Archive for November, 2012

REFLECTION: This is my desire…

Friday, November 30th, 2012

What is your heart’s desire?  I’m sure a new car, a tropical vacation or a successful career would be among the top few mentioned.  However, have you considered what your heart’s desire would be in terms of your spiritual life?  I suppose “prophetic powers, (an) understand(ing of) all mysteries and all knowledge” or even “faith, so as to move mountains1 Cor 13: 2 would be grand desires for one’s spiritual life.  However, Paul mentions that all these would be meaningless to ourselves and to others if love is absent from each.

While focusing on 1 Corinthians 13 and 14, Timothy Gray, the DVD presenter of the First Corinthians – Great Adventure Bible Study series, stressed that “We are created in love and for love, and unless we live in love, we cannot become what we are called to be.”  He adds, “When Paul says ‘seek the higher gifts’ in 1 Cor 13:31, love is not only the greatest gift; it is the way in which all the gifts are to be used.  Love is the gauge of our Christian walk.

In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul teaches us what love is NOT.  “…love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude.  Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong….” 1 Cor. 13:4-6  In the same way, he teaches us what love is…  “Love is patient and love is kind… rejoices in the right; Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never ends…”  1 Cor 13:4;7

But how can one grasp this extensive, unconditional love unless one experiences this love oneself?  “…God is love.  In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, so that we might live through him.  In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins.” 1 John 4:7-10

Can we know and experience love merely by reading this Scripture?  I don’t believe so.  I believe this kind of love involves a deep and intimate relationship between two.  God continues to seek us, inviting each to an intimate relationship with Him, but sadly, many are only willing to open the door ever so slightly.

As I drove around this morning, the song “I Give You My Heart”, penned by Michael W. Smith, began to speak to me.  As I sang along with him from the depths of my heart, I began to realize how the song depicted man’s hunger for the intimate relationship with his Creator.  I realized no one could sing this song without first experiencing the love of God.  May we each ask our Father for this desire….

I  Give You My Heart
——Michael W. Smith

This is my desire
To honor You
Lord, with all my heart
I worship You

All I have within me
I give You praise
All that I adore
Is in You

CHORUS:
Lord, I give You my heart
I give You my soul
I live for You alone

Every breath that I take
Every moment I’m awake
Lord, have Your way in me

God bless,

Melissa – November 30, 2012

p.s. –

1) “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No man has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.” 1 John 4:11

2) from teaching notes (BibleStudyforCatholics.com):
– love is not jealous (envy) and boastful
– love is not arrogant (“puffed up”) or rude (‘shameful” or “shameful behavior”)
– love does not insist on its own way
– love is not irritable (“easily angered” or resentful (an image meaning one who keeps a record book
or a score of wrongs)
– love does not rejoice at the wrong (“injustice”)

3) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=imGO5KUEZo4 <- click to listen to Michael W. Smith sing “This is my desire”.

REFLECTION: “Saints and Sinners Fall”

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

“Saints and sinners fall”…these were the lyrics I remembered of the song the school children sang during Mass one Friday. Surprisingly, these words continued to come to mind over the weekend and as they did, I would say, “Yes Lord, we all fall just as your Word says…’For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23 And yet, as I continued to ponder, our Father slowly began to reveal something deeper. Yes, both “saints” and sinners, alike, stumble and fall throughout their life journey, and yet, there is a difference. The “saints”, those who have accepted Jesus into their lives and are working their way towards Heaven, have something the sinners don’t. They have a living relationship with God and when they fall, He gives them the grace and the desire to ask Him to forgive them and to renew their walk so that like Paul, they can eventually say…”I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. …there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me, but also to all who have loved his appearing.2 Timothy 4:7-8

Several months ago, while I was praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament, I had sensed our Father calling me to the walls around the sanctuary where the Stations of the Cross were hung. I sensed Him prompting me to look at the first several stations and then He asked me what I saw. I replied, “Jesus is condemned to death and he begins his journey carrying his cross. He stumbles and is forced up again and he stumbles several more times and he is helped by others.” I sensed Him agree with my answer, but I also sensed Him urge me to look deeper. As I looked, I sensed Him reveal that we, humanity, all have been condemned to die and we all, whether we’ve accepted Jesus or not, have to carry our crosses, more often referred to us our trials and burdens, through our life journey. Family, friends and acquaintances come along to encourage and comfort us, and at times, one may even attempt to carry our “cross” for a while. We eventually are nailed to our cross when we reach rock bottom. It is usually at this time when we come face to face with a cross road. Like the two criminals nailed to their crosses with Jesus, we are called to make a choice. We either mock and reject Him and say, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” or, like the other, we can recognize and accept what He did and say…”Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we are receiving the due rewards of our deeds; but this man has done nothing.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come in your kingly power” Luke 23: 39-42

What had happened there? “Two others…, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him (Jesus). And when they came to the place which is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on the right and one on the left.” Luke 23: 32 -33

Why was Jesus crucified? The two were criminals. Was he one too?

“Pilate then called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was perverting the people; and after examining him before you, behold, I did not find this man guilty of any of your charges against him; neither did Herod, for he sent him back to us. Behold, nothing deserving death has been done by him; I will therefore chastise him and release him.” But they all cried out together, “Away with this man, and release to us Barab’bas” – a man who had been thrown into prison for an insurrection started in the city, and for murder. Pilate addressed them once more, desiring to release Jesus; but they shouted out, “Crucify, crucify him!” A third time he said to them, “Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no crime deserving death: I will therefore chastise him and release him.” But they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that he should be crucified.” Luke 23:13-23

But why?  Why did Jesus, the focus of Christianity, have to die? I believe C.S. Lewis explains it clearly in his book Mere Christianity…”But supposing God became man – suppose our human nature which can suffer and die was amalgamated with God’s nature in one person – then that person could help us. He could surrender His will, and suffer and die, because He was man: and He could do it perfectly because He was God. You and I can go through this process only if God does it in us; but God can do it only if He becomes man. Our attempt at this dying will succeed only if we men share in God’s dying, just as our thinking can succeed only because it is a drop out of the ocean of His intelligence: but we cannot share God’s dying unless God dies; and he cannot die except by being man. That is the sense in which He pays our debt, and suffers for us what He himself need not suffer at all.”

I have since found the title of the song sung by the children. It was written by Sarah Hart and it is titled “Given for the World”. Sarah pens…

1. Saints and sinners, come;
lay your hearts upon this hallowed ground.
As you are, draw close
to the love that knows
every cross you bear,
every secret shame and silent prayer;
hungry for the bread,
willing to be fed
in this sacrifice.
All are welcomed here.

Refrain
Where love is broken for the broken,
emptied for the empty,
and given for the world.
In the light and in the darkness,
in the singing and the silence,
love surrenders all,
given for the world.

2. Saints and sinners, fall
here beneath the beauty of it all;
flesh upon the wood;
our sorrows understood.
Death redeeming life;
by the blood our stains have been made white.
Oh, lift your heart in praise,
rejoice in him who saves
by this sacrifice.

3. Saints and sinners, rise;
let the sound of heaven come to life
over all the earth;
song of love be heard.
Drown the noise of sin;
let the day of mercy now begin.
As you have believed,
give what you received:
live this sacrifice.

Father God, thank you for lyrics you have inspired Sarah Hart to write. Thank You for inviting each one of us to come before you, even if we are tainted. You didn’t come for the elite, you came for the broken. Thank You dear Jesus, that You chose to be the “love that was broken for the broken, emptied for the empty…giving Yourself for the world.” Thank You for loving each one of us just as we are. In Jesus’ name we pray, AMEN.

God bless,

Melissa – November 23, 2012 12:35 p.m.

p.s.:

1) Please click on the following link (http://www.spiritandsong.com/podcasts/given-for-the-world) to listen to Sarah sing Given for the World.

2) Link to the Stations of the Cross: (http://www.catholic.org/clife/prayers/station.php?id=1)

3) C.S. Lewis Quote from Mere Christianity: “Remember, this repentance, this willing submission to humiliation and a kind of death, is not something God demands of you before He will take you back and which He could let you off of if He chose: It is simply a description of what going back to Him is like. If you ask God to take you back without it, you are really asking Him to let you go
back without going back. It cannot happen. Very well, then, we must go through with it. But the same badness which makes us need it makes us unable to do it. Can we do it if God helps us? Yes, but what do we mean when we talk of God helping us? We mean God putting into us a bit of Himself, so to speak. He lends us a little of His reasoning powers and that is how we think: He puts a little of His love into us and that is how we love one another. When you teach a child writing, you hold its hand while it forms the letters: that is, it forms the letters because you are forming them. We love and reason because God loves and reasons and holds our hand while we do it. Now if we had not fallen, that would all be plain sailing. But unfortunately we now need God’s help in order to do something which God, in His own nature, never does at all – to surrender, to suffer, to submit, to die. Nothing in God’s nature corresponds to this process at all. So that the one road for which we now need God’s leadership most of all is a road God, in His own nature, has never walked. God can share only what He has: this thing, in His own nature, He has not.

But supposing God became man – suppose our human nature which can suffer and die was amalgamated with God’s nature in one person – then that person could help us. He could surrender His will, and suffer and die, because He was man: and He could do it perfectly because He was God. You and I can go through this process only if God does it in us; but God can do it only if He becomes man. Our attempt at this dying will succeed only if we men share in God’s dying, just as our thinking can succeed only because it is a drop out of the ocean of His intelligence: but we cannot share God’s dying unless God dies; and he cannot die except by being man. That is the sense in which He pays our debt, and suffers for us what He himself need not suffer at all.”

REFLECTION: The Spoken Word

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

Words were spoken a few nights ago and although days have passed, the sting of the negative impact continues.

How do we use our words?  Scripture teaches “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Ephesians 4:29  Have we embraced this teaching, choosing our words carefully, especially when we are upset?

It would have been alright if she criticized the menu or our leadership skills.  It would have been alright if she mentioned that we spoke too much.  But it was her carefully chosen last words, spoken as she left, that stung.

…”Well, I guess it’s back to meditation with Depak Chopra.” are words that shouldn’t upset anyone.  However, when many hours had been previously sacrificed each week to purchase ingredients and to prepare meals and personal schedules had been altered so that one could ensure others are warmly welcomed to hear God’s word proclaimed…  Those spoken words hurt.

The spoken word…  Many words were spoken by 79 others, the evening before this one, to those serving a hot street meal during a cold rainy night.  The ambiance wasn’t appealing and there was no place to sit and yet ongoing words of appreciation continued to echo throughout the night.  The words of gratitude were encouraging… the words helped the volunteers realize that their efforts were worth it and although not intended to, the very same words ensured that the volunteers would find the time and strength to return once more.  (Footnote 1)

Father God, we thank you for giving us a voice to be heard, a tongue to form words and the intelligence to communicate.  Lord, we ask you to forgive us for the words we have carelessly spoken that has brought harm to another.  We ask for your grace to choose to forgive the others who have hurt us, in turn, through their harmful spoken words.  Father, renew our minds in you and take control of our tongues so that only words of life will come forth from our mouths.  In Jesus’ name we pray, AMEN.

God bless,

Melissa – November 14, 2012

p.s. –

Footnote 1:  November 11, 2012 Believe Street Meal – http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151322687739993.530861.788749992&type=1

“…the tongue is a fire.  The tongue is an unrighteous world among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the cycle of nature, and set on fire by hell.  For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue – a restless evil, full of deadly poison.  With it we bless the Lord and the Father, and with it we curse men, who are made in the likeness of God.  From the same mouth come blessing and cursing.  My brethren, this ought not to be so.” Luke 3:6-10

REFLECTION: Cross Roads

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

Fatigued.  This is the very word that describes my current state and before it brings out the worse in me, I should retreat and rest in the Father’s arms.

After Jesus learned that his cousin, John the Baptist, was beheaded by King Herod, “he withdrew from there in a boat to a lonely place apart.  But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on the great throng; and he had compassion on them, and he healed their sick.  When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a lonely place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves.”  Jesus said, “They need not go away: you give them something to eat.”  They said to him, “We have only five loaves here and two fish.”  And he said, “Bring them here to me.”  Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass; and taking the five loaves and the two fish he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds.  And they all ate and were satisfied.  And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over.  And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children…  After he dismissed the crowds, he went up into the hills by himself to pray.” Matthew 14: 13-23

Where do we go when we are fatigued and discouraged?  Do we sit in front of the tube in a vegetative state?  Do we sip on a glass of wine or chug on a bottle or two of beer until our thoughts become dull and we enter into a temporary blissful state?  Or, do we go to a lonely place and pray, just as Jesus did?

As I “lost myself” in front of the tube the other night, I came across a channel where the hosts were mentioning that watching the “tube” isn’t a healthy way to rest and relax.  Rather than restoring our mind, body and soul, we merely immerse and loose ourselves into a fictitious world, while we retreat from our real one.

Jesus had attempted to go to a lonely place to grieve the loss of his cousin, but the crowds followed.  Rather than retreating and finding comfort for himself, he had compassion on the crowds and he healed their sick.  But that wasn’t all, knowing that it was late and the crowds were hungry, he “(took) the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds.  It was only when he dismissed the apostles and the crowds that he went up to the hills by himself to pray.

Lord Jesus, teach us what to do when we are so tired and yet there is still so much to do.  We ask for your gift of wisdom so that we can discern whether it is your Spirit that is moving us to action or whether we are attempting to move forward by our own strength.  Lord, the enemy is cunning and he will do anything to destroy us, even to the point of getting us involved in too much so we are no longer effective for you.  Guide our every step Lord and teach us to rest in the Father’s loving arms.  Thank you Lord for the inner peace and the tranquillity that comes as we rest in the Father’s arms.  In Jesus’ name we pray, AMEN.

God bless,

Melissa – November 13, 2012