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How attractive are you? are we?

Portrait of a Balding Priest in a Habit

How well do we attract people…to Jesus Christ?

Pope Francis repeated what Pope Benedict said… we need to be a church of attraction, that people need to see in us the living Faith in Jesus Christ so that they too will come to him.

We must invite people into a relationship with Jesus Christ, and not impose it.

 

Jesus says the same thing, in a different way in the gospel.

Think of it.  He is inviting those fisherman to become fishers of people.

Now, I love to fish, fly fish specifically.

Sierra Exif JPEG

Catching fish is all about having the correct bait, or the correct fly, and with fly fishing especially that fly has to be attractive to the fish, presented in such a way that the fish will take it.

Then with the hook set, reel it in.  There is nothing like catching a fish on a fly rod.  It is really frustrating to watch a beautiful trout come to up a fly look at it and then swim away:  Wrong fly, bad presentation.

 

Jesus wants us to attract people to him.

Jesus wants us to be people that attract others.

Jesus calls us to present ourselves to others, so that others may see Christ in us, then come to Jesus and be free.Jesus07

People were attracted to him in his life.  They came to him because they saw something different about him.  They experienced something new, and authority unlike anything they had ever experienced.

He did not threaten them, dupe them with empty promises of money, power, riches.  No, He listened, he forgave, he healed, he loved.  This was how he attracted people.  This was his bait, his lure.

It came from his core, his faith in the love of the Father.

We are called to do the same, to be attractive Catholics.  We are called to attract others to Jesus, so that they can experience Salvation.

BUT…

I also think that we need to ask ourselves what personally attracts us to Jesus.  I am not talking about the institution of the Catholic Church, because Popes Benedict and Francis were clear about that too.  I am talking why do we follow Jesus Christ?

I say this because if we cannot answer this for ourselves, then how are we going to express it to others?  How will we attract others?    In fishing terms…we need the correct bait.

Those first disciples, Peter, Andrew, James and John, clearly they found something attractive in Jesus, and followed him.  Yet, they had to spend some time with him, and then eventually experience his death and resurrection for them to comprehend.

It was after that event, and the coming the Holy Spirit, they themselves were able to go out and attract others to Jesus.  They had to believe.

So what attracts us to Jesus Christ?  To the way of Jesus?

Is it the deep, simple, elegant wisdom of life that he brings, that shows us how to live as free men and women in the world today?

wisdom

Is is the offer of heaven and eternity?  Is it the promise of community? Is it the reality of forgiveness and mercy?

Is it love?

cd page - forgiveness through christ

I think for each of us, we have our own personal answers.  My answer will not be the same as yours, as I have had a different journey of life and yours is different than mine.

Here is the catch (pun intended)…when we can really answer that question, “what attracts us to Jesus”…not only will others be attracted…our own experience of Jesus will change.  It will improve!  Because our faith life becomes one of ownership…we will own our faith.

No longer will it be something we have to do, or something we do to keep our moms and dads happy…but because we want to.

That is freedom!20121030-075413.jpg

And again, that will show to others.  When they see us willingly being gentle with others, patient with others;  When they see us will to forgive and ask for forgiveness;  When they witness us giving of ourselves for the good of others;  When they witness us not being driven by the winds of chaos…

They will want the same, the same salvation, the same freedom.

They will be attracted to Jesus, by our lives.  They will come to the table with us, responding out of love, and being changed.

taking the sabbath

Mk 2:23-28

Here is my battle with the Sabbath.  My goal is to try and not shop, not be about official business (that does not include celebrating mass).

I admit that sometimes I have to shop; groceries or the like because of a hectic work week.  I admit sometimes to cleaning house, because again, hectic week.

What kills me is that little voice in my head when it is truly a quiet sunday afternoon, and that voice says I SHOULD be doing something…I am only good when I am busy….

That is the challenge of sabbath for me…is that my being busy, active, doing  stuff is not what is going to define me.  Sabbath tells me that I am because God loves me.  I can actually sit and be quiet, I can actually go out and walk along the river, i can do something that is fun and not in any way productive!

Mk 2:18-22

As the Pharisees in today’s gospels, it is still easy for me to fall into old patterns;  going too much into myself, being cynical, sarcastic, being a drama-king…

The way of Christ has begun to pull me out of old patterns.

Still, I struggle with it all, and I can become frustrated which causes more stress, then back to old patterns…well, that is the cycle.

I wonder if the challenge is that I am trying to place new wine in old wineskins…and maybe I am being called to something truly radical?

Called by God…I am assuming we all picked that up theme from the readings.

We are all called in some form or another; whether we hear that voice directly as Samuel did, or another points us to our call, as John the Baptist did for Simon.

We are called to do God’s will.   And that is where the fun begins.    Because doing God’s will is our salvation, it is our freedom.

It is salvation and freedom because ultimately God’s will is all about UNITY.

God’s great plan of salvation, of the liberation of humanity and all of creation is that we all be one, unified.  Remember, God is one, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  The very nature of God is three persons as one God.

This is our destiny too.  Our own personal freedom and the freedom of all people and this world lies in us participating in God’s unity; of being one with each other.

So our call as persons is to experience that, and to live it.

 

Then, God’s call to each of us, is to go beyond our own selves, our own egos, our own needs and wants, and to see others.

God’s call is for each of us to see ourselves as part of a larger plan, and that each of us have a unique part to play.

 

Samuel, a child in the readings, will eventually grow up and it will be him who anoints first Saul as King, then later David.  And it will be David who unites the tribes of Israel. Samuel will not be king, but a servant unto the plan.

We hear of Simon’s call.  In John’s gospel he is already a disciple of John the Baptist, and it is John the Baptist who redirects Simon to Jesus; to follow him and serve the good news.

 

Each and every person specifically called in Scripture they leave behind a life, to find a new life; to create unity.  Think of Abraham, Joseph, Joshua, Ruth, and all the prophets.  Think of the 12 disciples and those whom Jesus touched during his earthly ministry.Think of St Paul and his co-workers, and our whole tradition of saints; Benedict, Francis, Ignatius of Loyola, Teresa of Avila, Catherine of Siena, Therese, Juan Diego…12apostles

All answered a call to work to create unity!

All of us are called in the same way.

That call comes not just in Voices of heaven; nor is it always a call to do huge things.

 

That call to create unity, to participate in a larger plan, to go beyond ourselves comes…

…when we have the impulse to forgive someone who has hurt us and to ask for forgiveness when we have caused the hurt.  That is God’s call.

…when we have that desire to give of our time and spend it with a friend or someone who is lonely and needs support…that is God’s will.

…when we live humbly and don’t insist everything must be “my” way…

…when we openly share our lives with others…           images-1

…when we do something for our spouses, our parents, our friends…imgres

…when we place aside our want of something, so that others can live…

This is all God’s will.  This is all God’s call.

And it is always happening to us…not just in a church building, but in places and moments…Costco checkout lines, driving up Plumb Lane, getting out of the church parking lot, in the morning with your spouse, at work with annoying co-workers.

We continue a tradition that spans millennia, God calling people to a greater and better life.  God’s call to us to grow and be one.

Clearly we Catholics have a special responsibility to answer this, because we have the Sacrament of Unity, Eucharist.  This entire celebration is about our call to place aside our own egos, our own wants, and to celebrate as one.  Made very real in the bread and wine that become the body and blood of Christ.

Communion is NEVER, EVER about “me” and Jesus…It is NEVER an expression of individual piety.  20130413-173030.jpg  It is always an expression of our call and our desire to be in communion with God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and to be in communion with others.  Given to us, to strengthen us to suppress our ego; to encourage us to see beyond me, myself and I….and to be part of “we”…

And when we are part of we…there is our freedom.  No longer slaves to our desires, egos, and wants.  No longer slaves to our anger and fear and sadness.

We will find LIFE; we will experience a contentment that no thing else can offer.

And it begins with us, responding to that call.

Faith Sharing

I would say right now that the biggest healing Jesus did for me, was lifting me out of depression and self-absorption, to see life and others.

I wonder about this.  Jesus was obviously completely free.  So was part of his freedom the capacity to keep things in perspective?  He knew about the person and also saw the bigger picture and kept it all in balance.  MANNNNN…I wish I could be as free…oh wait, I can!  That is the Holy Spirit and grace.

 

I know it was frustrating and humbling…I thought I knew enough, but I didn’t.

Isolation, not good

A sign for me of how bad I am feeling, of not coping well, is how much I isolate myself from others… It takes a lot of me to reach out and ask for help!

Jesus always had people around him…even as Son of God, he was part of a community, the Trinity.  It is a natural way for us, or at least it is supposed to be.

Salvation…I come back to it over and over again, because I think we all need to understand it better.  Since the more we understand it, the more we respond and experience it; and the better off our world.

The core, the heart of salvation is key, and so simple, and so difficult.

We heard it today in the Gospel….Love.  “This is my beloved son.”

Now understand, this was not something that Jesus earned by agreeing to go into the waters of baptism…  No, this declaration of the Father is the Good News for all people, and preceded everything.

The Father loves us.  God loves us, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

We are loved.

Simple.

This is our freedom.

When we have an experience of God’s love, we can do anything…We can be better parents, children, spouses, priests, people, Church…We can give of ourselves to others in love and in trust…We can withhold judgement about others and listen to them…We can forgive those who have hurt us, and ask forgiveness from those we hurt…We can live life fully, without being controlled by our anger, fear and sadness.

All that Jesus did in his earthly life was a response to the Father’s love; even to the point of dying on the cross.

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Yet, the Father’s love could not, cannot be contained or limited, even by death.

There is life in the Father’s love, and Jesus Rose!

Which is what we celebrate at Eucharist, which we consume in communion, with which we are sent out to Go and Respond in kind.

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How will we Respond to the Father’s Love?

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