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I like to imagine St. Joseph as a 21 year old, about to be married, full of life, vitality, dreams, plans…excited about his future.

And then….

God is Love and NOW…

and that is where our hearts need to be

Monday and Truth?

3rd Advent Jesus and John

John the Baptist and Jesus Christ are related, but still substantially different.  Each represents a movement, a way to experiencing God.

Theoretically we who are baptized are in the way of Christ.

But, I think realistically some of us have yet to make that transition to truly following Christ.  Rather, some of us remain with John the Baptist.

John came to testify to the light, to prepare for Jesus’ and his new reality.  He represents the Law and the Prophets, and the purpose of Law and Prophets.  There is truth there, but it is not the fullness of truth.

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Let me tell you that some of us remain in time the law and the prophets; we remain in this state in which we think we have to “do” to honor God, to obtain God’s love.  So we “do” what we should, we “do” what we ought to do; We “do” good things, we “do” pray, we “do” give, because we think we have to “do” things.

It is good preparation, but that is not the Way of Christ.

It is akin to learning our ABC’s; we have to learn our letters as a start to actually reading.  We have to “do” the drills.  However, we do not spend our lives, going over and over “A”, “B”, “C”…at some point a change will happen; the arrangement of letters creates words, and arrangement of words creates stories and knowledge.

Or it is like us trying to get healthy, so we “Do” the rigors of working out and exercising.  However, at some point a change is needed, when we realize that we can’t exercise and still eat twinkies all day…we have to make a substantial change.  We start to eat better, drink better, we make a lifestyle change…and amazingly enough, we feel better.

So it is in the Spiritual Life.

We all have to be prepared, we have to spend the time doing groundwork; so we have to pray in a structured disciplined way; so we have to attend Mass every week; so we have to give.

But at some point in our lives, we have to live and no longer prepare.  At some point we have to experience a substantial change.  If we truly want freedom, a change is needed.

That is the difference between John and Jesus.

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When our prayer become something we WANT to do…we have made the change, we are on the Way of Jesus.  When we WANT to come to Mass, we are on the way of Christ.

When we WANT to change, when we WANT to have more patience, when we WANT to do good, when we WANT experience love and Freedom, and no longer be controlled by our addictions, our anger, our sadness, our fear…when we truly WANT to avoid sin; when we truly WANT to know ourselves…

When we WANT and not SHOULD…

Then we are responding to Christ, to grace, to the Love of God.

That is what knocked St. Paul to the ground, and inspired him to substantially change the direction of his life.

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That is what shook the core of St. John of the Cross, and guided him to write spiritual masterpieces.

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That is what inspired the hearts of the early martyrs.

 

In fact, that this is the Sacred Heart of Jesus…

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He did not do any of what he did because he had to, because it was something he should do as the Son of God.  No, He did it all because he WANTED to…because he was Free.

This is what is being offered to us.  This same Freedom!  Eucharist is the Freedom of God, made real in Jesus Christ, through the bread and wine.  It is God’s invitation, God’s desire for us, to make that change…

And Have we?

where am I?

conversion of Love

For the longest time I resisted the religious talk of God’s love.  I thought it cliche and superficial.  I have changed my tune…once I was shown the power of Love.

I take up the burden of trying to see goodness in others, and within myself.  I take up the burden of acting on that Love, and going outside of myself.  That has made all the difference.

Lost and found

I normally have a great sense of direction, spatially.

But, I get lost emotionally and spiritually quite often.  The chaos of life, people’s choices and motivations, my fears, they get me all turned around.

When I finally comprehend I am lost, I have to sit still, and retrace my steps.   Then I get inspired through scripture and prayer.  I get found.

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Trust vs Fear; Trust vs Anger; Trust vs Sadness

How will we make decisions to do what is good?

2nd Sunday of Advent homily

Every October, there is a count of the number of people who are attending mass.

You may have noticed the ushers doing this a couple of months ago.  This provides to us an idea of who many people are actually attending mass.

The results are not too surprising, as the national trend shows, the Catholic Population attending mass is on a decline.  It is not that the numbers of Catholics are decreasing, no.  It is the number of Catholics who are actively engaged that is decreasing.

I find this sad and at the same time energizing.

Sad because there I find such beauty, such power, such elegance in the Catholic way of life, and I wish for others to experience this too.  Energizing, because we who are involved, we need to get up off our butts and spread the good news.

Now there are many purported reasons for this lack of involvement; but I think this Gospel today helps us to understand why.

It is a difference of John the Baptist or Jesus Christ.

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John was a messenger, his role was to prepare people to be open to Jesus Christ.  So his message was repent, meaning to change the direction of your life.  So people would recognize where they had gone off in the wrong direction, make a personal commitment through baptism, to change their lives, and get back on the right direction.

Doesn’t sound bad does it.  In fact, we would almost say, sounds downright American.  Use our will power, and do what is needed to make ourselves all good.

But that is part of the problem.  The core meaning of the message is lost and corrupted.  If we rely on our own will power, then we don’t need God.  This is exactly what Adam and Eve did.

So people have basically corrupted John’s message…and it has become “Why do I need God?”

 

Now, I don’t know about you, but my willpower is not exactly the strongest thing in the world.    I still eat the wrong foods for me, I don’t get to the gym as often I would want to; and there are other things that between me and my confessor.

 

And based on what I do hear in the confessional, most of us have weak wills too; I hear the Original Sin being committed over and over and over….

And I suspect that for those not involved in the catholic life, they think they can rely on their own willpower.  I suspect they think:  “Why do I need God?

Jesus is different.

John tells us, Jesus will baptize with the Holy Spirit.  That is totally different that John’s.  The difference is that Jesus’ baptism is not a personal commitment of us to God; it is God’s personal commitment to each of us.

The Holy Spirit is God’s very grace, God’s very love, given to us, to enable us to be free.  To empower us to live and love.  It is saying that God works for us, God is with us, so that we can grow and be free.


God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, this divine Being, THE BEING, that is creator of all, invisible and visible, is committed to us, to you and me, and to all.  Because God sees the incredible potential of us, and wants that potential to come forth.

Baptism in the Spirit is to be in harmony with God and with all other people and with all of creation.

Jesus came to reveal this, to demonstrate it, and to start it.  He came to stop the Original Sin of Adam and Eve, the Sin of thinking it is all up to us;  He came so that we would trust in the love of God for us.

Jesus came to stop this process by which we isolate ourselves from other, by which we allow ourselves to ignore the needs of others; by which we permit ourselves to hurt each other.  Jesus came to stop this egotistical process which is the root of evil in our lives.

This is the beauty of it.  Of course, we have to experience it and live, and that is the difference!  As Jesus showed us, it is not about living in desert, dressed in camel hair and eating insects…meaning it is not about an extreme way of life.  It is not a solo act, or an act of the ego.

Think of what Jesus did…he was in relationship with others.  He built up a community.  He reached out to those who were sick, who were rejected, who were ignorant, and he healed, he forgave and welcomed, he taught.

That means for us, we too are to be engaged with others, not just for events, and rallies, or one moment to pour ice water over ourselves.  We need to be truly involved with others.  We have to heal, forgive, build community, teach.

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The power of our Catholic Faith, is when we turn to the Spirit, to God’s grace, in our daily lives and we:  forgive the friend who has hurt us;  we hold out a hand to someone who is in need  we listen to someone else, and hold our own tongues.  We shut down our egos, and we live for others.  We create the harmony in our lives.

Which is what we celebrate in every eucharist.  God giving of God’s very self for us, for all of humanity.  We celebrate our Way of true life.  Eucharist keeps us grounded in the love of God for us.  Eucharist keeps us from being controlled by an uncontrollable ego.  Eucharist keeps us free.

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Why would we choose to NOT participate?????

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