Category Archives: Devotional

The Great Actions of God? Does this Lady really know what She is talking about?

Devotional Thought of the Day:

46  Mary responded, “Oh, how my soul praises the Lord. 47 How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior! 48  For he took notice of his lowly servant girl, and from now on all generations will call me blessed. 49 For the Mighty One is holy, and he has done great things for me. 50 He shows mercy from generation to generation to all who fear him. 51 His mighty arm has done tremendous things! He has scattered the proud and haughty ones. 52 He has brought down princes from their thrones and exalted the humble. 53 He has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away with empty hands. 54 He has helped his servant Israel and remembered to be merciful. 55  For he made this promise to our ancestors, to Abraham and his children forever.”
Luke 1:46-55 (NLT2)

Thus Mary shows by using this word (Magnificat) what her canticle is about, namely, the great acts and works of God to strengthen our faith, to comfort the lowly, and to terrify those of high degree. To this threefold use and purpose of the canticle we should focus our attention and understanding, for she sang this not for herself but for all of us so that we would sing after her.1

Thining about Mary’s words and Luther’s commentary on this-this morning causes me to think a bit.

When most of us think about God’s incredible works, I doubt we create the same list as Mary and Luther. We probably would include the miracles, the Resurrection, the Splitting of the Red Sea, the feeding of thousands and the raising of dead people to life. (and no, not as Zombies!)

Rather than listing the miraculous and highly visible works of God, Mary lists things done in our lives, things we desperately need. These are the magnificent works of God! These are the things that make people sing aloud, and sing with all the power in their heart and soul.

So let’s look at them.

We start with God’s magnificent work of strengthening our faith. This is needed, for most of us struggle to trust those around us, never mind trusting God who we can’t see. This faith is nothing more (or less) than trusting God for what He has promised to do in our lives. But that isn’t easy, and so the Holy Spirit creates this dependence in our lives (not easy for either of us!) breaking through our jaded hearts and replacing them with souls that are alive, and resonate to the love of God.

Next is God’s magnificent work of comforting the lowly, the broken folk in our world. Both Jesus and the Holy Spirit share in the title “the comforter,” something that should never go overlooked. God is found the midst of our brokenness, even the brokenness we cause by our sin and idolatry of self, there to bring healing, and comfort as we just can’t deal with the pain.

He is there, carefully cutting away the parts of our lives that are dead, circumcising our hearts as the Apostle Paul describes, with the care described as so tender, that a bruised piece of grass will not be broken. There He is, doing what is necessary to restore to us a life that is described with the word “abundant”.

The last concerns me the most. God will terrify those of us who are “of high degree.” We may not think we are, but how often do we play the Pharisee, saying “Thank God, I am not like that politician, or that illegal alien/refugee, or that I am so better of than those Catholics/baptists, evangelicals, or “those” types of sinners, etc.

We play at being of high degree a lot more than we would admit, and it takes the love of God to do what seems so… harsh. To terrify us, to scare us by revealing the depth of our sin. God has to humble us to the point where we are ready to see Jesus the Messiah and find relief in His presence. Where we will seek Him, knowing that only in Him will we find relief. You see, God doesn’t terrify those of high degree to punish us, but to help us let Him enter our lives, to help us encounter the works above. This is true in all of scripture, as He works to see us all come to repentance, to return to our relationship with Him.

These are the magnificent works of God…

It is when we see them happening, even when God is terrifying us (remember His purpose) and it is when we encounter Him, seeing Him at work in this – that we praise Him, that we rejoice in God our savior, along with that young lady, who gave birth to Jesus our Savior, who gave birth, to God.

May we praise Him as she did… not from obligation, but because we realize the work He is doing in our lives. AMEN!

1  Luther, M. (2007). Luther’s Spirituality. (P. D. W. Krey, B. McGinn, & P. D. S. Krey, Eds., P. D. S. Krey & P. D. W. Krey, Trans.) (p. 101). New York; Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press.

Dealing with Evil in the Church…without losing your faith.

Devotional Thought fo the Day:

19  But Joseph replied, “Don’t be afraid of me. Am I God, that I can punish you? 20  You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people. 21  No, don’t be afraid. I will continue to take care of you and your children.” So he reassured them by speaking kindly to them.
Genesis 50:19-21 (NLT2)

In one of his (Boccaccio) stories in the Decameron, a practical Jewish businessman, Abraham, is contemplating conversion and baptism, at the gentle leading of the pious archbishop of Paris, but has to reside at Rome for a season to do business with the Borgia family and the papal bankers. The archbishop asks him if he wouldn’t like to receive baptism before his trip, but he is a practical man, and business must come first. The bishop is convinced that Abraham will never join the Church once he sees her corruptions with his own eyes; but when he returns to Paris, he asks to be baptized! He explains to the startled archbishop, “I’m a practical Jewish businessman. I don’t know theology, but I know business. And one thing I know with certainty is that no earthly business that corrupt and venal could possibly last fourteen weeks; this one has lasted over fourteen centuries. It’s a miracle! Count me in!”

I have been grieving over the church recently.

It seems like we are entering a season where evil seems to be winning, thrusting its devastation both near and far. I see the broken lives, some still in denial about what is going on, about their role in the game, I sense that others don’t really care, passing by the broken lives as the priest and the Levite did on the road.

On the national level, the battles are like icebergs. In my denomination, you see it in the reactions to a document which alleges chronic, planned and coordination bullying. The Catholic Church has its internal wars going, as do the Methodists, Baptists, and other groups.

And what is even scarier, the wars we see are often not the real war. As any counselor/manager knows, the stated problem is rarely the real problem. Those are deeper, even at the point of sub-conscious, as our souls can’t bear the trauma.

On a local level, sin has raised its bitter head to many times in the past two months. Again, the temptation is to deny the seriousness of the impact on individuals and parishes. We want to say, “that’s their problem, it won’t affect me or mine.” Yet, even in saying that, we acknowledge the division in the church.

To that point, Peter Kreeft’s Socrates referents Boccaccio, and makes me think deeper. Could our evil be used by God to draw others to Him? (This is by no means an excuse, or should we use it to justify or be complacent about evil – we need to confront it) The Jewish businessman finds hope because the church perseveres in spite of the corruption, in spite of the evil.

It requires a great deal of faith, or truly depending on God to see this. It takes the attitude of Joseph, who can piece together all the things God used ot come to a point where the family is preserved, where they are provided for in the midst of another storm.

God doesn’t like such things, or plan them, and I am sure they break His heart. Yet, His love finds a way to use them to bless us, all things, even the evil, even the brokenness. He promises that so many times, along with the fact that He will never leave us or forsake us.

We need to know that in these dark days, and in those to come.

He is with us, He will be with us, and somehow, He wiwll use even these times.

May the peace of God, which passes all understanding, guard your heatts and minds in Christ Jesus

Kreeft, P. (2003). Socrates Meets Machiavelli: The Father of Philosophy Cross-Examines the Author of the Prince (p. 162). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.

Holiness isn’t an option, so what is its well kept secret!

Devotional Thought of the Day.

The LORD told Moses 2† to say to the community of Israel, “Be holy, because I, the LORD your God, am holy.
4† “Do not abandon me and worship idols; do not make gods of metal and worship them. I am the LORD your God
! Lev 20:1-2 GNT

7 Keep yourselves holy, because I am the LORD your God. 8 Obey my laws, because I am the LORD and I make you holy.” Lev. 20:7-8 GNT

1   Happy are those whose sins are forgiven, whose wrongs are pardoned. 2  Happy is the one whom the LORD does not accuse of doing wrong and who is free from all deceit. 3  When I did not confess my sins, I was worn out from crying all day long. 4  Day and night you punished me, LORD; my strength was completely drained, as moisture is dried up by the summer heat.  Psalm 32:1-4 (TEV)

It is there in the wounds of Jesus that we are truly secure; there we encounter the boundless love of his heart. I have seen so many people
who find the courage to enter the wounds of Jesus by saying to him,
“Lord, I am here, accept my poverty, hide my sin in your wounds
and wash it away with your blood.”
And I always see that God does just this: He welcomes, consoles cleanses and loves.

Throughout scripture, we hear this theme over and over again. Be perfect, be holy, be mature, imitate me as I imitate Christ,

If you know church history, you know that there have been several seasons where this was the focus of the church. It drove the earliest monastics, it found roots in the immigration from Europe to America, we see it in the Welsh Revival and the Azusa Street revival also comes from a holiness movement that resulted as well in the formation of the Nazarene churches. and before that the Wesleyans. The Catholic and Lutheran Churches as well had their moments of pietism, often forced, guilt-driven pietism. Even the moral majority was a passing thought to see the image of holiness cast on our nation.

But all these movements, as movements, eventually lost their momentum. You can only drive holiness into your people so long before they will abandon it, the guilt and shame too hard to handle. Or again, harassed by an unreachable goal, they opt for the image of holiness, (the appearance of Godliness – see 2 Tim. 3:5) often creating a pharisaical system which focuses on some minute behaviors while ignoring others.

But the failure to maintain the appearance of Godliness, the failure to be truly holy is not an admission that we can’t be holy, that we can’t imitate Christ Jesus. Indeed, if anything, these failures should help us realize we go about being holy in a way that is the cause of our unholiness.

Our holiness isn’t about us. It isn’t about our effort, our determination, our will being broken and tempered correctly through this practice, or that book, or following these spiritual exercises. Ultimately, these things can be beneficial, if they help us understand the secret of holiness.

The secret is found in the first two readings….

Don’t abandon God…. and I am the Lord your God, I make you holy! 

There it is, the secret to holiness.

Let God do it!

Just relax and focus on walking with God. Revel in His presence, rejoice in His promise, as often repeated throughout scripture, of forgiving, cleansing, us of all sin, making our lives right, restoring our lives which were broken. Reconciling, redeeming, declaring us innocent, and righteousness. Removing the burdens of guilt and shame, all these things He does makes us Holy.. That is why God begs us not to abandon Him, not for His sake, but for ours.

As God does all this, what is left, is simply….. holy. It has been sanctified.

And if you look at the early works of the great revivalists, this freedom, this joy of being freed from the burden of our sin, would result in people restoring that which was stolen, reconciling with those they sinned against, and finding the sins and temptations of the world as what they really are, unsatisfactory, destroyers of peace.

Know my dear friend, that you are forgiven. Stay in the presence, or stay aware of the presence of God in your midst. Just rejocine in the work He has promised to do, and is doing in your life.

You will be holy, for this is what God does. AMEN!


Pope Francis. (2013). A Year with Pope Francis: Daily Reflections from His Writings. (A. Rossa, Ed.) (p. 20). New York; Mahwah, NJ; Toronto, ON: Paulist Press; Novalis.

Our Love/Hate Relationship With God (and those who speak for Him)

devotional thought of the day:

20 Herod was afraid of John because he knew that John was a good and holy man, and so he kept him safe. He liked to listen to him, even though he became greatly disturbed every time he heard him. Mark 6:20 GNT

The biblical term shalom, which is usually so translated, implies much more than the absence of armed conflict; it means the right order of human affairs, well-being—a world where trust and friendship prevail, where neither fear nor want nor treachery nor dishonesty is found. Yet the song of the angels first lays down a precondition, without which there can be no lasting peace: God’s glory. This is the message of peace at Bethlehem: peace among men results from God’s glory. Those who are concerned about the human race and its well-being have to be concerned about God’s glory first of all. God’s glory is not some private concern, left to the personal choice of the individual; it is a public affair. It is a common good, and wherever God is not honored among men, there man as well will not remain honorable. The reason why Christmas affects the peace of man lies in this: because it has restored God’s glory among men.

9 Be merciful to me, LORD, for I am in trouble; my eyes are tired from so much crying; I am completely worn out. 10 I am exhausted by sorrow, and weeping has shortened my life. I am weak from all my troubles; even my bones are wasting away. Psalm 31:9-10 GNT

We are all like Herod.

And even as I say that I prove it is true.

I recoil at the thought, I am not as evil as he was, I console myself. But yet, if someone is preaching about my sin, I am disturbed, I am very uncomfortable, I feel like he’s laid my brokenness out there for everyone to see. I may even be a bit pissed off, and wanting to strike back as the pain of having my brokenness revealed causes that.

Which is hard when I am the pastor, and the one preaching! 🙂

But there is something comforting as well, I like listening to the promise that even thoguh I have sinned, that there is the possibility, the potential of being forgiven, of being healed and made whole. I may think I am not ready for it, but I need to know it is there.

I need to cry out with the Psalmist for God’s mercy, and I need to know He will answer. I need to know there can and will be peace.

I sandwiched the quote from Pope Benedict in between the gospels for a reason. There is our key to why Herod (and we) like the presence of God and God’s spokesperson in our lives.

The Glory of God which leads to peace, and the promise of that peace. For while we see God’s glory as something to be in awe of, even scared of, for those who know Him, for those who listen to Him, that glory has another name.

That name is “love” and “mercy”, It it glorious that God is compassionate, sympathetic, and in Christ, even empathestic to our brokenness. For while Jesus didn’t sin, He bore the wieght of that sin, and its wrath on the cross. Revealing that glory is something that leaves us unexplainably at peace, knowing God can cleanse us and heal us.

Will we let Him, how much more do we need endure of our brokenness before we shall?

Praying that it not be long… but rather we would find ourselves at home in His glory, experiencing His love, and dwelling, finally at home in His peace!


AMEN!

Ratzinger, J. (1992). Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. (I. Grassl, Ed., M. F. McCarthy & L. Krauth, Trans.) (p. 409). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.


The Value of Quietness…and how it leads to a joyful dance!

Devotional Thought of the Day:

9  This is the account of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, the only blameless person living on earth at the time, and he walked in close fellowship with God.
Genesis 6:9 (NLT2)

All of us, in this era when public life is being more and more Americanized, are in the grip of a peculiar restlessness, which suspects any quietness of being a waste of time, any stillness of being a sign of missing out on something. Every ounce of timeis being measured and weighed, and thus we become oblivious to the true mysteryof time, the true mystery of growing and becoming: stillness. It is the same inthe area of religion, where all our hopes and expectations rest on what we do;where we, through all kinds of exercises and activities, painstakingly avoidfacing the true mystery of inner growth toward God[1]

You can suffer from a desperate hunger to be loved. You can search long years in lonely places, far outside yourself. Yet the whole time, this love is but a few inches away from you.
It is at the edge of your soul, but you have been blind to its presence.
We must remain attentive in order to be able to receive.

John O’Donohue

Our primary goal, then, is not just to hear the voice of God but to be mature people in a loving relationship with God. This will result in our living a certain kind of life—one ofloving fellowship with God and those who love him. Only with this in mind willwe hear God rightly.[2]

As a child, my favorite times were when I was alone. Alone to read, along to wander the woods behind our home, alone especially in a church, an hour or two before mass.

Something happened as I was growing up, somehow, I turned into an extrovert, which is kind of awkward, because socially, I am pretty awkward. I can’t find contentment, or satisfaction, or peace easily when I am alone anymore.  Which is pretty good considering my vocation as a pastor, but not okay really, because spiritually, there is a huge need to be alone.

Well, not really alone, for in Christ, we never area.

The quote from O’Donohue above (from the Northumbrian community daily devotions at https://www.northumbriacommunity.org/offices/morning-prayer/) struck me first this morning.  How often our desperate hunger to be loved forces us into awkward and even harmful situations,  How often are we blind to the purest and greatest love, that is right at the edge of our soul?  And yet to recognize it, we have to set aside our restlessness, we have to realize that being still, being quiet, being able to rest is not a waste of time.

For as Pope Benedict notes, there is a mystery that occurs as we are still, we grow and become, we find our reality, we relate to God.

Willard reinforces this as well, as he notes we aren’t just made to listen toGod, to hear His voice, to praise Him in unison with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven.  We are madeto grow up into this loving relationship with God, to be in this amazing lifewhere we dance with God, where we share His joys, where He helps us with peacein the midst of sorrow.

Which means we have to find the quiet times, not to be disciplined, but to restin His presence, to remember He is our God, that He cares for us. To walk inclose fellowship with God as Noah did, and yet find the strength to know Him,to be at peace in His glory, in His presence.

So set the time aside, learn to love the moments of peace that finally set in…learn to leave all the distractions behind.

Meditate on the fact that He love you, until that meditation becomes aconversation, and then a dance.

Lord, may all those who read this, findthe time, and the patience, to realize they dwell in Your presence, and you intheirs… AMEN!


[1] Ratzinger, J. (1992). Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. (I. Grassl, Ed., M. F. McCarthy & L. Krauth, Trans.) (pp. 386–387). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.

[2] Willard, D., & Johnson, J. (2015). Hearing god through the year: a 365-day devotional. Westmont, IL: IVP Books.

Why Faith Is More Than Just What We Believe…..

Featured imagedevotional thought of the day:
26  And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. 27  And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. 28  And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:26-28 (NLT)

9  Each time he said, My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 10  That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (NLT)

127         The test, I don’t deny it, proves to be very hard: you have to go uphill, “against the grain”. What is my advice? That you must say: Omnia in bonum, everything that happens, “everything that happens to me”, is for my own good… Therefore do accept what seems so hard to you, as a sweet and pleasant reality.  (1)

We hear the passages, the plea that is the question,

“do you believe in Jesus?”

We nod our head, maybe even say a strong, gut level yes.  We proceed to talk about some aspect of doctrine, or some moment in the past where our “faith” became alive and meaningful.  We know we are going to heaven, (aren’t we?) but we struggle to understand what that really means.

We believe, which I think too often we define as “we know”.  We reinforce that when we talk of defending the faith as arguing about doctrine, or some theological principle or proof, such as the proof for the existence of God.  Or even our “new believer’s class, which can appropriately cover a catechism, but is all question and answers, including some interesting tangents. Such knowledge is necessary and beneficial, but it is not what our faith is, it is simply a description of it.

Faith is a level of trust, a level of dependance on God.  It is knowing that He will indeed keep His promises, the promises He has actually made to you and others who know Him.

It is knowing that all things will work together for good.  All things, yeah, even when that moment occurs when you are revealed to be broken to the entire world.  Yes, even those times you struggled with the brokenness of the world, and the inability of anyone to deal with it.  As St. Josemaria encourages us, we accept what happens, not liking it, but confident in God will prove Himself again worthy of your trust, caring for you, healing you, holding you.

Faith is an intimate relationship with God, on His terms, based in His love, by His standards.  It’s a non-negotiable relationship, what we call a religion.  After all, He is the One who created us, the One who is pure wisdom, pure love, pure reality, pure grace.  A grace, a charism, a gift of life that is beyond anything we can imagine.

The odd thing is, we find ourselves closest to comprehending it, not during mountaintop experiences, but in the midst of our brokenness.  In is in the depth our sorrow, our anxiety, our grief that the light of the Holy Spirit comes in the brightest.  It is the midst of those times we pray, and we depend, and trust, and find Him holding onto us.

Maybe you are there, in the middle of brokenness, in despair and need to know that God loves you.  I assure you that He does.  That He will pick you up, as He has picked me up. As He continues to minister to us all.

I’ll leave you with this, a video of Rich Mullins, whose brokenness…is as evident as his dependance, his trust, his faith in God

Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 720-724). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

does how we view God affect our ministry?

Featured imagedevotional thought of the day;

18 You have not come to a physical mountain,* to a place of flaming fire, darkness, gloom, and whirlwind, as the Israelites did at Mount Sinai. 19 For they heard an awesome trumpet blast and a voice so terrible that they begged God to stop speaking. 20 They staggered back under God’s command: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned to death.”* 21 Moses himself was so frightened at the sight that he said, “I am terrified and trembling.”*
22 No, you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to countless thousands of angels in a joyful gathering. 23 You have come to the assembly of God’s firstborn children, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God himself, who is the judge over all things. You have come to the spirits of the righteous ones in heaven who have now been made perfect. 24 You have come to Jesus, the one who mediates the new covenant between God and people, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks of forgiveness instead of crying out for vengeance like the blood of Abel.   Heb 12:18–24 nlt

119         Those problems which used to overwhelm you—and seemed like enormous mountains—disappeared completely. They were solved in a divine way, as when Our Lord commanded the winds and the waters to be calm. And to think that you still doubted!

when i read the verses from Hebrews this morning, i knew i would be writing about them, though i didn’t know how until i read the passage from St. Josemaria.

for i think we would all say that we understand the scripture passage, that we all agree, we do not dwell in the presence of God in the way Moses perceived.  we live in grace, we live in a God who reveals His presence as the comforter, the paraclete, the refuge, the One in Whom we can trust, and upon Whom we depend.

if that is so, shouldn’t that be evident in our life?  we should live in a manner that reflects the joy of coming into the presence of God as one whose name is written in heaven. we should live without fear, for we depend upon the fact that Jesus mediated the new covenant, a covenant which cries out with mercy, that speaks of forgiveness.

we need to realize what this means for life now, here and now.  those mountains of fear that assail us, that challenged our desire to serve God, cannot cause us to fail, for forgiveness and mercy follow us, as David wrote. we may need to find our rest, our sanctuary, and a place to heal now and then, but God will guide us past the mountains, and through the storms. we don’t have to walk around on eggshells, as if failing God, He’s already proven what He does with our sins, would He somehow less merciful because we tried to love, care, and bring the gospel to others?

this means we can dream big – not of our fame, but of God’s glory.  we can try something that we might not have seen as possible, or possible for us. we can reach out in love, without fear of rejection. we can simply love, not to be loved in return, but because we know we already are.

walking into God’s presence is something that leaves us in awe.  yet it transforms us as well, freeing us to hear His voice, to realize we walk with Him.  as we heard yesterday in Mark 9, that means the impossible – of seeing God at work in our lives… is not just possible.  it is probable.

live in Christ Jesus my friends, for that is why you were born again. AMEN

Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 692-694). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

There is no “them”, there is only “us”

Featured imageDevotional Thought of the Day
  Love must be completely sincere. Hate what is evil, hold on to what is good.  Love one another warmly as Christians, and be eager to show respect for one another.  Work hard and do not be lazy. Serve the Lord with a heart full of devotion.  Let your hope keep you joyful, be patient in your troubles, and pray at all times.  Share your belongings with your needy fellow Christians, and open your homes to strangers.  Ask God to bless those who persecute you—yes, ask him to bless, not to curse.  Be happy with those who are happy, weep with those who weep.  Have the same concern for everyone. Do not be proud, but accept humble duties. Do not think of yourselves as wise. Romans 12:9-16 (TEV)

1. The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ. Indeed, nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo in their hearts. For theirs is a community composed of men. United in Christ, they are led by the Holy Spirit in their journey to the Kingdom of their Father and they have welcomed the news of salvation which is meant for every man. That is why this community realizes that it is truly linked with mankind and its history by the deepest of bonds.  (1)

26         It is sad to see what some people understand by almsgiving: a few pennies or some old clothes. They seem not to have read the Gospel. Don’t be over-cautious: help people to acquire sufficient faith and fortitude to be ready to deny themselves generously, in this life, what they need. And to those who lag behind, explain that it is neither very noble nor very graceful, even from an earthly point of view, to wait for the last moment, when they will be obliged to take nothing with them.

In yesterday’s Gospel reading, Jesus made it clear that whoever would be first must be the servant of all.  Note the period after the word “all”.  He didn’t say all ‘of our friends”, or “all Americans”, or “all – insert your ethnicity – ”  He said “all” and then the period makes it clear, He meant all.   In last week’s reading from James, it was made clear as well, there is no priority based on wealth, power, or prestige.  In God’s way of thinking, the president of a country (whether you like him or not) and a toddler are equal.  The richest of businessmen is no greater than a 97-year-old shut-in, or the homeless guy.

As part of that family descended from Adam we are a family.  One family.  As believers, and I love the way Vatican II puts this, the joys, hopes, griefs and anxieties of everyone, we have a share in.  It is from St. Paul we read these words originate – for He encourages us to share in the joy and sorrow of all – even those whom we count as our enemies and our adversaries. Our hearts need to break when we realize that people don’t know the love of God.  Our hearts need to rejoice, even soar with joy as someone is brought to life and will abide in the presence of Christ.

We need to, as St. Josemaria says, to help people learn to deny themselves generously, to help those around them, to truly help them.  Whether it is the family of refugees that we assist or the neighbor grieving,  it doesn’t matter whether they are long-time believers, or of another religion, or anti-religious.

They need what every human needs.  The love and mercy of God, shown through the people who know this mercy and love.  Who know it because in their brokenness this love is shown to them.

Simply put, there is no “them”, there is only “us”.

Realize this – that when Christ said we are to serve all – He meant all of “us”.  Go out and love with abandon.  Rejoice with those rejoicing, weep with those weeping, and serve one another.

Lord be merciful to us!

(1)   Catholic Church. (2011). Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World: Gaudium Et Spes. In Vatican II Documents. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana.

(2) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 340-346). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

What Do You Invest in?

Featured imageDevotional Thought of the day

5 “The purpose of my covenant with the Levites was to bring life and peace, and that is what I gave them. This required reverence from them, and they greatly revered me and stood in awe of my name. 6 They passed on to the people the truth of the instructions they received from me. They did not lie or cheat; they walked with me, living good and righteous lives, and they turned many from lives of sin.
7 “The words of a priest’s lips should preserve knowledge of God, and people should go to him for instruction, for the priest is the messenger of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.(Mal 2:5–7 NLT

758    The wholehearted acceptance of the will of God is the sure way of finding joy and peace: happiness in the cross. It’s then we realize that Christ’s yoke is sweet and that his burden is not heavy.  (1)

Yesterday I ha the blessing of baptizing a young man named Aiden.

And then I was able to give to 60 or more people Christ’s body and blood.  Somewhere in the middle I delivered a sermon,   This is what I live for in life when I am consistent with the Spirit given me in baptism some 50 years ago.

It’s what i do, it is, in many ways, what I’ve invested my life in, at least the investment that is worthwhile.

I have invested time in other things, some that were fun, some that were silly, some that caused suffering, my own or someone else’s. Are some of those things good?  Well, God promises that all will work for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purposes.

It is when we see God’s will when we see His presence, His mercy, and His love made manifest, those are the times of the greatest peace, the most incredible joy. Which is why giving and yes receiving the sacraments, or studying God’s revelation of love is so much a time of blessed peace. It is when we are praying with someone, asking for God to reveal Himself, to reveal His mercy, whether that person is 98 and on their death bed, or 2 years old and crying because she doesn’t want to leave church, or with a bunch of friends at lunch that we see this.

You see the work of a pastor/priest is different, but no different in that God is working through us all, reconciling the world to Himself.  That is His desire, that none should perish, but that all are transformed into this life.

He is here, He is with us, He brings us life and peace… this is what we all are to pass on,  That is the greatest investment we can make… giving someone else the peace of God, found in life united to Christ.

And may we rejoice as we turn many from their sin because of this gospel message, lived out in Christ.

Escriva, Josemaria (2010-11-02). The Way (Kindle Locations 1766-1767). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

The Image of God, Seen Today in Our Midst

Featured imageDevotional Thought of the Day
1  Take me as your pattern, just as I take Christ for mine. 1 Corinthians 11:1 (NJB)

27  God created man in the image of himself, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27 (NJB)

18  And all of us, with our unveiled faces like mirrors reflecting the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the image that we reflect in brighter and brighter glory; this is the working of the Lord who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18 (NJB)

Is our being made in the image and likeness of God something invisible, something confined, perhaps, to the soul? But if so, then it is not an image, for an image is, by its nature, something that can be seen. And, in fact, we can see the image—not in the momentary flash of photography, but in the demeanor that reveals a life: in the goodness of a mother, in the uprightness of a husband, in the fidelity of a friend in our time of trouble, in the patience of one who suffers, in the gentleness and maturity of one who prays. When we see these signs, we are seeing the image of God. (1)

Every once in a while you hear about Jesus image, maybe in a piece of toast, or a tortilla or pancake, or in some artifact.  It is kind of funny the fuss that is made over these things,

But what if I said I saw God’s image today, the glorious image of God, reflected in the face of an 89-year-old lady, or a two-year-old child, That claim might seem rather over the top.  There is a strong Biblical basis for it.  A basis recognized in the devotion I came across this morning.

I love how Cardinal Ratzinger sees the image of Christ, not in a static picture or print, but in a life lived reflecting the glory, the love and mercy of God.  The glory of God at work, redeeming and reconciling for Himself a people, and doing it through….. the people He has redeemed.  The people He has reconciled to Himself.  He causes them to love, as the Holy Spirit transforms them into the image of Jesus. The Holy Spirit molds them, and as Eph. 210 discusses – we are changed into a work of art, God’s great masterpiece,

A people who resemble their Lord and Savior, the One, who sent the Spirit, to focus them on Jesus, and transform them.

So the lady in my Bible Study, who always pauses to pray, and give thanks and know God’s love, in Her I see the image of God reflected.   In the two year old, who is most comfortable and most at peace at the altar, even though she can’t explain what happened in her baptism, in the friend who reaches out and listens, even though pressed for time.  In each the image of Christ is reflected, the glory of Christ is seen and known and experienced.

Lord, have mercy, and He shows He does, as people find the healing that is only in Christ while helping others heal.

Godspeed!

(1)  Ratzinger, J. (1992). Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. (M. F. McCarthy & L. Krauth, Trans., I. Grassl, Ed.) (p. 219). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.

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