Monthly Archives: January 2018
Devotional Thought of the Day:
9 Love must be completely sincere. Hate what is evil, hold on to what is good. 10 Love one another warmly as Christians, and be eager to show respect for one another. 11 Work hard and do not be lazy. Serve the Lord with a heart full of devotion. 12 Let your hope keep you joyful, be patient in your troubles, and pray at all times. 13 Share your belongings with your needy fellow Christians, and open your homes to strangers. 14 Ask God to bless those who persecute you—yes, ask him to bless, not to curse. 15 Be happy with those who are happy, weep with those who weep. 16 Have the same concern for everyone. Do not be proud, but accept humble duties. Do not think of yourselves as wise. 17 If someone has done you wrong, do not repay him with a wrong. Try to do what everyone considers to be good. 18 Do everything possible on your part to live in peace with everybody. Romans 12:9-18 (TEV)
Christ exists only in his body, not just as an ideal; that means: with all those others—with the permanent, time-transcending community that is his body. The Church is not an idea, but a body, and the scandal of the Incarnation, on which many of Jesus’ contemporaries came to grief, continues in the vexations of the Church, but here, too, the saying is applicable: Blessed is he who is not scandalized in me. This communal character of the Church necessarily means, then, her we character: she is not just somewhere; we ourselves are the Church. Certainly, no one can say: “I am the Church”; each must and may say: We are the Church. And “we”—that is not just a group that isolates itself, but one that belongs to the whole community of all the living and deceased members of Christ. Thus a group can really say: We are the Church. The Church is here in this accessible we that removes boundaries—not just social and political boundaries, but also the boundary between heaven and earth. We are the Church—from this proceeds our co-responsibility, but also the privilege of being co-workers; from this comes our right to criticize, but we must always begin with self-criticism. For Church—we repeat—is not just somewhere, someone else; it is we who are the Church.
There is no doubt in my mind that the Church appears and truly is dysfunctional.
It doesn’t matter whether we are talking about a Bible study of 6, or a congregation of 60 or 1000, or the Church as the entire Body of Christ, throughout the world, and throughout time. We are dysfunctional; we are broken, we argue and fight, we try to one-up each other. We allow politics to divide us, then complain about the division.
Sociologists have fun studying us.
And yet we need, desperately need to be part of such a dysfunctional family. As much as we need each other, as much as we need to realize the “we” of the church, we struggle with it.
Pope Benedict XVI wrote of this, trying to help us realize that we need to remove the boundaries. No easy task there. But it is needed. We need to picture the Church as the Church. We need to picture ourselves as more “we” at every level. We need to be able to weep and laugh with others who are part of this magnificent, beautiful, incredible, dysfunctional family. No, not just a family, a body. We aren’t an organization, we, the church are an organism.
St. Paul gives a great description of what the church should look like in the passage quoted above… the loving sincerely, full of respect, devotion, hope, and joy. What an incredible idea, to live like this.
Some will reply, how can we do that? Others more theologically trained will determine this description is law, and they will use that determination as an excuse not to live this way, ignoring how the chapter started, because of God’s great mercy…..
I think Pope Benedict hits on the key, how this dysfunctional group of spiritually immature people become the “we” of the church when he talks about removing not just boundaries here on earth, but the boundary between heaven and earth. As that boundary is removed, as we realize we dwell in the presence of God, as we are in awe of His love, we are transformed, and those things Paul talks about, those things beome who we are. The more our attention and focus is drawn to God and His glory, the more His presence is revealed and overwhelms us.. The greater this unity is realized as well.
This is the mystery that Paul refers to in Col. 1:27-28, the idea that Christ dwells in us! (The “you” there in Greek is plural), It is the blessing of the description of the Body in 1 Cor. 10-13, it is the picture of the redeemed, resurrected united people of God in Ezekiel 36-37.
It is the truth of this, “we” are the church, the people God called out to make His own. And He has.
WHich is why the people of God know peace that is beyond explanation, for we dwell, our hearts and minds safe and secure in Christ. AMEN
Ratzinger, Joseph. Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. Ed. Irene Grassl. Trans. Mary Frances McCarthy and Lothar Krauth. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1992. Print.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
10 And he gave these orders: “At the end of every seven years, the Year-All-Debts-Are-Canceled, during the pilgrim Festival of Booths 11 when everyone in Israel comes to appear in the Presence of GOD, your God, at the place he designates, read out this Revelation to all Israel, with everyone listening. 12 Gather the people together—men, women, children, and the foreigners living among you—so they can listen well, so they may learn to live in holy awe before GOD, your God, and diligently keep everything in this Revelation. 13 And do this so that their children, who don’t yet know all this, will also listen and learn to live in holy awe before GOD, your God, for as long as you live on the land that you are crossing over the Jordan to possess.” Deuteronomy 31:10-13 (MSG)
Christ has died.
Christ has risen
Christ will come again
We were dead in our sins
Now we’re buried with Him
We are risen in Christ
We are given new life
And Christ will bring us home
Making us his own
Christ has died
Christ has risen
Christ will come again!
The Christian images, as we find them in the catacombs, simply take up and develop the canon of images already established by the synagogue, while giving it a new modality of presence. The individual events are now ordered toward the Christian sacraments and to Christ himself. Noah’s ark and the crossing of the Red Sea now point to Baptism. The sacrifice of Isaac and the meal of the three angels with Abraham speak of Christ’s Sacrifice and the Eucharist. Shining through the rescue of the three young men from the fiery furnace and of Daniel from the lions’ den we see Christ’s Resurrection and our own. Still more than in the synagogue, the point of the images is not to tell a story about something in the past, but to incorporate the events of history into the sacrament. In past history, Christ with his sacraments is on his way through the ages. We are taken into the events. The events themselves transcend the passing of time and become present in our midst through the sacramental action of the Church.
The centering of all history in Christ is both the liturgical transmission of that history and the expression of a new experience of time, in which past, present, and future make contact, because they have been inserted into the presence of the risen Lord. As we have seen already and now find confirmed anew, liturgical presence contains eschatological hope within it. All sacred images are, without exception, in a certain sense images of the Resurrection, history read in the light of the Resurrection, and for that very reason they are images of hope, giving us the assurance of the world to come, of the final coming of Christ.
324 Looking at his mercy, faith comforts and consoles us. Our opponents teach wrongly when they praise merits in such a way as to add nothing about this faith that takes hold of mercy
The readings this morning were just crammed full of thoughts that I needed to hear. I could have doubled the amount I quoted, and foregone writing. Except that I need to, for as I’ve said before, my devotions have to be thought through, meditated upon, and brought together in my writing. It used to be called spiritual journaling, and someone once suggested i put it out there to be shared.
Today, it seemed like a lot of my readings were set up to talk about living within the story. About faith is a life of dependence on God, living in harmony with Him, rather than a statement of what theological statements we hold to be true.
We see that in the words from the Lutheran confessions, as we take hold of mercy. That is faith, this incredible love of God that is revealed to us, that floods our lives so that we can hold onto it. For faith is an engagement with God with not our mind at first, but our heart and soul.
Pope Benedict in the longest quote talks about this in the imagery in the early church and the synagogue, when visuals made our sacramental life part of the narrative poured out in visual representation. And all of that representation is reflected in the resurrection, the very summit of our being made one with Christ. For we are united to Him in His death, in order that we can rise to our new life with Him.
That is the reason for the reading of the entire community of Israel, over 2 million people, plus the foreigners that make their home among them. (Note that part about the aliens!) They were to know the covenant, so that they could be in awe of God’s love and provision for them! Even more than that, this awe was lived out before Him. In other words, not just in His are of vision, but right before Him, in His presence.
As I was reading all of this, I thought of my friend’s version of the liturgical hymn, the Memorial Acclamation. Chris is not only an incredible musician and professor of worship but has a great understanding of sacramental covenant theology. So when he recomposed this ancient part of Christian worship, he not only told Christ’s story, but he made clear what was inferred. That we share in that death, and in that resurrection, and in Christ’s coming again. What has become veiled and vaguely visible, Chris revealed in a glorious way. ( You can hear a rock version of it at the link!)
Every aspect of our ministry, from the music to the artwork and images, to the words we speak and lessons and liturgy are geared to help us make this transition. We are not just people reading about history, we aren’t just witnesses to the story, we are the characters in the story, living and interacting in great awe with God. Just as people have done since Adam and Eve walked through the garden. Our people may not realize this, so we need, like Israel, to teach them more and more. They need to know it, they need to experience His love. as do we, as do our communities.
May the Lord make this happen, opening our eyes more and more to His love!
The Memorial Acclimation by Rev. Dr. Christopher Gillette
Ratzinger, Joseph. The Spirit of the Liturgy. Trans. John Saward. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2000. Print.
Tappert, Theodore G., ed. The Book of Concord the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press, 1959. Print.
Knowledge and Love
1 Corinthians 1:8-13
† In Jesus Name †
As you experience the length and width, the height and depth of God’s love for you, may your knowledge be tempered by the love that God creates in your life, as you live your life through Him
Given a choice.. which will you choose for those you love?
There is a cute picture floating around the internet, of one of these.
It says above it, “it doesn’t matter how old or mean you are, when w toddler hands you one of these and say’s ‘it’s for you’, you take it and start talking into it.”
I think that is pretty much true, and I am tempted to try it on some of you afterward.
It’s because we care for our children, or grandchildren, or nephews or nieces or students. Or in the case of the teachers, our students. We love them, and they can melt the hardest heart.
So I want to think of that kid, who could get you to answer one of these. Close your eyes, picture them in your mind and answer this question.
If you could choose what would be said about them at the end of their lives, would you desire it to be said they were geniuses, or that they loved and cared for the people around them and made a difference in their lives?
Not a difficult decision, or at least I would hope that it wouldn’t it be!
And in our gospel reading this morning, this is what the apostle Paul is talking about. And it is what we are talking about this morning, Knowledge and love.
Importance versus building up the community?
If I may, I would like to use a personal example. When I was younger, there was this game called trivial pursuit. Some of you may be familiar with it.
I loved it! And I was…. pretty good at it. Enough so that I usually won and proved the apostle Paul correct when he said, knowledge makes us feel important. Some translations phrase it a little differently. Knowledge puffs us up talking about our egos, and our minds. And then one day, I looked at the name of the game again…
Trivial Pursuit. What I was doing was chasing after what was trivial, what was meaningless. And in the end, about all odd bits of knowledge were good for was putting little pieces of plastic inside another piece of plastic and annoying some friends.
While there is a lot of knowledge that isn’t trivial, there are enough examples of people who think they are more important than others because they have the knowledge given to them. I won’t list the occupations, but I bet you are thinking of one or two professions that act that way. Or you see yourself in this.
That is why Paul will say in chapter 13 if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:1-2 (NLT)
Instead of focusing on knowledge, Paul tells us it is love that builds the house, in this translation, it translates the house as church. But the concept works the same in the church, in the home, or in the community we call home.
In each, in our homes, in our church, in our community, it is love is what binds us together, it is love that makes that bond strong and causes us to grow as a family.
The challenge is loving others the way we love the kid handing us the phone.
In the example Paul uses, he talks about how this love changes us, using the example of food offered to idols.
For him, with all the knowledge of one who was a leading Jewish theologian and became the greatest of Christian pastor-theologians, the idea of food offered to idols was silly.
The idols were carved pieces of wood or rock, metal fashioned to look like how man imagined God to be. And because there was no inherent power in them, because they weren’t gods, eating the food someone else dedicated to them was of no great importance.
But it was of great importance to those who didn’t know different. They saw the world as a cosmic battle between these false gods and the One True God who came to us, love us and died for us.
And while knowledge would say debate with them and show them the truth, love said that we needed to remember they weren’t ready for to hear that; be patient. Winning the argument isn’t worth driving them from Jesus. We can go without being proved right in the small stuff, we can even go without that piece of bacon wrapped shrimp or stuffed pork chops rather than cause them to stumble and do what they thought was wrong.
It’s not worth the fight, it’s not worth the debate. Such debates can destroy faith, but love puts it in the correct priority… and eventually, love will straighten it all out.
How it happens
But how do we love others, especially when we some people are just darn difficult to love? And how do we teach our children, grandchildren, students and other children we come into contact with to love like Jesus loved us?
The answer on how to love like that, how to make a difference in someone else’s life isn’t found in some instruction manual, it isn’t found in a series of podcasts or videos.
It is found in knowing that we are God, as Paul said,
There is one God, the Father, by whom all things were created, and for whom we live.
And there is one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things were created, and through whom we live.
It is found in living for and in God that we find the love that changes us. It forgives and removes our sin, and makes us holy, set apart to love God, to love His people. It is something that is realized more than learned, something that we spend our life growing in, and as He changes us, we love, even those others see as unlovable.
For that is what knowing God’s love does, it changes us, and it gives us hope in the middle of what seems a lost and broken world. That is why we are here, and why we have a place for kids, who will hand us a phone, and learn from us how to love. As we learn it from God our Father. AMEN!
Devotional Thought of the Day:
7 He then said to the crowds who came out to be baptized by him, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Therefore produce fruit consistent with repentance. And don’t start saying to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you that God is able to raise up children for Abraham from these stones! 9 Even now the ax is ready to strike the root of the trees! Therefore, every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”
10 “What then should we do?” s the crowds were asking him.
11 He replied to them, “The one who has two shirts t must share with someone who has none, and the one who has food must do the same.”
12 Tax collectors also came to be baptized, and they asked him, “Teacher, what should we do?”
13 He told them, “Don’t collect any more than what you have been authorized.”
14 Some soldiers also questioned him: “What should we do?”
He said to them, “Don’t take money from anyone by force or false accusation; be satisfied with your wages.” Luke 3:7-14 HCSB
36 “So let everyone in Israel know for certain that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, to be both Lord and Messiah!” 37 Peter’s words pierced their hearts, and they said to him and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?” Acts 2:36-37 (NLT)
A lot of things recently have brought about discussions about repentance, what it is, how it is gone about, what kinds of things are involved, and most importantly, who is active, I’ve written about those things before, especially how repentance, like faith is something the Holy Spirit gives us. ALso how repentance is a transformation far more than it is feeling grief or a decision to follow God!
But as repentance is seen, there is always a question that comes up, the question seen in my first reading above. (and in the second as well)
John the Baptist tells them to live a life that produces fruit consistent with repentance,
And hearts, just starting ot living in this transformation ask, “What should we do?” It’s the same question the Jewish people asked when they learned they crucified the Messiah, the one God sent to establish a time of rest and peace for them.
What should we do? You could add, “now?” to the end of the question.
The reason that this is THE question of repentance is that when repetnance comes to us, the only questions that remains is – what do we do…. because repentance is happening already!
Repentance, as we are granted it, as our lives are starting to transform, leaves us a bit, befuddled. lost, and confused. We are a new creation and this re-birth and renewal given as God cleanses us is about as confusing as a kid from Nebraska being dropped off in Hollywood on a Saturday night.
And so the people, crowds, tax collectors, soldiers, were given some basic ideas. Not all-encompassing ideas, bot a complete set of laws to follow. But examples. Examples that are consistent with a transformed heart, a heart that is capable of living for others, of loving and caring for them.
Think of John’s advice as the training wheels of the Christian life, the life of the repentant, the baptized. There is much more to living a life transformed, but these bits of advice from John gets the wheels spinning and our moving with the Holy Spirit’s guidance and power.
Do things that don’t serve your self-interest, don’t be pre-occupied with proving your own righteousness. Do things that are loving. And when you find you aren’t…. pray, and confess and know that God is with you! He came to save you! He is your messiah, your Lord, your life.
The answer to the question of repentance, of what we do is always going to be the same – in Christ, love those you encounter.
Lord have mercy on us, give us the strength and desire to see you transforming the lives we live! AMEN!
Devotional Thought of the Day:
46 And Mary said: My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour; 48 because he has looked upon the humiliation of his servant. Yes, from now onwards all generations will call me blessed, 49 for the Almighty has done great things for me. Holy is his name, 50 and his faithful love extends age after age to those who fear him. 51 He has used the power of his arm, he has routed the arrogant of heart. 52 He has pulled down princes from their thrones and raised high the lowly. 53 He has filled the starving with good things, sent the rich away empty. 54 He has come to the help of Israel his servant, mindful of his faithful love 55 —according to the promise he made to our ancestors— of his mercy to Abraham and to his descendants for ever. Luke 1:46-56 (NJB)
When faith takes hold of Christ, the mediator, the heart is at peace and begins to love God and to keep the law. It knows that now it is pleasing to God for the sake of Christ, the mediator, even though its incipient keeping of the law is impure and far from perfect.
It is called by many in the church, The Magnificat this song by a teenage girl who was pregnant before she was married. Her name was Miriam, or as we know her, Mary. Back then, being pregnant would be a serious offense. Cut off from her family, mocked and scorned by all, sent away from her family to a distant relative. We need to remember what she faced, as we hear her song.
For her song is one we need to hear, it is one that the world needs to hear. When life is broken, when life seems unfair, when we can’t really understand all that God is doing, we need to hear this song!
Go back and read these words again, hear the voice that is broken, yet whole because the Lord is with her. Note as well that this song isn’t just about God providing for her, but it includes God providing for those who He raises, who He saves, who He feeds, and helps.
This song isn’t about a personal relationship with God, it is about God caring for all His people, as He has promised those who came way before Mary. In the translation I used, not all the italics, those are the words woven in that were the words of others, words of prophets and leaders, words that were interwoven as good, no better than any preacher or theologian could ever do.
This song is about God’s faithful love, His faithful love for Mary, and for us.
And it has an effect on us, an effect that is described in the other quote, the one from the Lutheran Confessions. When we start to perceive Christ’s faithful love, when know He’s got a hold of us, and is saving us, things change. The peace of Christ envelops us, just as it did Mary. We learn to love God (and therefore love those He has created) Our souls can’t help proclaiming the greatness of our Lord…for we see His mercy… and His love!
So sing with Mary, sing your heart out, for God has come to you, to help. because He loves you and is faithful. AMEN!
Tappert, Theodore G., ed. The Book of Concord the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press, 1959. Print. Apology of the Augsburg Confession: Article IV
Repent Finally and Let’s Go Fishing
† I.H.S †
May the grace and peace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you the confidence you need as God grants you repentance and then invites you to go fishing!
Two Invitations, two blessings
Have you ever been asked to go somewhere with someone, and dreaded it, only to find yourself really enjoying it?
I remember taking Kay one year for her birthday to see a musical at the Pantages. Like a lot of guys, I am not much into musicals. It’s not just the “guy” thing. I’ve been asked to play in the band/orchestra for a couple of them, and both times, I hated it. So taking Kay to a musical was something I did for her, dreading it, well prepared to hate every moment of sitting there, except enjoying the smile on Kay’ face.
I was greatly surprised when I actually found myself enjoying Phantom of the Opera. So much so I actually took her to see it a couple more times.
Life is like that sometimes. So is walking with God. Somethings we seem to dread….we find are incredible blessings.
In the gospel this morning, we see two incredible blessings of that kind.
We probably don’t see them as blessings, but that is the point of this sermon. To help us understand what Jeus was offering to people were life chaging blessings, incredible, mind-blowing blessings that we would enjoy, and rejoice in, and share with others.
Blessings we describe with a couple of words
Don’t those things sound far more fun than going fishing, or going to a quilt show, or for me and William, hanging out in Best Buy or Fry’s?
So, let’s see how these things are blessings, blessings that provide joy beyond our ability to comprehend
Repentance – and invitation to be changed!
Hear Jesus’s words again,
15 “The time promised by God has come at last!” he announced. “The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!”
REPENT OF YOUR SINS!!!!
Don’t worry, not going to turn into Baptist and preach Hellfire and brimstone.
Because that is based on a faulty understanding of repentance, one that makes it sound like beating yourself up until you really feel sorry and then God will forgive you, maybe.
Hear how it is used in the Book of Acts,
17 If then God gave them the same gift he gave to us when we came to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to be able to hinder God?” 18 When they heard this, they stopped objecting and glorified God, saying, “God has then granted life-giving repentance to the Gentiles too.” Acts 11:17-18 (NAB)
Does that sound like something to be afraid of?
But repentance isn’t something to be afraid of, it is an invitation of the greatest kind. Literally it means to change one’s mind, or one’s way of thinking. Another way to hear it described is to put on the mind of Christ.
This is what God does to us, as we hear of His love and experience its breadth and width, height and depth. He transforms our mind. When Jesus says the Kingdom of God is near, when He is explaining to them that God does care,
Yes, repentance means giving over to God our sin, but that is a gift. To walk away from our sin, from our shame and guilt, to live freely in God’s kingdom. To know that God has forgiven us and experience the love of God in every facet of our lives.
That is why Jesus talks of repentance as a parallel to “believe in the Good News!” Because repentance is something incredible, a blessing to change our lives, to be free of all of our failures, to know we are loved and cared for, because that is the change God makes in us, that change is repentance!
Fishing for people, (Or Knitting them together)
Repentance is a joy, but so is evangelism, or as Jesus told a bunch of fisherman, fishing for men. I suppose that if he was talking to quilters he would say sewing another square into the quilt, that square being….human..
That might work in the case of some human, others might not like being called a square!
But as fishing for men, and bring them in works, so does sewing someone into the family of God, creating for them home, a place where they know they are cared for, a place where they know they are loved.
That is what evangelism is, sharing the news, the good, great, wonderful news that God cares for us. Helping people become part of the family, because God our Father wants them to be part of the family.
That’s what evangelism is, reaching out to people and saying, God cares for you, and He died to remove all that would steal their life, just as He did for us.
That’s the amazing thing, the more we understand His grace, the more we experience His love, the more we want others to experience it that love, that immeasurable love, as well. A love that we experience as we celebrate that love at the altar, and share in the Body and blood of Jesus.
So repent, let God transform you – and then lets go fishing for men, or sewing them into the quilt of our church. So they can share in the love and peace of God our Father! AMEN?
1 When I came to you, my friends, to preach God’s secret truth, I did not use big words and great learning. 2 For while I was with you, I made up my mind to forget everything except Jesus Christ and especially his death on the cross. 3 So when I came to you, I was weak and trembled all over with fear, 4 and my teaching and message were not delivered with skillful words of human wisdom, but with convincing proof of the power of God’s Spirit. 5 Your faith, then, does not rest on human wisdom but on God’s power. 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 (TEV)
It is, therefore, an inherent right of the Church to have at its disposal and to employ any of these media insofar as they are necessary or useful for the instruction of Christians and all its efforts for the welfare of souls. It is the duty of Pastors to instruct and guide the faithful so that they, with the help of these same media, may further the salvation and perfection of themselves and of the entire human family. In addition, the laity especially must strive to instill a human and Christian spirit into these media, so that they may fully measure up to the great expectations of mankind and to God’s design.
Yesterday I watched the some of the Patriots press conferences. It started with the coach, then moved to Tom Brady, then Danny Amendola. They were absolutely hilarious, because the reporters kept asking the same questions over and over again, hoping to get a different answer, some great admission about the state of Tom Brady’s hand, and whether he will play Sunday or not.
As they answered them, the press got more and more frustrated, even to the point of asking the Coach if the decision to play Tom Brady will be a game time decision. The coach shrugged his shoulders and said, “It’s Friday,” meaning how will he know if it will be a game time decision, if it isn’t game time. Brady and Amendola both gave similar answers, though you could tell they hadn’t quite perfected the flat affect of the Coach.
As I was thinking about that, I thought about the church. We get as distracted as the press corps did, as we create this moral crusade and that moral crusade, and even crusades against moral crusades! Yesterday I saw some ministers argue about who spoke at a pro-life event with such hostility that they looked like they would take each others life!
We need to learn from the Coach, and from St Paul, and in regards to the media, to a document written 50 years ago during Vatican II. We need to know, and present Christ, our hope,to use what we’ve been given in social media for the welfare of souls. (Or to use another phrase, the cure of souls) To see people know God’s mercy, to receive the forgiveness of their sin, to be cleansed of all unrighteousness, to be reconciled to God.
Reconciliation, the revealing of God’s mercy and forgiveness is our job, much as winning football games is the Coach’s job. It is the word we preach, it is the sacrament we administer. It is the reason we do what we do, and the reason we can do what we do!
To help people have faith in God, to help them depend on His mercy, to count on His love for them. That changes everything, it is at that point, when it is revealed, that the victory happens, when the party, even including heaven begins.
This is what we do, this is what we are called to be, walking with God, sharing in His mission. Whether in real life or in social media.
Lord have mercy on us, and walk with us, as we do our job…. AMEN!
Catholic Church. “Decree on the Media of Social Communications: Inter Mirifica.” Vatican II Documents. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2011. Print.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
1 “Make certain you do not perform your religious duties in public so that people will see what you do. If you do these things publicly, you will not have any reward from your Father in heaven. 2 “So when you give something to a needy person, do not make a big show of it, as the hypocrites do in the houses of worship and on the streets. They do it so that people will praise them. I assure you, they have already been paid in full. 3 But when you help a needy person, do it in such a way that even your closest friend will not know about it. 4 Then it will be a private matter. And your Father, who sees what you do in private, will reward you. Matthew 6:1-4 (TEV)
10 And God, who supplies seed for the sower and bread to eat, will also supply you with all the seed you need and will make it grow and produce a rich harvest from your generosity. 11 He will always make you rich enough to be generous at all times, so that many will thank God for your gifts which they receive from us. 12 For this service you perform not only meets the needs of God’s people, but also produces an outpouring of gratitude to God. 13 And because of the proof which this service of yours brings, many will give glory to God for your loyalty to the gospel of Christ, which you profess, and for your generosity in sharing with them and everyone else. 14 And so with deep affection they will pray for you because of the extraordinary grace God has shown you. 15 Let us thank God for his priceless gift! 2 Corinthians 9:10-15 (TEV)
723 You are an ordinary citizen. It is precisely because of that secularity of yours, which is the same as, and neither more nor less than, that of your colleagues, that you have to be sufficiently brave—which may sometimes mean being very brave—to make your faith felt. They should see your good works and the motive that drives you to do them.
Maybe it is me, but as I read the two passages from scripture above, I am confused. It would seem, at face value, that Jesus and Paul disagree. That Jesus is stating that we must do all our good works in private, and Paul wants us to do them visibly so that many people will give thanks to God. It would seem that St. Josemaria agrees with Paul.
So is there a difference between Paul and Jesus?
Should we do things completely anonymously, or so that people can see what we do?
Have to admit, this is one that always stumped me. I knew there had to be an answer, that scripture is not contradictory. but how do you think this through?
I think St. Josemaria hits on the answer, that what we are doing is making our faith felt.
Our actions can’t be based on the motivation of other people praising us, or others focusing attention on us. If our actions are done to focus attention on us, then, yes, it is far better that they are done in the dark. Like the priests who would pray and make a big show of donating to those in need, such acts are passing in their effect, and have no lasting impact.
Paul speaks of another kind of giving, a giving that requires bravery, of courage. Of going past ourselves, and meeting a need that isn’t just financial. To give in a way to help a person know that someone cares, and the reason they care is that of the love of God that unites us, His creation, His children. Paul wants the people in Jerusalem to know that their gentile brothers and sisters in the world still care, To put names and faces to the much-needed relief.
The result of which is God glorified. That is the impact of being part of, being invited into a community, a community where God’s love binds us. Where those who observe us see love that is not forced or fake, but really a reflection of the love God has for us. A love that would quietly embrace pain or sacrifice to help someone else.
God is with you – as you meditate on that, as you live in that truth, you will do things to help others, without regard to others watching. And in doing so, both Jesus and Paul’s directions will be heeded.
Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 2631-2634). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought of the Day:’
He has watched over your journey through this immense wilderness. The LORD your God has been with you this past 40 years, and you have lacked nothing.’ Deut 2:7 HCSB
It has become habit to read through the Old Testament every year, and changing translations each new year. There are times it seems a drudgery, a journey through this guy begat that guy or a recitation of all of the different ways to sin. (as if I needed a detailed list!) What will I find here, I wonder, that will make this habit worth it. Where will I find something that is nourishing in this wilderness?
And then I come to a verse like the one above, Tucked into the history of Israel’s rebellion and sin, a recounting of all the times they did what was right to them, completely disregarding God’s directions, given through Moses.
Go here, they go there. Do this, they do something else. It sounds like a group I would find myself some like-minded companions. People who struggle just the way Paul did, doing what they shouldn’t, and failing to do what they should.
As Moses tells them their own history, there is this incredible verse. He tells them that as they have walked through the Wilderness, their punishment, their discipline for the sin they have committed, where God was.
There. providing for them. For 40 years, He didn’t abandon them as He disciplined them.
That is an incredible thing to realize.
By no means should that continue to wander in sin, we need to confess our sin, trusting in God to forgive those sins, because Jesus came and died to pay for them.
But there is a comfort to know that God doesn’t abandon His rebellious children, that He desires, truly desires that all come to repentance and that this is part of the work of the Holy Spirit.
What an amazing, loving merciful God we have, that allows us to wander, that disciplines us, and yet provides for us during that time, giving us what is truly beneficial!
He is with us, even when we don’t see it, even when we don’t want to see it. When we are faithless, still e is faithful.
So if you are wandering today, you can’t escape Him, so it is time to come home, and confess your sins, and find the incredible love and mercy of God is yours. Come, confess your sins, and find that He is faithful, forgiving you of those sins, and cleansing you of all unrighteousness.