Saturday, July 1, 2017

Is Anything Too Marvelous For The LORD To Do?

I believe one of the greatest sins we can commit is to limit God. What does that mean? To limit God is to believe that God thinks and views reality as you do. It is to believe that you, despite being a sinful, fallen human being, have the mind of God, and therefore, your views and opinions are on a par with the Mind of God. If you believe something is wrong, then it is wrong, If you believe something is right, then it is right. If you believe something can't be done, then it can't be done. Limiting God actually breaks the First Commandment - have no other gods before me - because you are making yourself into God.

Limiting God is the exact opposite of faith. Those who limit God say this is what God thinks and this is what God does, no more and no less. Faith says God is so far beyond my comprehension that I can't begin to fathom how He thinks. Faith says I am a sinner with a twisted, distorted and microscopically small view of reality. I am like an ant crawling on the ground with an ant's view of the world and the universe. An ant believes the only way to do things is the way he does them, by crawling around on the ground. Likewise, one who limits God, i.e. a faithless person, believes his way is the only way. If something doesn't fit into his understanding, then it can't be done. End of discussion.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Saints Peter and Paul: The Greatest Sinners Become the Greatest Saints

Today is a great solemnity in the Church - the feast day of Saints Peter and Paul.  St. Peter was our first pope, and St. Paul was a Jewish convert who is arguably considered to be our greatest evangelizer.  Both of these men were very flawed in very different ways.  St. Peter was an impetuous, act-first-think-later boastful man who literally betrayed Our Lord at the time of his crucifixion.  St. Paul was a Jewish zealot who took part in the murder of many Christians.

St. Paul labeled himself as the "worst sinner": I Tim 1:15 - "Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst." I Cor 15:9 - "For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God."  St Peter wept bitterly for his sins, and at one point declared to Our Lord:  "Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!" (Luke 5:8).

And yet these two great sinners are considered among the greatest saints in history.  How does that happen?

The stories of Saints Peter and Paul and, in fact, of all saints, is the story of God's mercy, forgiveness and grace. God picks each one of us up out of the dirt and makes us into a new creation that we could have never fathomed. This is why we can never judge one another. If you had been a fly on the wall watching the antics of St. Peter during Christ's earthly ministry and his actual betrayal of Jesus, you would have never thought for one moment that Our Lord would choose him to be the earthly foundation of the Church. If you had seen the zealot known as Saul of Tarsus and witnessed his great hatred and persecution of the early Church, it would have been inconceivable to think he would be the greatest evangelizer of the Gospel.

Today's feast day reminds me that we must try to stop limiting God. God never acts in ways that we would choose. He never chooses the people that we would choose. He never brings people to conversion in the way that we think is appropriate. As Pope Francis has said, God is a God of surprises.

As Christians, as followers of Jesus Christ, we make big mistakes if we think we know the mind of God.  And the beauty of following Jesus Christ is that He doesn't ask us to anticipate what He is going to do.  He just asks us to trust him, and then counts that as righteousness on our part.  The first reading from yesterday's Mass is a great illustration of this fact.  It was the story of God's promise to Abram that he would have more descendants than stars in the sky.  There was just one problem:  Abram did not have any children, and his wife was long past child bearing age.  But what was Abram's reaction:  "Abram put his faith in the LORD, who credited it to him as an act of righteousness."

Today's feast day of Saints Peter and Paul should be a reminder to all of us that those whom we consider the greatest sinners, the biggest reprobates who, we feel should be wiped from the earth, may just be fated to be among the greatest saints in heaven.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Taking Up *Causes* Can Be Dangerous to Your Spiritual Health

We live in a world with many wrongs that need to be righted.  That is another way of saying, we are fallen human beings living in a fallen world.  Many people will devote a large part of their lives, or even their entire lives, in working for a cause,

An amazing example of someone who gave his life for a cause was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  Dr. King lived in a world in which people of color were treated, at best, as second class citizens.  They were denied simple human rights, such as housing, voting, education, etc. that white people took for granted.  Dr. King knew he was going to more than likely have to die for his cause, but he was still willing to do so in order to stop the oppression and hate that he witnessed and experienced as a black man in America.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Meditation For the Day: God Draws Us With Love

There was an excellent meditation in today's Magnificat magazine which explained, in clear and simple language, God's way of salvation, gradually bringing those trapped by sin to repentance and acceptance of Divine love and mercy.  It was from a Jewish convert named Ronda Chervin, Below is a screen shot of this meditation.  

Do Not Be Afraid
Christ gives himself to his people gradually. He knows that they have the rebellious divided spirit of adolescents—full of longing for genuine love, yet plagued with disappointment, despair, and doubt. He treats them somewhat like an older and experienced man might win the confidence of a wild young girl. Slowly Christ gathers them to himself by the magnetic attraction of his grace. He wins them by deeds of love, healing them of their miseries, curing their lepers, exorcising their demons. Only when he sees that they are ready does he begin to reveal more intimate mysteries of his love, such as his desire to become one body with his followers and the eventual unity they will achieve with him in eternity.
He knows that many of their ways are unloving, but instead of reproaching them directly, he begins by telling them parables, letting them discover for themselves how far short their own lives are from the new ideal.
Gradually his disciples begin to respond to Christ’s self-giving.
Ronda Chervin
Ronda Chervin is a convert from Judaism, professor of philosophy and theology, and author of over fifty books.
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