Wednesday, March 25, 2015

It's Not about Me!

Friends of Faith:
It’s not about me. Why Me? Or is it about me?

These are interesting questions to ponder, and sometimes difficult ideas to accept because what I want is not always what God wants, or wants for me.
He has a divine plan for each of us, we were created in His order and “God saw that it was good.” Gn 1

I am supposed to do HIS will, not mine.
Christ knew what God wanted. Christ did as he was asked. And Christ knew it wasn’t about Him. And yet even Christ didn’t “want” to suffer. ‘He advanced a little and fell prostrate in prayer, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will.” Mt 26:39

I know this is the attitude I am supposed to have, but sometimes even thinking about accepting the challenges of day to day life means I feel like turning and running the other direction.
So, why is doing His will so difficult? Because there is one being left here on earth who wants it to be about anyone other than God, who is still actively trying to make it about me, who is actively and purposely trying to convince me that IT IS about me-- and that is the devil. The devil wants me to believe that it IS about me, about my happiness, about how I can get the best for me, about how I can maintain control or take charge, and about “what’s in it for me.”

Last week I had one of those weeks and several of those moments – when I asked: “Why me?” “What’s in it for me?” and I thru myself a little “pity party.” And like many who complain I even found a friend or two who sympathized with me and said, “you don’t deserve that” and “Go for it you deserve better.”
But in actuality I don’t “deserve” anything. “For the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” Ps 23 Yet the devil is always out here tempting me that somehow I need more that I "deserve" more and that I shouldn't have to sacrifice or suffer in any way.

And in some ways I suppose my friends are right—‘I don’t “deserve”bad,’ but I don’t necessarily deserve the very best either. Rather I am called to accept the gifts I have been given, to make lemonade out of lemons, to find the silver lining and to react not with selfishness but rather to use whatever circumstance to show my faith and give back to others—even when doing so means my own wants have to be set aside: because God will make it “good!”
So how do I make it not about me? How can I do my best to react with a more Christ like attitude in whatever situation I find myself? 

The best example is Mary –today on this the celebration of the Annunciation of the Lord – 9 months
before the birth of Jesus. And, Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Lk 1: 26-38 Mary was not without fear or without questions, but Mary said, “it’s not about me.” And God made it very good!

So, it’s not about me. Or is it?

In a way it is about me, it’s about my choice, about my obedience to God and my discipline to living the commandments, about taking the gifts God gives me –even if at the time I don’t see it as a gift.

Every choice I have is a choice to choose Him. Every choice I make affects others directly or indirectly. Even the choices that seem to make myself and another “happy,”the seemingly personal choices affect others I don’t know, they have a ripple effect.

Think about movies like “A Wonderful Life” where the main character gets to see what the world would have been like without him. One decision today, good or bad, can affect a multitude of future happenings.

Heavenly Father, You have given us the world—everything in this world is your gift to me. Help me to use it wisely. You have given us free choice – but you ask us to be Christ for each other. Help me to do your will. Make my day not about me, but about those around me. Help me to accept the difficulties in my life because they may be placed there to help another. Help me to make choices with the attitude that it’s “not about me.” Amen.
Try on God’s truth: not “why me?” but “why not me!”
Make your choice be about someone else. Make your choice be to accept God’s will by walking in Christ’s path and being led by the Holy Spirit,

Monday, March 9, 2015

By Death We Grow

Friends of Faith:

Which came first, dying or growth?

In the world of plants, first the seed must die before the flower can grow and fully bloom.

How true is that of humanity? When do I as a person grow? When do I as a person grow closer to God?

“And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. For Christ, while we were still helpless, died at the appointed time for the ungodly. Indeed, only with difficulty does one die for a just person, though perhaps for a good person one might even find courage to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” Rom 5: 5-8

I have seen untimely deaths and I have witnessed the growth that took place in the people closest to the one who died. I have seen children give up careers to take care of their parents and through the response of their faith they are blessed with strength and courage to respond with love while having their own needs fulfilled by the blessings of others.

I have witnessed those affected by illness and hardship. When there was hope and faith, God’s love poured out through them – growing not only those directly affected, but inspiring others to become more, and to grow in their own faith. I have seen friends and neighbors receive the blessings of tears and smiles of joy while helping one another recover from natural disasters or an untimely death. (It is better to give than to receive, or, we receive more in giving than we do in receiving.)

As spouses (or faithful friends) the love we have for each other grows when we give up something of ourselves FOR the other: when we sacrifice our time and our energy to help one another without anger, jealously, or envy. We grow when we build the other person up, when we rise to the responsibility of becoming parents, and when the needs of our spouse or family member becomes our own concern, like sacrificing a personal career goal for taking care of a family member.

In each of these instances some part of our selfish person dies. In each of these instances some part of our selfish personality dies – to become less of ourselves, to rely more on God, and to grow in faith.

Heavenly Father, in hope we ask for the courage and strength to die to ourselves and accept our sufferings and sacrifices as Your Son, Jesus did when He died on the cross for us. “O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.” (Prayer of St. Francis) Amen.

Without Christ’s death our sins would not be pardoned; without Christ’s death there would not be new life. Without the death of a seed the plant cannot grow. Without the death of my selfish desires I will not grow to receive the love of another.

In the middle of this Lenten season, may I learn to find greater hope through the experience of a death of self, so that I may grow deeper in faith, gain a greater love for God and have peace in the knowledge that Christ’s death was given so that I might live.

In faith and hope, dying to grow,


Monday, March 2, 2015

Community of Support

Friends of Faith:
I could say that the past three weekends have been an insight into the meaning of“community of support,” but what I realize is that it isn’t just one day, or one weekend, but rather it is everyday and every hour that my “yoke is made easy and my burden light” (Matthew 11:30) by the community of support God has placed around me.

Three weeks ago at the Valentine’s Date Night Archbishop Jackel’s instructed us as couples that it is our vocational calling as married individuals to “do whatever we can to help our spouses become holy.” Over the past two weekends”new CEW (Christian Experience Weekend) candidates were summoned to “go, make a difference.”
‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ …He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ Mt 25: 31-46
Daily I am reminded that I couldn’t be who I am without the help of those around me: Stan, family, my co-workers, customers, neighbors and friends who lend a helping hand and those who I don’t even know that pray for my spiritual, emotional and material needs.
God’s original and ultimate call to us as Christians is simple: to help and support each other – in every way possible – no matter what it takes, including our own sacrifice and suffering – just as He himself sacrificed by giving us His only son, Jesus who in turn suffered death on the cross for our sins (not his own).
Jesus Christ knew that his words alone would not carry forth without the Institution of the Church, and the Institution of the Priesthood—without the support of community.
“Then he summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits to drive them out and to cure every disease and every illness….The Commissioning of the Twelve. Jesus sent out these twelve after instructing them thus,“Do not go into pagan territory or enter a Samaritan town. Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons. Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.” Mt 10: 1-8
And in nearly every passage of the New Testament it is not just Jesus, or just one disciple who went forth to teach or preach, but rather they went together in small groups to share the message and to help one or another. Jesus is often heard asking the Apostles, “Come, follow me.”
“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Mt 18:20
So too are we called to ask so that we may receive: First for God’s help – but then also for the help of the faith community around us – to gather two by two – in His name.
I know from not only the recent 10 months but from many times in the past I could not have survived or achieved without the help of God and others: first I call upon the gifts of the Holy Spirit which sustain me; next I have been given the gift of a spouse, Stan, who supports and serves me as much as humanly possible through the vocational calling of our marriage vows; and thirdly I have been placed by my baptism within a community of support—the Church—where together in faith we are joined with each other, and with the Saints and all who have gone before us (Rev 8: 3-4), to support each other in prayer, by listening ears and with helping hands.
Heavenly Father, Your creation of “two” is infinitely powerful. Thank you for each and every person you have placed in my community of support. Help me to also become more like you by being willing to give up my time and talents for those around me. May I become yours to serve in this community of support. Amen.
God in his infinite wisdom joins us together by our baptism into the Church, teaching us how to become reliant on one other.
From the creation of Eve as a helpmate to her spouse, Adam; to Christ’s search for and commissioning of the apostles as Priests; to our Christian community today –without each other we cannot survive (quite literally through the procreation/birth of humanity). And without the love and support of God and those He has created for us to help us we will wither and die.
So as individualistic as society seems to want us to be—we survive because of what God (divinely) and someone else (humanly) provides since none of us would be here without at least two others, our parents (so God created marriage).
I am called to make it my mission to share and become a part of His community of support by answering God’s call: to know Him, to Love Him and to serve Him (through you) rigorously and continuously.
I pray in hope that each of You will continue to grow to become a bigger part of His mission daily,