Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Today is the feast day of the First Martyrs of the Church of Rome.

   In the early days of the Church, many were martyred for their faith.  These early Christians were different from everyone else and adhered themselves to a higher moral code.  They were accused of a “hatred for the human race.”  They stood strong and did not recant their belief in Jesus.
   I have heard it said that “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of faith.”  Surely, many of the early Christians were martyred.  But their martyrdom was compelling enough that many converted.  Seeing the faith of these Christians astounded the people.
   Every age calls for strong witnesses for Jesus.  The early times of the Church called for many martyrs.  Indeed, many are martyred for their faith in Jesus even today, just not in our country.  But, we can still be strong witnesses for Jesus.  To do so, we must live our lives in accord with Jesus, who is Love.
   “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” – [Matthew 22:37:40]

Sunday, June 28, 2015

How much does love cost?

   Sure, love does not always come at a cost, but if you are unwilling to pay any cost, can you say that you love?  As Jesus told and showed us, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” – [John 15:13]
   Notice how Jesus says that “to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” is the greatest love.  Also notice that Jesus is equating love to an action.  He is not relating it to one’s feelings.  Love is an action.  You or I could feel like we are in love, but until our actions back that up, it is just a feeling not a reality.
   Now, not everyone is able to die for the one’s that we love.  Most of us will never have a reason to do so.  However, Jesus did not say that the greatest love is dying for one’s friends.  He said “to lay down one’s life”.  We can do that without physically dying.
   We can lay down our lives every day in service towards others.  We deny ourselves and our wants for our friends.  For most of us, this will first be for our spouse and children.  Surely, God does not want us to forget about those closest to us.  After we serve those closest to us, we can serve others.  One does not feed one’s neighbor before one’s spouse and children.
   Laying down our lives in service seems consistent with what Jesus tells us.  “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” – [Luke 9:23-24]
   Love costs a lot, but the benefits are out of this world!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

According to whose plan?

   We know that things do not always go according to our plan.  Sure, we can force them to as much as we want, but sometimes, it just plain will not work.  Our plans simply are only hopes, since there is so much out of our control.  Accept it or not, this is reality.
   So, whose plan is it that is done?  God’s?  To a certain extent, but He did not plan for Adam and Eve’s original sin.  He does not plan for anyone of us to go to Hell, but He does not control us.  No, He gave us free-will.  A great and awesome gift that comes with a possibility of us choosing Hell instead of Heaven.
   So, whose plan is done?  God’s plan to save humanity after original sin has been done.  Indeed, God holds the world in the palm of His hands and can do anything within it.  However, the awesome gift of free-will comes at a cost, even to God.  He goes through the torture of seeing some of His children despise Him and choose to spend eternity in Hell.
   So, who would actually choose Hell?  Well, choosing Heaven comes with accepting and loving God.  Those who say, “I could not believe in a God that would…” are actually very near the choice of Hell.  To think that we know better, impossible.  To think that we could love better, impossible.  God is the all-knowing and all-powerful one that is Love itself.
   We need humility to accept God’s plan for us to go to Heaven.  We do not know better, nor can we love better.  But we can do the best we can and humbly accept God’s attempts to show us where we have sinned.  We are not perfect, so we cannot expect ourselves to never fail.  But we can try.  Our loving Father will surely accept our humble attempts.  His plan, after all, is to love us forever!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Where are you going?

   We are always making choices, which lead us in one direction or another.  Even a decision to sit and stay is a choice that negates other possible choices.  And every choice leads to a consequence, whether it is positive, negative, or a combination.  Our choices dictate where we are going.
   Certainly, we may think that we do not have many choices, but our choices are never truly limited.  What seems like a limited choice selection is really a choice selection with lots of consequences that we do not want.  We like to be comfortable, but comfort is commonly the worst thing for us.
   A person driven by comfort may find themselves in a lazy boy in front of a tv with snacks and fast food.  Of course, this does not sound like a healthy lifestyle.  Enjoying comforts like this occasionally is not bad, but never leaving these comforts is very unhealthy.
   So it is with the spiritual as well as the physical.  Many people do not want to go further spiritually, because they fear (or know) that it will take them out of the comforts they currently live in.  But is this not for health, and spiritual health at that.  We all know that the physical world fades away, but the spiritual world never does.  Is not our spiritual health more important than our physical health?
   Many are concerned about their physical health and rightfully so, but many neglect their spiritual.  Let us not be counted among them.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Love without truth is not love.

   How can you love someone while denying truth?  You cannot.  It is a lie.  Lies hurt when we learn that so-called loved ones lie to us.
   The truth sometimes hurts those who are stuck in the lie, though.  No one likes to be wrong and being told that you are wrong is very difficult to take.  It is very tricky to speak the truth in love, but that is exactly what we are called to do.
   Perhaps one way to tell the truth lovingly to others is to say, "I love you and that is why I need to tell you..."  Saying, "I love you, but..." implies that you are divorcing love with the truth.  Saying and instead of but may seem small, but it keeps us on the right track.  We speak the truth because of our love, not in spite of it.
   “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life”, Jesus told His disciples at the Last Supper [John 14:6].  So, Jesus is Truth.  Jesus is also God and God is Love.  So, Truth cannot be separated from Love, since Jesus cannot be separated from Himself.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Why do we obey God’s laws?

   There are different reasons for obeying God’s laws depending upon spiritual maturity.  The first level is to obey to avoid God’s wrath.  Basically, to avoid discipline, much like children do with their parents.  The next level is to obey because you love God and do not want to disappoint Him.  Again much like children with their parents.  The pinnacle is to obey because you love God and understand how God’s law is about the Father’s love for us.
   This spiritual maturity is very similar to maturing children.  We start out obeying out parents and authority figures to avoid discipline.  After sometime, we begin to obey to avoid disappointing our parents/loved ones.  Then, after we have matured enough to understand the reason for the rules, we obey because doing otherwise would cause harm to us or others.
   God’s laws are to protect us.  Think of the ten commandments.  If we do not keep a good relationship with Our Heavenly Father, we are left unprotected (1. He is our one God  2. Go to Sunday Mass  3. Do not curse His name).   If we do not keep good relationships with our brothers and sisters, we are asking for retaliation (4. Honor your parents  5. Do not kill  6. Do not commit adultery  7. Do not steal  8. Do not lie  9. Do not desire another’s spouse  10. Do not desire another’s stuff)
   Keeping God’s laws keep us safe in this life, but more importantly in the next.  Ultimately, God’s law is to love.  We just are not smart enough to know how to love without God telling us, so He had to tell us.  He gave us the Church, in order to help us.  She lets us know what love is and is not, which we definitely need as times have changed quite a bit since Jesus was crucified.