Life and Honor
How is the status quo going for you?
Putting economic and medical worries aside, are citizens of our nation becoming label-makers, mere busybodies pointing fingers at one another? Even here, the terms ‘label-maker’ and ‘busybodies’ are labels, aren’t they?
To accuse or stereotype or dismiss others is not right for any and each of us to do. That accomplishes nothing--nothing but more dissension and animosity. We may have opinions and affliction by the actions of others but ultimately, judgment must be left to the utmost authority of Christ our Lord, who will come to judge the living and the dead.
What are we to do?
That’s the point here. In society, our own actions and reactions need accountability to a higher power, and what higher power is there than our Creator? Because societies have removed knowledge of our status of being and thereby elevating the fallen human race as final authority, how will each one of us make it to the finish line?
Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life and honor.
--Proverbs 21:21 (NRSV)
The Lord’s Favor
Wisdom and truth go hand-in-hand.
To live by truth, one must first of all acknowledge the source of all wisdom. Such beauty, grace and blessings come forth from God and his love for us.
For those who might not see or may not trust this truth, how lamentable. To any one of these the question remains, can you truly say you have achieved lasting happiness?
On the other hand, blessed is the family, centered in God’s light and love. Humility, obedience, trust--these are the building blocks necessary for the purity of love we all crave. Receiving baptism and other sacraments, and doing so in faithfulness, yields special graces necessary to thrive throughout life.
Blessed are they who embrace this divine wisdom.
The simpler, straight path pursuing God’s almighty righteousness is infinitely more achievable toward happiness than the alternative. If we allow our hearts to open, how great the blessed hope of forgiveness and wholeness, inmost peace and pure joy!
How can one, if centered in self, rely solely upon oneself and find true happiness in relationships with one another and with our Maker? The pursuit of happiness would be just that: a pursuit--and a fruitless one at that.
Wisdom teaches her children and admonishes all who can understand her. Those who love her love life; those who seek her out win the Lord’s favor.
--Sirach 4:11-12 (NRSV)
It is too easy to become discouraged in such times as these.
Step back from the current climate of political discord, social unrest and pandemic uncertainty. Regroup mind, body and spirit.
It is time to remember we are not alone.
It is time to remember all that we have and not what we’ve lost.
It is time to offer our cares up to the Lord.
Now is the time to turn to the Lord.
Now is the time to ask, in earnest, for special graces.
Now is the time to rely on God’s wisdom and providence.
When we are able to put all those things that clutter our lives in the proverbial “box” and ship it to Our Lord in good faith and genuine gratitude, we are sure to see the world, and our role in it, in a whole new light.
Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
--Philippians 4:8 (NRSV)
Seasons, cycles, circles--all blend into the forms out there that we can see. Engineering of our world and beyond cannot go unnoticed. Even as we struggle in understanding its vastness and inexplicable formation, let us not look away.
Circles, round parameters of things, are everywhere. Our rounded eyes are cradled in sockets as awesomely functioning prisms. Wedding rings, symbols of all-encompassing love are exchanged in marriage.
Cycles of forms abound. Take water, for instance. Water first graced earth in its formation and still forms the majority of its surface. Humans, as well, consist of a majority of water.
Liquid water, that which we see, will in time evaporate into gas form and rise up into clouds whereupon it eventually rains back down--complete cycle of the form of water. And water itself has three forms: liquid, gas, and solid: Trinity in cycle. Trinity in form.
We are made multi-dimensional too: body, mind and spirit. We are given life by God, meant to abide in spirit by his love, and we are returned to him.
Abounding are the circles in space--the planets spinning around the stars with the moons spinning around the planets. All divinely engineered and held up by gravity. Gravity: the concept, unseen; the result, seen.
Who can downplay these galactic metaphors?
Do not harden your hearts.
Rather, harken the wonders of your Father’s Light and Love.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.
--John 1:1-5 (NIV)
Kingdom of God
The beauty of nature on earth exists from God’s handiwork, and how wonderful and fascinating is his design!
And above all, He created man in his image and gave the human race authority over all the creatures moving about the land and seas. With the intellect bestowed to the human race, we communicate not only with our eyes as the animals can do, but by our hearts. Instead of giving our emotions away through tail disposition, which is external, we’ve developed language. What a gift!
What a responsibility!
Shall we make sure what flows from our mouths does not harm the human communal habitats of home, work, worship and recreation? Shall we do our diligence in taming our own hearts, that they may not spew the worst in us?
A tell-tale insight as to why we love animals, or why we control animals, or why we abuse animals may reveal more we can learn from ourselves. For instance, do we value authoritative hierarchy from naturally loyal dogs? Do we love pets because they cannot talk back to us?
What do these answers tell us of our relating to our very own species?
How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! And the tongue is a fire...For every species of beast and bird, reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species, but no one can tame the tongue--a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
--James 3: 5,7-8 (NRSV)
There can be no greater family than one that consists of an upright man and woman who join together with God’s blessing and are open to life. Our humanity is designed for this, and when this union brings forth children into a loving, Christian home, how blessed are their children!
Be not discouraged if the grace and blessings of the ideal family unit are not part of your past familial makeup. What can we glean from those shortcomings of the generation before us?
Better yet, if we can recognize the good things our parents gave or instilled in us, we can build upon that, in thanksgiving and honor to them, and then we can ask for God’s grace in carrying on the next generation.
Life is about experiencing. Life is about learning. It is about appreciating the good and turning toward that end, even in our imperfections. And when we’ve fallen into bad habits or a state of neglect as we raise our precious children, we can turn to the best father ever--our Almighty Father who loved the world so much he gave his only begotten son that we might have salvation of our eternal souls.
From there, the Holy Spirit comes to us offering many great gifts--all the blessings necessary for navigating our course on earth and beyond. Imagine the great potential of these fruits: peace, patience, kindness, goodness, joy, gentleness and self-control--these entwined by a big bow of the softest ribbon, what else but LOVE...
Jesus said to his disciples, “If you, then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?”
--Luke 11:13 (NIV)
Seeking the Cure
Invisibility frustrates. Invisibility perplexes and causes fear.
Did you know our world is suffering from not one, but two global pandemics? We all know about the COVID-19 virus. We’ve come to know that we must focus on this type of virus: its cause, effects and cure.
There is another type of invisible virus, though, that’s been going on much, much longer--and its cause, effects and cure largely go untreated. It rears its ugly head every single day and only the large-scale episodes are brought to light after its surge.
That is, the scourge of spiritual pandemic. This type of ravage is invisible because it is internal in each and every human being. Its effects, too, may seem intangible but they are not: dark mental and psychological manifestations of envy, gluttony, greed, lust, pride, sloth, vainglory, or wrath play out everywhere. These are the things that menace our world if left unchecked.
Unlike the coronavirus in which nations strive to save bodily life, the cause of the spiritual ravaging is quite simple: detachment from our Creator. Our own power leads to spiritual blindness when we freely choose this temporal path.
What would be the cure of this particular pandemic?
Take off the blinders. Let the research begin internally with ourselves and pay no mind to the shortcomings of others, because there is first a lot of work to do within our own beings, in cooperation with God’s good will...
For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is DEATH, but to set the mind on the Spirit is LIFE and PEACE. For this reason, the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God…
--Romans 8:5-7 (NRSV)
Having purpose drives our lives. After all, the human body has dozens of external parts all useful for meeting our needs every day. Two hands, two feet, two eyes, a strong back, an expressive mouth…
In the midst of medical pandemic and social pandemonium, we see and hear of heart-rending stories of charity of goods and services for those in need. With fortitude and courage, folks carry on, even through all the ugliness of animosity and frustration playing out in many places.
Blessed are those who listen to their inner spirit and choose to do good for their neighbors and those less fortunate. It is by their interior fruits that inspires them to use those gifted hands, strong legs, insightful eyes, muscle and sweat, or to support causes by their resultant abundance.
Blessed are those reaching out to the margins even as they share many of the same anxieties and situations. Blessed are the ones who exhibit brotherly/sisterly love by what they can offer and let only kindness emit from their lips.
Blessed are the peacemakers. Eminence from the children of God, all fruits of the Spirit will serve the earth well.
Generosity, mercy and justice belong to the LORD. May we cooperate and serve the LORD with all the gifts He has given us. May we rely on divine protection, truth and the faith rooted deep down in us, and may we behold the glories of the kingdom of God.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness; for they will be filled...Blessed are the peacemakers; for they will be called Children of God...Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
--See full Beatitudes in Matthew 5:3-12 (NRSV)
A go-to when wanting to connect with the ancients through scripture can be found in the Book of Psalms. One-hundred fifty short glimpses, written several centuries before Christ, mostly by David (from Jesus’ genealogy) give insight of, and praise to, the Lord.
Many psalms actually were songs performed on specific instruments. It’s been said: song is like praying to God twice. I think that is true. After all, melody of the voice emits more than mere words from one’s spirit.
We can come to God in all things. He wants to hear the praise and the cries of our hearts. This inspired scripture, as well, He wants us to hear.
As we read the psalms, we can take great comfort in the knowledge, wisdom and faithfulness expressed in lyrical beauty by the ancients who relied on God during times of sin and sorrow and also in reflection and great appreciation.
All Catholic masses include a responsorial psalm nestled between the first and second readings of scripture. Especially through repetition of the psalmist’s responses, these psalms resonate today.
Does the spirituality within the psalms resonate with your spirit, too?
The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold for times of trouble. And those who know your name put their trust in you; for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.
--Psalm 9:9,10 (NRSV)
Our lives take shape in the womb and, awesomely, even before that.
The type of home we came from, our studies, whom we choose for a mate, and the kind of unity we keep in the home factor much of our humanity. And then there’s God, who has His hand in the fruit of our unions.
We know the good and the bad that played out in our earlier years. Must dysfunction beget dysfunction? May we dare question this of ourselves? Of the bad times, we need not remain bound in those chains. To redefine what constitutes function versus dysfunction and settle for repeating the cycle may have produced only easy values, but not good values for ourselves.
Choosing our circles, too, requires great care in friending persons who share our values; hopefully for the better, definitely better with the hand of God. And from there, choosing a soulmate for the right reasons and entering into the covenant of marriage will reap blessings beyond what any material goals we might put our hopes in.
As parents, we may already know these things. As parents of impressionable youth, remember: never underestimate the importance of values. Let’s not overlook opportunities in the lessons of God’s hand in their formative years.
If children do not know this fundamental teaching, how can they remember that God loves them and never abandons them?
Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you.
--Isaiah 49:15 (NIV)
Fan the Flame
Meteorologically speaking, many days this year so far have been BLAH.
It might appear from space looking down at earth that we live under a shroud of clouds depriving us of the light and warmth our sun provides.
Maybe we get just a glimpse of rays and if we are fortunate enough, an entire day or two at a time resembles our highly anticipated seasonable expectation. But not for long! That sun shines down and then it seems to retreat for days on end behind the gloom hanging overhead.
And when we see and feel this prolonged “blah” existence, do we not feel a range in disposition from unmotivated to downright lethargic?
Let us embrace the gift of Light like the heliotropic sunflower standing tall. Let us drink up the dew and the rain and store it up like the desert camel. Look to all God has given to us, and do not cower in a cave of indifference but feed the body, mind and spirit with all you know to be pure and true, good and fruitful.
Find it, feed it—rediscover and rekindle the Holy Spirit of your baptism. Every single day, allow your light to shine from within!
. . . Fan into flame the gift of God . . . for God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline. So do not be ashamed to testify about our LORD . . . who has saved us and called us to a holy life.
Blessed Mother Mary, may we look to you as the favored handmaiden of the Lord. From the instant you were approached by the Angel Gabriel, your ‘yes’ has forever changed your earthly role and your eternal vocation as mother to all of Christ’s church.
Faithful even in your dreariest sorrow while at the foot of Jesus’ cross, Jesus entrusted his young Apostle John to you and you to him, beholden to all of your son’s instituted Church.
As Mother to the King in His heavenly kingdom, you are our Holy Queen that we may rely upon for utmost sacred and intimate intercession to the Most Holy One of all.
May we consecrate ourselves to you, Most Gracious Advocate, in today’s troubling times and for all the days of our lives, that we might be comforted and strengthened by your maternal embrace and intercessory heart and voice.
Pray for us, O Virgin most amiable, Vessel of honor, Ark of the covenant, Mother of good counsel, Queen of families, Comforter of the afflicted, Mirror of justice, Mystical rose, Morning star . . . Amen.
Will and Testament
Can you imagine a seemingly infinite stretch of fertile land where people flock to live, and how everyday people will live together in peace? The Mayflower aside, this ideology is certainly nothing new.
Suppose for just a moment that the land of abundance is owned by YOU. You invite people from everywhere to come live peacefully with you and your denizens.
How is this peace sustainable? Who is the rightful owner and magistrate of all the land? Wouldn’t there need to be sovereignty in which to abide for the sake of order?
Would the kingdom not give homage to its righteous king? For the one who will not, does delusion cause one to be his own king instead? And what is that outcome as it relates to people of good will and to the true King?
I’ve just described Free Will. Free Will is bestowed to us. from our Almighty Father, as a gift!
Just as earth exists below the heavens, so, too, how we live in this existence on earth forms just a glimpse of resplendent life when we choose to live for God and His Kingdom. Everlasting love and peace--in the radiance of light and joy--bask there.
Our Father-King-and-Creator wants all of us, you and I, to share in His glory, that we may partake of the Banquet in Heaven where our joy is complete. Our citizenship, though, begins on earth right here and now. Here and now are the invitation and the RSVP; the call and the choice.
Listen carefully. He has provided the way, through his Son. Ask, knock and seek the truth and the truth shall make you free.
For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.
--Mark 3:35 (NIV)
Organics of God
Let’s go outside and examine a rain barrel, virtually speaking.
While days of sunshine are wonderful, the moisture of water-fall must soak the good earth where all seed lies. Only when water penetrates soil may flowers, plants and crops sprout forth.
A wise gardener will likely have prepared and kept the rain barrel covered for times of drought. With an opening to allow rain to collect, the remainder of the container is covered--for such reasons as stagnation that attracts flies (which carry diseases) and the subtle process of evaporation.
Detrimental is the collection of rainwater for the rescue of withering vines, by pouring its contents onto dusty dirt where the roots lie beneath. Even though green leaves above the ground may not have felt a drop of rain for some time, because the roots are fed, a rejuvenation of life courses through the vines and into beautiful blossoms and delicious, nutritious fruit.
The Author of Life fashions humans, in some regards, much like plants’ infrastructure. How are you weathering the seasons of life?
Do you relish the crispness of a springtime breeze? Summer’s intensity? The glory of trees crowned in splendid colors of red, yellow and orange, come autumn? How about peaceful snows befalling the dormancy of winter?
Your inmost being, your soul, must be quenched invariably with living water. Are you taking good care of your roots?
How full is your vessel?
In your youth you did not gather. How will you find anything in your old age? How appropriate is sound judgment in the gray-haired, and good counsel in the elderly! How appropriate is the wisdom in the aged, understanding and counsel in the venerable! The crown of the elderly, wide experience; their glory, the fear of the LORD.
--Sirach 25:3-6 (NRSV)
All around me are unspoken litany of lamentations, the sorrow in the soul of what once was. And I lament, "Why is everyone around me not perceiving this virus crisis as the opportunity that it is?"
Did you know that the Holy Bible contains at least 365 exhortations where we are to embrace courage and faith, not worry and crippling anxiety? So many passages in both Old and New Testaments demonstrate to us:
Do not fear . . .Be not afraid.
Scripture will implore us to get a new heart.
Scripture will reprove us not to look back.
Scripture will show us who is our strength, our rock, our fortress, our deliverer.
Scripture will impart to us who is our stronghold, our shield, our guide, our consoler.
Scripture will elucidate for us who is close to the brokenhearted, who can save those who are crushed in spirit.
Scripture will proclaim that the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all humanity.
Scripture will declare to us that if we come near to God, He will come near to us . . .
The thought of my affliction and my homelessness is wormwood and gall! My soul continually thinks of it and is bowed down with me. But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The LORD is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him.’
The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul that seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.
—Lamentations 3:19-26 (NRSV)
When Jesus takes up his wooden cross for the ultimate sacrifice, a foreshadow of the Old Testament correlates ever so closely.
The only son that Abraham and Sarah brought to life in a special way after many barren years, was to be Abraham’s sacrifice requested by God. I can imagine all that ran through his mind. Yet, in good faith, Abraham prepared to obey the LORD. Abraham instructed his son, Isaac, to carry the wood for the burnt offering up the mountain. “But where is the sacrificial lamb?” he innocently asks his father.
Only because of Abraham’s steadfast faith to the end, the LORD spared the child and provided a nearby ram ensnared in a bush for the burnt offering. For such faithfulness, God then promised Abraham descendants as numerous as the stars.
Today, my brothers and sisters, we have the ultimate Redeemer who bore our sins on the wood of the cross! Jesus Christ laid down his life for his friends--all who believe and follow him. And now that he sits at the right hand of the Father after his glorious Resurrection, we await the Blessed Hope unto our last breath. Yes, we have the Blessed Hope of eternal life!
In the past, God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways--but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom He made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being--sustaining all things by His powerful word. After He had provided purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.
--Hebrews 1:1-4 (NIV)
Spiritual Food (NRSV)
As we approach Holy Week, may I share some spiritual food with you? I treasure the Holy Bible, spending quiet time with the Word every single morning.
Over the years, I’ve hand-written especially meaningful verses in a pretty journal a dear sister-in-law once gave me for my birthday. I must have hundreds of passages. Some are repeated as I go along, without my realizing it—they mean that much to me!
STRONGHOLD found in Psalm 9:9-10
The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you.
BELIEVE YOUR PRAYER found in Mark 11:24-26
So I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your tresspasses.
KING AND COVENANT found in Zechariah 9:11-12
. . . because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit. Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope; today I declare that I will restore to you double.
GRACE found in Romans 5:20-21
But law came in, with the result that the trespass multiplied; but where sin increased grace abounded all the more so that, just as sin exercised dominion in death, so grace might also exercise dominion through justification leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
SUBMISSION found in Matthew 26:39
. . . he threw himself on the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want."
A Prayer in Time of Pandemic
whose Only Begotten Son
bore the weight of human suffering
for our salvation,
hear the prayers of your Church
for our sick brothers and sisters
and deliver us from this time of trial
Open our ears and our hearts
to the voice of your Son:
Be not afraid, for I am with you always
Bless all doctors and nurses,
researchers and public servants;
give us the wisdom to do what is right
and the faith to endure this hour, that
we might gather once again to praise
your name in the heart of your Church,
delivered from all distress
and confident in your mercy.
Through Christ our Lord,
In the interconnectedness of life on earth, we are bound to come to crossroads at some point. For instance, I might continue on my path zig-zagging around chaos or climbing out of ravines. But if I stop to think about it, is it because I end up trudging polluted waters downstream of the Big Green Machine driving my life?
When you or I eventually come to that intersection, would we simply plod forward on that crazy byway without so much as a glance left or right?
Friends, there are only two directions on the map of our hearts. I would rather find living waters, living bread which sustain my soul. All else is manmade and serves only a limited purpose for my needs. None of those things should enslave me. I trust in God’s providence now and for all time.
The trials of pandemic have fear gripping many. Surrender anxiety in this time of social spacing, embracing meditative quiet and solitude. Full potential to cast our cares on the Lord is there where we may feel His closeness the most.
Allow some quiet time for pondering who or what we serve, what chains us to our anxieties. Then let us discover who we have in Christ Jesus. His life, death and resurrection has purchased for us the rewards of life eternal. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are faithful to us, if only we consider a way toward prayerful communion and harden not our hearts.
This is what the LORD says, "Stand at the crossroads and look: ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls."
--Jeremiah 6:16 (NIV)
Also read: John 12:25-26, 1Timothy 4:6-10, Sirach 3:26-27
“Why didn’t you ever tell me?”
How often may our ears be ringing after learning of the death of a loved one? Judgement Day arrives for the deceased, and it may be too late for the immediate entryway to the gloriousness of heaven.
Just as a baby grows and prepares nine months to enter the world, that same being takes a human lifetime readying the soul to leave this temporal world towards eternity. Some will find the promise of salvation and participate in the sacraments faithfully, to become and remain holy, because God is a God of holiness and requires holiness of us.
The LORD our God in heaven is most deserving of praise and honor all the days of our lives.
True knowledge of the promises of Christ must not only be just our possession. We are called to share knowledge of the gospels as we live by His Word. Let’s remember to pray for the godless and the lost. That with the help of the Holy Spirit we may bear light upon the righteous path for them at least once.
How many times might the spirits of the newly departed cry softly as they drift downward (to purgatory or…), “Why didn’t you ever show me?”
Take courage and have faith: you will not be put to shame!
My brothers and sisters, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and is brought back by another, you should know that whoever brings back a sinner from wandering will save the sinner’s soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.
Also read: 2Timothy 1:6-10, Isaiah 52:7, Mark 8:36-38
We are living two-thousand years after Jesus walked the earth, established his Church and gave himself up for our sins and the sins of many. Who among us today fully fathoms how all of that came to be, especially the immediate years following Christ’s ministry, death and resurrection? Unless we are historians of that time period, we cannot truly appreciate the enormousness of such a rise amid the culture and dominions of that era.
Scripture and sacraments now guide us in our times. But before these things came to us in the forms they are today, the apostolic succession, ordained by Jesus himself, carried out the administration of Christ’s church orally. The early church also received divine inspiration from the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity.
Any time, and especially during Lent, it serves us well to journey deeper into relationship with God in Three Persons. The mystery of the Trinity is as deeply layered from its core, as the core of our created planet is vastly layered in dirt, crust, mountainous terrain, churning seas, gushing waterfalls, deepest chasms and barren wastelands. Then we are but specks in all the universe.
Journey to the core, dear brothers and sisters, one layer at a time. Our God is Almighty and His majesty so infinite that He is nearly incomprensible unless . . . we live by faith. Our Creator is the maker of Heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible. We are made in His likeness for a glorious purpose.
Are you striving toward your greatest God-given potential?
Healing happens only under certain conditions. Emotional healing, for example, cannot heal with a stony heart. Its denseness prevents the flow of love the way the heart needs to pump the flow of blood throughout the body. Therefore, the emotional heart needs to break down its barrier through supplication.
How can we make the heart supple? You’ve heard the motto Let Go and Let God…
The grudges we hold onto act as dangerous plaque that forms and squeezes out the function of the all-important organ. If we find ourselves too hurt to forgive our transgressors, let it go. Let it go to God.
We must pray to the Lord for the grace to let go. The weight is a terrible burden for us, like the elephant on the chest in the COPD commercial. Our drug in this case: praying to the Almighty to release this from us!
Transgressions do happen in our imperfect humanity. If our transgressor does not show inclination to ask our forgiveness first, then ideally we must be first to ask for special grace to forgive. Blessedly, confessing our own lack of ability to do so--and harboring such hardness of heart--is a great place to start.
In this season of Lent, let the Confessional become the hospital for your heart. Are you aware that not only can you make confession and receive absolution through penance, but if requested, the priest, as Healing Physician, also offers great Godly guidance?
Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. A good measure pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap: for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.
--Luke 6:37-38 (NIV)
Also read: Proverbs 19:11, Jude 1:22-23, Luke 6:36
In the liturgical season of Lent, a good and proper way to prepare our minds and hearts should include a deep examination of conscience.
Even after the taking away of Original sin at our baptisms, we are sinners in need of absolution. How easy it is to slip into a false security that our eternal salvation would be assured, no matter how we live out our earthly lives, and how little time we devote to our Lord.
Oh, how easy to erase from our minds the fact that we fall short of God’s glory time and time again. The environment in which we live today easily discounts sin, shuns any accounting to God, and touts a growing bevy of ‘rights’ in a shameless way that hurt individuals and the whole of society.
Take heed. We have twisting, ever broadening freeways that accelerate our drive to self-gratification...and we have a slated path that leads to God’s righteousness and eternal glory. The latter is far more narrow, but the footpath is straight and sure; Its lush path illuminated for us.
For many live as enemies of the cross of Christ...Their end is destruction; their god is the belly; and their glory is in their shame; their minds are set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
--Philippians 3:18-20 (NRSV)
Also read: Lamentations 3:34-36, Luke 8:47-48, 1John 1:8-10
God’s people have been termed many things and have been called to be many things throughout the Holy Bible: children, sheep, disciples. These are who we are to our Father. Pillars, light, salt--these are what our Father calls us to be to our brethren.
What would we do without the inarguably greatest spice in the world? Salt is in everything at the grocery store. You would be hard-pressed finding anything in a box or package without some percentage of sodium.
For flavor and preservation, the spice has become a given. Have you ever gone any length of time without consuming salt, either by way of sprinkling at your table, or already packaged with sodium?
Temperance is key, however, salt zests the lovingly prepared meal to be shared with family and friends. Food for the soul consists of the same sort of purpose.
May your salt shaker/grinder be not left in the pantry for years, unused and flavor faded.
You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled underfoot.
—Matthew 5:13 (NRSV)
From the moment of our conception, the seed coming into being in the womb reflects God’s beauty and bears all possibilities. Our humanity is fashioned in God’s image and likeness--both man and woman, both heart (the physical) and soul (the spiritual).
God is love, and it is His good pleasure to give us the free will to love him and to love one another. Do you realize how immeasurably we are loved, and loved so completely and unconditionally? We should have no difficulty grasping such totality of love, yet so many of us do.
What do we do with this gift of free will?
Let us be aware that love is a verb. Loving freely warrants the reciprocity to act from our hearts with desire and responsibility, and ultimately without condition, to express love for the good of others, and with gratitude to God. The basis of willing relationships thrives on this design.
Only in God’s pure love will we come into true happiness, the only happiness that sustains us with inner strength, joy, and the peace of assurance now and forever.
You and I were made to intertwine with God and His love. Where there is love, there is life.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude nor self-seeking nor easily angered . . .It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
—1Corinithians 13:4,5,7 (NIV)
Playing a little role reversal, as adults with so many responsibilities for others as well as ourselves, it seems hard to imagine that we are still children. We are still children to God, the almighty Father who created us, knitting our souls in the wombs of our mothers.
Could the reality of all those responsibilities hinder the ability to give up our risen status as lord of the castle and master of our fate? There is irony in relation to burdens that we think must rest solely on ourselves and a building up of worries and gripping anxiety. Holding these burdens by managing stress successfully may also puff up a certain pride and perhaps even stubbornness which can interfere with close relationships.
And God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, Jesus Christ, who paid the price for our sins by dying an excruciating death on the cross and rising again to sit at the right hand of the Father in his kingdom. But before Jesus willingly did so, he lived his life in an exemplary way, constantly showing his disciples the way, the truth and the life in his ministry to all the people whose physical and spiritual needs were great. He did so with agape love (charity). Therefore,
Be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Also read: Luke 9:48, Luke 18:17, Matthew 19:14