Category Archives: Devotions
We all know God loves us, but far too often the stresses, anxieties and problems in life crowd Him out of our view. Here find a moment to re-focus and remember how incredible it is that God loves us, and what it means to live in His presence, in the peace that passes all understanding…
Devotional Thoughts of the Day:
27 God purposely chose what the world considers nonsense in order to shame the wise, and he chose what the world considers weak in order to shame the powerful. 28 He chose what the world looks down on and despises and thinks is nothing, in order to destroy what the world thinks is important. 29 This means that no one can boast in God’s presence. 30 But God has brought you into union with Christ Jesus, and God has made Christ
Christ is not just a Head all pierced and wounded; he is the Ruler of the whole world. His dominion does not mean that the earth will be trampled under foot, but that that splendor will be restored to it that speaks of God’s beauty and power. Christ raised up the image of Adam. You are not just clay; you extend beyond all cosmic dimensions to the very Heart of God. It is not the one who is scourged who is degraded, but the one who scourges; not the one spat upon, but the one who spits; not the one put to scorn, but he who puts to scorn; it is not pride that raises man up, but humility; not self-glorification that makes him great, but that union with God of which he is capable.
Adoration places us in a ‘Paschal situation’. It is an encounter with the infinite love of God revealed in Jesus Christ and which is made present under the consecrated species. God reveals Himself without condition. He leaves man helpless in the face of the marvel of His manifestation: an all-powerful God Who makes Himself so small, so poor, under the appearance of bread.
You stand there or kneel there, and for a moment, all else falls away.
From the world’s view, it is a piece of stale bread and some really cheap wine. It is a moment the world would pass by, and pass by quickly.
It doesn’t make sense, but then so little of Christianity makes sense. At least from the world’s perspective. The King who serves, the Healer who is hurt, the Sinless one, bearing all sin…
As Benedict XVI noted, the humble end up being glorified, this little piece of wheat (?) and wine end up bieng a feast more meaningful than anything, That cup of water poured over one’s head, something that cleans away every sin, every bit of injustice.
This fact, that in the world’s logic Christianity, is not logical, is an incredible blessing. Here is why,
What has the world’s logic actually accomplished? When has its wisdom brought about peace? When could it heal a broken heart or a tortured soul?
When has it made a difference, in view of death?
And yet, giving someone who trusts in Christ, the bread and wine, the BOdy and BLood of Christ can overwhelm them with peace. Hearing a pastor lead mourners through Psalm 23 or the Lord’s Prayer can bring peace in the midst of tears at a funeral. Hearing that your sin is forgiven, yes, THAT sin is forgiven, and that told by a man God put in place to tell you that, in that very moment.
Those things make a difference, no matter how the logic can’t explain it.
God is with you.. and that, someday, is the only thing that sustains us.
And oh, how
Lord Jesus, help us realize that it is okay for Your logic to be beyond us. Help us to accept that Your ways are not ours,
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. 52). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.
Rey, D. (2012). Adoration and the New Evangelization. In A. Reid (Ed.), From Eucharistic Adoration to Evangelization (pp. 6–7). London; New York: Burns & Oates.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
28 “Come to me, all of you who are tired from carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28 (TEV)
7 Leave all your worries with him, because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7 (TEV)
5 Give yourself to the LORD; trust in him, and he will help you; Psalm 37:5 (TEV)
28 We know that in all things God works for good with those who love him, those whom he has called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 (TEV)
19 But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid; I can’t put myself in the place of God. 20 You plotted evil against me, but God turned it into good, in order to preserve the lives of many people who are alive today because of what happened. 21 You have nothing to fear. I will take care of you and your children.” So he reassured them with kind words that touched their hearts. Genesis 50:19-21 (TEV)
A test of faith is not a multiple choice or essay test about how much you know doctrinally. None of us can know beyond what scripture teaches, and most of us don’t know all of that. (Even if we pretend to)
Nor is a test of our holiness, and how well we live from an ethical and/or moral standpoint. For while we should strive to live within the way God has laid out, we too often fail. And each of us will tend to look to the sins and failures of others, even counting them eviler, or condemning them, while trying to justify our own actions.
Nor is it a test of our will, and our ability to compensate or atone for our own error. The price is too high, and even if we could atone, why would we? To avoid punishment? To attain paradise? Both are self-centered motives, and therefore, as sinful as the sins we commit.
None of these “tests” measure a Biblical faith. Not one of them testifies to our ability to depend upon Jesus for what He has promised. Look above at the scripture quotes.
Do we have enough faith, enough trust God for the complete rest (physical, emotional, spiritual ) that we so need?
Do we have enough faith to leave our anxieties, our concerns, even our very life in His hands? Do we faith in His promise that all things work for good? Even the sins of our country, even
Do we trust in Him enough to proclaim to those who have hurt us, what you meant for evil, God used for good?
To do these things requires faith in God, confidence that He will do exactly what He said He would. Faith means to depend on Him, even when the guilt and shame are overwhelming, even when the hurt of betrayal is too powerful.
It is then faith is revealed, for it is that certain hope that despite all the logic, despite all the anxiety and fear, despite all the pain and suffering, God will see us through, that He will carry us, and bring us healing, and help.
That is faith. That is what it means to believe in God, to have confidence in what He has promised, that He will heal all that is broken. He will care for us, and never let us alone.
Faith is that feeling you get during communion when you are so overwhelmed by God’s love, that all you can think of is Christ, giving Himself of you, his Body broken, His love shed… and as you are focused on that, everything else falls away.
That feeling for a second or even a minute is a glimpse of heaven, it is a moment of purest faith when all there is, is God, and we depend on Him. letting everything else go.
So next time if you wonder if you have faith, hearken back to that moment you communed.. and relax, you passed the test.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
21 After all the people had been baptized, Jesus also was baptized. While he was praying, heaven was opened, 22† and the Holy Spirit came down upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my own dear Son. I am pleased with you.” Luke 3:21-22 GNT
16 The cup we use in the Lord’s Supper and for which we give thanks to God: when we drink from it, we are sharing in the blood of Christ. And the bread we break: when we eat it, we are sharing in the body of Christ.
1 Corinthians 10:16 (TEV)
7 On the first day of the week, we gathered with the local believers to share in the Lord’s Supper. Paul was preaching to them, and since he was leaving the next day, he kept talking until midnight. Acts 20:7 (NLT2)
10 Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” 11 “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” John 8:10-11 (NLT2)
Moreover, the people are instructed often and with great diligence concerning the holy sacrament, why it was instituted, and how it is to be used (namely, as a comfort for terrified consciences) in order that the people may be drawn to the Communion and Mass. The people are also given instruction about other false teachings concerning the sacrament.
There are several communion services in my life that will always come to mind. One of those had its sixth anniversary this week, as I remember a dozen, maybe a dozen and a half missionaries gathering in Macao one afternoon.
Another was my first Sunday in my journey
It started with hearing the elder say these simple words to people. Bod said, “take and drink, the blood shed for the forgiveness of your sin.” He said it with such confidence, such faith that each word hammered into the hardness of our hearts. I don’t remember anything else, save for one thing, as these words of God were heard, not just
The other thing I noticed was the body language of the people. People I knew from the community, people dealing with more brokenness (I would learn) than I could ever suspect. They approached the altar, hunched over, unable to look up, the burdens of the world, and their own sin so oppressing them. And then, as they received the body of Jesus on their tongues, as they drank from the chalice or the little cups, their bodies changed. They relaxed, the stern reverence was replaced with smiles that were filled with peace, and joy.
I know no other way to explain it, except to say they encountered Christ. They were overwhelmed by His presence, His mercy, His love. And when they sang the traditional Nunc Dimittis after communion, they like Simeon, knew God’s salvation. Not as theology, not as some fact, but something that resonated with every beat of their heart.
That joy allowed them to leave the brokenness behind, it allowed them to be free of what oppressed them. One of my professors would later describe this using the word “incarnational” not restricting the incarnation to an event in the Judean hills 2000 years ago but seeing it happen here. This is what the early Lutherans meant by the sacrament comforting their frightened consciences.
And each of the sacraments does this, baptism, the Eucharist, Confession and Absolution, as we participate, as we share in life with Jesus, who brought us to life in HIs resurrection.
This can’t be adequately explained, even by the best of theologians. The sacraments aren’t something that man has the power to research, to “objectively observe.” But they bring about a healing of our souls, as the promises of God become true for us, as the love of God, in all its measureless dimensions, is revealed, As we are transformed, and that is revealed as well, the glory of God reflecting from us, as it did from
Come, let us adore Him, for the Lord is with us. AMEN!
Tappert, T. G. (Ed.). (1959). Article 24 of the Augsburg Confession: The Book of Concord the confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (p. 56). Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
1 So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, 3 for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.
Colossians 3:1-4 (NRSV)
How does God console?
Certainly not with pious platitudes like, “after all the tribulation it’s not as bad as it seems.” On the contrary, he allows us to see the suffering that has befallen us in all its horrors, but silently and calmly he shows us heaven.
I’ve seen it too many times, and even more, have I heard it.
SOmeone walks up to someone who is suffering and gives them some words that are supposed to be comforting, but are not. They think they are giving them Biblical advice, but they aren’t.
Sayings like, “God wouldn’t give you anything you can’t handle.”
What these words, these platitudes do is demean and minimalize the pain the person is trying to endure. They come across as uncaring as if the grief and pain you are dealing with are not that overwhelming, as if you can brush it off, pick yourself up, and act as if nothing happened.
But something did, and the pain is…enhanced by the “well-wishers” and people that think they are really helping.
But they don’t know what to say…and so they open their mouths, and stuff comes out…
All of us have done it, and most of us have the scars from hearing it.
So what should we say, when we don’t know what to say?
The first lesson is that you don’t have ot say anything. Be there, cry with them (see Romans 12:15) Your presence, empathy and compassion will be heard louder than even the nest words of comfort.
If you have to say things, reminders of God’s presence matter most, something like Psalm 139, or Psalm 23. Give them permission to cry out and grieve (check out Jeremiah 20 for instance)
Pray with them, that God would help them find a revitalizing rest and peace, for that He has promised.
To say it in another way, be there, but let the Holy Spirit comfort them
Be there… be quiet, help them know God is there…
Help them realize, carefully, that we are in the presence of God, and that is our ultimate hope and peace.
That is our role, and it is what we need to…
Lord, bless us as we encounter pain and suffering, help us to be wise and compassionate, investing time in being there for others. Help us to allow the Holy Spirit to bring the healing, as we step out of the way. Thatnk You Father, for ensuring that we aren’t alone as we minister as your hands. In Jesus name. we pray, AMEN!
Pope Francis. (2013). A Year with Pope Francis: Daily Reflections from His Writings. (A. Rossa, Ed.) (p. 40). New York; Mahwah, NJ; Toronto, ON: Paulist Press; Novalis.
37 None of this fazes us because
20 God can do anything, you know—far
The working of God’s Spirit produces disproportionate results that do not make sense humanly. The outcome is beyond human logic to understand or natural powers to accomplish. Such humanly unaccountable effects fit
Thus she came to understand Chesterton when he described men and women who, signed with Christ’s Cross, cheerfully walk through darkness. Finding this hidden life means releasing the sources of this world’s energy, linking the world to the power that can save it, giving it the resources for which it seeks in vain within itself. It means digging for and uncovering the wellspring of joy which can save and transform things and people and which has the power to undo and make good past suffering. Seek the things that are above! This is not a mere clutching at a straw but a setting-out on the great Easter journey into the region of genuine reality.
Often times, we think of God doing “immeasurably more” in regards to His doing something incredible in our lives. As if each one of us would become the next Mother Theresa or Billy Graham. As if what we do will receive blessings that are worldly, fame, riches, health, pleasure. That we will slay giants, or shatter the minions of evil that oppress those we love.
After all, God can do
I think Pope Benedict makes a good point in this point highlighted in green, what God does that is beyond belief, beyond our ability to measure is to make good past suffering, to reach into our brokenness; and flood it with so much joy that we count as a blessing what we once complained was a curse.
This isn’t about calling evil good and good evil, make no mistake, but it is about God redeeming the time. It is about the memories now longer haunting us but instead leaving us in awe of God’s love that sustained us in the darkness.
It is about seeing the little things that God sets up, the 10 minutes with a friend there, the prayer said last night, the determination to just rely on God, even as we can’t see where we are going. It is about the peace we feel, as our sins are washed away, as we trust in the words God desires us to see. This abundant blessing is seen in how a little round peace of bread and sip of wine bring us peace as we recognize we are sharing in the body and blood of Jesus.
in those moments, the world can fall apart (or at least we believe it is!) and we are sure God is with us. He has revealed Himself to us in those moments, and we will never forget it. As we focus on Him, the Spirit is turning us into God’s work of art (Eph. 2:10) which again, is more than we could ever expect, ever hope.
God is with you, doing more in you than you could ever imagine…so rejoice, and as you realize you dwell in His presence, be at peace! AMEN!
Willard, D., & Johnson, J. (2015). Hearing god through the year: a 365-day devotional. Westmont, IL: IVP Books.
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. 26). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.
Devotional Thought of the day:
15 Work hard so you
538 A terrible person is one who is ignorant but at the same time works tirelessly. Take care that even when you are old and decrepit, you keep on wanting to be better trained.
One of my favorite sports teams has a motto, “No Day’s Off!”
And it doesn’t mean 7 days in the office, 10 hours a day. As St Josemaria says, it is a terrible thing for
You could say the same for a surgeon, whose hands are precious. He wouldn’t engage in activities that would
The same would be true for a pastor, a minister (in our synod, a Director of Christian Ed, Director of Worship, Deaconess or Deacon) any lay leader or really anyone in the church. Our lives need to be not just balanced between work and rest and time spent in devotional reading of God’s word, prayer, and adoration/worship of God, in receiving the sacraments (all of them!)
But we have to understand what our primary vocation is, what we need to focus and work on, and what are the things that support that work.
What is it? Something we have in common…
Being the Church, being the bride of Christ. Finding our rest and peace in Christ as He mercifully heals our brokenness, as our sin is forgiven, as we are made alive as we are joined to Him in baptism. Our vocation is our being transformed by the Holy Spirit.
Those things I mentioned as part of the balance that
It is that walk which the rest of our “life” (our work, our family, our roles at church and in our community) needs to resonate. Depending on God, realizing that He is involved in every part of our life, He sustains us, this is our primary role in life – our relationship with Him.
And as St. Josemaria points out, we need to continually be guided in this and to be trained by those who walk with Jesus as well. (that is another post perhaps) We need to work hard at it, for depending on God takes intent and focus, things easily lost in this crazy world and time.
This is our core, the experience of the love of God that is beyond our ability to explain. To spend time realizing that love, and learning to depend upon it.
Know you are God’s family and spend time experiencing and learning what that means. Celebrate it with others, and realize, this is your life!
Escriva, Josemaria. Furrow (Kindle Locations 2327-2330). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
10 “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities.
Luke 16:10 (NLT2)
507 You tried to belittle somebody else’s work by mumbling: “He has only done his duty.” And I said, “Does that seem so little to you?” The Lord gives us the happiness of Heaven for doing our duty: Euge serve bone et fidelis… intra in gaudium Domini tui— Well done good and faithful servant, enter into eternal joy! (1)
The things that challenge me the most in life are the most mundane. The times in life where I am supposed to go through the motions, the moments were the tasks are simply boring, where the actvity is bland..
How do i trudge through those days, eager for the oppostunity to do something new! And I am not the only one, and it is not just about taking out the trash, or cleaing the gutters, or more data entry, or mopping the bathroom floors after a toilet was clogged int he preschool restroom.
It happens in the church as well. For it takes persistence and patience to see a church impact its community, to become a community of faith that the community knows it is alive.
Maybe that is why the focus is on planting new, and the experts claim the best growth happens in new churches, and why we take our most dynamic and driven guys and send them for church planting training before we see that they can shepherd people?
And so in the church, we simply mimic the culture again. And give up on the hard work of doing that which is the fun, the flashy, and the presumed high rate of return!
But how do we do our job, how do we do our duty with zeal and a strong focus when it seems like we can do it, with the same effort it takes to snore? How do we stay with it, day in and day out? How do we stop ourselves from doing things in a simply rote manner?
Can we learn ot put all our effort, all our focus into the mundane?
The only way it is possible is to realize Who entrusts us with the work and spends the time with us, as we work. One who would wash our feet, the One who listens to our complains, to our whining, the One who patiently comforts and cleanses and heals us.
he is with us in the mundane, the boring and the bland, He is with us strengthening us, empowering us, helping us realize what we do is not done alone, and that it actually
Lord help us to see the normal everyday life as a gift we share with You. Help us to do it well, so well that others will give glory to You. AMEN!
Escriva, Josemaria. Furrow (Kindle Locations 2209-2213). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
His Mysterious Plan
† In Jesus Name †
May the grace of God our Father help you see your role in the church, as God displays His wisdom, found in the mystery of His eternal plan carried out through Jesus Christ our Lord!
A mysterious plan
As this sermon will be translated
The Cambridge-English dictionary suggested clarifying what is meant in our usage of the word mystery. What comes closest to my understanding of the Greek word is this option: †
“something strange or not known, that has not yet been explained, or understood” Another way to phrase it would be an enigma, and in this case, a divine enigma.
Oddly enough, the word google translate suggest is Chinese is 谜, † pronounced “Me” ( Mi)
So “Me” is a mystery and an enigma.
Makes sense in English!
But we are talking about God’s mystery today, this plan that has been in existence since before time began. A secret which Paul would reveal, which is still challenging for us to comprehend, and it is still a challenge for us to use in our lives.
Not revealed? Kept secret?
Twice in this passage, Paul mentions that his mystery, this plan of God that is not yet completely known or understood was kept secret. In verse 5 he says, †
God did not reveal it to previous generations,
And then in verse 9, †
9 I was chosen to explain to everyone this mysterious plan that God, the Creator of all things, had kept secret from the beginning.
There is a challenge here, that we need to deal with, this idea that God hides His mystery, that God doesn’t lay out His entire plan for us to deal with, for us to accept, for us to know.
That doesn’t just
sound right, after all, shouldn’t God just be completely honest with us? Why wasn’t He completely transparent with His
people? Why where His plans such a
There is tendency in mankind to want to know, to understand, but along with that we want to be able to raise questions, to criticize, to help adjust the plans. We want to be advisors to God, and we see that throughout history.
Peter did this, when Jesus talked about the cross, and Jesus called Peter Satan, and told him to get lost.
We do it now, when we choose to give in to temptation, when we decide to sin, when we choose to ignore God’s commands, especially the two great commands,
To Love God with all our heart, soul and mind
To love our neighbor as ourselves.
Every time we do something that Is not loving, every time we sin, we tell God that we don’t trust Him. How much more would we have done this, if we knew everything from the beginning?
The plan – all united in Christ
So God didn’t share the plan, but now He has. And it is about that very thing, loving God and loving those people God brings into our lives.,
To bring us all into this incredible relationship where God is our Father, where we all become one body in Christ.
Where we all share in the riches that we
For we dwell in Christ, united to each other, even as we are united to Him, at the cross.
That is why the cross is the center of the plan, for Paul will tell the church in Rome and the church in Colossae that we were united to Christ at His death on the
And as we are all united to Him, we find ourselves united
We are all one in Christ, that was the mystery that Paul revealed, the plan we needed. For we needed to see what the cross would make possible. That cleansed of all sin, restored and reconciled in our relationship with God
The fulfillment of the plan – we come boldly
Every plan has a final goal, a final measurement when
you know the work is done.
Even those plans that seem vague, have that moment when everything becomes known, when everything becomes clear.
In this case, the plan’s goal, is stated clearly in verse 12. †
12 Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence.
So now you see God’s ultimate goal, the reason for everything He has planned.
That we would be able to confidently dwell in the presence of God.
Just simply dwelling with Him, find comfort and rest in His presence, depending on Him to guide us, and take care of us.
For that is what it means to have faith, to depend on God completely, no longer hidng behind illusions, but to trust God with everything…
For He is our God
And we, we are all His people! AMEN!
Devotional Thought of the Day:
You have six days in which to do your work, but remember that the seventh day, the Sabbath, is a day of rest. On that day do not work, but gather for worship. The Sabbath belongs to the LORD, no matter where you live. Leviticus 23:3 GNT
“Ever since he was a child,” he replied. 22 “Many times the evil spirit has tried to kill him by throwing him in the fire and into
23 “Yes,” said Jesus, “if you yourself can! Everything is possible for the person who has faith.”
24 The father at once cried out, “I do have faith, but not enough. Help me have more!”
25 Jesus noticed that the crowd was closing in on them, so he gave a command to the evil spirit. “Deaf and dumb spirit,” he said, “I order you to come out of the boy and never go into him again!”
26 The spirit screamed, threw the boy into a bad fit, and came out. The boy looked like a corpse, and everyone said, “He is dead!” 27 But Jesus took the boy by the hand and helped him rise, and he stood up. Mark 9:21-27 GNT
445 If you abandon prayer you may at first live on spiritual reserves… and after that, by cheating.
So, as the holidays come to a close, as Advent’s focus and the joy of celebrating Jesus coming into the world begines to wane, a number of people have asked me what my plans were.
Actually, they phrase it like this, “go get some rest pastor!”
Then they ask, where I will go, to get the rest! What plans do I have, what will my family and I do.
As if rest is a synonym for travel and vacation. As if spending all day getting tired doing “fun” things provides what our souls need. Please note, I am not saying we shouldn’t take vacations, but rest is something very different.
Rest is what the boy and his dad gained, as Jesus freed them from the grip of demons. It is the time when we step aside from life, ot remember God is with us, to celebrate His presence, to remember His mercy, to let Him free us from the demons that afflict us, and the trauma that so assaults our hearts and souls.
That is what rest is, a time for our lives to relax, and leave everything in the hands of God Almighty, (and not giving him instructions and timelines!).
It enables us to truly pray, which enables us to truly live, and to know that God is here, with us, right now. That allows us to set aside the masks that hide our brokenness, the hypocrisy that everything is perfect in our lives, and the idea that we are saints, by our own power.
Taking this rest in Christ allows us to be human, forgiven, healing from the brokenness and even the demonic activity around us, as we depend on God, who has promised to care for us.
That’s the rest we need, and that is why I believe the place of greatest rest is at the altar rail, as we feast on the Body and Blood of Jesus, as He strips us of our sin, and heals us..It is there I am most aware of His peace, of the presence of God where He pours out all His love on us.
So I had my rest, and maybe we’ll sneak in some vacation time as well…. after I get past my traditional new years cold.
May you allow God to grant you the rest that your souls need!
Escriva, Josemaria. Furrow (Kindle Locations 1975-1977). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
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
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
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
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.