Archive for the ‘free will’ Category

REFLECTION: Your resurrection

Thursday, August 7th, 2014

On Thursday evening, several of us attended the memorial Mass of the 97 year old mother of a friend of mine.  Ashanti shared about her mother’s life; she, who quietly passed into our Father’s loving arms while she slept.  What touched me the most was this elder’s faithfulness in praying her children back into the Christian faith.  Unfortunately, many of us parents walk in a similar path.  What joy to know that this one saw each of her 5 return to our Lord while she walked on planet Earth.

Having flown back from Agassiz to celebrate this special Mass, Fr. Jack Dias began his homily with, “Both life and death are gifts from God.  Both gifts are free so we can glorify God.”  I believe we can all readily agree that the earthly life which begins with the birth of a child is truly a gift, but death, a gift as well?  Fr. continued, “Without the gift of death, we cannot get into Heaven.  Death becomes a door to Heaven.”

Hold on, does this door to Heaven open for all?  Had Adam and Eve trusted God, ALL would enter Heaven.  However, free will, which God had bestowed on man, gave and still gives man the liberty to make choices.  Sadly, the first man and woman chose to disobey God.  Because of this Fall, the original innocence and purity God created in man became tainted by sin.  From then on, concupiscence (the innate tendency of humans to long for fleshly appetites) tainted the nature of man and unfortunately, many continue to fall.

The created turns against its Creator.  Science fiction?  Not in this case.  Have you felt the desire to over-indulge in food, alcohol, sex or bully another?  Has money controlled your desires and actions, minimizing your willingness to reach out to help another?  Whether you realize it or not, these are actual temptations which the devil, our adversary, plants into our minds.  Having been thrown down from Heaven himself because of his own rejection of God, the devil does whatever He can to destroy man and to keep him from returning to God.  Whatever harm we do to ourselves or another is turning against God.  Why?  Because He created us. His desire is for us to know Him and for His children to live full, happy lives.   Regardless of seeing many backs turned His way, God continues to seek man.

Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life, he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die.”  John 10:25-26  That’s a bit heavy, isn’t it?  Perhaps we should start from the beginning.

Let’s begin at the Garden of Eden.  “ … The Lord God took the man and put him into the Garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.  The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” Genesis 2:15-17  Notice how the word “die” comes into the picture?  Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” Genesis 2:18  And woman becomes a member of planet earth.

“Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field  which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat;  but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’” The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die!  For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.  Genesis 3:1-7

Did you notice how the devil, taking the form of a serpent, twisted the truth?  He is very good at that.  In fact, one of his titles is the Father of Lies.  Do you see how he lured Eve into believing that she would be like God?  Would you believe that was the very same thing that caused him to fall?

The eyes of Adam and Eve were definitely opened, and what did they see?  They realized they were naked!  That didn’t matter before, but having their eyes opened, their nakedness became an issue.

Was God mad?  I’m sure He was, but He didn’t exhibit it.  In today’s lingo, God was COOL.  He came, strolling along in the cool of the morning calling out for Adam and Eve because they were nowhere to be seen.

Then the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?”  He said, “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.” And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.”  Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” And the woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” Genesis 3:9-13

Did you notice how quickly Adam put the blame on the woman?  Did you notice how he also put the blame on God by addressing the woman as “The woman YOU gave to be with me”?  As to the woman, she quickly put the blame on the serpent!  Sound familiar?  We continue to do the same, don’t we?

As with every choice made, we face the blessing or the consequence that goes along with it.  To the serpent, God said… And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.” Genesis 3:15  THIS was God’s fore shadowing promise that He would one day provide a way for man to return back to the loving union he once shared with God through One that would be born of woman.

Jesus said, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.”  John 6:35  God had sent not an angel, but His Son, Jesus, down from Heaven to do His will.  Jesus was not transported down to earth as an adult, but He was conceived by the Holy Spirit and was born to a virgin mother, Mary.

What did Jesus do?  “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Luke 19:10  Lost?  Yes, all who have turned away from the Father.  He didn’t set up an office and wait for people to come.  Instead, He walked around and talked with the people, mingling with the broken, the lonely, the forgotten, the rejected, the unwelcomed… anyone and all who needed the touch of God’s love.   He taught, at times by parables, but more often than not, He taught by how He lived, through His loving actions.  He healed… the sick, the lepers, the lame, the blind, the demon possessed.  He raised the dead and with 2 fish and 5 loaves of barley bread, he fed the multitudes (5000 men) with 12 baskets of left over remaining.

More than anything, Jesus gently healed the spiritual brokenness of those who sought Him…
“Teacher,” they (the Pharisees and religious teachers) said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery.  The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” … Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger.  They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!”  Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust. …Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”   “No, Lord,” she said.  And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” John 8:4-11  Unlike the Pharisees , Jesus doesn’t create a scene nor does He nag nor berate.  He simply forgives and sends her off, encouraging her to sin no more.

Jesus did not limit His ministry to His kind (Jews),   In the heat of noon, as he rested by a well in the midst of His travels, Jesus meets a Samaritan woman.  To her surprise, He speaks to her, overlooking the set traditions that Jews do not associate with Samaritans, let alone a woman on her own.  He offers her “living water” and bids her to call her husband.  The woman replies, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You have correctly said, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly.” John 4:17-18

Did you notice what transpired here?  Because He is God, Jesus knew every detail of the woman’s background, and yet, He does not accuse her of anything.  When He asks her to call her husband, she replies with the truth.  He then reveals what He knows of her and she responds, “I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us.”  Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.” John 4: 25-26

“From that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all the things that I have done.” …Many more believed because of His word; and they were saying to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world.” John 4: 39-42

“For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.”  John 6:35  During His 3 years of public life, Jesus fulfilled what the Father had sent Him to do.  He proclaimed  “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst. … “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.” John 6:35-40  He healed the sick, He raised the lame and brought sight to the blind, he resurrected the dead, and He brought spiritual healing.

There was still one crucial thing Jesus had to do.  When the appropriate time came, “He went away again a second time and prayed, saying, “My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done.” Matthew 26:42 Jesus knew exactly what He had to do and He knew the excruciating toll it would take.   He knew He still needed to take on ALL the sins of the world… past, present and future, upon himself and to die a horrific death, so that death would be conquered once and for all.

Jesus died on the cross over 2000 years ago.  And on the 3rd day, the Holy Spirit raised Him up from the dead.   Jesus is ALIVE and well and he now sits at the right hand of the Father, interceding for all.

“For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.” John 6:35-40

Do you believe?

God bless,

Melissa – August 7, 2014

p.s. – http://powertochange.com/discover/faith/godandloved/ <- FALLING PLATES

REFLECTION: Dry bones…

Monday, July 14th, 2014

 

Dry bones… dry, dry bones.  What is the first thing that comes to mind when you read these words?  My thoughts rest on a sun bleached bovine skull and its sun baked bones in a scorching desert.

Ezekiel, an Old Testament Prophet, had a vision.  He wrote, “The hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley; it was full of bones.  And he led me round among them; and behold, there were very many upon the valley; and behold, they were very dry.”    God asks him, “Son of man, can these bones live?”  God then tells him, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.  Thus says the Lord God to these bones:  Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live.  And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the Lord.”  Ezekiel obeys and as he prophesies to these bones, he hears rattling sounds.  As he opens his eyes hesitantly and peers through half-shut lids, he sees the bones coming together!  Now, looking on with excitement, he notices that sinews and flesh have come on them and skin now covers them!  God then asks Ezekiel to “prophesy to the spirit” and “the spirit comes into them, and they live and stand upon their feet.” God then says, “Son of man, these bones are the bones of the whole of Israel.  Behold, they say, “Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost.” Ezekiel 37: 1-11

Was there a time when you felt so beaten, every ounce of your spirit sucked up and your bones had become oh so dry?  In his first chapter of “Waking the Dead”, author John Eldredge writes…   ”Twenty clear days a year – that sounds about like my life.  I think I see what’s really going on about that often.  The rest of the time it feels like fog.”  “Why have things gone the way they have?  Where was God in all that? “  “Oh, I’d love to wake each morning knowing exactly who I am and where God is taking me.” “ It’s awesome when I do see.  But for most of us, life seems more like driving along with a dirty windshield and then turning into the sun.  I can sort of make out the shapes ahead, and I think the light is green.” Footnote 1

“Let’s start with why life is so dang hard.” “ Yes, we have our faith.  But even there – maybe especially there – it all seems to fall rather short of the promise.  There’s talk of freedom and abundant life, of peace like a river and joy unspeakable, but we see precious little of it, to be honest.”  Footnote 1

Can you relate to that?  Many barely make it, merely surviving one moment at a time!  “We are losing – or we have already lost – heart.  That glorious, resilient image of God in us is fading, fading, fading away.” Footnote 2

What has happened?  Didn’t Jesus say, “I am the way, the truth and the life”?  John 14:6 Jesus said that He would show us the way to life, but why are many Christians living miserable lives?  Jesus didn’t come down from Heaven to endure unbearable torment so we would continue to live miserably here on earth, only to live happily in Heaven… after we die.  During his Lenten mission earlier this year, Fr. Emmerich said, “Every Christian’s resurrection takes place HERE (earth) and not in Heaven.  Do you get that?  DO YOU GET THAT?  I wonder how many really do?

During the latter part of Lent, one of the Old Testament Scripture reading was “…You shall know that I am Lord, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people…  I WILL PUT MY SPIRIT WITHIN YOU AND YOU SHALL LIVE … then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken, and I have done it, says the Lord.”  Ezekiel 37:13-14   This, in fact, is the tail end of Ezekiel’s vision.

Our graves are opened, God has given us the power to rise from our graves, but have we gotten up?  Barely!  Even before we are able to get out of bed, we are already bombarded.  Thoughts of fear, anger, and retaliation fill our minds and even before the bed covers are thrown off our bodies, we are already exhausted and beaten.

Victim.  Recognize that word?  I didn’t realize I had identified with that “name” for the longest while until I heard one of Neale Lazano’s CD.  He said, “You are NOT a victim.  That is NOT your name.”  That was definitely not my name, but I had identified with it for such a long, long time.  Unknowingly, I had accepted that title in my younger years and I had identified with it and lived accordingly.

Was I unwittingly lured to it?  Yes.  My undiagnosed Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity in my childhood years had made me uncontrollable and the excessive discipline I received because of it shaped my thoughts. The inability to comprehend and the many hours left alone to lick my wounds created the perfect scenario.  The devil flung multiple lies my way, telling me there was nothing in me that deserved being loved; my behaviour would always be unacceptable and I deserved to be punished repeatedly…  These were lies but no one was around to tell me otherwise and so, as the thoughts came, I accepted them as my truth.

But it doesn’t happen only to the young.  Many teens and adults go through incomprehensible agonies.  An unwelcomed incident happens within the family circle.  Already too pre-occupied with their individual busy schedules, the couple angrily battle each other and/or their children.  Their inability to communicate healthily and effectively lead to more unresolved grievances and unmet needs.   They accumulate and accumulate… unresolved, deeply buried, often forgotten.  Although hidden, the  potency of each pain is still as strong as when it was first experienced and they leak and seep up to the surface, often summoned by similar experiences.  Had they been dealt with when they first occurred, they would have been easier to handle, but now, they’ve accumulated and amalgamated with many others.  Now they have become too strong.  The teens and even their parents can’t figure it out.  The incidents happened so long ago and now, there are too many of them.  Unable to identify and alleviate the cause of their pain, they attempt to run away, but running doesn’t help.  Their very being follows wherever they go… they cannot detach.  Eventually, alcohol and drugs come into the picture in attempt to numb the pain and perhaps bring about a momentary bliss.  While the physical torment goes on, the adversaries of the evil one have kept busy, invisibly dropping one lie after another.  Weakened and isolated, the individual accepts each lie until all hope is gone and he/she is no longer able to rise, even from an opened grave.

John Eldredge continues, “WHAT IS REALLY GOING ON HERE?  Good grief – life is brutal.  Day after day it hammers us, till we lose sight of what God intends toward us, and we haven’t the foggiest idea why the things that are happening to us ARE happening to us.”  Elridge clearly spells it out…  “WE ARE AT WAR”.  At war?  “No we’re not!  We’re not living in a war torn country.” one might argue.  But what many fail to grasp is that our battle is not of this world!

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”  Ephesians 6:12

“Hogwash!” one might say.   Really?  That’s what the devil and his adversaries would like everyone to think.  The less we are aware that the battle is taking place, the less we will be on defense.

Had our opponents been visible, would our fight be more active or would we merely cowl in corners, flailing our arms in attempt to protect ourselves?  On September 11th, the “enemy” was visible.  They came in hijacked planes with hundreds of loved ones subjected to their merciless scheme.  But America was not prepared and hundreds upon hundreds of innocent lives perished.  The world of terrorism acknowledged their hand in the event and the world, fully aware of the threat they imposed, united against them.

But what if there was an invisible cloak?  What if the world of terrorism didn’t declare their involvement in the event?  Wouldn’t this be similar to the incident of the Malaysian flight that disappeared?  While the memory lasted, the world was left at a loss, wondering what they could do to prevent a future catastrophe.

These incidents happened en-masse, but the battle we are discussing takes place individually, in our own homes…  in our own lives… in our own minds.  No one is spared.  From the time a child is able to distinguish right from wrong, the attack begins.  More often than not, the attacks are cloaked because we don’t recognize them for what they are.  We often pass them off as our own horrid thoughts.  Many are tormented but we don’t know how to stop them.

We have been warned…  “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8  But how many have taken heed?  Not many.  What about you?   Not familiar with God’s Word?   Fail to make time to open your Bible and/or perhaps glazing over when Scripture is read during Mass?

We have been warned… ”my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.  Because you have rejected knowledge, I also reject you as my priests; because you have ignored the law of your God, I also will ignore your children.”  Hosea 4:6

“…Their works are works of iniquity, and deeds of violence are in their hands.  Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood; their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity, desolation and destruction are in their highways.  The way of peace they know not, and there is no justice in their paths; they have made their roads crooked, no one who goes in them knows peace.  Therefore justice is far from us, and righteousness does not overtake us; we look for light, and behold, darkness, and for brightness, but we walk in gloom.  We grope for the wall like the blind, we grope like those who have no eyes; we stumble at noon as in the twilight, among those in full vigour we are like dead men.  We all growl like bears, we moan and moan like doves; we look for justice, but there is none; for salvation, but it is far from us.  For our transgressions are multiplied before thee, and our sins testify against us; for our transgressions are with us…” Isaiah 59: 6-11

Although the previous Scripture from Isaiah was written in 700 B.C., it accurately describes our worldly situation today.  What is going on?  “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God and your sins have hid his face from you so that he does not hear For your hands are defiled with blood and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue mutters wickedness.  No one enters suit justly, no one goes to law honestly; they rely on empty pleas, they speak lies, they conceive mischief and bring forth iniquity.”  Isaiah 49:1-4

But wasn’t that in the past before Jesus came to earth?  Aren’t we now at the time after the coming of Jesus Christ?  Isn’t the world filled with more Christians today?

Is it?

We have many who refer to themselves as Christians, but are they really?  Christianity is not merely a name, it is a lifestyle.  It is knowing and acknowledging that I am a sinner and realizing and believing that through the death and resurrection of God’s son, Jesus Christ, my sins are forgiven and I immediately become a child of God.  But there’s more!  It also means that by God’s grace, I am now given the POWER, through the Holy Spirit, to CHOOSE to turn away from my wicked ways and the power to CHOOSE to follow God’s way.

The power is given, but unfortunately, more often than not, the choice taken is away from God…

A majority of Catholics have been baptized into God’s family as infants.  Fr. Hampsh explains that we have been initiated into God’s family by the Sacrament of Baptism, but he clearly explains that it doesn’t and it cannot end there.  As we grow, our parents and Catechism teachers bring us to a greater understanding and love for God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit and eventually, we need to CHOOSE to enter into a personal relationship with Jesus.  It is a relationship with the meeting of two hearts.

Christianity is not blind faith; it is a living and growing relationship with the LIVING God.  No one can make that choice for us.  Many would like to and unfortunately, some have even attempted to force that choice on others, but it really is a free willed choice that each one has to make.

Have you been left behind along the way?  Many have.  It is evident by the fact that many Christians are barely living.  And yet Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” John 10:10  Since the fall of Adam and Eve, the devil has continued to steal the joy of God’s children and apparently, he has been successful in killing and destroying so many lives.  But wait!  Jesus came down to planet Earth to bring God’s children back to Him.  Jesus clearly mentions that He came so that we would have life and within the same sentence, He clarifies that He is not talking about merely living like a bird imprisoned within a cage, but living an abundant life!

Before He returned to the Father in Heaven, Jesus told his disciples to wait for the Holy Spirit.  But why? He knew they needed the supernatural strength of the very One, the Holy Spirit, who raised Jesus from the dead.  “I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”  Luke 24:49 “The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”  John 14:26

Many of us, who have been baptized as infants, don’t realize that as we were adopted into God’s family, we were simultaneously given the Holy Spirit to guide us and to empower us to live victoriously!  So what went wrong?  Let’s start with… How is your friendship with God?  Do you  really know God, or do you merely know of him?

When you finally meet Him at the gates of Heaven, how would you respond when God asks why you didn’t call on His name and take His hand during your times of turmoil, but instead, you blamed Him and cursed Him.  Convicted?  That’s all He wants of you.  He wants each of us to realize that we continue to fall and we truly need His help to battle the cunning adversary.  He wants us to realize that He has provided the ways of escape through His Word and He has given us the power through the Holy Spirit.

So how are we going to respond?  With another “ho-hum”?

Father God, thank You for sending Jesus down to planet earth to bridge us back to You.  Father, forgive us for our free-willed choice of dismissing and rejecting Your teachings and ways.  Father, open our spiritual eyes so we can see that You forgive when we ask for Your pardon and help us take an active part in our spiritual well-being.  Father, help us see that our eternal future depends on the choices we make.  And Lord, for those who have climbed the spiritual ladder, help each see that the temptations of the enemy becomes more subtle and that they are prone to spiritual pride.  We need You Lord and we ask that You will eventually bring us back Home to You when our time on earth is over.  In Jesus’ name we pray, AMEN.

God bless,

Melissa – July 13, 2014

p.s.
– Aneel Aranha’s online teaching “The Armor of God”
(http://www.holyspiritinteractive.net/columns/aneelaranha/armorofgod/introduction.asp is also exceptional.  Do consider learning the ways to defeat the attacks of the devil in your life and in the lives of your loved ones.

The Parable of the Sower Explained (Matt 13:18-23)

“Hear then the parable of the sower.  When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the Evil One comes and snatches away what is sown in his heart; this is what was sown along the path.

As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. 

As for what was sown among thorns, this is he who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the delight in riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. 

As for what was sown on good soil, this is he who hears the word and understands it; he indeed bears fruit, and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.” 

– Lord, renew our mind in You and cultivate it so that Your Word will take root in our hearts and lives.  In Jesus’ name, AMEN.

Footnotes:
1) page 5, Waking the Dead
2) page 22

REFLECTION: Is someone at the door?

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

 doorknocking

Would you readily open the door when someone knocks or rings the bell at your front door?  I wouldn’t.  I’ve had one too many solicitors come by and so, unless I know it’s the mailman or someone I am expecting, I totally ignore the beckoning of the unwelcomed guest.

But what would you do if Someone was knocking at your spiritual door?  Have you heard it said ”Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.”  Rev 3:20  I would assume this scripture would sound terribly odd and disconcerting to one unfamiliar with the passage.  But in truth, no one needs to be concerned.  You see, Jesus doesn’t barge into anyone’s life.  Although He is God, He remains patiently at the door of your heart, waiting for you to open the door and to invite Him into your life.

Take a look at the picture.  Notice something odd about the door?  The exterior door knob is missing.  Each artist depicting this scene intentionally leaves the door knob out to symbolize that each individual has full control of the decision.

But what happens if you hesitantly open the door, will He barge in?  Based on my personal experience and the personal experience of many others, He waits for you to invite Him in.  In truth, even if you’ve opened the door before and left it ajar, each morning He waits for you, once again, to invite Him into your life.  Why?  Because he respects the free will of every individual.  He doesn’t assume that once you’ve invited Him into your life, He has free reign over your life.  He doesn’t take it for granted that just because you’ve invited Him once, that He is forever welcome.

Many of us take Jesus for granted.  Many of us were born and raised in Catholic Christian families and were baptized as infants.   We were taught the narrative of Jesus’ birth as children and we received sufficient Catechism teachings so that we were able to receive our first Holy Communion and our Confirmation.  But unfortunately, that was it.  We continue to show up for Mass because, in the back of our minds, we don’t want to end up in Hell.  We’ve learned enough to know that there are certain things we have to engage in to make ourselves and others think that we are living a good enough life to qualify for Heaven.  We may even say we “know” Jesus and are able to recite who He is and what He had done, but in truth, we merely know of Him.  We don’t know Him the way he yearns to be known and we ignore Him until we are in a crisis and we need a favour from Him.  Then we either ask Him for something or we ask others who know Him more intimately to pray for us so that we can get what we want.  Been there?  Done that?

We can fool ourselves and the rest of the world, but we can’t fool Jesus.  Proverbs 21:2 teaches “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart.”  1 Samuel 16:7 adds … “For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

I often wonder what Peter saw when his eyes caught Jesus’ glance after he denied Jesus 3x before His crucifixion.    Undoubtedly, Peter saw sadness and disappointment, but he also saw compassion, understanding and forgiveness.  What Peter saw in Jesus’ eyes was enough to keep him moving in the direction Jesus had wanted him to.  Unfortunately, Judas, the one who betrayed Jesus, didn’t turn to look back at Jesus.  Without a doubt, I am sure he would have received the same healing glance that Peter received, but sadly he didn’t choose to glance Jesus’ way.

Is Jesus at the door of your heart, gently calling out your name?  You may have heard him whispering your name, but you have chosen, instead, to muffle his voice and distract yourself with the other “voices” of the world.  Would you look through the peep hole and see that He continues to wait patiently for you, ever so gently calling out your name.  Would you look and see that He is not upset nor angry that you have turned your back on Him.  Do you hear Him whispering…”Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”  Matt 11:28

Do consider opening the door and inviting Him in.  Do consider inviting Him into your life day after day and get to know Him.  He has been waiting for so long to know you… intimately.

God bless,

Melissa – January 7, 2014

p.s. –

Dear God, I’ve been living my life my own way.  Now I

want to live it your way.  I need You and I invite You 

to take control of my life.  I receive Your Son, Jesus

Christ, as my personal Saviour and Lord.  I believe He

died for my sins and He has risen from the dead.  Please

wash me from all sin, shame and guilt.  Come into my life

Lord Jesus and sit on the throne of my life.  I want to have

a personal relationship with you.  Make me the

kind of person you want me to be.  In Jesus’ name I pray,

AMEN.


REFLECTION: In the beginning…

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

 

In the beginning, at the onset of time, God created out of nothing.  Out of nothing, He created all that was to be in five days, and on the 6th, He created “man”, male and female, in His image and likeness.  In each living creation, God placed a seed and to each of its kind, He blessed and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number.” Genesis 1:22  To the ones He created in His image he said, “Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.   Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.”  Genesis 1: 28-30

Why didn’t God reign over the world He created?  Why did He give man reign over all?  Was He expecting to be too busy or, did He think He would not be able to cope with it?  The Catholic Catechism explains…

“God is the sovereign master of his plan. But to carry it out he also makes use of his creatures’ co-operation. This use is not a sign of weakness, but rather a token of almighty God’s greatness and goodness. For God grants his creatures not only their existence, but also the dignity of acting on their own, of being causes and principles for each other, and thus of co-operating in the accomplishment of his plan.

To human beings God even gives the power of freely sharing in his providence by entrusting them with the responsibility of “subduing” the earth and having dominion over it.  God thus enables men to be intelligent and free causes in order to complete the work of creation, to perfect its harmony for their own good and that of their neighbors. Though often unconscious collaborators with God’s will, they can also enter deliberately into the divine plan by their actions, their prayers and their sufferings.  They then fully become “God’s fellow workers” and co-workers for his kingdom.” (Paragraphs 306 – 308, Catholic Catechism, Simplified Version)

Although man and beast were created on the 6th day, it is man, alone, who was created in friendship with God.  It is to him that God had given the ability to share, through knowledge and love, in God’s own life.  Man was not created to be something, but he was created to be someone.  He was given the capacity of self-knowledge, of self-possession and of freely giving  of himself and entering into friendship with another.  It is to man, alone, that God has given the grace to enter into a covenant with his Creator… to offer Him a response of faith and love.

Adam and Eve, our first parents, were created in an original “state of holiness and justice” and it was in this state of holiness that they were able to share in the divine life.   As long as man remained in the divine intimacy, he would not have to suffer or die.  The inner harmony of the human person, which today’s society so longs for, the harmony between people and the harmony of the first couple and all creation comprised the state called “original justice”.

God’s gift to man of “mastery” over the whole world was realized within man himself… mastery of self.  Man had integrity.  He was given the ability to correctly order his internal powers according to reason and will.  He had self-dominion.  He had self-control.  The first man was unimpaired and ordered in his whole being because he was free from the triple concupiscence, the 3 evils… “sensual lust, enticement for the eyes and a pretentious life” 1 John 2:16

Then, evil crept in.  Evil didn’t happen by chance.  Evil didn’t happen by an over-sight nor an error on God’s part.  Evil entered when angels, who were created good by God, made an irrevocable, free-willed choice to reject God… not in error, but because of pride.

Thrown down from Heaven, the devil and all the adversaries were furious and they wanted revenge.   Not wanting God’s other creations to enjoy His love and His companionship, the devil immediately targeted Adam and Eve, the first humans on planet earth.   Man succumbed to the deceit of the Evil One… exchanging the truth of God for a lie, serving the creature rather than the Creator.  Since then, man has been subjected to love the world in selfish, disordered ways:  feeding his flesh with pleasures; feeding his eyes with the world’s possessions; and feeding his spirit with his pride.   Until Jesus’ second coming, the devil and his adversaries will continue to prowl around the world seeking the ruin of souls. (1 Peter 5:8)

”But why did God not create a world so perfect that no evil could exist in it? With infinite power God could always create something better. But with infinite wisdom and goodness God freely willed to create a world “in a state of journeying” towards its ultimate perfection. In God’s plan this process of becoming involves the appearance of certain beings and the disappearance of others, the existence of the more perfect alongside the less perfect, both constructive and destructive forces of nature. With physical good there exists also physical evil as long as creation has not reached perfection.

(Angels and…) Men, as intelligent and free creatures, have to journey toward their ultimate destinies by their free choice and preferential love. They can therefore go astray. Indeed, they have sinned. Thus has moral evil, incommensurably more harmful than physical evil, entered the world. God is in no way, directly or indirectly, the cause of moral evil.  He permits it, however, because he respects the freedom of his creatures and, mysteriously, knows how to derive good from it:  For almighty God. . ., because he is supremely good, would never allow any evil whatsoever to exist in his works if he were not so all-powerful and good as to cause good to emerge from evil itself. “(Paragraphs 310-311 Catholic Catechism)

So was that it?  Did God abandon man, allowing the devil free reign over the world while leaving man with no recourse?  Let’s examine Genesis 3…

“Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” 

The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’” 

“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman.

“When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.  She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.  Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.  But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”” Genesis 3:1-8

Did you read that?  God didn’t throw a bolt of lightning to annihilate Adam and Eve, but instead, God walked through the garden calling out for them.

He (Adam) answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”  And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” 

The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” 

Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” 

The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, “Cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals!  You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life.  And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”

To the woman he said, “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children.  Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”

To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life.  It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field.  By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.” Genesis 3:10-19

Just as the devil and his adversaries were thrown down from Heaven as a result of their free willed choice to turn away from God, Adam and Eve, too, were held accountable for theirs.  Although Adam and Eve were punished, the devil (in the form of the serpent) was cursed for tempting mankind.

“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” Genesis 3:15

“Genesis 3:15 has a prophetic nature to it, for there is a promise in the future of redemption, that someone (Jesus) will crush the head of the serpent.  God’s judgement upon the serpent contains a promise of ultimate victory through the woman by her offspring. This concept is developed in a spiritual sense throughout Scripture and the Fathers of the Church.”

Just as God walked through the garden calling out to Adam and Eve when they had sinned,  God calls out to us when we, in turn, choose to turn away from Him.  We attempt to hide, but He waits patiently for us to return.  He loved mankind too much to leave us where we were at and so, just as He declared in the beginning in Genesis 3:15, He sent His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for the sin of the world, redeeming each one who welcomes Him into their life and He brings each one back to the heart of the Father.

God blesss,

Melissa – November 16, 2013

References:

http://www.cftministry.org/resources/articles/article_why.html – Why Did God Create
Humanity?
http://biblescripture.net/First.html – GENESIS 3:15 -THE PROTOEVANGELIUM OR “FIRST
GOSPEL”

http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p1s2c1p4.htm  – The Catechesis of
Creation