Sunday, February 19, 2012


Blog # 231 Where Did Christmas Go?
The tree is gone. The lights and decorations are stored in the garage. Christmas is over. Chances are you have not thought of it in the last several weeks.
But what about what Christmas was supposed to be really about, the birthday of Jesus, God coming among us as one of own own? Has that gone too? Did Jesus come for just a week or two and then back off again until next year? Was it that way when your son was born, or your daughter, your sister, or your brother? A new relationship was realised in their birth as brother sister son daughter, and that relationship continues. Should it be otherwise with Jesus?
Rather suddenly after Christmas Jesus was full grown and began His ministry of healing and teaching. ln the incidences and stories of the life of Jesus we lifted up in the liturgical readings for the past several weeks, our minds were focused on particular individual experiences and responses to Jesus. In the process, a relationship of it all with Christmas may have been unknown overlooked or forgotten.
So this week I asked myself the question where did Christmas go, and found it helpful in preparing for the season of Lent, which begins this coming Wednesday. I asked myself why did Jesus come, originally twenty centuries ago in Bethlehem, and in our lives this Christmas, in 2011, in Augusta, Georgia. Urged on and as a result of the social customs we have built around December 25th and the pressure of modern advertising and business interests, people received and gave gifts and sent greetings to one another sharing love and joy . Yet the truth is, these secular human natural experiences are historically rooted in the original coming of Jesus to earth.
The glitter, the gifts, the business of Christmas, could be taken as a tribute to Jesus. Sharing the Father's love for all creation and for all people, Jesus certainly rejoices in the happiness love and goodness people experience and share at Christmas. But is this precisely why He came? Now two months beyond December 25th, the distractions are put away, and it is a better time to ask the question. What really did Jesus come to do? What is His agenda for us , here and now? Though such a rich question could be answered several ways, one simple yet far reaching and profound answer comes in His words: "I came that my sheep may have life, and have it to the full." Jn 10: 10. Also cf Jn 5:40;6:35;10:28.
Other prophets and teachers were raised up and sent by God to tell and show us how to live happily here on earth as good and happy men and women. Jesus is not just another of these. Jesus stands alone as God's own Son, divine as well as one of us, a bridge between Heaven and earth, telling and showing us in His own experience of two lives rather than one to which we are called. The first life is experienced by all people. The second is given to those who believe.
Lent is our time of preparing ourselves to understand and experience more deeply the meaning and truth of the 'reason' Jesus had for coming. He came to invite us to become by faith children of God, sharing His very own divine experience, rooted in earth, discovered on earth, fulfilled in Heaven. He reminded us better fruit comes from better trees. It follows that the more perfect we are as naturally born persons here and now the more perfect we are as supernaturally 'born from above' children of God here and forever.
Do you see anything in your life these days which should be eliminated or developed to make you a better person and through this process, coupled with faith, a better child of God? If so, you have your agenda for this Lent mapped out for you. If not, ask a couple of questions again. Where did Christmas go? What did Jesus come to do, for/with/in me?

Friday, February 17, 2012

Blog # 230 God's love in us

Blog # 230 God's Love in Us Two blogs ago started out with the dictum:"When we love someone deeply that person has a profound influence upon our life". In composing that blog I was thinking primarily about the experience of natural everyday love between two friends or relatives. I knew it would also apply to God's love for us which I knew was the deepest love of all. I am so deeply impressed with the unimaginable infinite difference between us as creatures and God our singular Creator that I went on to consider the influence God's love made in us without thinking at first in any way about how the dictum might apply to our love for God. Then as I went along I began to realize that in spite of our limitations and God's infinity there was room for applying the dictum to our love for God as swell as God's' love for us. There had to be, in view of the fact the Bible referred to that love with same word, love, even though in one case it applied to something limited and to the other as something divine. My question was: How could I ever even imagine how my limited human love even at its best, could influence my infinite Creator? The answer, which we considered in Blog # 229 came in our understanding, response, and application of our faith in the fact the person Scripture refers to as the divine eternal Word of God and the person of that same Word come among us in the Incarnation as one of us in all but sin and given the name Jesus, is one single human/divine person. One single person, as the son of Mary and the Word of God ,Eternal Son of the Father, Jesus in His divine-human love dissolves the infinite difference that exists between a limited human nature and the Father. As a consequent effect, Jesus' love for the Father influences the Father by ways we cannot imagine or produce on our own but in Jesus results in God being 'pleased' with us as He identified Himself as being "pleased" with Emmanuel, the Eternal Word of God Come-Among-Us, as one of us and given the name Jesus. Our union with Jesus through faith and Baptism is revealed as the union of branches on a vine, sharing the life of the vine, called and qualified to share his power, love, goodness, prayer, suffering, and eternal life! Officially concluding our prayer to the Father in the name of Jesus is not to be considered merely as a traditional custom we follow but rather a deliberate expression of our faith in the reality and efficacy of the Incarnation of the Word in Jesus and our union with Him in the gift of Sanctifying Grace. Through, with, and in Jesus , according to God's plan rather than by way of some dependence of God in any way upon us, we can indeed love God.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Blog # 229 Sharing God's Life

Blog # 229 Sharing God's Life Back home as a boy in a Catholic grade school I remember how all of the Sisters who were our teachers always seemed very conscious of the need we all had to "be in the State of Grace". From what I can recall as what this meant to me, we were always to live as God's friends and avoid injuring our friendship with God through venial sin or losing it through mortal sin. That still makes sense to me as a clear and simple expression of a goal of our Christian experience. Through the many years since and even currently the meaning and application of what the Sisters told us has increased and now would have to be labeled awesome. In Blog # 228 I reflected briefly upon the influence love brings to bear both upon a person who loves another and a person who is loved. We are changed by our love. We decide to move from New Hampshire to Illinois because our girl friend in high school decided to attend the University of Chicago. We learn to like Chinese food because our best friend is Chinese. Recently I read a bumper sticker that said "Love is best when it is shared". That would be another way of saying "true love is mutual". A drawing of a lamb and a lion lying peacefully along side of one another illustrated the bumper sticker. The experience of love is like the experience of living on a two-way Street. You can go both ways. Love is experienced as coming from the person in love and going to the person in love. So it is with our love for God. We love God and God loves us. Did you ever think of how the notion we shared in Blog # 228 "When we love someone deeply that person has a profound influence upon our life" might apply to our love for God? Though infinitely different from all other love that can be ours, our love for God and God's love for us is truly love and does have a profound effect upon us, and to our amazement, once we realize it, upon God. Let's consider first how it applies to our love for God and then in Blog # 130 how it applies to God's love for us. In the case of our love for God, a finite limited creature seeking to love an infinite unlimited God, we could not even imagine let alone effect a change we might produce affecting God with our love. But, beyond the limits of our imagination, God so loved us that He sent His own Divine eternal Word as Emmanuel, God-Among-Us, like us in all but sin, so that now by faith we can imagine ourselves listening to GOD in Jesus, walking with Him from Jerusalem to Jericho, sharing our fresh caught fish with Him, and eventually watching Him die. Distracted in our running after the gift of personal salvation, I think we are in danger of overlooking and failing to apply in a practical way the clearly revealed Biblical truth that identifies as one Person the Person of Jesus and the Person referred to as the Word of God. (Jn 1: 1-5,14). There is a tendency to emphasize the identity of Jesus as our Savior, atoning for our sins rather than God-Among-Us sharing God's life and love with us. With sins forgiven our life in Jesus comes into better focus. Two thousand years ago Peter James and John, the people who loved Jesus, and the people who assessed Him as a criminal and condemned Him to the cross, treated and influenced God in Jesus, human hand to human hand, and human eye to human eye. Once they believed the claim Jesus made to be divine, these people had the opportunity to love God in loving Jesus or to reject God in rejecting Jesus. We find ourselves in a similar position today. The difference is not in our love or denial of love but rather that the basis and identity of our decisions and choices in relating to God in Jesus and ourselves are ours by faith, beyond as well as within our physical human experience. Jesus can and should be close and real for us today by faith as He was close and real in the experience of the people He encountered two thousand years ago in His limited human life on earth. If we believe it, the sun that shines on us is the sun that shined on Jesus. If we believe it, what Jesus said to Peter in sound, we hear Him speak today by faith. If we believe it, it is no less real in either case than the songs you recorded at your Grandmother's birthday party in 1999 are less real than the songs your children hear when they listen to those recordings in your living room today. These insights constitute the basis for our universal practice of identifying and concluding all of our prayers to the Father in the name of Jesus. There is no other person who qualifies as our contact point with the Father. All other persons on earth, ever, from the very first one of us to each of the seven billion of us living on earth today cannot qualify, since, in our very definition as creatures, we are at an infinite 'distance' from God. Through and in Jesus however, the whole picture changes. A few Biblical texts from John's Gospel may help in clarifying and justifying the insight I am trying to convey. "If you knew me you would know my Father too." (Jn 8: 19 ; 14: 7). "I solemnly declare it: Before Abraham came to be, I AM." ( Jn 8: 58). "Lord," Philip said to Jesus, "show us the Father..." "Philip," Jesus replied, after I have been with you all this time, you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father." "The Father and I are one." ( Jn 10: 30). Through and in Jesus we have the power and the invitation to pray to God as Our Father ( Mat 6: 9; Lk 11: 2). Our thoughts words and actions, our prayer and songs of praise are re identified magnified and glorified in our union with the majesty and glory of the Risen Jesus wherever and whenever we unite and identify ourselves with Him by faith. Our hearts should fill with joy when we realize the words of the Father ,thundered down upon Jesus on the occasion of His baptism in the Jordan, can in Jesus be applied to us, old or young, Greek or Roman, male or female, healthy or ill, rich or poor: This is my Beloved Son in whom I am well pleased . The truth of that declaration applied to us can be seen as the Father's answer to the prayer of Jesus in John 17: 23. Jesus prayed for the Father to love us as He loved Jesus himself. And with that love in our hearts our Father is well pleased with us . Our love for God in Jesus, in human terms, 'engenders' pleasure in our Father. That is what happens when we live "in the state of Grace" . Thank you Sister ! Thank You Jesus!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Blog # 228 Loved ones affect us

Blog # 228 Loved ones affect us When we love someone deeply that person has a profound influence upon our life. The mutual sharing of self that love entails enables and causes us to be like the persons we love, and the more we are like one another the more perfectly our love can be. We are one in our love. This is true of friends at school or work, neighbors, family, husband and wife, God and those who love God. Sadly, however, in all of these categories there are people who do not love, do not take their love seriously, do not keep themselves aware of their love, develop their love or appreciate it. Knowing the danger of forgetting or taking for granted even our love for God, it is good for us regularly to reflect upon the nature of love itself, to examine the way we love God and one another, renew our love, and make new effort to help it grow. How many people do we really know ,in our Church family, in our neighborhood? How much time do we spend with our family other than those times we have to be home in order to eat and sleep? How deep and meaningful are our conversations with our husband or wife, our Mom, and Dad? What have we given to God or received from God today? These are questions that tend to help us evaluate the reality and depth of our love. When we love someone deeply, everything that relates to that person takes on new value and meaning for us. The young mother who cherishes and stores away the first picture her little son had drawn does not do so because he is already an artist but because he is her son. The picture is valuable to her not because of its beauty but because of her love. The same is true with regard to our love for God and God's love for us. Great Saints have always realized their personal limitations and even their sinfulness. None of the Saints stood before God and boasted of their deeds. Yet they knew God cherished their lives and found joy, to speak humanly, in all they did because of God's love for them. A similar thing was true on the part of the Saints in their response to God. Because they realized God was present in all creation, all creation spoke to them of God. All creation was holy. All creation was a temple in which they discovered God's love anew and worshiped God. In relation to the special unique love of husband and wife, hobbies, relatives, sickness, achievement. needs, joys, and sorrows, all take on new meaning and value for one another because of their love. In relation to God, all creation, the work of God's love, belongs to God. All of creation takes on a new meaning and value for someone who loves God. When we love someone deeply, that person has a profound influence upon our life. In the light of this, the prayer of Jesus to the Father at the conclusion of the Last Supper before leaving for the Garden of Gethsemane takes on special significance and value. ( Jn 17: 22-26). "I have given them (His disciples) the glory you gave me that they may be one, as we are one - I living in them, you living in me - that their unity may be complete. So shall the world know that you loved me, and that you loved them as you loved me...To them I have revealed your name, and I will continue to reveal it (in 2012 !) so that your love for me may live in them, and I may live in them." When we love someone deeply that person has a profound influence upon our life. I bring that insight to your attention for the third time in this blog in response to that prayer of Jesus as by faith it relates to us, and can be fulfilled in us by faith. The examples I gave, of the first drawing of a mother's son and the presence of God in all of creation as an expression and gift of God's love, can be clearly understood in these experiences of people who love one another. They apply to all love, our love for God and God's love for us. To understand, appreciate, and capture the depth and beauty of the insight I am now hoping to share or call to your attention or memory if it has already occurred to you, we have to keep in mind that all that we as human creatures can think or say or do, when 'applied' to God, is infinitely different than when it is applied to us. However, our thoughts words and deeds are mysteriously enough LIKE the truth of them in God , they can be analogously true in spite of their limitations. For example. for us to think or say God is merciful that is true. But it is only true analogously. God's 'mercy' is infinitely above and beyond our limited human concept and experience of mercy. Our human thoughts are true analgously even in their infinite distance from infinite truth. Applied to God's love for us, with love remaining as a bearer of gifts, the gift of love for which Jesus prayed and which can be ours by faith is an actual finite sharing in God's personal infinite life through the gift of Sanctifying Grace. "Father...that you would love them as you love me, you living in me, I living in them" (Jn 17: 22 - 26). As siblings born of the same mother and father are identified and related to one another uniquely in their sharing the life of their parents, so we, called and privileged through faith and Baptism are A NEW CREATION. ( 2Cor. 5: 17). "I am the vine, you are the branches" (Jn 15: 5). We are identified and united in our sharing the life of God our Father through the unique person of Jesus , the eternal Word of God, God's 'natural' son, and one of us by nature the son of Mary. Unimaginably distant from us in the reality of the Holy Trinity, God's love/life is as intimatly close to us by faith as every breath we take, or perhaps better every breath we receive in the love of God by faith. This has been a long blog so I will leave for Blog # 229 a gathering of some Biblical texts to remind ourselves of the content of what has been revealed by God concerning our rebirth in Baptism and the supernatural life we share by the gift of Sanctifying Grace. May the Lord be with you and bless you wth peace and joy.