Thursday, April 28, 2016

Divine Simplicity

   

     Today's readings are so simple, so pure, so direct. When I taught PSR last year the catechist shared this simple principle with the kids. God gave us rules to follow in this life, not to keep us restricted , but to keep us safe. To prevent us from bringing unnecessary harm to ourselves and others. These "rules" the commandments, when followed keep our hearts pure and free from sin, sin that disorders our lives. All stress and anxiety and pain can almost always be traced back to sin. This Hymn begins our guide for today.

I sing as I arise today!
I call on my Creator's might:
The will of God to be my guide,
The eye of God to be my sight,
The word of God to be my speech,
The hand of God to be my stay,
The shield of God to be my strength,
The path of God to be my way.

    The Psalm for today 59, another simple direct guide.

Rescue me, God from my foes;
Protect me from those who attack me.
O rescue me from those who do evil 
and save me from bloodthirsty men.
As for me, I will sing of your strength
and each morning acclaim your love
for you have been my stronghold,
a refuge in the day of my distress.

     1 Corinthians 10:13 is next. This passage I believe inspired the quote that God doesn't give you any more than you can handle. But this passage is much deeper than that. It's not about what he gives or doesn't give, it is about our obedience. It is about HOW we handle what is given us, the trust we have in the loving God we serve. He is with us, especially in our trials.

No trial has come to you but what is human. God is faithful
and will not let you be tried beyond your strength;
but with the trial he will also provide a way out,
so that you may be able to bear it.

     And finally the Gospel, Jesus's simple yet profound words from John 15. Jesus said to his disciples: "As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and remain in his love."
Simple, loving instructions, not to bind us or limit us, but to protect us and set us free. The teachings are such a gift, to provide instruction and divinity. Glory be to God!


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Redemption


 Redemption. I know I can only speak for myself, but I know this is something I crave. The past few years have been a journey towards this in my life.  I have beaten myself up about many mistakes of the past and the hurt it has caused. But this is not what God wants for me, or any of us. Through my 19th annotated retreat last year and this first year of the Ignatian Spirituality Institute I have had the privilege of digging into Gods word on a much deeper level. Not just the word itself but the theology and study behind it, not just from pastoral input but from a scholastic view. This view, while one might think it would lessen the belief has only strengthened it. Praying with scripture has saved my life. God’s word never fails to be on time, to confirm my beliefs and my direction. Letting go of past sins is not an easy task, God forgives, even if others may not, including and more importantly, ourselves. But again, God does not want us to live in this shadow of life. HE is the light, to purge us out of darkness, if we only subject ourselves to him and understand his magnanimous love for us. He loves us so much he sent his only Son to dwell among us, love us, teach us, pray with us, and forgive us. Jesus is the word made flesh so we have a living example of obedience. And he is enough.

“I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger,
and whoever believes in me will never thirst.” JN 6:35

But redemption is a daily task, sometimes hourly. The dark spirit of sin can imprison us, blind us, and devastate us. Conversion is the key. We must love, ourselves, others and especially our enemies. It is only through this love we can escape the walls that contain us, that keep us from joy and from spreading that light in our hearts with the world. This is no easy task, but I am reminded daily in the word, and by living examples that prayer is the answer. God listens to our pleas, he is with us in our suffering and he can gently guide us out of despair. We have to allow Him to do this, we have to be willing to let go. Letting go is not enough though, we have to be repentant. We have to acknowledge we have sinned against God. When we move forward toward God we leave the past behind, sometimes we leave others behind that are not able or willing to accompany us on the journey. But I’m not here to impress the world; the only expectations I have to fulfill are those of my God. Not the worlds, not others, not even myself.  And again, today, God’s word delivers.

“My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.
As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my ways above
 your ways and my thoughts above your thoughts.” IS 55:8-9

Father Thomas Merton has a quote in today’s Magnificat reflection worth sharing. “The root of Christian love is not the will to love, but the faith that one is loved. The faith that one is loved by God. That faith that one is loved by God although unworthy – or, rather, irrespective of ones worth!” This is a beautiful thought, I am a loved sinner, and continue to seek the way., day by day.