Thursday, August 14, 2014

How Often Lord?

Peter approached Jesus and asked him, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times. -Matthew 18:21

As Christians we pray very often if not everyday the Prayer that Jesus taught us, otherwise known as the Our Father. There are so many layers to this simple and quick prayer. This is often recited without peeling back the many beautiful layers that lie within it. One part of the prayer states: "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive others who trespass against us." Really? Do we really want the Lord to forgive us in the same manner that we do for others? If so, great. It means you're a forgiving person. If the answer is no, you must proceed with caution. So many times we ask for God's mercy and forgiveness, yet we withhold it from one another. Immediately following the verse above Jesus tells a parable. The ending of that parable has the servant being thrown in prison until his last debt was paid because he refused to offer the same forgiveness that he sought from the Master. 

As we seek forgiveness from the Lord may we too offer forgiveness to others. How often you ask? How about as often as you seek it from the Lord!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


The disciples approached Jesus and said, "Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven?” He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me. - Matthew 18:1-5

A young child is so innocent. A child is open to life, learning, and to others. A child places complete trust in the person entrusted with his care. A child has joy and a unbelievable way to comfort those hurting. This is what it means to be childlike. This is what it takes to enter the Kingdom of heaven.

Are you innocent?
Are you open to life, learning, and to others?
Do you place your trust in God the same way a child places his trust in a parent?
Do you have joy?
Are you able to be compassionate to those who are hurting?

Sometimes as adults we allow the pains and struggles of the world to strangle our innocence. We begin to close ourselves off to others and think we know it all. We don't trust God because we have been let down by people who were meant to protect us. We turn from joy and live with anger and resentment. We lose our compassion for others and allow jealously to be our guide.

Don't despair for God can renew all things. The question is, will you invite God to give you new life?

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Power of Anger

"You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment. But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment." - Matthew 5:21-22

Once more Jesus challenges his disciples. He states that both killing and anger are both liable to judgment. An initial response may be to reject Jesus' words. Some might wish to discredit or think it was some mistake. So why would Jesus make this claim? What is He saying? We must not forget that Jesus always invites his disciples to further reflection and more radical living. To be a disciple means to avoid settling for the easy path, limiting the call to holiness or rationalizing immoral behavior. 

Our world today is full of countless stories where individuals walk down a path of hate and choose to release it by taking the life of another. Where does that hate come from? No one is born to hate. Quite the contrary we are born to love! Yet, as we mature we somehow learn to hate. Hate grows and if one was to search out the root of hate they would most likely find anger. Anger divides, insults, and slanders. Anger leads to lies through the tools of deception and manipulation. Anger destroys relationships, feeds hate and is outlet for ignorance. Above all it can lead to death!

Jesus knows that anger if left unchecked will lead to death. With this awareness we can teach others and ourselves to look for the red flags when anger begins to unmask its ugly face. We must not be ignorant of its potential but be ready to channel its power into passion for life.

By the way, when was the last time anger made you or your situation better? Honestly, anger will never make you or your situation better. No matter how much you may try to justify it, the only thing anger will do is create further division and unhappiness. Anger will weigh you down and rob you of your joy. There will no doubt be times when you get angry, but your response in words and deeds will be the true test of Christian discipleship. 

Don't waste your precious days nor risk your salvation for this empty and deflating emotion! If you find yourself filled with so much anger or even hate I want you to know Jesus gave you a key to unlock it. It is the key of forgiveness. Forgiveness never approves the wrongdoing nor denies any pain. Forgiveness gives you the freedom to live again. Do not allow the weight of anger, resentment and hate to hold you back any longer. It will free you to experience life in a whole new way. It was no mere coincidence that Jesus encouraged his disciples time after time to forgive. For it is through forgiveness that you can experience God's grace, rediscover joy and find true fulfillment.

It is better to cry than to be angry, because anger hurts others, while tears flow silently through the soul and cleanses the heart. -Saint John Paul II

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Light of the World

"You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lamp stand, where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.” -Matthew 5:14-16

Right after Jesus teaches his disciples the beatitudes He immediately proclaims them the light of the world! I'm sure this proclamation brought about puzzled faces. It is a common response of Christians to remain hidden or disguised. There is desire to remain insignificant in false humility or to shy away from our Christian responsibility in fear. This is why Jesus affirms that a city set on a mountain cannot be hidden nor a lamp be placed under a basket. Jesus is saying we are significant. Jesus affirms we have purpose. He doesn't let any of us off the hook rather he reminds us we are meant to shine! We are called to make a difference in the world!

We are able to shine before others with the light of Christ given to us at our baptism. Like Jesus Himself, His light is meant to be shared. It is a light that must not be hidden nor disguised. As followers of Christ we are sent to bring the light of Christ to a world that often chooses darkness. This is no easy task, but Jesus asks us to shine in His name. In so doing we allow others to see our good deeds, not out of attention or reward, but so that they too may glorify the heavenly Father.

Go shine! Live with purpose! Make a difference! Allow others to see your good deeds so that they too may glorify the heavenly Father! 

Friday, May 16, 2014

Have Faith

Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me. - John 14:1

This verse is part of the Last Supper discourses found in chapter 14 of John's Gospel. Through these discourses Jesus is preparing His disciples for his ensuing passion and death. In a way, Jesus is encouraging them much like a coach with a player before a big game or a teacher with a student before a big test. He wants them to remember all He has taught them. He needs them to trust that despite the obstacles that may come, He is never far away!

We, like the disciples, have moments where we doubt and situations where we don't have the answer. We also wonder why something has to happen the way it does and question whether we are strong enough to endure. The words Jesus spoke to his disciples over 2000 years ago are the same for us. DO NOT LET YOUR HEARTS BE TROUBLED! 

By letting our hearts become troubled we simply focus on what is crippling us and only see that which is wrong. This is never helpful nor redemptive. Rather, Jesus tells us to maintain faith, to trust that He is present and to remember His promise. His promise to guide, deliver, and save us! 

Jesus will always be the way, the truth, and the life. And so if Jesus is the way he will offer you a path! If Jesus is the truth he will help you to discover it and be set free by it! And if Jesus be the life, He will bring you through suffering and death to newness of life!

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Path

I will instruct you and show you the way you should walk, give you counsel and watch over you. -Psalm 32:8

I have always loved the image of a journey to speak about the spiritual life. No one can escape the necessity to choose a way in life, to follow a path. We may disagree that it is spiritual or even call it by different names, but the fact remains, we are all going somewhere and in order to do so, we must journey. The decision to travel down a certain path over another means that each of us must accept the highs, lows, joys, pains, and consequences, good or bad, that come along with it.

As children we are normally told by family which path to take. There are little worries or concerns. We need only to hold the hand of our loved one or keep on eye on them from a distance. If we are guided by loving adults and do as we are told we remain safe.

As adolescents we suddenly come to know everything! Thus, we think we do not need to listen as much and if we take the wrong path it is always someone else's fault. Some can make it through adolescence having learned from elders and have a clearer image of what path to take into the future. While others may want to completely forge their own way, even if it means putting their person at risk by going down a dangerous path.

As adults we have learned to accept personal responsibility. Based on life experiences we strive to do our best by making the wisest choices possible at any given point. Part of maturity is realizing that although we must take personal responsibility, it doesn't mean we must go at it alone. We can turn to others to take counsel and direction for our own journey. We can depend on others to walk with us along the way. Whether the accompaniment is for a short time or the long haul, we need not do it alone.

As Christians there is nothing greater than knowing God's great love for us. In love, God gives us a way and accompaniment to guide us along the way. The way is Jesus, our Lord and Savior. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6). The company for the journey is the Church. We need others to help us along the way. People who love us enough to tell the truth, but respects our freedom to make our own decision. Along the journey God provides all we need. Direction, accompaniment, nourishment, light, grace, and healing remedies. We are asked to trust and to stay the course. Yet, even if we get lost for a time or in anger leave the path, we can always come back! However, if we go off path we must accept personal responsibility and place blame on no one else, "Sometimes a way seems right to a man, but the end of it leads to death" (Proverbs 16:25). This is the gift of free will. In the end, if we stay the course and make use of God's gifts, He will indeed instruct us, give us counsel and watch over us!

Friday, March 28, 2014

God First Loved Us

One of the scribes came to Jesus and asked him, “Which is the first of all the commandments?” Jesus replied, “The first is this: Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength." - Mark 12:28-30

What does it truly mean to love God with all of one's heart, soul, mind, and strength? Often it is said that this verse means to put God before everything else in life. This perspective sounds appealing, but then again, do we do this? Do we reflect daily on how we might better love God before all else? Do we learn from our failures so as to help us to grow and do better? What are the obstacles that prevent us from loving God above everything else?

My brothers and sisters, as much as it is important to reflect on how we can better love God, this cannot be the starting point. “Since God has first loved us (cf. 1 Jn 4:10), love is now no longer a mere “command”; it is the response to the gift of love with which God draws near to us” (Pope Benedict XVI). The starting point is always God, not us!

By focusing first on God and God’s free gift of love, we move away from the negative and turn to the positive. Often times our days are so filled with looking at failures and imperfections that we become easily frustrated and discouraged. It then becomes increasingly difficult to respond with love. We may do it for a while out of mere obligation, but soon it may altogether come to an end. Why? The focus becomes us rather then God! Thus, we see only the impossible rather than the possible.

For love is not focused on all that is wrong, but concentrates on what is right and allows for that which is good to be nourished and take root! Fidelity helps us to stay the course and to remember the who and the why! 

So take your eyes off yourself and place your gaze upon God!  Begin each day by seeking God's presence, power, blessing, and love! When you willingly accept God’s perfect love for you, God will transform your doubt into faith, weakness into strength, failure into victory, and sin into new life!

“God does not require that we be successful only that we be faithful." –Blessed Mother Teresa

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Love Your Enemy

Jesus said to his disciples: “You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? - Matthew 5:43-46

When was the last time you prayed for someone who in some way persecuted you? What was the content of your prayer to God? Perhaps it was something like this: "God change this person from his/her evil ways and do it as fast as you can!" 

We often want others to change on our own terms and conditions. I don't believe changing the other person was Jesus' focus in this passage. Rather, Jesus demanded His disciples to always take the lead and to be the first to do what was right. Jesus desires His disciples never to shut down or shut out others or God, on the contrary, to always have one's heart and soul open. Open to God and to others. God is love and love is what truly can bring about change. Change in us and change in others. 

Love first invites me to open my heart and soul so as to be free to consider: my attitude, my thoughts, my decisions, my words, and my reaction.  After self reflection than I can better respond to others in my life with a foundation of love including enemies. Blessed John Paul II once said, "Do not forget that true love sets no conditions; it does not calculate or complain, but simply loves." 

Jesus is not suggesting you go out to a movie with an enemy, to accept abuse or to pretend as if all is well. After all, wrong is wrong and we must always stand for what is right and just. As we stand for what is right and just, we need to remember that LOVE must always be a part of the equation. You see Jesus is inviting you to look beyond the external words and acts of your enemy. Jesus desires you go deeper and to consider the soul. This is where prayer is needed. You must honestly and consistently pray for the heart and soul of your enemy. Refrain from focusing your time and energy on solely the exterior. For when you pray for your enemy to open his/her heart and soul to the presence of God the exterior change will follow. Be patient and do not grow weary. When you do grow impatient, it just might be an invitation to consider whether your heart and soul is still open to God and to others!

"Darkness can only be scattered by light, hatred can only be conquered by love."-Blessed John Paul II

Friday, March 14, 2014

Conversion-You Shall Surely Live

Thus says the Lord GOD: If the wicked man turns away from all the sins he committed, if he keeps all my statutes and does what is right and just, he shall surely live, he shall not die. None of the crimes he committed shall be remembered against him; he shall live because of the virtue he has practiced. Do I indeed derive any pleasure from the death of the wicked? says the Lord GOD. Do I not rather rejoice when he turns from his evil way that he may live? - Ezekiel 18:21-23

Unlike what some might believe, God is not out to get us! At the same time, God does not take delight in our wrongdoing! Ultimately, God wills that all shall live! This is why God sets forth commands. This is why God sent his Son, Jesus. This is why Jesus gave us the Church to continually teach and guide us. For if we are left alone or confused by the values of the world, there is no doubt sin will consume us. Why is this? It is because sin turns us from God, weighs us down, and ultimately leads us to death.

As humans we will make mistakes. We will fall down. We will sin. Through it all, God offers us the opportunity to correct the mistakes, to get back up and ultimately turn away from sin. When we acknowledge our mistakes and seek God we are as good as new. God offers us this newness of life.

It alarms me when individuals tend to cast away the dangers of sin. It disappoints me when Christians settle with being a good person. It saddens me when Catholics believe the teachings of the Church are too demanding and unnecessary to live by. Jesus challenged all whether religious leaders, apostles, or those He met along the way to turn away from sin. The Gospel message must challenge us to grow and to change. The New Testament clearly affirms that Jesus came to show us the way and to save us from our sins. Love invites us to experience hope, to live with joy and not to be afraid.  Pope Francis shares, “Although the life of a person is in a land full of thorns and weeds, there is always a space in which the good seed can grow. You have to trust God.”

Thus, do not put off making change when you are in wrong. Do not turn to the justification of your wrongdoing. Do not be discouraged by sin. Know in your heart that God rejoices in giving you new life! "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 8-9).

"Sin is an offense against God: "Against you, you alone, have I sinned, and done that which is evil in your sight." Sin sets itself against God's love for us and turns our hearts away from it. Like the first sin, it is disobedience, a revolt against God through the will to become "like gods," knowing and determining good and evil. Sin is thus "love of oneself even to contempt of God." In this proud self-exaltation, sin is diametrically opposed to the obedience of Jesus, which achieves our salvation." (CCC #1850)

Tuesday, March 11, 2014


“If you forgive men their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.” - Matthew 6:14-15

Don't confuse forgiveness with the acceptance of wrongdoing. If forgiveness had to do with the acceptance of a wrong then we would be saying God is accepting of our sin. Psalm 5 denies God's acceptance of sin, "You are not a god who delights in evil; no wicked person finds refuge with you." God wants always to be the source of our refuge. Thus, God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him (John 3:17).  This is affirmed when St. Joseph was told by an angel, "You are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). The power of forgiveness is transformative! Jesus' sacrifice on the cross opened the door of salvation and showed us the power of forgiveness. As we await the day of salvation with hope, it is now that Jesus invites us to share in the transformative nature of forgiveness by seeking often the forgiveness of God and by offering forgiveness to one another. 

It is disheartening that so many people today miss out on the transformative power of forgiveness because they do not seek it from God or they withhold it because they believe that forgiveness somehow translates into the acceptance of a wrong. This is not what forgiveness means. The Catechism of the Catholic Church offers a wonderful outlook on forgiveness, “It is not in our power not to feel or to forget an offense; but the heart that offers itself to the Holy Spirit turns injury into compassion and purifies the memory in transforming the hurt into intercession” (Paragraph 2843).

Pope Francis recently shared, “What is the joy of God? It is to forgive!” When we do not forgive we fill ourselves with hate, resentment, and anger. There is little room for joy! Forgiveness is to free one to experience joy and when necessary the healing that only God can offer. Jesus knew the importance of forgiveness and thus said to Peter when he asked how often should he forgive, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times” (Matthew 18:22). Do yourself the favor and offer forgiveness to someone who has done you wrong. If you truly want to experience joy seek also the Sacrament of Reconciliation and receive the peace and grace that God offers to you and me.

One last point! Before we get too comfortable and choose not to forgive one another. We may want to remember the words of Jesus, “If you forgive men their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.”

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Jesus is Calling

Jesus saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.”  – Luke 5:27

Commonly the call from the Lord is interpreted as for a chosen few. We tend to believe the call is for somebody else. Ordinarily the term is thought to be in reference to those thinking about the priesthood or religious life. While there is no doubt that there are those called to serve the Lord in a particular way as a Priest or Religious Sister, the call is not reserved for them alone. The call is for every Christian. The call to follow the Lord is an invitation to be intimately connected and in relationship with Jesus. Jesus doesn’t wait until we are perfect or have everything in order to make that invitation. Although it is true Jesus calls us at varying times for diverse reasons and tasks, the call itself does not wait until we believe we are desirable enough for the Lord or when we feel we are fully “qualified.”

The common responses to a call from the Lord are normally: Who me? You have the wrong person! I’m not holy enough! I’ve made too many mistakes! Certainly there is someone better! Excuses and more excuses. We all have them. Yet, Jesus doesn’t respond by saying, “maybe you are right, sorry for the inconvenience, I will be on my way!” No, Jesus knows exactly whom He is calling! He is calling a sinner, like you and me. He calls us to get up from where we are in the midst of the sin, excuses, comfort, and fears to follow Him.

I must admit it is not always easy to follow the Lord. He expects the best out of us. He expects us to look forward and not to look back. He expects us to trust Him to get to the heavenly destination, yet conveniently doesn’t inform us of the side roads it will take to get there. Despite our own apprehension, Jesus is faithful. Through it all He forgives us when we fall short, He encourages us when we want to turn back, and He walks with us through every twist and turn.

Imagine how the world would be if every Christian truly felt called and fully embraced the mission! Look back at those Jesus has called and reflect on their story: Think about Peter, Andrew, Paul and the other Apostles. Recall Mary Magdalene, Zacchaeus, the woman at the well, and Nicodemus. Remember John Paul II, Mother Teresa, Padre Pio, Teresa of Avila, Francis of Assisi and other great saints in the Church. Great is the number of remarkable people that responded to the call of the Lord. They include not only individuals known by so many, but numerous others known only to the Lord. I recently heard a person’s reflection that every great saint in the Church first considered himself or herself to be a great sinner. Those we know as Saints were not great or remarkable because they were perfect. They became great and did remarkable things because they acknowledged themselves as sinners and still responded to the call to follow the Lord.

There is no doubt in my mind that choosing to follow the Lord will change the world even if only one soul at a time. Will you respond to the call and be a part of it?  Will you have the courage to overcome your sins, excuses, comforts and fears to follow the Lord? 

Lent is the perfect time to listen more attentively to the call! Be not afraid.

(P.S. For those who have already responded to the call from the Lord, you can use Lent to reevaluate your own journey with the Lord. Are you faithfully following the Lord? Have you been distracted? Are you holding onto anger or any resentments? Have you wondered from Jesus' path and taken your own? Ongoing reflection and evaluation is key to a life with the Lord.)

Friday, March 7, 2014


This, rather, is the fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; Setting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke; Sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; Clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own. Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your wound shall quickly be healed; Your vindication shall go before you, and the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer, you shall cry for help, and he will say: Here I am! -Isaiah 58:5-9

It is often asked in Lent, “What are you giving up?” There are the classic choices like chocolate, soda, dessert, smoking, drinking. With technology in excessive use some have decided to give up completely Facebook and Twitter or cut back on the amount of time on the internet and television. There is no doubt that any amount of sacrifice is notable and can be helpful to the spiritual journey. However, the reason behind the sacrifice is of great importance. The season of lent is more than giving up something for a period of time and then over indulging after the season is over. Fasting enables us to take time, which is often bombarded by distractions and the normal activities that prevent us from being focused on the Lord. Fasting enables us to listen more attentively to the message of the Lord, rather than the message of the world. Fasting enables us to be others centered and not merely self-centered.

So we should essentially be asking ourselves this question: What can I fast from that will give me more time to focus on the Lord and others? What do I need to refrain from in my life to better respond to the call from the Lord? The prophet Isaiah captures the type of fasting that God desires. Isaiah focuses on fasting that helps us to refocus our lives on the things that really matter in the eyes of God, reaching out to one another. It is the same example that Jesus gives to us in the Gospel. Jesus came to give life and to give it in abundance (John 10:10). Jesus came to bring healing of mind, body and spirit (Luke 5:23-24). Jesus came to reach out in love (John 13:34). Jesus came to forgive us our sins and to grant us salvation (John 3:16). Thus, we use the season of lent to recall Jesus’ life, passion, and great sacrifice on the cross. In gratitude we then look to live the example of the Lord to one another. We are called to do as Jesus commanded, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19).

Don’t let anyone discourage you from what you have given up for lent this year. However, challenge yourself to really reflect on the reason for your fast. Ask yourself, does this fast help me to focus on the message of God and help me to reach out to others. If so, great! Keep going strong and may your Lenten journey bear much fruit. If not, it’s not too late to re-evaluate and make adjustments so that this lent is not the same as usual, but one truly focused on the life of Christ, which calls on us to focus on God and to reach out to others.

Came across this on the internet thought it had good suggestions

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Failure to Victory

There is a thought by some that in order to believe in God and to follow Christ one must be without fault or sin. This is not entirely correct. Although Jesus calls us to be perfect as the Heavenly Father is perfect, we, nonetheless are sinners in need of forgiveness and salvation. Enter Jesus! Jesus came into the world to save us and to show us the way! Since the beginning of time God has called humanity into a relationship knowing that with free will we can at times fall short of the holiness we are called to live. God always recalls the goodness with which He created us and so provides the grace needed to overcome the evil and to choose good. The moral is when we fall short or slip up that we don't go backwards or give up. Rather we get back up and live with gratitude for God's grace which gives us the strength to live another day and to strive for holiness! So don't just look at your mistakes or your blemishes. Instead allow God to use you for His glory and for the salvation of the world.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Make a Choice

If you choose you can keep the commandments, they will save you; if you trust in God, you too shall live; he has set before you fire and water to whichever you choose, stretch forth your hand. Before man are life and death, good and evil, whichever he chooses shall be given him. Immense is the wisdom of the Lord; he is mighty in power, and all-seeing. The eyes of God are on those who fear him; he understands man’s every deed. No one does he command to act unjustly, to none does he give license to sin. –Sirach 15:15-20

The wisdom of Ben Sira otherwise known as the book of Sirach in the Old Testament provides a wealth of knowledge and valuable direction for the journey of faith. Life is full of choices one must make. It is not always easy and there will be bumps along the way. This is why God wishes to accompany His people on the journey. God can see the entire way and thus knows the roads to travel. If one allows, God can take a person to the highest of mountaintops and maneuver through any valley of death. No person can know for sure what he or she will see along the way, but in faith is asked to trust that the Lord will guide in safety to a heavenly destination. A destination that cannot be fully understood in this world for as we hear in the Scriptures, “what eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and what has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Cor 2:9).

Nevertheless, there are some who refuse to believe if they can’t see it all or hear everything. It is one thing to refuse to believe for faith cannot be imposed  yet it is another thing when these same individuals begin to mock others by proclaiming that faith is an easy way out and a form of weakness that takes away one’s freedom. I beg to differ. I believe those individuals do not like the idea that they are not completely in control. Thus, they need to convince themselves and others that they can forge any path and choose their own destiny. In fact, pride and power can lead one to think he doesn’t need direction from anybody nor she has anything further to learn. Additionally, pride and power can make one believe his license gives him the right to take any road he so desires and for her to think that nothing nor anybody can stop her along the way. These selfish beliefs can only lead to reckless behavior and imprudent choices. This deception leads to a thought that everything and anything is a god given right with no consequences for partaking. This is anything but the truth. Yet, through it all, God continues to give to each a choice to make. The decision is completely free. The only thing God requires is for the choice to be made. "Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,' and your ‘No’ mean ‘No’" (Matthew 5:37).

So what is your choice? Is it a yes to trust the Lord and to follow His commands? Or is it a no? I can understand the temptation to say both yes and no. Yes to have the Lord guide us when troubles come, but at other moments wanting the freedom to do our own thing. We cannot have the Lord be our part time passenger. As often as we try it cannot be this way. We need to make a choice: yes or no! A yes doesn’t mean we will not have questions nor make mistakes. It is a yes to affirm each day to follow the commands of the Lord even if it means sacrificing for something greater. “Blessed those whose way is blameless who walk by the law of the Lord. Blessed those who keep His testimonies who seek Him with all their heart” (Psalm 119:1-2).

We must make the choice. You must know to follow the Lord will not be easy. It will at times cause you to be mocked and isolated. Nevertheless it will not be in vain. For if you are willing to trust the Lord, remember this: “what eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and what has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Cor 2:9).

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Love Is Hard Work

"Beloved, we love God because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. This is the commandment we have from him: Whoever loves God must also love his brother." - 1 John 4:19-21

It is so disappointing to hear when people, who profess a belief in and love for God, choose words and take actions that provoke hate for another person. This is not of God. This doesn't mean we cannot be angered, frustrated, and perturbed by the choices people make or the actions they take. However, when we take those emotions and direct them at others with hateful words and actions we are no better than the awful act that provoked our initial response to begin with. Do others do things that are hateful and wrong? Of course it happens and when it does it is no doubt wrong! However, as Christians, our response cannot be hate. It must always be love. This is not a love that pretends the wrong never happened, but a love that differentiates a person from his actions and chooses to address the wrong not with hateful speech or actions, but with concern for the soul of the other and the common good of all. We must rise above the wrong and stay true to who we are as followers of Christ. Don't jump into the mud with everyone else. The only thing that comes from jumping in the mud is that then we are all filthy. At the same time, we cannot run away from the problems because this also doesn't make things better nor relieves us of our responsibility. Life is not easy for anyone. We all carry our own baggage and deal with our own struggles. Hate is the easy way out! Love is much harder work. However, in the end, love is the only thing that leads us closer to God who is Love. If you can't differentiate a wrong act from the person, how can we expect God to do the same with us? There will be those who will make their choices and it won't be of God. They will have to answer for their choices, but so will we. Be mindful of your words and actions. Be attentive of how you address wrong. Always choose to respond with love for your brother and when we do, we come to love God even more!

“The person who loves God cannot help loving every man as himself, even though he is grieved by the passions of those who are not yet purified. But when they amend their lives, his delight is indescribable and knows no bounds. A soul filled with thoughts of sensual desire and hatred is unpurified. If we detect any trace of hatred in our hearts against any man whatsoever for committing any fault, we are utterly estranged from love for God, since love for God absolutely precludes us from hating any man.” --St. Maximos the Confessor

"Spread love everywhere you go: first of all in your own house. Give love to your children, to your wife or husband, to a next door neighbor... Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God's kindness; kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile, kindness in your warm greeting." --Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta