Monday, September 29, 2014

Blog # 367 Anatomy of Love

Blog # 367 Anatomy of Love

               Let's consider something of what would go into a decision to love someone, whether it be God or someone else.

                First of all we must know someone if are to experience love for that person. We cannot love someone we do not know. This implies in our decision to love that we are open to discover one another, using knowledge. as it were, as a key to our hearts.  This is true of our love for God as well as other loves.
                 If we really want to love God, we must want to know God.  If we do nothing to discover God, or nothing to know God better, we can hardly say we have decided to love God or to love God more.  
                   Also part of  a decision to love someone is to draw close to that person, share thoughts and desires,, praise one another,  receive gifts and give gifts, to rejoice in the love that is shared, to protect it, strengthen it, and help it to grow.  Such decisions are not made by accident, nor can they  be taken for granted.  Again, whether we are speaking of our love for wife, husband, children, friends, enemies, or God this is true.
                    A good question for husbands and wives who wish to grow in their love for one another, would be the question what have we done today to increase our knowledge of one another? Then
 how have we praised one another?  What have we shared?  What have we given?  With God too, for all who wish to love God and grow in their love for God there should be questions. What have I done today to increase my knowledge of God?  How have I praised God? When did I rejoice in God's love?  Have I made any effort to protect my love for God? What have we shared? What have I given to God and what have I received from God as a sign and expression of our love?
                   In preparing for this blog today I came across a letter I had filed away back in 1980.  It was written by a friend to the editor of a national Catholic newspaper.  Here is a portion of it.  "Catholics want to hear the word of God preached complete, with the words sin, heaven, hell damnation and salvation mentioned occasionally.  Instead all we get in our homilies is 'love, love, and more love', accentuated by the odious kiss of peace which has turned into a love-in in many churches."
                  You may have heard a similar complaint before or even felt that way  yourself. Yet Jesus summed up all the commandments in love.  St. John teaches us that God is love. And St Paul certainly and clearly puts love on  top of all the virtues and good deeds we might perform.

                   The solution seems to lie in identifying just what genuine love is, what it entails, and what the consequences of distorting or losing it might be.  In the Scriptures, with Jesus John and Paul, to love is to give, and the more we love the more we give. "There is no greater love than this, to lay down one's life for a friend".  That is because we would have no more to give.
                   Take a look at this past week in your life. Likely it was a typical week. Listen to it. How much love was present?  How would you know?  Love is a choice. It requires freedom. It casts out fear. It is less the best when it shares its motivation with a desire for reward.  It requires patience kindness, a lack of rudeness, no self-seeking, no anger, trust, hope, alack of rudeness, no self-seeking, and the power to endure.( 1 Cor 13: 4 - 7.  How much of these did you see and hear within yourself and around you?  That it how much love there was in your life this past week.  Will this week be the same?
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"Holiness is not the privilege or luxury of a few.  It is everyone' duty, yours and mine.
Holiness does not consist in doing extraordinary things.  It consists in accepting what God sends us. It consists in accepting the will of God. In order to be saints, we have to seriously want to be one."
                                  St. Teresa of Calcutta                                    


Saturday, September 27, 2014

Blog # 366 Blessed

Blog # 366    Blessed

            The Beatitudes constitute a well known section of St. Matthew's presentation of the Sermon on the Mount. I remember on the occasion of a Sunday several years ago when we read that section  as the Gospel  passage for a Sunday Mass. In my comments on the Gospel in the church bulletin that day I included the word Blessed expressed in about twenty different languages.  A reading of  the words made different sounds but all of the sounds expressed the same reality,  a universal desire of every human heart...happiness and peace.  It is true of the old and the  young, the sinner and the saint.

              God. our Creator, designed it that way.  Yet not all people are happy or at peace. I saw this illustrated in the road in front of our church. Literally anyone in all the world could walk down that road, Chinese Greeks Germans Italians old and young, But not all do. Some do not even know the road exists.  Others may be looking for it and will find it some time in the future. If this were a parable I were writing, the road would be called love, and would lead to happiness and peace. 

                Jesus came to lead all people down such a road.  He told us, and demonstrated in Himself, that when you find true happiness and peace it will be in love, and only be, in  love. We were designed and made for this, everyone.  There is no other universal plan than this that works.

              All of the unrest, unhappiness and lack of peace, , violence, and crime throughout the world in our present moment of history is clear evidence of the fact so many people are not aware of or following the plan of our Creator to seek and experience happiness and peace in love.  The command to love that God has given to all who come to Him is not to be seen as something that is sought in God's favor, but as evidence of  the truth about us: happiness and peace are the fruits of love.

                  The Beatitudes give us a more precise focus of the content of the command we have received from God to love.  A problem is we are so familiar with  the words Jesus uses we tend to think we know what they mean, As a result there is danger we may not be feeling need of or be looking for development or enrichment of their meaning and value in our lives today and tomorrow. They tend to be the same as they were, and we tend not to grow in His wisdom and goodness within us.
                  So we ask the Lord questions in quiet prayer and listen for Him to tell us something new.
What do You mean Lord, by the word Blessed?  What should it mean for us to be "poor in spirit"? "sorrowing"?  "lowly"?," hungry and thirsty for holiness"?,  "merciful"?  "single-minded"? " "peacemakers"?  What does it really mean. Lord, for us, right now?

                           We are already familiar with these words. What we should want to do is grow in our knowledge of their meaning and value, and how what they mean for us can give us power to grow in our love for God and one another.  Our prayer is for us to know the truth, desire it, and put it into action. It is a prayer for an increase of faith hope and love, the same words we have known for a long time, but a new experience of  them in each new prayer.        




Friday, September 26, 2014

Blog # 365 The Gate

Blog # 365   The Gate

               The Biblical background for this blog has been for me John 10: 1 - 21.  For Jesus to proclaim himself as the sheep gate is to proclaim himself as the way to the Father.  He alone in all of creation is Emanuel, God, walking, talking, eating, sleeping, suffering, rejoicing, and dying in the humanity of Jesus.  The image of Jesus as Gate is a powerful one  and specifically different from the image of him as Shepherd.  As shepherd He might be seen as one among others, as a role model or
 source of good example, but as the gate He is unique.  There is no other.  It is similar to His expression identifying Himself : "I am the Way". (Jn. 14: 6).

                   An appropriate response to the claim or testimony of Jesus that He is the Gate is to believe.   We believe that in Him we have found the way.  In Him is our meaning and goal, the Father's House, eternal life.  An appropriate response to the image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd is to  love.  To make it possible for us not merely to receive God's love but to share it, Jesus, as an expression of His unconditional obedient love for the Father, lay down His life for us, gave all that He possessed.  There is no greater love than this.  The  appropriate response to love is love.

                   All of creation is God's gift, an expression of God's love.  In creation God's love is majestic and awesome.  In Jesus it is expressed in human dimensions as well.  In Jesus , our Good shepherd, it is warm and close. In it we are safe from harm.

                     My first suggestion calls us to a greater appreciation of  who Jesus is,  and of His great love for us.  Our response here is to grow in our faith and our love for Jesus. 

                        My second suggestion is that we reflect upon the fact that through faith and Baptism we are united with Jesus as branches on a vine, sharing in some way a common life. ( Jn. 15: 5;  17: 32 ).  As a consequence of this, Jesus could say "As you, Father, have sent me into the world so I have sent them into the world".  And "Such as my love has been for you (my disciples) , so must your love be for each other." (Jn. 13: 34).

                        Sent by the Father, Jesus sends us.  As He has loved us we are to love one another.  Jesus was sent to be the Sheep Gate  and the Good Shepherd.  We are sent in our own limited and unique way to be the same.  We are called, entitled, and empowered to love with the Good Shepherd's love in our hearts, to lay down our lives for one another, inch by inch, hour by hour, or all at once on a Cross if that be the Father's call!
                           We should be striving to realize and appreciate ever more deeply the personal relationship between ourselves and the Resurrected Jesus  that all of us who are Baptized, individually and as a community, the Church, are called to experience and to enjoy.   Like the sun shining on all of us individually, the love of Jesus is poured out on us individually by the Holy Spirit ( won for us in the death and  Resurrection of Jesus). God loves no one else in the exact same way He loves each of us.  No one in all the world, past, present, or in the years to come has our love to give to God and from God in us for those around us. 

                        We are that precious to God and to whatever part, small as it might be, of the entire world that touches us in some unique way and calls us to be a messenger and expression of God's love in us!   By way of analogy, when we first learned to spell CAT our teacher began to live in us.  So, when we unite ourselves with Jesus through faith and Baptism He begins to live in us.  We are identified with Jesus as the Way to Heaven's glory.  Walking with Him in obedience to the Father's will we are identified with Him as the Good Shepherd.  What a vision.  Thank You, Jesus!                                  

From St. Teresa of Calcutta:  "God loves you. Love one another as He loves you. Love is sharing.  Love is giving the best we have.  We are carriers of God's love and whoever you are, you can become one also."

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Blog # 363 Connected

Blog # 363 Connected

                WE BELIEVE IN ONE GOD, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is seen and  unseen...
                  For anyone who holds those words as true, everything, people things time and places are all connected in some way.  Though none of us always and some of us hardly ever are consciously aware of these connections in the experience of a normal day, we are nevertheless ALWAYS involved in them all. For example the moon is always connected with the sun in that  the moon receives  the light we see 'coming from it' from the sun. The moon has no light of its own. Its light comes to it from the sun whether we are aware of it  or not, ever or at any one particular time.  The one God is creating it this way, always.
                     A simple example like this may seem to make little difference  in our everyday lives and in our quest for a core meaning for our lives and the wisdom and strength we need in order to live intelligently, happy and at peace.  Yet if we apply the example on a broader scale, inch by inch and hour by hour to all of creation it begins to appear as very useful and capable of helping us achieve a better knowledge and love of God and an appreciation of ourselves and the world around us as
it offers us in God's presence and love the wisdom and strength we need.
                      I remain fascinated by those words I have just written and find delight in applying them in my life.  I hope they can serve  you in the same way.  Here is part of the way it works out for me.  The one God who desired  that I should exist is the same God Who desired Jesus to be born of Mary!  I share in the same knowledge, power,  and love of our common Creator that the humanity of Jesus experienced. The Eternal Word of God, incarnate in the humanity of Jesus was connected to the will of God so that He could cry, walk, sleep, be  hungry, thirsty, lonely, talk, laugh, and die. 
                      Every moment of Jesus' life was connected with each other and then all at once in His death on the Cross which in turn was connected with His glorious resurrection and ascension into Heaven. All people on earth  are connected with this story of  God in Jesus. Not all are aware of  their connection, though for each and all of us Jesus lived died, rose from the dead, and ascended into Heaven.
                     Sent to be one of us, and so connected with all of us and with all of history, the Word of God in Jesus brought God's power and love to earth in a new and unique way.  Jesus would not merely pray as we do that sins be forgiven but would actually forgive sins.(Mat, 9:6; Mark 2:10;Luke 5: 24).  Jesus would not only teach us the truth about God; He would say "I AM THE TRUTH' (Jn. 14:6).  He would not only instruct us about the way  to eternal happiness by giving us a good example and living out the Commandments and the Beatitudes, but He would day "I AM THE WAY". and then "I am with you always until the end of the world".
                       He went further to say: " Anyone who loves me will be true to my word, and my Father will  love him  and we will make our dwelling place with him.(Jn. 14: 23").  Other familiar quotations of Jesus come immediately to mind.  "I am the vine. You are the branches. He who is in me and I in him will produce abundantly..." ( Jn. 15:5).  "...I pray also for those who believe in me through their word, that all may be one as  You, Father are in me, and I am in  You; I pray  that they may be one in us, that the world may believe that You sent me.  (Jn. 17; 20-23. "As the Father has sent me, so I send you.  (Jn. 20-21. "...make disciples of all the nations.  Baptize them...teach them to carry out everything I have commanded you. And know that I am with you always..." (Mat. 28: 18-20"),
                       These texts and others similar to them taken together and read prayerfully and reflectively surely indicate connections we are invited to identify for ourselves in God's eternal love for us through Jesus.  They throw light upon the relationship God desires us to have with Jesus and through Jesus with the Father and with all people throughout the world.   All are connected and called to share God's love, be united in that love, and to reflect it upon the world and the people around us.

Blog # 362 Obedience and Love

Blog # 362  Obedience and  Love

                In composing Blog # 362 this morning I had two Biblical texts in mind. Both of them are very familiar texts.  My interest was to reflect upon how they had a more  clear and significant meaning when they were considered in relationship to one another.  The texts are these: (Heb. 5: 8 )" Son though he was, he learned obedience by what he suffered; and when perfected, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him..."; and: (Jn. 15:10) "You will live in my love if you keep my commandments, even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and live in his love." 
                  It seemed to me the ordinary identification of commandments with which I was familiar viewed them in relationship to sin.  There seemed to be a subtle implication that God gave the commandments in order to get something accomplished, almost as if God had a need we were commanded to fill by obedience to His will. Sin by disobedience  to the commandments would be opposed to God's will without a clear reference to God's will and God's love being the same.
 Convinced that all of creation has its ultimate origin, identification, and goal in God and that God is love, I thought there must be a way of identifying commandments in relationship to love. rather than in relationship to accomplishments.

                   Obedience and love relate to one another in that an act of obedience can also  be an act of love and by its very nature and act of obedient love draws closer in love to one another the person who gives the command and the person who obeys.  Referring to His crucifixion, in obedience to the Father, Jesus said: "The One who sent me is with me.  He has not deserted me since I always do what pleases him."  The obedient act of submitting to the crucifixion on the part of Jesus  was also an act of love, His greatest act of love. " There is no greater love than this: than to lay down  one's life for one's friends."(Jn. 15: 13.  "The father loves me for this, that I lay down my life...No one takes it from me; I lay it d own freely...This command I received from my Father." (Jn. 10: 17,18).

                     On Calvary we have  the greatest love that ever touched the earth and the greatest act of obedience in the single action of Jesus laying down His life at the Father's command! All acts of obedience can be viewed in a similar way, as an act of love on the part of the person giving the command, and as an  expression of obedient love on the part of the person who obeys.  In obedience we share the wisdom ,knowledge, and love of the person whom we are obeying.   A child in the pre-school class shares the knowledge and love of his or her teacher in obediently spelling her newly acquired pet cat C A T.  In this the child is as smart as the teacher in a spelling bee they are participating in together. In the process of giving and obeying the truth that is involved in the process of obeying and commanding, love between the two enters in and is increased in each, both the person who is obedient and the person who issued the command. 

                         All of this is similar in matters more complicated and important than the spelling of  the word cat, as for example our obedient faith in accepting the truth about the Eucharistic Presence of the Resurrected Jesus in the tabernacle or in the authority of the Holy Father when he officially as head of the Church gives commands about issues concerning social justice or the sanctity of Sacramental marriages.

                    For me, viewing commandments the way I have been identifying them here, they are not viewed as burdens but as blessings.  They are opportunities to grow in wisdom and love rather than mere challenges to our faith and sources of temptation to sin.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Blog # 361 Our Future

Blog # 361  Our Future

                Once  upon a time there was no penicillin, no radios, no automobiles, no plastic, no nylon, no paint, no incandescent bulbs, no smart-phones.  We take these and a host of other realities for granted today, but there was a time not very long ago when none of them existed, even in the dreams of people.  Yet all of them were possible  before they were thought of, invented, and bought into being.

               Learners discoverers inventors explorers all came on the scene, and new wonderful things began to happen.  But from the beginning all of what we know and have accomplished right up to the present moment was possible.  North America was very real before it was discovered by Columbus.  The possibility of 747's was very real before the Wright brothers were conceived in 1867 and 1871.

                 All of this is true of the marvelous facts we have discovered in recent years, and are about to discover in the years to come, about the universe, it size and age, about the earth and ourselves, about the human mind, and about the other realities for which we do not even have the words to fit their description because they are not yet carved out of what has not up to now existed even in our minds.
                And what we know of physical reality, that the actual is carved from the possible, is true as well of all reality, psychological, spiritual, emotional.  Possible to each of us at any time is joy or sorrow, health or sickness, holiness or sin.  The present is carved out of the future, the actual from the possible.  Some of what is possible for us will be realized or made actual. Some of what is possible will ever remain just that, never imagined, touched, heard, tasted, or seen.

                 This is the truth about ourselves, of our discovery and use of  the world around  us, and also of our relationships with other people and with God.  Nothing that exists on earth, and no one but God is complete.  Rather all creation is in the process of being completed, and we are in the process of becoming the persons we will finally be, carved from all of the possibilities that lay ahead of us.

                 Only God is totally actualized.  There  are no further  possibilities for God.  There is no past, present, or future for God. God simply IS, totally, everywhere, always. With us, and all creation, however, we were who we were, we are who we are,  and we will be who we will be, until that time and place and circumstance, in God's plan and will for us, we will be all that we will ever be.  It has to be that way for all but God.  There is nothing wrong with it. It is simply real, the truth about us.

                    And so we are on the move, unfinished, going somewhere,  part of a process, carving our eternal name out of myriads of possibilities.  Perhaps we do not think of it this way very often or ever.  And perhaps that is part of the reason some people are not growing, living with a conscious goal for their lives or happy.  Without such a vision and plan for our lives we would need a great deal of sound, color, pleasure, and thrills to keep our lives from becoming insignificant and boring.  This seems to be the way it is with many people today. Yet in spite of it all, the truth remains the truth and we are all carving our definite future out of the real possibilities that are there.      

                     Do not be afraid. God is with us, around us, and within us.  God  knows and loves each of us by name, helping us day by day, hour by hour, to discover Him as worthy of our total love,  in our appreciation of creation, in our sins forgiven, and in our love for one another .Thank you, Lord!             

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Blog # 360 The Good Shepherd

Blog # 360  The Good Shepherd

              The initiative in identifying Jesus as the Good Shepherd was taken by Jesus Himself. (Jn. 10: 11-16).  In early Christian art the theme of Jesus as the Good Shepherd was most commonly used. 

                   Living as we do so far removed from an everyday experience of sheep and  shepherding we might ask what lesson or value can be ours in our response to the identity of Jesus as shepherd.   Chances  are not one of us is,  ever has been, or will be a  shepherd.  Most likely many if not all of us have not known  any shepherds personally. Yet the theme has been and continues to be a source of grace and inspiration down through the history of the Church.

         Jesus compared and contrasted that image with what He referred to as a hired shepherd.  The Good Shepherd has a high regard for the sheep, is dedicated to their welfare, and is willing to risk his life for their sake.  The hireling works for the pay he receives rather than the good of the sheep.  When danger comes the hireling will flee from the scene and leave the sheep to be scattered and killed.

                   In reflecting upon the image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd,  various thoughts begin to focus for us. The Good Shepherd is dependable, generous, and worthy of trust. In identifying Himself as the Good Shepherd, Jesus is inviting us to see in Him these same qualities.

                    When and how can we remind ourselves of this invitation, respond to it more frequently, and appreciate its implications more deeply and effectively?   The early Christians did this through prayer to Jesus as the Good Shepherd and through drawings and paintings of Him as the Good Shepherd in their homes cemeteries and places of worship.  Also,  each time we celebrate Mass we celebrate the loving death of our Shepherd.  In that Holy Sacrifice He is laying down His life for us!.  No greater love has anyone, shepherd or otherwise. 

                     For years now I have been keeping a small picture of the Good Shepherd attached by a magnet to one of my metal files. I have found it a good way of keeping me mindful of who Jesus is, His great love for us, and how close He is to us.  If any of you who read my blogs would like to share this practice, I will send one of them and a magnet free of charge to the first hundred requests I receive for one of them, with a deadline of  receiving your request being October 15.  You can send your request to me by email at:, or surface mail at : 4015 Glenmary Trace, Fairfield, OH 45014-5549.

                      Here are some questions I have found helpful in formulating my  response to Jesus as the Good Shepherd.  Aware of my identification and union with Jesus through  faith and Baptism, sharing His life and sent by Him as He was sent by the Father with a message and a mission, do I see myself  as a Good Shepherd to myself,  and to others?  What type of person must I be to make it true that I am a Good Shepherd?  What attitudes and habits of thought and action should I be cultivating in order for the love of the Good Shepherd to be alive in me?

                   And here is a prayer to the Good Shepherd:   Jesus, Good Shepherd, help us discover more fully what it means to call you our Good Shepherd.  You know each of us and you love each of us.  Help us to appreciate your love and  make it our own as you invite us to do.  Then will come the Father's will for us, peace, joy, and Heaven.  Praise and thanks to  you, our Good Shepherd!  Amen!

Blog # 359 Growth / Change

Blog # 359 Growth / change

            Whenever we are considering tomato plants, puppies, fish, bananas, corporations, baseball teams, or Christian believers, whenever we have growth we have change.  The dictionary definition of growth describes it as an increase in size, weight, power, etc.  The definition also says growth is gradual development toward maturity.

             In growth or development, change will be involved. The word maturity in the definition struck me as particularly interesting,  It implies a goal for growth.  When we read the instructions in a recipe book for canning fruit or making jam we  are told to use mature fully ripe fruit.  There is a before and after implied when the fruit will be, underdeveloped, at is best or 'over the hill'.

           God as Creator of all that exists knows all about what goes into the making of a dictionary, we can be sure of that.   In fact, I think of all the books that have been published God delights in a special way in dictionaries.   That would seem to me to be because a dictionary deals with and conveys truth.  A dictionary does not deal in opinions or guesses. In this it reminds us of Jesus Who was sent by the Father to shed  the light of truth on all of creation and say of Himself "I am the truth".

             It is interesting to view the whole ministry of Jesus as  a revealer of truth.  We see Him opening the eyes of the blind, giving the blind man the opportunity of experiencing the truth about light and color and the special beauty light and color bring to all that is around us.

           All truth is rooted in God and can be traced back to God.  Only God knows exactly what that statement means, but in Jesus God experienced truth on our human level.  He was like us in all but sin as the Bible tells us.  Jesus knew how it feels to be hungry happy and sad.  He knew from an experience like ours when a piece of fruit was ripe and how much better it was than one still on its way to maturity or beyond its peak of perfection. I can almost hear Him say of a perfectly ripe melon "That's wonderful!".

            In Mark's Gospel ( 4:28,f) we find Jesus speaking this way: "The soil produces of itself first the blade, then the ear, finally the ripe wheat in the ear.  When the crop is ready the farmer wields  the sickle, for the time is ripe for the harvest."  The Bible is not a book about farming, we know that. Then what is Jesus saying when He says what we just read?  In verse 26 we have the answer: "this is the way it is with the reign of God."  The truth about farming, about wheat, is how it is with the truth about the reign of God. Blade, ear, ripe wheat.  Jesus is talking about growth, change, maturity, and how they fit into God's plan for creation.

           Again Jesus talks about wheat shortly after His entry into Jerusalem the week before His death ( Jn. 12: 24),  "I solemnly assure you, 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."  In the verse previous to this Jesus said "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified."   He is not speaking of wheat but of death. He is Speaking of His own death, already on the horizon.  He speaks of it as His glory.  He recognizes the difficulty in thinking about death. He will ask the Father not to let it be if that would be the Father's will (v. 28).  Then He continues:  "But it was for this I came to this hour.  Father, glorify Your Name!". 

            It  is harvest time in the Father's plan for Jesus'  life.  He came as an infant.  He leaned to walk and talk and pray and sing and all else He was called to do on His way to the moment of His death on the Cross.  All the changes that had to be made in order to be the person He was were done. He was now fully mature in God's love. It was His greatest experience on earth, His greatest love, His glory.

             Each of us who have been Baptized as members of the Body of Christ ( 1 Cor. 12 ff, 10: 17) are sent as Jesus was sent (1 Cor. 17: 18) to live out the Father's plan for us in our moment of history ( Eph. 1: 10) not merely in imitation of Jesus but united with Him as branches on a vine.  ( Jn. 15: 1 - 5 ).  Our life is to be His life in us (Gal. 2: 20.  Our death is to be our glory in Him. In death we will be at the peak of our maturity, with  no more need of questions, change, or growth. " There is no greater love than this..."  In this love the goal of our entire life will be attained.  It will be our glory and the glory of Jesus in us forever

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Blog # 358 The words 'world' / 'creatrion' in Scripture

Blog # 358  The words 'world' / 'creation' in Scripture

              We have heard Jesus speaking of  'the world' as of an enemy.  "Have confidence", He said, "I have overcome the world."  ( Jn. 16: 33).  Again in John 18: 36 He says: "My Kingdom is not of this world".  Even more strongly He states:  "The world hates me because I bear witness concerning it, that its works are evil." (Jn. 7: 7).  And as we read in the first Chapter of John, verse ten, Christ "was in the world and the world knew Him not."

                We must always avoid the danger of substituting the notion of 'creation' for 'world' in these and similar Bible texts that speak negatively of the 'world'.   All of creation is the 'work' of God and is good. (Gen. 1: 21).   "God looked at everything he had made and he found it very good."  The world, capable of reflecting the presence, love, wisdom, and goodness of God can also be a source of temptation and sin when it is mistreated abused and given power and responses that are rightly given to God alone. 

                The 'spirit of the world'  is a spirit that is opposed to the spirit of Jesus.  The spirit of the world is one without faith, a spirit of selfishness and self-centeredness. The spirit of Jesus is one of faith, thanksgiving, generosity, and love.                                                                                                                                                              
                 Yet the spirit of the world tries to sell  itself off as something that it good for us. As food is good for us when it nourishes us, so the world is good for us when it helps us to know and love God better.  When it does not do this it is deceiving us, promising us happiness which it does not possess. The world can only promise pleasures that are temporary, destined to pass way.  Our hearts were made for those which are eternal.

             Only God can give us these!  In a time of temptation a sincere prayer for wisdom will help us know the difference.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Blog # 357 Ecumenisn

 Blog # 357 Ecumenism

            When the document on the subject of ecumenism was officially issued by the Second Vatican Council in 1964, I  think not many Catholics were familiar with the word ecumenism, let alone any responsibility they might have toward what the Council outlined as a responsibility of us all. Along this line, sadly, it would seem not much has changed. It is now 50 years later, and for some, I suppose, the word might merely sound like the name of a new disease.

             Christian ecumenism has been defined as an effort, activity, or movement among believers in Jesus to work, through mutual understanding, prayer, and dialogue toward the achievement of unity. The first paragraph of the Council's  decree on ecumenism says this : "Promoting  the restoration of unity among all Christians is one of the chief concerns of the Second Vatican Council.  The Church established by Christ the Lord is indeed one and unique.  Yet many Christian communions  present themselves as the true heritage of Jesus Christ. To be sure, all proclaim themselves to be disciples of the Lord, but their convictions clash and their paths diverge  as though Christ Himself were divided.
 (cf. 1 Cor. 1: 13).   Without doubt this discord openly contradicts the will of Christ, provides a stumbling block to the world, and inflicts damage on the most holy cause of proclaiming the Good News to every creature.

            In par. 4 of the document we have this:  "This sacred synod exhorts all the Catholic faithful to recognize the signs of the times and to participate skillfully in the work of ecumenism...In ecumenical work, Catholics must assuredly be concerned for their separated brothers, praying for them, keeping them informed about the Church, making the first approaches toward them.  But their primary duty is to make an honest and careful appraisal of whatever needs to be done and achieved in the Catholic household itself, in order that its life may be a witness more loyally and luminously to the teaching and ordinances which have been handed down from Christ through the Apostles."

             Though none of us profess more than one Jesus, though none of us claim salvation in any other name than His, if you look in a local phone book in almost any small town across the U.S. you will find upwards of seventeen different Christian churches listed. It is not just separation of Catholic from Protestant believers but a separation of Protestants from Protestants.  We as Catholics, therefore, are not the cause of the continuing separation. Nor is the Bible, nor a lack of desire for salvation. Yet we are separated.

              Some have said our separation is a good thing, to show the richness of God's love reflected in so many different ways like the rays of the sun shining on a precious jewel.  Yet in the upper room the very night before He died Jesus prayed: "for those who will believe in me through their word, that all would be one as You, Father, are in me, and I am in You...that the world may believe that You sent me". (Jn. 17: 21).
                It is significant to note that our Lord's prayer "that all may be one"  did not refer to a mere unity of fellowship, opinion, purpose, or feeling. Nor was His prayer in the interest of  size, prestige, or tidiness of organization among believers, but "that the world my believe."  The unity of believers is given as a witness that draws non believers to the foot of the Cross and to the love of God for all people in Jesus

                 Jesus had already spoken of Himself as vine and branches on that vine (Jn 15: 5).  The image of vine and branches certainly indicates a profound unity. Branches and vine are so united as to share one life.
                  Some other Biblical texts that impress upon us the significance and importance the unity of believers, are these: Eph. 1:2; 2: 14;  Gal. 3:26-28;  1 Cor. 12:12f; 1 Cor. 10:17;  Eph. 4"25; 5: 29,30.

                 Three features of paramount importance to contemporary ecumenism are these: REFLECTION, REFORM,  DIALOGUE, and fundamental to them all is  PRAYER.

                  Reflection:  We must look about us, study, wonder , and plan how best to respond to the divisions among Christian believers today.

                  Reform: We must examine ourselves to discover if there is anything in our manner of thinking and acting that makes it difficult or practically impossible for someone in another Christian community to see in us the will and plan of God for salvation and holiness that was revealed in the life death and resurrection of Jesus.  What is defective we must correct.  What is missing we must supply.

                 Dialogue:  We should seek opportunities and prepare ourselves to talk with our Christian neighbors about our faith and theirs. That is the hope, and the dream, and the work of ecumenism. The rest is up to God. 



Thursday, September 18, 2014

Blog # 356 Living the Life of Jesus

Blog # 356  Living the Life of Jesus

              When a prep football player goes to a professional game he sees speed strength and skill that he likes and appreciates. He watches carefully, and thinks within himself how good this is.  He goes home happy to have  seen what he saw, and eager to work hard to make this skill strength and speed his own. When we read of the life and work of Jesus in the Bible something like this can be true for us. We see in Him an attractiveness that causes us to wish to make it our own.
             Jesus is our God and Ruler but He came to teach us how to rule ourselves in freedom according to His wisdom.  He is our Judge, but He came to save and defend us.  The wisdom of the planets in motion, the strength of storms in their fury, and the beauty of the sun going down are but images and reflections of His goodness and perfection as the Word of God.  But as Jesus He lived among us as an ordinary child, as a carpenter, and later on would freely give Himself to crucifixion so that we would know the value of the Father's will.  He was willing to die that the Father's will be accomplished. And so that we would know how much we are loved by Himself and the Father, what He suffered on the Cross He suffered for us.(Jn. 10:11.)
             May each of us find the attractiveness in Jesus that great Saints have found in Him.  May we come away from merely reading of His love in the Bible to a desire at His invitation and with His support, to make His goodness wisdom and strength of character our own.  That is what Jesus was saying when He told us to love one another as He loved us. The Bible stories of  the goodness and love of Jesus were not given merely as good reading. They were given as invitations to be for us the strength wisdom goodness and love by which we love one another as members of  His Body, the Church, by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Jn. 13: 34;  15: 12, 17).

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Blog # 355 Our Name

Blog # 355  Our Name

          According to the law of God in Israel, a Jewish boy was circumcised and officially given his name on the eighth day of his life. We celebrate that event in the life of Jesus each year on the eighth day after Christmas, January1.

            A person's name is unique to that person.  Our name may have the same spelling and is pronounced the same as the name of our mother or father, uncle aunt or cousin, but as our name it is ours alone.  A name identifies a person, tells who he or she is, all throughout a person's life.  The color of our eyes, the number of hairs on our heads, the number of our friends, the amount of money in our bank accounts, and the hopes and desires we hold in our hearts are all contained in our name.

             So there is more to knowing a person's name than knowing the sound of it.  We could go that far and no further, but that is not all of the possibilities.  As we grow in the closeness of friendship, we could discover and share our joys and sorrows, our hopes and disappointments, our struggles, fears, conquests, goodness, and love.  All of this would be discovering ever more perfectly who we are, our name.

              One of my five brothers had the name Thomas. I knew how to spell it. I knew how it sounded.  He was eight years older than I, so he was living in our house already when I was born.  I had to believe he was my brother.   He was a professional chemist, university professor, the father of six, a very close friend.  His name for me was much more than it was back in World War II when I prayed God would protect him during his service in the Navy, as I stood by his hospital bed along with his wife and family as he 'went', as we say, to Heaven, at the age of 86.

                This is something like it is for us with Jesus.  We can ask the same questions of the name of Jesus that we ask of the names of others.  Jesus was born before us.  To know He lived we must believe it. A Jewish carpenter and rabbi, He claims to be the fulfillment of God's promise to Abraham and his descendants, the Savior. That it the very meaning of the name Jesus, Savior.

                 As time goes on we can discover more and more of the meaning of that name, in the life and teachings of Jesus, in the Bible, in the Church and history, the lives of holy people and of sinners, in our conscience, and in our everyday experiences. Jesus claims to be the Savior of all, our personal  Savior, not only as a model of good living or by way of an example for us to follow, but as a source of new life for us, God's Son, a divine person with divine power to save.   He claims to be sent by the Father to teach us truth, and by sharing this truth to send us into our world, to bring His salvation there. (Jn. 14:6; 8: 32; 20: 21).

               Through faith and Baptism we are made one with Jesus as branches share the life of a vine.
His name is to be ours! (Jn. 15: 5; Gal. 2:20; Col. 3:10).  We, with and in Him, are to bring salvation to our world. (Rom, 12:3).  How few these days . even among believers,  seem to realize the impact of this truth!  Salvation, to ourselves, to those around us, in our homes, work places, schools, now. (Lk, 19: 9). 
                  What does this mean? If we did not know how could it come about?  Love does not happen by accident.  It is a choice.  "Come Lord Jesus"  was our Advent prayer last November as we entered the season of Advent.  Jesus answers that call  in many ways throughout the year. We must be listening and ready to hear. Both as God, the Word, and one of us Resurrected in glory,  Jesus tells us of Himself , joins  us to  Himself as living members of a Vine, then sends us out into the reality of creation near and far, to proclaim by our faithful obedience to the Father's will that God is real, that  God loves us all, that in Him we are one. In this unity we see a meaning and application of the second of the two commandments Jesus gave as first the love of God above all and secondly the love of one another as we love ourselves.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Blog 354 Developing Our Destiny

Blog # 354 Developing Our Destiny

           Once upon a time there was no  penicillin, no radios, no automobiles, no plastic, no nylon, no paint, no TV, no incandescent bulbs.  We take these and a host of other realities for granted today, but there was a time when none of them existed, even in the dreams of people. Yet all of them were possible  before they were thought of, invented, and brought into existence.  Learners, discoverers, inventors, explorers all came on the scene, and new things began to happen.  But from the beginning, all of what we know and have accomplished right up to the present moment was possible.  North America was not known , but was very real before Columbus came. The possibiity of 747's  was very real before the Wright brothers were conceived in 1867 and 1871.
              All of this is true of the marvelous facts we have discovered in recent years and are about to discover in the years to come, about the universe, the size and age of the earth and ourselves, about the human mind, about cloning, and about the other marvelous realities for which we do not even have the words to fit their description because they are not yet carved out of what has up until now existed even in our minds.
               And what we know of physical reality, that the actual is carved from the possible,  is true of all reality, psychological, spiritual, emotional.  Possible to each of us at any one time is joy and sorrow, health, and sickness. holiness and sin.  The present is carved out of the future, the actual from the possible.  Some of what is possible will be realized, or made actual. Some of what is possible will ever remain just that, never imagined, touched, tasted, or seen.
               This is the truth about ourselves and our discovery and use of the world around us, and also of our relationships with other people and with God.  Nothing that exists on earth, and no one but God is entirely complete.  Rather all creation is in the process of being completed, and we are in the process of becoming the person we will finally be, from all of the possibilities that lie ahead of us. 
               Only God is totally actualized.  There are no further possibilities for God. There is no  past, present or future for God.  God simply IS, totally, everywhere, always.  With us, and all creation, however, we were what we were, we are what we are, and we will be what we will be, until the time and circumstances, in God's unique plan and judgment for each of  us we will be all that we will ever be.  It has to be this way for all but God.   There is nothing wrong with it. It is simply real,  the truth about us.
                And so we are on the move, unfinished, going somewhere, becoming someone, part of a process, carving out our eternal name out of myriads of possibilities.  Perhaps we do not think this way very often or ever. And perhaps that is the reason many people are not consciously growing, living with a conscious goal for their lives and happy.  Without such a vision and plan for our lives, we would need a great deal of  sound, color, pleasure and thrills to keep our lives from becoming insignificant, sinful, and boring.  That seems to be the way it is with many people today. Yet in spite of it all the truth remains the truth, and we are all carving our definite future out of the real possibilities that are  waiting.
                   Today, as I write this, we are in September of 2014.   It is the future of our yesterday. We ask questions. Is our spiritual experience of Christian faith all about sin and guilt as some people have told me they thought it was? Certainly not!  Comparing our Christian life to the running of a race (1Cor. 9: 24f), sin might be compared to an injured leg.  The leg must be healed before the runner can run again, but once healed He or she is up again to run.  So it is with sin and the purpose of our faith.  We should consciously keep ourselves aware of our carving out the image of Jesus from our future as it spreads out before us.  I am already just three months short of  being 87 years old...!
                  As a Baptized person  and a member of the Body of Christ, the Church, our effort here is that of a branch on a living vine.  We share the divine life of the vine in our own limited human way.  The name of the vine is Jesus and through with and in Him alone is the person God desires each of us to be day by day and forever uniquely realized. 
                    Come, Holy Spirit, guide us as we travel on our pilgrim way!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Blog # 353 Calvary

Blog # 353 Calvary
                           This is what Jesus said of His death:  “…once I am lifted up from the earth I will draw all people to myself.”(Jn.12: 32f, Jn.3: 14).  To hear this makes it possible.  To believe it makes it real. To live it makes it ours. This is God’s plan for Good Friday and Easter.  Listen. Believe. Love.

              I have known people through the years who have walked away from the Church and joined another or just stopped going to any church because of several reasons among which were a grouchy priest or Sister, sermons on money, lack of friendliness of a congregation, etc.  

               Such reasons are examples of elements that touch the surface.  They are not what the Church is all about. Christmas, Good Friday, Easter, and Pentecost touch what the church is all about, love, God’s love among us, and our love for God and one another in Christ Jesus.  No one in his or her right mind would walk away from love.

                   “If I be lifted up…” is to say “If you only knew my love for you, you would come to me and bring others whom you love and are searching for meaning peace and joy in their lives, along      with you". That is a promise and an invitation from GOD! 

                       Pope Francis has been urging us as individuals and as the Church to make sure we are living up to the Biblical images of Jesus as a Vine and Body whose life we share through faith and Baptism.  That is essential to any significant growth for the Church,  growth in numbers and growth in faith, in the secular culture of our particular moment of history. 









Thursday, September 11, 2014

Blog # 352 Dangers to Love

Blog # 352  Dangers to Love

                It seems to me there are two dangers we should guard against when it comes  to our experience of love of any kind, whether it be love for our parents, our family, our neighbor, our nation, ourselves, or our God.   The first is the danger of taking our love for granted.  The second is similar if not perhaps part of the first, that we do not keep ourselves aware of our love and consciously practice our love on a regular basis. The danger here, for example, would be illustrated  in presuming  your wife knows you love her because you told he that on the day you married her two years ago  and again as recently as three weeks ago.  If we applied that example to prayer and our love for God how do you think that would turn out?
                 We have to count our money from time to time in order to know how much we have, and we have to spend our money in order for it to fulfill its purpose for us.  If we treated our money in the same way we sometimes treat our love, neither would be of very much use to us.  One side of the coin is to know the value of money and what it can do.  The other side of the coin is to put our money to work, to use it by way of investing it or spending it on something we need or desire.
                   Our Liturgical Year addresses both of these dangers.  In our Liturgical Year, united through faith and Baptism to Jesus as members of His Body the Church, we celebrate  the life death and Resurrection of Jesus.  The celebration takes place when we gather for Mass  as a community of faith and recall to mind the Gospel narratives and the response of the early Church to the claim Jesus made while He lived on earth as one of us about His identity as the Son of God and our Savior. This is comparable to counting our money. How much do we have? What did Jesus do?  What did Jesus say?  What did He say of Himself and of us? What happened to Him?  Our emphasis here is on our memory.
                   Then we ask what should we do with our money, our faith, in response to the Resurrection of Jesus and to our share in the fruits of His Resurrection through Baptism.  We all know the Gospel accounts of the life death and resurrection of Jesus very well.  Knowing desiring and keeping ourselves aware of the effects these accounts can and should have on our lives currently is the problem. We can sort of take it for granted Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost will come again and the same stories will be read for us, and our lives will be about the same as ever.  And the celebrations we have counted and watched like money we have counted but never spent will be of little use for us and could for the most part be identified as wasted.
                    The Resurrection of Jesus  makes all the difference in the world for us. As St. Paul puts it, "If Jesus be not risen from the dead then is our faith in vain." (1 Cor, 15: 14). The Risen Christ is  no longer limited and confined by the flesh assumed in the incarnation of the Word of God in Jesus.  The Eucharistic Presence is the presence of the Risen Christ. In the Resurrection of Jesus our Baptism is born! Our emphasis here is on our experience.
                     All around us the rest of the world goes secular and Easter is almost all but forgotten until it occurs again next Spring.  It should not be that way with us. Through the Scriptural readings designated to be proclaimed at each Mass, and through the effect these readings can have on our thoughts  prayers and actions, the Church with Jesus as its Head hopes to help us grow in our awareness and experience of the meaning and power of the Lord's Resurrection. 
                     There are some simple but significant questions we might ask of ourselves with regard to the Resurrection of Jesus and our Baptism. What is the call of Baptism in our life today? What are we entitled and called to say and do in Jesus' name, with His love alive within us?
                      Such questions as these could be the basis of significant growth in our relationship with the Lord, with one another, with the quality of our personal and communitarian holiness, and in guiding us in our fulfillment of the mandate Jesus gave as He ascended into Heaven, sending us with His authority and love within us to be evangelists toward our current secular culture.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014



            Did you ever go into a friend's home and notice on the mantle or on an end table a stone or a shell?  You might have asked about them and found out they were very meaningful and precious to the persons who live in the house.  The stone is the one the husband sent home from Europe during World War II, when it was not at all certain he would safely return.  The shell is the one he and she found on a beach on the occasion they were walking along together and he asked her if she would marry him.
           The shell is not the most beautiful perhaps, nor is the stone of precious material, but both the stone and the shell are very meaningful, not in themselves but in the message  they still bring, in the relationship they express, and in the love they nourish and recall. For those who know their story the shell and the stone are special.  For someone who does not know their story they are not very special at all. 
              We have a situation parallel to this in the response and interpretation various people give to the reality of creation all around us.  For the plumber who came to the house to fix the kitchen sink, the stone and the shell were likely not even noticed. He was in their presence as he passed through the living room on his way to the kitchen, but chances are he did not even see them, or if he did, they flashed in and out of his sight as quickly as he passed them by.

                Some people live for years in the world as all of us know it and never see God's 'hand' or hear God's 'voice'.  They treat the world in a very practical sort of way, use it to make a living, enjoy its pleasures, avoid its dangers, and appreciate its great beauty, but never see hear or touch more than the eye the ear or the skin can tell them. 

               Other people live in the same world as the first group, with the same beauty and power, with the same possibilities for pleasure or for pain, with the same colors shapes amd sounds, the same sun moon and stars, but they see and hear more and differently. 
                  They know the story behind creation, its meaning and its purpose.  It is very special.  They know  God!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Blog # 350 Jesus Savior Today

Blog # 350  Jesus Savior Today

             Most of us are familiar with the  important distinction that can be expressed in the terms wedding and marriage. A wedding takes place at a single hour in a particular place.  Beginning with a wedding, a marriage is identified by the unique love of a  husband and wife chosen by them but designed by God to continue forever.

              The day of their wedding is identified and measured by the calendar and continues for twenty-four hours as any other day in spite of its very special character and the memories it engenders for the married couple and their friends.  The event of their marriage  identifies and shapes the entire remainder of their days on earth.

               A similar distinction applies to all who have been Baptized  We can distinguish the day of our birth, identified as occurring in a particular hour in a particular place  somewhere in the world, and the event of our birth which continues as long as we live.

              By faith we know the unique event that began with the conception of each of us continues  on forever.  Just so, the human event of the life of Jesus on earth, now glorified forever through His resurrection from the dead, continues on in a unique way for the salvation of all people in His Body which is the Church.  The Word of God , incarnate in Jesus, was sent with a message and a mission to accomplish.  In John's Gospel Jesus identifies Himself thirty time as beings sent by the Father.

               Then as the Father sent Jesus, Jesus sends His disciples.  (Jn. 17: 18). We, as members of Jesus' Body, united with Him as branches on a vine, share the same divine life and the same mission as He to save and sanctify our particular moment of history and our small portion of the vast vineyard of  the Lord which covers the entire earth and all of creation.

                This is a tremendously important insight that is ours by faith that few seem to be conscious of as we go about our daily human lives with little or no awareness of our identity by Sanctifying Grace and the event of our Baptism of  being called  and enabled to be a current living expression of and witness to the love of Jesus for us and for all creation.  What light this insight throws upon the full meaning of the words of Jesus commanding us to love one another as He loves us!  (Jn, 13: 34; 15: 12.   ).  Exactly so,  not merely in remembrance of His love on earth in past ages, not merely in imitation of that love, but sharing and living it, in our minds by faith, in our hearts by our desire, and in our bodies by obedience to His commands.

               All of our natural human thoughts speech and actions in obedience to the Father's will are enhanced and glorified  through our union with Jesus in the gift of Sanctifying Grace.  On the other hand our sins, in the light of that same gift of Grace, are more shameful and tragic.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Blog # 349 conclusion of Blog # 348

Blog # 349  conclusion of Blog # 348

                Blog # 348 turned out to be very long . I thought it would be better to conclude it where I did and then publish the conclusion I was planning for it in a new Blog.  In # 348 I wanted to focus upon and emphasize a feature of  the supernatural gift of Sanctifying Grace which we receive through faith and Baptism that I think many of us do not keep ourselves constantly aware of.  Baptism  seems to be experienced as a ceremony, for a day, rather than as an event that modifies in a very practical way our whole identity for the rest of our lives on earth.
                  Our Catholic theology concerning Baptism proclaims definite privileges and responsibilities that are ours in the gift of new life bestowed upon us in Baptism. These privileges and responsibilities will not be personally fulfilled in us in our everyday relationship with God and the world around us unless we keep ourselves consciously aware of them.
                   It is through Baptism that we are officially joined to Jesus as branches on a vine and made members of the Catholic Church. Through our union and identification with Jesus in Baptism  we become God's children and receive the privilege to pray to God as our Father, receive the power we need to conquer temptation and obey the Father's will, unite ourselves with Jesus in the worship  He offers the Father on Calvary and in the Sacrifice of the Mass, and accept a commitment to fulfill our personal unique share in the missionary mandate Jesus gave to the Church through His command to the whole Church  before He ascended into Heaven, to preach the Gospel to the whole world and Baptize all who would come to believe in Him.

                    All men and women, formed by nature in the image and likeness of God, our Creator. are given the mandate to form and follow their personal conscience, to do good and to avoid evil.  We, as Baptized Christians, are given this mandate too, but in addition we are privileged to do it not only in obedience to our conscience, not only in imitation of Jesus, but. sharing in His divine life, in union with Jesus, not merely for Him but in Him.    

                 For those of us who can remember the content of religion classes in our  parochial grade school education, the term 'State of Grace' was a very familiar one.  A goal of faith was to remain in the State of Grace which meant avoid all mortal sin which killed the life of Grace within us.   We were constantly instructed as well to cultivate virtues in our lives which strengthened our faith and prepared us to be kind generous strong and successful in overcoming temptation to sin.  I don't remember a strong and explicit identity given to all of this by way of a direct connection with Baptism nor a reference to faith in living out in our lives the  motive of an actual Baptismal share in the life of the Risen Jesus which included not only personal virtuous lives but a definite share in the mandate given the Apostles on the occasion of  the Ascension of Jesus into Heaven.  Recent Popes on the other hand have left no room for doubt in proclaiming our Baptismal responsibility for doing our share in bringing justice for all in public as well as private endeavors as a requisite of bringing peace to all. 

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Blog # 348 Then and Now

Blog # 348 Then and Now

           Whenever a high school football team like ours in Sandersville, GA,  where I was Associate Pastor in 1996, wins a State championship like ours did, it means they played good football.  Their record was 15 wins and no losses. You could have known they played good football if you actually attended the games.  But even if you did not attend any of the games you could tell they played good football by the record
               I see what you have been reading so far lived out in relationship to Jesus.  Here's how.   Like any Sandersville Hawks fan, who knows the team played well, any believing Christian knows Jesus did something great with His life. A difference comes here.  Not one of us was alive two thousand years ago when Jesus actually spent His life for others. This would be something like having none of us from town being actually present at any of the fifteen games our team won.   We know what Jesus said and did primarily from the Bible.  That could be something like knowing how our team performed by their record given in the newspaper accounts, and by the pictures in the high school year book.  The sweat has been washed away, the victory has been won, the games are over.  Some of us can get really excited just by reading about a good season his way.  We watch the parade and cheer for the team even though we did not actually attend any of the games. With Jesus it can be somewhat similar.
               We know we cannot eat with Him in Martha's house, walk with Him on the streets of Jericho, hold the scroll for Him to read from it in the synagogue of Capernaum.  We were born  too late for this. We take this for granted and are satisfied to read about it in the pages of the Bible.  The actual games our team played, the actual life experience of Jesus on earth is over.  The memory of it, handed down through the centuries is exciting in itself.  It is fitting and proper that we bring deep praise and appreciation to Jesus for all that He has done.
               This is the way it would be for someone coming to Sandersville years from now, when the tackles, ends, guards and quarterbacks will all be gone.  You could get copies of the old newspapers, read about the games, and rejoice in the victories that were won.  But the real acton of it all would be in the past, real in that sense, but only in that sense.
                 Here is where our analogy parts from the reality of the Bible story of Jesus.  In dealing with Jesus we are not dealing with the limited human reality of the local football team, capable of living only once in person and then only in history, real here and now only in  the memory of someone who might remember. These memories can be very real and can have real power to inspire and call forth from a future coach and future students in our local school real hard work and real dedication to practice all that needs to be practiced in order to have a great team. It is infinitely different with Jesus and us.
                    In Jesus by faith we are dealing with God. Limited for a while according to God's desire (Phil. 2"16), Jesus was truly one of us. He walked and talked, ate, grew tired, and responded to events around Him in joy and sorrow in a way that was as human as our own would be. He could and should be imitated in this, but He did not come only to be imitated. He was alwayspersonally, even in the historical limitations of His experiences on earth, divine. When His work on earth was done, and His perfect love for the Father, and their perfect love for us was fulfilled on the Cross, then, in the Risen Christ His story would take a new turn. 
                     Because they were truly human, His human experiences would have to be dated in time and recorded in history, which means, in all the ages since He walked among us in human flesh, they would be spoken of in the past tense. But the Risen Christ  among them was for the Apostles, for Paul, and for the early Church the foundation and substance of their faith. Jesus was alive until Calvary.  But now, after the Resurrecdtion, He is alive!  They knew this from their experience of the forty days He appeared mong them here and there from time to time. After His  ascent to the Father it would still be true.
                     It is true today. Our faith in the Risen Christ among us is a supernatural gift of the Holy Spirit, promised by Jesus and sent by the Father in Jesus' Name.  (Jn. 14:16.25,26.  The Spirit calls to our minds and clarifies in history the content of the message and the identity of the new supernatural life Jesus was sent to bring and to share. We want to know what it means to us to hear Jesus say to the Father "as you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world." (Jn. 17 : 8", and when He says to the Apostles "I solemnly assure you, the person who has faith in me will do the works I do, and greater than these."  (Jn. 14: 12), and "anyone who loves me will be true to my word, and my Father will love him; we will come to him and make our dwelling place with him (Jn. 14  23"), and, (the night before He died), "The prince of this world is at hand.  He has no hold on me, but the world must know that I love the Father, and do as the Father has commanded. Come, then, let us be on our way". (Jn. 14  30,31),  and the words of St. LPaul: "I have been crucified with Christ, and the life I live now is not my own, Christ is living in me" (Gal. 2: 19).
                 Now, in our current moment of history we read in the Bible of the Eternal Word of God coming among us and fulfilling the Father's will on earth. That was in the past tense.   In the present tense with the gift of faith and the power of the Holy Spirit we invite the Risen Christ to fulfill that same Father's will in us.  That we do not read, but live.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Blog #347 A Sleeping Genius

Blog # 347 A Sleeping Genius

            What happens when a genius falls asleep?  I imagine certain scientists have already tackled that question, and if we were to investigate their research there would be a theory or two as to what the answer might be.  But for the ordinary person like me, when  a genius falls asleep he or she is then much like the rest of us.  He or she might as well not be a genius as far as His awareness is concerned.  In a sense we are what we think we are.
               Applying this kind of reasoning to our identity as a Christian believer, we are led  to conclude that we are really and most fully a Christian believer only when we are actually thinking about ourselves in that capacity, when we are actually conscious of our Christian identity.  It is not that our faith is taken away or destroyed during those times when we are not consciously aware of it, no more than the quality of being a genius is destroyed or taken away when a genius is asleep. But it is not active and personal to me until I am aware of it.
                These thoughts came to me when I was reading the letter to the Romans, the thirteenth chapter, particularly verse eleven. "It is now the hour for you to wake from sleep, for our salvation is closer than when we first accepted the faith."  To 'wake up' as a Christian would seem to mean we are to claim our identity in Jesus and act upon that identity in a conscious and personal way.  As a 'sleeper'  we continue to be numbered among the seven billion men and women humanly alive on the earth today, and God loves  us as such. But 'awake in Christ' through faith and Baptism, we are uniquely related to God, ourselves, and to all of creation, called yet free, to claim officially, in Jesus' name God as our Father, to give sublime meaning and value to any and all suffering, to turn death itself into an expression of the deepest trust and most perfect love. (Jn. 1513).  The joys of faith are real and many for those who are  'awake'.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Blog # 346 The Potter and the Clay

Blog# 346  The Potter and the Clay

              May our faith in Jesus fill our hearts with joy, and may our knowledge and love of the Lord Jesus grow stronger and deeper as the years go on!

                The eighteenth Chapter of the book of Jeremiah contains that beautiful and well known passage in which the prophet describes God as a potter and His people as clay to be formed into a vessel of beauty and usefulness. We are given the image of God shaping His people according to a plan in His mind for them. Though the passage directly concerns nations and kingdoms before the Lord, it can also be applied to individuals.
                   Each of us has been created by God because He loves us. I remember hearing a preacher tell a group of people that none of them was wanted by his or her parents.  It sounds false and shocking at first, but he insisted upon the truth of his statement and explained it very well. He pointed out how our parents did not know us as such,  and therefore could not really have wanted us as their  child or their friend. They may have wanted a baby very much, and we happened to be that baby, and when we came they began to know us and to love us, now by the very name they would give us as their son or daughter and as their friend.
                   But with God it is different. From all eternity God knew us 'by name'.  God called us into
our mother's womb and from our mother's womb. Every moment of our lives each of us is known and loved by God. He is the potter of our lives, and we are His clay.
                     What a difference this insight would make if  we would make ourselves aware of it and be conscious of it in our daily experience of life.  Nothing or no person would enter or leave our life without God being present and even being in control.  God does guarantee our freedom and it is  a mystery we ourselves cannot understand fully, but even in our freedom God is the potter and we are the clay. 
               Each of us has been created by God because God loves us.  We are not alone.  God is with us, molding us, shaping  us, and forming us according to the pattern He has determined for us from all eternity. Among the seven billion people alive on earth today each of us is a unique one of them.  What a joy it is to know this, and to walk, hand in hand, as it were, up every mountain and down every valley along with God, each step of the way home!   Thank You, Jesus!