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Someone told me once  “You would complain if I hanged you with a new rope!”   He was chiding me about my number of complaints.

I think complaints are the outward sign of our own anger…we expect something of someone, and it is not met.  So we BMW about it (*itch, moan and whine).

When I catch myself complaining, that means I have to sit with myself and figure out my anger, and then ask myself what I can do about this anger.  It becomes an opportunity to grow.

Jesus had to deal with anger…he own and that of others.  He took action, positive action.   Will I?

Redirection to love

Lk 7.11-17

The gospel writers are clever in their redirections.  On the surface this is a miracle of Jesus raising a man from the dead.  Underneath, the reality is that Jesus is fulfilling the law to take care of the widows, and  the most vulnerable.  It is a social justice issue.

Reminds me that I have to fulfill the law as well, and make sure that I am caring for the most need.  Why?  Because God cares for them and loves them as God loves me and all.  It is only human therefore to care for those most in need.

humility is the hard part of this equation…

working on it though

Exaltation of the Cross

Many years ago, as a kid, I saw part of a black and white movie in which a vampire, under the light of a full moon was destroyed when the hero turned the arms of a windmill, and the shadow created by the full moon was a cross.

As a kid, i thought that kind of cool.  As an adult, kind of hokey.

It brings us to a question.  What is the cross??

Is it a magical object that wards off evil, kills vampires?  Clearly not.  Is it a fashion item that we wear around our necks to show off?  For some, yes.

But for us, as Christians, it must have a deeper significance.  We wear it, we display it, we incorporate it in our rituals because it is a symbol of love.

It is a symbol of how Love conquers hate/death/fear/anger/grief.  It is a symbol of how we as humans are to trust that God so loves us.

Jesus trusted completely in the Father’s love.    This was his “power” if you will to heal, to forgive, to walk on water, change water to wine.  Eventually, it will be his power to accept a horrible form of execution, death on the cross.

In that, he trusted in the love of the Father; he trust that the Father would make all good.  Which we believe he did, this is the resurrection.

The Father has the same infinite, perfect divine love for us.  This is the good news.  The Father loves us unconditionally.  This is our freedom, this is our salvation.  When we rest in the love of the Father, THERE is our identity.  That is who we are as a person, and as a community.  We are the children of God.

Think back to Adam & Eve and the “original sin”.  They gave their identity, they put their faith into an object, a thing.  They became then a slave of the things, of all created things.

Jesus reversed this.

We all have a choice that make are called to make each day, many times a day.  Will we choose the “Fruit” or God?  Will we identify ourselves with a thing, whether it be money, power, status, political party, our religion, clothes, appearances, etc…

or  will we choose love of God?

I know it sounds a bit straightforward, but the truth is, subtly we tend to make the first choice.  That old ego of ours is the problem.   Once we identify ourselves with the things, we then have to protect ourselves, we have to protect those things..

So we fight, we kill, we hoard, we attack, we lie, we gossip, etc .  Look at our politics, look at our communities, look at our world.  People suffer from this.  We cause the hunger, the thirst, the wars, the poverty, the death.

Love of the Father frees us.  When we truly place our faith, our hope, our identity in the love of God, then we don’t have to worry about our “things”.  There is no need to attack, destroy, protect or hoard.

There is only the need to respond to the Love of the Father by loving those around us.  When we are truly rooted in the love of the Father we as a community can look out for one another, ensure the well-being of all.

We as Christian thrive when we are like this, parishes thrive.

The Cross stands as a symbol against the evil of “idolatry”, of giving ourselves to things.  It is not a magical object, but symbol of our daily commitment to be the children of God.  To make the right decision, to continue to same choice that Jesus made…to trust in the love of the Father.

Of course, it is not easy.  That is why we have the Sacraments, the signs of God’s love for us.  God is constantly loving us, that is grace.  It is to empower us to make the hard choices, choices that in the short term will seemingly make us suffer, but in the long term…will bring to us life.

These sacraments too remind us that we are a community, gathered around and in Christ to support one another.  And to forgive one another when bad decisions are made.

It all comes down to Love, God’s love for us.

So when we look upon the cross, when we place those crucifixes and crosses around our heads, we choose love, we act in love.

Abraham made a choice to believe, and started a process that culminated with the decisions of Mary and Joseph.  They participated with God to bring about unity and the transformation of humanity through Jesus Christ.

My choice, our choice today???????

Community, our salvation is experienced in community, our very nature as human beings is communal.

Yet, this is a very difficult aspect to live.  Something that is natural to us, can evade us.

There is one reason, ego.

 

We were created within a community;  a community of God, other people and the world around us.  Harmony existed, paradise, as long as humanity maintained its place, its right relationship with the divine.

The ego put a stop to that.  We wanted more.  We wanted to be as God without the help of God.  We placed our hope in a fruit.  Harmony was broken; relationships were hurt, Adam and Eve, Cain & Abel, and those early stories of human civilization.

God called for that right relationship through the prophets and restored them in Jesus Christ.  We see Jesus form and reform community and the meaning of community.

He gathered the 12 disciples as a living symbol of God’s desire to reform Israel and all of humanity; to heal and unite all peoples into a community.  We are restored when we act as Christ: when we are humble and willing to give of ourselves  This includes doing our part to heal broken relationships, a broken community.

The Gospel shows us that we must strive always, work always to bring people back into relationships.  Our goal must be to bring people back, and not exclude.

We must act with humility.  We must love.  See, when we are truly a community; looking out for one another, helping one another, letting ourselves be helped, then  we are free!  Free to experience life, free to Love.

When we are in communion with others, there is so much less to fear.

This is a constant work for us.  Those egos of ours are still at work, demanding from others; concerned only with my needs, wants and desires; Protecting my stuff, ect.

We see breakdowns in marriages, families, church and society because of our egos.  Poverty, divorce, crime, violence, this is because we are not acting as a community, but as selfish little brats.

The original sin of our ego.

We Catholics are called to be different.  We must be different.  We must not let our egos control us; we must not let our differences divide us.

Rather, we must model, lead by example and show our young persons and show the rest of the world the power of living in and being community.

Think what we could loose upon the earth!  How much ease of suffering of those who hunger and thirst, who struggle to survive.

We call “Communion” communion for a reason.  It is our sacrament of harmony; of being in communion, with God, with others, and with all of creation.  It is our reminder of who we are to be, our reinforcement of how to be.  It is God giving of God’s self, love, to us and for us; so that we might love and give of ourselves to and for others; so that we might participate in the same sacrifice of Christ, make it real in our own lives and experience the life that come with it.

 

I am only me, if I am with you, and you with me, and we are with God.  I, We it is community.

 

This will always be a work in progress, but that is what we are about.  Our salvation is experienced in a community.   There was a reason why Jesus was not a loner, but created a community about him.

Yet, for me, it can be very difficult to be in community.  I get stressed, my ego takes over, my fears take over…

Jesus came to build or re-build community.  Our salvation is found in community.  Our very nature as humans is communal (Trinity).

It can be difficult work to live within community…healing/forgiveness are essential.

Authority = Integrity

Authority is not to be about power and status, but from one’s own integrity.

There is a great concern in the Catholic Church these days, it is the loss of generations.  People are not participating in the life of the church.

It clearly shows in Europe and United States, and I would be willing to be Canada too, but some are saying that it is creeping into Mexico.  It clearly shows in the younger generations, but it transcends them all.    It is not even purely an anglo issue in this country; third generation latinos, filipinos are either leaving the church or ignoring the church.

This is a great concern.  

Of course, many look for reasons and for blame.  There is no one particular, but I think there is a strong common reason that effects those in the US and Europe; it is a philosophy that runs contrary to Catholicism.  

The philosophy of rugged individualism.   

This focus on the “I” and that what is most important is “My rights”.  We see this in our attitudes that I can own whatever I want, I can have as many guns as I want, I can do with MY body whatever I want, I can marry whoever and as many times as I want, It is MY money; I can believe in whatever way I want, in whatever I want.  This is “my” country.

Sound familiar?

 

Our gospel today tells us that it is never only about “me”, or “I”; it is always Me, I in relationship to you and all.

Look what Peter did, he took Jesus aside, alone to correct him, because what Jesus was saying did not conform to his own personal beliefs.  He takes Jesus away from the community that Jesus had formed.

Jesus formed a community, the Church.  The church is a community that gathers together to unify the faith given to us by God.  Corrections, adaptation, clarifications are meant to be through community.  They are not made by one person, no individual, not even the Pope.  Yes, he can effect superficial changes, but in matters of the faith, not even he can do this alone.  It must happen through the Church.

So it is never a matter of “my” faith, but the faith “I” receive, the gift given to me through the Church.

 

Peter got that message in a particular way.  See, I think Peter’s ego got the best of him.  Remember in last week’s Gospel he was told by Jesus that he was the rock.  I think that old human ego took over.  And when Jesus started talking about having to suffer….well…  He was also worried about protecting his own you know what!  Because if Jesus were to suffer greatly, that means he too would have to.

That is exactly what Jesus then tells his disciples.  His life, his very being is given for all.  He will give of himself for the good of all.  And they will too, as will all disciples.  He is not about his own personal rights, etc…He is about giving of self.  

This is his nature, and this is our own nature.

Think about it, we are created in God’s own image, and first of all God is a community, Father, Son and Holy Spirit; and second God gives of God’s very self for all.  God is love.  This is the human nature.

This is us.  Our individuality, our uniqueness, our person is great.  It is to be treated with respect.  Each of us, and every human person, every life is truly unique.   But we are not ourselves only for ourselves.  That uniqueness, the individuality is meant to be given for the good of all.

That means there is a relationship between the I and We.  It can be tense, but true life is found when the “I” gives to the good of the We.  Given freely, as Jesus gave of his life freely.  What needs to die are these egos that we have that says my needs are more important that your needs; my rights take precedence over all other rights, MY desires are most important….etc.

 

People do not like this.  They say the Church can’t tell me what “I” can do or not do.  People get angry and mad because the church/parish does not do what “I” want.

People go to other non catholic or non christian churches because they feel good about themselves, they get to sing fun songs, sip their coffees, follow a so called easier path.  People will give for others in  an event, especially those that draw attention to me or those that are fun, like poor Ice water over their heads, but commit long term….forget that, “My” time is too important.

The Church is a community.  The rugged individual philosophy has no place it it.

This will not be and is not a popular message.  Catholics will not like it because it will be perceived as “Anti-American.”  People will call it socialism, marxism etc, which it is not.

It is as in the first reading, there will be challenge to the culture.

If we have any chance of transforming this world and reducing the evil in this world, the evil of abortions, the evil of wars, the evil of poverty, then we who are baptized need to turn our backs to this idea that pervades our society that the “I” is superior.

That is what we did ritually in Baptism & Confirmation; that is what we do in Marriage and Holy Orders, and that is what we reinforce through Eucharist.

 

We remember that Christ gave of himself, out of love.

We remember that God, the all powerful, eternal creator of all, gave and gives of God’s very self for us.

We remember that our very life, our salvation is found in giving of self.

And we go and do it, live it and experience.

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