Monday, November 26, 2012
Friends of Faith:I am a little bit of the Christmas Scrooge because Thanksgiving was followed too closely with Black Friday. I think it was even worse this year though, because the materialism of the “shopping adventure” interfered before Thanksgiving Day was even over.
Since I don’t want to wreck my own love of “the Real Reason for the Season-Christ,” and I really do want to enjoy the Spirit of the true Christmas, I’ll let the scrooge in me have it’s say now rather than later.Yesterday was the last Sunday of the liturgical year, the celebration of Christ the King. Next week we will begin the season of Advent and the awaiting of the baby, Jesus, who became Christ the King.
The readings near the end of the liturgical year include parts of the Book of Revelations and talk about the end of history as we know it. They are a striking contrast of this world with the heavenly world—much as the Spirit of Christ and Thanksgiving are contrasted with Christmas shopping and the materialism that is Black Friday.Yesterday’s Mass introduction was a reminder that we don’t always need to receive what we desire; that our wants are much different than our needs, and that we might be better off if we got along without, and appreciated what we have instead.
Jesus answered, "My kingdom does not belong to this world. If my kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not here." So Pilate said to him, "Then you are a king?" Jesus answered, "You say I am a king. For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice." Jn 18:35-37Is it any wonder that God keeps asking us to listen to His truth, and reminding us of the importance of His kingdom, when our culture constantly bombards us with advertising that says we shouldn’t even give thanks for a continuous 24 hours?
Heavenly Father, You are the King, and because of You, I have everything. May I find it in my heart to listen to You, to appreciate my blessings, and to share all that I have with You thru those who you place in my path, especially those who need to see you, in me, each day. Thank You for giving me more than plenty. Amen.I, like many others, find it difficult to stay on task—to choose “Godly” over what is earthly.
So the earthly Scrooge in me says—stop shopping, learn to give thanks. And the heavenly influence says enjoy and give thanks for what I already have, because receiving more isn’t necessary.But I’m sure, just like you, I’ll go shopping, buy presents and eat more than my share of food.
I hope, however, to remember each day, a little bit more than the day before, that it is Jesus who is king; it is Jesus who rules the world; and it is Jesus who I am suppose to imitate.So this is a reminder: Shop a little less for those who have bounty, and a little more for those who do not; accept the sufferings and irritations of our life because our sufferings are not nearly as great as those without electricity and running water; and serve graciously and humbly by imitating Christ without grumbling—for it is He who was born in an animal’s manger, and it is we who have warm comfortable roofs over our heads.
So this “earthly” Scrooge will continue to work on being a “Christly” imitator—Peace be in Christ’s reason for the season,
Monday, November 19, 2012
Friends of Faith:Happy Thanksgiving! This week we celebrate Thanksgiving, an “annual” cultural reminder to say THANK YOU for what God has given to us, for our earthly treasures.
But should our “attitude of gratitude” only be celebrated during this week of Thanksgiving?And does our Thanksgiving only say thanks for “all that we have?” Or does our Spirit of Thanksgiving include “all that we are?”
“Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus”. Phil 4: 6-7Does our thanksgiving acknowledge that as “imitators of Christ” (Eph 4) God will guard our hearts and minds so that we can BE the person God is calling us to be? Are we “without anxiety” because we are “in Thanksgiving?”
Does it feel right when we thank him for everything we are and everything we have because everything we have and are, and everything we do, honors of him?“I give thanks to my God always on your account for the grace of God bestowed on you in Christ Jesus, that in him you were enriched in every way, with all discourse and all knowledge, as the testimony to Christ was confirmed among you, so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will keep you firm to the end, irreproachable on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, and by him you were called to fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”1 Cor 1: 3-9
Thank you for reading God’s word in these reflections and for sharing them with your friends. But more importantly thank you for using this time to reflect and to become more like Christ himself, to become what God is calling you to be, so that we are firmly enriched by the Spirit and in the end we will be “irreproachable” to God.Heavenly Father, Thank You for being the ultimate hope and power in my life. Thank you for the many gifts and blessings found in the richness of friends and family. May I graciously serve you by sharing my time and talents with them, and with those I don’t yet know, in an attitude of gratitude, knowing that everything I have is yours and that everything I have should rightly be given back to you. Amen.
And now, bless the God of all, who has done wondrous things on earth; Who fosters people's growth from their mother's womb, and fashions them according to his will! May he grant you joy of heart and may peace abide among you; May his goodness toward us endure in Israel to deliver us in our days. Sir 50: 22-24I am thankful that God is in each of our lives for “he has done wondrous things on earth.” May you continue to find hope, peace and joy by fashioning yourself thru Him with an attitude of gratitude.
Make every day a day of Thanksgiving!Blessings,
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Friends of Faith:I recently related my “surprise” at how God influences my mood by putting just the right hope filled words in front of me at just the right time.
We spent some time with Andy at Loras yesterday and these are the words on banners in the front of the campus church:“Keep the Surprise Alive!” “There is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel, by the encounter with Christ. There is nothing more beautiful than to know Him and to speak to other’s of our friendship with Him. Pope Benedict XVI”
And mass was dedicated to the memorial of St. Josephat Kuncevyc, bishop and martyr who died because he wanted to unify the divided church of Ruthenian.He evangelized to give hope to a divided nation. Just as Paul evangelized to Titus, “For a bishop as God's steward must be blameless, not arrogant, not irritable, not a drunkard, not aggressive, not greedy for sordid gain, but hospitable, a lover of goodness, temperate, just, holy, and self-controlled, holding fast to the true message as taught so that he will be able both to exhort with sound doctrine and to refute opponents. Ti 1:1-9
St. Josephat’s influence was because he was holy, blameless and he held fast to the true message of God. His message, like Christ’s was for unification, not division, one body, one Spirit for all. And St. Josephat became a saint in part because his influence, like Christs’ was after he was martyred, not when he was alive.Will our influence AFTER we die, be greater than when we are alive? Who do we remember, who did we know, that influenced us MORE when we look back by how they lived their humble lives?
As I said, I have been surprised by some of the other messages this past week:“The person who is trustworthy in very small matters is also trustworthy in great ones; and the person who is dishonest in very small matters is also dishonest in great ones. ..... You justify yourselves in the sight of others, but God knows your hearts; for what is of human esteem is an abomination in the sight of God." Lk 16:9-15
God knows our hearts, it is His power that is important, not human power.“The LORD keeps faith forever, secures justice for the oppressed, gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets captives free. Ps 146:7
God will protect and set us free. Forever!“Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy that person; for the temple of God, which you are, is holy. 1 Cor 3: 16-17
We are God’s temples, in his image he created us to be holy, by our actions, by how we treat ourselves and others, like Christ treated us—to die to ourselves and give everything up for Him.“Do everything without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine like lights in the world, as you hold on to the word of life, so that my boast for the day of Christ may be that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. Phil 2: 12-18
Around us there may be division, a lack of unity and seeming discord, but God made us to know him, serve him and love him—without blemish—so that we may be LIGHT to the world. Are we striving to become saints?Heavenly Father, you are our creator, our hope, and our protector. May we become for you as HOLY as you intended us to be. Thank You for giving us Your son’s life to be our greatest influence. Set us free from the captives of this world, from the powers of money and oppression. Help us to honor You, by imitating Him. And may our actions reflect your light and bring us hope, peace and eternal joy. Amen.
If the truest judge of character is what we will be remembered for after we die, then are we doing what we want to be remembered by?Be influenced today by God’s Hope,
Monday, November 5, 2012
Friends of Faith:This week I took a little time to file and reflect on some of my recent writings—some of which you have seen, and many which you have not (I often journal to sort out my own personal struggles or in response to personal questions from others.) That is in fact how these reflections started in the first place.
Father said/asked in his homily this week: 1)” Are you there yet? And 2) Good things become bad, when they are an obstacle (definition of Satan or evil) for what God calls you to be.”“So be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma. Immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be mentioned among you, as is fitting among holy ones, no obscenity or silly or suggestive talk, which is out of place, but instead, thanksgiving.” (Eph 5: 1-4)
I translated into my own life: if I am not taking or making time for what’s really important to God in my life, if I am spending too much time “working or playing for the culture,” instead of God’s purpose, than am I really doing what God wants me to do, and what are the things that are interfering with making time for God, what are the obstacles, the Satan’s, that pull me away from God?I am definitely not there yet. (I guess that’s a good thing, since Father Mike also said that when we are there, we will be with God in heaven.)
So I let the common themes of the 200 plus writings guide my prayer this morning: to grow closer to God with the requests in many of those writings: to change myself, to make more time for prayer, to continue to bless our marriage with grace and opportunities to share, and to listen to His call (and law) rather than the call (and law) of culture.This week’s readings included teachings about the Ten Commandments, the Beatitudes (Mk 5: 2-12), and the greatest 2 commandments (to love Him and to love each other as He loves us.) Mk 12: 30-31.
But as one of the writers of the USCCB daily reflections commented: It is sometimes difficult to put these instructions into our daily lives.
The beatitude: Blessed are the poor in Spirit, is easier understood if worded as the negative: we will not be blessed because we are rich. (God isn’t impressed by our stuff or even our wisdom/knowledge.)So too the command: “thou shalt not kill,” makes us complacent because our thought says, “I have never murdered anyone.” But yet our country, by it’s law, allows 3,600 abortions per day and there are many who won’t speak (or vote) against abortion. Stan was talking to some nursing students yesterday and asked them, “Why are they interested in saving people’s lives but yet their intended vote would continue to fund legalized abortion?” Isn’t it an inconsistent thought for any future or current medical provider, to vote for someone who will not protect the innocent unborn, while educating themselves to save the lives of others. (Or anyone who works to in ANY way to save ANY other life, or ANY type of “earthly” life—pets, trees, birds, etc….)
Heavenly Father, You created us in your image, so that we would become like you. Help me to answer your call to spend more time with You in silence. May I listen to Your Spirit whom You send to guide me. Help me to be a better spouse, a better citizen, and a better child of God. Thank you for continuing to enlighten and remind me of the many opportunities and blessings we have in America, while those living in other areas of the world struggle to live because they are persecuted for their religious beliefs. May my choices and actions be according to Your will. Amen.“If there is any encouragement in Christ, any solace in love, any participation in the Spirit, any compassion and mercy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing. Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vain glory; rather humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but also everyone for those of others.” Phil 2: 1-4
I realized as I wrote this that much of it is a repeat of what I have written before. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, since it started with my “look back” so I hope that I do never bore you by my “introspections” but rather draw you each closer to God.And I hope that because you have taken the time you are reminded of what God’s call is in each of your lives this week.
Don’t forget to vote—for life, liberty and freedom, under God,Blessings,