior to Christmas. It is set aside for us as a period, not unlike Lent, as a time of preparation, a spiritual house cleaning if you will.

Not unlike Lent it has been a time of fasting and praying. In fact there was a period of time when there was a 40 day fast that was just like Lent. ( without the fish frys). If we look at the time of Lent and the time of Advent as mirrors of each other, both have certain characteristics that are very similar in tone and purpose.

Both serve the purpose of preparing our hearts as a birthplace for Christ to reign, a channel through which God may share the blessings of Heaven with and through us. Prior to His arrival however we have a little preparation to do.

As a child the time previous to the holiday season, there was a certain amount of that ” spring cleaning” that my mother would always have my brother and I to do. There was silver to polish, vacuuming, scrubbing and There was a brass table to polish and well as the candlesticks that stood on either side of the fireplace. Dusting the furniture and all of that came after taking care of the animals we had. ( which in itself was an 8 hour job).

Yes, the preparations were something that we as kids did not look forward to in the least, as we would rather have been exploring the forest that we lived in, or the just relaxing around the house. On the other hand, once all the work was done, and night had fallen, there was a cool nip in the air, and we would turn off the lights in the livingroom, and light a fire in the fireplace. The house took on that certain feeling of “Hearth and Home”. When the holidays came, and we were able to entertain guests, and share our home with friends and family there was a certain comfort, a certain joy to be able to serve them and make them feel at home.

The same thing applies to our spiritual lives. Paul is telling us to use Advent as a time to remove from our hearts the spiritual “baggage”. that we need to throw off. Those things that belong to the dark, and not to the light. Those things that we have been holding onto, that do not aid us in our spiritual journeys, those things that hold us back from serving Christ, or keep us from being the conduit of the blessings, or keep us from helping someone else from seeing Christ because of our actions.

So let us work on throwing off those works, those deeds, and put in some of the work in those areas of our lives to prepare our hearts for the coming of Jesus. Throw out those pains, and grudges, lets fix those broken relationships. Let’s be the one who extends the olive branch, and extends the hands. Let us be the Christ in the season, and really live the life of faith we profess.

May God give you the gift of His peace !

We Are All Still Sinners ( Part I)

November 18, 2017

We are all still sinners….

“We who are strong in faith, should be patient with the scruples of those whose faith is weak;

we must not be selfish. Each should please his neighbor so as to do him good by building up his spirit. Thus, in accord with Scripture , Christ did not please himself. “The reproaches they uttered against you fell on me” Everything written before out time was written for our instruction, that we might derive hope from the lessons of patience and the words of encouragement in the Scriptures. May God, the source of all patience and encouragement, enable you to line in perfect harmony with one another according to the spirit of Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and voice you may glorify God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” ( Romans 15:1-6 )

This passage of scripture has a great deal to do with perspective. When I would occasionally complain about someone or something that I was dealing with, my mother used to make the comment ” Life is a matter of perspectives..” and then walk away.

She would leave me alone in my thoughts ( or give me chores to do.. thanks Mom) and which usually gave me some time in my younger years to blow off whatever steam I had going on in my head, and then ponder a resolution if there was one that I could see. Her point, was for me to attempt to view things from the other persons perspective. ( or to stop complaining all together ). None the less, it was an opportunity for introspection, and contemplation which she encouraged.

In this scripture passage, Paul, all those years ago, is telling us we need to have patience, and stop being hard on others who are not at the same place in their faith lives that possibly we are. Let’s face it, we know who these people, we have witnessed this same thing occur in our own places of worship, or amongst our own communities. We hear people complain about this brother or sister who is not dressing in the clothes we believe that they should. We hear someone who does not act this way, or that way, or someone trying to give correction to a brother or sister in a way that is possibly less than charitable.

Allow me to share a personal experience with you…

I had an encounter with a man who did some things to members of my family. I learned from other family members that he was planning to be brought to my church. To be honest, I had issues with this, intellectually, I knew in my heart, that this was not MY house, this was the Lord’s house, and if there were no where else on Earth, that this person should be welcome, THIS was the one place where he should always be welcome. Still… there was this inner struggle. I felt that this person was evil. I knew that I could not be hypocritical in my faith.. but still…. And there you have it. I was forced to come face to face with my own human sinful nature, where I was harboring my own sin holding hate within my heart.

We are all sinners. There is no getting around it. No matter how far along your spiritual path , there is always sin, there is always room for improvement. Sometimes, it is easy to get to a place, a plateau, if you will, where you are comfortable in your spiritual life and you might think that you are in a good place. It is easy to get there, but possibly difficult to leave.

The scriptures give us both encouragement when we are feeling defeat, or sinful, or troubled in some way. It also gives us examples of how it is we need to be able to deal with others who possibly are not where we are, or where we think we are, or ought to be.

Next week, we will continue this discussion and consider this reading in light of the story of the stoning of the adulteress.

Until then…. May God give you the gift of His peace !

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 !

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 !

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 !

Imagining …..Love !

August 18, 2017

Imagining …. Love !

Over the course of the last few years, there has been surges of hate.. surges of violence. Surges of new labels to affix to people in order to put them into categories. Then once we have affixed a label to the idea, we can affix people to the label. Then, once we have assigned all the people to the labels, or they have assigned themselves to the label that we have created, or assigned others to, it then follows that the assignment of the label, corresponds to the feelings, and emotional outpouring that comes along with them.

We feel free to love or to hate or despise, or look down upon those others who have the label that is different from the label that someone else has affixed to us, or the label we have affixed to ourselves, according to our own particular hates, or likes.

There are those who become so emotionally invested in winning over the perceived evil in others, that they are most assuredly unable to see the evil that is beating in their own hearts, and in their minds. So repugnant are the ideas, that these things to be avoided at all costs, are the very things that slip past the labels, and become attached to the people, assigned to the people of an opposing view.

So invested have we become in trying to keep away from the ideas of the others, and away from THOSE people, that those people become the point of our frustration. We, while remaining invested in this process to win, are so much invested we may pass the point of reason. We need to win at all costs so that they will disappear, or go away, or just stay silent.

I remember as a young man still in Junior High school, there was another boy, that just seemed content to make my life miserable. In my mothers manner of attempting to get me to think through things, she said.. ” A man is known by the quality of his enemies…” it was designed to get me to think through the process and consider that if this other young man was so terrible, and loathsome, then surely he could not be worthy to be counted amongst my enemies.

Of course, I did not have time worry about such things I was in the middle of a rant and I did not have time to consider that boys qualities while I was busy considering the terror I wished to inflict on him for his constant pestering and bullying. At dinner that night, I was sitting there quietly stewing over the fact that my mother did not wish to see the hatred that was festering in my little heart and posed the one question that I heard often throughout my formative years.. ” What would happen if we gave a war and nobody came ?”.

By extension, we can see where we might fit in, if the only labels we claimed, were Children of God, and Global Citizens. If there were no countries… If there were no borders… If you just were a human being, sharing the planet, and a Child of God. If these other labels did not exist, then imagine what might be left for you to hate. Sure, these things exist, and yes, there are still others who are in charge of governments. We can still choose to live as though the labels of hate did not exist. We can choose love.

Instead of being a Conservative… they are another Child of God . Instead of being an immigrant or an ex-pat, they are children of God. Each person, each child of God has the basic human right to be treated with respect and dignity. They have the right to food, clothing and shelter; to health care and education. Mostly they have right to worship God freely, in what ever way they believe that will please God.

My father, when he would run across someone whose particular views either agreed or disagreed with his, he used to say ” What ever it is that you are…. Be the best of what ever that is that you can be ! ”
He would encourage them to ask the really hard questions, and seek the truth, to study and enter into dialog. In this way, they will find the face of God they seek.

Imagine …. Love !

May God give you the gift of His peace !