Archive for June, 2012

REFLECTION: The walk to eternity…

Friday, June 15th, 2012

Last Wednesday, I was honoured to attend the funeral Mass of an elder family friend.  I didn’t know him well, although I greeted him with a kiss whenever we met.  As I try to recall our encounters in the yester-years, what comes to mind is the warm smile he gave.

I wish we had many more encounters.  As I listened to Fr. Soria talk about him during his funeral Mass and as I listened to the three eulogies given about him, I began to realize Uncle Simeon was a man who walked so closely with God.  How I would have loved to listen to him share about his many encounters with our Father.

Fr. Soria began his sermon stressing that a “Christian funeral is radically different from an ordinary one.  Death is not an end, but a beginning.  It is a passage between life from Earth to eternity.  We are not animals whose lives end completely at the time of death.  We have a spiritual life created by God, in cooperation by our parents, which continues on.  Our gathering is not a commemoration of an end, but the beginning for Simeon’s soul.  We are offering the Eucharist for his immortal soul.”

”In cooperation by our parents”…  Those words caught my attention.  I pondered over them for a moment and then our Father brought to mind the faith walk of Uncle Simeon’s parents.  For those who have had Christian parents, the early introduction would help determine where each will spend eternity although free will still comes to play.

Earlier that morning, our Father had brought me across the Parable of the Barren Fig Tree.  “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came seeking fruit on it and found none.  And he said to the vinedresser, “Behold, these three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none.  Cut it down; why should it use up the ground?  And he answered him, ‘Let it alone sir, this year also, till I dig about it and put on manure.  And if it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.” Luke 13:6-9

It wasn’t by chance that our Father had brought me across this Scripture earlier that morning.  He began to reveal that in the earlier days of our faith journey, we encounter many temptations by the devil, our arch enemy, and as we drift away from God, we fail to bear fruit.  It is only when we invite and when begin to permit Jesus to work in our lives, fertilizing us with His grace and blessings as He cultivates and nurtures us through our numerous trials and tribulations that we begin to bear much fruit.

Our Father had also brought me across the Parable of the Mustard Seed that morning…”What is the kingdom of God like?  And to what shall I compare it?  It is like a grain of mustard seed which a man took and sowed in his garden; and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.” Luke 13:18-19  The significance of that Scripture puzzled me for a moment until I heard the prayer of St. Francis sung during the Mass.

The tree which once bore no fruit had now matured and its roots had run deep as it sought the nourishment of the Living Water.  Over the years, its branches had extended up to the Heavens and its limbs grew sturdy and strong.  “And the birds of the air made nests in its branches” and its branches brought shelter to those who wanted to escape the midday “heat” and the down pour of the “torrential rain”.  As the choir sang the Prayer of St. Francis, the life of Uncle Simeon began to unravel.

“Lord make me an instrument of your peace.  Where there is hatred, let me sow love; Where there is injury, pardon; Where there is doubt, faith; Where there is despair, hope; Where there is darkness, light; And where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; To be understood, as to understand; To be loved as to love.  For it is in giving that we receive, It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.  And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”

Yes, that was it!  Uncle Simeon had matured in Christ and our Father was able to use him mightily to nurture others and to extend His love to them.

But that wasn’t the end of the lesson.  Our Father had much more to teach that day.  Fr. Soria continued…”Simeon’s death was sudden to some, but he was prepared for a long time.  The doctors had warned him that it would come.  Last Saturday, he was ready.”

What did that mean?  Uncle Simeon had hyper-tension, but he refused to take any medication for it.  He believed that whenever God chose to take him Home, he would be ready.  I wonder how long he had been ready.

A family member had mentioned that on Friday, Uncle Simeon had felt a burning sensation and so he asked Auntie Marietta to take him to the hospital.  He asked her to park her car while he walked into emergency on his own.

It appears as if he knew his time was near and it was evident our Father had continued to walk with him as He gave Uncle Simeon the courage and grace to take his last walk on planet earth into the emergency room on his own.

On Saturday morning, Jesus took Uncle Simeon Home for eternity.

“Readiness comes in two parts.” Fr. Soria continued.  “One for him and the other for us.  Our readiness is dependent on whether we are ready for a new beginning.  Unless a grain of wheat dies, it fails to bear much fruit.  Our Lord takes our pain from the loss in our hearts and He uses it for our growth.  The grain of wheat is here in the casket and it is sure to grow fruit in our hearts.  When someone passes, there are always moments we remember.  As we are in contemplation in front of the remains, there is silence.  We interpret the silence of death as a silence of love, a silence of forgiveness…  We feel transformed.”

“Our readiness is dependent on whether we are ready for a new beginning.”  What did Fr. Soria mean?  Perhaps as we attend the funeral of another, our own mortality comes to surface.  As we ponder, perhaps we become more in tune and we finally hear Jesus knocking on our door…

Father God, thank You for sending Jesus down to Earth to die for the sins of the world.  Thank You Jesus for believing in us and for believing that each of us was worth dying for so that we would be able to spend eternity with You in our Father’s heart.  Lord, please give each of us the grace to desire to start again.  In Jesus’ name we pray, AMEN.

God bless,

Melissa – June 14, 2012

REFLECTION: Your love letter…

Sunday, June 3rd, 2012

Several nights ago, I caught a portion of the movie “17 again”.  The film unravels the story of a husband/father who had been physically transformed back into a 17 year old teenager and while in that state, he attempts to correct the damage his neglect had on his family.  What appealed to me was when the 17 year old spoke from his heart as he “read” a letter to his wife at the divorce court.  Although his estranged wife had heard and received the love he expressed, when she reached out to retrieve the “letter” that was left behind, she realized that none of these loving words were inscribed nor were they forever preserved on it.

As I drove around the next morning, our Father had reminded me that He, too, has a love letter lovingly written to each one of us.  He may not have physically penned the words, but He is the Author.  Unfortunately, many of us don’t realize that we have a love letter and if we do, we don’t set aside time to read it but instead, we wait for others to read our love letter for us.  At times, we even wait for others to decipher what is written instead of allowing the very words to embrace and nurture our being.

How do we know we are truly loved if we haven’t read the letter ourselves?  Is it possible that the others, who have read the letter for us, added their own words so that we would believe that we are loved?  Wouldn’t we want to read the letter for ourselves to ensure that the content is true?  If the letter is there, wouldn’t we be automatically drawn to it and wouldn’t we want to hold it ever so tenderly close to our hearts?  Wouldn’t we want to read each loving word repeatedly and have them caress our hearts over and over again?  Wouldn’t we want these words preserved on paper so that we could return to them to remind ourselves of how much we are treasured?

What stops us from opening our love letter and reading it for ourselves? Is there a screen or a veil that prevents us from recognizing it as such?

1 Corinthians 2:14 AMP teaches…“But the natural, non-spiritual man does not accept or welcome or admit into his heart the gifts and teachings and revelations of the Spirit of God, for they are folly (meaningless nonsense) to him; and he is incapable of knowing them [of progressively recognizing, understanding, and becoming better acquainted with them] because they are spiritually discerned and estimated and appreciated.”

But how would the “non-spiritual” (“the un-redeemed who lacks both the Spirit and Spiritual discernment”) know about this Love unless the Spiritual tell them…  How would the carnal (redeemed, but not led by the Spirit) know about this Love unless they permit the  Holy Spirit to reveal it to them.

Does everyone want to experience God’s love?  Based on the numerous ongoing attacks against Christianity, it is evident the answer is “no”. And yet, there are still many who seek  and when they seek with all their heart, they encounter the living Christ.  I believe it is only those who have a true hunger for love and to belong who find TRUE LOVE.

Father God, thank You for loving us so much that You couldn’t bear to leave us in our self-destructive state.  Thank You for sending Jesus to break the stronghold the devil has over mankind and for using Jesus, your Son, as the ransom to bring us back to Your heart.  Thank You that You know each of us personally and You call each of us by name.  Lord, THANK YOU that we are Yours forever and there is nothing that can separate us from Your love.  Father, we ask that you continue to open our spiritual eyes, ears and heart so we will always see, hear and know without a doubt that You will never stop loving us.  In Jesus’ name we pray, AMEN.

God bless,

Melissa – June 2, 2012

P.S.

Isaiah 43:1-2 Amplified Bible (AMP) “But now [in spite of past judgments for Israel’s sins], thus says the Lord, He Who created you, O Jacob, and He Who formed you, O Israel: Fear not, for I have redeemed you [ransomed you by paying a price instead of leaving you captives]; I have called you by your name; you are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned or scorched, nor will the flame kindle upon you.”

Romans 8:38-39 Amplified Bible (AMP) For I am persuaded beyond doubt (am sure) that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things impending and threatening nor things to come, nor powers, Nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”