Monday, April 27, 2015

Do Something, Be His Sheep

Do Something, Be His Sheep Monday Morning 298                          April 27, 2015

Friends of Faith:

We are called to DO something, because we believe something. Just saying we believe isn’t enough. We are called to put our faith into action.

And who leads us? Who do we follow? How do we know that what we are doing is right and that who we are following is leading us on the right path?

Jesus said: “I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. A hired man, who is not a shepherd and whose sheep are not his own, sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away, and the wolf catches and scatters them. This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd. This is why the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own. I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again. This command I have received from my Father.” Jn 10: 11-18

Are we following Jesus Christ or is our shepherd the hired man who runs when the going gets tough?

And where are all the sheep? Why do so many say they believe in God, yet so few seem to honor that belief? What is so difficult about the institution of Church and the authority of following a leader whom Christ put in charge?

In His death and resurrection Jesus has already done my work for me, IF I would only follow His lead. If like a sheep I would allow Him to take on my difficulties and challenges. Then my job could be much easier.

What about the hired man who runs when the wolf comes. How many times am I led astray, wandering because I have followed the wrong shepherd, a devil whose interest lies in his own self-fulfillment, or a devil who encouraged me to take it on myself, to become my own leader without regard to His authority or whomever else my decisions might affect? Have I become my own God?

And what about when the hired man disappears after making me a promise that my happiness will come through social acceptance, career success, or material wealth; am I then left scattered, disillusioned and searching for something more without the guidance of God’s truth and mercy?

I think personally that I most often resist the notion of giving up control because I fear that I may follow the hired man and be left wandering. And even though I respect authority by being in control of myself (and of all that happens around me) I will not only get myself out of a situation but I will be sure others also are led a better way. 

And yet it is God’s way that is the best way and His plan and how that is carried out is only known by Him. That is why I am to be His sheep, led and nurtured by Him, with Jesus Christ and those he has given authority to, as my Good Shepherd.

This doesn’t mean that being a Christian (a sheep following Christ) will be easy. On the contrary being a follower of Jesus means I may have to wander in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights so that I come to know who is in control. It may mean that I have to accept and bear a cross that I am given so that others may see my faith. And it may mean sacrificing my wants so that someone else will have what they need. It means serving and loving so that my joy and happiness is found not in my own comfort, but in the rewards of seeing others come into the flock, in being unified with and for Christ.

It means showing my respect and belief in His authority by following Jesus into His home (my home) the Church at least once a week (every week) where I am allowed to receive His Spiritual encouragement in Scripture and physical food in the Eucharist and to share and to be encouraged by others who also believe.

Heavenly Father I am thankful that you have given me Your Son as My Good Shepherd. Help me to see in Him the light which guides my choices and encourages me to be more for Him AND to do more for others. May my reward here on earth be to see more come into the flock so that together we will follow You into the greatest reward, heaven. Thank you for the Good Shepherds, Priests, Bishops and Deacons in my life. Amen.

Jesus the Good Shepherd is continually looking for me and waiting for me to follow, ready to take me in and give me everything I need. His way is the best way.

May Christ lead me to do His will because I believe in Him,


Monday, April 20, 2015

Organic Truth

Friends of Faith:
Many of us have heard “we are what we eat.” But where do we get what we eat? Does it come from McDonalds, Olive Garden or some other restaurant, or does it come direct from the farm? Is it organic or processed; in its original form or a product of the world?

And just like food that we feed our bodies, so too is the truth which feeds us emotionally and spiritually both manufactured, processed and/or organic. So, not only are our bodies what we eat; so too is our mind and our heart what it is fed.
Matthew Kelly puts it this way: “I can tell who a person is by the books on their bookshelves.”
“I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children* walking in the truth just as we were commanded by the Father. But now, Lady, I ask you, not as though I were writing a new commandment but the one we have had from the beginning: let us love one another. For this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, as you heard from the beginning, in which you should walk. Many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh; such is the deceitful one and the antichrist. Look to yourselves that you do not lose what we worked for but may receive a full recompense. Anyone who is so “progressive”* as not to remain in the teaching of the Christ does not have God; whoever remains in the teaching has the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him in your house or even greet him; for whoever greets him shares in his evil works. 2Jn 1: 4-11
So what and where does our truth come from? Are we getting a“healthy” dose of the truth directly from Jesus’ teachings, Scripture, the Church and directly from those who witness service and mercy of Jesus or by those who are being of service? Or is our truth coming from something that the world has humanly manufactured or processed?

How true is the 6 o’clock news? Is what we are listening to a true reporting of an event? And is our reality based on the percentage of time given to what is reported on the nightly news? Think about a 30 minute news program—15 minutes of which is advertising, business propaganda that is manufactured so that we will believe what they want us to believe; 1 or 2 minutes to an accident or tragedy (probably real, but often nothing that will teach us how to become a better citizen or servant); 1 or 2 minutes to human interest (only occasionally about someone who has done a good deed; more often about politics or entertainment); 3-5 minutes of weather (someone’s prediction of what they think will happen in the next 7 days, about which only 50% actually happens) and 5 minutes of sports reporting which while it may be real, is truly “just a game.”
How about reality TV? How many of us will “Dance with the Stars;” be the “Voice;” date 25 men or women at the same time to be the “Bachelor”or “Bachelorette;” or run the “Amazing Race” in some foreign country? And does CSI really reflect the court system or have anything to do with helping our neighbor?

How much time do we spend reading opinions, gossip or and watching reposted videos on Face Book? Yes, occasionally we may be able to congratulate a friend’s achievement, wish someone a happy birthday or offer our condolences to someone who has lost a loved one but does the time we spend browsing Face Book really allow us to serve others as Jesus served us? And how much of what is posted or reported is actually perpetuating harmful or cynical gossip, someone’s opinion, reality TV, or sensationalized news stories?
And are the opinions posted on Face book becoming “the truth”and accepted social norms? Do we believe something is right because we saw it on TV or social media, or because “everyone else seems to be doing it (because I can prove it by what is posted and reposted)?”

Heavenly Father, you gave us two commands, to love you and to love others. Help me to do more than just read and watch others who spread what appears to be the truth, but rather to be motivated and inspired to share your truth and to be your servant with my hands and my feet. Help me to open my eyes to Your truth, and to be ready with a listening ear and a willing heart so that my time will be spent sharing and caring with original truth—Your truth. May I see in others as the organic face of You. Amen.
Is my truth organic or processed? Will I take the time to be the organic hands and face of Jesus this week or will my reality be manufactured and processed?

Monday, April 13, 2015

Easter: More than a Day

Friends of Faith:
Happy Easter! Can I say that today, for it’s been more than a week since we celebrated Easter by dressing up and going to church with our families?

Have you ever thought that Easter isn’t just one Sunday of joy or that Christmas isn’t just about giving or sharing gifts for one day?
I’ve asked and been asked this before: “If you believe what you say you believe, then do you act as if you believe what you say you believe?”

“Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples said to him,“We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” Jn 20: 24-25
Most of us forget easily. We constantly ask for “proof.” We stop doing what we know needs to be done because we don’t see the results, the results don’t last, or because the results aren’t fast enough.

We don’t act like it’s Easter or Christmas every single day. Even things that are “easy” like getting dressed up to go to church with the entire family, or enjoying a family meal together are done only once in a great while. And even though we know the commandments we fail to speak kindly to and about our spouse, or to take the time to spend with them or do something for them, yet that was what we promised and believed on the day we said “I do.”
And like Thomas who walked with Christ through his 3 years of ministry, we still “ask” for proof to see what we already know, and to “feel”what we quit actively participating in.

Think about the forgiveness and allowances (peace) we see members of a family make on a holiday, at a funeral, or at a special family gathering. Or the difference in the way we act with our spouse in public vs how we treat them at home.
Heavenly Father, you are always present, always forgiving, always loving. I ask that the Holy Spirit will bless me with the gifts of patience, tolerance, perseverance and fortitude so that I may think less of myself, treat others with more dignity and forgive others their faults more readily. Thank you for giving me the chance to see You in another Easter Day. Amen.

Being Christian is more than celebrating a couple of special days in a year. It is about acting Christ like; it is about being able to say: I forgive, I’ll share and I’ll proclaim EVERY day of the year.
Because isn’t every day called to be a special day. Isn’t Christ always sharing by being present (Christmas)? And didn’t Christ restore us by dying for us so that our sins would be forgiven (Good Friday)? And didn’t He rise and proclaim the Good News (Easter)?

Believe for yourself that today is Christmas, Good Friday and Easter. And then act so that those around you may come to believe also.
Make today and everyday a day to give, forgive and proclaim His blessings,
In faith,