Monday, January 26, 2015
Friends of Faith:
“Joy is eternal but happiness is fleeting.”
Or as Matthew Kelly says it: pleasure cannot sustain itself beyond the activity producing it.
I often hear, “God wants me to be happy.” But being happy is different in God’s eyes than ours. Pleasure, happiness, joy … God’s call is a call to joy, not to a happiness that we equate with pleasure but to a joy that is sustained eternally.
The word of the LORD came to Jonah, saying: “Set out for the great city of Nineveh, and announce to it the message that I will tell you.” So Jonah made ready and went to Nineveh, according to the LORD’S bidding. .....When the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast and all of them, great and small, put on sackcloth. When God saw by their actions how they turned from their evil way, he repented of the evil that he had threatened to do to them; he did not carry it out.” Jon 3: 1-5,10
God says to each of us, “Come follow me.” He said it to Mary, He said it to Jonah, He said it to Noah, He said it to Abraham, Isaac and David, He said it to each of the apostles, He said it to St. Mother Teresa and to St. (Pope) John Paul II, and He is saying it to each of us. They all said yes to God’s call. And because they suffered and sacrificed their personal pleasures, they were made holy, blessed, saints. They were called to eternal joy, eternal happiness.
God calls each of us to follow him, to say yes to joy. So when I am asked to follow him, to sacrifice some pleasure to do his will, to stop my day for someone else, do I say, “YES,” or do I say, “wait, I’m can’t give that up now, I’m too busy?”
“Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God: “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” As he passed by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea; they were fishermen. Jesus said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Then they abandoned their nets and followed him. He walked along a little farther and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They too were in a boat mending their nets. Then he called them. So they left their father Zebedee in the boat along with the hired men and followed him.” Mk 1: 14-20
So what if I am too busy, take too long and the tomorrow I promised myself never comes? What if I am left behind like the hired men, too busy working to hear and answer the call? Or what if I am too busy listening to what the culture says should be my pleasure instead of listening to and searching for God’s truth which will achieve eternal joy?
“Remember your leaders who spoke the word of God to you; consider how their lives ended, and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teaching.” Heb 13: 7-9
I know and realize just how much difference there is in my day when I really take the time to pray, to be in God’s presence (vs making prayer just a passing thought). And yet I am pulled by the culture to work, to be busy, to find immediate satisfaction and pleasure by saying “I’ll make time to do it later.”
I know how much better I feel when I give up my time to serve others—with an ear that listens and cares, a voice which praises, or a kind deed which makes someone else’s life easier.
I realize that in my busyness to be happy I only find joy (lasting happiness) when I have met the needs of others before I take care of my own; that the echo of a thank you goes beyond the pleasure of my own temporary fulfillment. Seeing someone else experience peace, or bringing someone comfort or relief from stress, brings me a joy which I can recall many days later. Seeking pleasure is a constant temptation but unlike joy it never lasts.
It’s why cooking my favorite meal gives me more lasting joy when I give it away rather than the pleasure of eating it myself.
It’s why thinking of “happy times” doesn’t usually include a particular shopping trip or eating a Panera bagel (both which gave me a certain amount of pleasure and happiness at the time), but it always includes those times that were life changing or when there was healing and forgiveness – births, sickness and healing, marriage and recommitment, a retreat like CEW (Christian Experience weekend—see below) –joy, hope, resurrected peace and the comfort of healing.
God calls us to say yes to Him, as he called his disciples. God sends his messengers to us, as he sent Jonah to the people of Nineveh. I am called to listen and to imitate their faith. We are called to be countercultural in our actions – to love and to serve others, to use our riches for the good of others. We are called to inherit the earth, not to simply work to survive in it, or like the hired hands we may be left behind.
Heavenly Father, Your kingdom is far above the richness of this world. Help me to take the time to listen and to see all that you have blessed me with. When I am weak, grant me the patience and the wisdom to lay down my life for others as You did for us. Thank you for every opportunity I am given to be a witness in faith to others. Help me to say yes to your call to joy. Amen.
God is calling us to trust him and be faithful to Him. God is waiting to give us more than just happiness, He is waiting to bring us joy.
Be ready and say yes to His Call to Joy,
PS: CEW is just a few weeks away. Say yes by going to http://www.sthenrychurch.com/CEW.htm
Monday, January 12, 2015
Friends of Faith:
I often wonder if we realize just how powerful these words are when we use them to bless ourselves; when we invoke the Trinity into our lives; when we tie together our baptism and Christ’s death on the cross: our birth into the Christian life and our redemption into everlasting life. A sign and a signing that we are given life thru Him.
“As followers of Jesus Christ, we are united to his passion death and resurrection. We take the sign of his cross on to our own bodies. This central symbol of our faith becomes the beginning point of our prayer, and its conclusion. It’s how we place boundaries in time and space that say, “Now I’m praying; this time belongs to God.” Our actual words, “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” reflect this delineation of sacred time and space, and recognize that all we are and all we do is connected to the mystery of the Trinity.
“In addition to beginning and ending prayer, the Sign of the Cross is used at other times as well, for example, when receiving a formal blessing, receiving absolution, and entering a church and blessing oneself with holy water. Generally speaking, it’s appropriate to make the Sign of the Cross any time you hear the words, “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (from USCCB, For Your Marriage.org)
This is the one who came through water and blood, Jesus Christ, not by water alone, but by water and blood. The Spirit is the one who testifies, and the Spirit is truth. So there are three that testify, the Spirit, the water, and the blood, and the three are of one accord. If we accept human testimony, the testimony of God is surely greater. Now the testimony of God is this, that he has testified on behalf of his Son. 1 Jn 5: 1-19
Each time I hear this reading I am reminded of a decorative wedding plaque which says: “May our lives be bound together, made stronger when bound together by God, while two can be undone, three cords cannot be easily untangled.”
Three of one accord – Father, Son and Holy Spirit; Husband, Wife and God—our unity made stronger, made lasting, and bound together as one in prayer, thought and deed.
May we prayerfully and thoughtfully make our lives stronger, bound together with Christ in all we do,
Monday, January 5, 2015
Friends of Faith:
Have you ever had an “epiphany,” an “ah, ha,” an “I get it moment,” (a miracle big or small) which allowed you to see Christ’s presence in your life?
The three Wisemen did. God was revealed to them, they took action, and they were rewarded by an Epiphany—a manifestation of Christ’s presence to them.
“And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was. They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage.” Mt 2: 1-12
I have had problems, big and small, where I prayed really hard making God promises “if only….” and then a “coincidence” happened that was really a miracle.
I have thanked God by resolving to “never again….” I have done God homage by making Mass a gift - wholeheartedly awaited and looked forward to, just so I could say “thank you” as I receive the Eucharist.
Each of these readings are from this week—a week in which I have thanked and received answers to even my unspoken and un-thought of questions. And as usual a week in which God made Himself available – when I asked, and when I failed to ask or to meet my own and/or God’s expectations.
Beloved: We receive from him whatever we ask, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. And his commandment is this: we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another just as he commanded us. Those who keep his commandments remain in him, and he in them, and the way we know that he remains in us is from the Spirit whom he gave us….. We belong to God, and anyone who knows God listens to us, while anyone who does not belong to God refuses to hear us. This is how we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of deceit. Jn 3: 22- 4: 6
He answers every prayer in His time and in His way—teaching me patience, courage, gratitude, and perseverance along the way. He waits in every moment for my response regardless of where I am at or of how big (or small) my problem is.
Beloved: Who is the liar? Whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Whoever denies the Father and the Son, this is the antichrist. Anyone who denies the Son does not have the Father, but whoever confesses the Son has the Father as well. …. And now, children, remain in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not be put to shame by him at his coming. Jn 2: 22-28
God knows what is best for me and what will in the end make each of us holy – what will change us and mold us into His little children – eagerly anticipating, excited, and ready to be in His presence and by doing His will by serving others. He has confidence in me and I hope I do not disappoint him. I hope I am not put to shame.
I know Christ. I have a relationship with Him. I have seen His presence and experienced His miracles. He has taught me and He has blessed me.
And yet if I would only remember yesterday, I would remember the many gifts he has bestowed on me in only a single day. I would thank him for the miracles I have been given and the grace and love He has revealed to me. I would anticipate every opportunity to put God first and I would share every gift I have been given without thought, without waiver, with the same love as God shared His son, and Jesus shared His life.
The epiphany is real. It is today. It is both big and small gifts from God. May it be yours today and every day,