Wednesday, September 7, 2016

JESUS FREAK

1 corinthians 7:25-31; Ps 45 listen to me, daughter; see and blend your ear; Luke 6:20-26


Because all the early Christians assumed that the second coming of Jesus was imminent, all stable human  institutions were under judgment and were approached with caution.

The expectation of the second coming colored the perspective of the early Christians.  sometimes unfortunately this expectation is lost to us and we go about our business as usual.  This business as usual approach can be destructive.  Also, just living with the expectation of the second coming as if it were everything can also be destructive.

The proper attitude is to keep both in tension as we journey through life.
It is the expectation of the coming of Jesus that empowers the daily grind of living and loving to be elevated, to become supernatural experience of charity, hope, and of faith as we anticipate tomorrow as another day to work vigorously for the vineyard.

This is why the church holds in great regard the beauty of the sacrament of Marriage as a source of grace not only for the couples themselves but for the world.  In the sacrament the couples become a witness to divine love.  This is not as st Paul describes an affliction to run from but an affection or pressure that purifies and makes holy.

We turn to Jesus in the gospel.  We encounter the beatitudes.  Blessed are the poor, the hungry, weeping, those who are hated account of the son of man.   Rejoice and leap for joy.

Recently i came across a christian song that was popular when i was in college.  DC Talk was the all the rave as christian bands went and one of their songs was entitled, "Jesus Freak."

Here are a few of the lyrics,

"What will people think
When they hear that I'm a Jesus freak
What will people do when they find that it's true
I don't really care if they label me a Jesus freak
There ain't no disguising the truth
Kamikaze, my death is gain
I've been marked by my maker
A peculiar display
The high and lofty, they see me as weak
'Cause I won't live and die for the power they seek
People say I'm strange, does it make me a stranger
That my best friend was born in a manger
People say I'm strange, does it make me a stranger
That my best friend was born in a manger"

It made me think of the beatitudes. 

Poverty, hunger, tears, outcast...Jesus freak in deed. 


Does the Spirit make a difference

1 corinthians 6:1-11 Ps 149 The Lord takes delight in his people; Luke 6:12-19


I heard someone say the other day that if God were to remove his Spirit from us it would take 3 months before we ever noticed it.

It was a striking statement to make and a more striking reality check for myself.

I began to ask myself whether or not i would notice.  Not only would i notice but do i notice now, the difference God's Spirit, the Holy Spirit, makes in my life.

What about the rest of us?  Is there a difference living in the Spirit as opposed to living without the Spirit?  Would we notice if God removed his Spirit from us?

St Paul is asking the very question to the early Christians in  the community of Corinth.

He is reminded them that as believers who are baptized that the Spirit of God is empowering them in such a manner that they have a greater capacity to see and judge more clearly than the rest.

Hear again his words, "How can any one of you with a case against another dare to bring it to the unjust for judgment instead of to the Holy Ones?"

St Paul believes that those who have been giving the Spirit of God at baptism have a capacity that others do not.  In other words, the Spirit does make a difference.

It is a good opportunity to see if we allow the Spirit of God to make a difference in our life.  Are we aware that we are different because of the Spirit of God that animates our life? Do we let that Spirit guide us forth?

If you are not sure if you are living a spirit led life then look at Galatians chapter 5: fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, generosity, faithfulness, self-control.


Jesus chooses the twelve in today's gospel.  After choosing them we are told that he stands on "a stretch of level ground" with them.  Jesus incorporates the twelve as coworkers, human agents, partners in building and spreading the kingdom.  He empowers them to do what he himself does.

Their is something different about us when we let the Spirit lead us forth.




Monday, August 29, 2016

BORROW YOUR LOVE

Jeremiah 1:17-19; Ps 71 I will sing your salvation Mark 6:17-29

Today in the life of the Church we celebrate the beheading of John the Baptist or the passion of John the Baptist.  John is the precursor to Christ.  He had one job and that was to point to Christ, "Behold the lamb of God."

In fact if anyone could ever claim a Messiah complex, it could have been John the Baptist, for every one thought he was the Messiah.  Yet, rather than give in to the ego's drive for notoriety, he simply pointed to Christ and proclaimed "I must decrease, he must increase."

Thinking about John the Baptist and his martyrdom and I think about the words of St Therese, "For me to love You as You love me, I would have to borrow your own love."  This was St Therese's expression to Jesus in regards to her desire to return to Him the love she herself experienced.

To Love you as you love me, I would have to borrow your own love.

The only way we could ever love God in the way he has loved us is with the very love with which He has first loved us.

Perhaps this is the experience of every martyr, everyone who has laid their life on the line.


What if the witness of martyrdom is in fact the borrowing of God's love so that God can be loved in the way he has loved us?

What if this is truly passionate love?

Today ask God to see how much he loves you.  Today ask God to borrow his love so that you may love him with the love he has loved you.

Celebrate John the Baptist this way.






Sunday, August 28, 2016

HUMILITY

Sirach 3:17-18, 20, 28-29; Ps 68 God, in your goodness, you have made a home for the poor; Hebrews 12:18-19,22-24; Luke 14:1,7-14

The readings for today invite us to ponder a new Humility.  There are many fascinating definitions of humility. There are just as many fascinating stories of people encountering  humility in their life.

Both Jesus int he gospel and the first reading zero in on humility in a very concrete way.  Yet, i believe it is the second reading that really holds the underlying truth of humility for us to embrace.  I hope i can explain a bit as this blog unfolds.

First a tale of two authors.  Douglas Adams wrote a scify fiction called a Hitchhiker's Guide to the Universe back in the 1970's.  I spent some time reading it.  It is a fascinating jaunt through the universe.  Any novel that includes a depressed Robot surely is worth the read.

But in the novel, the author describes the best torture device: Total Perspective Vortex.  This torture device is created by a husband who is being nagged by his wife to have a better sense of proportion.

He creates this device by which once someone is inside they are given in a momentary glimpse the full vastness of the unimaginable seemingly infinite stretching of all creation and that there on a microscopic dot on a microscopic dot is a note that says 'you are here'.   It is torture device that enables the person to come face to face with the ugly truth of just how small they really are.

Usually this device, at least in the book, would leave the person mad because of this reality check.

Growing up this has always been the sense of  humility that i understood.  Humility is about smallness. It is a reality check in which we recognize our true self, and we are aware of the many short comings and failings that go to make up our life in such a way that we truly realize we are not better than anyone else.  Though out defects may be different none the less they remain.

when we can hold on to our smallness then we can embrace the power of humility in our life.  This is good start.

But as Christians I think humility is the opposite.  It isn't looking at our smallness but rather our bigness, what we are created to be, what will become of us, what is our destiny.

This is what ultimately humbles us.

C S Lewis as a good take on this bigness that has been given to us.
"There is no ordinary men. You have never talked to a mere mortals.  Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations…these are mortals.  To our life theirs is like the life of a gnat. But it is immortals that we joke with, work with, marry, snub, exploit, gossip about, betray, hurt, love….Next to God himself, our neighbor is the holiest object presented to our senses.  If he is a christian neighbor then he is holy in a par excellence way for Christ, the glorifier and Glory himself, is truly hidden in him."

There is no ordinary men.  You have never talked to mere mortals.

This is really the case of humility.  We don't just stop at our smallness but look at our greatness, our destiny.
This is why the end of the gospel is so telling, "you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."  Life is big.  It is bigger than the here and now.

St Paul is trying to get us to understand this in the second readings.  He poses the question, 'who do we approach when we approach God?"

He distinguishes between the mosaic covenant and the Davidic Covenant in Christ.  In the Mosaic covenant God revealed himself in a way that scared the people, "blazing fire and gloomy darkness and storm and trumpet blast and voice such that those who heard begged that no further message be given."

Sounds horrific enough. But what of the covenant with Jesus.

"You have approached Mt Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and countless angels in festal gathering, the assembly of the first born enrolled in heaven, and God the judge of all, and the spirits of the just made perfect, and Jesus, the mediator of the new covenant, and the sprinkled blood that speaks more eloquently than that of Abel."

Who do we approach when we approach God but not God alone but all those in God.  Not only the festal gathering of angels but the sprits of the just made perfect.  Thats our destiny.  That is you and I.

It is glory.  It is the bigness that awaits us, that we are created for.   If you notice, St Paul puts us all on the same tier. God, Jesus, angels, men/women glorified.  This is not a merit but a gift.

This is more humbling than the Total Perspective Vortex.  It is isn't that we are a microscopic dot on a microscopic dot, insignificant.  But rather our existence has purpose and we are meaningful, significant.  we are meant for glory.   In the resurrection in the righteous we shall become what we are created to be.

We are not ordinary.  We are not mere mortals.
Next to God Himself, our neighbor is the holiest object presented to our senses.

This is what is humbling.

The power of humility isn't that we think of ourselves less or think lessor ourselves but we put ourselves in the proper perspective of what awaits us by God' s mercy that leads us to glory as a gift.








HUMILITY

Sirach 3:17-18, 20, 28-29; Ps 68 God, in your goodness, you have made a home for the poor; Hebrews 12:18-19,22-24; Luke 14:1,7-14

The readings for today invite us to ponder a new Humility.  There are many fascinating definitions of humility. There are just as many fascinating stories of people encountering  humility in their life.

Both Jesus int he gospel and the first reading zero in on humility in a very concrete way.  Yet, i believe it is the second reading that really holds the underlying truth of humility for us to embrace.  I hope i can explain a bit as this blog unfolds.

First a tale of two authors.  Douglas Adams wrote a scify fiction called a Hitchhiker's Guide to the Universe back in the 1970's.  I spent some time reading it.  It is a fascinating jaunt through the universe.  Any novel that includes a depressed Robot surely is worth the read.

But in the novel, the author describes the best torture device: Total Perspective Vortex.  This torture device is created by a husband who is being nagged by his wife to have a better sense of proportion.

He creates this device by which once someone is inside they are given in a momentary glimpse the full vastness of the unimaginable seemingly infinite stretching of all creation and that there on a microscopic dot on a microscopic dot is a note that says 'you are here'.   It is torture device that enables the person to come face to face with the ugly truth of just how small they really are.

Usually this device, at least in the book, would leave the person mad because of this reality check.

Growing up this has always been the sense of  humility that i understood.  Humility is about smallness. It is a reality check in which we recognize our true self, and we are aware of the many short comings and failings that go to make up our life in such a way that we truly realize we are not better than anyone else.  Though out defects may be different none the less they remain.

when we can hold on to our smallness then we can embrace the power of humility in our life.  This is good start.

But as Christians I think humility is the opposite.  It isn't looking at our smallness but rather our bigness, what we are created to be, what will become of us, what is our destiny.

This is what ultimately humbles us.

C S Lewis as a good take on this bigness that has been given to us.
"There is no ordinary men. You have never talked to a mere mortals.  Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations…these are mortals.  To our life theirs is like the life of a gnat. But it is immortals that we joke with, work with, marry, snub, exploit, gossip about, betray, hurt, love….Next to God himself, our neighbor is the holiest object presented to our senses.  If he is a christian neighbor then he is holy in a par excellence way for Christ, the glorifier and Glory himself, is truly hidden in him."

There is no ordinary men.  You have never talked to mere mortals.

This is really the case of humility.  We don't just stop at our smallness but look at our greatness, our destiny.
This is why the end of the gospel is so telling, "you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."  Life is big.  It is bigger than the here and now.

St Paul is trying to get us to understand this in the second readings.  He poses the question, 'who do we approach when we approach God?"

He distinguishes between the mosaic covenant and the Davidic Covenant in Christ.  In the Mosaic covenant God revealed himself in a way that scared the people, "blazing fire and gloomy






Thursday, August 18, 2016

COME AS YOU ARE DO AS YOU WISH

Matthew 22:1-14

Today in the gospel Jesus gives us a parable, "The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son.."

Guest were invited and refused to come.

This did not go well for the guest.  The human heart is very skilled at coming up with reasons to now follow God's will.  We all can come up with fifty ways to say no in order to guard our comfort and our lifestyle.  What is really at stake is finding that one reason to say "yes" and allow God's will to free us from ourselves.

In place of the original guest, others from the streets were invited to come and partake of the festivities, to rejoice with the king whose son was getting married.

They all came.  The banquet hall was packed.  The king was pleased.

But there was one who had arrived without a wedding garment.  "My friend, says the king, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment?  But he guest was reduced to silence.  Then the king said to his attendants, 'bind his hands and feet, and cast him into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth. Many are invited few are chosen."

It is true that we are all invited to come as we are when the invitation is laid at our feet.  Yes!  True! Very true!  But, we are not invited to do as we wish.

Come as you are, absolutely, but not do as we want.

This was the probable with the guest without the wedding garment.  He thought he could came as he was and do what he wanted.  He was not humble enough to allow the king to show him how to be a guest in his house for the wedding.  He refused to listen and to be guided.

Sounds eerily familiar.  How many people this day what to be spiritual but they do to what God to give them direction.  They come as they are but they also want to do as they please rather they live in a manner that please Him, who invites.

Pax et Bonum

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Pay back what you owe

Matthew 18:21--19:1

I want to look at this past tuesdays readings.  I have been a bit under the weather as they say.  So i have been delayed.

It is a beautiful gospel for us to meditate on in light of the Jubilee Year of Mercy.

Peter asks the question, "Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him?"

Like Peter, we too what to know when we can say enough is enough.  We too want to draw the line in the sand and say no more, off with you I am out of mercy and forgiveness.

But Jesus tells us that seventy-seven times, or in other words, we never have the right to refuse forgiveness to any one.

We might be shocked at such a sentiment or truth.  But when have we ever know God to close the fountain of mercy to us or any one for that matter.  The fountain is never closed.  God never says enough.  God never say no.

Jesus simply wants us to live in our life toward others as God is toward us which is most perfectly exemplified in the Cross of Christ: Mercy is never closed off but rather it is crucified for the sake of the other.

Then we encounter the story Jesus tells to help us put a picture to what he is saying.  In the story there is a king looking to collect his debts.  A servant owes more than he can pay and begs to be forgiven.  The king obliges and forgives the debt that is owed.

The same servant finds a fellow servant who owes a much smaller amount and retaliates and demands payment rather than mirror the mercy he has received he becomes stingy an bull headed and mean, "pay back what you owe" he demands.

It doesn't turn out well for that servant.  Then Jesus tells us unless we forgive our brother from our heart  our Father will not forgive us.

First all we must know that compared to our offense to God everything others may owe us is always much smaller.  Too often we make the offense of our brother bigger than our own offense against God. This is a terrible thing.  Do not make things big that are really really small.

Why bother with much smaller amounts?  Forgiveness should thus be easy and readily available when we compare what we do to God and what others do to others.

Secondly, the servant begs the King to forgive his debt.  This is where the analogy fails with our relationship with God.  We do not have to beg God for Mercy.  His mercy is always readily accessible and available.  We just have to receive it.  In fact, each day, through out the day we should pause and look up and just say "Lord, I receive for mercy."  We should gulp it up whole and entire.  Only then can we be givers of the same mercy to others.  If we think God is stingy with mercy then we will be stingy and this is in correct.

Lastly, the servant tells the other servant, "Pay back what you owe."
What do we owe but mercy.  Mercy is our debt to God the Father in Jesus Christ through the SPirit.  It is our final debt.  The only way to pay back this debt of Mercy we have received from the Blessed Trinity is too simply give it back, give it away.  So We should gladly pay back what owe and look for opportunities to do so.

Pax et Bonum