Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Why does God love us?

   “[A]ll have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God.” – [Romans 3:23]  We have failed God and continue to do so.  So, why would God love us?  He is an all-powerful and all-knowing God.  He is perfect, so why does He love us who are imperfect?
   Well, God calls Himself our Father.  So, I believe the question is answered by looking at parents.  Parents love their children.  Even when their children disobey their parents, they are still loved.  They may make it difficult on us parents, but we still love them so much.
   “If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him.” – [Matthew 7:11]  We are imperfect and love imperfectly, but still love our children.  God is our perfect Father and, as such, loves perfectly.
   Sure, being loved does not put a burden upon us to be loved, but remember that a relationship of love takes two.  If we do not hold up at least part of our side, then there is no love relationship.  God still loves us and, as any parent knows, the gift of love is the greatest and yet the most painful to give.  As evidenced by Jesus on the cross.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

July 14th is the feast day of the 1st Native American Saint.

   We celebrate Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, known as “Lily of the Mohawks”.  She lived from 1656 to 1680 and died shortly before her 24th birthday.  Her mother was a captive Christian Algonquin that was married to a Mohawk chief of the Iroquois.  At the age of four, her parents and little brother died due to smallpox.  The smallpox left her disfigured and blind in one eye.  She then lived with her uncle.
   She was always drawn to Christianity, but it was looked down upon by her uncle.  She refused to marry and decided to convert.  After her baptism, she was threatened and in constant danger.  With a priest’s advice, she fled 200 miles from modern New York to near Montreal for safety.
   She did harsh penances like sleeping on rocks.  She lived out her remaining three years with kindness and a final illness.  Upon her death, it was said that the priest turned away after she had passed and upon looking back, she was completely healed of the disfigurement.  Many marveled at her beautiful and how she looked as though she was just sleeping.
   Quote from Kateri:  “I am not my own; I have given myself to Jesus. He must be my only love.”

Friday, July 24, 2015

How can rules and laws be loving?

   Rules and laws are barriers to one’s conduct.  We hear rules and laws and think of freedoms that are being kept from us.  Freedom is more than that though.
   Think of a school surrounded by cliffs.  The children come out for recess, but none of them go anywhere for they fear the cliffs.  Now, a fence is put around the school and the children now run around and play during recess.  Surely, the barrier that is the fence actually gives the children the freedom that they need.
   So, rules and laws sometimes can actually give us freedom and protect it.  Sure, some may actually restrict freedom, but we cannot lump in all rules and laws.  So, this begs the question of ‘What is freedom?’ if sometimes barriers actually provide us freedom.
   Surely, the children appeared free without the fence.  Indeed, when we say freedom, many times we really mean able to do what one ought, not whatever one wants.  Think about it, some people are murderers and want to murder others or are thieves and want to steal from others.  Surely, being able to murder or steal are not what we talk about when we say freedom.
   So, while governments make rules and laws to protect the body, the Church goes further and makes rules and laws to protect the soul.  Many people do not give proper respect to the soul and eternal life, so they will not see the rules and laws of the Church as loving.  The Church wants us to be free to love God and neighbor completely, with body and soul.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

An complete love is worth fighting for.

   We should always be striving for the complete love that is found in God as shown to us through Jesus Christ.  A self-sacrificing love that is life giving.  Jesus sacrificed Himself as a ransom for our eternal lives.  His complete self-sacrifice brings us a complete life that can only be found in Heaven.
   So, if a complete love is worth fighting for, then an incomplete love is worth fighting against.  We are all in this battle.  Nearly everything we do is part of this battle.  Who we think about first?  What do we do now?  Where we spend our time?  How we deal with others?  And many other ways as well.
   Many times we fall into an incomplete love due to this battle within us.  Sometimes the lines between complete love and incomplete love are less noticeable and at other times they are painted clearly.  This is where the Church can oftentimes help us.  They will paint the line for us when it is always that way.
   The Church does not institute or hold to rules just because.  They always have a reason.  And that reason is Jesus Christ and His teaching.  Jesus Christ is love and, as such, all of His teachings are about it as well.  Many of the rules may seem just old fashioned, but oftentimes, it is easy to see that it prevents hardships for us when we abide by them.  The Church fights for love.  Though others claim the Church is ‘out of touch’, I would claim that those others are merely ‘out of touch’ with love, which we must fight for.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Does God love us all equally?

   I remember either reading in the Bible or maybe it was just how I interpreted it, that God loved certain people above others.  When you look at the saints and especially Mary, it appears that way.  But we know that appearances are deceiving, so let’s look further.
   What is love between two persons?  In this case, we are looking God and one of us.  But, love between two persons requires both people.  One can love the other, but that love would be incomplete if that love was not returned.  In a sense, you can only love someone as much as they allow you to.  Some love another and want a relationship with the other, but it takes the other’s consent and reciprocation of love to complete the love.
   So, with God being perfect love, we are the ones limiting how much He can love us.  He always holds up His side of the love relationship.  Do we complete the love or leave it incomplete?  There are so many things that we leave unfinished, let love not be one of them.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Today is the Feast Day of St. Augustine Zhao Rong and Companions

   Today’s feast day is for more than just one saint, which is not uncommon.  They just tend to be saints from a region that were martyred for the faith, which we have not seen in our country.
   Today’s saints were martyrs for the faith from China.  120 martyrs, in fact.  87 were born in China ranging in age from nine to seventy-two.  The other 33 were mostly priests and religious spreading the faith in China.  Interestingly, these martyrs died at different times ranging from 1648 to 1930 and were beatified in smaller group at various times.
   These men and women were willing to lay down their life for Jesus Christ.  It takes a strong faith to do what they did.  But, they did not compromise the truth or their love for Jesus.  Like most martyrs, they were surely given the opportunity to deny Jesus and save their life, but they did not.  They would not deny their love for the One who is love.
   May we learn from their example and be strengthened by it.  These men and women died terrible deaths and are now celebrated for their great faith.  Now, they spend eternity with their love, Jesus.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

How many masters can one have?

   This seems to be an easy question, but it leads to interesting questions.  Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other.” – [Matthew 6:24]  After all, one master’s commands must take precedence.
   So, who should be our master?  Another easy question.  Our God that is love and died on the cross for love of us.  Can anyone have a better master than an all-powerful being that loves us so completely?  Surely not.  To accept such a master does not take much, if we really know how much God loves us.
   So, how do we accept God as our master?  Jesus once said, “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your selves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” – [Matthew 11:28-30]  We are to yoke ourselves in obedience to Jesus; what He did and what He told us to do.
   Can we yoke ourselves multiple times?  This is an easy question, but leads to difficult concerns.  No, we cannot yoke ourselves multiple times.  To do so would be trying to serve two masters, which one cannot do.
   Now, comes a very difficult concern.  I merely point out the fact.  To omit it would be uncharitable of me.  The meaning of the word yoga is to yolk.  This may seem difficult, but what does yoga yolk one to?  Interestingly enough, yoga seems to be about discovering oneself.  Perhaps, I am wrong (hopefully, I am wrong).  It seems like yoga is about yoking one to oneself.  In a sense, it sounds like accepting yourself as your own god.
   It would be great if yoga connected us to God, but it seems to be a self-centered practice from everything that I read.  (Again, hopefully, I am wrong.)  The concerns with yoga is yoking ourselves to someone or something other than God.  If you had to choose between yoga and God, which would you choose?
   Who is your master?

Love without truth is no longer love at all.