Devotional THought of the Day:
16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching the truth, rebuking error, correcting faults, and giving instruction for right living, 17 so that the person who serves God may be fully qualified and equipped to do every kind of good deed. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (TEV)
18 Lay the greatest weight on those commandments or other parts which seem to require special attention among the people where you are. For example, the Seventh Commandment, which treats of stealing, must be emphasized when instructing laborers and shopkeepers, and even farmers and servants, for many of these are guilty of dishonesty and thievery.8 So, too, the Fourth Commandment must be stressed when instructing children and the common people in order that they may be encouraged to be orderly, faithful, obedient, and peaceful. Always adduce ma.ny examples from the Scriptures to show how God punished and blessed.
531 “Treat him well for me, treat him well,” said a certain elderly bishop with tears in his eyes to the priests he had just ordained. Lord, I wish I had the voice and the authority to cry out in the same way to the ears and the hearts of many, many Christians!
The “S” word, sorry to tell you, isn’t “sex”
It’s the other “s” word that is difficult to talk about and for the same reason. It is just as awkward, embarrassing, and produces as much anxiety as talking about sex with your 11-13-year-old child.
And the consequences of not having conversations about sin are worse than letting the world teach your kids about sex. For lacking understanding about either sex or sin can lead to incredible pain, sorrow, and even death.
Not just physical death, the death of the spirit, death one’s soul.
So it is one we need to have. Not just pastor and parishioner, but parents and kids, those who teach and govern with those whose lives they are entrusted with, those whom God has put in their lives to love and care for beyond the point of sacrificing convenience, to the point of complete sacrifice.
We have to get by the discomfort and have these talked with each other. talking about the sins which entrap us, the sins which drive us into despair, the sins that isolate us.
but we have to do it with the skill and wisdom that only comes because of the love we have, because of the love we know God has for them. To talk about sin with the deliberate intent of freeing each other from its burdens of guilt and shame, from its curse and the death it causes.
We can’t talk about just to prohibit it, as if we could, by proper persuasion, convince them to never sin again. That will last an hour or two, and then they will hide the sin that entraps them, denying it, or justifying it in some form of logic we twisted them to use. I say “we” because talking about sin improperly leads people to fear talking about it with us. They have to realize that our goal is not to condemn the sinner, but free them.
This has to be made clear in our teaching, not just to proactively work with them to rely on God to overcome temptation, but also to help them run to the comfort and peace that comes with repentance, with absolution, that comes via the Holy Spirit washing and renewing our hearts.
This is our ministry, as pastors, as leaders, as parents, as those entrusted with the lives of others. Yet in order to dohese things, we have to be confident that God is working in our life as well, cleansing and strengthening us, causing us to run to the Father, through Jesus.
This is who we are… and Lord help us talk about sin… in the way you did! AMEN!
Tappert, T. G. (Ed.). (1959). The Book of Concord the confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (p. 340). Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press.
Escriva, Josemaria. The Way (Kindle Locations 1285-1287). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought for our Monday!
22 So get rid of your old self, which made you live as you used to—the old self that was being destroyed by its deceitful desires. 23 Your hearts and minds must be made completely new, 24 and you must put on the new self, which is created in God’s likeness and reveals itself in the true life that is upright and holy. Ephesians 4:22-24 (TEV)
163 You shouldn’t be so easy on yourself! Don’t wait until the New Year to make your resolutions. Every day is a good day to make good decisions. Hodie, nunc!—Today, now! It tends to be the poor defeatist types who leave it until the New Year before beginning afresh… And even then, they never really begin.
Yesterday, some 60 friends and I knelt at the altar at Concordia, and celebrated the mercy of God. We celebrated by receiving the Body and Blood of Christ, broken and spilled for us, to cover our sin, to remind us of the glorious life God gives us, where we walk with Jesus.
It was glorious, it was incredible, this sharing of God’s love, of realizing God’s desire to make us His has been fulfilled at the cross, and we celebrated it, together! What an incredible, overwhelming experience, as we were there, together, and realized the love of God!
Yet today is Monday, and what we used to call the “tyranny of the urgent” has found its way to dominate my life. Too many critical things to do, competing with daily tasks, deadlines, and meetings to finish planning. While balancing out the people who need help.
It is as if yesterday’s moment of bliss happened a long time ago, not just yesterday.
It feels so distant, so much not part of who I am, today.
And if I have trouble remembering – reliving those moments – how can I easily connect to my baptism? And if I struggle to connect to either, my connection to Christ and to the cross where I was united to Him fades into the distant past as well.
It would seem like those moments fade like our New Years’ resolutions, with a lot of great intent, and little impact and little change if anything. To use Paul’s thought, we struggle to get rid of the old desires, the old self.
And what difference would it make; make these resolutions real as Paul advises? How would it change the tyranny of the urgent, how would it change my Monday?
The Psalmist tells us how to make this new beginning happen. With words, words we know so, so well.
Be still, and know I am God…. God Almighty is with you, the God of Jacob is your refuge.
As He was when we knelt at the altar, He hasn’t left, He hasn’t stopped loving us, He hasn’t stopped being our God….. rely on that, for He promised. He is with you, right now at your desk, or while you sip your coffee and wonder how to escape. He is there in the midst of this broken world. He is there with you.
Knowing that, makes every moment new, it makes every moment a communion, a fellowship with God who loves us.
Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 768-772). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
A Devotional Thought for the day:
Foolish people don’t care if they sin, but good people want to be forgiven. Proverbs 14:9
486 That big young man wrote to me saying: “My ideal is so great that only the sea could contain it.” I answered: “And what about the Tabernacle, which is so ‘small’; and the ‘common’ workshop of Nazareth?” It is in the greatness of ordinary things that He awaits us!
When a pastor is ordained, or perhaps is installed in a new church, we often make grandiose plans, and have visions of the church growing, and becoming stronger, We (and our people – that’s why they called us) envision our churches overflowing with people, with ministries that meet the need of every demographic in our community, and even impact the world through the missions we support.
What is often overlooked is the simple things, the things that are needed, the common work of a pastor or priest. The sacramental things that make the greatest difference in a person’s life. Not a great difference, the greatest difference, even though we may also need to teach them about it along the way.
THis great work? This simple thing that will radically change their lives? For a Lutheran pastor, it is these words,
“Let it be done for you as you believe! In the stead and by the command of my Lord Jesus, I forgive you all your sins! In the Name of the Father and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. AMEN!”
For a Catholic, Orthodox or Anglican priest the words are different. The Baptist or Evangelical pastor may simply say, “you’re forgiven”, without backing it up with the formal language. These words of forgiveness are heard in church service during a baptism, or as we celebrate the Lord’s supper in confessionals, in the pastor’s office or out having coffee. They are said at the bedside of someone who is dying, and while counseling the prisoner in a jail.
It is the simple work of ministry, something we need to hear, something we know we need to hear. Ordinary perhaps, but as those words are heard, as they are understood in our heart, soul, and mind, shame and guilt are swept away as the sin is removed. We are reminded of God’s love for us, and the relationship Christ’ death on the cross secured and guaranteed for us. We might even find the strength and hope needed ot ask forgiveness from that relative we hurt or the friend we accidentally betrayed.
Most pastors and priests will never preach to thousands at once. Most of us won’t baptize a hundred in a day. We would love to see that of course, but the best thing we can do is found in what we can do for you…. to tell you of a God who loves you so much that He would forgive you of all your sin, and has. Who would do so in such a way that you would learn to run for forgiveness, that you would desire it, that you would rejoice when you hear it.
This is ministry, real ministry, a ministry which heals and restores and leaves you full of joy and peace.
So come talk to us, hear the words you need to hear, “you are forgiven of all your sins, (and yes – that one as well!)
See you soon!
Escriva, Josemaria. Furrow (Kindle Locations 2126-2129). Scepter Publishers.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
16 Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. 17 Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. 18 Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, 19 singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. 20 And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:16-20 (NLT)
16 “And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get. 17 But when you fast, comb your hair and wash your face. 18 Then no one will notice that you are fasting, except your Father, who knows what you do in private. And your Father, who sees everything, will reward you. Matthew 6:16-18 (NLT)
249 Sacrifice, sacrifice! It is true that to follow Jesus Christ is to carry the Cross— He has said so. But I don’t like to hear souls who love Our Lord speak so much about crosses and renunciations, because where there is Love, it is a willing sacrifice— though it remains hard—and the cross is the Holy Cross. A soul which knows how to love and give itself in this way is filled with peace and joy. Therefore, why insist on “sacrifice”, as if you were seeking consolation if Christ’s Cross—which is your life—makes you happy?
All who believe, who trust and depend on Jesus are called to imitate Him. This is a constant theme in Paul’s writings, and it is what Jesus meant when he called disciples, when he asked men and women to follow Him.
It isn’t easy, in fact, there are days I wish we could quit, where the cost challenges my ability, or my patience, or the struggle and sacrifice is too high. Not wanting pity, for this is true for every believer. From the pastors that have labored for 40 years, to the young lady who was baptized last week.
Being a Christian includes embracing suffering, it includes greeting sacrifice willingly, not even complaining about it.
Yeah, I said that we are supposed to not even complain about it.
Look at Jesus’ words about fasting – don’t even show that you are, act normal, despite embracing the suffering you chose to embrace.
I am not saying we shouldn’t ask God to comfort us or ask other to pray with us, but there is a difference between asking people for help and whining and seeking praise for our suffering. Indeed, I think we can be addicted to the “praise” for being martyrs, for our suffering. That’s what we must avoid, for then our suffering serves a different purpose.
Think about this, Paul talks of rejoicing always, at the same time talks of praying without ceasing. The combination is that which sustains us, as we give our burdens to God, that is the way to deal with our struggle, with our sacrifice. Paul takes it further here. talking about making music in our hearts. singing and praising God.
St. Josemaria notes something we have to set our hearts upon, that as we take up the cross, there is love, His love. There the sacrifice takes on a new meaning, as it is a moment with Christ, a moment understanding the depth of His love for you and me. In fact, Josemaria would be so bold as to say run to that sacrifice, knowing what it means for us. Time with our Lord, time realizing the depth of His love, for He embraced far more than we will, he suffered that all of our sin would be forgiven.
God is with us, He is here…
Know His peace.. even in the midst of the storm.
Escriva, Josemaria. Furrow (Kindle Locations 1224-1229). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional and Discussion Thought of the Day:
20 He also asked, “What else is the Kingdom of God like? 21 It is like the yeast a woman used in making bread. Even though she put only a little yeast in three measures of flour, it permeated every part of the dough.” Luke 13:20-21 (NLT)
5 In coming to the other side of the sea, the disciples had forgotten to bring bread. 6 Jesus said to them, “Look out, and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” ………11 How do you not comprehend that I was not speaking to you about bread? Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 12 Then they understood that he was not telling them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Matthew 16:5-6,11-12 (NAB)
397 Don’t place obstacles in the way of grace. You need to be convinced that in order to be leaven you must become a saint, and must struggle to identify yourself with Him. (1)
The exquisite elites know how to pucker their noses when confronted with failure; they are scandalized. They prefer to set up models of the Church based on “common sense” rather than on the failure of the cross.
Being effective is not always a blessing. In fact, some of the most effective things in the world are deadly, those viral and bacterial infections that can run amok and kill or gravely would everyone that comes in contact with them.
The scriptures above show this as well, as two different things are compared to the idea of yeast or leaven. The Kingdom of God can be like that, as we see the church explode during the time of the apostles, and in certain parts of the world today. Growth that goes beyond anything pragmatic, that causes us to scramble to try and adjust our plans to compensate for the growth. Yet the other passage shows a negative form of leaven, that of the teachings and practices of the Pharisees and Sadducees, groups that promoted a very pragmatic approach to being the people of God.
Yet their very approach was an obstacle to grace, a way that blocked people from identifying themselves as God’s children, And they were very effective – so effective that they were able to kill God, even as they nailed Jesus to a cross.
St. Josemaria talks about effectiveness that arises out of faith, not of reason. That the leaven we need to become is found in our holiness, in our being set apart to God, It is found, as Francis says,, not in models set up in common sense, but in the failure of the cross. For drawn to the cross we find Jesus, that is where the Holy Spirit unites us to Jesus, binds us to His death and resurrection. That is where we are given gifts like repentance and faith, where we are declared God’s people, where we are cleansed. At the cross, we are infected/affected by His great love and mercy, and find ourselves set apart to Him. It is here we become infectious and spread the gospel simply by being in people’s lives.
Not a very pragmatic or reasoned approach, this dying and rising to life, this admitting our failure and our desperate need for God.
Yet it is how God would affect us, infect us, and see our effectiveness, as the Kingdom of God testifies not only to our presence but His presence in us.
Lord, help us see you on the cross, and know the depths of your mercy, and know you have risen, as it testifies to Your immeasurable love, and may our lives be effective, as we are united to You. Amen!
(1) Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 1548-1549). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
(2) Pope Francis. A Year with Pope Francis: Daily Reflections from His Writings. Ed. Alberto Rossa. New York; Mahwah, NJ; Toronto, ON: Paulist Press; Novalis, 2013. Print.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
13 On the Sabbath we went out of the city to the riverside, where we thought there would be a place where Jews gathered for prayer. We sat down and talked to the women who gathered there. Acts 16:13 (TEV)
14 And this Good News about the Kingdom will be preached through all the world for a witness to all people; and then the end will come. Matthew 24:14 (TEV)
799 What amazes you seems quite natural to me: God has sought you out right in the midst of your work. That is how he sought the first, Peter and Andrew, John and James, beside their nets, and Matthew, sitting in the customhouse. And—wonder of wonders—Paul, in his eagerness to destroy the seeds of Christianity!
St. Josemaria’s words this morning about Paul get me to thinking.
Paul encountered God on the road, as he was journeying to do damage to the church. Paul would then go where he knew to go to persecute, but with a different purpose. Now he was there to bless, to share the mercy, the love, the very glory of God. The knowledge once used to persecute those who trusted in God was now transformed, and being used to bless them, and enlarge their numbers.
This is the work of God.
People don’t seek Him out as much as He seeks them out.
I’ve seen this in my own life, the very thing that torments me, that causes anxiety and pain, that has required so many surgeries over the years (Nost to change batteries) and odd hospital trips had caused me to often me angry with God, to question “why me”, to doubt.
It has also led me to be able to minister to others, to be able to seek them out, even when withdrawn. It has enabled me to minister to the nurses and occasionally the doctors who are over worked, overwhelmed and dealing with their own anxieties, their own problems, their own challenges. They needed someone there, and God brought me there, and everything seemed to work right.
It is amazing to see God encounter us, and then lead us to encounter others. It sometimes seems far beyond coincidence, and it is, these are divine appointments. SO don’t sweat the change of plans, He’s directing your day!
So look for God in your day, and look for those he’s sent you too…
Rejoice the Lord is with you!
Escriva, Josemaria. The Way (Kindle Locations 1840-1843). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thoguht fo the Day:
1 Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. 2 Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.
Galatians 6:1-2 (NLT)
455 You will only be good if you know how to see the good points and the virtues of the others. That is why when you have to correct, you should do so with charity, at the opportune moment, without humiliating… And being ready yourself to learn and to improve in the very faults you are correcting. (1)
There are times in our lives as believers that we need to correct others. To call them to repentance, to help them understand the grace of God with greater clarity.
It isn’t easy, and i think that shows up in the way we go about this divine task. The first is to come in with condecension and even anger at those who just don’t get it. We become crusaders, giving our opponents a chance to repent or be left as our road kill. Let’s be blunt, such coercion rarely results in true repentance.
The other option is simply to be apathetic. To assume there is no option but the former tactic, and to give up trying, leaving the person to suffer without the hope of the gospel. This is not proper either, for the obvious reason, how can we love our neighbor if we are willing to leave them to struggle in sin and in error?
Paul calls us to do such correction with gentleness and humility. And with the concern that we don’t fall into the same trap into which the enemy ensnared our beloved brother and sister. St. Josemaria notes this as well, encouraging us to self-examination and to improve our own lives.
I think the reason for this is that the reason the sin that irritates us, that concerns us maybe in the very same family as the sin we struggle with in our own lives. Whether it be pride or lust or some form of idolatry, we need to be aware of the grace that delivers us from the power of that sin, We have to become aware of the grace that covers our sin, that heals us of the damage it does.
As we consider our own need for grace, and the joy of being rescued, as we kneel before the altar and given the most incredible feast, then we are prepared, with humility and the gentleness needed to confront our brother or sister. And so prepared, we have a chance to see the miracle that happened in our lives, happen in theirs, the blessed gift of repentance and reconciliation.
This indeed is our ministry. This indeed is a gift of God.
Lord Jesus, help us be aware of the mercy you have on us. AMEN.
Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 1743-1746). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
26 Then your children will ask, ‘What does this ceremony mean?’ Exodus 12:26 (NLT)
1 As for you, my son, be strong through the grace that is ours in union with Christ Jesus. 2 Take the teachings that you heard me proclaim in the presence of many witnesses, and entrust them to reliable people, who will be able to teach others also. 2 Timothy 2:1-2 (TEV)
318 Many years ago now, I saw most clearly a truth which will always be valid: the whole web of society needs a new way of living and spreading the eternal truths of the Gospel, since it has departed from Christian faith and morals. Children of God at the very heart of that society, of the world, have to let their virtues shine out like lamps in the darkness—quasi lucernae lucentes in caliginoso loco. (1)
“What does this mean?” – Martin Luther (throughout both the small and large catechism)
People often respond when they find out I am a pastor with responses indicating that they are “spiritual” or are only interested in a relationship with God. They might even note they have no need for organized religion, (not a problem if you’ve seen my office) or some other disparaging remark about being religious. It’s been going on for almost all of my adulthood, as each generation takes up the mantras in a different way. (you might even say they religiously do so!)
Even among theologians and pastors there is no immunity from this, as when I ask about prayer life or worship or personal Bible study time there is the response that they aren’t pietists. Some will even justify this by claiming that they aren’t saved by such things. (And a lot of the articles about being in a relationship not a religion are written by people who employed as church workers… imagine that!)
I am going to say this, and I want you to hear it clearly. We need to be religious!
When Luther’s catechisms were developed, the one question asked over and over is, “what does this mean?” And then the dialogue would show our need to be in a relationship with God, and how that commandment, belief, prayer, sacrament affected that relationship positively.
I am not talking about heavy theology, I am talking about the basic things a follower of Christ does, that helps them trust in Jesus more.
Growing as we being to Understand Gods will for how we live (the commandments) and how that blesses us.
Growing as we grow deeper in understanding God’s will and actions in creating, healing, and being set apart for that relationship
Growing in our conversation with God, as we learn and pray, giving Him all that causes anxiety and fear, and trusting that He will not only answer those prayers generally, but specifically in our lives.
Growing in appreciation and desire of how God pours out His blessings, His mercy, His peace in those things we call sacraments. Baptism (as He adopts us and marks us as His own), Confession and Absolution (as He comforts and heals us in our brokenness and cleanses us from our sin, and the incredible feast celebrating Christ’s work for you.
All of these things are what I think of when I think of religion. I don’t see anything objectionable to any of them. We should desire to know God more, but that means on His terms. He’s God after all, and He is Who the relationship depends upon. Knowing such things, knowing the “why’s”, gives us hope when life is shattered, when we are oppressed, when we are anxious. A relationship without formed, or formed in our minds cannot do that, for it has no reality in Christ.
Paul told Timothy to pass on what he learned. He was basically telling him to teach people to answer the “what does this mean” question.
It would be a good question to help people ask. And then, religiously answer it, passing down to others what gives you hope.
God bless you as you ask, and give answers to those who ask. For this is your religion, revealing the relationship God wants to have with each of us.
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 1506-1509). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
devotional thought of the day:
1 Then Job answered the LORD. 2 Job I know, LORD, that you are all-powerful; that you can do everything you want. 3 You ask how I dare question your wisdom when I am so very ignorant. I talked about things I did not understand, about marvels too great for me to know. 4 You told me to listen while you spoke and to try to answer your questions. 5 In the past I knew only what others had told me, but now I have seen you with my own eyes. 6 So I am ashamed of all I have said and repent in dust and ashes. Job 42:1-6 (TEV)
272 If you are sensible and humble, you will have realised that one never stops learning… This happens in every field; even the wisest will always have something to learn, until the end of their lives; if they don’t, they cease to be wise. (1)
I am a pastor, that means to a certain point, I have been trained as a theologian. If you look at my libraries, you will see a few thousand volumes of books. The hardbacks I have read through, the digital ones, well – there are too many, but I source many of them each week in sermon preparation. Usually I skim maybe 20% of the 100-1500 hits I research, looking for various things to help prepare a message. I probably choose 10-20 to copy and paste and dwell through each week.
Been doing this for a while now, actually changed denominations once, have my favorite authors ( Luther, Escriva, Oden, Ratzinger, Willimon, Melancthon, Walther, Pieper, Augustine, Fracnis De Sales, Robert Webber ) It is somewhat an eclectic list, with guys from different times, different backgrounds. Which leads me to my point. I
We can’t put God in our Box.
We have to take Him as He reveals Himself, even if we don’t necessarily like His methods, His rules, His ways. We can’t say they are wrong simply because we don’t like them. Nor can we say with integrity that He didn’t really mean “that”. Yet to often we do, unaware that pride is causing us to shatter the first commandment.
Over the years, others have done fine jobs summarizing the faith. The three creeds that are held by Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant Churches ( The Apostles, Nicene and Athanasian) are good. I am particularly fond of others, the Augsburg Confession and Apology of the Augsburg Confession, and Luther’s Catechisms for example. Pieper has done a masterpiece of theology, so has Thomas Oden never mind Luther and Augustine. But I can’t remember ever page, every question and answer of these theological giants. My expectation is neither can they! They couldn’t in a couple thousand pages describe everything about God, they couldn’t out-Bible the Bible. They wrote great things… yet, it is still the observation of men, not equal to scripture.
That is what Job realized at the end of the book that bears his name. (as did his friends…) It is what Josemaria Escriva talks about, in a section on humility (not, incidentally, on wisdom!)
A wise man once said that, “A man’s got to know his limitations…” Another, Socrates was considered to be the wisest man of his time. His response to being told this was something like this, “it is only because I realize how much I don’t know.” A good theologian talks where there is definite scriptural support – and struggles with that which contradicts his logix, because It is God’s word, God’s reasoning that trumps ours. Even when it doesn’t seem logical, or fair.
Yesterday’s blog was about walking humbly with God, about keeping our eyes on Him, about sometimes that humility is only found in the midst of great sorrow. Today’s is similar, our wisdom comes, not from what we know about God, but that we realize we are not omniscient, that His word trumps our logic. That there is a reason why He is God, that He is our Lord, our Savior, our Benefactor, and we are simply…. His kids.
So give up, for a day or two, putting God in your box…. let Him instead bring you into His glory….
Lord Have Mercy!
Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 1337-1340). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Blog of the Day:
1 Peter 5:1-3 (MSG) 1 I have a special concern for you church leaders. I know what it’s like to be a leader, in on Christ’s sufferings as well as the coming glory. 2 Here’s my concern: that you care for God’s flock with all the diligence of a shepherd. Not because you have to, but because you want to please God. Not calculating what you can get out of it, but acting spontaneously.[ 3 Not bossily telling others what to do, but tenderly showing them the way.
“It wasn’t that he had a fabulous memory, so that on seeing you he was reminded of the problem of that friend of yours, or your mother’s illness. It wasn’t that at all. Your friend’s problem and your mother’s illness really concerned him: he carried them in his heart, because he had a big heart. “One fine day I got up with a pimple on the tip of my nose. During the morning I met at least eighteen people who told me one after the other, without fail, that I had a pimple on my nose! At some point the Father passed by the place where I was working, but he said nothing, and shortly afterward someone brought me a tube of ointment ‘from the Father, for the pimple.’ “ (1)
I sit here this morning, looking out on a still pond, the colors of fall incredible in the glory they proclaim, the hand of the Creator, who put them here for me. The stillness is a good time to think, to reflect on where I am at in life.
Yesterday on the plane, I read the above passage about Josemaria Escriva, a Roman Catholic priest, whose writings stimulate my desire to serve God. Quoted him a bunch on this blog. The above quote is in a chapter about his pastoral nature, and of the stories – this is a favorite. It is to me eminently pastoral.
Because he doesn’t just identify the problem in the person’s life, he deals with it, and helps clear it up! (pun intended!)
That’s what a pastor, a priest, a minister is called to do, and indeed, lead the rest of the church to do. Not just to highlight sin or the problems in people’s lives…but to do something to clear them up – to apply the grace and care of God to their situation. To care for people that simply, that whether the situation is physical, or mental, or spiritual (and I believe they are all related) that we are called to do something, to help the man on the side of the road, to come alongside those who situations are without peace, to mourn with those who mourn and laugh with those whose life is filled with joy. It even means that if they are caught in sin… we care enough to be there…. To rescue them.
Being a follower of Christ, which is the example we are to set, is to love people, for in them, we love the God who brought them into our lives. That love means we often have to sacrifice our time and ourselves. It means we must be aware of them, more than we are aware of us.
Sounds a bit impossible? There are role models…. Many many of them…
More importantly, there is a God with us… who loves us enough….
Help me Lord, help all of us who serve the people God created… with that which needs to
(1) Urbano, Pilar (2011-05-10). The Man of Villa Tevere (Kindle Locations 3525-3532). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
- The Blessing of Being Served… It Changes Things!! (justifiedandsinner.com)
- Encountering others on Holy Ground. (justifiedandsinner.com)
- For the joy awaiting… take up and endure your cross. (justifiedandsinner.com)