Monday, March 28, 2016

Christ's Truth's, Societies Lies

Friends of Faith:

I had the opportunity yesterday to read and review some of my past reflections, including my first formal introduction done almost 7 years ago.

I say my “formal” introduction because these reflections were a growth of informal more targeted and shorter private messages which I wrote to encourage women who shared with me their personal struggles.

And as I wrote those private words of encouragement to them I realized that the struggles they shared with me, which included very personal conflicts within their marriages and families, while they seemed lonely and individual, were shared by us all AND that those struggles very much influenced and/or were being “fed” by societal lies.

“No servant can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all these things and sneered at him. And he said to them, “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: 13-15

So as I reread earlier reflections, I was again reminded that each of us share the same struggles because we are being influenced by the same worldly lies which are created by a devil who is cunning and sly, who sneaks in and who tempts, who conquers by dividing, and who constantly tries to get us to choose him instead of God.

Our choices ARE choices because God created us with free will: the only right “freedom of choice,” the first and only freedom to choose, the choice of choosing him over every other choice. Because without this freedom, God’s perfect creation of us in love would never have needed this world at all – we would simply have been created in heaven with him, we would have never gone beyond the paradise of Eden, there would only have been an Adam and an Eve without sin– because, as God proclaimed, “It was good.” (Genesis 1).

And just as I did when I wrote the first private words, I reflected yesterday on the purpose and need for sharing my writings, the need for my own personal change, and how I hope my writings continue to encourage and support others. 

My desire is that each message will continue to revolve around how powerfully Christ’s truthful message of love, joy, peace and hope remains forever a Lenten journey through the sufferings and the sacrifices caused by the influence of societal lies we hear almost everywhere we turn.

So even in those early short private writings I have tried not to share an answer designed with my own thoughts, but rather to be led by the Spirit and to be influenced by Christ’s truths.

And I thought again as I often do about how the devil lies to each of us. Things like: “it doesn’t make me happy;”  “it’s my body, so I should be able to choose,” “the kids will be okay,” and one I heard last night in a TV show: “you’re not Catholic, so you won’t go to hell if…..”

Believe it or not that’s really what the devil is so good at telling us and what the devil so wants us to believe. And believe it nor not much of the division in society is because we do react, act and live in the beliefs of these lies: the need to be happy 100% of the time; the lie that it’s my body, so if I want, I can kill any another body; the belief that what we do doesn’t influence our kids (and others); and even that, oddly enough, only Catholics can go to hell because they have a certain rule that says so about a certain practice. REALLY???

While much “advice” seems to be cliché, Christ’s message has an obvious nature and the truth of it is that Christ’s answer really has only one central message: Love—for all, not just Christians, Catholic Christians, Muslims, believers or non-believers, but for ALL. In this one regard we were all created equally, by God, with an equal (infinite) amount of God’s love. It is God’s eternal love for all for which every human is made, and for which eternal peace, joy and happiness is created.
Jesus chose God and he suffered for God. He accepted the sufferings, blaming no one else for what happened to him. He gave up everything of this world to achieve God’s world (purpose). And in the process He did not judge us, but rather He mercifully and compassionately guided us, forgiving us our shortcomings so that through our own choice to follow Him we too might have the hope of eternal life and find peace and joy in the process.

By my constant, daily choices to choose God I am saying yes to his influence, yes to his honor, yes to serving others, and yes to giving up my worldly desires. I am saying, “yes, I want to attain holiness, not only for myself but that I want to lead others to holiness so that we may all have eternal life and eternal happiness.”

Brothers and sisters: Do you not know that a little yeast leavens all the dough? Clear out the old yeast,
so that you may become a fresh batch of dough,  inasmuch as you are unleavened. For our paschal lamb, Christ, has been sacrificed. Therefore, let us celebrate the feast, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
 1 Cor 5: 6B-8

Heavenly Father: I choose you because you have chosen me. Help me to resist the lies of the devil and to realize that as imperfect as I am, I am not alone, but am created by you, for you, and to be with you forever. May my desire for you allow me to influence those I love in a positive way and may I always be ready and willing to show the same forgiveness, mercy, and compassion that your son, Jesus, showed to us when he died on the cross for my sins, so that together each of us may likewise rise with Christ Jesus on the last day. Amen.

Follow Him. Choose His Truth!

And may the Blessing of His dying and His Rising be with you always,

Monday, March 14, 2016

Writing in the Sand

Friends of Faith:
Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger. But when they continued asking him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”Again he bent down and wrote on the ground. And in response, they went away one by one, beginning with the elders. So he was left alone with the woman before him. Then Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She replied, “No one, sir.” Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin anymore.” Jn 8: 1-11

What was the writing in the sand? Could it be that what was written in the sand was not quite as significant as the patience that Jesus displayed as he was writing? A patience that gives all the characters in the story time to examine themselves as sinners? Only God knows.
Not only is God all merciful, but it is only God we need to please. And it is in our task on the journey of life to not only know what pleases him, but to know how and if we are pleasing him. We can’t fool God.

Yet sometimes I try. I know sometimes that what I do, big or little isn’t what God would want or wanted me to do.
It’s not necessarily that my choice is to be a hypocrite, or even to do wrong. It’s that I am human. Sometimes I don’t know any better and I need someone with better judgment than me to tell me that I am, or what I am, doing is wrong.

Sometimes I haven’t yet received the wisdom to know differently and I need to study more about how the Christian Church was formed.
And sometimes I just need to understand that I am listening to the wrong voice within me. And while it may seem “easier” in my human nature to do what everyone else is doing, or what makes me feel happier because it gives me pleasure in that particular moment. If it is not God’s right it won’t leave me with a lasting happiness so that I may feel joy and peace forever.

One of the gifts given by the Holy Spirit at Confirmation is the gift of Right Judgment (1Cor: 12). The gift to know what is right by God and what is not right by God: the gift to be able to make choices based on knowing the difference between right and wrong in God’s eyes. It is a gift given so that with every step I make I can see the “writing in the sand” and hear and feel the mercy of God so that I can “go and from now on sin no more.”
Not only is this a gift I am given to know my own right and wrong, but it is a gift that I am asked to both be a witness to and to share with others so that each of us may become more holy. As a Christian I cannot judge how God will see someone, but it is my duty, regardless of how I will be treated, to share His commandments and to learn and discern the difference between Gods right and wrong.

I cannot say “it doesn’t affect me, or that some choice wouldn’t be my choice.” Would it be God’s choice? If we know what God’s choice would be, if we know what God’s writing in the sand would be, then His message must be shared with compassion and mercy.
In the words of St. Paul:This third time I am coming to you. “On the testimony of two or three witnesses a fact shall be established.”I warned those who sinned earlier …. that if I come again I will not be lenient, since you are looking for proof of Christ speaking in me. He is not weak toward you but powerful in you. For indeed he was crucified out of weakness, but he lives by the power of God. 2 Cor 13: 1-11 (Continued as a prayer)

Heavenly Father:  So also we are weak in him, but toward you we shall live with him by the power of God. Examine yourselves to see whether you are living in faith. Test yourselves. Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless, of course, you fail the test. I hope you will discover that we have not failed. But we pray to God that you may not do evil, not that we may appear to have passed the test but that you may do what is right, even though we may seem to have failed. For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth. For we rejoice when we are weak but you are strong. What we pray for is your improvement.  I am writing this while I am away, so that when I come I may not have to be severe in virtue of the authority that the Lord has given me to build up and not to tear down. V. Conclusion*
Finally, brothers, rejoice. Mend your ways, encourage one another, agree with one another, live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you. 2 Cor 13: 1-11 Amen.

Sometimes the message God shared falls on fertile soil – soil that is being nurtured, that wants to grow and learn more. Sometimes that message falls on sand and withers as it dries up waiting for a rain (tears) to bring it back up because it is not yet ready to bear fruit or grow. And sometimes it falls on rock – a hard heart, a stubborn “I know better” or “I like what I know and I don’t want to know more” attitude.

These attitudes, while they may look hypocritical on the outside are human nature.

But as long as my choice is to grow closer to God then God’s writing in the sand will not condemn me, but rather it will nourish me and help me to “go, and sin no more.”

Don’t ignore the writing in the sand.

Grow closer to the writing in the sand. Be patient with the writing in the sand. And share compassionately the writing in the sand.