Tag Archives: Pride

O Happy Fault[1]: Blessings in Peculiar Packages #1

God’s blessings sometimes come in very peculiar packages. In my works of charity, it is pride. How can I conceive of such a thing? Pride is a sin! Nonetheless I repeat that God uses this blight on my character as an avenue down which grace can flow.

By allowing me to preen and puff over the trifles I do, Jesus has handed me a branding iron and has me stamp “No Reward” all over each of my actions. Jesus compares me to the hypocrites He berates three times in succession in Matthew 6: first for blowing trumpets to win the praise of others [2][Mt 6:2a] when giving alms; second for showing off while praying so that others may see them [Mt 6:5a]; and finally for looking gloomy and disheveled so that they may appear to others to be fasting.[Mt 6:16a] In all three instances, Jesus denunciation and condemnation of such public show is the same: Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. [Mt 6:2b,5b,16b]

I may attempt to fool myself into thinking that I do not show off externally, thus gloating over my superiority over such hypocrites…an utter charade. I may pretend to “swallow my pride” and play at false humility, pride’s foulest ludicrous and pitiable mockery. I may simply pat myself on my proverbial back and present myself with pseudo-kudos for being “such a good boy” in helping others, when, in truth, I have used them by my actions, my charity sanctimonious lies. I may even play at such right here and now with a display of verbal dexterity.

And all for naught….For Jesus turns to me each time I pretend and says in no uncertain terms: Amen, I say to you,…[you] have received…[your] reward. And the insane aspect of it all is that I know in my heart of hearts that He judges me with this O, so cruel yet truth-filled condemnation every time…and yet I keep on doing it again and again and again, in never ceasing stupidity. I am just like my namesake, St. Paul: What I do, I do not understand. For I do not do what I want, but I do what I hateThe willing is ready at hand, but doing the good is not. [Rom 7:15,18] I am truly insane, according to Albert Einstein, “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.[3]Miserable one that I am! Who will deliver me from this mortal body? [Rom 7:24]

And if you think this is an addiction, it is. Any sin that becomes a habit is probably addictive. Let’s face it: it looks like a duck, waddles like a duck, quacks like a duck, then, by Jove, it’s a duck! Fortunately, thanks to the grace God gave Bill W. and others, we have a program that fights addiction. Since my life is unmanageable and I have concluded that I am insane, I must join all the other addicts, in this case, sinners of the world, and come “to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity” and then make “a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.”[4]

In case I think that if I get rid of pride, I have it made…think again. In this, Bill W echoes Jesus’ “No way!” Jesus says: All who depend on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not persevere in doing all the things written in the book of the law.the law does not depend on faith; rather, “the one who does these things will live by them.” [Gal 3:10,12] Whoever keeps the whole law, but falls short in one particular, has become guilty in respect to all of it. [James 2:10] Therefore, any trip up, any slight deviation, any “venial” sinful act and I am cursed. If I try to follow the law, I will fall. And the law has no safety net…one fall, I am guilty, I am cursed. That no one is justified before God by the law is clear, for “the one who is righteous by faith will live.” [Gal 3:11]

Without Divine intervention, we are caught in a Catch 22, a vortex that inevitably leads to condemnation, death, and eternal punishment. For only God [Mark 2:7] and those to whom God has given the power [Jn 20:22-23] can forgive sin. But, thanks be to God, the Father, who for our sake…made him to be sin who did not know sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him. [2 Cor 5:21] Christ ransomed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who hangs on a tree,”…so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.[Gal 3:13,14b]

I can be thankful for the fact that, though I am judged guilty of sin, God says to me, “I so loved the world that...[I] gave…[my] only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For…[I] did not send…[my] Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. [Jn 3:16-17] Believe in me, believe in my Son, believe that Jesus took your guilt for those sins of yours, your condemnation of Him, your blows as you scourged him, your taunting as you crowned Him with thorns, your betrayal as you denied him, your hatred as you screamed “Crucify Him, crucify Him”…He endured all these things for Your sake, took them with Him to the Cross and there forgave you for you did not know what you were doing. [Lk 23:34] For every time you sin, you in effect reenact the entire passion, re-betraying, re-arresting, re-judging, re-interrogating, re-scourging, re-crowning, re-condemning my Son. And each time, each and every time, He forgives you and asks Me to forgive you. And, since He forgives you, neither do I condemn you. And I say to you: Go, [and] from now on do not sin any more. [Jn 8:11] You are no longer forever guilty of your sin; everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin;..[but] if a son frees you, then you will truly be free. [Jn 8:34,36] My Son freed you and My mercy triumphs over judgment.” [James 2:13b]

Thank You, Father, for turning all things, including pride, to work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. [Rom 8:28] Amen. Alleluia!!!

[1] From the Exultet, the Proclamation that is sung during the Easter Vigil Liturgy. http://onlineministries.creighton.edu/CollaborativeMinistry/p-30-exultet.html

[2] Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner. Hereafter, NABRE.

[3] Albert Einstein Quotes, Brainy quote, http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/ a/alberteins133991.html#yQWHIbTCt6MDpevx.99

[4] Steps One, Two and Three, The Twelve Steps Of Alcoholics Anonymous, Service Material from the General Service Office, Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., http://www.aa.org/assets/en_US/smf-121_en.pdf

Remove from Your midst oppression: Why we all need to practice emotional first aid

Ted talk throws new light on a Lenten text from Isaiah.  It is startling, inspiring and awesome when God juxtaposes two seemingly unrelated things and says: “Take a look at these again…this time together.”  That’s what happened to me recently when I listened to a fantastic talk by Guy Winch: Why we all need to practice emotional first aid .

Shortly thereafter read this often quoted Lenten text from Isaiah: Is this not, rather, the fast that I choose: releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; Setting free the oppressed, breaking off every yoke? Is it not sharing your bread with the hungry, bringing the afflicted and the homeless into your house; Clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own flesh?[1]

I ask you to read the following transcript or view the Ted talk  of Guy Winch [2] Then, reread the Isaiah text, putting your self in place of “those.”

_____________________________

“I grew up with my identical twin, who was an incredibly loving brother. Now, one thing about being a twin is that it makes you an expert at spotting favoritism. If his cookie was even slightly bigger than my cookie, I had questions. And clearly, I wasn’t starving. (Laughter)

0:39 When I became a psychologist, I began to notice favoritism of a different kind, and that is how much more we value the body than we do the mind. I spent nine years at university earning my doctorate in psychology, and I can’t tell you how many people look at my business card and say, “Oh, a psychologist. So not a real doctor,” as if it should say that on my card. (Laughter) This favoritism we show the body over the mind, I see it everywhere.

1:20 I recently was at a friend’s house, and their five-year-old was getting ready for bed. He was standing on a stool by the sink brushing his teeth, when he slipped, and scratched his leg on the stool when he fell. He cried for a minute, but then he got back up, got back on the stool, and reached out for a box of Band-Aids to put one on his cut. Now, this kid could barely tie his shoelaces, but he knew you have to cover a cut, so it doesn’t become infected, and you have to care for your teeth by brushing twice a day. We all know how to maintain our physical health and how to practice dental hygiene, right? We’ve known it since we were five years old. But what do we know about maintaining our psychological health? Well, nothing. What do we teach our children about emotional hygiene? Nothing. How is it that we spend more time taking care of our teeth than we do our minds. Why is it that our physical health is so much more important to us than our psychological health?

2:32 We sustain psychological injuries even more often than we do physical ones, injuries like failure or rejection or loneliness. And they can also get worse if we ignore them, and they can impact our lives in dramatic ways. And yet, even though there are scientifically proven techniques we could use to treat these kinds of psychological injuries, we don’t. It doesn’t even occur to us that we should. “Oh, you’re feeling depressed? Just shake it off; it’s all in your head.” Can you imagine saying that to somebody with a broken leg: “Oh, just walk it off; it’s all in your leg.” (Laughter) It is time we closed the gap between our physical and our psychological health. It’s time we made them more equal, more like twins.

3:26 Speaking of which, my brother is also a psychologist. So he’s not a real doctor, either. (Laughter) We didn’t study together, though. In fact, the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life is move across the Atlantic to New York City to get my doctorate in psychology. We were apart then for the first time in our lives, and the separation was brutal for both of us. But while he remained among family and friends, I was alone in a new country. We missed each other terribly, but international phone calls were really expensive then and we could only afford to speak for five minutes a week. When our birthday rolled around, it was the first we wouldn’t be spending together. We decide to splurge, and that week we would talk for 10 minutes. I spent the morning pacing around my room, waiting for him to call — and waiting and waiting, but the phone didn’t ring. Given the time difference, I assumed, “Ok, he’s out with friends, he will call later.” There were no cell phones then. But he didn’t. And I began to realize that after being away for over 10 months, he no longer missed me the way I missed him. I knew he would call in the morning, but that night was one of the saddest and longest nights of my life. I woke up the next morning. I glanced down at the phone, and I realized I had kicked it off the hook when pacing the day before. I stumbled out off bed, I put the phone back on the receiver, and it rang a second later, and it was my brother, and, boy, was he pissed. (Laughter) It was the saddest and longest night of his life as well. Now I tried to explain what happened, but he said, “I don’t understand. If you saw I wasn’t calling you, why didn’t you just pick up the phone and call me?” He was right. Why didn’t I call him? I didn’t have an answer then, but I do today, and it’s a simple one: loneliness.

5:42 Loneliness creates a deep psychological wound, one that distorts our perceptions and scrambles our thinking. It makes us believe that those around us care much less than they actually do. It make us really afraid to reach out, because why set yourself up for rejection and heartache when your heart is already aching more than you can stand? I was in the grips of real loneliness back then, but I was surrounded by people all day, so it never occurred to me. But loneliness is defined purely subjectively. It depends solely on whether you feel emotionally or socially disconnected from those around you. And I did. There is a lot of research on loneliness, and all of it is horrifying. Loneliness won’t just make you miserable, it will kill you. I’m not kidding. Chronic loneliness increases your likelihood of an early death by 14 percent. Loneliness causes high blood pressure, high cholesterol. It even suppress the functioning of your immune system, making you vulnerable to all kinds of illnesses and diseases. In fact, scientists have concluded that taken together, chronic loneliness poses as significant a risk for your longterm health and longevity as cigarette smoking. Now cigarette packs come with warnings saying, “This could kill you.” But loneliness doesn’t. And that’s why it’s so important that we prioritize our psychological health, that we practice emotional hygiene. Because you can’t treat a psychological wound if you don’t even know you’re injured. Loneliness isn’t the only psychological wound that distorts our perceptions and misleads us.

7:39 Failure does that as well. I once visited a day care center, where I saw three toddlers play with identical plastic toys. You had to slide the red button, and a cute doggie would pop out. One little girl tried pulling the purple button, then pushing it, and then she just sat back and looked at the box, with her lower lip trembling. The little boy next to her watched this happen, then turned to his box and and burst into tears without even touching it. Meanwhile, another little girl tried everything she could think of until she slid the red button, the cute doggie popped out, and she squealed with delight. So three toddlers with identical plastic toys, but with very different reactions to failure. The first two toddlers were perfectly capable of sliding a red button. The only thing that prevented them from succeeding was that their mind tricked them into believing they could not. Now, adults get tricked this way as well, all the time. In fact, we all have a default set of feelings and beliefs that gets triggered whenever we encounter frustrations and setbacks.

8:54 Are you aware of how your mind reacts to failure? You need to be. Because if your mind tries to convince you you’re incapable of something and you believe it, then like those two toddlers, you’ll begin to feel helpless and you’ll stop trying too soon, or you won’t even try at all. And then you’ll be even more convinced you can’t succeed. You see, that’s why so many people function below their actual potential. Because somewhere along the way, sometimes a single failure convinced them that they couldn’t succeed, and they believed it.

9:26 Once we become convinced of something, it’s very difficult to change our mind. I learned that lesson the hard way when I was a teenager with my brother. We were driving with friends down a dark road at night, when a police car stopped us. There had been a robbery in the area and they were looking for suspects. The officer approached the car, and he shined his flashlight on the driver, then on my brother in the front seat, and then on me. And his eyes opened wide and he said, “Where have I seen your face before?” (Laughter) And I said, “In the front seat.” (Laughter) But that made no sense to him whatsoever. So now he thought I was on drugs. (Laughter) So he drags me out of the car, he searches me, he marches me over to the police car, and only when he verified I didn’t have a police record, could I show him I had a twin in the front seat. But even as we were driving away, you could see by the look on his face he was convinced that I was getting away with something.

10:33 Our mind is hard to change once we become convinced. So it might be very natural to feel demoralized and defeated after you fail. But you cannot allow yourself to become convinced you can’t succeed. You have to fight feelings of helplessness. You have to gain control over the situation. And you have to break this kind of negative cycle before it begins. Our minds and our feelings, they’re not the trustworthy friends we thought they were. They are more like a really moody friend, who can be totally supportive one minute, and really unpleasant the next. I once worked with this woman who after 20 years marriage and an extremely ugly divorce, was finally ready for her first date. She had met this guy online, and he seemed nice and he seemed successful, and most importantly, he seemed really into her. So she was very excited, she bought a new dress, and they met at an upscale New York City bar for a drink. Ten minutes into the date, the man stands up and says, “I’m not interested,” and walks out. Rejection is extremely painful. The woman was so hurt she couldn’t move. All she could do was call a friend. Here’s what the friend said: “Well, what do you expect? You have big hips, you have nothing interesting to say, why would a handsome, successful man like that ever go out with a loser like you?” Shocking, right, that a friend could be so cruel? But it would be much less shocking if I told you it wasn’t the friend who said that. It’s what the woman said to herself. And that’s something we all do, especially after a rejection. We all start thinking of all our faults and all our shortcomings, what we wish we were, what we wish we weren’t, we call ourselves names. Maybe not as harshly, but we all do it. And it’s interesting that we do, because our self-esteem is already hurting. Why would we want to go and damage it even further? We wouldn’t make a physical injury worse on purpose. You wouldn’t get a cut on your arm and decide, “Oh, I know! I’m going to take a knife and see how much deeper I can make it.”

12:51 But we do that with psychological injuries all the time. Why? Because of poor emotional hygiene. Because we don’t prioritize our psychological health. We know from dozens of studies that when your self-esteem is lower, you are more vulnerable to stress and to anxiety, that failures and rejections hurt more and it takes longer to recover from them. So when you get rejected, the first thing you should be doing is to revive your self-esteem, not join Fight Club and beat it into a pulp. When you’re in emotional pain, treat yourself with the same compassion you would expect from a truly good friend. We have to catch our unhealthy psychological habits and change them. One of unhealthiest and most common is called rumination. To ruminate means to chew over. It’s when your boss yells at you, or your professor makes you feel stupid in class, or you have big fight with a friend and you just can’t stop replaying the scene in your head for days, sometimes for weeks on end. Ruminating about upsetting events in this way can easily become a habit, and it’s a very costly one. Because by spending so much time focused on upsetting and negative thoughts, you are actually putting yourself at significant risk for developing clinical depression, alcoholism, eating disorders, and even cardiovascular disease.

14:21 The problem is the urge to ruminate can feel really strong and really important, so it’s a difficult habit to stop. I know this for a fact, because a little over a year ago, I developed the habit myself. You see, my twin brother was diagnosed with stage III non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. His cancer was extremly aggressive. He had visible tumors all over his body. And he had to start a harsh course of chemotherapy. And I couldn’t stop thinking about what he was going through. I couldn’t stop thinking about how much he was suffering, even though he never complained, not once. He had this incredibly positive attitude. His psychological health was amazing. I was physically healthy, but psychologically I was a mess. But I knew what to do. Studies tell us that even a two-minute distraction is sufficient to break the urge to ruminate in that moment. And so each time I had a worrying, upsetting, negative thought, I forced myself to concentrate on something else until the urge passed. And within one week, my whole outlook changed and became more positive and more hopeful. Nine weeks after he started chemotherapy, my brother had a CAT scan, and I was by his side when he got the results. All the tumors were gone. He still had three more rounds of chemotherapy to go, but we knew he would recover. This picture was taken two weeks ago.

16:04 By taking action when you’re lonely, by changing your responses to failure, by protecting your self-esteem, by battling negative thinking, you won’t just heal your psychological wounds, you will bulid emotional resilience, you will thrive. A hundred years ago, people began practicing personal hygiene, and life expectancy rates rose by over 50 percent in just a matter of decades. I believe our quality of life could rise just as dramatically if we all began practicing emotional hygiene.

16:42 Can you imagine what the world would be like if everyone was psychologically healthier? If there were less loneliness and less depression? If people knew how to overcome failure? If they felt better about themselves and more empowered? If they were happier and more fulfilled? I can, because that’s the world I want to live in, and that’s the world my brother wants to live in as well. And if you just become informed and change a few simple habits, well, that’s the world we can all live in.”

_________________________________________

Now, reread this Isaiah text, putting your self in place of “those.” Is this not, rather, the fast that I choose: releasing myself whom I have bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; Setting free my oppressed self, breaking off every yoke? Is it not sharing your bread with the hungry, bringing the afflicted and the homeless into your house; Clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning my back on my own flesh? 

God does not want me to be bound either.  The habits of failure, rejection, loneliness or rumination are modern guises for a lack of trust in God, of love of God and our neighbor, of pride and envy.

Certainly by  sharing your bread with the hungry you will move beyond failure, by bringing the afflicted and the homeless into your house you will overcome rejection and loneliness and by getting off the pity-pot and going out and seeing the naked and clothing them you will certainly have no time for rumination.

Maybe some work close to home is what God is calling you to do this Lent.  I know He is calling me to do just that.

Prayers and peace.

[1] Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

[2] http://www.ted.com/talks/guy_winch_the_case_for_emotional_hygiene?utm_source=newsletter_weekly_2015-02-21&utm_campaign=newsletter_weekly&utm_medium=email&utm_content=talk_of_the_week_image. Filmed November 2014 at TEDxLinnaeusUniversity

“What can we do?”

Jn 6:28 So they said to him, “What can we do to accomplish the works of God?” [1]

Faced with the world falling apart around me, I am bewildered, frozen, totally without any idea of how to answer this question in today’s world.

You have just told the crowd who came seeking You because You fed them bread and fish: Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. [Jn 6:27a]. Their question, and my question, is “What can we do to accomplish the works of God?

There are two ways I ask this: (a) one is of the overwhelming helplessness at my inadequacy to accomplish what God lays out for me to do; and (b) the other is the “playing dumb” posture of pretending that I don’t already know what God wants of me.

The first position, the answer of which could leave me with great humility and awe and comfort that God does work out my greatest happiness even though I am not able to do so, instead usually leads me to frustration and anger at the impossible task and goal God has given, aka dumped, on me! I mean, how can I be expected to “accomplish the works of GOD,” for heaven’s sake [literally]?

The second, the answer of which could fill me with joy and relief that God has placed in my heart how I am to serve him, instead usually has me saying: “Forget that!” and wandering off the reservation, seeking to do everything “my way,” without paying any attention to what God wants nor what you, my “supposed” brothers and sisters, are due and need.

Both exhibit a supreme lack of trust and faith. Both raise the same specter of pride and control, the first from the position of inadequacy and desire for control, the second of self-reliance, self-salvation, the flaunting of “control.” Both are viewing Your creation, the universe, the world, as orbiting around my ego; in the first, I’m on the pity-pot, in the second, on a pedestal.

You have made it extremely simple and blatantly clear what You expect in the next verse: Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent.”[Jn 6:29] Granted, the crowd was having a bit of difficulty identifying Jesus as “the one He sent,” i.e. their Messiah, the Son of God Himself. But from the perspective of 2000 years of pondering “these things in her heart,” [Lk 2:29] the Church, following Mary’s example, has had a great deal of time to come to understand and accept You, Jesus, for what You are, the Christ, the Son of God.

Indeed, even having been put so simply, so succinctly, when I think about it, true faith, deep, abiding faith, faith to move mountains, is totally beyond me. I wish I were Thomas, uttering “My Lord and My God.” [Jn 20:28]

Instead, I am one of your disciples who am unable to drive out the mute spirit from the boy. You are truly justified, Jesus, when you berate me: O faithless generation, how long will I be with you? How long will I endure you? I throw myself with the boy’s father at Your feet: if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us, explicitly expressing the doubting “if.” You call me on it: ‘If you can!’ Everything is possible to one who has faith. With the father, I cry out: I do believe, help my unbelief! [Mk 9:19-24]

What a Miserable one I am![Rom 7:24] I cannot achieve the very faith for which You chastise me for not having. I am between a rock and a hard place…a no-win situation!

You gently remind me to be humble, for human beings it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God. [Mk 10:27; Lk 18:27; Mt 19:26]. As the NABRE note says: “Achievement of salvation is beyond human capability and depends solely on the goodness of God who offers it as a gift.”

What am I to do in the meantime? How am I to survive this total meltdown? How do I face the next father with a possessed son, aka a dying spouse, no job, ebola, undocumented, living in poverty, hooked on coke? Your solution, here and always: start with prayer and move on from there! [see Mk 9:29]

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.  Lao-tzu

[1] Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

46 For if you had believed Moses,…

46 For if you had believed Moses, you would have believed me, because he wrote about me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?” [1]

John, here at the end of Chapter 5, chastises his hearers who won’t even believe their Torah, their Law in which Moses, himself, testifies to Jesus…thus, Jesus concludes his iteration of His witnesses: His Father, the Spirit, John the Baptist, Scripture, His works and finally Moses….his hearers refuse to believe anyone or anything, even their own eyes.

Am I not often the same. You barrage me with messages, particularly warnings prior to my falling into serious sin and I choose to ignore each and every one. I know better than You do. I can handle myself.   I know what I’m doing. I…I…I…and then I fall headlong into the very trap of the devil that You were pointing out. Not just pointing out, sending up flares, flooding with spotlights, blaring sirens, posting warnings in 70 different languages, wearing HAZMAT suits; laying down in front of the bulldozers…even agreeing to be ridiculed, taunted, tortured, condemned and crucified…just so I would get the picture and STOP!!!

Do I get the message? Loud and clear!!!

Do I heed the warning? Duh, who me, Dufus?

You would think after He went to all that trouble, all that effort, that even though He showed all that loving care and concern, He would throw up His pierced hands in disgust and frustration and chalk me up to one gigantic failure, to one campaign that went South, to one incredible SNAFU, that He would leave me in my misery, in my dismay, in my confusion and disappointment at my supposed self and turn to more responsive, more willing, more open and cooperating candidates for His Message and Salvation.

But NO, He’s got to come back and try, try again…and again…and again…how many ever it takes until I finally get it, I finally concede that I am not God, I finally understand that I may think I know what’s best for me, I may be told by the Father of all Lies that I know what He knows what everybody knows what’s best for me…but these are all a pack of …., a crock of …., utterly nonsense. I finally turn around and He’s still there, still waiting, still patient, in spite of everything, He still loves me, is waiting with open arms for me, has my adopted son’s ring for me, throws His arms around me and hugs me…and welcomes me back…welcomes me home…welcomes me to the eternal banquet. Now that’s what I call LOVE!!! Amen. Alleluia!!!

[1] Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Running….away

2 So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.”[1] Jn 20:2

So she ran…the beginning of the running sequences.  Lord God, You are very patient, while I am very impatient.  This is a “now” era; immediate satisfaction is the criterion of timeliness.  Sad, for You are everywhere and every when…It is not Your fault, God, I am so self-centered as to demand my time vs His time.  For the graces of prudence and patience to know we follow Your time and the trust to follow You. When I wander away from the You in our relationship, the 2nd person, and begin preaching to the imaginary throngs in the 3rd person He and Him…I fall into distraction and pride.  Save me from preening and strutting and help me to give all credit, glory, honor, power and praise to You and You alone…and to know in my heart of hearts that I am nothing…I am not “I am”…I am “who be.”  You hold in being, gave form and life, gave faith and grace, and continuously give all.  I am no thing; without Your constant life-support, I cease to exist.  Grant me the grace to always and everywhere remember that and be humble. Running can be associated with many different moods, different motivations, different reasons…some rational, some instinctive, some emotional.  Help me run when You call, when You express Your will, when I am to “obey,” “to listen to” You and open myself up to whatever You have in mind.  Help me be prompt in responding to Your call, Your inspiration, Your breathing into me that I may do Your will. and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved  She goes to the head of the Church and John.  I, when I am lost and cannot find Jesus, should go to the Church, to love of God, to contemplate true reality. Holy Spirit, guide me, help me, lead me, teach me, inspire me, comfort me, console me.  That I may know and love You, Jesus and our Father as You will me to do so.  Amen.  Alleluia!!! [1] Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Crushed

Then he led him to Jerusalem, made him stand on the parapet of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written: ‘He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,’ and: ‘With their hands they will support you, lest you dash your foot against a stone.’” Jesus said to him in reply, “It also says, ‘You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.’” When the devil had finished every temptation, he departed from him for a time. [Lk 4: 9-13] [1]

I want my temple!  Not God’s temple, my temple!  The one where I imagine I am honored, worshipped, adored.  I had it as an only child!  Now I want it again!!!

I use to be trapped in the “I am better than they are” fantasy world where I am the center of attention, the nexus around which all life revolves. Still am at times. But I’d loose my identity when I often dash my foot against the stone of truth, the Corner Stone, reality, others, the Son of God.

God, when I do that, I am afraid, nobody will pay any attention to me, nobody will love me…Silly, I have loved you even before you were born; I “so loved the world that..[I] gave…[my] only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For…[I] did not send…[my] Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.[Jn 3:16-17] This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. [Jn 15:12-14]

It’s very disconcerting that the devil gets to temp You, Jesus. You are God, after all. You are his maker, You are what holds him in existence and gives him everything…but You humbled Yourself to allow Yourself to be tempted by him for our sake?  Not a wise move in my estimation…my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways [Is 55:8] For…[you] do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with…[your] weaknesses, but one who has similarly been tested [tempted] in every way, yet without sin. [Heb 4:15]

It’s also scary that the devil can quote scripture so easily. Indeed, beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves. By their fruits you will know them. [Mt 7:15-16]  Each time You countered with Scripture, You knew exactly how to parry his thrust.  I, however, am just a mere human, without Your knowledge, without Your holiness, without Your stamina, without Your grace.  How can You expect me to dodge his bullets as adroitly as You did?

Do not worry about how or what your defense will be or about what you are to say. For the holy Spirit will teach you at that moment what you should say. [Lk 12: 11-12] Do you not recall that each time I confronted a person possessed, the devil recognized Me: They prostrate themselves before Me, crying out in a loud voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me!”[Mk 5: 6-7]

Be cautious, however; never underestimate the evil one: he flies under the radar, enticing you to think he really does not exist, is a figment of your imagination, could not be a creature that the good God allows to exist, has little to do with the real world. Be very cautious or you will find yourself confronted with a power beyond your comprehension. He will taunt you: Jesus I recognize, Paul I know, but who are you? [Acts 19:15] and like the seven sons of Sceva, he will spring upon you and subdue you and you will be forced to flee “naked and wounded from that house.” [Acts 19:16]  That is why I have you pray: do not subject us to the final test, but deliver us from the evil one. [Mt 6:13]

My angels, indeed, guard you…but be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for [someone] to devour. [1 Pet 5:8]

Listen to what I told Paul…“My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.”  Imitate him: I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me. Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong. [2 Cor 12:9-10]. You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test. In my weakness, I fell, but in God’s strength, I got up and continued on.

[1]Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.