Posts Tagged ‘Mark’

On Carrying Your Cross…

May 26, 2018

“Look on the needs of the saints as your own; be generous in offering hospitality . Bless your persecutors; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice. Weep with those who weep.

Have the same attitude toward all. Put away ambitious thoughts and associate with those who are lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never repay injury with injury. See that your conduct is honorable in the eyes of all. If possible, live peaceably with everyone. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves; leave that to God’s wrath, for it is written” Vengeance is mine; I will repay says the Lord”. But “ if your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him something to drink; by doing this you will heap burning coals upon his head” Do no be conquered by evil but conquer evil with good.” ( Romans 12:13 – 21 )

There is, in our spiritual lives, an ever present struggle. This struggle takes the form of knowledge and application. We have both the ideal, and the reality. The ideal is that we become saints, the reality is the struggles we face to get to that point. You may think that being a saint is to grand a thought, too lofty a goal, to much to even hope for. Let me assure you that it is not.

For a moment lets change that paradigm, and lets say that the ideal is living your life exactly as Jesus told the disciples to do. We are going to love everyone.. OK.. so I failed there.. maybe I will do better with the next one.. Nope.. That boss at work, who is a jerk. I have to love HIM ? Even when he is directing his attitude in my direction ? Still ? Really ? OK. Well I can’t stand him. So the answer to the question is, I will just avoid him and that way I can just not have to deal with it.. and I can “love” him from far away.. FAR FAR away..

How would it have worked out for us, if while Jesus was going through his agony in the garden, he knelt down and said “ Father, I am just not feeling the whole crucifixion thing. I think I will save these folks from one of those nice seaside resorts with palm trees and handmaids to wait on me.. that sound good to you ? “.

Going through the trials and tribulations that we have are “good” for us. In same way that disciplining a child is “good” for them. They wont like it to be sure. It will not be pleasant. In the end, however, they will come to understand why it was good, and they will tell others about the experience more than likely.

In the same way, we have crosses we carry. Most of them are not pleasant, and some feel horrible and we really seek to find some reasonable explanation for them. We , we cry, we might feel defeated. In the end however, we come out the other side, and no, we might not have the answer to why but, we will have learned something, and hopefully gotten some insight into our spiritual lives.

Just like our Lord, your cross is visible. Possibly not to all, but to some. Your cross and your response to the cross you carry may also be the testament for another person, a lesson on how to carry their own cross. Everyone has one, at every stage of life.

Finally, the cross that every person of faith carries, is the struggle to bring our spiritual world into our earthly existence. To be sure the more you are aware of what you are called to, the greater that cross is, however, at the same time, as large as that cross might seem, not only are you given the spiritual muscle to carry it. Just as Simon helped Jesus carry his cross, God places people in our lives to do just that. It could be priest, or a brother or sister who cares, or it just might be someone you witnessed carrying their cross. Consider this as you carry your own.

May God give you the gift of His peace !

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Control and Treasure…

May 10, 2018

“There is a certain spiritual wisdom which we express among the spiritually mature. It is not a wisdom of this age, however, not of the rulers of this age, who are men headed for destruction. No, what we utter is God’s wisdom: a mysterious, a hidden wisdom. God planned it before all ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age know the mystery; if they had know it, they would never have crucified the Lord of Glory. Of this wisdom it is written :

“ Eye has not seen, ear has not heard,
nor has it so much as dawned on man
what God has prepared for those who love him “

Yet God has revealed this wisdom to us through the Spirit. “ ( 1 Corinthians 2:6 )

No matter how much things change, they are exactly the same. The folly of mankind lived out suffering growing from some misguided notion, that the world has better things to offer us, if we can control more of it. If we own more of it… If we exercise dominion over more of it !

It is something that we tell our children.. make sure you get a good education.. no one can take that from you.. Make sure you have enough education because it will open doors for you, it will give you a job so you wont have to work, or work so hard. Climb the ladder, become the boss, or own your own place so YOU can be the boss, and then no one can control what you do ! You need to get ahead.
You need more, so that you have a comfortable life. So that you have more control over your life.

In some fields of work, the ego, the control, and the ability to lord that over others is more prevalent. It is there from the smallest businesses… to the largest of corporations, to governments, all wanting to exercise control to see who will “win”.

Lets look for a moment at WHY it is that this thought process is not a bad thing in theory, however the practice is where we lost something important.

It starts with what we receive. You did not get your job, or your education, or your opportunity on your own. There were people who sacrificed, people who taught, people who cared, and people who provided for you to get where you are. While it may be true that you may have worked hard to get where you are, and you too may have sacrificed, and labored to get where you are, it was there, because someone else built it, bought it, made it, or taught it into being so that you might avail yourself of it.

At the very core of those opportunities is God. God in his infinite wisdom granted to you life. Things were set before you so that you have the opportunity to grow. You accept or deny either part of that reality, and you have not fulfilled your purpose.

Consider for a moment that when you accept those gifts that are placed before you, that there is a responsibility that comes with those gifts. There was a book/movie that quipped “ With great power comes great responsibility…” I tell you that you have no power, save for the free will you were given to make one decision, whether to accept the gift of faith, or not. Even THAT power was given to you so that you have an opportunity.

With the gift that was given to you, comes at a cost. The cost of being a disciple means that you have a responsibility to your brothers and sisters. To care for them.. To love them… To feed and clothe them…
to help them in this world, along their own path. To share, and to teach… and to do as much of that as you can in the short time we are given on this earth.

Oscar Wilde I believe was the one who said a man is judged by the quality of his enemies. I tell you this is not true. I can tell you, that man is judged by his capacity for LOVE and his journey of faith.

At the end of our earthly life. God has assured us that we will not be able to comprehend the level of riches that await us in heaven.. I can testify, that the greatest treasure I have is the love that Jesus has for me and you.

May God give you the gift of His peace !

You Who Were Once Far Off…Or Me ?

May 3, 2018

“ Now in Christ Jesus, you who were once far off have been brought near through the blood of Christ.
It is he who is our peace, and who made the two of us one by breaking down the barrier of hostility that kept us apart. In his own flesh he abolished the law with its commands and precepts, to create in himself one new man from us who had been two and make peace, reconciling both of us to God in one body through his cross, which put that enmity to death “ ( Ephesians2:13-16 )

In this passage Paul is talking to the Ephesians, about how it is that in the process of His ministry, and in his preaching, and in his life, Jesus put an end to the divisions between not only the factions within the Jewish faiths, but also an end to the division between Jew and Gentile ( pretty much anyone who was not of the Jewish faith).

Remember that Paul spent a vast majority of his public ministry, working to being the faith to Gentiles and spreading the word of God among those who knew had not grown up with the idea of God as the Jews understood Him.

Paul is trying to explain that Jesus showed us how it is to build community, regardless of where it is that we started from, or where you are now !

We need to be mindful that we have a number of spiritual leaders in our lives. It is easy to put them on a pedestal and look up to them, believing that they are good and holy people. We would like very much to believe that we are good and holy people. If we take the time and really analyze where we are in our spiritual walk, and do some critical review of it, that we can clearly see where it is that we have work to do. Our God, being good and loving, and wanting what is best for us, will show us where our flaws are, whether we want to know them or not.

Recently I was at a meeting, and admittedly sleep deprived and nerves already a bit frayed when someone touched on a personal hot button. Now, mind you, there is nothing quite like thinking you are in a good place, and it’s all good when your talking about generalities and abstracts, but now when things hit home.. NOW we are getting to the meat of things. Needless to say, I was rather strong in my response. I was not wrong in what I said, but definitely wrong in HOW I said it. Shortly after I ceased speaking, I realized that possibly, I might have hurt the feelings of one or two others, and so
after the meeting was done, I sought them out and apologized and attempted to explain my reaction, and entered into a discussion with them about how they felt and why.

I tell you this because we need to understand that the people who are the leaders, are leaders, yes, but they are human. They are flawed and broken, they have feelings and patience ( and a limit to them no matter how loving they are). This is exactly the same bridge we need to be crossing when we deal with people of differing faiths, people who are not where we are, people who might seem different, but in truth are the same.

In this letter, Paul is reminding us that you may believe that you are in a good place and others are “far off” but through the blood of Christ, I promise, you have been brought nearer, to where they are, than they to where you are. My mother used to say.. “ Life is a matter of perspectives”. This phrase used to be trotted out usually about the point where I was angry about this or that thing, or at this or that person. As much as I hated it at the time, it did cause me to think about it.

So today, brothers and sisters, let us work on not being the one who is “far off” , but accepting that no matter how much we may feel like we are in a good place, that WE ALL are still far off, and work on building the community of global faith, that Jesus tried so hard to get us all to see.. To build a global community of love and acceptance. To build a place where even a flawed brother like me, will find a place of forgiveness. And lets begin to build that global place by building the first place in our hearts.

May God give you the gift of His peace !

Pray Without Ceasing ?

April 12, 2018

“ Pray without ceasing” ( 1 Thessalonians 5: 17).

I have a friend who asked me about this recently. I have a good understanding of what is meant here. It does however take a bit of forethought, not only in what is going on. What is the story, behind the story. ( Thank you Father John, for drilling that into my head with a deeply Italian accent ) .. To really look at its origin, its meaning, and its application will take a bit of background.

So lets get to it..

Paul is busy writing epistles to the early church community in Thessalonika, and is providing a basic laundry list of things for the community to follow. These are to enforce some basic Christian virtue into the daily lives of the community members there. Like any other community it has had it’s share of growing pains. Paul is there to help out.

This is a list of reminders. Respect each other… respect your elders, admonish those who have not been pulling their weight, be kind, be helpful, be patient. Seek out the good not just for the people within the community, but for everyone. PRAY..PRAY.. PRAY.. and give thanks always. Your basic hallmarks of Christian living.

He (Paul) is still waiting for the second coming which he still believes will be soon. So he does not want to have this fledgling community in a state of sin when the Lord returns. So this is what is going on.

Each morning, the church offers its morning prayers. For those in the various orders and institutes of the Church, we pray the Morning prayer upon rising each day. The prayers include the offering of the entire day. We offer our challenges, pains and sufferings and join them in union with Christ, both in the way that is reparation for our own sin, and for the sins of our fellow man, we offer the day, in thanksgiving and in joy. In Thanksgiving, because of the fact that even in our challenges and in our sufferings of the day, it is through those challenges and sufferings that God ultimately uses those things not only to our own benefit, but to bring about the Kingdom of God.

I prefer to look at this passage in this light. In the process of the morning offering, we call to mind our priestly office ( remember this means we are called on to offer prayers , praise and sacrifices, and thanksgiving to God). We recall in the morning and we pray to offer our day.

Like many other things we need practice, or reminders periodically to be better at this thing or that. Prayer is no different. As we go through the day, we receive prompting from the Spirit where we might have failed, or where we might have forgotten to pray about this or that, and in the practice of prayer, you will find that your prayer becomes more and more frequent,

Now, will you spend 24 hours a day on bended knee, and in front of the crucifix or the Blessed Sacrament ? No… Our lives generally do not allow for that. Do we have to be there to fulfill Paul’s charge to pray ? No. In fact by fulfilling the morning prayer, you have fulfilled the call, but it is so much more, and there is so much more to be done.

Life has a way of creeping in, and trying to dislodge you from your prayers. Praying is a habit, in the same way that going to have coffee every morning with your spouse, or with a friend is a habit. It is easier, the more you do it. Do not be discouraged, but take heart and press forward with your prayer life, you have to make the time to do it initially, but after you do this you will find it is an integral part of your day, and you will not want to be without it.

Until next time, may God give you the gift of His peace !

On Being a Builder..

March 30, 2018

“Every one of us will have to give an account of himself before God. Therefore we must no longer pass judgment on one another. Instead you should resolve to put no stumbling block or hindrance in your brothers way. The kingdom of God is not a matter of eating or drinking, but of justice, peace, and the joy that is given by the Holy Spirit. Whoever serves Christ in this way pleases God and wins the esteem of men. Let us the, make it our aim to work for peace and to strengthen one another.”
(Romans 14:12-19)

There is so much food for thought here.. So much to be taken in not only in our own view of the world around us, but to look within, at the state of our own souls…

Each one of us will have to give an account to God, for what it is that we have done in the course of our lives. Let’s be honest… Looking back over the course of our lives, there are for each and every one of us moments where we have stumbled, fell, or just plain hurled ourselves into some parts of our lives we would just as soon forget. Then, there is that one family member, or that one friend, or one person who just would just as soon, not allow that particular moment to fade into oblivion.

It’s all up there.. in the volumes of our lives. Consider for a moment, if the last person we did not show the face of Christ to…. became the judge.. or became the prosecutor when we stand before the Seat of Mercy ? The last person we were unkind to… the last person we judged…. the last one to whom we forgot who and what we are, and unleashed our temperament upon..

To be clear, it is not that God is unloving, or unforgiving, think of it this way When you were a child, and you did something wrong. You at some point ended up standing in front of your parent, or teacher or whoever it was, and admitted to what ever it happened to have been. You felt terrible, horrible, wretched. Then after a time that person came to you,and told you that you were forgiven for what ever it was that you did. It was terrible, and ultimately that person came to forgive you,

And consider this… Jesus came and provided us a blueprint…. a model to follow. Jesus planned for us.. God planned for us from the very beginning a way for us to be with Him. There was the Agony in the Garden… Our lives are a reflection of the both the entrance to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, the joys and the triumphs of our lives, and then the Agony where we have not fared so well, not only in our misfortunes, but in our spiritual failings. This Agony.. is part of our earthly life. How many times have we prayed to allow one “cup” or another to pass us by ?

We also have death and judgment, In death there is a worldly judgment. In this passage it says that, if you conduct yourself in this way… then you will please God, “ and the esteem of men”. People will think and say many things about you when you depart the earth. I would like to think that those who are left, will be kind and say good things. There might be some who do not. It should give you comfort to know that it was no different for Christ. After he was gone, not everyone said good things about Him.

Our God is a loving God. For those who have faith, and whose hearts belong to Him, He has already assured forgiveness for our failures. His request of us, is to work for Peace, Justice, and Joy. Notice how PEACE comes first ? We need to cease being a world where entitlement and self-victimization are the center stage of our lives. We need to move towards being peacemakers, Building bridges both in our lives and in our hearts. We must move towards being builders. Building lives, and building hearts, and saving souls, one seed at a time !

May God give you the gift of His peace !

To Walk Humbly…

March 9, 2018

“ In your relations with one another, clothe yourselves with humility, because God “ is stern with the arrogant but to the humble he shows kindness”. Bow humbly under God’s mighty hand, so that in due time he may lift you high. Cast all your cares on Him because He cares for you. Stay sober and alert. You opponent is prowling like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, solid in your faith, realizing that the brotherhood of believers is undergoing the same sufferings throughout the world. The God of all grace,who called you to His everlasting glory in Christ will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen and establish those who have suffered a little while. Dominion be His through the ages ! Amen.” ( 1 Peter 5: 5b-11)

Horses are beautiful creatures.. They are large and very strong, and at the same time very sympathetic to human emotion/condition. Anyone who has raised animals can attest to this type of response.
If you have never ridden a horse, it is an experience. I personally have ridden a grand total of 3 horses in my lifetime to date ( it’s not in my future plans to do so). To be honest, although it may be ridiculous, being a person of not small stature, I always believed it to be an undue burden on the animal, for the sole purpose of my own pleasure. If it were a necessity, for transportation or work to be done, then by all means, it would be so.

Anyway, if you have ever been on top of a horse, one of the first things you will note is how high up it is that you feel on that mount. A very abnormal feeling , although I am sure it is one you might eventually become accustomed to.

This feeling of being high up, and looking down on all one surveys, feeling the power under your control, is exactly where the idea of “getting on your high horse” came from. In medieval times, a person who was of some nobility or rank, would have owned a horse that was very large and powerful.
His horse would be larger than that of a “commoner”, or a person of lesser rank or state.

This idea, is exactly what it is that Peter is attempting to convey in his message to the people in Asia Minor who needed some organization and to lay the ground work for the larger church. This particular passage was directed primarily to those who were part of the body of the church, not elders per Se. The idea here was to instill humility, and subjugation not only to the church leaders, but for them to be subject to each other. To care, to love and to be present to one another. To address each others needs, and to share each others burdens and to be on guard not to be proud in ones own estimation.

This echos the passage of Micah 6:8 “
* You have been told, O mortal, what is good,

and what the LORD requires of you:

Only to do justice and to love goodness,

and to walk humbly with your God “

In today’s world, we need people of faith, to provide for others not only a witness to God in their lives, but an example of HOLY humility.

May God give you the gift of His peace !

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 !

For All Have Sinned…

February 23, 2018

“ The Justice of God has been manifested apart from the law, even though both law and prophets bear witness to it – that justice of God which works through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. All men have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God. All men are now undeservedly justified by the gift of God through the redemption wrought in Christ Jesus. Through his blood, God made him the means of expiation for all who believe . He did so to manifest His own justice, for the sake of remitting sins committed in the past to manifest justice in the present, by way of forbearance, so that He might be just and might justify those who believe in Jesus.” Romans 3:21 -26

Like many other points of scripture we have a vast number of instances, this one being one of the more “popular” in usage, where people are quick to note that all people sin, and fall short.. and that is true we do sin and we do fall short. We are definitely sinners.

Too often is this passage or that passage used as a means of taking people down or worse yet, is the source of which people keep feeding their own guilt. People get stuck on the first part of the passage, the part that causes people to look at themselves, and their fellow man as inherently bad, or evil beings. Things that will never change, things that would cause you to enter into this cyclical routing of ones own soul even to the point of despair and grief.

The second part of this passage reminds us that although we are all sinners, and are all part of the human family that has a fallen nature, that Jesus has already redeemed us. The sin you commit today, provided they are not mortal sins, would not separate you from God, and can not separate you from the fact that your sins have already been redeemed by virtue of faith in Jesus Christ.

Now, this passage brings up another interesting point. In the Franciscan view we understand that Jesus was not just merely in Gods plan for the sole purpose of being the redeemer. If that were the case, then God would have seen mankind as bad or evil creatures. We know this is not true. How do we know ? Consider this. IN Genesis Chapter 1:31 – At his point was the conclusion of creation ( including man) and He declares that He looked around at everything he had created and found it to be GOOD.

This being the case we know that mankind was Good from the beginning of creation. We also know that scripture tells us that “ In the beginning was The Word ( Jesus) and The Word, was made flesh ( the Incarnation) and dwelt among us. Now the question is why? Why did Jesus dwell among us ?
God loved us from the very beginning. We were PART OF THE PLAN ! We also know that if even one sparrow falls, God knows. Each person is part of the plan. Each person has a role to play, a very specific vocation to fulfill. Each person is special and loved within the eyes of God…. within the Body of Christ.

God came to Earth NOT because of sin, BUT BECAUSE OF LOVE… For God so LOVED the world, he sent his only begotten son. What did Jesus try to teach us the whole time he was on earth.. He tried to teach us how to LOVE. To love God, and to love our neighbor and even how to love ourselves.

It is NOT OK to sin. Sin is ugly and hurtful, and repugnant. But it is for us to grow, to learn, and to love. To grow in our faith, to both forgive our neighbors, and ourselves, and to grow closer to God, in all that we do.

May God give you the gift of His peace !

Miserere Nobis…

February 16, 2018

“ Agnus Dei… Qui tollis peccata mundi… Miserere nobis.
Agnus Dei… Qui tollis peccata mundi… Miserere nobis,
Agnus Dei… Qui tollis peccata mundi.., Dona nobis pacem ! “

Just in case your Latin is a bit rusty, or you have not been exposed to this part of the Holy Mass, this is
the part of the Mass where we say :

Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world …. Have mercy on us.
Lamb of God.. Who takes away the sins of the world …. Have mercy on us.
Lamb of God . Who takes away the sins of the world…… Grant us peace.

Now, last Saturday morning I was at Holy Mass, along with my community. I was tired, exhausted and was going in to lead a meeting with an insufficient level of caffeine in my system ( one of my vices I confess). So there I was sort of in a fog, and placing myself in a spiritual place before Our Lord.

I read and listened to the readings, and the Gospel ( currently we are reading the Gospel of Mark).
Shortly enough we had reached the Eucharistic part of the Mass, and the pastor began this chant.
As I sat and joined in, I had a moment of clarity, or at least a moment of inspiration; all centering around this part of the Mass.

In particular, the word : miserere, caused me to stop and ponder. Of course, one of those challenges when I get some pointed inspiration during Mass is that we should be centered mentally and spiritually upon what is occurring in the present. That is important because of the fact that this point in time particularly is when Jesus is present in the sacrifice. To be present to Jesus is the highest calling, and the highest honor indeed. The pull however is that at some point *( this has happened to me personally a number of times) when I will be sitting there, I gain some insight, or some perspective that I consider would be great to share with all of you, and I force my head back into the Mass ( where it is supposed to be) and lo and behold, by the time I get out and drive all the way back home,,
BOOM ! Its gone.. I hate when that happens.

This however was not the case with this one.. This point struck me so that I had no problem remembering. SO, here it is..

The thing that struck me about this Latin word “miserere” is that it has a base for both the English words, MERCY and MISERY. Now think about that for a moment. The root of this word is
MISER whose meaning is “wretched”. Consider the idea that If we are wretched, and by that I mean sinful, which of course we all are, then we have need of mercy, which of course we also all need.

We have of mercy in our daily lives, both to give ( be a vessel for) or to receive mercy. Who among us can not see where we have a brother or sister who is suffering ? A brother or a sister who is in need, even if they are seemingly unaware ? In the process of our daily lives we may be equally unaware, that we ourselves are in need of mercy, to be able to see our own fallen nature, while at the same time we need to be able to see Christ in our brothers and sisters and accept their fallen natures, and accept them where they are.

I have faults as well all do, I fall as we all do.. As part of the Body of Christ, It is not that we fall, BUT HOW WE RISE !

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 !