Category Archives: Augsburg and Trent

Church, its time to end the pity party!

Tomb Empty With Shroud And Crucifixion At Sunrise - ResurrectionDevotional Thought of The Day:

20  But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, 21  and await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will bring you eternal life. In this way, you will keep yourselves safe in God’s love. 22  And you must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. 23  Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives. Jude 1:20-23 (NLT2)

When we say ‘God’ we confess a constant, unchangeable being, always the same, faithful and just, without any evil. It follows that we must necessarily accept his words and have complete faith in him and acknowledge his authority. He is almighty, merciful, and infinitely beneficent.… Who could not place all hope in him? Who could not love him when contemplating the treasures of goodness and love he has poured out on us?

This damage is so unspeakable that it may not be recognized by a rational process, but only from God’s Word.  10 No one except God alone can separate the corruption of our nature from the nature itself. This will take place wholly by way of death in the resurrection.

Over the last few days, I have seen more and more lamenting (okay, complaining) by the people of God in American. Oh no! Tthe government is stopping us from gathering. Oh no! We have to sue because the government has banned singing. Oh no! Churches are being vandalized,  we must defend “our” churches. People are wondering if the end times are here.

It is as if we believe the pandemic has put an end to the Great Commission, or that it has put on pause the commandments to “Love God and love your neighbor as yourself.”  that the church should just hunker down, go on defense and wait for the pandemic to end.

I am as guilty of this as any… but it is time to stop.

As I prepared a devotion on Jude’s letter to the church for this morning, I was struck by the context. There was a demonic attack on the church, there were false teachers, and scoffers who mocked the gospel and those who trusted in God. They dealt with famine and plague. They were dealing with real persecution, as people were killed if they didn’t dismiss God. Even Michael the Archangel was remembered, and how he depended on Jesus, more than on his own prowess.

Tough times the early church.

So we are not the first!

God read Jude’s next words to the church above again.  Seriously, go re-read it.

In the midst of all those challenges, God says minister to each other and to the world!

Help strengthen each other’s faith. Show mercy and help those whose faith is wavering, who are struggling to depend on God, show that compassion and care to people who are so pressed by the times that they aren’t sure He exists!  They need us, really we all need each other.

He also mentions rescuing people who are close to being judged, whose idolatry and sin are drawing them to condemnation. In the midst of all the trauma they were facing, all the spiritual warfare, Jude calls the church to be the church, to be the place where broken and sinful people find help and compassion, and mercy.

This si the time for the church to act, for you and I to take seriously a call to action. Not to defend the church, but to be the church, blessing the world.  Luther notes the damage of sin s so horrible we cannot even see it, unless God exposes it. and if that is true, so the rest, that only in God can we find hope. That is the hope the Catholic Catechism speaks of, that it talks about confessing.

This is the hope people need, so desperately, a hope that we can be there to share with them, even over 6 feet of distance.

This is our time, the time for us, as the people of God, to be the light that is needed.

it is not time to sit and pity ourselves.

Heavenly Father, Your works through men are glorious, so glorious that the people become etched in our memories. Lord help us in this time of the coronavirus, empowering us to encourage those whose faith is weak, to reach out and show mercy to those who are unaware of it, and live lives dominated by sin, shame, and guilt. Lord, Help us to be your people, those who are being healed in Jesus while helping others heal. 

Catholic Church, Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd Ed. (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1997), 506.

Theodore G. Tappert, ed., The Book of Concord the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press, 1959), 467.

A Bad Way to Start a Day

white and black sunken ship

Photo by GEORGE DESIPRIS on Pexels.com

Devotional Thought of the Day:

2 Nothing makes sense!
Everything is nonsense.
I have seen it all—
nothing makes sense!
3 What is there to show
for all of our hard work
here on this earth?
4 People come, and people go,
but still the world
never changes.
Ecc 1:2-4  (CEV_

12 But the Scriptures teach that if we piled together all the works of all the monks, no matter how precious and dazzling they might appear, they would not be as noble and good as if God were to pick up a straw

Heaven too is a gift and a glory, not a payment. All talk of merit and law and obedience—necessary as it is on earth—will disappear in Heaven, except perhaps as a joke.

There are days when one wakes up on the wrong side of the bed. Then there are days when one wakes up, finds out the bed is upstairs still, and that somehow they have woken up at the bottom of the stairs. (though the idea is figurative, the body aches make one wonder if it is reality!)

And the day proceeds to get worse.

Devotions do not always help, as you see clearly in the first two readings above.  One thinks, well we’ve escaped the tedious nature of Job, only to come across Solomon in a grand funk. His heart isn’t soaring; in fact, it seems like it is plunging into the abyss.  Luther doesn’t help as his cry indicates everything mankind does for God is about as meaningful as picking up a dried weed.

So how do we keep going? How do we handle the pervasive emptiness and meaninglessness of life that seems our destiny under COVID?  We can’t keep up with the changes, we struggle to make things work, workplaces are shutting down, or reducing hours of valuable employees…

This brings us to the third quote…

I think some of us, no matter how well we know scripture, still feel like we have to be valuable to the world to be valuable to God.  That our value, our success, our ability to please everyone in life directly affects whether we matter to God. That our view our perception of our value to our families and workplaces isn’t accurate is another story. We simply believe that our perceived value here is reflective of how God does not care.

Our minds, our theological knowledge, may agree and confess that we get to heaven by grace, but our hearts and souls are breaking at the same time – and they feel otherwise.

We are, in a way, right, our merit, our value is not enough to meet a standard to enter heaven.  That is if there was such a standard.

There is no such standard.

Heaven is a gift, given by One who values us and loves us more profoundly than we can perceive. It is a glorious thing this love, the desire of God to have us as HIs companions, as His beloved children.

That is where our value comes from, the fact we are loved, that we are treasured by God Almighty.  So treasured that God gave up His Son to show all creation what He knows of us. That we are worth saving.

Even when we get up on the wrong side of the bed….or at the foot of the stairs.

God is with you… when things seem the worse.. cry out to him. AMEN!

Theodore G. Tappert, ed., The Book of Concord the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press, 1959), 438.

Peter Kreeft, The God Who Loves You (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 34.

What We Need in Order to Pray

Devotional Thought of the Day:

The LORD is our God, bringing justice everywhere on earth. 8 He will never forget his agreement or his promises, not in thousands of years.  Psalm 105:7-8 CEV

But the efficacy of prayer consists in our learning also to say “Amen” to it—that is, not to doubt that our prayer is surely heard and will be granted.

We see this principle reflected in Scripture. The bridegroom in Solomon’s Song of Songs is traditionally interpreted as God the lover of our souls. We are His bride. But this divine Bridegroom says to the human bride: “You are all fair, my love” (4:7). God says this to us!
But how can it be true that we are “all fair” when we still struggle with sin? Is God blind? If not, then what He says must be true. It is true as prophecy, a prophecy of our eternal identity and destiny. Christ refers to this when He says, “You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt 5:48). God speaks from eternity and sees us as we are eternally before Him. To us, this “all fair” perfection is only in the future. But to God everything is present. For that is what eternity is: not endless futures but all times actually present with no dead past or unborn future, no “no longer” or “not yet”.

Everyone, at some time in their life, struggles with prayer.

I think Luther has it right when he says it is because we struggle with honestly saying “Amen!”

Perhaps we’ve lost the meaning of AMEN< but it is a declaration of faith, a “this is true” when we ask in God’s name. Itis a statement of dependence, of trust, of faith. It should be said with great confidence, always followed by an exclamation point!

Too often, doubt creeps in, s Satan tries to convince us that our prayers are empty, or vain. If Satan cannot try to convince us God doesn’t exist or at least have us forget God exists, He will try to convince us that we aren’t worth God’s time. He will try to cause us to believe that God will not waste His time on us.  Satan and His demons will try to convince us…

…that we are too insignificant,

… that we are too broken,

… that our sin is too great, and we are too evil.

This is were Kreeft’s reminder that we are the Bride of Christ needs to be heard. We need to hear that God, beyond time, sees us one way – beautiful, holy, His beloved.

When we realize it is how God sees us, now and in the future, that prayer becomes more effective. We begin to realize God listens, and in all of His wisdom He does answer those prayers.  W just begin to see it, and count on His love to answer it, not just in view of today and tomorrow, but eternity as well.

For as the psalmist rights, God will not break HIs promises. Learn them, know them, but more, know the one who makes them, and as you cry out to Him, as you offer Him your burdens, say AMEN – knowing He is with you.

Marting Luther – The Large Catechism,  found in  The Book of Concord the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church.Theodore G. Tappert, ed., (Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press, 1959), 436.


Peter Kreeft, The God Who Loves You (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 32.

Another Day, Another Struggle, but that is why there is Hope.

20170124_103703Devotional Thought of the Day:
2  Our LORD, how long must I beg for your help before you listen? How long before you save us from all this violence? 3  Why do you make me watch such terrible injustice? Why do you allow violence, lawlessness, crime, and cruelty to spread everywhere? 4  Laws cannot be enforced; justice is always the loser; criminals crowd out honest people and twist the laws around. 5  Look and be amazed at what’s happening among the nations! Even if you were told, you would never believe what’s taking place now. Habakkuk 1:2-5 (CEV)

We still stumble daily and transgress because we live in the world among people who sorely vex us and give us occasion for impatience, wrath, vengeance, etc.
87 Besides, Satan is at our backs, besieging us on every side and, as we have heard, directing his attacks against all the previous petitions, so that it is not possible always to stand firm in such a ceaseless conflict.
88 Here again there is great need to call upon God and pray, “Dear Father, forgive us our debts.” Not that he does not forgive sin even without and before our prayer; and he gave us the Gospel, in which there is nothing but forgiveness, before we prayed or even thought of it. But the point here is for us to recognize and accept this forgiveness.

223      Along the way to personal sanctity we can at times get the impression that we are going backwards instead of forwards, that we are getting worse instead of better. As long as there is interior struggle this pessimistic thought is only an illusion, a deception to be rejected as false. Persevere and don’t worry. If you fight with tenacity you are making progress and are growing in sanctity.

I came across the Luther quote this morning, and it resonated with me.

We stumble and sin far too often. We want to use other people for the reason, but it is still our weakness that allows us to sin. Luther was right, it is not possible always to stand firm in such a ceaseless conflict. Every fall seems highlighted by Satan, emphasized to cause us to grow in despair, and even to doubt God’s presence and work in our lives.

My reaction to the passage from Habakkuk is that I don’t have ot look out into the world to see the brokenness he describes. He could be looking at me, prophetically. Maybe at you as well. I resonate deeply with the question of why do we have ot watch this all?  Why do we have to see the sin and brokenness in the world, and then realize it is just a reflection of our own lives?

I missed out on other things in those passages, and it took St Josemaria to see what I was missing.

It is the impression that I am going backward, not necessarily reality.  It is a deception of Satan, much as he did when he took Peter’s eyes off of Jesus while he was strolling on the waves. (I just realize the winds and waves weren’t the issue to be scared of – drowning was!)  St Josemaria urges us to keep struggling, don’t worry about the progress,  for the struggle is proof of it.

The struggle is proof of God at work in us.

God is still doing what He promised Habakkuk – He is at work, and if we look at Him and see it, we should collapse in awe. God is at work, and even the passage from Luther notes that –  we need to recognize and accept the forgiveness God already provided. He forgave us already! He took care of it!

I didn’t see that beforehand but reminded of His promise, I remember He is there. Perhaps that too is understandable, for God says, “Even if you were told, you would never believe what is taking place now…”  We just have to trust Him that He is at the world, and depend on His view, for He is at work in us.

Mercifully, lovingly, compassionately comforting and healing broken sinners like you and me.

Even before we cry out, “Lord have mercy on me, a poor sinner!” God has, and our healing is beginning and guaranteed to be completed!

AMEN!

Theodore G. Tappert, ed., The Book of Concord the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press, 1959), 432.E

Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Want to Overcome Sin? Start with this…

20170124_103703Devotional Thought of the Day:
1 [By David.] With all my heart I praise the LORD, and with all that I am I praise his holy name! 2 With all my heart I praise the LORD! I will never forget how kind he has been. Psalm 103:1–2 (CEV)

We were told in the Second Commandment, “You shall not take God’s name in vain.” Thereby we are required to praise the holy name and pray or call upon it in every need. For to call upon it is nothing else than to pray.

It is just as true to say that every snowflake is a gift of God as it is true to say that every cent in a father’s inheritance is a gift to his children. It is just as true to say that every leaf on every tree is a work of art made by the divine Artist with the intention that we see it, know it, love it, and rejoice in it, as it is true to say that every word in a lover’s letter to his beloved is meant to be seen, known, loved, and enjoyed.

33 What are you so proud of?—Every impulse that moves you comes from Him. Act accordingly.

Sin is a huge issue in our lives.

We can not deny it. We can’t really hide it either.

It leaves us broken and shattered.

It leaves us avoiding people, some because we resent them because of some sin they committed against us. Some people we want to avoid because we feel so guilty, so ashamed, and being in their presence brings those feelings crashing down upon us.

As we look at the commands, there is one that sticks out to me, one that can be quickly dealt with, and as it is, we find the grace to deal with the others.

Luther talks about it, the commandment to not use God’s name in vain. Luther points out that means we sin when we should use it when we should cry out to Him for help,  and do not use it. When our vanity causes the Lord’s name to be misused.

Imagine not eating because you don’t want to spend the money you have in the bank. I imagine going barefoot on a hike in the mountains because you don’t want to scuff up your new boots. There is a logic that simply doesn’t make sense to these imaginations, that still doesn’t make sense when God pleads with us to call upon Him, to cast our burdens upon Him, to let Him heal us.

You want to stop living in the dark shadows of sin?  Cry out to God, call upon Him, don’t leave His name unused, for that is as wrong as using it wrongly.

What happens then, as you begin to converse with God, is that you realize how much He is doing, you start to look for how He encourages you! You see it in the care he takes with the color of a leaf, or the smile of a child, you being to see His artistry in everything, and realize that this artistry is at work in your life as well.  As St. Josemaria describes we begin to understand the good things in our lives are there because the Holy Spirit is guiding and empowering us in them, providing the impulse that drives our work

That beauty, that wonder is what leads the Psalmist to praise God, to exclaim in wonder at God’s kindness, at His mercy and love.  Our praise is always generated from seeing God at work in our lives.  Even in the hard times, even when we have to confess our sin, or lay some burden down at His feet.

This is what happens when we stop using His name in a way that it shouldn’t be used… but call out to Him, even if that cry is as simple and profound as,

Lord have mercy one me a sinner…

He hears, and He answers… and we begin to dwell in peace.

Theodore G. Tappert, ed., The Book of Concord the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press, 1959), 420.

Peter Kreeft, The God Who Loves You (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 20.

Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

The Easy Way to Become a Saint

St francis at the crossDevotional Thought for your Day:
16  I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17  Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.
Ephesians 3:16-17 (NLT2)

For a saint is simply a great lover of God, and nothing elicits love more than love. “Everybody loves a lover.” Nothing makes us saints faster than being hit over the head with God’s love.

37 When you love somebody very much, you want to know everything about him. Meditate on this: Do you feel a hunger to know Christ? Because…that is the measure of your love for him.

Thus the Creed is nothing else than a response and confession of Christians based on the First Commandment.

In the old comics, a lightbulb would click on in a bubble over the head of a character who got a brilliant idea. It is a way to describe the aha moment, what they once described as being enlightened.

As a former martial artist, there is another time you see bright lights, and that is when you take a punch or a kick to the head. You become a bit light-headed, you might even see stars!

I think we need the same kind of thing spiritually, we need to be hit upside the head by the love of God.  The love that makes us realize how stupid our sin is, how incredible the love of God is. He did this with Paul the apostle, spiritually hit him over the head with love, so much so it took Paul a few days and a miracle to see again.

We need to see God’s glory, and we need to realize that His glory is nothing more and nothing less than His love.

His love for you… and for me.

We have to see him, looking down from the cross, and in love saying, Father forgive them… (that means you and me) We need to see that love poured out on us as we were baptized, as His Body and Blood are given to eat and drink, as the Holy Spirit clothes us with righteousness.  It is that love that makes us holy, set apart for one thing – to be loved and love. That is what makes us saints.

This is not just the quickest way, it is the only way…

Lord Jesus, confront us in our brokenness, and ensure that we know You love us! AMEN!

Peter Kreeft, The God Who Loves You (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 13.

Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Theodore G. Tappert, ed., The Book of Concord the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press, 1959), 412.

When Life Seems Like the Titanic, or worse.

pexels-photo-2056194

Devotional Thought for the day

I belong to God, and I worship him. Last night he sent an angel 24 to tell me, “Paul, don’t be afraid! You will stand trial before the Emperor. And because of you, God will save the lives of everyone on the ship.” 25 Cheer up! I am sure that God will do exactly what he promised. 26 But we will first be shipwrecked on some island.  Acts 27:23-26 CEV

Christians have been making Peter’s mistake ever since, trusting in Caesar and chariots and horses and treaties and nukes and antinukes rather than in the love of God, the love on the Cross. This love is infinitely more powerful than and totally in control of all the forces that crucify it, all the chariots and horsemen, even the horsemen of the apocalypse.

Noah was so shut in that no evil could reach him. Floods did but lift him heavenward, and winds did but waft him on his way. Outside of the ark all was ruin, but inside all was rest and peace. Without Christ we perish, but in Christ Jesus there is perfect safety.

We go on to say: “Let your will be done in heaven and on earth.” We say this not so that God might do what he wishes, but that we should be able to do what God wishes

I do not know how I would react, if I was one of the sailors or passengers on the ship with Paul. Yeah, we’ll be safe – all of us – but the ship will be wrecked. I imagine that even Noah was a bit anxious as the floods lifted him higher than some planes normally fly.

It is no wonder that we want to trust our weapons, our country, and our ability to fight back. For how do we find peace in times of oppression, in times where we are persecuted and attacked.

Many communities are facing this – those who find that nothing has changed in the death of George Floyd, or David Dorn. Those whose streets are filled with plywood rather than windows, those who cannot even find a home, because they are refugees. Some places where seniors dwell together still live in great fear of COVID 19. We all live in fear, and turn to something, anything for protection. Just about everyone I have met is stressed, worried, and focused on surviving today.

I wish we could all have the faith of Paul, who not only was ready for the shipwreck but to testify in front of Nero.

Please understand, we advocate for justice – even when we have to ask forgiveness for the injustice we actually committed.

At the same time, we need even more to trust in the Lord, for whether our boat is lifted by the floodwaters, or crushed against the rocks, He is with us.

We need to be aware that the power that raised Jesus from the dead is at work in us, (Eph. 1:19-20) and that power is the love of God.  That is why Kreeft makes the comment. This love is infinitely more powerful than and totally in control of all the forces that crucify it,” 

Even if crucified, even if killed, our life is there, hidden in Christ (Col. 3:1-4) and the power of death has already been defeated. That knowledge, that trust in God should empower us to work for justice, even as we do so peacefully, aware that He is stronger than the world.

So as Paul said, “Cheer up!  Just a shipwreck ahead of you, and then a trial, but God will deliver exactly what is promised!”

Your salvation and mine. ANd the presence of God in this midst of the storm…. the God who loves you.

Lord, help us to depend on you as Paul did. Even thru the shipwrecks, and the trials, through the persecutions and oppression, and even our own death. Lord may Your will be cone in our lives… and help our seeing that cheer us up.

AMEN!

Photo by GEORGE DESIPRIS on Pexels.com

 

Peter Kreeft, The God Who Loves You (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 212–213.

C. H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening: Daily Readings (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1896).

Tertullian, Cyprian, and Origen, On the Lord’s Prayer, ed. John Behr, trans. Alistair Stewart-Sykes, Popular Patristics Series, Number 29 (Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2004), 75.

Why Isn’t God Helping? Something I learned as I cry out…

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Concordia Lutheran Church – Cerritos, Ca , at dawn on Easter Sunday

Devotional Thought of the Day:

Remember, life is short! Why did you empty our lives of all meaning? 48 No one can escape the power of death and the grave. Our Lord, where is the love you have always shown and that you promised so faithfully to David? Psalm 89:47-49 CEV

All this is summarized in the command in Ps. 50:15, “Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver you and you shall glorify me.” All this is what we mean by calling upon his name in service of truth and using it devoutly. Thus his name is hallowed, as we pray in the Lord’s Prayer.

Dearest brothers, we should turn our minds and understand not only that we call him “Father who is in heaven,” but that we add to this and say: “Our Father,” that is of those who believe, of those who have begun to be children of God, sanctified through him and restored by a birth of spiritual grace.

I have to admit I feel much like the writer of the psalms this morning.

I feel useless, I feel as if my work on earth has no impact. Does being a pastor, or a friend, or a father mean anything anymore?

THought I saw and heard it three days ago on Sunday, as people received Christ’s body and blood, that seems a century ago. The curfews certainly add to it, after the months of stay at home orders.  One doctor says it will be a year or more before life returns to normal because of the virus, another says months, another says years. The despair that results from the murder of a man and the reactions to it will take longer to heal.

And in this, I find I must cry out to God and ask “Why? Where are you?” “What the ….. is going on?”

I have to, or my heart will be crushed.

But it is the fact that I can cry out, that I realize there is someone there to hear my cries. IN crying out I use god’s name in one of the holiest ways possible. I use it and you should, for the very reason, God revealed His existence to us.

Deliver us from all of this, from all the unrighteousness, from all the injustice, from the sin. Clean us up Lord, start with me. Or just come back, as you have promised.

Even as I cry out to Him, I realize the cry is not just an act of despair, it is an act of faith. Perhaps only the weakest of faith, a hope that somehow He will answer my cry.

But even that amount of faith is miraculous amid the pain, the turmoil, the hatred I am seeing. I am crying out to my Father, the only one who can do anything about this.

That is faith.

That is the Holy Spirit at work, the Comforter breaking through the spiritual blackness, reminding me of Christ’s love.

That is why Cyprian says we need to move from Address God as “the” to “our”, why we need to realize the significance of that cry as we pray, even praying the Lord’s Prayer.

He is our Father, He is our God, and He hears our cries, and responds…

We need to cry out, to use the old word, lament. To confess how broken we are, and that we are depending on God to fix us.  We need to do this!

Holy Spirit, fill our hearts with peace and strengthen our faith, our dependence on God to bring healing to the world, bring healing to us.  AMEN!

Luther, Martin. The Lord’s Prayer,   Theodore G. Tappert, ed., The Book of Concord the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press, 1959), 373.

Cyprian: On the Lord’s Prayer, ed. John Behr, trans. Alistair Stewart-Sykes, Tertullian, Cyprian, and Origen, On the Lord’s Prayer,  Popular Patristics Series, Number 29 (Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2004), 71.

We have a place in this world!

man wearing jacket standing on wooden docks leading to body of water

Photo by Wouter de Jong on Pexels.com

Devotional Thought of the Day:

46 But Paul and Barnabas bravely said: We had to tell God’s message to you before we told it to anyone else. But you rejected the message! This proves that you don’t deserve eternal life. Now we are going to the Gentiles. 47 The Lord has given us this command, “I have placed you here as a light for the Gentiles. You are to take the saving power of God to people everywhere on earth. Acts 13:46–47 (CEV)

1533 Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist are sacraments of Christian initiation. They ground the common vocation of all Christ’s disciples, a vocation to holiness and to the mission of evangelizing the world.

THE FIFTH (Commandment)
“You shall not kill.”
10 What does this mean?
Answer: We should fear and love God, and so we should not endanger our neighbor’s life, nor cause him any harm, but help and befriend him in every necessity of life.

As I was working through my devotions this morning, in the back of my mind was lurking the idea of what difference do I make in this world.  I know I am not the only one who is pondering this. This virus situation has taken away from so many how they perceive they are valued, as jobs, schools, and interaction with people that would normally give their life meaning has been stolen away.

I have friends whose children are graduating from junior high school, high school, college, and graduate degrees.  They cannot celebrate these accomplishments in normal ways, stealing from them the celebration of their endurance.  Preschool teachers I know, who live for interacting with their kids, and getting hugs, cannot. In my case, my primary joy is communing people – the 50-70 people that show up on a given Sunday, and have not been able to for the last 8 weeks. This has been my dream and desire, and I believe my calling since I was 8.

It is brutal to our psyche, to our mental health.

It is wearying, and those around us, who are going through the same things, feeling the same pressures, are struggling with each other.

And hope is given and taken away with every newscast, with every internet article.  The roller coaster of our heart and soul seems to have no one at the controls, as we are wildly whipped around, and unable ot catch our breath.

The Catholic Catechism, notes our common place in life is found via the sacraments. That in that grace pouring out on us as we are cleaned and united to Jesus, we find our place.

We find we are being made holy, that we share in the same vocation as the Apostle Paul, as those tasked with sharing the news that God loves us, that God is with us, that we can, (and should) help other people know this!  Not just in church on Sunday morning, but throughout our week, in our homes, our zoom meetings, our telephone calls.

God has placed us here, (even as the Father sent Jesus) to be a light to the gentiles. e

We do this by loving them, and helping them and befriending them in every possible way. Including the incredible necessity, they may not be aware of, the necessity to know God’s presence. The necessity to know they are loved, the necessity of knowing they have a place, and God redeems the world.

This is hard to see and easy to get distracted from by the cares and pressures. It is a place that takes up our entire lives, and yet..happens best when we don’t force it, but we simply live in this amazing relationship with God.

This is our place.. this is where we find out ultimate meaning in life, as the ones whom God loves, as the ones He shares His greatest work with, the recreation of everything.

Let us find our peace and joy, there, as we work side by side with Him.  AMEN!

Catholic Church, Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd Ed. (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1997), 383.

Theodore G. Tappert, ed., The Small Catechism from The Book of Concord the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press, 1959), 343.

Has My Hope Been Taken From Me?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADevotional Thoughts for this Day
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 I was resolved that the only knowledge I would have while I was with you was knowledge of Jesus, and of him as the crucified Christ.

1 Corinthians 2:2 (NJB)

929    The cross on your breast? Good. But the cross on your shoulders, the cross in your flesh, the cross in your mind. Thus will you live for Christ, with Christ, and in Christ; only thus will you be an apostle.

The principal fruit of receiving the Eucharist in Holy Communion is an intimate union with Christ Jesus. Indeed, the Lord said: “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.”226 Life in Christ has its foundation in the Eucharistic banquet: “As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me.

The comfort extended by Luther is rooted in the fact that the person assailed by temptation is a member of the communion of saints and is armed with God’s Word. The tempted person, however, should realize that there is always a benefit that accrues to him from such assaults, although he dare not attempt to divine it. Finally, he invites the tempted person to a fuller faith in Christ, but Luther warns that before the trials subside, they will first flare to greater intensity.

There is a  growing multitude of problems that have been caused by the pandemic. Beyond the health concerns, there are significant challenges in finance, in education, in mental health, in social dynamics – of homes and of communities.

Many of us are challenged by depression and temptation, as anger and pain can only be hidden for so long. Often, when we do strikeout, the target is not who it should be. We might even tear ourselves up, thinking that everything is our fault. This is not reasonable, yet there is no reason in a pandemic.

The Apostle Peter writes, “Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it.” (1 Peter 3:15 (NLT2)) In doing so, he calls me back to remember the hope I do have, a hope that I barely hold on to it at times. More important, that Hope, He holds on to me.

That is why Jesus is all Paul wants to think of, and specifically Jesus – crucified. Jesus bearing every sin, every injustice, every bit of brokenness. Jesus, lifted up, to whom we are not just drawn to, but into whom we are drawn. The Catholic Catechism righty uses the word intimate in regard to our union with Jesus. It is more than we can explain, it is more than we can cognitively know, yet in that movement, it that taking and eating, we go beyond a casual acquaintance with God,.

That is why St Josemaria would have us fixated on the cross. That is why Luther talks about coming out of a time of trial with a faith that is far greater than when we entered. For faith is knowing the presence of Jesus so well, that we just live and move dependent on Him.

That intimacy is not all we need, it is all we have.

Realizing that is the challenge, along with remembering it as we are assailed, as we see the brokenness, as we deal with our issue. not alone, but as He is here, with us.

That is the reason I have hope, this relationship with Jesus- the one crucified for us…

The One who is alive! Praise God – and because He is risen, so are we.  AMEN!

 

 

Escriva, Josemaria. The Way . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Catholic Church, Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd Ed. (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1997), 351.

Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 42: Devotional Writings I, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann, vol. 42 (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), 182.

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