Monday, May 31, 2010

It says: "Be not Do perfect".

Which is easier? Doing things perfectly is much easier than being more like God than your human nature inclines you to be. It’s much easier to clean the house than to be a patient spouse. It’s easier to go to Mass every Sunday than to always tell the truth. It’s easier to help at the local food bank than to hold your anger and accept when things don’t go your way. Doing is much easier than being.

God is love. To be perfect we strive to be more like God and still be our very best self. God created the design he calls YOU so he does not want us to destroy that. He enjoys how we put our own twist on becoming God-like. So it’s not about denying our core selves, our very personalities. Let that flourish and grow because that IS God. What we must deny is the selfish sinful part of our humanity that wants its own way.

That does not necessitate that we concentrate on our sinfulness. Let it just whither away from lack of use, like an unexercised muscle. We need to BE. That is concentrating on the pure, the honest and the simple. 1Cor 13 describes it well: patient, kind and humble. It’s not about being jealous of another’s good fortune but about genuinely rejoicing for them with no envy or bitterness. To be loving (instead of just doing acts of love) you do not look to have your own needs met- perhaps the hardest of all the love definitions. A person who loves perfectly is infinitely calm, forgives and forgets and welcomes criticism. That person never gives up hope and trust in God and is, therefore, a joyful person who daily and faithfully perseveres.

Love is patient and kind. When my mind feels confused and I’m waiting for clarification from God I’m not very patient. I like my T’s crossed and my i’s dotted preferring not to live in ambiguity. It’s an uncomfortable place to be….out of a job, waiting for a diagnosis, in the midst of a conversion experience of some kind. That’s when I need to be patient and, while being patient, also be kind. Not easy for me! Impatience brings with it an unsettling sense of aggravation, not kindness.

Jesus suffered at the agony in the garden and found his best friends asleep during it all. I’d have said “Look, I asked you to watch and pray but you’re all sleeping! Go. I don’t need friends like this!” Jesus certainly wasn’t happy with them but he held his tongue and asked them once again to pray for him.

Love is not self seeking. I believe that humans are instinctively self-centered. I am. Our primary thoughts are about ourselves. Hungry, tired, thirsty, angry, sad. Those things seem to preoccupy our minds over thoughts about others. If I’m really tired I am usually insensitive to the apparent needs of others. I don’t seem to be able to find the energy or the desire to go outside of myself to focus on them. Yet that is exactly what God wants and what Jesus did while He was on earth. Indeed 1 Cor 13 says “if I give all I have to the poor but have not love, I gain nothing.” We do, give and act but that’s not the love St. Paul describes. That’s not being Jesus. It’s only mimicking his actions.

Christianity is not for the feint of heart. It is not easy to be like Jesus. It’s a lot easier to put on an act. Yet acting is only the first step toward heart transformation.

Monday, May 24, 2010

John the Baptist Application to Life

Among you stands one you do not know.”
John 1: 26

Jesus had been living on earth for 30 years yet no one recognized him for who he was. Even after that statement, Jesus still had to present himself to the world through John by asking to be baptized. I’m struck first by the humility of our Lord and Savior. Jesus lived with his mom then conformed to the expected norm by being baptized by his cousin. Jesus didn’t even introduce himself. In his humility Jesus lowered himself into the water before John to be baptized. His Father, however, couldn’t contain himself and burst thru the clouds to say, “This is My Son!”

Life Application
Protect your family.

Follow appropriate societal and religious rules

Look for Jesus. He is standing right in front of you.

There is no need to announce your talents or good qualities to the world. Just use them.

If you heavenly Father (maybe thru another human being) chooses to applaud you just allow it neither stopping it, egging it on nor falsely denying it.

He spent 30 hidden years with his mother. She’s had more time with him than anyone on earth ever could and that’s my second observation. Surely I should cultivate my relationship with Mary! How much more could she tell me about his personality. They lived together for 10 times the number of years that Jesus spent on earth revealing himself to the entire world. She knew his daily schedule, his moods. She knew his favorite foods and his likes and dislikes. Mary lived with Jesus while he developed both his prayer life and his talents. Given that their world had no TV, iPods or cell phones Mary and her son must have genuinely communicated on a daily basis. Imagine being a fly on that wall!

Life Application
Family is important

Contemplate the intimacy of the relationship between Jesus and Mary

If Mary was so important to Jesus that he spent 30 of his 33 years of life on earth with her, then I should spend time with her also.

Search the Gospels, listen to others, read and pray so as to get to know Jesus as well as Mary does.

“I would not have known him, except that the One who sent me to baptize with water told me…that this is the Son of God.”
Jn 1:33

John the Baptist speaks the truth. On his own he would not have recognized Jesus Christ. Hundreds of people sought John daily to be baptized. He performed this mission daily, baptizing person after person.

Life Application
Whether its mission work or making widgets we wake up every day to do our job. After a while we develop routines and the monotony begins. But, John had his ear to the ground and kept his heart open to listen. Because of that he was able to receive the Father’s message. Be quiet in your soul and receptive every day.

John kept saying it wasn’t about him but about the “One whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.” It is not about me. I am only the Lord’s unworthy servant.

Announce the Lord when you meet him. Look for and greet Him in others. Boldly reveal Jesus to the world in your own unique way.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A broken heart...

A broken heart is a compassionate heart. Maybe my heart has turned stoney as a defense mechanism. God never asked me to be perfect tho. He never asked me to move mountains. He has asked me, by allowing my heart to be broken, to live simply and humbly- to be less complicated. Amazingly, this is a lot harder than it sounds.