Monday, October 24, 2016

Truth, Not Justification

Friends of Faith:

“And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”” Mt 16:18-19

If you find yourself trying to justify your beliefs and you haven’t sought God’s design thru the Church teachings to reveal the truth then your truth may not really be the truth, because there is never a real truth from God that needs justification. And although we might be called upon to explain God’s truth, God’s truth will always stand. He will prevail.

Brothers and sisters: Be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ. Be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma. Immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be mentioned among you, as is fitting among holy ones, no obscenity or silly or suggestive talk, which is out of place, but instead, thanksgiving. Be sure of this, that no immoral or impure or greedy person, that is, an idolater, has any inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty arguments, for because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the disobedient. So do not be associated with them. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light. Eph 4:32 – 5:8

Over the last 4 years in study with Stan for his formation in the churches diaconate program I have been challenged many times as to why my faith is real, as to why what I believe is true, and if I am going to trust what is being revealed to me. And the more I choose to pray, to read Scripture and Church documents, and to seek good quality Church approved education the more of His truth I have had revealed to me. And the more truth I have had revealed to me, the more I realize God still has yet more to reveal to me. I am not yet complete and I have much to learn.

And then, too, and more importantly, it also becomes my choice whether I believe; or whether I justify my beliefs by what is convenient for me or what I have always believed or what I have always been led to believe.

God gives us many gifts – life itself –the miracle of birth in creation (Genesis), constant and unfailing forgiveness (through his death on the cross), our daily bread (the Eucharist), and a promise of eternal happiness. Yet I am constantly put in a position to justify these truths by choices which require me to pick between eternal happiness and what secularly seem to be “good” cultural norms – freedom to choose, equality for everyone, tolerance and economic wealth.

St. Thomas Aquinas said, “He who is of God has everything which is best.”

I can justify my decision to pray for the elderly while failing to visit them; I can justify my desire to help someone in my expertise/career while failing to see the loneliness of a client who sits across from me; I can justify choosing to honestly pay taxes while failing to give money or shelter to the homeless person on the corner by saying the government will take care of them; and I can justify believing everything I am told by the government because it is “allowed,” or is lawful, while hearing the gospel tell me that power is not in principalities but in Christ.

Then war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels battled against the dragon. The dragon and its angels fought back, but they did not prevail and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. The huge dragon, the ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, who deceived the whole world, was thrown down to earth, and its angels were thrown down with it. Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have salvation and power come, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Anointed. For the accuser of our brothers is cast out, who accuses them before our God day and night. They conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; love for life did not deter them from death. Therefore, rejoice, you heavens, and you who dwell in them. But woe to you, earth and sea, for the Devil has come down to you in great fury, for he knows he has but a short time.” Rev 12: 7-12

Our way is not God’s way. No matter what happens, God will always prevail. That is his promise to us.

Our responsibility then is to act on the truth by seeking it, by listening to it and by defending it when it is revealed to us. And never to be afraid – of being tested, of our friends ridicule, or even of denying an unjust law.

I can think of hundreds of times when I have been tested or ridiculed for my beliefs. When I have been challenged that my belief is skewed, misinformed or of my own desire. And each one of these times it is my challenge to become further educated, to pray, to ask God if what I am defending is from Him or from the culture or even to educate and kindly share what God has revealed to me to 

God has a unique way of revealing Himself to us – in today’s Scripture, in an encounter with a stranger, or in an answered or unanswered prayer. Our only true “choice” is the choice to believe or not to believe in His Truth.  Truth is revealed in Sacred Scripture and Scripture, “the word” became flesh in Jesus. (John 1:1-14)

When Pilot spoke to Jesus:  Pilot said to him; “What is truth?” (John 18: 38) It is interesting how Pilot was staring into the eyes of the author of truth Himself and Pilot still didn’t recognize its very existence.

Heavenly Father, Almighty God, All Powerful Creator. You are my strength and courage. You are the Truth. Help me never to deny Your gift of Life; Your gift of grace; Your unfailing gift forgiveness and mercy. Help me to be open to the truth that is revealed to me and to follow You without fear. Amen.

The only justification that is important is our faith In God – and the only one that we will be asked to justify this to is God himself on our judgment day.

God is testing us now. Will I pass the test? Or will I justify something less than the truth?

Monday, October 17, 2016

Courageous Truth Follow-up

Friends in Christ:
It seems everyone wants to make everything be a "political" statement these days and then when we try to remain politically correct we forget that speaking God's truth isn't political at all. And that God is the one who gives us life, real liberty and true freedom.
So I've been having difficulty finding the RIGHT words to explain what it means to be an informed Christian-Catholic voter to other Christians who have different viewpoints than I do, but yet who are what I would call very faithful Christians. In that search I was sent this link to an awesome sermon -- Homily starts at 18:26, lasts about 20 minutes. I think it is the best I have heard on which issues should be and are of greatest importance in determining our vote.I pray that each of you are courageous enough to watch the entire message and to share it with others. 
My hope is that all Christians will be moved to vote to protect the most innocent, so that instead of being divided by politics, we and this country will be united in the only way possible-- for, in and by Christ. If you listen to the end you will also hear that the message is not just this priests own but comes from his bishop, so I forward it to you so that possibly you might be able to propose the same to others. This is the youtube link to only the homily.

Please go here to hear Fr. John Lankeit speak at Mass on October 2, 2016.  Advance the video to 18:26 to begin his sermon. It takes about 20 minutes.

In light of this week's gospel 2 Tim3:14-4:2 Do NOT be afraid to speak the truth and remain faithful. Please find it in your heart not to be swayed by the secular press and the secular culture which has confused their law on "freedom" with God's law of love and life. 
Remain faithful to what you have learned and believed,
because you know from whom you learned it,
and that from infancy you have known the sacred Scriptures,
which are capable of giving you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 
All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction,
and for training in righteousness, so that one who belongs to God may be competent,
equipped for every good work.

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingly power: proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching.