Posts Tagged ‘Mark’

May You Attain Full Knowledge …

June 18, 2017

“May you attain full knowledge of God’s will through perfect wisdom, and spiritual insight. Then you will lead a life worthy of the Lord and pleasing to Him in every way. You will multiply good works of every sort and grow in the knowledge of God. By the might of His glory you will be endowed with the strength needed to stand fast, even to endure joyfully what ever may come, giving thanks to the Father for having made you worthy to share the lot of the saints in light. He rescued us from the power of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of his beloved Son.” Colossians 1:9-13

This passage from scripture is the opening lines of encouragement from the Apostle Paul, who was writing to the Colossians, along with Timothy who was traveling with Paul. What comes before this passage though is subtle, but noteworthy. Paul recognizes Epaphas, who he recognizes as a ” fellow servant”, or disciple of Christ. What is also important to note here is that there is no recorded point in time where Paul ever actually went to Colossea. Instead, Paul taught the true faith to Epaphas, who converted, learned and then took that seed of faith and returned home to Colossea, and spread it through the countryside converting the people and passed that faith to the people and the future saints who lived there.

So, you say to yourself, great ! So what does that mean for us here ? Glad you asked !

It is important because Paul did not have to go and hold the hand of Epaphas in order to pass on the light of faith and the Word. Paul had faith in the seed he planted. It really had little to do with Epaphas. Although, Epaphas did have an open heart, and believed the Word when he heard it. Paul trusted that Word would spread. Just as Jesus, entrusted the twelve apostles, who in and of themselves were not perfect, did not always have perfect faith, but still trusted in the seed of faith that they were given..

This idea of having the pure seed of faith being transmitted to others in a sometimes imperfect manner is pretty much how it goes. This should give us encouragement in the faith that we have received and to participate more fully in the charge that we are given to pass on this faith as Epaphas did. We don’t have to do it perfectly, we just have to do it. We also don’t need the sledgehammer approach, where we are pounding the seed into the skull of the person receiving it… All we have to do is plant the seed, and walk away.

We have to have faith that the seed we plant, is what God will use for His will. The seed that is planted, will not always bloom before our eyes. We may never get the opportunity to see the results of the seeds we plant. We must trust in God. We must trust that the Lord will use the seeds we plant in the continuum of His divine will.

The beginning of this passage says “may you attain full knowledge of God’s will through perfect wisdom and spiritual insight…” Maybe the saints eventually ended up at this place, but for the rest of us, this is the destination, and the journey is where we spend our time… at least if we make the effort.

Much like the planting of those seeds of faith, where at times we may get to see a glimpse of the results, possibly the beginnings of the results of our labors, we will likely never see the complete result, or even understand what it is that will occur as a result of that work, which would be in Gods will for mankind. The one truth that we know about Gods will to an absolute certainty is that Gods plan for us is as basic as the first truth we learned as children. God’s will for us is to …. know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him.. so that we can be with Him in Heaven.
Ask someone who is your elder, if the life that they currently have, is the life that they dreamed of, or planned for in their youth. If their lives were the same now as what they had planned for it to be maybe after high school, or even after college ( if they went to college and attended after high school).

I would venture to say that nearly none of them can say that their lives turned out as they originally planned. This is the difference between where mans will differs from God’s will. We could attempt to understand, or discern where God had a hand in the things that have occurred in our lives, It is even possible that we could see a facet of how things happened the way that they did. This enlightenment is not just for our own understanding. This enlightenment is there so that we have the opportunity to not only be enriched in our own faith,, but to fulfill our mission to share that faith with others just as Epaphas did in Collosea.

God can take the one small seed, one small act of faith, and use that one act to help bring about the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth. This is what Paul was praying for and encouraging the Colossians towards… and what I encourage you towards today, the same way that Saint Francis did hundreds of years ago… Preach the gospel at all times.. and when necessary, use words..

May God give you the gift of His peace !

Why Is There Suffering ?

June 3, 2017

” Praised be to God , the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation ! He comforts us in all our afflictions and thus enables us to comfort those who are in trouble, with the same consolation that we have received from Him. As we have shared much in the suffering of Christ, so through Christ do we share abundantly in His consolation. If we are afflicted it is for your encouragement and salvation , and when we are consoled it is for your consolation., so that you may endure patiently the same sufferings we endure. Our hope for you is firm because we know that just as you share in the sufferings, so you will share in the consolation” ( 2 Corinthians 1:3-7)

Suffering, is one of the biggest questions we get asked. Mostly it is formed in the question of WHY ?

Why does God, who is almighty and omnipotent , and who is pure love, permit suffering to occur in the world. Why does it happen to those who are innocent, or young, or of some other circumstance ? Through our own questioning, we seek to find reasons for the suffering which seem particularly to make the least amount of sense to us.

Why death ? Why disease ? Why abuse ? Why is there war ? Why does God not just wipe away all of these things or maybe even some of those who cause these things to occur ? He could just point his celestial finger, or conceive of it happening and it would be so.

This is a valid question, and one deserving of an answer. There is only one answer, however, there are two circumstantial responses, pastoral, and theological. By this I mean, we would not necessarily want to provide a theological response to one who is grieving, and not really in a position to reason out the answer to this question.

That being said, lets take a look at the basis of suffering in our lives, its root, and its end result.

First, we know that all suffering, and death are a result of original sin. ” As a result of original sin, human nature is weakened in its powers, subject to ignorance, suffering , and the domination of death, and inclined to sin ( this inclination is called concupiscence .” ( CCC# 418 )

We also know that as a result this fallen nature, with its sin, suffering and death, were transmitted to all human kind.

That sounds all horrible and nasty and full of doom and gloom. It might have been so, but consider for a moment, that if we look back through the entire recorded history in the Bible, we saw where human kind , and in particular the Jews and later Christians, would inevitably sin, doubt, fail and fall.

Just as regularly, however, did God in His infinite wisdom and mercy, have a plan in place that would provide for the redemption and forgiveness of mans failures. It is always in Gods plan that man should grow, and mature and come into union, into relationship with Him.

Knowing this, we can look with confidence and with faith to God in our suffering knowing that He loves us, and wants what is best for us. There is however more to this story !

Is anyone among you sick? He should summon the presbyters of the church, and they should pray over him and anoint [him] with oil in the name of the Lord, and the prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up. If he has committed any sins, he will be forgiven.” ( James 5:14-15) .

What we know is that during the time Christ was with us, He of course healed many people of their sufferings, just as he does today. However, through the church he has also given the gift of healing

both to those within and outside the Magisterium. Of course, in there are 2 of the seven sacraments are specifically for healing. First is Extremeunction, or the Anointing of the Sick. The second sacrament of healing is Reconciliation, of course.

It is interesting to note that the sacrament of Reconciliation is offered in the light that, again, that it is always part of Gods holy will that mankind be united with Him. These are graces given to us by God.

Now, still there remains that nagging ” Why ?” question that is perpetually present.

The answer comes here :

“because of the abundance of the revelations. Therefore, that I might not become too elated, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel of Satan, to beat me, to keep me from being too elated.

Three times* I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me, but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me.”

(2 Corinthians 12:7-9 http://www.usccb.org/bible/2corinthians/12)

In every instance of healing that has occurred in scripture there were reasons those healing s occurred, either for the benefit of those who were present, or for the individual in need of the healing.

We are, through baptism, Priest ( laity) , Prophet, and King ( royal priesthood of Heavenly Kingdom).

Through our priesthood, ( as lay people) we are called to make gifts, offerings, and sacrificial offerings.

These come in various forms. Our work, our lives, our tithing ( time, talent and treasure) and also in our suffering.

In both an informal, and a formal sense, when we suffer in minor ways, illness, tribulations etc. we are given the opportunity to offer our sufferings up to God in union with the passion of Christ for not only our own sins, but for the sins of the entirety of human kind.

Through the sacrament of Extremeunction, we are given the opportunity to formally offer these things and to receive the graces necessary to carry those through. In addition, we are given opportunity to not only advance our own salvation, but the salvation of all mankind and to help in bringing about the Kingdom of God.

Like many other things that happen in our earthly life, there are opportunities we are presented with on a daily basis. What we do with those opportunities is up to us. It is the blessing that comes with a free will, we can either choose to unite our daily lives more closely to God, or do nothing.

This of course in no way means that you should not pray for healing, or relief from the suffering that either you or a loved one is enduring. It just means that if you are the one suffering, that you have the opportunity to make something good and salvic come from your suffering. If it is a loved one who is suffering, then it gives you the opportunity to help by your prayers, and leading them to understand the opportunity they have for grace to be part of their journey..

May God give you the gift of His Peace !

The Coronation – Franciscan Crown – Part VII

May 6, 2017

Coronation of Mary, Queen of the Universe.

“And when the chief Shepherd is revealed, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.”

(1 Peter 5:4)

In this mystery, we contemplate on Mary, who was assumed into Heaven and is crowned Queen of the Universe, with her never fading crown of the 12 stars spoken of in the book of Revelations.

The mystery calls to mind the extension of the Assumption and completion of , or the fulfillment of the vocation Mary was called to. As Mary was given to us on the cross as our own mother, we have the greatest advocate and intercessor who pleads for us with Jesus.

This mystery is all about the subject of perseverance. Perseverance, is that long, steady and abiding faith.. It is not that we do not fail, it is not that we do not fall, or falter from time to time. perseverance is about the efforts, it is about the work involved towards something. It is about truth, without and within. It is about truth from without, because God is the source. The Eucharist, often called the “Source and Summit ” is Jesus. God incarnate. It is faith at its deepest quaking in our hearts and souls.

It is our abiding with God. It says everything about how we are as a disciple. It has everything to do with how we live out our day to day lives in our work, in our rest, in our service, both to God and to our brothers and sisters.

It is from within, when we spend time in prayer. Not just the prayer of self…. Not the *I* prayer. You know the one I am speaking of. *I* need…. *I* want… What *I* am coming to you for …. These prayers that are centered in the desires of the world. This does not mean that we should not ask God for what we need. Or that it makes us bad Christians. It is changing the orientation of our prayer life.

from the child like process of give me “this” because I want it, into a more mature version of asking for Gods will. ” Lord. I have been presented with this situation, and we are seeking your will in what it is that we are to do “.

As in the “Prologue” of our Holy Rule states :

” All who love the Lord with their whole heart, with their whole soul and mind , with all their strength, and love their neighbors as themselves, and hate their bodies with their vices and sins, and receive the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, and produce worthy fruits of penance. Oh, how holy and blessed are these men and women when they do these things and PERSEVERE (emphasis added) in doing them. ”

I once saw a poster of an injured lion. The lion had pulled itself up off the ground and stood strong and fearless. The caption at the bottom of the poster was this :

” It is not how we fall that matters…. It is how we RISE ! ”

As Christians, and as Franciscans this is primary in our necessity to examine how it is that we fallen, but more importantly, how it is that we rise in strength of perseverance and with the heart of the lion, strong in our faith, and strong in the knowledge and surety, in the perseverance of the love of our Lord !

This mystery is the Coronation of Mary, Queen of the Universe.

We meditate on Perseverance.

We ask pardon Lord, for those times when we have not lived the Holy Rule, as we should.

For when we have failed and faltered,

For when our failures have injured our brothers and sisters …

For those times when we have missed opportunities for worthy penance

For those times when we have stayed in our sin and vices.

We pray Lord for perseverance and strength and wisdom.

For the perseverance of mind, heart and soul, that we might not falter

For the strength of faith and character to live out our faith to the glory of God.

For the Wisdom, to see where we have failed to persevere, and to assist our brothers and sisters who may also need strength, assisting without judgment and with love in the examination of our own sin.

Finally, in perseverance of living our Holy Rule of Life to the fullest human extend with extraordinary heavenly graces, gifted to others through us.

Our Father who art in Heaven…..

May God give you the gift of His peace..

Finding of the Child Jesus

April 22, 2017

” Each year his parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover,
and when he was twelve years old, they went up according to festival custom.

After they had completed its days, as they were returning, the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Thinking that he was in the caravan, they journeyed for a day and looked for him among their relatives and acquaintances,
but not finding him, they returned to Jerusalem to look for him.

After three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions, and all who heard him were astounded at his understanding and his answers.

When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, “Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.”
And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2: 41-49)

If you are a parent of a child, this story falls near to your heart. The anxiety begins with that feeling where you do not see the child, and then it begins to grow as you search, Those minutes feel like hours and that level if anxiety only grows until you are finally reunited with the child and feel secure in the knowledge that they are safe, and at that moment, nothing else really matters at all.

If you are not a parent, then you if you have been entrusted with something precious that you need to return to your parents, or to someone else in authority, and you have no idea where that thing is. That might give you a very small idea of how a parent feels in those moments of separation.

Even the typically very rational and thoughtful of parents calm goes out the window when they are looking for a child. There are just no words for this level of anxiety.

In those days it was typical for a child to travel up and down a caravan, these were friends and community, and a place of safety. Imagine, after the child was not found after a full day of searching, and no one knew anything about where the child was. Imagine after that, to go searching for 4 full days with no answers. The level of that anxiety was immeasurable.

Imagine, their relief and , as a typical parental response, wanting to know what He was doing, and why He did that to them ? His response was pretty simple. Didn’t you already know that I had to be here ? After that episode He was a good and obedient son while He grew in age.

So, what is it that we get from this Mystery ?

We are like Mary and Joseph in this story. It is given to us as Christians a responsibility for the soul we have. We are given the gift of life, and during our period of time on earth we are responsible for the care and feeding of that soul. We are responsible to seek God in our daily lives,

When we face challenges and difficulties in life, each challenge is the call of the soul, it is the call of God . He is calling out to find the lost soul of our heart. In our earthly life we feel anxieties, and pains, fear, and longing. It is however, sometimes difficult for us to discern what it is that the soul is looking for. Because our soul belongs to God, The soul will seek God even if we do not see, or understand what that call is or what to do about it. God will provide these things. Just as a parent provides for a child. The child may only understand the basic need, and not the will or intent of the parent..

The child will only be content, when it is back in Heaven, in its Fathers house. So it is with Jesus.

The fifth Mystery – The finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple.

Father, we ask pardon for those times when we have not lived our Franciscan Rule of Life,
For when we have not sought, and found Jesus in our brothers and sisters,
For when we have failed care for the child Jesus in the body and soul of our brothers and sisters,
For when we have not trusted in Your Divine providence and suffered anxiety from our lack of faith.

We pray for those who are lost.
For those who do not know Jesus, or have turned away.
For those who suffer, either in their souls or in their bodies.
For all parents, who are given the primary responsibility of sharing Jesus, with their children, and with each other.
For our Franciscan Brothers and Sisters, for the strength and wisdom to live the Rule every day until they are united again with God in Heaven.

Our Father who art in Heaven….

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 !

Those Who Are Well Do Not Need The Physician..

January 14, 2017

Those who are well do not need the physician…

Jesus went out along the sea.
All the crowd came to him and he taught them.
As he passed by, he saw Levi, son of Alphaeus,
sitting at the customs post.
Jesus said to him, “Follow me.”
And he got up and followed Jesus.
While he was at table in his house,
many tax collectors and sinners sat with Jesus and his disciples;
for there were many who followed him.
Some scribes who were Pharisees saw that Jesus was eating with sinners
and tax collectors and said to his disciples,
“Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
Jesus heard this and said to them,
“Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do.
I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.” ( Mark 2 : 13-17)

This morning we had this reading at Mass. I was preparing to go and be with our Franciscan community, but felt I wanted to linger a while in the church. Although I was tired from the weeks labors, and honestly would have much preferred to sleep in, such is our vocation to be present for and present to our brothers and sisters.

On the way out the door, I had some challenges getting past a couple of folks who also wanted to linger and talk with their fellow parishioners. Since I was having some difficulty navigating access to the side door I normally use, I decided to stop and head back towards the center of the building in front of the altar. After a short pause to say a prayer, I turned and gazed upward towards our choir loft, which is pictured above.

Interestingly, the beautiful stained glass mosaic of our Lord, is a picture, that is visible to only those who serve at the altar, ( meaning the priest, deacon, readers, Eucharistic ministers (EMHC) and altar servers). At least this is true DURING the Mass. Even the choir sings facing forward towards the altar and do not see this sight. Indeed, it is only at the very end of the Mass when the people are preparing to leave the church do they have the opportunity to gaze of this art.

I pondered how loving and inviting this image of Christ is, His arms outstretched inviting in everyone. During the Mass the priest can not help but to gaze upon the face of Christ in this image. I sometimes wonder what they think on any given day.

We, like Levi, are at church, stopping by the church to visit. We are there at the invitation of Christ to dine at table with “sinners and tax collectors” and every other manner of sinner. Jesus calls to us…
He calls us to come and follow Him. So, even though we are sinners, we go as we are called. We are called to His house, to His table, to His sacrifice. All sinners, the ministers, and the congregation.

Jesus told the Pharisees, that those who are well do not need a physician… the problem is, that no one is truly well. From the priests on down all are sinners. There are just varying degrees of wellness.

It is also interesting to note, that at the end of the Mass, that everyone leaves through the rear doors and so they have the opportunity to see this image of Christ . Here Christ again is inviting us to take Him that we have received and take Him out into the world. We must become what we have received and share Christ, see and recognize Christ, and be Christ to the world, no matter how large or small our world is.

May God give you the gift of His peace !

By Way of Confession…

June 11, 2016

By way of confession…

I have been going through a bit of a dry spell the last

couple of weeks.  I was looking for inspiration as to what it

was that God wanted me to share with you and I had mulled

over a few things but nothing came to mind immediately.
So, in a very Franciscan traditional way I prayed about it

and then, I went to scripture and opened the Bible 3 times

and found scriptures on in different places in the Bible.

So, without further adieu, here is what God laid before me.

First, 2 chronicles 28:5 In this scripture the King Ahaz has

sinned and offended God and because of that, their land, and

possessions and husbands, wives and children are all taken

away and imprisoned.

Second was proverbs 20:17  Which says that man finds bread

sweet  when it is got by fraud, but  later his mouth is full

of grit…

Finally- Mark 16:19-20 – where Christ ascends into

Heaven to take His place at the right hand of The Father.
SO, the question is what does God want to tell us today in these passages ?

It is simply this..We are given the responsibility to be the good stewards of the many varied graces and gifts that we are given.  Because of free will, we have the freedom to choose what it is that we do with the gifts we are given.

We desire greatly, to take on the work of our own travel down this road working on our own sanctification.  We make plans, and because of our fallen nature we fail.  Everyone falls, and it is something we all understand.  The important part of this is what happens when we fail.

On our own person journey to sanctification, we understand that we will do our best to falling into sin and error.  It is grace that causes us to desire to go down this road.

One of the things about our knowledge of faith is that the more we know… the easier it may seem that we fall into error.   You might pray.. Lord, help me with my patience.  I really desire to work on my patience so that I will be peaceful and more like you.

The Lord, wishing to fulfill our desires which is inevitably good for us, will no doubt provide you with the opportunity to work on your patience.    On the short side of that ride, it indeed might not be fun, and indeed, you may fail.  In fact you may fail a number of times.

You need to have to resolve to pick yourself up and continue on your journey to work on your patience, or what ever your working on, because ultimately we understand that even though in our human-ness we might fail, we have victory.

As for the bread that might be sweet, but eventually turns to grit ?  This is an admonition for us to have faith, and walk the path that the Lord has set before us.  Nothing of value is to be gained, by trying to set aside the work that God has put in front of us.  It might seem like it would be enjoyable to set that cross aside, but inevitably it will not end well for you because you would not gain from the lessons that those trials were meant to teach you.

In the end, Christ is victorious and ascends, and we who may suffer through our earthly trials and trudge through the pains and pressures of carrying the daily cross that He asks of us, we will go ahead and do that, and try to find the joy here, all the while attempting to help our brothers and sisters along their journey…. why ?

Because we already know that in Christ, we have already won the battle and in the end we will be victorious and ascend in Him.

May God give you the gift of His peace !

Sharing in the Passion, and Life of Christ is Our Mission !

September 19, 2015

“Jesus and his disciples set out
for the villages of Caesarea Philippi.
Along the way he asked his disciples,
“Who do people say that I am?”
They said in reply,
“John the Baptist, others Elijah,
still others one of the prophets.”
And he asked them,
“But who do you say that I am?”
Peter said to him in reply,
“You are the Christ.”
Then he warned them not to tell anyone about him.

He began to teach them
that the Son of Man must suffer greatly
and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes,
and be killed, and rise after three days.
He spoke this openly.
Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.
At this he turned around and, looking at his disciples,
rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan.
You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”

He summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them,
“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,
take up his cross, and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake
and that of the gospel will save it.” ( Mark 8:27)
Peace be with you !
Today I want to talk with you about the immense beauty of our daily mission, our failures and our ultimate triumph.

This was last weeks Gospel reading and I know this will resonate with each of you.
In this reading Christ reveals solidifies the apostles knowledge that He is the Son of God.
In the process of His efforts to teach them he reveals that he will endure His passion. Suffering, death and resurrection are
what await Him moving forward. Peter does not want this for Jesus. He loved Jesus dearly and like anyone we love, we want them
around forever, or at least as long as possible.

Jesus moves forward and then taking this explanation further, tells the disciples, whoever wants to follow Him, must deny
themselves, pick up their cross and follow in his footsteps.

Consider this for a moment. He (Jesus) is going to suffer and die, and now He wants them to do it too. This probably did not
sound so appealing to many of them. He then pushes the point further and says that if you try to save your life, you will loose
it ( i.e. your going to die anyway) and whoever looses their life for the sake of Jesus and the Gospel will save their lives ( but
you still have to die anyway).
In the world today we are right in the middle of some of the greatest times of spiritual warfare present in our lifetime.
Notice that I did not say in history. For these battles are old. We as disciples have fought these battles before and we have
been victorious.

Look at what is going on in the world today. All of the Pro-Life issues we face. We have Abortion, Euthenasia, Abuse, HUman
Trafficing, discrimination, and poverty to name a few. Then there is the issue of Same-sex Attraction and civil unions.
There is the persecution world wide of the Christian church as a whole.

Sin abounds at every corner, and of every variety known to history. Its not a different fight, it is exactly the same. This
whole battle and the pressures involved in fighting the battles can be overwhelming at times. And these are the battles from
outside our own souls. Then there are the battles from within, fighting off the temptations of our own fallen natures while
trying to keep focus on the mission we have laying before us.

Our fight in this life, is two fold. The battle we carry on for our efforts to continually dying to self is hard work. Everone
has this cross to bear. The fun part of that battle is that we fail, and we fail alot. To make matters more fun, the more that
we learn, the more aware we are of the sin present in the world, the more we are aware of our own failings !

Some people will tell you not to pray for patience, because God will give you the opportunity to work on your patience.
Do it anyway ! If you are given the oppoortunity to work on your patience, you are probably ( like me) in need of work in that
department.

When going into battle, you don’t go without weapons, or armor. You need to put on the armor of God. Your best weapon is prayer.
Your best tool is education. LEARN YOUR FAITH ! Ask the hard questions and go get the answers. The RIGHT answers not what makes
you comfortable. Work on your faith life. Take the time necessary to know the answers to the hard questions, that others will
have for you. As yourself, WHY do I believe what I believe ? Why do we do ( this or that ) ? What does THAT mean ?
If you cant answer these questions for yourself, then you can answer them for others.

Scripture and Sacred Tradition, are like the two covers of a book, and your life and faith are the pages in between. Fill your
book with the knowledge and love of God.

My Dad used to say.. ” What ever it is that you are…be the best of that thing, that you can be”.

Jesus says at the end of the Gospel, ” “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,
take up his cross, and follow me.” This is the challenge. Denying ourselves. Self denial comes in many forms. The denial of
allowing ourselves to give in to anger, to lust or greed, and instead to show the face of Christ to do our very best to live the
law of love. We deny some pleasure, at the gift of service in some work of mercy. visting the sick, or imprisoned.
We deny ourselves in our offerings to others, for the sake of Christ.

We deny our own fallen natures, and instead offer our lives, our time talent and treasure, for the Kingdom of Heaven..

We pick up the cross we have been given. If its caring for someone, if its in the way we do our days labor, if its in a
relationship ( a healthy one), if our cross is something our human intellect would rather us not do, but we know in our heart and
soul that picking up that particular cross is what would be pleasing to God, and we do it for the sake of Christ, then that is the
cross we must pick up.

In our world today, we have Christians persecuted and killed for their faith. Their cross is our cross. The battle we must fight
while we are here, is carried out under the banner of Our Lord, with a heart of Love. This because Love is the greatest
commandment.

In the end Jesus tells us : “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake
and that of the gospel will save it.”

This is where the rubber meets the road. In the end, we give up our very lives. Everyone will die at some point. This is a part
of Natural Law. The question becomes will you have lived your life giving it up in the service of God, living for Him ? Will you
take up the crosses that are laid bare before you and take that challenge on, for the sake of Our Lord ? If you say ” yes!”,
then you have gained your life and the best part is that you can be a testament for others.

St. Francis said ” Preach at all times, and when necessary use words.” Our actions are the best testament we can give, in our
love of God.

I pray that we all will have the strength of our convictions, through the graces of the Sacraments, to go forward, picking up our
cross and following Our Lord.

Because the Truth, is not a thing, it is a person, and His name is Jesus Christ !

May God give you the gift of His peace !

What is Lawful….. What is right.

February 5, 2010

Good Morning brothers and sisters !  Peace be with you !

This mornings Gospel is read from St Mark 6:14 -29.    In the reading we hear the story of the beheading of John the Baptist.   Lots of stuff going on in these few lines.   First there is King Herrod who is both not very pleased with John and at the same time intrigued with his messages.   Then there is John who is doing his thing by preaching the Good News.   There is a celebration where the daughter dances.   The daughter who acts just like kid, and the wife who can be painted as angry and bitter or as the wife trying to please her husband.

Herrod, who is sitting there having married the wife of his brother Phillip.  Is being told by John the Baptist that he is wrong, and it is against the law for you to have married your brothers wife.    Now, you have to remember that Herrod is King.  So if Herrod is king.. and the king makes up the law, how is it that its not lawful for Herrod to have what ever he wants ?    It is not the law of the land that John speaks to Herrod about, it is the spiritual law that Moses refers to.

By Jewish law, it is not permitted for a man to marry his brothers wife, while the brother still lives.     Now in modern day this whole thing might never have been an issue since Phillip probably wouldnt have married Herodius, since Herodius was the daughter of his half brother ( making her his neice).      So the daughter spoken of in the Gospel was actually Saolme, the teenaged daughter of  Phillip and Herodius and not the daughter of  King Herrod and Herodius.

Alright, so then now we know that Herrod is mad at John for having the nerve to tell him he cant have Herodius who he already has.   But Herrod does not have him killed because he really wants to hear him.  Someplace in his heart of hearts he knows that what John is saying to him is right and he wants to hear more.

Next comes Salome. There is a great feast, a celebration,  good food, probably some wine.  It was Herrod’s Brithday and he loved to watch Salome dance, and so she did.  She pleased Herrod so much that in the throws of delight he goes overboard in making promises to her about what she could have if she names it.    Like any child (?) the mind probably was racing at the possibilities.   Imagine being offered anything you wanted …. anything.   She went back to consult with her mother, who prompted Salome to ask for the head of John.

You have to wonder at a few things here.   Herodius  was not in love with John since he was the one busy telling Herrod he couldnt have her.   If Herrod disowned Herodious, where would she go ?  She obviously would not be able to go back to Phillp nor did she want to.

Herodius, had tried again and again to get Herrod to do something about John but Herrod refused and just left him in prison.  Herodius seized the opportunity at Herrods promises to get her way.     You really need to ask at this point why things went the way they did.

There was Herrod, who after making the grand speeches of promises to his step daughter in front of everyone, who is now faced with the consequences of his words.

There is Salome, who asked her mother what she thought, got this prompting from her mother under the guise of making Herrod happy.

And then there is Herodius who seems content to do anything necessary to get what she wants.

Lastly, there is John who is there to do the Fathers will, to preach the word of God, to be the one who stands up for what is good regardless of the cost to him.

At some point in our lives we have to stop and take stock of where we are in our lives.  Putting yourself in the role of one of these characters.   It is easy to relate these character traits to some people we know.  Possibly even for ourselves.    In our day to day lives, at home, or at work, is it possible that there is a situation that you may find yourself in.  There is a problem, the situation you find yourself in is not right.  The decisions about how you deal with that problem is also found here.

You can be Herrod, and choose not to deal with it until you are forced to.   When are eventually forced to what path will you take.  The path that you know is right but will cause you to pay some personal cost, or the path that is easy and to give in to what ever you are getting pressured to do.

You can be Salome, who chooses to dance around the issue, to try to delight everyone, and make everyone happy.

Possibly you could be Herodius, who chooses what will get you the most worldly gain from the situation at hand.

The choices we are faced with, the paths we walk, the crosses we bear, and ultimately what we choose and why, are the things that define who we are as people, as Christians.

May the Lord bless us with wisdom and light !