Monday, January 30, 2012

Blog # 227 Growing in Faith

Blog # 227 Growing in Faith In all of nature it is easy to see growth, the grass in need of mowing, leaves growing on trees, puppies, gardens, children. What about our own spiritual growth, growth in faith and generosity, growth in our love for God and one another? Is it recognizable? Is i real? The first Bible text that comes to mind when I begin to think of growth before God is I Cor 13:11. St. Paul says: when I was a child I used to talk like a child, think like a child , reason like a child. When I became a man I put childish things aside. The full implication of the text is that Paul was changing, growing, perfecting himself as the years of his life moved on. A challenge of this text is to blend it with the text in which Jesus told us we must become like children. There is no contradiction between the two. Finding the truth in that statement is an experience of growth in itself. Other texts that remind us of our need to grow continually in our faith, in our generosity, in our freedom are all helpful in discovering the meaning of spiritual growth in our own unique personal gift of life. Col 1:6 speaks of the Gospel continuing to grow among the people of Colossae. Then in verse nine through eleven of the same chapter the author says he is praying for the people that they may grow in their knowledge of God's will and their knowledge of God Himself. Luke 2:32 tells us Jesus Himself as a boy grew steadily in wisdom and grace before God and men. In Matthew 6:28 Jesus tells us to look at the lilies of the fields, how they grow. In Ephesians4:14 we read: Let us then be children no longer, tossed here and there, carried about by every wind of doctrine that originates in human trickery and skill in proposing error. Rather, let us profess the truth in love, and grow to the full maturity of Christ the head, Though Him the whole body grows, and with the proper functioning of the members joined firmly together by each supporting ligament, builds itself up in love. These and other similar texts readily indicate that faith was not experienced by the early believers as a static thing, much the same, you might say, as a precious jewel, which you have or do not have, in its fullness, which you appreciate perhaps more or less from time to time but in itself remains the same. Rather faith was organic, living, capable of growth much the same as friendship, increasing or decreasing through the years, different in different stages, never to be the same ten years from now as it was ten years ago. The Apostles said to the Lord 'increase our faith'. May their request be our daily desire.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Blog # 226 LOVE IS A DECISION - 2

Blog # 226 LOVE IS A DECISION - 2 Times may come when we are called upon to love when warm feelings are not present. We must simply decide to love, to love because we want to love rather than because we feel like loving. This is true with regard to our love for God as well as our love for wife or husband, friend or neighbor. It is especially true with regard to the command of Jesus in the Bible that we love our enemies. Certainly that love is a decision ! In describing the experience of love some people might substitute the word feeling for decision. Love is a feeling. Others might substitute the word generosity. Love is generosity. This would certainly be a part of it in that to love means to give and the more we love the more we give. However, it would not necessarily be true that the man who gives his wife a new expensive automobile loves her more than or as much as the man who says to his wife after an argument, "Honey, I am sorry." Though one gift cost more than the second it does not cost the man as much of his heart, where love resides. When Jesus praised the widow who put the small coins into the temple treasury He knew full well the coins were not worth very much. His praise for her was rather that she gave all she had, she gave her heart. Love is a decision. Whether we feel like it or not, whether we have much or little to give we can decide to love. What a difference it would make if people could understand and apply this principle in their relationships with one another. I love you means I have decided to love you whether I feel like loving you or not. I love you even when I do not agree with you. I love you even though you have hurt me. I love you even though I do not have much to give. In this light how beautiful and meaningful is the famous little song of commitment we sing: " I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back. Though none go with me, I have decided". I love you, anyone who happens to be reading this blog, right now , whoever you are. I must, if I want to be a Christian. The love I have for you is not yet complete. It is more like a 'seed' of love. I love you as a unique individual among more than seven billion people living on earth right now. The bottom line is I love you as a fellow human creature of an All-loving God. Most of you I will never meet face to face nor will I ever this side of Heaven know your name. But I love you anyway because I do know you are real. I find you and know you in knowing myself, and love you in the hope given me in the 'love seed' that God has planted in my heart by the grace of the Holy Spirit dwelling in all of us who share by faith the love of Jesus for all of us . How fitting, meaningful, and precious is the Act of Faith I make each morning as I go out the back door of my house on my way over to church to think and pray and offer Mass: O, My God, I love You with all my heart. I love my neighbor as myself for love of Thee. I forgive all who have injured me and ask pardon of all whom I have injured. Amen.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Blog # 225 LOVE IS S DECISION- 1

Blog # 225 Love is a Decision -1 Several years ago I was involved in a marriage enrichment experience in Monroe, Louisiana. One of the basic principles relating to marriage that was shared by the leader of the program was this: love is a decision. It would be interesting to have a hundred married couples sit down with pencil and paper and write a paragraph or two on the meaning this principle might have for them in their married life. Love is a decision. What else could it be? Some people might think of love as feeling, a warm pleasant feeling you have toward someone close to you. I imagine great ball players enjoy playing the game most of the time. Yet we can imagine a time when a ballplayer does indeed play the game without having a feel for it. I can think of an example of this in the life of a young high school student I was acquainted with in Kentucky. He was a quarterback in his senior year of school. On the afternoon of the day his team was to play their homecoming game the boy's Dad was killed in an accident at work. The question in everybody's mind was whether or not the quarterback would play, whether or not he could play. No doubt he didn't feel like playing on the evening of the day his father died, but he decided to play, and he played an excellent game, better, perhaps, because of his decision to play than if he played like so many other games because he felt like it. So for the quarterback that evening playing was not so much an expression of a feeling as it was a decision. So it is with love. Many times we love one another in conjunction with warm feelings toward one another, and love becomes easy. But such feelings cannot be totally controlled and times may come when we are called upon to love when the warm feelings are not present. We must simply decide to love, to love because we want to love, rather than because we feel like loving. Lower animals are attracted to one another by instinct. Some men and women seem to have a similar dominance of instinct in their relationships with one another whether it be in relationships of friendship or of enmity. Human creatures are designed and called to life on a higher plane. Friendship based upon instinct is not love. Love is a decision and is based upon freedom. It is a free response that begins in a recognized relationship of admiration and appreciation of another. When such a relationship is mutual we have love.

Blog 223 Faith in Jesus

Blog 223 Faith in Jesus Each Christmas in our lliturgy we go to Bethleham in faith so that Jesus can come to us all durng the rest of the year in love. Without faith Jesus would not be real for us. We would not know what He said and did. Without knowing what He said and did we would not know that He loved us and how much He loved us long ago and now. Without faith we would not know that Jesus is God. We could not pray to Him and through Him to the Father. He could not forgive our sins and lead us to the eternal happiness He promised to those who do the Father's will. A prayer for Christmas or for any time: Father, Thank You for the gift of faith, won for us by Jesus and offered to us in the love of the Holy Spirit. Help us realize how precious this gift is by realizing that without it we could no more hope to know and love You as You wanted to be known and loved than we could hope to cast a shadow on the pavement in the dark.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
That insight and analogy of the light and the shadow on the pavement stems
from the statement of Jesus identifying Himself as the light of the world.
Jn 8: 12.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Blog # 224 God's Love

Blog # 224 God's Love How sad it would be if we did not experience God's love for us every day, but just on Sunday, or not at all. Just as the eye, which is designed to see needs light in order to see, so the human heart, which is designed to discover and to love God in all creation needs faith in order for this to occur. There is mystery in the experience of faith. An object is visible whether we see it or not. Faith is a gift rather than an accomplishment. Jesus told us it could be ours if we seek it. Light and objects to be seen are all around us, and yet we have to open our eyes in order to see them. In a similar mysterious way God's presence and love are real in all creation, but we must open our mind and hearts to receive the gift of faith and to see it that way. It seems to me if we did not believe in God and experience God's presence and love in all creation we would be missing in our experience one of the essential differences between ourselves as human creatures and the lower forms of animals around us. An apple is red and its leaves are green even though the apple tree does not and cannot know this. So God's love is real even for someone who does not believe in it. The difference lies in the fact an apple tree was not designed to see whereas the human heart was designed to know and love God, and until we do we are incomplete and might as well have been a lower animal. With eyes closed we might as well be blind. God loves us all enough to give us beautiful sunsets, the wonders involved in a growing plant, the mystery of the wind, the amazing tools that enable a bee to make honey and wax from flowers, and the beauty of the stars at night. But God gives these gifts, you might say, to all the world, to the lower animals as well as to us. But to us, his human creatures, God gives more of God's love and therefore more of the gifts of God's love. Certainly a healthy cow is happy as cows can be happy as she lies in a field in the evening of a long summer's day chewing her cud and watching the sun go down. There is God before her, creating it all. Even her. All the colors are there, the blue and the reds, the clouds slowly slipping off to the east, the breeze brushing against the corn, Betsy the cow in such a picture is content. But she cannot enjoy the beauty of the sun going down in the same way or as much as we who are humans do . The beautiful things God has placed in the world are for all, His chickens, horses, trees, men and women. But the amount and kind of happiness and enjoyment each of God's creatures gets from His beautiful world is different. God makes men and women in His own image, capable of experiencing and enjoying a more perfect and complete share in His own goodness and beauty as God our Creator. How sad it would be if our home were in New Jersey and we were heading south from Augusta, Georgia thinking we were going home. It is far more sad than that if our daily experience is without God's love. So God,Who loves us all, sent Jesus to tell us our sins can be forgiven, we can turn around in our journey, wherever we might be, discover the truth about God and His love , and then command us to share the Good News of the Gospel with all the world, beginning with ourselves. Thanks and praise to Him !

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Blog # 222 Presence of Jesus

Blog # 222 Presence of Jesus Years ago when ever I used to visit one of my brothers out on Long Island he would remind me I was talking too fast for many people to understand what I would be saying, and he was right. On one particular visit he reminded me again. Right then, on the spur of the moment he recited from memory the well known poem of Joseph Mary Plunkett in a slow and deliberate pace and then suggested that I begin to speak at about the same rate of speed he was using in his recitation of the poem. I memorized the poem and tried to follow his suggestion. I think it worked to some extent but I am still conscious of talking too fast and keep trying to slow down. In the process of using the poem to help me slow down when I am speaking, I found it equally helpful in reminding me of a most important element of our faith that we tend to overlook or fail to appreciate in a practical way. Though Jesus gained His human identity as one of us in the mystery of the Incarnation of the Eternal Word of God a little more than two thousand years ago, He did not in the experience of the Incarnation lose the eternal divine identity He enjoyed before time began in union with the Father and the Holy Spirit in the Holy Trinity. Nor did He lose His identity as one of us in the glory of the Resurrection. As one of us Jesus shared our human limitations. For a brief period of about thirty years He spoke a certain number of words, saw a certain number of sunsets, flowers, and animals, read a certain number of pages of the Scripture, and prayed a certain number of prayers, all in accordance with the will of the Father for Him. "The One who sent me is with me. He has not deserted me since I always do what pleases him." (Jn 8: 29). His physical death on Calvary, as our physical death should be, wherever, whenever, or however it shall occur, was the expression and witness to His unconditional human trust and total love of the Father. He had given all that He possessed. "Now it is finished." (Jn 19:30) It was the experience and the moment of His greatest glory, His greatest love. ( cf. Jn 17 :5). It was the human-divine experience that won for Him and through Him for us the eternal life He kept holding up for us as the goal of our existence here on earth in preparation for the glory of our eternal life in Heaven. His mission here on earth is continued now in us, in the mission we receive from Him by faith through Baptism. (Jn 17:18,26; Mat 28: 18-20). Jesus as the Savior of all mankind continues His saving mission of sanctifying our world and freeing us from sin in union with the Father and the Spirit until the end of time. John concludes the powerful prayer of Jesus to the Father on behalf of unity among those who believe in Him as their Savior with these words: "To them I have revealed your name, and I will continue to reveal it so that your love for me may live in them, and I may live in them." (Jn 17: 26). In sharing the poem with you I hope it will be the blessing for you as it has been for me. You may not need it to help you talk more slowly as it did for me, but it might be a blessing for you in time of loneliness or temptation of one kind or another. You might even want to memorize it and use it from time to time as an expression of your faith and trust in Jesus and as an act of thanks for all that he has done for us as our Savior and our God. I see His blood upon the rose And in the stars the glory of His eyes, His body gleams amid the eternal snows. His tears fall from the skies. I see His face in every flower. The thunder and the singing of the birds Are but His voice - - and carven by His power Rocks are His written words. All pathways by His feet are worn, His strong heart stirs the ever-beating sea, His crown of thorns is twined with every thorn, His cross is every tree.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Blog # 221 Abortion

Blog # 221 Abortion On the occasion of the anniversary of the supreme Court Decision legalizing abortion it might be a good idea to offer a few thoughts to help clarify our Catholic position and theology on the subject of abortion. It is no doubt a seriously divisive issue in the U S and in the Church. Commanded as we Christians are to love one another, even our enemies, and convinced that love unites rather than divides I see the goal we seek in addressing and discussion the morality of abortion as one that recognizes and focuses upon the content of the problem, rather than trying to determine who is right and who is wrong. In other words we should be seeking unity in our convictions as the fruit of our love. This is not to say we are not aware of a need to acknowledge and address our differences. What we need to do is to address the content of the issues that divide us rather than than focusing upon and judging the persons holding a different view than ours as evil and guilty of sin. I do not wish to present here in anything more than in a brief way what I have perceived as some typical reasons some pro-choice people give to justify their conviction in regard to the legitimacy of abortion in the U S today. For example some of them might claim they love God better by being pro-choice rather than having a large family they cannot afford to feed, etc. As the situation stands in the U S today, it seems that for many 'pro-choice' people the mere declaration of the Supreme Court is enough to justify abortion. It is legal period. That would be OK if we were speaking about whether abortion is a crime , or, if there were not others around them who do not affirm the court's decision in reference to the question as to whether abortion is a sin. The Catholic Church confidently and universally identifies abortion as a serious sin. That decision did not come about as the result of flipping a coin to determine the answer to this most important question. It has a multifaceted background in our Catholic tradition and theology. I think it helps in realizing the nature and importance of the question at hand to realize how it is different from the official decision and law of the Church with which I grew up. For a faithful Catholic the eating of meat on Fridays was a serious matter and a serious sin. In that case we were dealing with a Church law, issued under the authority of God through the God-given authority of the Church rather than a divine law under the direct authority of God. In the first instance the law could be changed or repealed by the Church. In the second, it could only be changed as it was given, directly by God. In the first instance the sin would be one of disobedience. In the second it would be a complex sin of disobedience and killing. The difference comes from the fact to eat meat on Fridays in itself is not an evil act whereas the act of killing is. From this we can see the need we have to address the question when does human life begin?. Currently the scientific evidence that says at the moment of conception, is becoming more and more clear and decisive. The Church does consult and appreciate the investigations of the secular scientific community but does not base its claim on such evidence . We believe the question of the sinfulness of abortion is rooted in Biblical teaching and consequently is divinely revealed by God. A problem might arise in the fact innocent unborn human life and even innocent babies already born are killed in the providence of God on a regular basis through disease or malformations. If the killing of innocent born or unborn babies is a serious sin God could not be responsible for it. What is the difference between these deaths and the death that occurs in the willful act of the abortion of an unborn human being? The essential difference is the fact God as the Creator is the owner of all that exists. We believe God can and does share His unique right over all life with us in certain very limited and well defined instances such as in the case of self defence, and a just war. We believe God has not done this in the case of abortion.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Blog # 220 Liturgical Feasts

Blog # 220 Liturgical Feasts
A song book, a home video of Grandma's birthday party, playing cards, seeds, a recipe book, a crucifix, Matthew 2: 1 - 12,(yesterday's Gospel passage: the coming of the Magi to Bethlehem). What have all of these in common? There is something real in each of them that comes from the past and reaches to the present, inviting a response. Sing it again, play it again, plant another garden, bake another cake. Remember Grandma. . See her wonderful smile again. Introduce her to her four-year-old great-grandchild, though she died at the age of 87 six years ago. This is how we loved her on her eightieth birthday. This is how she sang for us. This is what she said about Grandpa who had died twenty years before. It is different,yes, but true, and also the same as it was when we were there with her thirteen years ago. The video helps us remember. Watching it again helps us to renew and grow in our love for her. It is not just another TV show. We keep it and plan to watch it again. It is similar with the other items listed above. Seeds for more tomatoes. New and different tomatoes, but the same breed we enjoyed last season, and connected with them in the seed. The same playing cards. Bridge, the same name of the game mother played last night, but now you are playing with a different set of friends. You found the recipe for the great spaghetti source you enjoyed in the famous restaurant in New York City when you were there for your fifteenth wedding anniversary. You are not in New York now, but you remember. You put the recipe together and it was cooking on the stove all day. You found all of the ingredients called for in the recipe. Your kitchen smells very much like a famous restaurant in New York. How happy you and John will be when you light the candles and sit down for supper together this evening. The spaghetti sauce has everything the recipe called for, but it has that additional ingredient that makes it uniquely special this evening, your anniversary love
It is something like this with the feasts we celebrate throughout the liturgical year. Something real happens in the past. We believe. We remember. We sing it again. We watch it again. Jesus is born and we are there. Jesus claims to be God. Jesus teaches. Jesus dies on the wood. We are there. He asks us the same questions He asked Peter and the other disciples.. He tells us the same message He gave in Jerusalem. He offers us the same love He offered Martha and Mary in Bethany. We are invited to respond, to make it our own. The same recipe, a new bag of flour! God's love in us.
Yesterday we celebrated the Feast of Epiphany, the coming of the Magi to Bethlehem. It happened a long time ago, in a far away place. They came by camel rather than by air. They traveled a path through the desert. It was a long and difficult journey. If we realize what our liturgical feasts are designed to do, we realize we have a part to play, today, in the events in the life of Jesus that we recall and relive in a particular feast. We have questions to answer. What was happening? Who are the people involved? What did they think, or say, or do?
Mary and Joseph continue to be present in today's feast. They are faithful servants of the Lord, holy ones. We admire them and thank them. They give us joy and inspiration in their love for Jesus. The Magi are discoverers, willing to grow, to follow their star, responsive, self-giving, persevering, rich yet humble, blessed. To be like them we are not called to learn how to ride a camel, but how to identify and follow the star. Their physical star may have been Haley's comet. No doubt they were among many people who saw it with their physical eyes. The guiding star of the Magi was the star that told them God's plan for them, and invited them to go after it. I was their conscience, and they followed that star to Jesus. We have a conscience too, that same star. Oh!
Herod was jealous, fearing and fearsome, selfish, insecure, and violent. We can thank him for teaching us how we should never be. Finally the ordinary people. As tradition has handed the story down, the Magi were few in number. Most of the people seem to have been unaware of them and their story. Most of the people seem to have been following another agenda. The story of the Magi goes on, but most of the other people have passed on with their temporary agendas. Maybe later on some of them came to know and believe in Jesus. Maybe some of them were there on Calvary and just watched that go by too. Maybe they did not realize they had a part to play. Some people like them are alive today. The traditional content of today's feast has been a recognition of the DIVINITY OF JESUS, identified in the coming of the earthly rulers and wise men to pay Him homage and offer their treasures to Him, and, secondly, an emphasis on the UNIVERSALITY OF SALVATION and the call to welcome the whole world into the love of God in Jesus. This is seen in the fact the Magi are traditionally given as Gentiles rather than as Jews or as already members of the People of God and Children of Abraham. In this content we see our invitation as believing Christians to be evangelists in the spread of the Gospel in our world and in our moment of history with such marvelous means of communicating the message to the whole world instantaneously on the internet.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Blog # 219 Epiphania Domini

Blog #219 Epiphania Domini When the Mass was celebrated in Latin and before the revision of the liturgical calendar in the mid sixties, the title of the Feast we celebrate this week-end was In Epiphania Domini. It was always celebrated with great solemnity on the twelfth day of Christmas. It is interesting and enlightening to recall that the several Sundays after Christmas before the beginning of Lent were labeled Sundays after the Epiphany rather than Sundays after Christmas as you might expect it to be done today. This was so because the Feast of Epiphany was ranked as a greater Feast than Christmas. We are all familiar with the coming of the Wise Men or Magi looking for the one born as King of the Jews. The star over the crib, their camels, and the gifts of gold frankincense and myrrh, are all very familiar to us and taken for granted as part of the normal Christmas scene. It seems, however, the real complete meaning and value of the Feast is less well known by many today. Let's try to capture or recapture some of the beauty and power that were the background and reason for it being of such importance in the calendar years ago. The word Epiphany comes from two Greek roots, and would mean a 'showing forth'. appearance, or manifestation. Epiphany is the Feast of the manifestation or identification of Jesus in relation to the three Wise Men of the Gospel story, but also to ourselves today. As is usually the case, we learn by asking questions. What is so special about this occasion in the life of Jesus? What are the lessons or points of interest in it for us? What is the significance of the many details given in the story? First, the Wise Men are given as three astrologers, well educated in the science of their day. To draw a conclusion from this for us today, we need not fear the advance of scientific truth in reference to the identity and importance of Jesus, ever. The Wise Men were evidently wealthy in that they were able to finance their long trip to seek the object of their star, and offer the precious gifts they did. Blessed with this world's goods, they had a further hunger. In our case, no matter what or how much of the physical psychological or spiritual world we possess and enjoy there is always the more, a star, calling us to leave where and who we are to explore and discover more, the further meaning of our experiences and in all of our desires, the Lord of them all. There was a great deal of effort expended on the part of the Wise Men, no doubt about that. They persevered to the end and found the object of their quest. We must do the same. The gifts detailed in Matthew's Gospel have always been of interest to all who read the story. Various interpretations have been given to the meaning of the gifts, gold to recognize the kingship of Jesus, frankincense to recognize His divinity, and myrrh to recognize His priesthood and death for the salvation of the world. Another important detail of the story for the early Church is the fact the Wise Men are given as non-Jews. This was particularly significant in the early history of the Church. The manifestation of Jesus as King God and Priest to others than those in the direct line of Abraham was experienced as a recognition of the meaning and importance of the command of Jesus to preach the Gospel to all people. May Jesus be clearly identified by each of us as God, King, and Priest, and through us to the world around us as the divine and powerful messenger and bearer of God's eternal love!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Blog # 218 The Joy of Salvation

Blog # 218 The joy of Salvation Dear Father Charlie, 12/10/00 I miss you and I am praying we will see each other again. I believe God places people in our lives for specific reasons. I believe He put you in my life to teach me about the true meaning of God's love for all things and all people. Ever since we first met, you have always expressed everything according to love, always reminding us that God is Love. Father Charlie, you are and always will be a blessing for me. I praise Jesus for you every day. Sometimes when I'm depressed or lonely my name will be called out at mail call and it's a wonderful letter filled with wisdom from you. Thank you for being there for me. I want to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year! My Mother says they are snowed in at home in Chicago. I wish I were there! Well, eat enough Christmas dinner for all of us here and Merry Christmas. Love, Audrey. That is a copy of a note I received from one of the ladies in the prison over in Davisboro eleven years ago. When I was living in Sandersville I went out to the prison over in Davisboro for a two hour theology class every Friday and to offer Mass there on Wednesday evenings. After several years, when I became Pastor of our Glenmary mission in Sylvania I was no longer able to visit the prison but I mailed a four-page letter to those who requested it. The letter I copied for you expresses appreciation to me and the Lord for the graces the author of the letter received through our theology classes and our offering of Mass together. . But that is not the focus and the reason for my sending the copy of the letter to you. Rather my focus and reason is Audrey, the lady who sent me the letter. During Advent the litugical readings at Mass had been reaching out in hope and joyful anticipation toward the fulfillment of the promise made in Genesis the first Book of the Bible and then reaffirmed and called to mind down through many years of history by Abraham, Moses, Isaiah, Samuel, Zephaniah, and the Book of Psalms. Beautiful visions of peace and joy were set before us to be fulfilled when the Messiah, the Promised One, would come. Finally Gabriel revealed to Mary the time had come for the Messiah to be born. She would be his mother and he would be given the name Jesus, Savior. He grew up and became a man in the ordinary way any of us would do. Assuming the role of a Rabbi he began to speak of God as his father. He began to say and do things that only God was expected to do, such as healing the sick and raising the dead to life. He claimed to have been alive before Abraham came to be. Then he was falsely condemned and died on Calvary. From the Cross he told us his mission on earth as one of us was complete. "It is finished." Now, and down through 2,000 years of history we who believe find the divine and original mission of the Person of the Word of God continuing until the end of time in the Resurrected Person of Jesus. For those who stood at the foot of the Cross and thought Jesus was a fraud he received in death the punishment he deserved. For Jesus his death was a witness to the love that God deserved. For Mary his mother, the few disciples who stood by him to the end and to us who continue to listen to him and follow him in response to the Father's identification of Jesus as His Beloved Son at the time of His Baptism by John, Jesus continues on as the Risen Savior. the incarnate, eternal, infinite, Word of God-Among-Us, Emmanuel! For us who believe, his death, dated in human history, was a human act of unconditional trust and total love for the Father. As an infinite act of the single person we recognize in the Word of God Among Us called Jesus, the death of Jesus was the fulfillment hoped for since its promise was given to Adam and Eve, the promise of a new covenant, of sins forgiven, of the power to pray, to forgive and to love one another as we love ourselves, to love God above all, lasting peace and genuine joy, the accomplishment in Jesus of God's will for us all day, every day, until "it is finished" in the unconditional trust and total love of death. This is where Audrey comes in. What she received from the message we shared in prison was the message of salvation in Jesus, here and now wherever we may be. The peace and joy that comes from knowing and loving God is intentional on the part of Jesus. It is part of God's plan. "Taste and see the goodness of the Lord." My work in the prison was the work of an evangelist. It is the work of someone who personally believes in the divinity and message of Jesus, lives out that message in the joy and peace of obedience to the will of God, and retains and cultivates a desire to share that experience with others. My love for God was magnified by my sharing it with Audrey That is the way it should be in God's plan. Thank You Jesus for making all of this possible! Thank You for enabling us through faith and Baptism to be one with You as branches on a vine, sharing Your mission and message of Salvation, the sanctification of the world in ourselves and with those around us through our efforts and prayer in Your name.