Posts Tagged ‘#SecularFranciscan’

Because I Bore Your Name…

January 12, 2018

“Remember me Lord, visit me, and avenge me on my persecutors. Because of your long-suffering banish me not; know that for you I have borne insult. When I found your words, I devoured them; they became my joy and happiness of heart, Because I bore your name, O Lord, God of hosts ”
( Jeremiah 15:15-16 )

Here is Jeremiah. Jeremiah is having this discourse with God over what has been going on. He is saying to God basically four things through this process :

First, he saying Hey Lord, remember me ? I’m the guy down here trying to follow all the orders !
Maybe some of you have felt this way. A feeling of frustration with the world, with your life, with what is going on in your life or in the lives of someone close to you. Maybe you feel like you have been down here on your earthly plain, trying to follow all the precepts of your faith, and lets just say that over all, things are just not going the way you think they should because, lets face it, your praying, your pleading, fasting, and performing pious acts, and you are just trying your very best but things are just not working out and your just not getting what you want ?!!! Jeremiah can relate.

Next, he says, well, don’t give up on me. I get it, you have put up with a lot from us over the years, but don’t toss the baby out with the bathwater. Then, just like some child we might all know.. Jeremiah says.. Hey, and don’t forget when I put up with a bunch of stuff just because of you ! Those people called me names and treated me like dirt. ”

You can see that Jeremiah really wants to do what is right and good and holy.. but he is having a really bad , tough day at the office and it’s just hard to be good ALL THE TIME ! Can you please just get this off my plate I am exhausted and exasperated and just plain done. Sound familiar ?

Last week at the office I had a bad day, and there was an issue that was laid at my feet. It was not something I was blamed for, but frankly I had pretty much had my fill of the entire situation, and for just a moment, that nasty human temperament took over, and I growled at the person who laid the problem at my feet because, well, because I was tired of dealing with this particular issue and thought it had been laid to rest and the policies that were in place to keep this from happening, meant that I was not supposed to have to deal with this particular issue.

In the end, I was forced to deal with the same issue again, with the same people involved, and with same headaches, and to be honest, I was fuming. I did not want to speak to anyone for fear the tongue would be set loose, and well, that is never a good thing..

After I had some time to sit with my unhappiness for a time, one of the brothers came to me and said,
just remember all that Christ has suffered for you…

Of course, then the anger gave way to guilt, and dissipated. It didn’t mean that I was happy about the issue that was laid at my feet, or that I wasn’t going to have to deal with shouldering the issue, it was that I could handle it, and would for the sake of peace. Could I have pushed that back to someone else, Yes. But, it would not have been productive for anyone.

The last part of the passage, shows Jeremiah saying I “devoured your words”. I didn’t just nibble and ponder, I DEVOURED them. I went after your word with reckless abandon. Why ? Because “I bore your name …”

OK, This is important. How many of us go after the Gospels, or scripture with reckless abandon ? How much time do we dedicate to educating ourselves about our faith ?

There is a funny thing about studying scripture, and it is sort of the same paradox that is evident in other parts of our faith life. The more you study, the less you know. What I mean by that is that in the course of studying scripture, faith, and life in the Spirit, The more you study, the more you learn, and as you learn more, it becomes evident how much it is that you don’t know. The problem occurs, that in order for you to know, what it is that you don’t know, you need to study.

Ask the hard questions, first, ask them of yourself, then go find some answers, and then keep asking questions until you are satisfied with those answers, AND they lead you to other questions. None of us have ALL the answers. We do however, have places to seek the answers. The important part is to find the questions, and keep seeking answers. This will become your joy !

Why ? Because we bear His name !

May God give you the gift of His peace !

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Advent…It’s Here !

December 2, 2017

Advent…. It’s here.

“And do this because you know the time; it is the hour now for you to awake from sleep. For our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed;

the night is advanced, the day is at hand. Let us then throw off the works of darkness [and] put on the armor of light;

let us conduct ourselves properly as in the day,* not in orgies and drunkenness, not in promiscuity and licentiousness, not in rivalry and jealousy.

But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh.” ( Romans 13:11)

This is the very beginning of the season of Advent. Advent means to come. It comes from the Latin Ad ( to ) Venire (come). It is applied to the church calendar as the season prior to Christmas. It is set aside for us as a period, not unlike Lent, as a time of preparation, a spiritual house cleaning if you will.

Not unlike Lent it has been a time of fasting and praying. In fact there was a period of time when there was a 40 day fast that was just like Lent. ( without the fish frys). If we look at the time of Lent and the time of Advent as mirrors of each other, both have certain characteristics that are very similar in tone and purpose.

Both serve the purpose of preparing our hearts as a birthplace for Christ to reign, a channel through which God may share the blessings of Heaven with and through us. Prior to His arrival however we have a little preparation to do.

As a child the time previous to the holiday season, there was a certain amount of that ” spring cleaning” that my mother would always have my brother and I to do. There was silver to polish, vacuuming, scrubbing and There was a brass table to polish and well as the candlesticks that stood on either side of the fireplace. Dusting the furniture and all of that came after taking care of the animals we had. ( which in itself was an 8 hour job).

Yes, the preparations were something that we as kids did not look forward to in the least, as we would rather have been exploring the forest that we lived in, or the just relaxing around the house. On the other hand, once all the work was done, and night had fallen, there was a cool nip in the air, and we would turn off the lights in the livingroom, and light a fire in the fireplace. The house took on that certain feeling of “Hearth and Home”. When the holidays came, and we were able to entertain guests, and share our home with friends and family there was a certain comfort, a certain joy to be able to serve them and make them feel at home.

The same thing applies to our spiritual lives. Paul is telling us to use Advent as a time to remove from our hearts the spiritual “baggage”. that we need to throw off. Those things that belong to the dark, and not to the light. Those things that we have been holding onto, that do not aid us in our spiritual journeys, those things that hold us back from serving Christ, or keep us from being the conduit of the blessings, or keep us from helping someone else from seeing Christ because of our actions.

So let us work on throwing off those works, those deeds, and put in some of the work in those areas of our lives to prepare our hearts for the coming of Jesus. Throw out those pains, and grudges, lets fix those broken relationships. Let’s be the one who extends the olive branch, and extends the hands. Let us be the Christ in the season, and really live the life of faith we profess.

May God give you the gift of His peace !

We Are All Sinners ( Part II)

November 25, 2017

We Are Still All Sinners ( Part II)

Last week, we began to talk about the scripture passage Romans 15: 1-6, where Paul is reminding us that we need patience, with others who might be at a different place in their faith lives , and in their walks than we are, or at least believe ourselves to be.

Today, lets we are taking that a little bit further by way of example, as we examine the passage in John 7, where Jesus encounters the Pharisees and the stoning of the adulteress.

Consider the example of the woman who was to be stoned to death for adultery. ( John 7:53 )

In this scripture , the Pharisees are trying to trap Jesus in their attempts to discredit him and the things He is trying to teach His followers.

Lets take a look at the Pharisees and see what is going on with them. First, the Pharisees don’t like Jesus, and they are trying to trap Him into discrediting Himself. So, here is the trap. First, they have this adulteress, who according to the law (Leviticus 20:10) who must, by their law, be stoned to death.

On the other hand, we have Jesus who has been going about the land, preaching love, and forgiveness, and mercy. The Pharisees believe that by trying to force Jesus into judging the woman, by either method they have laid out for Him to choose, they will discredit Him, as he will either follow “the law” and at the same time, condemn the woman, and discredit His teaching on Mercy and forgiveness,

OR

He will break the law, thereby discrediting Himself, and giving them a reason to end His ministry.

It is important to note here in the scripture, that when they ask Jesus to judge the woman, He is initially silent for a time… He does not speak right away.. WHY ? in fact, in a number of stories in scripture when put to a test or a trial, Jesus takes time before he speaks.

The pause occurs, to allow time for the Spirit, to work. Time is given in order to allow the Pharisees to consider what it is that they are trying to do, or possibly to gain a bit of perspective on how committed they might be to both stoning this woman, or trapping Jesus.

It give the woman time to consider her own predicament. It gives her time to consider and reflect on how she found herself in this position to begin with, and her own sinfulness, her own forgiveness, and her relationship with God at this moment.

Jesus gives the perfect answer. He tells them to let the one who is without sin, cast the first stone.

Going back to last week where we take a look at how it is that we deal with others who might not be at the same place in their faith life that we are, should heed this example. It is a perfect reflection of how we should deal with others who are dealing with their own struggles.

Can you see yourself in each of the people in this story ? Are you the Pharisees , that are condemning or judgmental of others who are not where you are in your walk ? Are you the adulteress, sinful, sorrowful, broken, guilty, remorseful , and seeking a way out ? Are you Jesus to others, inviting the Pharisees to self-examination, encouragement, to consideration that they, like the adulteress are also guilty of sin, and are imperfect as well.

The further it is that we travel on this road to Emmaus, the more obvious ones own sin becomes. It is a paradox of the Christian life. At the same time, however, the more obvious God’s love and mercy also become. We are called to bring God’s love and mercy to our brothers and sisters.

We need to strive to do better, to be better , to live and love that message better each and every day.

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 !

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 !

Before The Storm…

September 23, 2017

” Thus says the Lord:

The heavens are my throne,

the earth, my footstool.

What house can you build for me?

Where is the place of my rest?

My hand made all these things

when all of them came to be says the LORD.

This is the one whom I approve:

the lowly and afflicted man ,

who trembles at my word. ” ( Isaiah 66 :1-2 )

There are times in our lives that present us with opportunities to consider our lives..

To consider where our priorities are, and how it is that we “fit in” in the grand-er scheme of things.

These give us pause to understand exactly how little, how lowly, it is that we may consider ourselves, while we have spent our time trying to make ourselves somehow better, somehow greater.

We strive to make our way in the world. To carve our a life for ourselves.

We seek a good job. A job that might somehow be admirable, or valued by men in this day and age.

We seek not just a wage.. but a wage that would provide for us and our loved ones the sort of life that man sees as above average. A wage that would provide for our needs, our wants, any possibly those things that might be enjoyable.

We seek a nice home, a nice car, and some of the things that would allow us pleasures. Maybe, we also seek to be able to share those things with our extended family and friends. We spend time chasing after those things that in our minds eye, would make us comfortable and happy.

Recently, the world has experienced a number of storms and earthquakes, and as a result a large number of deaths, and destruction were left in their wakes. While those who might not be effected, take a moment and consider how terrible a thing that is, they inevitably may return to the duties of the day. returning to chasing after their dreams.. While those were were involved are having to come face to face with the new vision of their reality. That time for those who are facing these issues, and possibly, for those who take the time to reflect, they are forced at least for a moment to take into consideration the things that are important.

We, then, come to the understanding that God, is the great I AM. We can then understand that after God, we need to make choices in line with our faith, and follow the Law of Love.

All of those things that we worked so very hard for, that we saved for, that we chased after, have little meaning, and eventually fall away.

Corporations of today do not care about you. You are a cog in the wheel, you are replaceable. No matter how much you have attempted to make yourself valuable, irreplaceable, etc. In the end, no matter the manner of your departure, either by death, by voluntarily leaving, by firing, or by arrangement, your only worth to your company is your presence, and how much profit can be made by your work.

After something like a storm or earthquake, if the physical location is destroyed, they will not take care of you because of the loss of money that would represent. Who, then will take care of you and your loved ones ? What will you do ? How will you live ?

These are the thoughts that run through the minds of people faced with the possibility of loss. These ideas, and a number of others, give us pause to consider where we are, and what we are doing with our lives. It causes us to look at God for answers, for reasons, for help, for peace.

Next week I will share a bit more about this reading and how it reflects into our daily lives.. some of the things it means for us, and gives us some things to contemplate and reflect on. Until then….

May God give you the gift of His peace !

They Will Beat Their Swords into Plowshares…

September 2, 2017

” He shall judge between the nations,

and set terms for many peoples.

They shall beat their swords into plowshares

and their spears into pruning hooks;

One nation shall not raise the sword against another,

nor shall they train for war again.

House of Jacob, come,

let us walk in the light of the LORD! ”

( Isaiah 2:4-5 )

We, Franciscans, are a peace loving bunch. We love all the brothers and sisters, all of Gods children. I work for the dignity of all people from the moment of conception until Sister Death comes to escort us unto the presence of the Most High.

We have been accused of being the “Hippeys” the “tree-huggers ” because of our love of creation. To a certain degree that could be true, but there is a difference. Our love of creation, the love we carry in our hearts for our brothers and sisters is squarely centered on the Holy Church and its majesterium.

Our love of creation, is centered on God the creator, as opposed to creation itself. It is our mission to bring souls to God, through the mission to carry Christ to our brothers and sisters in all we say and do.

to “preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary use words”.

I had always had in my heart the idea that this passage and the others in Joel and Micah, that basically retell this same story, were going to give us the idea of what it would be like on Earth, if people would put aside their sin, their hate , their greed, and just love God and each other. When we would never again have to worry about wars , or earthly powers driven by hate. Its the idea of the eutopian sort of existance.

Shortly after loosing myself in the reverie, I find that I again have to go through a little disconnect and deal with the reality of life on Earth. As a teen, my parents took me to a prison outreach ministry visit to the local prison. We went in, and we visited for a bit.. and I found myself sitting across from a man over a game of chess. As a youth I had no clue where to begin to have a conversation with this man. So I asked him, why he was in jail. He told me that he had raped, and murdered someone.

To say the least it was mind bending to be sitting there with this man who rather matter of factly told me of his journey that landed him in the prison for which he would be for life. I do not remember what those circumstances were, I only knew that there must of been something of a redemptive quality there because at the time my state still had the death penalty for murder.

Later in life while I was in college I took course work in Law, and was asked if I wanted to be a guardian -ad -litem the voice of a child or protected adult in court and doing investigations etc. I politely declined as I knew it was not what I wanted. I also turned down working in the prison ministry in my parish back then, because having been exposed to stories of the things that happened in prisons, I did not believe that I was able to make a difference there. They pretty much needed to go there, do their time, and then decide what kind of person they wanted to be.

I also knew that there were stories coming out of other ministers who had gone into those prisons of people who had real coversions, who had really found God in prison to spite their cirumstance.

I want to offer you a different view of this passage. That when we beat our swords into plowshares, and spears into pruning hooks, this is not just a eutopian view of what life might be like, it is a story of redemption, a story of salvation ! It tells us that we have the ability to change and to under go a metanoia of the heart. It means that we too can change, and grow, and develop in our lives while seeking God. We can take out the hate that is in our hearts, after beating them into plowshares using them to till the garden of our hearts for Christ to live and help us to grow.

May God give you the gift of His peace !

3 Men of the Cross, Part II

July 29, 2017

Last week, we took a walk through a historical perspective of the crucifixion of Jesus. This week, I would like to take a look at Dismas .

Dismas, was the man who guilty of robbery, and was executed , it happens, on Jesus’ right . Gustus the other robber, was crucified on his left side. If you remember from last week, The crucifixion of the leader of a group was traditionally done so that they hung in the middle, of the group for all the others to see, and so that they could suffer additional anguish over what they had caused.

Since both Dismas and Gustus were already to be executed for their crimes they had some additional time to ponder their crimes while in prison. When the hour had come, and Dismas was on the cross,
He was silent, to spite the taunts and jeers that were being hurled at Jesus.

Eventually, when Gustus decided to join in the taunting of Jesus, it was then that Dismas finally spoke up. He rebuked Gustus for his taunts, and asked Jesus to remember him when he entered into His kingdom.

Lets take a moment and put ourselves in the shoes of Dismas.

There is no back story for Dismas. We don’t know anything about what he was like, or what his life was like, or his circumstances. We don’t get to know if he had a family, or if he had relatives who were living, or anything at all. We are only left to understand that at the end of the 11th hour, he got to a crucial point, and finally went to Jesus for forgiveness.

We are Dismas. Or at least we have been at some point. Or maybe not quite yet.. ?
Consider that we are all suffering for the burden of our sinful nature. We are fallen, and broken, suffering and being crucified.

We all sin. Our sins are different for different people, but we still sin. The point is how we deal with the sin. You told a “little lie”, She took paperclips from the office. He uses chemicals to escape his reality. She over charges for purchases. You might force employees to work more than necessary.
The sins are many, the reasons many, the answer is still the same.

Lets say that one of your great challenges in life is your patience. You have none, or at least little. You do not suffer fools gladly ( or even not so gladly) . Because of this you do not show the love of Christ, or the face of Christ to your brothers and sisters. You try, and you fail, your pray about it.. you ask God for forgiveness and patience, and you really do try.. and then you go out into the world and something happens and then it happens again. You get upset with someone. At the end of the day, you are right back having that same conversation.

At the same time, we need to be able to look beyond the current circumstance of those who are busy in the process of working out their own salvation. In our current day and age social media allows us to keep in touch or find again those souls we might have lost touch with over the years. Sometimes if we have the opportunity to open our hearts we may learn that what we viewed about someone at one point in time, may change, in light of other information.

Since we are our brothers keeper, we have the responsibility to look past the sinner who is on the cross on the other side of us, and see with the heart of Christ, someone who may be trying to find their way. they might have had some time to consider that they too are sinners, and are seeking the face of Christ, in order to ask forgiveness, for hope, and understanding.

We are all Dismas, we are all seeking forgiveness, we are all seeking to be remembered when Jesus comes. We need to be ready to understand the other, in light of the repentant sinner that we are trying to be.

May God give you the gift of His peace !

May You Attain Full Knowledge …

June 18, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May God give you the gift of His peace !

Why Is There Suffering ?

June 3, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The answer comes here :

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May God give you the gift of His Peace !