Thursday, March 30, 2017

Who Am I?

Jesus was true God and true man, but it seems when we think on that fact we often are confused.  How can He be two beings at once?  And then we often dismiss that question with our quick-to-mind all-encompassing answer regarding God issues:  He is a mystery.  That’s a true answer, sure, since we can never totally understand God, but it’s also a cop-out, and a dismissal of the subsequent question which we really cannot dismiss.  We know (but not understand) who He is, but:  Who Am I?
My experience is that many of us were “made” by the people in our lives.  From our parents to teachers to friends and family, we were formed by our interactions with others.  We learned.  We considered.  And we acted based on how our minds were formed.  “That’s who I am,” we sometimes say in justifying our recent words or actions. 
Every man is free, having received his liberty from God; therefore, he has the right to govern himself according to his own judgment and personal views.  – Divine Intimacy P346
Yet despite this freedom to govern ourselves, Jesus said: “If any man would come after Me, let him deny himself.  – Mt 16:24.
But in this freedom:  Who am I?  We are more than just our free physical actions, and we are more than mere reflections of the men who influenced us.  As we so often forget, in our lives there is God, too.  He created us --- and what greater influence on us could there be than that?  And most importantly, Jesus came to show us and tell us that God continually influences us; He interacts with us through our spiritual lives.  He said: “I will send you My Spirit,” to be with you always.
We seem confused how Jesus can be true God and true man, but in a very real way, we too are both spiritual and physical beings.  Do we take the time to understand this about ourselves? 
Jesus died to open the gates of heaven, and He gave us the Holy Spirit as a path to it.  The doors of heaven are open, but (and here Jesus would strongly agree with the oft-stressed words of our culture), “we are free to choose.”  But the door to heaven isn’t a mystery like the game show which asked: “Do you want what’s behind door number 1, or door number 2 or door number 3?”  Jesus lived and spoke and gave us the gifts of His Holy Spirit to help us see what is behind the door of heaven --- and it’s more than we could ever imagine.
We just have to choose.
But how do we do that?  Now you might say that: “Well, I prayed for God’s blessings or even for the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, but nothing happened.”  Remember, you are both spiritual and physical beings.  How did the physical side of who you are now come about?  Did your mom give birth and then set you on the doorstep and say: “Well, there’s the world, go out and get an education, a good job, find a good spouse and have a good life.  See yah!”  No, of course not; all those things which lead to a good physical life came about because others’ help, helping us to grow into that good person, able to lead that good physical life.  So why would you think that a good spiritual life --- such a more important life --- would come about easier, faster than your physical growth?
Just as a baby’s first words start the communication path which will support its physical growth, so our first prayers will start the conversation to bring about our spiritual growth.  And at some point, just like in that math class with all its goofy formulas when we said: “Aha!  I see it now!”  So at some point we will say in our prayers: “Aha!  I see You now!”  And we will know Him, His love, and will desire to do ANYTHING to be with Him, always.  And He will lead us home.
Our spiritual life starts with a simple: “I trust in You” prayer, and over time it ends with a sincere “I trust in You” conviction.  It takes time for us to grow, physically or spiritually.  It takes effort.  It takes dedication.  But the results will make us who we were created to be.
And then we shall truly know the answer to that most important question of who we are.      

Friday, March 24, 2017

Are We Doomed?

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your
soul and with all your strength and with all your mind,
 and love your neighbor as yourself.”

Germany:  Nazis vs Jews
South Africa:  Blacks vs Whites
Ireland:  Protestants vs Catholics
United States:  Democrats vs Republicans

Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.

Religion and history are no longer taught in our schools.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Living Life Well

Lord, be with me; I want to do Your will.  Show me how; show me where.  But You don’t need to show me why.
I trust in You.
I’ve written many times about the importance of that question: “why,” because we do so many things without asking it, or without asking it about the most important things:  Why am I alive?  Why here; why now?  Why am I so blessed?  Why did my God die for me?
I used to think it important to think on that question, so as to not just do, or just want.  Things are there for a reason; there is truth.  I wanted to know why, and I thought we all should be asking that.
I realize that my searching for “why” tells something about me: that I’m curious, that I have a need to understand, and that knowing “why” might strengthen my faith.  Needing to know why also says something else about me:  I have a great abiding trust in myself.  It’s only been recently however, that I realized that question “why” also says something else about me:  I am alone; I don’t really trust anyone.
I believe it is a great epiphany if you can come to trust in God.  Why did Jesus do that?  Why does the Church teach that?  Why do people act that way?  Why am I the way I am?  They’re questions that eat at us, and not finding answers which satisfy us, we are unsettled.  And most of us can’t even bring to mind the question that is at the root of all these others:  Why does God love me?
And we think if we can’t figure that out, He must not.
I said that in some ways it is a curse to have intelligence, a curiosity that is always asking “why”.  Far too few of us are using that intelligence to bring us to the correct answer to that simple question.  The answer on most matters to that never-ending question of “why,” our need to know, is: It doesn’t matter, because God knows why.
It’s a great insight and a great grace, if the Holy Spirit opens our minds and our hearts to see that in a at what happens to us.  We are just a speck in all of creation, in the timeline of eternity.  It’d be easy to look at that immenseness and think:  “Well, then I must not matter at all.”  But you do.
God put you there.  He created the picture of creation.  He needed you there; He wanted you there.  You don’t need to know why.
All you need do is trust.  And as for how to live your life, that’s such a small thing too.  You need to trust there also, because He showed you how to live that life; He came to earth to demonstrate, and if His example wasn’t clear enough, he said those simple words of saying how to live:  Love God, and love your neighbor.
It’s what He created you to do.  Now go do it well.
- - - - - - - - - -
The Gospel (Lk 15: 1-10) is about the lost sheep.  And when it is found the shepherd says: “I have found my sheep who was lost.”  But reading on, Jesus later says: “There will be more rejoicing in heaven over one repentant sinner …”  Do you see the difference in those words?  The shepherd says “I found my sheep;” Jesus says: “My sheep found me.”  That’s the reason for joy in heaven.  The sheep that was off, looking around on his own, seeking his own answers to “why,” and it tuned and found God, the answer to all its questions.
And there was rejoicing in heaven.
I pray you can someday reach that point, where you can hear the cheering of heaven.  Stop looking for ways you want to go, for understandings you must have.  Listen to the Shepherd’s voice calling you, even if it seems faint and far away.  And learn to trust.  RESOLVE to trust.
That is living life well.