Archive for the ‘light of the world’ Category

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 in the Garden: Companions on our Journey…

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

As I made time to weed the garden this morning, the words “companions on our journey” repeatedly came to mind.  Thoughts of those who have helped me and who continue to help me on my journey didn’t surface, but instead, those who I have struggled with and am struggling with continued to come to the fore front.

The Father then reminded me of the numerous weeds we had pulled out this morning.  I sensed Him saying that a true companion is one who helps us see the weeds in our lives and who gently assists us in pulling them out, roots and all.  He then expanded, saying that we, too, need to be companions for others and so He brings them across our path so we can assist them on their journey.  Many rise up quickly when healing takes place and yet there are some who repeatedly ask for more, perhaps expecting us to carry them along on our journey.  These are the ones, the Father says, who take our time away from Him, who take our attention from the garden of our soul, and who hinder us from doing God’s work.  He has given them the healing grace to “rise up and walk” (Matthew 9: 1-8 / Acts 3:6) and yet these prefer to sit and let others do the walking on their behalf.

Our Father calls us to bring others to Him and yet some prefer to continue to keep their distance and instead, they prod us repeatedly to intercede on their behalf.  Rather than spending precious time acquainting themselves personally with the Father, they keep prodding us to do the work for them.

In her CD teaching “Cracking the Enemy’s Code”, Joyce Meyer mentions that the Father didn’t give us our faith just to get what we want, but He makes us whole so we can spend time with others so they, in turn, can receive the same things we received from the Father.  And yet, why are there some who appear to be unwilling to help themselves?

Joyce mentions that people are generally passive, but if they actively chose God and God’s ways, they would see light.  She adds “many Christians are not doing anything to help anyone else”.  They focus on “what I can get and how I can get my breakthrough from my faith or the faith of another.  It is constantly I, I or me, me.  You cannot be selfish and be happy.”  She stresses, “If you are unhappy, maybe you should stop blaming others, your spouse, your kids, your lack of income, your this and that, your past.  Maybe you need to ask what I can do to help someone else.  People don’t realize how joy bubbles up when you help someone else”

“ We have remained passive and we say we wish God would do something, we wish the government would do something, we wish someone would do something.  We don’t realize that the someone who needs to do something is us.  Each of us has the responsibility to do our part.”  She then refers to Matthew 12:43-45 “When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. 44 Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. 45 Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.” and she mentions that the message exemplifies passivity versus activity.  When people do nothing, evil takes over.”

At first glance, I was puzzled over the analogy, but as I pondered over the scripture a little more with the Father, He began to reveal that as He brings healing into our lives, we are called to invite the Holy Spirit to replace the emptiness.  As we begin to walk with the Holy Spirit and we learn to walk in His ways, the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control) fill us to the brim and the rivers of living water begin to flow from within us and they overflow and touch others.  We are given the strength to pick up our own cross and to assist others so that we can all journey together back into the heart of the Father.

How have you journeyed with others through planet Earth?  Are you carrying your own cross (Luke 9:23) or are you trying to convince others to carry it for you?  Will you choose to allow the Holy Spirit to fill you or will you choose to stay idle and allow the ways of the world to slowly creep in?

God bless,

Melissa – July 27. 2011

REFLECTION in the Garden: What are your true colors?

Friday, July 8th, 2011

I was once told that adversity brings out our true colors.  Another had mentioned that the juice that comes out of a fruit determines one’s character.  Sour juice comes out of a lemon, while oranges release either sweet or sour juice from within.  I don’t know about you, but I would prefer using the color analogy less I be asked what type of “fruit” I am one day.

What are your true colors?

Matthew 5:14-16 teaches…
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Each of us is called to radiate the light of Jesus to the world.  But like the moon, we are NOT luminous and so we do not produce our own light.  Instead, we merely reflect the light that the Sun (Jesus, the Son) radiates.(http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Is_the_moon_a_luminous_object#ixzz1RONIeO58)

In her teaching series “What the devil doesn’t want you to know”, Joyce Meyer stresses that many of us Christians are passive.  Many believe that going to Church once a week is sufficient to keep us on the right track and for God to protect us.  And yet, do we expect to radiate the light of Jesus when we don’t spend ample time with Him?  And sadly, I wonder how many actually care to radiate His light?

The Father draws my thoughts to our solar powered garden lights that normally shine brightly during the summer nights.  Each light stand is equipped with a minute solar panel and a set of rechargeable batteries.  The concept behind the contraption is that as the solar panel is exposed to the sunlight, the batteries within are recharged.  I am often in awe and tickled pink when I notice that my garden lights continue to shine brightly even after an overcast day. However, as one overcast day leads to another, the batteries eventually run dry and my lighted path, which once shined so brightly, eventually grows dark as one lamp after another flickers off.  Do you notice that, like these solar garden light stands that are intended to illuminate the path, we similarly fail to shine when we don’t spend time and are recharged with and by the Father?  And like them, we no longer light “The Way” for others…

As we walk on our earthly journey with God, we realize that He doesn’t put road blocks across our path, preventing us from venturing into foreign, rugged and dangerous terrain.  No matter how much He would prefer for us to go along another path, He gives us the free will to choose wherever we want to go.  Although we choose to walk away from His ways, as we later choose to reach out and take His hand, we begin to realize He has never left our side. Even when we fail to invite Him along our journey, He comes along and He stands to one side, watching and waiting for our invitation.  And yet the moment we ask, He does provide whatever we need to succeed in our journey.  It may NOT be exactly what we want and what we THINK we need, but it is the very thing we need to succeed.  It may take a while for us to accept what He has provided and to figure out how to use what He has provided, but as we continue on together, we begin to learn and know His ways and experience teaches us that He is forever faithful.  We begin to realize that He does in fact want us to truly be happy as we experience the freedom He provides.

And yet, time and time again, we fall and even if it is He who helps us back up, at times we choose to continue on our journey without Him.  Without realizing it, we begin to start a collection of the “cares of the world” and eventually our joy is lost and we find ourselves sinking quickly into the quick sand of the ways of the world.  We find ourselves running to Him in OUR time, asking for a favour when we realize we can’t do things on our own.  But in general, we ignore Him and we consciously choose to keep Him in a sealed box, allowing Him out only when we find that we need another favour.

Joyce Meyer teaches that it is important to understand that the devil, our ENEMY, wants to “steal, kill and destroy” John 10:10.  Joyce teaches that being ignorant of the schemes of the devil does not protect us from them.  Instead, we fall, time and time again as he cleverly manipulates our thoughts, planting one scheming thought after another, perhaps luring us by saying… ”Come on, just try it one time.   It’s not going to hurt you and doing it once won’t do much harm.”  But when we take the bait, immediately we “hear”… ”You fool!  Don’t you know any better?  What are others going to think of you now?  You really blew it this time!”  Do you recognize any of these thoughts?  Perhaps no one has previously mentioned that these are the very accusing words of the devil.  Scripture refers to him as the “accuser of the brethren” (Rev 12:10) and his battlefield is in our minds!

Joyce teaches that Jesus came to planet Earth to give us freedom and to give us the chance to live in the world God has created for us to the FULL.  Many do NOT realize and/or forget that this is what the Father wants for us.  HOWEVER, the devil wants to take, take and take some more.  He wants to deprive us of every thing Jesus has provided for us as our heritage as God’s children.  She adds that it is through our faith that we have gained our freedom, but many of us misuse our faith to gain whatever we want for ourselves.  She exclaims exasperatedly…”It’s always my this, my that… it’s my ministry, it’s my book…”.  And then she adds, “God didn’t give us our faith just for ourselves so that we could be set free and experience freedom by ourselves.  He gave us the faith so that we, in turn, can share the faith with others so that they, too, can enjoy the freedom we are experiencing!!!

The Father brings my thoughts back to the solar paneled garden lights.  He reminds me that I had bought a handful of them that automatically change colors on their own.  ($2.99 at Walmart!  NANCY, good price huh!?!  Pennie, “nod nod”??? )  The lights alternate from red to blue to green and back again.  I am not exactly sure how it works, but there must be a coloured disk within the gadget that rotates in front of the main “white” light.  I have learned that a simple flick of the switch brings back the pure white light.  Is it time to flick the switch in our own hearts so that we reflect the purest light of all?

God bless,

Melissa (July 8, 2011)

P.S.

Luke 11:34 – 36 teaches…
”Your eye is the lamp of your body; when your eye is sound, your whole body is full of light; but when it is not sound, your body is full of darkness.  Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness. If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light.”

The Ignatian Catholic Study Bible expands…”In this context, Jesus is calling for an examination of the interior of our lives.  Unless one is filled with light, which shines out through healthy eyes in the form of generosity, one cannot be a lamp enabling others to see and enter the kingdom.  To be filled with darkness and beset with an evil eye of greed and selfishness is to stand outside of the kingdom and to leave others in the darkness as well.  This emphasis on what is inside a person is closely connected with the following episode, where Jesus chides the Pharisees and the lawyers for their preoccupation with the exterior practices of religion and their neglect of interior holiness.  That they appear outwardly devout to others when in fact they are inwardly filled with corruption and impurity makes them guilt of “hypocrisy”.”