Posts Tagged ‘#reflections’

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 !

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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 !

The Unblemished Lamb…

April 19, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May God give you the gift of His peace !

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 !

On Being Solicitous…

December 10, 2017

On Being Solicitous…

” Be solicitous to make your call and election permanent, brothers, surely those who do so will never be lost. On the contrary, your entry into the everlasting Kingdom of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be richly provided for. ” ( 2 Peter 1: 10-11)

The word “solicitous” comes from the Latin verb sollicitare, meaning “to disturb, agitate, move, or entreat. So why this word in this passage ? In this passage we are called upon, to look at the various vocations, or callings. We are asked to look within, to see the path that God has laid out before us.

Now, in today’s day and age, maybe you have not taken much time, to take stock in, or take a deep look into your vocation. We each have multiple vocations each of which require some contemplation and commitment. The primary vocation or calling is that of being a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ.

This call to be a follower of Christ, can cause ALL of these feelings and emotions. These feelings can occur at multiple points in our spiritual journey. We can become disturbed, by that still small voice that calls us to God. It may be some little thing. It may be that nagging feeling that maybe there is something better for you. It might be a sense that your life has come to a point that has allowed you to stop and get off the world’s craziness for a bit, and provided time for you to look across your life and see that something might be missing.. It might be a loss, or just a pause.

That call can also be rather annoying, to the point of agitation. When that call becomes so very overwhelming, that you are forced to deal with it. It is a so strong, it just can not be ignored or put on hold any longer. Eventually, you must come to a good decision in order to gain lasting peace in your heart. In my own journey as a Franciscan, I actually went through initial formation twice.

I went through the first time, and approached the point where I would profess my rule, but was told that I was not ready. I eventually left, and went away for about 5 years. During that time, I kept running into others in my community, who kept inviting me back. In my heart I knew that this was where I belonged, but the pain of what I viewed as rejection, and my own pride, kept me from going back.

The problem was. that that nagging call, that annoying voice, that pull that would not be ignored, finally got the better of me, and as you know, I returned to complete the journey that was God’s plan for me.

Your call should agitate you ! I know that you might think that your Christian life should be all roses. I am sorry. It’s not like that at all. Sure, you have peace in your heart, but that peace comes from knowing that your salvation is “nearer now than when you first believed”, but, this world is not our home. We are in the struggle. Not only from the environment outside, but from within as well.

Our faith life is a series of mountains and valleys triumphs and falls. How often do we start the day thinking, and praying, and promising, that we will be better at doing this thing or that thing that we are struggling with, only to find at the end of the day, that we failed, in how we dealt with that exact thing ?

It is in the recognition of the issue, and the struggle to grow, and to be better than we are, that causes us to be agitated. In addition, it should also cause us to move, and to be moved. It should move us towards God. It should move our hearts and souls, toward Heaven. It should move us to do everything we can do, to constantly strive to move our lives to be ever closer to the whatever is the will of God for us in our lives.

Vocations, are an interesting study. It is only recently that the discussion of vocations, has extended beyond that of priests, and religious brothers and sisters. In fact, vocations are so much more than that. We have a vocation as Christians. That vocation, is even inclusive of the 3 fold vocation of “priest, prophet and king”. There are vocations to be single, or married, or to one community or another. There is a professional vocation ( the work you do to earn your daily bread ), which in itself becomes , by way of a circular logic, to our primary vocation, of being a Christian. There are of course many other “minor” vocations subject to the Christian vocation.

So, we are asked in this passage, to make this call permanent ; make it part of your daily life. Our call, is a life-long journey. We never reach a point in our faith life where we know it ALL, or we are free from the effects of sin, until we make it to Heaven.

More people than not, go through their initial Christian education, to a certain point, probably to the end of their elementary school years, or middle school years. They receive the sacraments, Baptism, and Confirmation, First Holy Communion, and then they disappear until they themselves become parents and the cycle begins again. The journey of Christian education never ends. There things we learn on the journey of our vocation also changes and reflects into our lives with different messages in different ways according to your call, and your journey.

So, I want to encourage you to renew your call, your vocation, and your own journey toward Heaven. Make that journey a permanent part of your daily life. Your journey of faith will challenge you, will frustrate you, will agitate you, and will make you soar ! ( Oh, yea, and it will also give you peace too ).

May God give you the gift of His peace !

We Are All Still Sinners ( Part I)

November 18, 2017

We are all still sinners….

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

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

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

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

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

Allow me to share a personal experience with you…

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

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

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

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

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

Opening a Can of “Act Right”…

October 28, 2017

” Never let evil talk pass your lips; say only the good things men need to hear, things that will really help them. Do nothing that will sadden the Holy Spirit with whom you were sealed against the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, all passion and anger, harsh words, slander, and malice of every kind. In place of these, be kind to one another, compassionate, and mutually forgiving just as God has forgiven you in Christ.” ( Ephesians 4:29 -32)

There are a few places where this particular message of scripture are echoed or paraphrased . Colossians 3:8 and Tobit 4:15 and even in the Old Testament in Deuteronomy 6:5, Matthew 7 Luke 6 and also in Leviticus 19.

Well, you get the point. The point is that this kind of sentiment is reiterated in different ways throughout the writings of nearly every apostle and in every part of the ancient church and synagogues.

It is call to renewal. It is Gods’ way of bringing His disciples into repentance and conversion.

This idea of “The Golden Rule”, unfortunately tends to be reduced to the idea of right behavior towards those we encounter on the street. Treating others the way we would like to be treated can turn into something totally different, than what its intent is in sacred scripture.

For a better idea, let us consider the human condition. Within the world, it is not hard to find misery, and suffering. Poverty, UN-employment or under employment, on going physical and mental illness, homelessness, discrimination, nepotism, harassment, oppression, all of these types of sin, that occur within the realm of the earthly plain, are a result of the stain of original sin.

It is our belief, that Jesus, did not come into the world because of sin, or misery. Jesus came into the world because of LOVE. Remember, ” For God so LOVED the world He gave His only begotten Son”. LOVE is the reason.

Because of the misery and suffering Jesus saw here on Earth, He provided for us a path to get out of all the suffering, while at the same time provided a way for us to work out our own journey into salvation.

We know from the passage ” The poor you always have with you, but you do not always have Me” ( Deuteronomy 15:11 ) In this passage we know, that this sort of misery would continue on throughout time. The Church, and Franciscans particularly have a love of the poor, and we cling a spiritual poverty. Our “Lady Poverty” who is our preference for the poor, to stay connected with our brothers and sisters, and all the poor, because it is through our service to those who are in misery, who suffer, who are sick, who are in need of any kind, that we also serve Jesus.

Those who have been involved in ministry for any period of time will testify, that in our service to others, not only do we serve those who are in need, not only do we serve Jesus through them, but we also gain more than we provide. We gain understanding, we gain wisdom, knowledge, and we persevere in our service, we gain insight, not only of our neighbors journey, but of our own as well.

It is also a teaching of the Franciscan family that we choose a spiritual poverty, that keeps us close to our brothers and sisters who are poor so that be can better serve and better understand the struggles and priorities, and the life of the marginalized of society.

It is in this way that we have a clearer path to serve Jesus through our brothers and sisters, and find a path towards our own salvation, and also that of our brothers and sisters. We can preach the Gospel of love at all times…. through our actions, through our thoughts and through our deeds, but mostly through our service to others.

May God give you the gift of His peace.