Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Year of Mercy

Friends of Faith:
Pope Francis has declared the year of 2016 to be a “Year of Mercy” for a very good reason – EVERYONE needs it, “for we have sinned.”

Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned. Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness; in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense. Thoroughly wash me from my guilt and of my sin cleanse me. For I acknowledge my offense, and my sin is before me always: “Against you only have I sinned, and done what is evil in your sight.”A clean heart create for me, O God, and a steadfast spirit renew within me. Cast me not out from your presence, and your Holy Spirit take not from me. Give me back the joy of your salvation, and a willing spirit sustain in me. O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall proclaim your praise. Ps 51: 3-17

But mercy is much more than just forgiveness for our sins, mercy is a time to forgive others; to grow in our faith; to rejoice and be glad that God has given us a Savior to wash away our guilt; and to commit to showing mercy to ALL of God’s people.
It is a time of refreshing ourselves with renewed courage and strength so that when we are called we can follow the Spirit who asks us to be “Christ like.” The Year of Mercy is a time to extend the mercy of Christ to others.  

Yet, too many times I find myself looking at the world, a single person or a group of people, and saying, “if only they would do this or that the world would be a better place.” I find myself blaming or pointing a finger at others instead of looking at my own failings and faults.
So mercy presents for me an opportunity to search my own heart for what it is I could be doing to make this world, and this time, better. What changes can I make in myself so that others will see Christ through me and in their own lives? How am I failing in my personal choices to say “yes” to God? Who am I ignoring that needs to see Christ in me? What “strange god” is overshadowing my life, my decisions, or my time?

Culturally our gods have become sports, possessions, sex and fulfilling our own desires. Many of us fail in the most basic choices of putting God first even on Sunday or to serve our spouses to whom we have taken a vow and covenant to love. And what is my response when I am asked to give my time or possessions to a stranger who is in need? Is God being given my “leftovers” fruits instead of my first time or talent?
Heavenly Father, help me to be able to honestly say that I put you FIRST; that I am a follower of Christ, a Christian. Grant me mercy for not showing others that you are what I value most in life. “Cast me not out from your presence.” And give me the grace to see the Holy Spirit who is always present and waiting to lead me. Renew in me a clean heart and cleanse me from my sin. Amen.

The Year of Mercy isn’t just about our own forgiveness. Rather the Year of Mercy should also be about our own renewal to be merciful to each other by putting God first, by serving others needs and by showing to others how Christ’s mercy and love gives us peace and joy.
“Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.”
Blessings as you seek and spread God’s mercy to others,

Monday, January 11, 2016

Dreaming of an Ordinary "Holy" day

Friends of Faith:

Yesterday was the feast of the Baptism of Our Lord and what the Church calls the end of the Christmas season. Today starts the “ordinary time” within the Church calendar – those 32 or 33 weeks depending on the year, in which we are not celebrating Advent, Christmas, Lent or Easter.

“Beloved: The grace of God has appeared, saving all and training us to reject godless ways and worldly desires and to live temperately, justly, and devoutly in this age, as we await the blessed hope, the appearance of the glory of our great God and savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to deliver us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for himself a people as his own, eager to do what is good.” Ti 2: 11-14
For many reasons I am looking forward to “ordinary time”  to being “delivered” back to a slower pace and a normalcy. I’m dreaming of a time when I don’t have to think about honoring traditions seemingly created by the commercialism and materialism of a holiday, but rather a dream of a calmer holy day.

What I am dreaming of and looking forward to is a true ordinary day. A day when I can say the only important task I have do is to sit in silence, to pray, and to listen to God’s answer. A day in which there is  no advertising or media interference trying to commercialize an “event” but a day in which instead of being Martha, I could be Mary.
I know – this isn’t a completely practical dream, but that IS what a dream is. In the practical sense as soon as I send this I have to go to work and it’s tax season. But with true Christian hope I really look forward to a perfect “holy day,” one in which I have more time to pray and less things to do; more time to give away and less commitments that have to be done; more of myself to give to others and less on the shopping list for myself.

A dream is a dream for a reason. A dream is a reminder of what is truly important, of what we would put aside, of what we would chose over everything else. A dream is what is in our heart.
And for me, this dream is a reminder that Christ remains more important to me (and others who share my dream) than worldly wants and desires. That His will for me is more important than the “hoopla” imposed by the desires brought on by media, commercialism, materialism, individualism and several other “isms” that seem to have overtaken our world.

The dream itself gives me hope and an awareness of a blessing that I have been given: a vision to “see” that my hope truly is in Christ. A blessing to know and desire that even though the devil tries to impose and interfere by making feast days into worldly holidays, Jesus’ life, God’s presence, and the power of the Holy Spirit will remain: more important, more glorious, and more of a desire, more of a sought after dream, than all that is worldly.
So as much as my dream is to be “ordinary” I go back to the start and end of this holy season, Christ’s birth and baptism which is passed on to us by our personal desire, our own call to join Christ by being baptized and our sanctification by Christ’s blood.

My dream is to BE what my baptism calls me to be:  a light, a living and present Christian to others. A dream to make Christ be as everyday and “ordinary” as possible for me; a desire to make Christ be present for as many others as I/we can; and a hope to help others see Christ as their own hope, to make Christ’s “ordinary” time be their own dream.
Heavenly Father, Your time is Glorious. Your ordinary is the most extraordinary. Your presence is my hope. Fulfill my dream with your reality. Give those you love the holiness to make this their dream too. Help me to make my ordinary be all about You. Amen.

Dream of an ordinary day and then make this ordinary day be a very Happy Holy-day.