Archive for the ‘hope’ Category

REFLECTION in the garden: When it rains…

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

 

Although it was overcast, the beautiful floral pictures in a forwarded e-mail inspired me to go outdoors to capture the blooms in the garden . As I began to sort through the photos, the sky broke open and the rain began to fall. I realized that the beauty was still there, but the down pour prevented me from continuing to enjoy the beauty. As I deleted the blurry ones and enhanced and cropped the others, I sensed that words needed to be included with the pictures. The music was chosen randomly and the words began to flow as if they were meant specifically for each picture. What was difficult to fathom was the pictures remain in the exact order in which they were taken. All I can say to this is God’s hand was definitely in the making of “When it rains…” He was the true Director.

Please consider viewing…https://vimeo.com/126328870?utm_source=email&utm_medium=clip-transcode_complete-finished-20120100&utm_campaign=7701&email_id=Y2xpcF90cmFuc2NvZGVkfDczOGVkOWQ4MzAzYTNkYmNmMDRmMmEwZGQzMDg5ODc0MjU1fDM5Njk5Mzk0fDE0MzAyNzMzODd8NzcwMQ%3D%3D May it bring healing and hope to all.

God bless,

Melissa – April 28, 2015

REFLECTION: The call… / (Sacrifice)

Saturday, January 10th, 2015

 

Has God asked anything of you lately?  Do you realize that whatever He’s asked for is, in truth, not for Himself but in fact for you?

What does God ask of humanity?  He calls us to believe in His existence and in His love in order to offer us salvation.  He asks for our faith and trust in Him in order to offer us comfort and hope when we are in doubt and despair.  He calls us to rest in Him when we are weary and over-burdened.   He beckons to us, inviting us to prayer and to read His Word because He knows that we need to know Him and experience His love.  He calls us to obey and follow Him so that we may live life, not in hardship or mediocrity, but life to the full!

Each of us is called to an intimate and personal relationship with God.  But that isn’t all.  Before He died, Jesus prayed for us to His Heavenly Father.  He prayed, “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent me.” John 17:20-22  Jesus expressed His desire for our unity…not only a unity of His original apostles, but a unity for all who have followed in their footsteps, generation by generation.

You see, although God calls each of us to have a personal relationship with Him, He doesn’t call us to stand independently of each other.  He calls Christians from near and far, from far and wide, young and old alike, to come together as ONE, united in Him.  We ARE the body of Christ.  We are called to be a community, a body which cannot be separate.  We are called to love each other.

In 1 Peter 2:4-6 we read “As you come to Him, the living Stone – rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to Him – you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Christ Jesus.”  In 70 AD, God’s temple in Jerusalem was forever destroyed, never to be rebuilt again.   But today, we are the temple of the Holy Spirit.  God uses each Christian as a living stone to build His Church.

A majority of rocks and stones are collected from quarries.  When they are first blasted off and cut off from boulders, they are jagged, rough and extremely dusty.  Each of us is like these recently blasted rocks in our early encounters with Jesus.   Many of us arrive dazed and shell shocked from the many painful blasts of life.  Many of us believe that nothing good and/or beautiful can come out of us.  However, as we spend time with God and as we allow Him into our lives, the chiselling, chipping, washing and polishing begins and as our relationship and our journey develops, our beauty within is revealed.  Undeniably, the process is painful, but with God given perseverance and graces, we endure and gradually our beauty is disclosed.

I am reminded of a story of a master builder who was building a special wall in the palace for the king.  Knowing that many would admire his work, he chose to incorporate precious stones among the sturdier ones that would support the wall.  As he stood back to examine the layer he just laid, he heard a ruckus coming from one of the precious stones.  “Sir”, the precious stone exclaimed, “I am one of your precious gems which you have incorporated into this wall.  Look at my colours and look how I glisten when the light falls on me.   But sir, I believe you’ve made a minor error.  That rock which you have put above me has a protrusion that is sitting right on my shoulder.  I cannot continue beaming for the king if that protrusion continues to poke into me.”  The master builder looked closer.   Carefully, he examined the wall and then he exclaimed, “You are right!  I see what the problem is.”  He then took the protruding stone from the wall and examined it and then gently put it down.  He, in turn, pulled out the gleaming gem and examined it.  As he took another look at the protruding stone on the ground, a smile came to his face and he exclaimed, “I’ve got the solution!”  The master took his pick and He whacked the gem open just enough so that the protrusion of the other stone would sit comfortably over it.

God builds His temple out of living stones.  We are those stones.  As we say “yes” to His promptings, God chisels, grinds and polishes each one exactly the way He knows will bring out the very best in us.  We are the living stones that God uses to build his Holy Temple and He has planned a specific spot for each.

What is God, our Father, asking of you this year?  Has He asked you to exercise more patience towards another or has He asked you to let go of your excessive demands over another?  Ask Him what He requires of you.  It is difficult to truly grasp why God had asked Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac.  We have a hint that God was testing both their faith, but wouldn’t you think God’s call on both Abraham and Isaac overly excessive?  And yet, through God’s grace, each was able to fulfill what was asked of them.  What is God asking of you so you can be used to build His holy temple?

In closing, I invite you to watch a powerful clip that accompanies a song penned by Bob Fitts…
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RcjkJp9VxY8 .  (Do note that the sacrifice of Abraham parallel’s the sacrifice God made of His Son, Jesus.  Notice that it is Isaac, the son, who is carrying the wood just as it is Jesus, the Son, who carries the cross; the wood to be used for the sacrifice.  Take note that God provides a sacrifice for Abraham, but it is a ram.  The true living sacrifice will be Jesus, the Lamb of God.)

God bless,

Melissa – January 10, 2015

p.s. –

SACRIFICE
by Bob Fitts

Oh this must be the hardest hill I’ve ever climbed;
for I must sacrifice you promised son of mine.
And so I go to worship with you by my side
and trust a sacrifice He will provide.

And though I cherish you, I must now offer you
to Him who is the giver of all good things.
And though I cherish you, I must now offer you
for surely He could raise you up again.

Here on this altar Father I lay all my dreams
and offer back to you this child You’ve given me.
Oh son you must believe He’s called us to obey
and by His love He’ll make a better way.

And though I cherish you, I must now offer you
to Him who is the giver of all good things.
And though I cherish you, I will now offer you,
for surely He will raise you up again.

Oh Abraham, Oh Abraham,
now that I know you fear My name, withhold your hand.
Oh Abraham, oh faithful man,
your only son, he’s not the one,
behold the ram,
behold the Lamb…

It must have been the hardest thing He’d ever done,
when God the father sacrificed His only son.
The One that He most cherished gave His life away
and by His love, He made a better way.

And so I cherish You, and so I honour You.
You truly are the giver of all good things.
And so I cherish You, and so I honour You,
Your sacrifice is now the King of kings.

Jehovah-Jireh, He has provided,
the sacrifice of love no man could ever give
and what He requires of you and me, even the hardest thing,
Your blood of Christ, Your Sacrifice is made straight to obey.

Full Song Lyrics: http://www.lyrster.com//www.lyrster.com/lyrics/sacrifice-lyrics-bob-fitts.html#ixzz3OSO8vUtk

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: The silence and slowness of God…

Sunday, April 6th, 2014

 

“Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany; the village of Mary and her sister Martha.  It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill.  So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.”  But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness is not unto death; it is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by means of it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.  So when he heard that he was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.”  John 11: 1-6

Like many others, I have heard and read this scripture passage many times with very little effect.  Nevertheless, on Wednesday, through the process of Lectio Divina, our Father revealed something deeper than I could have imagined.

Did you notice something odd in the scripture passage?  Notice that it was Jesus’ friends, Mary and Martha, who had beckoned Him to come to their brother’s aid.  The content of their message was, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.”  Although they knew the depth of the friendship they shared, perhaps by reminding Jesus of his love for their brother, he would come more quickly.  Notice that the author, the Apostle St. John, also very clearly indicates that Jesus loved Martha, her sister and Lazarus.  And yet, as if it was the normal thing to do, he writes, “So when he heard that he was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.”

What was wrong with Jesus?!?  Did he forget who his friends were?  Didn’t he remember the people he loved… the people closest to his heart?  Even John knew his affection for these folks!  Didn’t it register in Jesus’ mind that someone he loved was dying?  What were Mary and Martha thinking?  They must have wondered what was taking him so long.  They knew he loved each of them.  Did this delay lead them to doubt  the sincerity of his love?

How many times have you found yourself in a similar situation?  We know God loves us.  He even promises that He is always with us and that He would never leave us.  And yet, there are times when we feel so abandoned, alone, rejected and betrayed.

As my reflection deepened, the memory of two mothers I had specifically been interceding for came to mind.  One has a beautiful 20 year old daughter who is bipolar and who, at times, is taunted with suicidal thoughts.  The other has a daughter who suffers from a rare genetic defect and who is also tormented with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  The latter had shared that she and her daughter had just about lost hope.

During my waking hours and during my sleepless nights, my prayers are lifted for them during those moments when God puts them in my heart.  I plead and beg for each mother; I plead and beg for each child… remembering the many years when I had pled for my own.  I remind our Father that I know He loves each of them so much and I plead for Him to give them minute miracles so that they can continue on.  I ask for his compassion and I beg him to give them the extra-ordinary graces that they need so that they don’t give up and they continue to hold on to Him.  And many times I beg him to “please hurry” and to “please let each one sense His presence even at the moment”.

And then I am reminded that I am not their mother.  Knowing that our Father only gives me a taste of their misery so I can intercede for them, my heart breaks when I realize how much anguish these moms go through.  In solidarity with them for the love of our children, God encourages me to pray even more.

There is still another who felt totally abandoned in the midst of his grief and agony.  Jesus, isolated and distanced from those he loved as he hung on the cross, agonized to vocalize his misery as he whispered through His bloodied, bruised and swollen lips… “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”  Matt 27:46   Although without sin, Jesus willingly took on all the sins of the world, knowing that it (sin)  would completely block him from His Father and He would be left to die on the cross… totally alone.

Did you hear His anguished cry?  He felt abandoned.  He must have called and called out for the Father as He hung on the cross.  He must have yearned even for a whisper, a simple sign to show Him that the Father was still with Him.  And yet, all He heard was silence…

But wait, Jesus was still God, wasn’t He?  He still had the power to come down from that cross!  And yet He remained there, silently submitting His will to the Father.

“Then after this He said to the disciples, “Let us go into Judea again.”  The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were but now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?”…  “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awake him out of his sleep.”  The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.”  Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep.  Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead; and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe.”  John 11: 7-8; 11-18

The disciples had warned Jesus not to return to Judea because the Jews had intended to stone Him.  Was that the reason why they didn’t resist when he said they were going to stay on for two more days?  Was Jesus afraid and was that why He didn’t come to the aid of His friend immediately?  Perhaps it was safer to wait for 2 days so the anger and volatility of the Jewish crowds could settle before they returned.  But was that 2 days of waiting what caused Lazarus to die?   Let’s do the math.  Jesus waited for 2 more days and by the time He arrived, Lazarus had already been dead 4 days.  When Jesus spoke to Martha and Mary, each of them had said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” John 11: 21/32.  Was there truth in what they said?  It sounds logical to blame Jesus, doesn’t it?  Nevertheless, let’s examine the passage again.  When Jesus decided to set off after the second day, didn’t he mention that Lazarus had already died?  Even if he left immediately, foot travel would not have gotten Him there on time.

 Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it.  Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said, “Father, I thank you for having heard me.  I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”  The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”  Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.  John 11:38-45

Mary and Martha and, perhaps, even Lazarus didn’t expect him to die.  It was evident the two women blamed Jesus’ delay for the death.  Jesus knew Lazarus was going to die, however, He knew something greater was ahead which was not yet privy to the human world.

Wasn’t it strange that Jesus said, “This illness is not unto death; it is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by means of it.”?  And later He said, “and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe.”  Believe what?

In His sermons, Jesus said , “I am the way, the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”  John 14:6  Jesus claimed to be the divine son of God.  Although His friends felt betrayed that He did not prevent Lazarus from dying, the miracle that He would perform in bringing this very man back to life would support His claim that He was the true God who had come down to earth to save mankind.

And “many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him”.  John 11:45

Father God, we thank You for always standing by our side and never leaving us.  At times the turmoil in our lives block you from our senses and we fail to hear you or even sense your presence.  Lord, we ask that You bless us with the same faith Jesus had when he felt so abandoned on the cross.  Although He was in immense pain and he could no longer carry on, he trusted You and knew that You had a plan that was bigger and better than what we in this world could imagine.  Thank you for dying for us Lord Jesus and for being the bridge back to the Father’s heart.  In Jesus’ name we pray, AMEN.

God bless,

Melissa – April 5, 2014

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: Surrender

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

 

“SURRENDER!!!?!!!!!”  Is that a command or a request?  Playing “combat” just as was portrayed on the TV program (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0055666/) in our yester-years, my 3 brothers and I would run around the yard with our machine guns and whatever make believe weapons we had, attempting to massacre and force the other to surrender.  No one wanted to be overpowered and give up control to the other team because it signified defeat.

What does surrender mean in our society today?  Without realizing what we have done, many of us have obediently and have readily given in to the ways of the world without even attempting to fight.  Media, be it in paper form or radio waves, has and is moulding the world… silently prompting our ideals and lives to conform to multiple ways that bring pain and agony to the lives of multitudes.  Sadly, many don’t realize that something…  “someone” has taken control and he goes around stealthily and invisibly, planting lies into our minds and whispering thoughts that prompt us to bring more harm to ourselves.  The bait dangles right before us, promising some form of satisfaction, only to leave us trapped in a cage of self-loath, shame, agony and misery when we reach out and take the bait. (1 Peter 5:8)

Did we surrender?  NO, because surrender requires a free-willed choice, but instead, we were tricked and we often find ourselves shackled, again and again…  to the ways of the world.

“Surrender?… to whom, to what?”  To God.  Many would recoil instantly and say “No way, I enjoy my freedom, thank you very much!” Freedom?  Really?  Or are you actually caught up in snares of heart ache, not knowing where to turn?

There is an answer, a way, but many refuse to listen.  Perhaps many have to be brushed by death to realize they need another way.  Will there be time?  Hopefully, but then years of agony and suffering would have had to be endured and the loss of a healthy and joyful life would have been lost.

But there is still hope!  Even a taste of joy in a lifetime would be worth it.  “But surrender?  NO thanks, I’m still not ready.  Let me try it my way one more time.  I know I can do it.  I’ve changed my ways and I’m so much stronger and wiser…”

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life…”  John 14:6

“No thanks, I don’t need religion.” many respond.  But He doesn’t leave.  He continues to call out, gently whispering your name, waiting for you to realize and say “God, help me!”

He waits… patiently.  He doesn’t intrude nor does He force his way, even when he knows that His ways will help you through.  He waits…  waiting for you to surrender and admit, “I need Your help!”

“Surrender?  What will it cost?”  Give up your way and trust that God’s way is better.  “God loves us more than we can ever begin to love ourselves.  Do we believe that?  Do we live that?” (footnote 1)

Surrender is NOT “Okay, do whatever you want with me.”  The surrender He asks is that of Mary… “Let it be done unto me.”  It is an active desire to seek out and live God’s will.  Mary’s “yes” to God brought salvation to the world.  Our “yes” to God allows us to be instruments of salvation for our families, the world and ourselves.

It is not a surrender of fear or self-interest.  It is a response to a loving invitation to a journey towards eternal life.  It is a life-giving surrender.  As you daily surrender to our Father’s will, you will discover the joy of totally giving of yourself to the One who has totally given Himself to you.  It is a surrender into a relationship of trust and love.  Jesus will never leave you or forsake you.  (Deuteronomy 31:6) He will lead you and guide you (Psalm 32:8) and He promises to give you His peace. (John 14:27)

Will you surrender?

God bless,

Melissa – November 27, 2013; 10:31 a.m.

 

p.s.:

1) Reference:  Introduction to “Surrender!  Life Changing Power of Doing God’s Will”
by Fr. Larry Richards

2) Praying through Ephesians 1:16:

Father God, we ask for a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of You.  We ask You to enlighten our eyes so that we will know what is the hope You have called us to.  Lord, help us to embrace and use the immeasurable greatness of Your power in us who believe in You so as to make a difference in this world. In Jesus’ name we pray, AMEN.

REFLECTION: Would you take a stand? (Part 2)

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

 

Three days ago, I came across an article that was posted on my Elementary School friend’s Facebook page.   Above the link was the caption “When one has a personal relationship with Jesus, self governance begins.”   The title of the article, Does Catholicism Make Us More Tolerant of Corruption? (http://joeam.com/2013/08/26/does-catholicism-make-us-more-tolerant-of-corruption) by itself, infuriated me.   The article pertained to the current political situation in the Philippines.  I had begun a dialogue with Andrew, the author, which is available in Part 1.

As I continued to pray and reflect on the dialogue, Luke 12:12-13 came to mind “When they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not worry about how or what you are to speak in your defense, or what you are to say;  for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”  To me, it was clearly evident that it was the Holy Spirit’s words that I had penned.  I sense our Father prompting us to encourage each other to take a stand for our faith and not to be afraid of what we ought to say because it will be the Holy Spirit who will speak through us.

1 Peter 3:15  encourages us…  “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, “  What good are our words when the person we are in dialogue with is standing back with his/her arms up.   1 Corinthians 13:1  teaches…” If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.”  May God give each of us the grace to speak in love so that others may experience His love.

Part 2 has come to life because Andrew, the author of the article, has responded.  He wrote…

 “I can’t disagree with anything you said, except that in my view, it leads to nowhere, except on an individual basis. It’s like that aphorism ” Change should come from each one of us” which is arguably correct and well-meaning, but it just leads to more of the status quo.

I am not sarcastic when I say this, but this was the same refrain during Marcos’ time, Erap’s time and Gloria’s time! And up to now it is still the same!

I am in the business of “getting things done”. I would like to see tangible, measurable, discrete activities, not just well-intentioned teachings of the hierarchy. And I think my frustration is shared by many.

For instance, are there parallel investigations within the Church on Monsignor Josefino Ramirez, Fr Peter Lavin et al? What has happened to the case of Monsignor Garcia of Cebu who was involved in ivory smuggling? Where are the reports on them and decisive actions taken? Why is there always a reshuffling and a cover-up?

At least Pope Francis has taken steps to signal that in his term, it would be different. Things would move, and it is reasonable to expect it will happen in this lifetime.

PS I appreciate our conversation very much. I have this inkling that you are not just a lay person. :)”

 

To my surprise, I received an additional response from an individual named Edgar Lores.  He wrote…

“Another of my two cents to M’s post.

Psychology has uncovered patterns of behaviour and thought which men rely on to protect ego. These patterns are called “defence mechanisms”. It is interesting to analyse the above post by the mechanisms used:

1. “I’ve been reflecting on your response and on the correlation you have chosen. You may have a good point in identifying the numerous weaknesses of the past and present politicians, however, I still find it inappropriate to use the Catholic Church in your analogy. To me, it’s similar to realizing that a majority of the people who are corrupt have black hair and so you make the inference that all people with black hair are corrupt. Do you see what I mean?”

1.1. In the defence mechanism of Intellectualisation a “person may discuss his problem(s) in an analytical, rational, intellectual way”.

1.2. The intellectualisation here is by use of an analogy. The analogy compares Andrew’s essay as being equivalent to the observance that “a majority of the people who are corrupt have black hair” which purportedly leads to the “rational” inference “that all people with black hair are corrupt.”

1.3. The introduction to this analogy states, “I still find it inappropriate to use the Catholic Church in your analogy”.

1.4. In the first place, Andrew is not making an analogy. An analogy is a comparison. Andrew is not making a comparison. He is presenting a thesis which uses correlations.

1.5. In the second place, Andrew is making a reasoned thesis. He presents 4 correlations to support his thesis. To compare Andrew’s essay to the analogy of “people with black hair” is illogical because @M does not present any correlational reason, a cause-and-effect, between black hair and corruption.

2. “I would assume that those in government positions who are corrupt are corrupt not because of what they claim to be in their faith walk, but because of who they are. Perhaps greed and self-centeredness prevail in their lives and they continue to pursue this ideal in their chosen careers. The fact that they claim to be Catholic is just by name rather than practise. As you may know (I’m assuming you are a Christian), Christianity is not a title, but a lifestyle.”

2.1. There are two defence mechanisms here: Rationalisation and Denial.

2.2. Rationalisation involves “explaining an unacceptable behaviour or feeling in a rational or logical manner, avoiding the true reasons for the behaviour”. The rationalisation here is in the observation that people “who are corrupt are corrupt not because of what they claim to be in their faith walk, but because of who they are.” Specifically, the rationalisation is that the explanation for corrupt behaviour is the very nature of people, in “who they are”. This is not an illumination explanation.

2.3. Denial is the refusal to admit or recognize that something has occurred or is currently occurring. The subtlety of the denial here lies in the use of the word “claim”, and the denial is that “people who ‘claim’ to be something” are NOT that something.

2.4. If one extends this logic to its fullest absurd conclusion, one would be able to say that no one is a true Catholic because all “Catholics” have sinned (even if only by Original Sin).

2.5. It is interesting to note that this schizoid logic allows the Church to say, “Love the sinner, hate the sin”. The sinner is the sin, and if I claim to be a Catholic, I am a Catholic.

2.6. One cannot resist the temptation to ask, “When did greed and self-centeredness become ideals?”

3. “You mention about purgatory and how these so called “Catholics” are choosing to use it to give them a chance to “get away” with the dirt they are engaged in now. Have you not heard that we are all called to walk through the narrow gate? Do you think these so called “Catholics” know what they are getting themselves into? They may think they can get away with things, but God sees what they are doing. They may think they can deceive God, but God sees the motives of man.”

3.1. No defence mechanism here. At last — at long last! — we have an attempt to present a counter argument against Andrew’s Purgatory reason. @M contends that so called “Catholics” cannot get away with things because “God sees the motives of man”.

3.2. The counter argument does not stand. Andrew does not contend that God is blind. Andrew’s contention is that wayward Catholics think they can get away with things because they believe they can repent at their final hour — (and perhaps repent periodically thru confession?) — and still be a shoo-in candidate for Purgatory.

4. “It is sad that many who are not walking in their Catholic faith continue to claim they are Catholics. Claiming a “title” or “identity” for oneself doesn’t have power in itself. It then just becomes a name. Little do they know they are deceiving themselves and others. These name claimers are the very ones who destroy the purity of the Catholic faith.”

4.1. This is just a repeat and an extension of the second paragraph’s rationalisation and denial.

5. “I would suggest that you focus on the core source of the corruption rather than blaming it on the religion which some claim to follow.”

5.1. This begs the question: What is the core source of corruption? Is it because men are essentially “who they are”? If that is so, there is no hope for the country unless all men are wiped out and the dinosaurs return.

6. “God bless you Andrew!”

6.1. Ah, the usual patronising “adios”. Or is it? Could it be deflection through humor? Or displacement of hostility with civility?”

 

I was floored for a moment, but God’s grace returned and so I wrote…

“Thank you for your interesting reply Edgar and may God’s peace be with you. I’ve never had another analyze what I have written and I am impressed by the effort taken!

By the way, my offering of God’s peace to you is not intended to patronize, but it is a sincere extension of God’s peace.

Scripture says… “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you.” Luke 10:5-6

You say I am in denial, I know I’m not, but that’s a choice you make. Each of us chooses the manner in which we see the world. You write… “2.3. Denial is the refusal to admit or recognize that something has occurred or is currently occurring. ” Are you insisting that I fail to see the corruption that is and has been going on in the Philippines? I beg to differ. My choice of words may not be to your liking, but I do see and have experienced the effects of the corruption.

I’d like to address your point 2.4 ” If one extends this logic to its fullest absurd conclusion, one would be able to say that no one is a true Catholic because all “Catholics” have sinned (even if only by Original Sin).” ALL Catholics, who, by the way, are also Christians, are sinners. Romans 3:23 teaches…”for ALL (Christians or not) have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” And yet, we have been given the grace … “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 Do note there is a cause and effect relationship here. Man has to do his part…CONFESS OUR SINS. I believe this involves true repentance. True repentance requires “expressing a sincere regret or remorse about one’s wrong doing or sin”. It also requires one to turn his/her back towards sin. Hence, if man does not do his part, God won’t and can’t do his.  Why?  Although it would benefit man, God will not force himself on anyone.  

It is in every human being’s nature to sin. It is for that reason why Jesus came down from Heaven to be the atonement of our sins. He took upon himself all the sins of the world (past, present and future) so that we could be reunited with God the Father. His death would have been the victory of his enemies and the devil, but the Father had sent the Holy Spirit into Jesus’ dead body and in 3 days, he rose again and destroyed death forever for those who believe in Him. God turned what was intended for evil and destruction, into the saving grace for all!

The following link http://openairoutreach.wordpress.com/2012/03/24/does-man-inherit-a-sinful-nature-jesse-morrell/ gives a decent discussion on man’s inherent nature. I would like to stress the following and hence I quote…” Mankind is described as being made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27; 9:6; 1 Cor. 11:7). The Bible says that men are “made after the similitude of God” (Jas. 3:9), even after the fall of Adam. That is why when it comes to sin, the Bible says that sin is actually contrary to human nature (Rom. 1:26-27). God wanted mankind to imitate Him in choosing holiness (Lev. 11:44-45; 19:2; 20:26; Matt. 5:48; 1 Pet. 1:16). God did not design us to live wickedly. Therefore, sin is an abuse and misuse of our created constitution.

God did not intend or plan for us to use our mental, moral, spiritual, or physical abilities for sin. That is why the Bible says that sin is “against nature.” Sinners choose to do “that which is against nature.” Through the freedom of their will, they choose to do what is contrary to their design. It was never God’s intention for man to sin. It was not His plan for mankind to be sinful (Gen. 6:5-6; Matt. 25:41; Eph. 1:4; 1 Thes. 4:3). God actually would have preferred a sinless universe that needed no atonement at all (1 Sam. 15:22). Since sin was contrary to God’s plan or intention for mankind, God has made sin contrary to the design of our constitution.

God never intended for us to use our constitution for sin. On the contrary, He wants us to use our members for righteousness (Rom. 6:13, 19; Rom.12:1; 1 Thes. 4:3-4). Paul said, “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour” (1 Thes. 4:3-4). Our constitution was not designed for sin, but sin is contrary to the intended use of our nature, because God is our designer.”

I hope this provides you with a satisfactory response. God bless you Edgar! Just as with His peace, you can either accept or reject God’s blessings.

p.s. – Andrew, don’t under estimate what God can do. And yes, I am just a lay person and I AM CATHOLIC! E-mail me if you want to dialogue further.”

In truth, I am praying that the dialogue is over.  I enjoyed sharing and teaching, but I’m tired.

May Father God open our spiritual eyes, ears and hearts so we can recognize Him when He speaks.  And may we spend time reading, reflecting and memorizing his living Word so that He can use them to guide us in our daily walk.

God bless,

Melissa – August 29, 2013

p.s. – My apologies. I believe the Catechism would have given a better explanation of original sin. (http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p1s2c1p7.htm)

 

REFLECTION: Would you take a stand? (Part 1)

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

 

Two days ago, I came across an article that was posted on my Elementary School friend’s Facebook page.   Above the link was the caption “When one has a personal relationship with Jesus, self governance begins.”   The title of the article, Does Catholicism Make Us More Tolerant of Corruption? (http://joeam.com/2013/08/26/does-catholicism-make-us-more-tolerant-of-corruption) by itself, infuriated me.   The article pertained to the current political situation in the Philippines.

My attempts to dismiss my anger was futile and so I penned a comment…

“I question your claim that…
“I. LACK OF A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD

Catholicism is fond of hierarchies and the use of intermediaries, unlike other religions which encourage direct communication with God.”

I am a practicing Catholic and I have a deep and intimate relationship with God the Father, Jesus His living Son, and the beautiful Holy Spirit. I would encourage you to do more research before making a general claim.

Do look into some of these links. I believe they will give you a different version of many Catholics who live their faith.

https://www.crossroadsinitiative.com/library_article/37/Personal_Relationship_to_Jesus_According_to_John_Paul_II.html

http://www.catholic.com/magazine/articles/do-you-know-jesus

http://www.markmallett.com/blog/personal-relationship-with-jesus/

God bless you!”

The author replied, “@M.  Then good for you, if your personal relationship leads to behaviour consistent with the faith. But the goal of my essay was not to put forth an observation that will be consistent with 100% of all Catholics out there. For sure, there will be anecdotal exceptions like yours.

My goal was to find explanations for the corrupt behaviour of so many of our countrymen, many of whom are Catholics, and why is there so much divergence between their faith and their actions.

Besides, the teaching may be correct, but if it is misunderstood and misinterpreted by some of the laity, then there is a failure of cathecism.

I’d appreciate your views on the other points.”

I went to bed reflecting on his response and I asked the Father what he thought.  I also asked him not to let me try to figure this out in my dreams, less I wake up fatigued.

Today I penned…  “I’ve been reflecting on your response and on the correlation you have chosen. You may have a good point in identifying the numerous weaknesses of the past and present politicians; however, I still find it inappropriate to use the Catholic Church in your analogy. To me, it’s similar to realizing that a majority of the people who are corrupt have black hair and so you make the inference that all people with black hair are corrupt. Do you see what I mean?

I would assume that those in government positions who are corrupt are corrupt not because of what they claim to be in their faith walk, but because of who they are. Perhaps greed and self-centeredness prevail in their lives and they continue to pursue this ideal in their chosen careers. The fact that they claim to be Catholic is just by name rather than practice. As you may know (I’m assuming you are a Christian), Christianity is not a title, but a lifestyle.

You mention about purgatory and how these so called “Catholics” are choosing to use it to give them a chance to “get away” with the dirt they are engaged in now. Have you not heard that we are all called to walk through the narrow gate? Do you think these so called “Catholics” know what they are getting themselves into? They may think they can get away with things, but God sees what they are doing. They may think they can deceive God, but God sees the motives of man.

It is sad that many who are not walking in their Catholic faith continue to claim they are Catholics. Claiming a “title” or “identity” for oneself doesn’t have power in itself. It then just becomes a name. Little do they know they are deceiving themselves and others.  These name claimers are the very ones who destroy the purity of the Catholic faith.

I would suggest that you focus on the core source of the corruption rather than blaming it on the religion which some claim to follow.”

To this, the author replied…  ”Thanks for taking time to write a thoughtful reply.  I totally understand your points; it’s just so frustrating to see so much corruption and so much religiosity co-exist simultaneously here.

If the doctrines are correct, but the laity keeps on misinterpreting it, or chooses not to follow it, then to me, it is an indication of the ineffectiveness of the teaching. Some form of “personal scorecard” need to be implemented by the hierarchy to assess their effectiveness in teaching.”

Later on, I added…  ”Hi Andrew, I’m glad you’re beginning to see things a tad differently. Thought I should mention that those thoughts came through as a result of fervent prayer and by asking the Holy Spirit for wisdom and guidance. As I continue to pray and reflect on your recent reply, I sense there are a few more things to add.

God has given man free will. He will not force anything on anyone, regardless of how wrong they are. He will send distractions and people to try to convince the wrong doers of their errs, but man is still left to exercise his free will. I do not believe it is the Church’s onus to force a “personal scorecard” on individuals, but it is personal conviction that is necessary so that each person holds himself/herself accountable for his/her actions.

Solutions do not rise when we put blame on others.  Instead. the latter merely brings other subject matters into the discussion, and the focus on the original problem is lost. I believe this was the point you brought up in your first reply.

Unfortunately, the title you chose for your thesis has stirred up resentment in others who don’t truly understand why they have a great dislike towards the Catholic Church. They may not read your article, but the title, in itself, was sufficient to fan the flame of their anger.

You may have become a little wiser because you have an open mind and you were willing to “listen”, but what about those who have hated the Church just because they heard others mutter against it. Their hatred grows.

Hatred and anger isn’t the solution. Openness and being willing to grasp truths rather than believing in “hearsay spread by others who claim to know the truth” brings about resolution.

While on the cross, Jesus asked the Father to forgive his tormentors and he, himself, had claimed that they did not know what they were doing. I believe his tormentors thought they knew what they were doing, but Jesus, being God, saw the bigger picture. Likewise, we, too, need to forgive the individuals who have chosen to govern corruptly. However, it doesn’t end there. We are then asked to intercede and pray for those who govern so that they will be led by God’s wisdom and discernment. Man can’t accomplish much, but God can.

Let us join force and ask others to come together to pray for the healing of the land and its people. Let us pray for ourselves and ask God to allow us to make a difference. It can’t start elsewhere; it has to start with us. Let us ask God to give us the grace to rebuke and renounce greed and corruption and let us ask Him to heal the land.

I am reminded of the scripture…”if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14.

The Filipino people cannot do it on their own, but with God, miracles will happen!

God bless you Andrew!”

I am currently still waiting to see if the author will reply.  In truth, his reply isn’t necessary.  As I read what I had written, I am awed.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to fan my feathers.  I am awed over the fact that God is able to use a ditsy individual (me) to write with his great wisdom.  May God, alone, receive all the glory.

As I close, I sense God asking whether we have the courage to defend our faith?  Do we know enough to stand and defend it?  Or, are we merely name claimers, claiming the title of being a Catholic just so we can belong?

God bless,

Melissa – August 28, 2013

p.s.

Matthew 7:13 – 14 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

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.”

REFLECTION: Who’s praying?

Sunday, October 9th, 2011

 


Over the years, I’ve been touched by the verse “we have not stopped praying for you.” I am always comforted knowing that someone out there has lifted me up in prayer and many times, I even sense their answered prayer because my day goes more smoothly than normal.  One day, however, when my eyes came across Colossians 1:9, I asked the Father, “Who’s praying Lord?!?  If Paul, the author of this book had died thousands of years ago, who’s been praying?

At the opening of Mass, we recite the Penitential Rites and say…”I askyou, my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord, our God.”  Do you remember saying that or have you mumbled through it without realizing and/or recognizing what you’ve just said?  Sadly, I’ve been there and I’ve done the latter.  We ask the rest of the congregation to pray for us and they, in turn, ask us to pray for them, but has anyone started praying?  I sure hope so.  I have since become attentive to praying for others in general and have made an effort to pray for the faith walk of each and every individual.  I am praying many others will do the same.

But why should we pray?  Doesn’t God know all of our needs?  He doesn’t need us to tell Him what to do.  In truth, God doesn’t need any reminders nor does He need any of our assistance.  God wants to know us, but more importantly, He wants us to know Him.  He already knows everything about us because He created us, but as we converse with Him, we begin to know Him and we begin to realize the depth of His love for us.  His love is unlike any other human; it is deep and ever so intimate and faithful. As He walks with us, He provides the strength, the grace, and the wisdom we need to live victoriously.  Although He allows us to live through the consequences of our errors and we have to endure and live through the free will choices of others, He is with us wherever we go and in the midst of turmoil, He anoints us with a peace and joy the world cannot give.  Our Father desires our deep and intimate relationship with Him… just as Adam and Eve had with Him before their fall.  HOWEVER, rather than forcing Himself on us, God has given us freedom to exercise His gift of free will and so He patiently waits for us and for others to invite Him into our lives.

Our Father continues to remind me… The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10 We do need to realize that the devil is ever so present on planet earth.  If given liberty, he would annihilate us completely so that no one can return back to the Father’s heart.  He rejected the Father and he and his followers were kicked out of Heaven.  (Footnote 1) If he had it his way, he would like the very same for all of mankind.  And yet, Jesus came so that we may have life, AND HAVE IT TO THE FULL.

While here on earth, Jesus taught… “This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debtsas we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:9-14

What does it mean when we say “your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”?  I believe that as we pray these words sincerely in our hearts, we are inviting our Father back into our lives and into the lives of those in this world.  Free will prevents God and his angels from intervening in our lives, but as we pray to Him for ourselves and others, He opens the doors of Heaven to equip us to battle the schemes of the devil.  The devil and his adversaries are extremely sly and as he did with Eve in the garden of Eden, he will appeal to our senses and our desires, making the sin appear so alluring and beautiful, but hiding the consequences that come with it.

Let’s take a look at how Eve was tempted…“So 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 to be desired to make one wise she took of its fruit and ate….and she also gave some to her husband and he ate.” Genesis 3:6 Notice how readily Adam took and ate the fruit?  Without realizing it, the devil uses us to entice others to participate in the sin we are engaging in.  Scary isn’t it?

Before His death, Jesus prayed for his disciples and the whole Church…”Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him power over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent… I am praying for them; I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours…  And now I am no more in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you, Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one… But now I am coming to you; and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves.  I have given them your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I do not pray that you should take them out of the world, but that you should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.  Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.  As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.  And for their sake, I consecrate myself, that they also may be consecrated in truthI do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word, that they may all be one; even as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory which you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to behold my glory which you have given me in your love for me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, the world has not known you, but I have known you; and these know that you have sent me.  I made known to them your name, and I will make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.John 17:1-26

Dear Father, we come before You and we ask You to forgive us for all the wrong we have done.  We also ask You to give us the grace to forgive all those who have intentionally or unintentionally hurt us.  Father, there may be some who have hurt us to the extreme that it is so difficult to forgive.  But Lord, with Your grace, we choose to forgive all who have hurt us.  Bless them Lord.  Father we pray for all the others in this world.  We ask for your blessings and grace over each.  Father, help those who are struggling and we ask for Your healing touch.  Father, please give each of us the strength to stay away from the circumstances and from those which/who would cause us to fall.  And Lord, when we are tempted, help us to remember that “you will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able, but you provide a way of escape also.” (Footnote 2) Father, help us see that we can readily say “NO!” to the lies and the temptations that the devil plants into our minds.  Thank You for the victories that have already begun in our lives and in the lives of others and we ask You to unite Your people in You.  We pray for all these in Jesus’ powerful and healing name, AMEN.

God bless,

Melissa (October 9, 2011)

 

FOOTNOTE 1:
(http://www.exposingsatanism.org/satans_origin.htm)

 

Ezekiel 28:12-17 Son of man, take up a lament concerning the king of Tyre and say to him: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says:  “You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone adorned you: carnelian, chrysolite and emerald, topaz, onyx and jasper, lapis lazuli, turquoise and beryl. Your settings and mountings were made of gold; on the day you were created they were prepared.  You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you.  You were on the holy mount of God; You walked among the fiery stones.  You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you. Through your widespread trade you were filled with violence and you sinned.  So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God, and I expelled you, guardian, cherub, from among the fiery stones.  Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor.  So I threw you to the earth; I made a spectacle of you before kings.

 

Isaiah 14: 12-15 – How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawnYou have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations!  You said in your heart, “I will ascend to the heavens; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon.  I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.”  But you are brought down to the realm of the dead, to the depths of the pit.”

 

Revelations 20:1-3  – “And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and in his hand a great chain. He seized the dragon, the ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years.  He threw him into the Abyss and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended.  After that, he must be set free for a short time.”

 

FOOTNOTE 2:

1 Corinthians 10:13 ”No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.  God is faithful and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”