Monday, October 31, 2011

Blog # 201 John Chapter 6- 2

John Chapter 6 - 2 I am thoroughly convinced of the absolute importance of our faith in the divinity of Jesus in general as the foundation of our unconditional trust in Jesus and our total love for Him. I see its absolute importance also in particular in order to have a proper and complete understanding of Chapter 6 and its application in our use of that Chapter for our own personal growth in holiness and in possible discussions we might have with fellow Christians who are separated from us in serious matters of faith. Let's review some of the indicators we can discover in John's Gospel that can help us realize how John invites us always to keep the notion of the divinity of Jesus in clear focus. Matthew begins his Gospel with a family record of Jesus beginning with Abraham and continues through a long list of fathers and sons down to Joseph the husband of Mary, it being "of her that Jesus who is called the Messiah was born". "Here begins the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God." Mark begins his Gospel that way and proceeds immediately into the story of John the Baptist in the desert and the fully grown Jesus coming to John to be baptized. Luke begins his Gospel telling his friend Theophilus his purpose in writing his Gospel was to show Theophilus how reliable was the instruction that Theophilus received. This brief introduction is followed by the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth and the conception of John the Baptist. John begins his gospel in the same way and words the Bible itself begins, with God, "In the beginning...". Genesis goes on to give us the story of creation with God as the sole Creator of all that exists. John has this: "In the beginning was the Word; the Word was in God's presence, and the Word was God.Through him all things came into being, and apart from him nothing came to be...The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us." On the occasion of the Baptism of Jesus by John, John identifies Jesus as "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world". With a little reflection we can see this identification as a proclamation of the divinity of Jesus since only God can take away sin. Thirty times in John's Gospel Jesus confidently identifies himself as being "sent by the Father". Jesus made some clear and strong statements in favor of His divinity in discussions and arguments with the Pharisees. 'if you knew me, you would know the Father too." ( Jn 8:19, and 14:7). "I and the Father are one." (Jn 10:30). "I did indeed come from the Father; I came into the world". )Jn 16:18). "Whatever the Father does, the son does likewise." (Jn 5:19). The story of the raising of Lazarus clearly presents Jesus as divine. (Jn 11:1-27). On one occasion in His prayer Jesus identifies Himself in union with the Father before the world began. "Do you now, Father give me glory at your side, a glory I had with you before the world began.? (17:5). "Philip...Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. (14:9). Finally we have it this way: " I solemnly declare it: before Abraham came to be,I AM". (Jn 8:37) Here Jesus uses in reference to Himself the same expression God used with Moses when Moses asked Him how should the one who sent him to Pharaoh be identified. Having identified some of the claims of Jesus for His divinity in the Gospel of John we can now go on to apply our faith in that divinity to Chapter 6 . I hope you are still with me!

Blog # 200 John Chapter 6 - 1

Blog # 200 John Chapter 6 - 1 It will take more than one blog to respond to Chapter six of St.John's Gospel. First of all it is very important to place the entire Gospel of John in its historical context. Matthew Mark and Luke gave us their stories of the life death and resurrection of Jesus, where Jesus came from, what He did and said in the short number of the years of His life on earth, what happened to Him in the end.
Before writing his Gospel John, in his old age, had the advantage of several decades of the early history of the Church. Peter, James, and Paul, along with the other Apostles and many heroic lay members of the Church had suffered cruel deaths as the price of believing in Jesus and remaining faithful to Him. It was a high price to pay. But there was no other way for them to love God as Jesus taught them and as He had done, with unconditional trust and total self-giving. They had given all they had to give and they knew full well by faith the reward of martyrdom was well worth its price.
As several decades of history came and went after Jesus ascended into Heaven, the baton of faith had been handed down by those who were eye witnesses to His life on earth to the next two generations. The challenge of persecution and death a Christian would be called upon to face in order to remain faithful to Jesus did not come to an end. Some would find the challenge too difficult to overcome and traded their faith for a place of honor in the pagan government or simply for the experience of remaining alive. John would no doubt have been aware of this situation. He would have had in mind those who did not have the advantage he did in knowing Jesus personally and face to face, witnessing His miracles, and being guided by His wisdom and goodness, sharing His prayer experience and now in his old age living by faith day by day with faith in the resurrection and ascension of Jesus, with the personal guidance and support of the Holy Spirit promised and won for all who would retain their faith in Jesus now glorified in His Resurrection and Ascension.
Consequently, in support of those living around him whose faith in Jesus might be seriously threatened, John wrote his Gospel with a focus upon the the most authentic, fundamental, and logical basis of our unconditional faith in Jesus, HIS DIVINITY. Throughout the writing of his Gospel John goes out of his way to establish the identity of Jesus as divine. "The reason why the Jews were more determined to kill Jesus was that he was speaking of God as his Father, and thereby making himself God's equal." (Jn 5: 18). John would have Jesus say: "If you knew me you would know the Father too." ( Jn 8: 19, 14: 7) . "The Father and I are one." ( Jn 10: 30). "I solemnly declare it: before Abraham came to be, I AM". (Jn 8: 58). John's Gospel begins with the identical words with which the entire Bible begins in Genesis, verse one Chapter One : "In the beginning..." The Gospel of John identifies 1) the Word of God with God, and 2) Jesus with the Word of God. Come among us in the Incarnation , Emmanuel, the Word is given the name Jesus.
The process of identifying Jesus as personally identified with The Word, and therefore the process of identifying Jesus as DIVINE, is essential for a proper understanding of the events and meaning of Chapter Six of John's Gospel and indeed of his entire Gospel.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Blog # 199 - a Teach us to pray...

Blog # 199 - a Teach us to pray... In evaluating or measuring our prayer experience we might ask how do we pray and what we do we pray about. To measure our prayer another way we ask what is the quality of our prayer. Like asking the question of a painting, is it beautiful, we ask of our payer is it valuable to us, do we enjoy our prayer, do we pray by way of speaking to God spontaneously throughout the day, or at various intervals in our life such as at Sunday worship, to fulfill a rule, keep a tradition going, or pay a debt? The answer to these and similar questions identify our prayer as either like a report a person who works for a bakery might make to the President of the bakery: " we need a hundred sacks of wheat flour, forty pounds of lard, ten pounds of salt, five pounds of cocoa , Amen !" , or like a love letter a man might write to his wife: :I love you very much. Thanks for the green socks you bought for me, and don;t worry about getting the lawn mowed, I'll be home to do it early Friday afternoon. " I don't imagine people who have to issue reports enjoy it very much. At least I don't. On the other hand to write a friendly letter is always a joy. It is that way with prayer also. If you enjoy your prayer it is a good sign. There is something humanly fulfilling about it. There is special joy to live in the presence of God and to speak to God as our Father. The next question we ask to measure our payer is like the question asked of a painting: how much is it worth? Of our prayer we ask what does it do. Like a painting that is made up of each stroke of the brush that went before the last, so our prayer today is built upon our prayer of yesterday, each day adding to the whole of our relationship with God new experiences for which we are thankful, new insights that cause our words of praise to be more meaningful. What does our prayer do? Does our prayer really give us the sense of having praised the Lord? It should. Does our prayer influence our lives? It should. Does our prayer deepen or faith, bring us consolation and encouragement, challenge us ,bring us joy? It should. The disciples asked Jesus: " Lord, teach us to pray...

Blog # 198 God Our Father

Blog # 198 God Our Father
Regularly when I pray I find myself thinking about the fatherhood of God. I ask such questions as what did Jesus mean when He spoke of our Father, how can I discover more deeply and meaningfully the truth contained in the statement of Jesus that God is our Father. What does it mean to me personally to imagine God as my Father rather than as my King, my Lord, my Judge? Do I really know and love God as a Father? Would I be ready, willing, and happy to walk through the door of death at this moment to live in the presence of God my Father forever? What did Jesus mean when He said not every one who says Lord, Lord, but he who does the will of my Father will know the Kingdom of God? Important questions!
Even years ago when I worked in the small garden in back of our church, I reflected upon these and similar questions. In my relationship to the earth and to the plants I saw myself in a similar situation as to how God relates to all creation. I thought within myself how my attitude toward the plants could serve as a way of understanding a little better the attitude of God toward myself and others.
I was there working with the plants and caring for them. We believe this of the attitude of God towards us. He is with us caring for us. One night when our weather had been particularly dry I found myself out in the garden watering the vegetables between eleven thirty and midnight. This reminded me of God's constant vigil over us, His willingness to be present to our needs, His generous giving of gifts, night and day.
As I watered the tomato plants one by one, calling each by the name of a Saint, I thought of the meaning and beauty of the Bible texts that reveal to us that calls each of us by name, that He loves every one of us individually, and cares for each of us as if there were no other.
I thought of how I really didn't need the tomato plants nor the tomatoes they would produce, but nonetheless I wanted them. I had plenty to eat available to me in the local stores, friends who would bring me tomatoes, and money to buy what I needed. Yet I wanted the tomatoes growing in the garden. I planted them just where they were growing, my desire for them was for them to grow the best they could, to be the best they could be, for their sake as it were. rather than my own.
I thought within myself, so it is with God our Father, how wonderful His love for us, and how marvelous His Name in all the earth!
Now, years later, that is my prayer each morning as I go out the back door and attempt to get down the back steps without falling, on my way over to the church: O Lord, our Father, how admirable is Your Name in all the earth! Our Father... If we only stopped to realize it, over six billion people living in the world today are included in that prayer. Each of them is created known and loved to some degree by the Father Creator of all. I cannot go to them physically to comfort thank them or share my faith with them face to face, but I can bring them into my prayer. Our Father...lead us not into temptation ...deliver us from evil. Amen! Lord, Father and Creator, how admirable is Thy Name in all the earth!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Blog 197 The Christian Family

Blog # 197 The Christian Family I think the document on Christian education issued by the Second Vatican Council in 1965 can be a good source of inspiration and guidance for Catholics today in their effort to share their faith with our next generation in the context of a Catholic family life. Here are a few paragrphs from that document as samples. "Parents must be acknowledged as the first and foremost educators of their children. Their role as educators is so decisive that scarcely anything can compensate for their failure in it. For it devolves upon parents to create a family atmosphere so animated with love and reverence for God and neighbor that a well-rounded personal and social development will be fostered among the children. Hence the family is the first school of those social virtues which each society needs. "It is particularly in the Christian family that from their earliest years children should be taught, according to the faith received in Baptism, to have a knowledge of God, to worship God, and to love their neighbor. Here, too, they gain their first experience of wholesome human companionship and of the Church. Finally, it is through the family that they are gradually introduced into civic partnership with their fellow human beings, and into the People of God. Let parents, then, clearly recognize how vital a truly Christian family is for the life and development of God's own people. Aware of the importance of the Christian family, we must also be aware of the serious threats families face in our particular moment of history. There are persons and movements in our nation today that are very active in attempts to change weaken and discredit , and in some instances to wipe out our traditional notion of the family unit of father mother and children living together and sharing a close and special love. High percentages of children are growing up in the United States today with no experience of the type and reality of the family life most of us have known in the past. This phenomenon is bound to have significant consequences upon our future as a nation. It is far more difficult to create and maintain a Christian family life today than it was in the years gone by. Yet precisely because of the circumstances that make it so difficult, the importance of Christian family life is heightened rather than diminished." Pope John Paul II requested that we pray the prayer some of us remember from the days it was used after every Mass, the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel for the casting out of evil and the protection of the Church. I have included that prayer here: "St. Michael, the archangel, defend us in battle, be our protection against the malice and snares of the devil. May God rebuke, we humbly pray, Satan and the other evil spirits who roam through the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Blog # 196 Following the Leader

Blog # 196 Following the Leader Most of us are familiar with the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi, the holy man who lived in Europe more than seven hundred years ago. "Lord, make us* instruments of Your peace. Where there is hatred let us bring Your love, injury/pardon, doubt/faith, despair/hope. darkness/light, sadness/joy. This prayer of Francis certainly contains a good bit of the substance of the Gospel message of Jesus as far as personal holiness is concerned. And a beautiful thing about Francis was he lived the words he prayed. Some men and women in the history of the Church, like Francis, seem to have understood so clearly and well the meaning and consequences of the message of Jesus that their whole lives were changed by it. Others, though believing in the Lord, seem to show little difference in their daily experience as a result of their faith. From what I can see many church members , even those who attend church regularly, do that much and then the rest of the week lead lives that are very much the same as their neighbors who are not church members. It is not that they are actually sinning in the sense of stealing, committing murder, or beating their wives. Rather, their lives seem to be determined by the moral standards values and attitudes of their fellow Americans rather than in any significant way by their experience of faith. Many of these people would be morally good even if they did not happen to be a believer. Apparently it was much the same in the days of Francis. But he was different. He saw the Gospel of Jesus as an invitation and a command to be radically holy. He understood and accepted the call of the Gospel to give himself for others, to see the needs of others as his own, to be indeed a living expression in his own body of the goodness and generosity of Jesus. I think a good place to begin in determining where we stand in this regard is to check our prayer life. How close to God do we live as reflected in our prayer? What is our primariy concern, our primary joy in our prayer experience? Do we ever permit God to let us know by way of a good conscience He is pleased with the way we trust Him, seek to love Him, and try to discover opportunities in our everyday experience for growing in our love for Him and for those around us? May we follow his lead to the eternal life he enjoys and the inspiration he continues to be! Lord, make us instruments of Your peace, in our kitchens, in our schools, in our work places... * Some editions of this prayer use the individual personal pronoun "me". In changing it to "us" I include in my mind here the more than six billion people now living on earth including the minority of us Christian believers. I think Francis would like that.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Blog # 195 Growth

Blog # 195 Growth See the lilies of the field, Jesus said, how they grow. Certainly if God creates the lilies of the field with such potential for growth and beauty as they possess, how much more confidence we should have in the process of our own spiritual growth. With reasonable care our spirit, faith, generosity, and the beauty of our soul in love with God will grow. I once read of a woman who visited the seashore on a particular occasion. She was feeling blue. There was little evident meaning in her life. Things seemed to be going around in small circles, monotonously, with little being achieved. Her life seemed like the vast expanse of sand before her, flat, the same every day with little that mattered. Then she discovered a particular shell that intrigued her. She picked it up and began to study it in detail. The lines, color and shape were all beautiful when you studied them. The shell seemed to be the work of an artist. She went from the shell to the sand to the ocean to the sky to God and back to herself. She came away from the beach with a new and impressive insight into the fact God was with her, as He was in the shell, designing her life with no less care wisdom or love than that with which He designed the shell. She merely had to discover it. She was encouraged. She grew in wisdom. We can be sure God is with us too, extending His invitation to us to grow in wisdom before Him, to grow in our friendship with Him and to grow in our awareness of the power of His love in our lives. We remind ourselves that growth is not always manifested nor exhausted in an increase either in numbers or in volume, such as you might say of a pile of stones which 'grows' by adding to its numbers, or our prayer life might increase by adding to the length or number of our prayers. Growth is not just increase but development. To grow in prayer we might indeed grow in the number of times we pray, but also grow in the quality of our prayer. You might greet the mail carrier fifty times a year and your son once as he comes home from service in the Army in a far-away place. The difference in the greeting is a difference in quality as well as in number. All the fifty greetings of the mail carrier do not add up to the greeting of your son. So it is with God and our life of prayer. Father, may our love for You deepen as the days of our lives go on. May we grow in goodness before you and may we not be distracted by the things that should remind us of You. In Jesus' Name we pray, Amen!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Blog # 194 The Power of Faith

Blog # 194 The Power of Faith If you were born this side of 1946 you cannot experience World War II, right? Yes, and no. If you come to think about it, there are several ways you can experience the war even though you were born after it was over. It is true that you cannot sit in Congress on the day in history when President Roosevelt declared war on Japan. But you can read the text of his speech on that occasion, and you can listen to it as it has been recorded on tape, and you can reflect upon its meaning and upon its effect upon our nation and the world. I think it is something like t his with the life of Jesus. It is true that if you were born less than nineteen hundred years ago you are too young to see Him walk from Jerusalem to Jericho, to share His fish supper as the Apostles did on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, or hide yourself in fear on the occasion of His death on the Cross as most of the Apostles did. But you can know these events occurred. You can read of them in the Bible. You can reflect upon their meaning and purpose and effect upon the world and upon your own life. In a very real sense to listen to the words of President Roosevelt on a tape is much the same as listening to him speak these same words in Congress on December 8, 1941. There is a parallel in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus experienced by the world nineteen hundred years ago and our experience of the same life death and resurrection today in the Bible narrative of these events, in our reflection upon them, their meaning and purpose, and in their effect upon our ways of thinking and upon our behavior. This would be true of the events of World War II as recorded in a history book and the events of the life of Jesus as recorded in the Bible. But there is also a large and essential difference. The events of history are human experiences and can be recalled by human memory, The events of the life of Jesus also have this human dimension and can be recalled by human memory, recorded in the Bible, and passed on through the years. But the events of the life death and resurrection of Jesus are also the actions of Emmanuel, God-Among-Us, divine, This dimension of the life death and resurrection of Jesus can only be recalled by faith. "I am with you always..." has a very special meaning for those who believe. Though Jesus stood in their midst in the flesh and their ears heard Him speak among them and ther eyes saw Him walk among them, it was sill up to Peter James and John in faith and freedom to declare this was God's Son, their Savior, the Messiah. And so it is with us.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Blog # 193 Unless...

Blog # 193 Unless... Recently it occurred to me to look up in the bible the use of the word "unless". Unless is a strong word that sets definite fences around actions thoughts and plans. I'll give a few of the references in the New Testament in which the word unless occurs. Mat. 5:20. Jesus is speaking. I tell you, unless your holiness surpasses that of the Scribes and Pharisees you shall not enter the Kingdom of God. Mat.18:3. Jesus called a little child over and stood the child in their midst and said: I assure you, unless you change and become like little children you will not enter the Kingdom of God. Mat 18:35. After telling a story of a man who did not treat his neighbor mercifully, Jesus says: My Heavenly Father will treat you in exactly the same way unless each of you forgive his brother from his heart. John 3:2. Jesus teaches Nicodemus in these words: I solemnly assure you, no one can see the reign of God unless he is born from above. John4:48. Jesus says: Unless you people see signs and wonders you do not believe. John6:44. No one can come to me unless the Father Who sent me draws him. John 12:24. Unless the grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat. But if it dies it produces much fruit. John 19:11. Jesus is speaking to Pilate at the time of the trial of Jesus. You would have no power over me whatsoever unless it were given you from above. Unless we are holy, unless we change and become like little children, unless we forgive our brother from our heart, unless we reform our lives, unless we are born from above, unless the Father draw us, then we cannot please God and attain His Kingdom. This is the message Jesus taught in Jerusalem and Jericho. It is the message He brings to Augusta today. We must be holy, like children,forgive our brothers, reform our lives, believe. Jesus did all of this before us and invites each of us to follow him in these ways. May our lives be a great "Amen!", "Yes" to His desire!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Blog # 192 Ecumenical Love

Blog # 192 Ecumenical Love Twenty-five years ago when I was Pastor of our Glenmary Mission of St. Frencis de Sales in Idabel, Oklahoma , the first Baptist Church was located directly across the Street from ours. That year, 1986, they celebrated their eightieth Anniversary and dedicated a new auditorium on that occasion. In response,I placed the following ad in the local newspaper: CONGRATULATIONS
The People of St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church send Greetings and congratulate the Members of the First Baptist Church, our neighbors, on the occasion of their eightieth Anniversary and the dedication of their new Auditorium this Sunday.
We are one with you in our common humanity, men and women together. We are fellow Americans, living together in Oklahoma and McCurtain County. Then we are one in the greater and more significant unity of our faith that each and all us are created by God because He loved us, and with a divine purpose. Then in an even higher level, we are one with you in our faith in the Lord Jesus. His is the Name, His the power and the Grace in which we hope to gain our salvation and please our Father.
We pray that the full meaning, power, and effect of the prayer of Jesus, given in the presence of His disciples at the Last Supper, the evening before He died for us, would soon be realized among us: " That all may be one, as Thou, Father, in me, and I in Thee, that the world may believe that you sent Me."
When I came across this clipping in one of my files yesterday afternoon I could not remember how long it had been since I last saw it but I imagined it must have been about fifteen years. I decided to make it a blog because I saw it as an example of the ecumenical attitude and experience the Second VaticanCouncil invited and urged all of us to have in our relationships with fellow Christian believers who for the time being are not in full communion with us nor one another. Without watering down our own faith or denigrating the faith experience of those who differ with us in matters of faith we can and should be able to recognize the presence of God in them and be thankful for that presence with hope we may live what we believe, so well, that in God's time we can sit down with one anther and ernestly and sincerely seek and work together for the unity for which Jesus prayed.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Blog # 185 Close to Jesus

Blog # 185 Close to Jesus If we really love someone, including the Lord, we wish to be and live in close union with the persons we love, husband, wife, children, family, friends, God. We keep photos of those we love in our billfolds, on our desks at work, and on the walls of our homes to remind us of them, in honor of them, and to keep them close to us. With Jesus should it be different? And so we have pictures statues and crucifixes in our churches and in our homes. We wear medals and small crucifixes around our necks. And along the same line but in a very special way we recall and celebrate the life death resurrection and glorification of Jesus in our liturgical readings week after week Sunday after Sunday through the entire Liturgical Year. Jesus is no longer just a memory from two thousand years ago, no longer just a friend of Peter James and John,no longer living dying and rising in Jericho and Jerusalem. He lives in the here and now of Augusta. He is our friend in 2011. He is as close to us as our prayer to Him is close to our minds and hearts. He shares the same story conversation relationships and love with us by faith that He shared with the Apostles and with his mother. Because Jesus is God and loves us this much and because we love Jesus enough to trust Him and to believe, all of this is possible for us. But as was the case with the early disciples we also have the freedom to be somewhere else, to forget, or to turn away. "If today you hear His voice harden not your hearts." (Ps 95:8)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Blog # 191 St. Frencis of Assisi

Blog # 191 St. Francis of Assisi Part of the text used at Mass this morning , the feast of St.Francis, was taken from a common text designated for the celebration of feasts of holy men and women. It is part of the Preface of these Mass texts and reads like this: "Father, You renew the Church in every age by raising up men and women outstanding in holiness, living witnesses of your unchanging love. They inspire us by their heroic lives, and help us by their constant prayers to be the living sign of your saving power". Then we praise the Lord with all the angels and saints in our minds and hearts as we proclaim as our own the praise of the angels around the throne of God in the vision of Isaiah : "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts! All the earth is full of his glory!" (Is. 6:3). All the earth is full of God's glory! The life of St. Francis of Assisi was a wonderful witness to a constant awareness of the presence of our Creating God in all that exists and a response to God in a deep personal love. Last Sunday (27 Ord Time A), the Gospel at Mass considered creation as a vineyard of the Lord. From Adam and Eve right on through to St. Matthew the author of Sunday's Gospel, through to St. Francis of Assisi over seven hundred years ago and than on to ourselves reflecting on creation as we know it in 2011, ALL THAT EXISTS can be seen as a vineyard willed to BE, by God! God owns it! Every sunny day, every drop of rain and flake of snow, every leaf on every tree of every species, every fish , every bird, every valley, every stone every calf, every colt and every human person ever conceived, all belong to God. St. Francis knew this and experienced it as the good soil in which the seeds of his faith and love were planted. The same God and Father who made the mountains made the sea. The same God who sent the Word from Heaven to live among us as one like us though as well divine, is the same God who called Francis and calls us to hear God speak in the faithful message of Jesus and see God act in the perfect obedience of Jesus, then make that faith and obedience our own. The same God who called Jesus to know and love Him as Father is the same God who calls us to make the faith and love of Jesus our own through the work of the Holy Spirit in the gift of Sanctifying Grace, the supernatural gift that makes us holy or like to God. No wonder Francis waa so happy in his simple humble holy life!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Blog # 190 Abortion

Blog # 190 Abortion Luke's Gospel begins the story of the ministry of Jesus in Galilee in the synagogue of Nazareth, Jesus' home town . When Jesus stood up to do the reading the book of Isaiah was handed Him. He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written: The spirit of the Lord is upon me; therefore he has anointed me, He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives, recovery of sight to the blind and release to prisoners. With the eyes of all in the synagogue fixed on Him Jesus said: "Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing." And ever since, it is today wherever Jesus is recognized among us and is known and loved and followed as God''s messenger and fulfillment of God's plan and desire for all people He will ever create. The passage from Isaiah would very well fit into any political platform statement in the US today. Glad tidings to the poor...liberty to captives... release to prisoners... a time of blessing. The words cited by Jesus would readily be accepted by all. Their meaning and application is a source of dispute. Whatever it was Jesus desired to convey by this experience of His in the synagogue of Nazareth was not for Him and should not be for us ambiguous or uncertain. Today has been designated as Pro-Life Sunday. This afternoon I plan to stand by the curb on Walton Way Extension over close to one of the abortion clinics here in Augusta with a good number of others with signs with varying messages proclaiming our stand in favor of faith and trust in God on the side of life over death for all people. Some people will drive by and give us the high sign of approval. Some will give us the thumbs down. How much better it would be if we could sit down together and speak to one another with respect and reverence in hope to come to a common understanding of what it means to be alive, where life came from, where it is going what it is worth, and why. Abortion exists as a business. Someone could be involved in it for the sake of the money that is available there. Others however may be sincere in their opinion in favor of abortion in the light of their particular circumstances. Someone once hoped to convince me the very words Jesus searched for in the synagogue in Nazareth could be interpreted and applied in favor of abortion. The argument would go this way: Glad tidings for pregnant girls and women; freedom or release from fear of motherhood and the responsibilities that go with it, freedom from guilt and crime. I am personally totally opposed to abortion. The basic and personally compelling reason for my conviction is the fact I believe in the Catholic Church and accept the teachings of the Catholic Church as the Body of Christ speaking officially in the name and with the authority of Jesus . This may sound naive simplistic or an intellectually unworthy way of going about it. For me this is not so. I must do as much as I can to understand the teaching of the Church and to verify it in my own experience and thought. I don't use the word 'blind' obedience but rather total and supernatural. That word is a stranger to many today, but I know it well and it is a friend to me and absolutely necessary if we are to know and love God as Jesus made it possible for us to do. Aside from my faith in the Church, the usual arguments put forth in opposition to abortion are impressive and have great merit. I use them in addition to my main argument. However they are not the argument upon which I have based my conviction. I could not say, for example, it is altogether evil merely because it is the killing of innocent life. No doubt there were some innocent babies killed in the recent earthquake in Japan. Who other than God is responsible for this? If such were evil in itself God could not be held responsible for it. Yet no one but God had control over the earthquake. The ESSENTIAL DIFFERENCE is that God has not only contol over life, but authority over it. We have control in the sense that we can injure or destroy it, but we do not have authority to do so. That is where the sin of murder and abortion comes in. It is against the law of God though for the time being it is not against the law of our United States. May more and more of our fellow Americans begin to see and experience the truth and goodness of the glad tidings, liberty sight, release, and favor of the Lord Jesus claimed for Himself in the synagogue of Nazareth and invited all who believe in Him to bring unto our own lives in His Name. Abortion would then be recognized as sin, for such it is. If anyone has any comments on my thinking here I would appreciate having them. Thank you!