Posts Tagged ‘reflection’

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 !

The Journey To Work… The Journey to Life…

July 27, 2015

The Jouney To Work… The Journey To Life :

Passing through the dark of the early morning..
the glow of the streetlights with their
intermittent periods of light and darkness,
cause the recollection of the passage of life in all its mysteries.

The light shows us the illumination of the mind, and the spirit.
The places where we have points of spiritual epiphanies.
Lights of our path that show us where it is that we might see more clearly,
where we see the glory, and majesty of God.

The light of our path ..The places between the lights,
the areas, where we might still be able to see some things,
not everything as in the light,
but still the path is there..

The path does not change..
Struggling to make your way through the darkness. tired, and dim..
Carrying the weight of the day on your back..through the dark.
Advancing through the dark, pushing ever forward on the path laid out..
In the periods of the dark, we stay on the path,
We carry the load,
we might not know what is ahead,
save for the light..

we can percieve dimly in the dark…
But we do not see all, we do not perceive everything that is, but we know it is there.

In the dark places, we whisper a prayer into the light…
Thanking God for what has been, and what is, and what will come.
Taking a deep breath, stilling the mind..
making a practice of being with God..

The mind ever so slowly shifts into the presence..
into light, to spite the darkness that envelops..
we pierce the darkness with the light.
trying to keep true.. trying to keep right..

The mind drifts back to journey.. distracted though it is..
coming to the consciousness that you have slipped from your prayer..
from your attention.. from your connection..
Keeping the awareness of the knowledge that your thought broken, only to return..

There is a short rest.. a place to rest before the dawn breaks..

How very much our lifes journey is not unlike this journey..
going from point to point.. and place to place.. awaiting the Dawn of the return of our Lord.
peaks and valleys.. light  and dark ..

Eventually the dawn will break and the Son will return.. to dispell all the dark,
to bring us home, to shine light and love upon all.

So it is for us today, to carry the load, to pierce the darkness..
to carry the Light.. to share the Light.. to reflect the Light we have recieved.
to give hope to those who travel in the darkness..

For there is truth…
Truth is not a thing….
Truth is a person..

And that persons name.. is Jesus, The Christ.

May God give you the gift of his peace..

The Holy Family … A Model for us all ! ( Part I )

January 1, 2015

As we prepare to return to our jobs, and our normal routines, the day to day functions that we are called away from during the

holidays, let us look back over Advent.  Lets look back at where we have traveled from and where we are going.
Advent is that special time of year where the peace and love in all of humanity comes to the surface, when we take time to

remember those things which are important.

 

As you know the Christmas season is only part of the way through..  Epiphany is on January 6th this year, the celebration of the

visitation of the Wise Men.  Then we have Candlemas or the Presentation of the Lord on Feb 6th.. The celebration of Jesus, the

light of the world.   Basically, the intent and indeed the need for us is to be in continual renewal, and to continue to seek the

Child Jesus in our hearts through the year as we have in the manger.

 

The Holy Family is a great model for us to follow in our efforts to carry our Christmas spirit with us throughout the year.

First lets look at Joseph.  Joseph had it ruff.  He was a laborer, a carpenter, someone who worked daily with his hands. So he did

not have money laying around casually to be used for the finer things.  His was a daily, hand to mouth existence.  He lived

project to project, payment to payment for his labors.  Then he was required to head out for this census.   This meant time off

work. This meant no money was coming in.  He also had to travel some distance to get there.

 

He had to travel on foot, hauling his wife, on a donkey ( not the most cooperative of animals) and his wife was pregnant.
This means she was not a happy camper because it was not a comfortable trip to make.  THe census was a pain.  It took him away

from his life, he did not travel with a caravan,  they were on their own.

Mary, goes into labor.  Birth of a child is a happy occasion, a gift to be sure.  There was no rooms available, there was no place

to go and his wife was suffering.   Image, how truly helpless he felt, not being able to provide for her.  Imagine the turmoil

that must have circulated in his mind.   We don’t really know since these things were not recorded, but, we can imagine the tests he went through and the pressures he felt.

Can you imagine him saying to himself something like ” How can I provide for this family when I can’t even find a room ?” or ” I wonder what Mary must think of me now ?” or ” Why in the world is all this happening to me ?”….   You get the idea.

 

We spend a good deal of our time in worry about why things are as they are, or why does God let this or that happen.  Maybe instead we spend time praying for something different to happen so our lives will be easier.

Joseph couldn’t have been different.  He started this whole thing with just wanting to marry a good woman.  A simple woman who loved God and would provide a good mate for him, a good match.   Look at all that has happened to him in the last year !!

His fiance ends up pregnant with a baby that is not his.  His fiance says this child is from God.  He starts hearing angels telling him its all good, and he should still marry this girl.  He does and now he is hauling his pregnant wife across the other side of the country just so the government can stick it to him later.  Only part way through this ordeal, and all he really wants is to go home with his family so he can get back to his life.

Sound like anyone you know ?

 

Look closer at Joseph…  A man of faith.  A man who to spite what other people think has connected to his faith life and took in his fiance.  A man who honors her and his promise to her.  A man whose heart is full of love and care for his bride and the child she is about to bring into the world.

What happens after Jesus birth ?  Joseph gives Mary some time to rest before he continues on his way.  Joseph goes back to his journey and takes Jesus with him !  THis is exactly what we should be doing !  As we have taken some time during this holiday season to rediscover Jesus.  We have found Jesus in the Bethlehem that is our hearts, and now as we begin to head back out into the world and into our lives, we need to take Jesus with us and share him with the world.  Lets not leave him behind in a manger where we found Him !

Like Joseph we can take Jesus, we can share our lives with Him, we can present Him to others, we can share Him with others, and learn from Him the way of Love as we go.

As we continue our Christmas season, carry the messages of Peace and Love with us as we go.  O Come, Let us adore Him !
May God give you the gift of His peace !

Blessed are Those Who are Persecuted (Beatitudes Part VIII )

November 29, 2014

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” ( Matthew 5:10)
Persecution is the hostility and separation of a group because of their faith ( among other things).

People of faith have been persecuted from the beginnings of recorded time. This is nothing really new.  The evil in the world would like to vanquish the light of God within the human world.    The interesting part of this is that the battles against persecution arise and ultimately end within the human soul.  Ultimately the battle for the human soul is the place where the beginning and end of persecution resides.

The Hebrews became slaves, persecuted and hated, the people of different faiths of the Holocost, and in our current world, people of various faiths all are persecuted and made to suffer because of their mal-formed consciences and misguided leaders.

Throughout the history of the Church there has been an honor roll of Martyrs and Saints who have suffered and died for the sake of the Kingdom of God.    Too often people have entered into Wars, and persecuted others for what has been fed to them as what is “right” or “just”.  Out of fear, or jealousy,or greed or an entire laundry list of sins that stain the soul of man.
History is written by the victors, but if there is no one left of those who are persecuted then the stories would not survive.

There is a television show that ends with the line from Mark Twain – “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness…” the rest of the  quote reads ..” and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts”.
Now consider for a moment why this might be true.  Going outside of what is familiar.  This forces is to look at our world differently.   It causes us to encounter others where they are, in their element.   It causes us to relate and communicate at sometimes the most basic levels for our most basic needs.  Understanding, communication, and relationship building skills are necessary in order to survive in the world outside of our own.

So how do we know what is “righteousness” ?  This tends to be the subject of debate amongst theologians who then have to consider some subject matters which would be much deeper and involved than I will go into here.  Righteousness is a quality, and property if you will that attaches to the soul.  Ontological, or :”real” righteousness, this requires a bit of understanding of the Churches understanding of salvation or justification before God.  We are justified in two ways.. there is the initial justification that occurs when we are Baptized and enter the Church, and then an on-going justification that occurs throughout the  life of the Christian.   During the on-going life of the Christian, we both commit sin, and do good works.  Both of these actions attach themselves to our souls.    Fortunately, we have the sacrament of Reconcilliation to assist us in overcoming the sin which is on our soul.

Now, if we are persecuted, for our faith, or persecuted because of the actions that are borne of our love of God and neighbor, then it is possible to be blessed because of it.  The pivital point becomes what our reactions are to the persecution.

If we are persecuted by another person or group, and we commit murder thus ending the persecution, are we blessed ?

If we sin, in the course of persecution are we blessed ?   Can we still be righteous and sin ?

Well, the short answer would be no.    When you begin to stop and measure the degrees to which you are righteous and the degree to which you sin, or the degree of your response to it, then you enter into attempting to make all things within the “grey area” of what you consider “right” and “wrong”.   A well formed conscience provides us the knowledge that there is sin and there is good.
THe remedy for sin becomes the sacraments and a life lived in the light of God and good works of faith, hope and love.

If your response to persecution, is love, then you will be truly “blessed”.

May God give you the gift of His Peace !

Our Relationship With God – Canticle of Moses II – part 1

March 21, 2014

” Give ear  O Heavens while I speak, Let the Earth harken to the sound of my voice.

May my instruction soak in like the rain, and my discourse permeate like the dew.

Like a downpour  upon the grass , like a shower upon the crops.

For I will sing the Lords renown,  Oh proclaim the greatness of our God !

The Rock – how faultless are His deeds how right all His ways !

A faithful God without deceit , how just and upright he is ! ”   – Deuteronomy 32

This section of the canticle serves a dual purpose, to praise God, and also to call upon GOd and the Israelites to gain their attention , as Israel appears to need some reminding that God was God.   THere, there is the symbolism of water.  ” May my instruction soak in like the rain and my discourse permeate like the dew..”  For the people of Israel and indeed for all people waster is life.  It is impossible to live without water. they need water for themselves, and for their livestock.

Periodically we forget how connected we are to water until there is some disaster or problem where we are cut off from our water supply, or maybe in our little corner of the world there is a drought.  This , then becomes the point where we awaken from our slumbers and are brought back to an awareness of how important that water is to us in our daily lives.

At times our relationship with God can be like that of the Israelites.  We get really busy with our daily lives.  We get caught up in the necessities of making a living.  We put God on a shelf for a time while we get busy with trying to “get ahead”.   Possibly you are facing some challenge and you are wrestling with how to fix the issues of the day to the point where those thoughts are the all consuming thoughts of the day.  You have busy days and nights.  Work keeps you  busy during the day, maybe you don’t care for your job, or some facets of it.  Possibly there is some project your working on that is difficult, or not really progressing well, maybe your in a new relationship.  The emotions are in fully gear and caught up in the whirlwind and  your only real thought is about spending time with “the other” person.

In some cases this type of existence can be thought of like the slavery of the Israelites.  We can be thought of as being slaves to our work, our relationships, our emotions, and any other part of our worldly existence that takes our attention r our efforts away from working on our relationship with God.

In the midst of the slavery to the earthly existences, issues, and problems that we face, we get lulled into that experience as being “normal”, and we get stuck on our little treadmills,  oblivious that God is waiting for us to return, to show the love we have for Him.  Hours become days, days become weeks that then turn into months, and you spend your free moments thinking of the time when this or that will come to pass.

Suddenly  there is a problem, a disaster, some life changing event that just appears and you get shaken our of your slumber.  The event has caused you to take time to consider your life, and the things that are important get re-ordered or renumbered or maybe reexamined and get a chance to take precedence in your life again.

For those whose hearts are touched and are open , there comes the sudden realization that their relationship with God took a little abuse, and the work begins again. To rebuild that which was lost , or to renew the relationship that was long ignored or went unfed.

The last part of this stanza reminds us of how good and faithful God is.  He constantly calls us , beckons us to turn towards Him, loving us , and caring for us.  Like the garden, he plants  the seeds of faith through life in the church and waters it lovingly.      At our entrance to the church at baptism we are blessed with water, and every day of our lives that we enter the church to be with Him, we receive feeding and water, In the Eucharist , in the blessings, int he fonts.  In our final earthly journey here again we are blessed with water.

Let the rain of God’s  love soak in and permeate your lives and the lives of those you touch today !

Victory ! ( Canticle of Anna – Part 1)

January 24, 2014

” My Heart exults in the Lord, My Horn is exalted by my God.

I have swallowed up my enemies, I rejoice in your victory.

There is no Holy One like the Lord.  There is no Rock like our God. ”

Life comes to us in peaks and  valleys .  We know the peaks because of the valleys, or do we know the valleys because of the peaks ?  This is one of those questions like ” Is the glass half full or half empty “?

Anna is clear in her statement here.  She s clearly in a peak experience, and is praising God for his blessings.  Your own peaks and valleys are different moment to moment, day to day, each point in time could be though of this way.  Possibly it is not by time. but by experiences we judge our peaks and valleys.   ” The Good Old Days” , or maybe ” The Dark Days” of some experience.  Our human nature , or our emotional experiences might cause us to assign these good and bad qualities to our daily lives.

These peaks and valleys are individual experiences, where your peak may be willing a game, or getting a promotion, r maybe running a marathon.  Someone else’s  peak  experience might be getting out of bed, or taking a pain free breath, or being able to feed their family.   You had those peaks today !  Did you notice ? Did you take the time to experience those moments ?

In the course of our daily lives we spend so much time trying to climb out of the valleys to the next peak that we miss the miracle of the moment !  We miss the blessings and graces we daily receive and some of those wen might miss all together unless we are brought low enough into a valley unless we are humble, unless we are shown some of the miracles we missed !

This then begs some of the questions :  Why do we have these peaks and valleys ?  Does God curse us with the valleys ?  Do these peaks and valleys mean we are on the right road or the wrong one ?

For the answer to these questions we first have to see how it is that God deals with us.   God , our Heavenly Father, deals with us and relates to us just as any parent would deal with his children.  He loves us. He cares for us and he only wants what is best for us.

As Christian parents we know the responsibilities of a parent includes  procreation, spiritual education, temporal and corporal welfare, and of which an academic education of the children entrusted to them is a part. God takes this responsibility and provides for all these things.  He provides for us a continuity of care that is never ending.  Just as with the children we raise , there are rules, boundaries.  Our lives are better when we follow the rules.

Why do we have peaks and valleys ?..

God tests those whom He loves.  In order to learn things in life we have tests.  Just we had in school we are given information, and at some point there is a test of life that comes along.  This is where we find our what we have learned.  A different method might be that there are the valleys, these tests, that we are given first, and then you learn something new. something different.  Through the eyes of faith we can see that through that valley we can see the hand of God.  We can see some new facet of faith that we did not see before.  Perhaps we do not see the reasons today, maybe we don’t get to see them until tomorrow, or it is just that we already understand Gods love for us and this particular valley was not meant for you at all, but for you to testify through the valley to the love and blessings and grace of faith in God.

It is through the peaks and valleys we learn. where we tae the cognitive and translate that into the concrete experiential learning and knowledge, that is applied to the next Peak or valley.    These valleys are not a curse from God.  That would infer some type of malevolence.  That wold be inconsistent with the God of Love.

Everyone has a cross.  Everyones cross is different, and those crosses can change daily, or moment to moment.  It is not a question of   IF  you carry your cross, but HOW you carry your cross.    Make your cross a Prayer and Praise !