Posts Tagged ‘reflection’

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 !

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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 !

Three Men of the Cross- Part III

August 5, 2017

Three Men of the Cross – Part III

The third robber on Calvary was Gustus. Gustus is seen as the unrepentant robber. He is the one who echoed the taunts of the crowds and the soldiers who said to Jesus, that if he was truly the Son of God that he should come down off the cross, and save Himself and in fact the other two as well. Gustus was as history records, rebuked by Dismas, who asked if he in truth had no regard for his immortal soul.

So Gustus, who was convicted of robbery, and was sentenced to death, seems to not really have much regard for not only his own situation, but in appearance, had no regard for the others as we know, we have no real knowledge of Gustus, no back story, and no insight into what happened with him or in his life prior to this point.

We can however, consider some differing possibilities about what his story might have been. We can tell he was angry, or at least possibly resigned to his lot in this process. Possibly, since the Romans had typically executed their criminals in pairs, he and Dismas had an opportunity to talk things over. Review their lives together, consider, for a time, what life might have been like if they had made other choices. Possibly, they discussed what it is that they would have liked to do if they were not in jail, or reminisce about lost loves, or loved ones.

They might have had the time to talk about how it is that they found themselves in this position. It does however seem a bit more likely that Gustus was just an angry man. He could have been angry about his life, or about his love, or about his work. We just don’t know. Possibly he and Dismas were friends and at that moment Gustus just thought that Jesus was some nut case.

Consider for a moment. that possibly at some time in our lives you or I or someone we know and love, has become Gustus. Possibly you were angry, over some part of your life you may have felt you had no control over. Possibly you lost something, that was of great value to you. Maybe you lost someone. You were angry, beyond words. Possibly you lashed out. Possibly you found yourself in a fight, that was either verbal or physical. Maybe you were judged in some way that made you feel that you were not being judged fairly, or treated fairly for that matter.

The result of how it is that world might judge you , or treat you might also bring you to that point of utter frustration.

God gives us tests in life, and those tests can frustrate and bewilder us. These tests are usually meant to teach us something, or to provide opportunities to be a conduit for Gods grace. We do not always get to know that. Which is sometimes the point. It is also at times quite frustrating.

I believe it is safe to say that during the course of our lives we have all failed. I know I have failed more times than I can count. I did not always understand, or wish to understand. During the course of our failures, it is quite possible ( even usual in some cases) where we are not always immediately repentant. In the heat of the moment, our human failing can take over. Once we realize that we have failed at that point and when cooler heads prevail,, we can think through the situation, or talk it over with someone and come to the conclusion that we probably already knew, but were not ready to accept.

Now consider, the brothers and sisters who are in prison. There are entire groups of prison ministries set up to share the love of Jesus, with those who are currently incarcerated. These brothers and sisters, are Gustus as well. They are angry, they are in their own crucifixion or sorts. They might be at a point where they are not ready to accept the love of Jesus, Let alone the love of a brother or sister. In prison, there is time to sit and ponder, what has happened. Time to ponder how they got there. Time to try to work through their path to sanctification, if they are ready to do that. It is also true that they have time to just sit, and be angry, and lash out , like Gustus, at the Christ of those who try to help.

I wanted to share a story, about a prisoner, who was condemned to death by the state. When the time came, the prison chaplain went to be with the prisoner, to bring Christ to him. It was the holiday season… The state likes to execute prisoners around the holidays as they believe it will bring the victims closure.

As it turned out.. while the Chaplain was with the prisoner, his wife, was with the prisoner’s family at the church nearby. She was being Christ to them. Shortly before the scheduled hour, the victim’s family arrived at the same church. There was sharing, a coming together, they prayed together, and then the Chaplains wife, knowing that both families were from out of town, invited them both to dinner… It was Thanksgiving Day.

We must realize that we too are, or at least have been, Gustus. In this light, we need to be able to get through the human failings, and realizing that we too are broken, fallen people, we can also accept the love of Christ from others, and in turn, take the love of Christ to others..

May God give you the gift of His peace !

The Three Men of the Cross

July 22, 2017

Three Men of Calvary… We Are All Three

The crucifixion as an event was filled with some points of interest. To get a good understanding of what occurred we need a sense of what was going on in the area at the time.

Roman rule was fairly new to them, and during that time robbery, theft, and murder were somewhat commonplace and a pretty big issue that the Romans were trying to get under control. The Roman way of dealing with that, was execution by crucifixion. It was cruel, it was not quick, and it allowed, for an extended period of time, the opportunity for others to watch them die and consider that possibly they would not like to meet the same end, and amend any ideas they might have had of breaking the laws.

Another curiosity, is that, generally speaking, the Roman method of execution was, at least in practice, to execute people two at a time, unless….. they happened upon a group of people they caught in the act of the crimes, in which case all the people who were responsible were crucified at the same time. If this were to happen, AND the person who was the leader of the group, or band , or rebellion could be identified, that person was executed in the middle of the grouping of people so that they would not be missed and would be identified as such.

From this, then, we can know that the crucifixion of Christ was an oddity. Consider what happened in the Garden when Jesus was taken into custody. ” And Jesus said to the chief priests and temple guards and elders who had come for him, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs? ” ( Luke 22:52) . So here Jesus is treated as such.

In addition, it is noteworthy that He is crucified in the middle of the three.. This would tend to signify that He was the leader of the group.. He was in charge… Then, there is the other two men. So, history records that the other two actually were robbers Since they were crucified with Jesus it appears that Jesus’ crucifixion was an addition… or an after thought of the day. In perspective, it was the other two men had been in jail for a while awaiting their execution, and Jesus’ trial, and judgment occurred on the same day as the others, after all the delays and passing Him back and forth etc. Finally , with Roman efficiency, they decided that since they already had an execution scheduled, why not just get this over with, and crucify Jesus at the same time. It would make efficient work of the issue and put it to a final resolution and make the locals happy all at the same time.

I went all through this explanation because it helps to gain an objective non-theological view of the occurrence in order to understand, as one friar used to quip.. ” The story behind the story ” .

Now on to the other two men. The two other men who were crucified with Christ were , Dismas and Gustus. Dismas was the robber who was crucified on Jesus right side, and Gustus on his left side.

In the coming few weeks, I would like to beg your indulgence , as we will examine these men, and their circumstances. Stay with me.. I hope you enjoy our journey together !

May God give you the gift of His peace… .

Pass the Salt …. Please!

July 8, 2017

In the United States, Independence Day, which is a national holiday, fell on a Tuesday. As it turns out, I also received a Jury Summons for Monday. Now, for those who are not from the United States, or who might not be familiar, I will explain at least on a surface level, the Jury Summons.

In the United States, if you are accused of a crime, you have the right to a trial by a group of citizens who are called to sit through the trial proceedings, and are given some instructions on the law that has been supposedly broken, and then that group of people decide the guilt or innocence of the person or group that is on trial.

It is part of our duty as citizens, when called upon to serve. We receive a letter from the court (Summons) to show up on a day and time, to see if we will be selected to serve as a person ( juror) in the group that determines the guilt or innocence during the trial.

Needless to say, it is something you are required to do as a citizen, unless there is some compelling reason why you can not serve. Among some, there are jokes about how to get out of doing this type of service. In some cases it is blatantly obvious who is trying to get out of the service, but did not want to get in trouble for not showing up. I see this service as part of a moral obligation to not only
help provide morally correct justice for the parties involved, but also, because this is part of our duty,” to render unto Caesar, that which belongs to Caesar”.

I have received five such calls to service. In that time, I have never been selected to sit in on a trial. By and large, the day ends up with me being sent home after spending a rather long day sitting in a room with approximately 100 other citizens from all walks of life.

The courthouse where I reported for duty is, interestingly not far from a church that is there to serve the downtown area. Since I was let go a bit early, I thought to myself, this is a perfect opportunity to go to Mass that would be starting shortly..

I have worked near the downtown area previously and enjoyed the opportunity to attend a noontime Holy Mass. So I hastened to the church where I arrived shortly before the 2nd Reading. I have to confess that I honestly do not remember what the second reading or the Gospel was (hanging my head).

I can tell you something that stuck with me about the Homily. First, I have to tell you though, the Holy Mass was being con-celebrated by two Franciscan friars, and admittedly it did my heart good to see friars since I do not get that opportunity often as of late.

Anyway, the thing that stuck in my head was a story that the homilist was telling about his days as a novice, and how it was that one of the Novice Masters was a former Trappist Monk. One day while they were sitting there at a meal, the Novice Master explained that in his former life, they were not to speak even at meals, and so they had to sign for the salt if that was what they wanted.. As time went on , and they got to know the individual monk, they just knew that is was needed and it would be passed to them.

This calls to mind 2 different passages. The first, being Genesis 4: 9 and the second is Luke 11:5 .
In Genesis 4:9 is the telling of the story and Cain and Able, ”
Then the LORD asked Cain, Where is your brother Abel? He answered, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” Here we are reminded , in fact, that we are held to account for what happens to our brothers and sisters in this life. Much like the Trappist monk, we as Franciscans who live and work in the world , and even for those who are not Franciscans, we are called to strive to learn and understand the needs of our brothers and sisters, who are not in the same place as we are, but who have the same basic needs that we do, and to work to provide the basic needs of our brothers and sisters. Even so, that they do not have to ask us. We as we progress in faith, will, like the monks, begin to understand and through insight, be able to know what those are, and to work towards being the conduit of the graces that we have received.

The second reading is from Luke 11:5-8 ”
And he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend to whom he goes at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, for a friend of mine has arrived at my house from a journey and I have nothing to offer him, and he says in reply from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked and my children and I are already in bed. I cannot get up to give you anything.’
I tell you, if he does not get up to give him the loaves because of their friendship, he will get up to give him whatever he needs because of his persistence. ”

The story behind this story is that Christ is teaching the disciples about prayer and the importance in persistence in prayer. There is another facet here, however, as it relates to this story.

The man who is in need is going to his friend, his brother, and asking for not only food, to provide to his guest, but is seeking mercy from his brother. Jesus never says if the man got up to provide the requested bread or not. What is clear however, is that just as the monk who is asking for the salt for his meal, the man in the parable who is asking for bread, has a need. We as brothers and sisters, have the capacity to share our graces, our blessings, our very selves with our brothers and sisters.

At the end of days, when we stand before the Throne of the Almighty, and He asks that same question to us “Where is your brother ?” We will have nothing there to answer, except … ” see I have brought him with me…”

May God give you the gift His peace !

God’s Mercy…

May 20, 2017

Gods Mercy….

‘Just as you once disobeyed God but have now received mercy because of their disobedience,
so they have now disobeyed in order that, by virtue of the mercy shown to you, they too may [now] receive mercy.

For God delivered all to disobedience, that he might have mercy upon all.’ ( Romans 11:30-32 )

This passage is Paul talking is talking to his fellow Isrealites.. the Jews, of which he was one. and he is attempting to get them out of their “superiority complex” and get them to understand that they too sinned. Not only did they sin, but they sinned greatly, and God in his infinite love showed them mercy. They fell into sin which allowed them to be put into exile.. to learn of the great mercy and love of God. Now, it is the Gentiles who have fallen into sin, and they too will learn the lesson that the Jews should have learned that God indeed is loving and has infinite mercy.

Pain can be a mercy. Now before you all run off and think I have lost my mind and get any odd notions.. Consider this… How many souls have come to God in pain. How many souls reach the near end of their ropes, stripped of their preconceptions, feeling alone, and beaten, having suffered at the hands of the world. Who suffered through illness, pain, calamity, and then….. THEN.. it is that they come to realize that there is nothing…. they are nothing without God.

How many on their death beds… how many in fear and trembling ? For themselves, or those they love.
When you are at the mercy of another soul, who deigns to serve God, in the service of their brothers and sisters.

Think of the love and mercy Christ gave us on the cross. Think of the pains and challenges you have faced in your lifetime. You are given graces beyond recognition. You are given mercies you do not know, or even understand. The developement of your travels towards sanctification are held in the river of mercy poured out on all the world.

Consider the breadth of pain a teenager goes through as they attempt to figure out their world. Emotions that run the gambit, relationships and all the turbulence that goes with it. The terrible 2’s when infants are trying to figure out their world. Or when seniors get away from their jobs and again have to figure our their world.

Come to think of it, we pretty much spend a vast amount of our lifetimes trying to “figure it out”. All the while God has already given us the blueprint. We are however, like the Israelites of the Biblical era , hard headed, and hard of heart… and we do not listen.

God’s Love and Mercy endures forever…

May God give you the gift of His peace (and mercy) !

Touching the Hem of His Garment…

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May God give you the gift of His peace !

Baking Bread with Brother Bear (Part III)

February 6, 2016

SourDough1In this next discussion on bread, we are going to talk a bit about salt.

Bread in its most basic components, needs salt. It needs salt for flavor development in the wheat.
Aside from the type of flour types being used or any other “additives” that would be there to make additions to the bread, salt is just needed. Otherwise the bread is bland, and tastes like paste.

Salt is a balancing act, in baking bread, and in life. Too much salt in the bread. and it will ruin the bread, too little and the bread will be bland and no one will want to eat it.

Salt, it is the mineral people love to hate, to love. Salt is one of those things you can’t do without, and you don’t want too much of. The World Heath Organization says that they recommend about 5 grams a salt per day per person. Generally, people tend to consume a bit more than this.

It has been said that nomads of biblical times did not need to consume salt because they subsisted on the meat from their herds and blocks. An animals tissues contain salt, where as in other places there the diet consisted of mostly plant based nutrition, needed to add salt to their diets for healthy life because their diets had less salt due to not consuming any meat.

Just in case you thought your life was difficult because you had to go get your salt from the store, in biblical times, salt was gotten by putting seawater into little indentations in rock and when the seawater evaporated and the salt was harvested from there.

Salt is used not only as flavoring or seasoning, but also as disinfectant, and preservative.

Saline is used to pump fluids into the body in hospitals, it is used as irrigation and cleanser for wounds. It is used to balance electrolytes in the system and has a normative effect.

Salt is used as a preservative for foods, in drying meats, and in canned foods etc.

Salt can be viewed as one of the basic components of life for all animals ( including the human animal ).

In the Bible, there are several references to salt, in 2 Chronicles 13:5 King Abijah, King of Judah stood on Mount Zemarain, and said to his enemy, “Do you not know that the LORD, the God of Israel, has given David kingship over Israel forever, to him and to his sons, by a covenant of salt? ”

In this case salt is used as a description of the Davidic covenant, the salt covenant is a covenant that could not be changed and would last forever.

IN this same vein, in Leviticus 2:13 we find Salt used as part of the Hebrew sacrificial practices
” You shall season all your grain offerings with salt. Do not let the salt of the covenant with your God* be lacking from your grain offering. On every offering you shall offer salt.”

This shows how valuable salt was in biblical times, that is was included in the offerings as sacrifice.

In the New Testament of course the most salient reference to salt is in the the Sermon on the Mount.
in Matthew 5:13 we read “You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. 14 You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden.”

In this sermon, the Lord is telling us that WE are the salt of the earth, and we are the light of the world.
We are told that we are to be light and salt, but what does that really say to us ? How does it apply to us ?

The Salt that is gone bad.. is useless, it can not be used for anything and gets tossed. WE are that salt.
a Christian, whose faith does not change them, who does not practice their faith, who does not LIVE their faith, whose faith does not “flavor” their lives, and the lives of those they come in contact with, is not living a useful life from a spiritual perspective.

We are disciples of Christ are to be gathered, like salt. We gather every week, or every day, as often as possible, just like the salt that was harvested from the Dead sea, from the waters, we are gathered we are warmed by the Son’s rays.. we are filled with flavor and light and then we are sprinkled around within our own daily lives, and flavor the world within which we live.

Salt is precious to the one who possesses it. We are precious to God. Salt is used judiciously to bring out the very best in the bread it is used. If we open ourselves to Gods will, then He will use us, to bring out the very best in the world and in us.

May God give you the gift of His peace !

History That Repeats Its Self…

August 29, 2015

History That Repeats Its Self…

“17For Herod had sent and seized John, and bound him in prison for the sake of Hero’di-as, his brother Philip’s wife; because he had married her. 18For John said to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” 19And Hero’di-as had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not, 20for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and kept him safe. When he heard him, he was much perplexed; and yet he heard him gladly. 21But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and the leading men of Galilee. 22For when Hero’di-as’ daughter came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will grant it.” 23And he vowed to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom.” 24And she went out, and said to her mother, “What shall I ask?” And she said, “The head of John the baptizer.” 25And she came in immediately with haste to the king, and asked, saying, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” 26And the king was exceedingly sorry; but because of his oaths and his guests he did not want to break his word to her. 27And immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard and gave orders to bring his head. He went and beheaded him in the prison, 28and brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl; and the girl gave it to her mother. 29When his disciples heard of it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb. ”  ( Mark 6:17)

It is said that those who do not study history, are doomed to repeat it.  Unfortunately, it seems that this is not always true.
Take for instance, Israel, After the Exodus, Moses spent the rest of his whole life watching the fledgling nation fall from the grace of God, sin and error, and he would stand time after time and remind them of all that God had done for them.  Possibly for a  time they would return for a time. They would eventually fall back into sin and error, and then Moses would have to again remind them of what God had done for them, and what they were called to do.

Time has not changed this pattern what so ever.  Jesus would find the disciples falling into error, and He would over and over again teach them, remind them, and tell them the things that they needed to hear, so they understood.

This world, is not our home, but we are called to make it better, to tend to its needs, to work to make it better.  LIke the parable of the talents, we can not afford to just sit back and do nothing, and hide until the Master returns.. believing that He will be pleased that we have kept our faith to ourselves.. that we have done nothing overtly bad…hidden away from as much of the world as we can manage.

No, our world is over run with sin.. murder, abortion, euthenasia, greed, abuses of every type and size, violence, and not one bit of it is new or different.  In the time before Christ, most of these things were being done.  Just like today, there were times in history that these things were even considered right, and socially acceptable !

Consider the case of John the Baptist.  He found himself in a position were he was faced with a choice.  He was asked whether adultery was right, and if he could take his brothers wife for his own pleasure.    We know from scripture that John had moments of faith that was shaken, but in the end John stood firmly in his faith, and spoke the truth to Herod, who quite literally held Johns life in his hand for the entire time.

And lets look at Herod.. Herod was king, and he was not a king of virtue or strength.  We already know he wanted his brothers wife, but at this feast he had the same opportunity that John had, to stand on what was right.  He could have declined his daughters request.  He could have used that opportunity to teach not only his daughter but his subjects and friends about what is right and wrong.  He could have used the opportunity to examine how it is that God would view his actions, as well as his subjects, but instead, he gave in to social pressures.  He gave the example not only to his daughter, but to others that it was fine to do what is pleasurable, and give in to those things that make us feel good for the moment, instead of what is right.

The Herod ordered that John be killed.  His head to be brought before others on a platter, to be mocked and ridiculed, presented as a present to bring joy to his daughter.  It is obvious that the daughter did not really want John’s head, she only wanted to do what pleased her father.

THen there is Herodias, Phillip’s wife, whose sole desire was to do what pleased herself.  She wanted to be with Herod, and John was in the way, and not only was he in the way by telling Herod what was right, she was afraid that Herod might listen, so she removed the obsticles she saw in the way of what she really wanted.

Lets take a modern view of this story.

The culture of death is a plague that is rampant across the world.  Abortions that are performed on demand.  Like the beheading of  John the Baptist, there are children who are gifts from God, but who are murdered, because they are unwanted, unwelcomed as the gifts that they are.  They are killed because they are an inconvenient truth.

We are seeing cases where the elderly, and mentally ill are being murdered or talked into suicide, because society tells them they are not wanted, they are inconvenient, and they are a burden.

THere are those like Herodias, who stand publicly for those who would see this continue, and advance the cause of getting rid of those “inconveniences” fighting to make their brand of sin, “good and right”.   Their hearts black with hedonistic desires.
There are even people who stand in the public square stating publicly their faith in God, while at the same time stating that their faith tells them that what they are doing is right.    This is satan at work in our world.

God and the church do not stand for or teach sin.  The church teaches truth. It teaches that ALL life is sacred from the moment of  conception until natural death.  There is no equivocation, there is no justification, there is no rationalizing.  It is just the truth.
Lastly, there is John.  John who has spent his entire adult life working in the church, leading souls, doing everything that was right and good, yet look at what happens to him !    This is another example for us to take to heart.  John spoke the truth,
no matter what happened he spoke the truth.

In our day to day lives we eventually are faced with choices that come in conflict with our faith.  We are constantly bombarded with demands from parts of society that we live in, to “give in” and give up, and let go of those antiquated beliefs that do not apply in todays world.   Our faith calls for us to make sacrifices, big and small, to live the faith that we profess.  LIke John we may sacrifice some of our freedom to do things.  Like John, we have to be willing to die to the world around us, to die to the “self” and live for Christ.    We have to be willing to give up small things in order to gain the greatest thing.

In the end, on that great day, when we stand before God to render that accounting for ourselves, we will get asked about what we stood for,,,  what we did,,,, and the choices we have made.

” Choose this day whom you will serve.. as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord !”

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

Soured Milk Cookie Reflection…..

August 15, 2015

Soured Milk Cookie reflection..

” Elijah went a day’s journey into the desert,
until he came to a broom tree and sat beneath it.
He prayed for death saying:
“This is enough, O LORD!
Take my life, for I am no better than my fathers.”
He lay down and fell asleep under the broom tree,
but then an angel touched him and ordered him to get up and eat.
Elijah looked and there at his head was a hearth cake
and a jug of water.
After he ate and drank, he lay down again,
but the angel of the LORD came back a second time,
touched him, and ordered,
“Get up and eat, else the journey will be too long for you!”
He got up, ate, and drank;
then strengthened by that food,
he walked forty days and forty nights to the mountain of God, Horeb.” (1 Kings 19:4-8)

After having gone to the Fridge yesterday, I have my first cup of coffee poured..
I had put in some sugar.. and grabbed the milk from the fridge.. and poured it in.

There is was…. those little floating tiny curdles in my coffee that told me that the milk was going bad..
Then I thought to myself.. well it probably just started to go bad.. so I mixed it in.. and took a sip..
BLEH.. no.. indeed it had already gone bad and was probably had been bad for a couple of days.

I did not notice because I usually drink me coffee during the week, at the office, where,
since the milk is that powdered creamer substitute that is the abomination to coffee drinkers who,
like myself, just really look forward to that first cup of the day.. to savor and enjoy that first
swallow of that sweet dark, liquid sharing the sweet and acidic smokey flavor that dances down the pallet.

I admittedly screwed up my face, and experienced instead a bit of frustration at the combination of
waste of a perfectly good cup of coffee, and the sugar that went in it..
Fortunately I had a backup jug in the fridge that I picked up the night before.
All was not lost !
Now your asking yourself…. This guy has gone off his rocker.. and what does this have to do with this reading ?
stick with me.. it will become clear.
I sat and pondered what it is that I could do so as not to waste any of this milk that had gone sour..
There did not appear to be enough to make cheese with.. at least not enough to make it worth the effort.
It is important for us not to waste any gifts that we are given.. As part of the Franciscan spirituality we try to do
as much as we are able with the blessings we have, so that in turn they may be blessings to others.
We are after all only stewards of the blessings we recieve, not owners, and stewards for the benefit of others.

After doing a bit of research I came across a recipe for cookies that are made from Soured Milk.
I gave it a try, and after a little bit of quality control, ( A very necessary part of any kitchen)  I deemed them giftable, and
so blessed the neighbors with some of these wonderful cookies.

Now, to the reading….

In this readings ELijiah is running away from his life, and mission, his job.. He is most decidedly unhappy..

He runs away from it all.. and finds himself a nice secluded spot.. and decides that he has had enough of his life and
is ready for the Lord to take him home.. He is unhappy with his lot in life, he really just would prefer if the world would stop
so that he could get off !  ( Does this sound familiar ? ).
So he falls asleep and an angel comes down and wakes him up and tells him to eat and drink… and he does, and then goes back to sleep.  The angel comes again.. same thing.. wakes him up and tells him to eat and drink … He does, and then after having regained his strength, he got up and went on a journey for another 40 days and nights to the mountain of God.

Everyone at some time or another desires to get off the carosel of life even for a while, some downtime is necessary for the gathering of our thoughts, to step back and assess where we are, where we have been, and where we are going.

The problem is sometimes, the need to stop, turns into a desire to escape, not unlike poor Elijiah, there is the desire to stop and say, OK Lord, I have had enough, I am not any better than I am ever going to get, so I am getting off this journey !

At times, to need for rest might turn into something different, where we no longer desire to pick up the cross we have been given.
Instead of saying I need a rest from my labors, it becomes ” I am putting down this cross, its not for me, and I dont want it, so I am leaving it there”.

There is a paradox here.  God has a plan.  Even if you put that cross down, there is another cross in the path your running to.
When you get to that cross, you must again come face to face with the journey that God has in store for you.  You again come face to face, with yourself, and with God.

Just because you reject the cross you have, does not mean that God will not be there, again, and again.. You will come face to face with what ever your cross is.. the question becomes, will you pick up the cross that is yours…

Making Soured Milk Cookies is like that.   In the beginning, you might not see your cross.. you sit with great anticipation of that thing, that work, that part of life that you enjoy.  Then you experience something unexpected.. the milk of life you were drinking has gone a little off.  You might throw it out.. and you will have wasted the opportunity to learn something new or diffrent.  There is still the idea that you will have to get other milk.. another cross, another journey…

Or you can rest a bit, get some perspective, and then pick up the cross.. and try something different, learn something new,and in the process you become a better steward of the spiritual gifts, the journey, the blessings, that you have recieved.
May God give you the gift of His peace !