Archive | March, 2015

We Are to Die with Them

28 Mar

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We may walk in shadows because we are too busy to see one another and the light of faith.

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it (1 Cor 12:27).

Isolation—that is one reason we feel so alone. Everyone seems to be so busy, so involved in so many personal duties and pursuits.

We are so accustomed to the busyness of isolation that we are numb to the suffering of others. No, not to our family and close friends—but how do we think about those other Christians, the ones being slaughtered by ISIS?

In his death and resurrection, our Lord Jesus Christ, calls us into an intimate communion with him and one another.

For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit (1 Cor: 12-13).

And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it (1 Cor 12:26).

In faith and love, we share their terror, pain and death. We pray for them as we would pray for ourselves.

We are all one Body—the Body that was nailed to the Cross, the Body that rose from the dead and ascended into heaven.

We all have been called to “one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Eph 4: 5-6).

 

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The Power of Lent

20 Mar

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Have we truly recognized Jesus? Have we asked Jesus to rescue us from the darkness of doubt, shallow faith and indifference to his love and law?

 

Lent reveals the marvelous wisdom of God and the pastoral love the Church has for all of us.

Just think a bit about what the Lord has given us in the third, fourth and fifth Sundays of Lent:

  • The Samaritan woman had gone from man to man. She was regarded by her contemporaries as an outcast. She came to the well to draw water—but she was thirsting for more than water. She wanted happiness, peace of mind and soul. She found it in the mercy of God—but only as she gradually recognized who Jesus was.
  • The man who was blind from birth had no hope beyond the kindness of passersby. He had no idea that God loved him so much. He felt unimportant. He merely existed. Jesus gave him physical sight—and more. The man was given fresh hope. Did he follow Jesus for the rest of his life?
  • Finally, we rejoiced in the resurrection of Lazarus. Here was a miracle of miracles: Jesus raised his friend from the dead—after he had been in the tomb four days.

In what ways do we still walk in, or maybe even cling to, spiritual darkness. Are we ready to leave the death that is sin and move toward the Voice that bids us to come forth?

Let’s reflect together, honestly see where our love and trust lie, and then put our entire hope and trust in Jesus, who died on the cross that we might live in the light of love and the power of grace.

  • Are we hooked on the “latest gadgets” or the newest clothing styles or the latest model of that special car? Are we suckers for every “savings offer” that comes along? Are we not happy unless we shop until we drop?
  • Do we place our faith and trust in gaining wealth—or even what we call a “comfortable life?” Do we “need” to surround ourselves with things that help us feel important with the hope of impressing others?
  • And think for a moment about your quest for sensual satisfaction. Do you live to eat? Are sexual pleasures ruling your life? Are you involved with sinful actions and relationships—and what about pornography?

Enough. I think we all get the picture. But this is only the first step. If we think only of how we have failed God and others, we are sure to become depressed.

God’s mercy is endless, but not unconditional.

The one condition is to search our minds and hearts, to review all our relationships, to recognize and confess our sins. This, then, is how we open ourselves to dive ever more deeply into the embrace of God.

God’s mercy and his grace move us from the death of sin into new life, from the shadows of conditional faith into the fullness of life in Christ.

The Joy of Lent

9 Mar

 

 

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On that old rugged Cross …

Lent? Joy? In the same breath?

I venture to say an enthusiastic “Amen!” since “Alleluia!” is improper in Lent.

Just a few minutes ago, I concluded a telephone conversation with a long-time and very dear friend, Msgr. Michael Eivers of the Miami archdiocese.

He mentioned an article (which he is sending me) about Lent penned by a woman author. She said that our Lenten spirit was a bit dark—all the emphasis on penance, fasting, reparation for sin. While all these are important, Msgr. Eivers told me that she said we might emphasize love during Lent.
What a joyous thought! The paschal mystery—the death and resurrection of Jesus—is all about love: the love that the Father, Son and Spirit have for all the errant children created out of love.  That same divine love moved the Divine Son of God to assume to himself our own human nature. He was like us in all things except sin. He healed, taught, inspired and raised the dead—all because God does so love us. He went to the Cross because Jesus—in his human and divine nature, along with the Father and the Spirit—so loves us.

How can we not be overwhelmed with joy when we realize that at the darkest and most sinful time in our lives, God loved us enough to die for us? And that love never ends, never falters, never becomes conditional: “If you love me and obey me I will love you.” Never. Not at all. His love is everlasting. God is love. How can he not love?

Peg and I have lunch every Friday with two very dear friends. We laugh a lot. Maybe gossip a bit—but we’re always quick to say, “I’m not judging, just making an observation.” We do have some somber moments as we think about fellow parishioners who suffer in one way or another. Yes, we are sometimes somber, but always sober!

Msgr. Eivers knows a lot about joy and God’s love. He’s “retired,” but says Mass in the parish he built up from scratch. When he retired, among the accomplishments he, his staff and lay leaders achieved, were 800 people dedicated to perpetual adoration, more than sixty cell groups dedicated to evangelization and a liturgy which touched people’s minds and hearts.

I say he’s “retired” because this octogenarian has about two thousand people on his e-mail list for whom he writes reflections on the Scriptures, the saints and the truths of our Catholic faith. In the chapel in his home, he has a “Prayer Basket” which overflows with the names of people requesting his prayers. He has Peg’s and my name in that basket.

Lent—a season of repentance, to be sure; but were it not for our Lord Jesus Christ, we would know so very little about repentance, God’s love and the joy of knowing both salvation and our Savior.