Sunday, November 17, 2013

Models in the Faith

"By your perseverance you will secure your lives." Luke 21:19

We are called to persevere to the end? In what or in who do we persevere? We are called to persevere in the Truth who is Jesus Christ. Jesus warns us that many will come in His name saying, "I am He" and the "Time has come," but Jesus encourages us not to follow them (Luke 21:8). This is very challenging in our world today because there are so many voices. Voices that call us to many different things. Voices that confuse and lead away from the Truth found in Christ. It takes attentiveness and prayer to identify the difference. We need not do it alone. Jesus promises to be with us, yet He requires of us to persevere until the end. Perseverance that will ultimately secure our lives.

To aid us in the journey of faith we must turn to models in the faith. We can turn to the saints in Christ who gave their life in service of the Truth. They remind us that we are not alone nor that we believe the task is in impossible. They are models for us to help and challenge us. They are members of the communion of saints, those who have gone before us and who truly preserved until the end. They guide us still by their story for they gave testimony to the Gospel through their words and actions.

Here are a few examples that model for us the living of the Gospel:

"We must meditate before, during and after everything we do. The prophet says: "I will pray, and then I will understand."  This is the way we can easily overcome the countless difficulties we have to face day after day, which, after all, are part of our work. In meditation we find the strength to bring Christ to birth in ourselves and in others." - Saint Charles Borromeo

"For Jesus Christ I am prepared to suffer still more." - Saint Maximilian Kolbe

"Apart from the cross there is no other ladder by which we may get to heaven." - Saint Rose of Lima

"The most powerful weapon to conquer the devil is humility. For, as he does not know at all how to employ it, neither does he know how to defend himself from it." - Saint Vincent de Paul

"You cannot please both God and the world at the same time.  They are utterly opposed to each other in their thoughts, their desires, and their actions." - Saint John Vianney

These individuals are models for us. We can learn from them and allow for them to help us discern the many voices we will hear. Voices that will try to subtly lead us away from the truth of Christ. There will be voices who invite us to water down the truth and to stray from our traditions. However, as followers of Christ we must remain faithful and to remember His promise, "By your perseverance you will secure your lives."

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Take A Stand

"It happened that seven brothers with their mother were arrested and tortured with whips and scourges by the king, to force them to eat pork in violation of God's law. One of the brothers, speaking for the others, said: "What do you expect to achieve by questioning us? We are ready to die rather than transgress the laws of our ancestors."" -2 Maccabees 7:1-2

There are many people who state their willingness to die for a loved one or a friend. There are numerous brave men and women who die for our country and the freedoms we celebrate. But how many of us are willing to die for our faith in God? How many of us are willing to take a stand for God's law?

I am not speaking about standing up for simply our own opinion or personal preference in relation to God. I am speaking about the moral truths given to us by God through Divine Revelation and safeguarded by His Church. The challenge in our world today is that there seems to be a diminishing of moral truths and the laws of God. There is a preference for moral relativism, which allows for each person to be his or her own truth. There is a preference for that which no longer engages the mind and the heart but limits itself to emotion and convenience.

One day each of us will stand before God and the judgment seat to give an account for our beliefs and our actions. Will we honestly be able to tell God we struggled each day to give our life for Him and to uphold His teachings and law?

Take a stand today! Stand on the side of God and be willing to give up your popularity, desires, accolades and even your life for the ways of God.

"As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. 
“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. 
This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, 
to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. 
I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. 
I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. 
It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit 
that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. 
This I command you: love one another." -John 15:9-17

Monday, November 4, 2013

What is in it for me?

On a sabbath Jesus went to dine at the home of one of the leading Pharisees. He said to the host who invited him, “When you hold a lunch or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or sisters or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors, in case they may invite you back and you have repayment. Rather, when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” - Luke 14:12-14

Give freely not expecting anything in return! This is the message of the Gospel today. We often use as criteria for our decisions, "What is in it for me!" The Lord challenges us to think differently. We respond in faith because God first loved us! We are called to do what is right and just. We are called to act with charity and mercy. We cannot limits our actions to the belief, "What is in it for me!"

We do not earn God's love nor do we earn salvation by our works. In recognizing and accepting God's gift of love and grace, we make the conscious decision each day to live out our faith through our words and actions. Don't be a believer in name only. Don't simply give the Gospel lip service. If you really have faith and you are conscious of God's love, then with that same love, do the works of Christ.

Faith calls us to respond in works. 'I was hungry and you gave me food' (Matthew 25:35). In faith, we place our hope in the promise of the King, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world' (Matthew 25:34).

Don't be caught asking who, what, when, where, why, how! You might just hear the King say to you, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life (Matthew 25:46).