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Dealing with the Pain of Betrayal….

church at communion 2Devotional Thought fo the Day:

Now please forgive us the wrong that we, the servants of your father’s God, have done.” Joseph cried when he received this message.
18 Then his brothers themselves came and bowed down before him. “Here we are before you as your slaves,” they said.
19 But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid; I can’t put myself in the place of God. 20You 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. 21You have nothing to fear. I will take care of you and your children.” So he reassured them with kind words that touched their hearts.   Gen. 50:17-21

Consider, in particular, the sin of ingratitude towards God, which is a general sin, and extends itself over all the rest, making them infinitely more enormous. Consider, then, how many benefits God has bestowed on you, and how you have abused them, turning them against Him, to dishonour Him. And, in particular, how many inspirations you have made unprofitable. But above all, how many times you have received the sacraments, and where are the fruits of them? What is become of all those precious jewels, with which your dear Spouse adorned you? They have all been buried under your iniquities. With what preparation have you received them? Think on your ingratitude; that God having run so far after you, you have fled from Him to lose yourself.

Joseph forgiving his brothers is a great story of grace.  It is also, for one such as I am, very convicting. 

I have to admit that I am a hold a very advanced certification in resentment, and am accomplished at being merciless.

It’s not that I don’t appreciate grace, or struggle to depend on the grace of God that is demonstrated in my being counted righteous and forgiven.  I depend on that daily, and it provides hope for this sinner that I am.

I find myself likewise confronted by the parable of the debtor is forgiven millions and has a very definite style of collecting the $150 bucks owed him the very same day.

Do we have to grow into people that imitate Joseph? Can’t we just count on God’s mercy, even for our mercilessness? Does it not extend out that far?  Surely Jesus understands the pain of being betrayed, the agony of being hurt, the horrible hurt that comes as someone sinning against us.

After all, I am just a broken sinner, one He is healing gradually, how can I be expected to be the Messiah or one of the great faithful people in scripture?  How would I find the strength, the inner power to desire to be, and to become that merciful?

I think St Francis de Sales comes up with a reasonable explanation for our inability.  It is because we don’t take the time to consider God’s actions in our lives that deserve gratitude, from our Creation, Redemption and Sanctification to His daily present that waits for our prayers, to His revealing His presence through His word and sacraments and those we encounter, as we think somehow we are ministering to them.  When in reality, we are simply exploring the incredible dimensions of His love.

As we begin to appreciate the amazing love of God who comes to us, who picks us up and begins to heal our brokenness, as He invites us to dine with Him, and are welcome into His peace, that is when our resentment breaks, when the tears flow, when we look to Him and ask if these relationships, as dry as dry bones can live.

It is only in understanding that He has brought us back to life, that He is healing us, that He is making us whole, that we find ourselves allowing the resentment to slip away, our grip on the anger and pain to painful to keep up. Looking to Jesus – seeing His love, how His plan has blessed you, even the sin committed against you, leads resentment a burden to cold, too hard to bear into the light of His glory.

Devotion to God who loves you more than you can imagine, or hanging on to the pain?

As we come to Advent, as we find the need we have fro Christ’s presence, as we begin to desire more and more the peace and love He he has to share with us, may we desire to set aside those things that would drags us down, and with joy, may we hold out our hands for those who once betrayed us, to join us in the journey.

 

Francis de Sales, Saint. An Introduction to the Devout Life. Dublin: M. H. Gill and Son, 1885. Print.

The Second Day of Christmas….or Have We Already Moved Past the Awe?

Devotional Thought of the Day:
30  I have seen your salvation, 31  which you have prepared for all people. Luke 2:30-31 (NLT)

And what about us? Are we so far away from the stable because we are much too refined and too smart for that? Do we not get all entangled in scholarly exegesis, in the proof or disproof of historical authenticity to the extent that we have become blind and deaf to the Child himself? Do we not really all too intensely dwell in “Jerusalem”, in a palace, withdrawn within ourselves, in our self-sufficiency, our fear of being challenged, too much so to be able to hear the voice of the angels, to set out to worship?  (1)

Twenty-four hours ago, I was standing before people, putting into their hands the Body and Blood of Jesus, as we celebrated the Incarnation, one of the most amazing of miracles the world has ever born witness too.  For those who don’t know the term, this is the physical birth of Jesus, the Savior.

Like the shepherds, we were in awe, this is God, this is the one who made it possible for all of humanity to become children of God.  The God who counts us not as servants, but as friends.

I woke up this morning, had breakfast, watched a little bit of a movie with my son, talked to him about his presents, cleaned the car in anticipation for our vacation starting tomorrow afternoon, and came to work to write a sermon on the passage listed above.  Calculating how to get my laptop’s keyboard fixed, how to manage 100 other things.

Then I come to my office, pull out my devotional reading, and hear Pope Benedict’s question.

What about us?  Are we already so far from celebrating Christmas that it doesn’t matter?  Have we already forgotten the joy and relief as we help in our hands the very body of Jesus, in and under the bread and wine?  Have we already lost the awe of the moment?

Unfortunately, I had to be shocked into remembering; this is Christmas! 

I had to be shocked into calming down, focusing and thinking about the fact that God so loved us, that He came to us.   That He continually dwells among us.  We need to see His glory; we need to know His presence.  Instead of dwelling on that, and knowing His peace, that I had, as the former pope noted, drawn into myself.

You and I need these words of a simple old man named Simeon burned into us….

30  I have seen your salvation, 31  which you have prepared for all people. Luke 2:30-31 (NLT)

Take time over the next few days, to repeat those words, to get to realize what they mean.  Let over the next week those words burn into your soul….

And rejoice, for to you a Savior has been born, and you dwell in His presence, like the shepherds, and Joseph, and Mary.

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.) (p. 406). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.

Faith for the Future….

Esau and Jacob Presented to Isaac (painting ci...

Esau and Jacob Presented to Isaac (painting circa 1779–1801 by Benjamin West) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Late Discussion/Devotional Thought of the Day…..

 It was faith that made Abraham offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice when God put Abraham to the test. Abraham was the one to whom God had made the promise, yet he was ready to offer his only son as a sacrifice. 18  God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that you will have the descendants I promised.” 19  Abraham reckoned that God was able to raise Isaac from death—and, so to speak, Abraham did receive Isaac back from death. 20  It was faith that made Isaac promise blessings for the future to Jacob and Esau. 21  It was faith that made Jacob bless each of the sons of Joseph just before he died. He leaned on the top of his walking stick and worshiped God. 22  It was faith that made Joseph, when he was about to die, speak of the departure of the Israelites from Egypt, and leave instructions about what should be done with his bodyHebrews 11:17-22 (TEV)

Our Bible Study arrived at this passage this morning, as we’ve been journeying through the Book of Hebrews…a passage well known to my older saints.

It was noted during our study, how the faith discussed in Abraham, Issac, Jacob and Joseph all have to deal with death, and not just heaven, but the future after we have gone.

Of the things Abe could be noted for, it was for the future that he trusted God.  That God would fulfill His promises for the descendants that would come through Issac – even though Abraham was on his way to kill the very son who was to be the one through whom the promise was made.   Issac’s sacrifice would have put an end to that promise… except that Abraham knew God could raise someone from the dead.

Of all the things Issac could be noted for, well actually we don’t know all that much about him… but Hebrews notes the faith demonstrated in not just blessing the son who would inherit, but blessing the son who turned his back on the inheritance…. and his family.  Until Esau realizes how much he’s given up…and so, led by God, and knowing God’s heart for all the world… Issac blesses his prodigal son…and Esau’s descendants are saved in Christ’s death on the cross, for they are among the nations whom will be blessed.

Jacob as well, the one who wrestled with God (setting an interesting precedent for his own descendants..) is not know for that – but again for blessing his grandchildren, and worshiping  God.  He too passes on the promise…

Joseph too – it’s not the trust in God that would see him through kidnapping, or the jail time, or the global famine…..

The prayer is for the sustenance of the people – that they would, as well, be sustained during the promised time of exile, through to the time of the promise land – generations to come..,,,,

Each trusted in God – for a promise that includes us, those who trusted in God for the future, a future that they knew God would fulfill.

Because they knew God, because they walked with Him, because they knew His love.

Can we see our faith in God, yes for heaven, but for the generations that will follow, trusting God. …. can we know the God who blesses us, will bless them….

Lord have mercy on us… and on those that follow…

 

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