Friday, November 25, 2016

What About Me?

What About Me?

“…there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven.  But before all this happens, men will seize you and persecute you; they will hand you over to the synagogues and to imprisonment, and bring you before kings and governors because of my name - and that will be your opportunity to bear witness.(LK 21:11-3)
         Calvary is only days away.  Jesus already told his disciples he is about to die.  Now, instead of giving them a pep talk, he tells them about the fearful and terrible things to come, and how they will suffer for knowing him.   Not only that, but they are to see this as an opportunity to bear witness!  How could they have received his Word?
         There is a radio commercial that so irritates me I find myself turning the channel until it’s over.  This guy keeps repeating, that at his business, “It’s all about you.”  Who actually believes that?!  But the deeper question is how many of us want to believe that.  And the sobering answer is we all do.  
         Deep in our soul, at the core of our untamed flesh, lives the delusion that we are the center of the universe, and it will remain there -resisting Truth till we draw our last breath.  It is why foolish commercials work, why sin can rise from its ashes to humiliate our love for God, why we need a Savior.
         As a young child in religion class, I was challenged with the most fundamental question of life –Why did God make us?  It was well within the childish capacity of my mind to learn the simple answer –God made us to know, love and serve him.  Yet a half century later, my soul is still learning to unwrap this Defining Truth.
         To the soul deceived by the Father of Lies, this Other-Centered belief is foolish if not reviling.  To the soul penetrated by the Light of the Father of Love, this belief is the beginning and end of Life –that we exist to know, love and serve God is glorious privilege.
         It is only in possessing this Life Defining Truth that we can receive these Words of Jesus with joy –that we can embrace the suffering of knowing him and, in so doing, give witness to the God who gives us Life.  In being freed from the selfishness of our inner child, we are freed from the need to serve our Insatiable Self –we are freed to serve the God who created us.  In all ways, serving God is loving and Love is the Preeminent Witness -for God is Love.
         As a toddler wanders into the path of a car, the mother does not stop to consider ‘What about me?’ before scooping up her child.  Love does not count the cost to Self –‘What about me?’ is absent from the vocabulary of Love.  To lay down one’s life is to give Witness to our Savior’s Death.  Life is not at all “all about us” -it is all about his Sacrificial Love for us.
         Father, you gave your Son into suffering and death -that I might live.  Jesus, you did not count the cost to free me from Sin.  Holy Spirit, possess me -that I may give Witness to your Sacrificial Love.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Remain In Me

Remain In Me (John 15:1-8)

Make your home in me, as I make mine in you.  As a branch cannot bear fruit all by itself, but must remain part of the vine, neither can you unless you remain in me.”  
To remain in Christ is to live in his Word, to put on the Mind of Christ, to Believe in him, to be Obedient to his Will.  To remain in him is to make our home in him, to abide in the Life of Christ, to abandon our soul into the Trinitarian Embrace –to be grafted, through the Faith of Baptism, to the Vine of Life.
         Thus does the Branch receive freely from the Vine to have its needs met.  The Vine knows what the Branch needs and provides for it -as blood gives life to the body, so does the Branch of Christ, give his Holy Spirit to his Branches.  
To be in union with Christ, is then, the key to faith’s doorway: “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask what you will and you shall get it.”  For Jesus himself, the Eternal Intercessor, standing before the Father, gives Voice to our needs (Hebrews  7:25)  –because the Vine is in Love -in Union with- the Branch.
         As we remain in him, we receive the Substance and the Sustenance of Life.   The Substance, the Body and Blood of Christ, comingles us with God.  The Sustenance -the Holy Spirit- is the Infilling of the Father’s Love, the Breath which brings us to Life.
In making our home in Jesus, we witness his bringing forth Life from Death.  It means we eagerly submit our sins to the Father’s pruning shears, because our Faith and Hope guarantee we shall bear much fruit –that we shall bring much glory to our Father as Faithful Stewards of his Love.  It means that the cost of Loving others, as Christ Loves us, is infinitely miniscule compared to the reward of Knowing God –of Abiding in his Love.
Jesus, in abandoning my heart into your Mercy, I become possessed by you.  In consuming the Bread of Life, the God of Life consumes my Darkness, exchanging my heart of stone for your Heart of Love.  In drinking your Cup, I surrender to your Will –your Precious Spirit becomes the Blood of my blood, my Source of Life and Love.  
          Jesus, I remain in you only because you remain in me.  All praise is due to you, All Faithful Lord.  You bore the Cross that this lowly branch may be grafted to The Divine.  What Grace, what Gift –to bear your Name, to know your Love, to make Home in my God.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Falling Into Love

Falling Into Love

The apostles said to the Lord, 'Increase our faith'.  The Lord replied, 'Were your faith the size of a mustard seed you could say to this mulberry tree, "Be uprooted and planted in the sea", and it would obey you. (Luke 17:5-6)
         A baby begins moving out into the world, first, by learning to reach out with its hands.  It extends this limited reach when it discovers how to roll over toward what it wants.  Then it learns to wiggle about, like a worm, inching its way forward.  Its ‘invade-able world’ greatly expands when it masters crawling on all fours.  Upon learning to stand on its two legs, it soon masters the side step –sliding one foot, then the other, all while holding on to available furniture and walls.
         Up to this point, the baby is always stable, able to freeze its motion at any instant, and not fall.  But then something transformative happens, it takes its first step -it learns how to fall forward and catch itself with one foot.  This of course is the preamble to the great amble –walking, whereupon taking a step forward, the baby uses its momentum to fall forward again, then catch itself again, and then again, and again –now loosed from the bonds of furniture and walls, from the tedious pace of crawling, it can explore and conquer vast reaches of space in a short amount of time.
         What is fascinating about the act of walking is that we use the ever present force of gravity to propel ourselves forward.  With each step, we willfully allow ourselves to fall into gravity’s grip –as we allow our body to fall, we catch ourselves with our foot, and gravity’s downward  pull is transferred into forward momentum, where we fall again and catch ourselves with the other foot.  The complexity of the physics involved makes learning to walk difficult and replete with accidents.
         So what does all this have to do with the Apostles asking Jesus to increase their faith?  They must have been befuddled by his response.  They were wanting to be like him –to do the things he did.  They witnessed his miracles.  They observed how he connected this power with faith.  They knew that faith had something to do with believing.  They believed in him yet they could not do the things he did.  Jesus said if the size of their faith were minuscule, a tree would obey their command and cast itself into the sea.  
         Surely, they must have been disheartened.  After hearing this, they must have thought they had no faith at all.  Maybe, if instead of asking for their faith to be increased, they had asked Jesus, ‘Do we possess the power of faith, even a little?’ he may have said, ‘No, not at all.’  For maybe, learning to walk in faith is like learning to walk in gravity.  Maybe, we do not possess faith but rather faith possesses us.  Maybe, when walking in faith, we fall into its power and are propelled forward toward great acts of love.
         If this is the Kingdom’s framework for faith, then indeed, the size of our faith is not the issue, because it is not our mortal power, but God’s Almighty Power that propels us to unthinkable acts of Love.  Maybe in surrendering into Faith we are falling into the Power of Love.  This is a difficult thing for a soul to learn, and it is fraught with mistakes and disappointments, but the Kingdom of God is waiting to be conquered.
Lord, grant me the courage, the Faith, to fall into your Love, to abandon myself into a Love I am incapable of giving -knowing that the Power of your Holy Spirit is waiting to catch me, to propel my feeble acts of faith into a life befitting my God.  Jesus, I am weak but you are strong.  I Believe in your Promise to empower me: to equip me; to walk in Faith; to be your Ambassador of Love.
          Jesus, you commissioned me (John 15:16) to bear the fruit of your Love.  I did not choose you, you first chose me.  This is your plan Lord, not of my making.  I cannot imagine the Good that you Will to accomplish, but I can be obedient to your Word.  So here I am Lord, just like your Apostles, asking you for something beyond my understanding.  In the words of our Mother, whom you have shared with me, ‘…may it be done unto me according to your Will.’  Again, and again, and again may I fall into your Love –until you find me home.

Friday, November 4, 2016

See And Believe

You can see and still you do not believe.” (Jn 6:36) …“Whoever sees the son and believes in him shall have the eternal life.” (Jn 6:40)   In this sixth chapter of the Gospel of John the Bread of Life is revealed, and these two verses challenge us to a Eucharistic Faith.
Jesus Christ, the ‘Un-Knowable I-Am’, has become the Word-Made-Flesh.  The Bread-Sent-From-Heaven has made himself known to us.  Because of sin, we have eyes but do not see; ears but do not hear; thirst but do not drink; and hunger but do not eat.  
To See and Believe, this is Christ’s call.  To “See” Jesus is to hear his Word; to encounter his Love; to taste the Bread of Life.  To “Believe” in Jesus is to choose to follow Him –to live in his Truth.
Jesus made himself known to Israel through many acts of love: signs and wonders; the gift of his Flesh and Blood; and his Crucifixion.  Yet most did not See or Believe.  He continues still to make himself known -to all who have eyes to See and ears to Hear; who Hunger for the Bread of Life and Thirst for the Living Water; who are willing to Drink of the Cup of His Blood.
Before we can choose Jesus, before we can exercise Faith, we must first encounter him as Truth.  As it is God’s Will that all Man be saved –that all come to Know and Love him (Jn6:39)- we have to assume that he must Reveal himself to every soul, for he is as Just as he is Loving.  However, it would be a sin of presumption to assume that this revelation will happen outside of our participation.
Free-will cannot exist without personal responsibility –we must have a Choice, and we must have the freedom to Accept or Reject it.  Neither can Faith exist without Works, nor Love without Deeds.  And so it is that Truth is only found with Hunger and Thirst.  It is for us to Ask, Seek and Knock (Mt 7:7), for “The nearer you go to God, the nearer he will come to you.(James 4:8).  We cannot expect to See God if we are not looking for him.  But if we do so with all our heart, he promises to show himself to us (Deut 4:29).
That the Un-Knowable God will make himself Known is Truth.  It is the Word of God, witnessed and testified to throughout the ages.  He is ever waiting for us to See and Believe –through Prayer, through his Word, and in the Eucharist- waiting to be encountered, waiting to be loved.   
God is waiting, but it is an active waiting.  As Father of all Prodigal Sons, he is not just waiting for us to discover our true Sonship, but he is eternally sending forth his Spirit to woo us -as he unleashes the Hound of Heaven, to plant in our heart, pangs of hunger for Home; as he sends the Good Shepherd to seek out his Lost Love.
If we but call out to him, he will find us in our darkness.  In truth, he is already present -just waiting for us to recognize our need for him.  For it is only in our Need that we recognize his Face.  It is only in our Hunger and Thirst that we have cause to Believe in who can assuage.  In a cosmic act of Mercy, God has allowed himself to suffer need –to have to wait for us to choose his Burning Love.  
Most of us, before giving ourselves over to a life of Faith, must first discover our miserable-ness, our desperate need, our depravity of Love.  It is this Humble Knowing which loosens the scales of sin from our eyes and allows us to “See” our Lord.  In standing exposed before him, seeing that our Nakedness does not cause his Love to flinch, we are freed to love him whose Love has found us -we see and believe.  
          When we see Jesus as Love, then we believe in the Source Of All Love, and this Knowing Encounter impels us to Praise our God of Love.  Such is our Eucharistic Faith.  Eucharist means Thanksgiving or Gratitude.  So it is that in receiving the Love of Jesus, we find the Bread of Life –we consume him in order to be consumed by him; we embrace him to become Lost in his Mercy; we find Eternal Life.