Be still, and know that I am God. Ps 46:11

A very relaxing and enlightening meditation is to take this small sentence and start with the first word and meditate on it until you and God are finished and then move on to the first two words and do the same thing and so on….try it.

Be…..

Be still….

Be still and….

Be still and know….

Be still and know that….

Be still and know that I….

Be still and know that I am….

Be still and know that I am God!….

And don’t skip over the “Be still and…” and “Be still and know that…”  Let these questions hang in the air and talk about the unknown, the future and the present with God.

Peace and Prayers!

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Lenten Resolution: Don’t take myself too seriously!!! ;->

For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.(Gal 6:3)[1]

“Paul uses the word sarx [flesh] to talk about the separate self, the partial self, the entrapped self, the false self. It’s the self that is trying to define itself apart from the Spirit, apart from the Big Self. It’s you apart from God, the tiny self that you think you are, who takes yourself far too seriously and who is always needy and wanting something else. It’s the self that is characterized by scarcity and fragility–and well it should be, because it’s illusory and passing. This small self doesn’t really exist in God’s eyes as anything substantial or real…To easily get beyond this confusion, just substitute the word ego every time you hear Paul use the word flesh….The problem is not that you have a body; the problem is that you think you are separate from others. And then that fragile separate self tries to make itself superior besides.” [2]

I guess one thing I “learned” [in quotes because I just realized it as a result of reading the Pope’s Easter message and haven’t really groked it yet, haven’t ruminated over it a few thousand times, haven’t absorbed it, taken it “to heart,” made it part of my modus operandi…but, with God’s help and Jesus guidance and the Spirit’s power, I may just bring it off], what I “learned” from Lent is not to take myself too seriously…. ;-<…something I tend to do all too frequently!!!

Why? Well, a number of reasons…but the big one, the most important one, is….it’s not about me [horrors!!]…it’s about Him [Shucks!!!] That’s a tough one to swallow |:~O [Gulp!] You mean I am not the center of the universe? That the world does not revolve around me? You mean I shouldn’t trust in myself more than I trust in God? You mean I can’t control everything around me and make it do my bidding? Nope! [And, thank God, literally, for that bit of reality…do you realize how really screwed up things would be if I were in charge…the world would be in really, really, really bad shape…at least this way, You’re running the show!]

Another is that no one else takes me seriously….at least not as seriously as I take myself. So it is kind of a futile solipsism for me to take myself more seriously than others do. It throws my whole “calculations” of importance and “why he didn’t get back to me…immediately!” and “where is that package…don’t they know I’m waiting for it?” out the psychological window. Descartes’ “I think, therefore I am,” is really “I think I think but I am not who I think I am and that others know that I am not,” if I take myself too seriously. Taking myself seriously is a joke…the cold reality of me is quite a laughable sight.

Finally, and seriously, most important, God doesn’t take me too seriously. That may seem blasphemy when we are told time and time again how He loves even every little hair on my head. But when we truly love somebody, we cut them a lot of slack, we laugh off their foibles, in fact, in a way, we find those shortcomings endearing…we say: “that’s just him, that’s just her…don’t worry about it.” This slack-cutting seems to be the modus operandi of my best friend, our best friend, God.

This is not to say that my sin is something that He just sweeps under the rug; no:

  • You are not a god who delights in evil.[Ps. 5:5];
  • Make no mistake: God is not mocked, for a person will reap only what he sows,[Gal 6:7];
  • if one does not repent, God sharpens his sword,[Ps 7:13];
  • all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left…‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life. [Mt 25:32-33;45-46]

But let’s look at the evidence of God’s mercy and friendship, starting with His own description of Himself as He passes by Moses:

  • The LORD, the LORD, a God gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in love and fidelity, continuing his love for a thousand generations, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion, and sin;[3] [Ex 34:6-7; cf. Num 14:18; Ps 145:8]
  • Merciful and gracious is the LORD, slow to anger, abounding in mercy. He will not always accuse, and nurses no lasting anger; He has not dealt with us as our sins merit, nor requited us as our wrongs deserve. For as the heavens tower over the earth, so his mercy towers over those who fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our sins from us. [Ps 103:8-12]
  • It is I, I, who wipe out, for my own sake, your offenses; your sins I remember no more. (Is 43:25)
  • He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in steadfast love. (Micah 7:18)
  • For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more. (Jer 31:34)

And note that these quotations are all from the Old Testament, where we thought God was all fire, brimstone and wrath. God wants us to know that He knows our sins and yet forgives them.

Jesus and Abba and HS [the Holy Spirit] all operate on the same type of friendship, of love. They are in love; They are love. And Love is patient, love is kindis not pompous, it is not inflated,… it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Indeed, we are given the example of Jesus: When He was reviled, He did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but continued entrusting Himself to Him who judges justly. (1Pet 2:23) And we are told to do the same: Judge not, that you be not judged. (Mt 7:1)…to practice love which is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury,… does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. [1Cor 13:5-6] Peter asks: “Lord, how often am I to forgive my brother when he sins against me? Seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy times seven.” (Matthew 18:22) Forgiveness includes not brooding, not reviling, not threatening, not judging. Indeed, this love we should practice imitates God: it bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. [1Cor 13:7]

Paul also urges us, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Eph 4:2-3) and James tells us: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger. (James 1:19)

One form of not taking myself too seriously is the ascetic Christian life, particularly in the Eastern Church, called foolishness for the sake of Christ. It is based on the theme of foolishness in First Corinthians.

  • If any one among you considers himself wise in this age, let him become a fool so as to become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in the eyes of God, 1Cor 3:18-19:
  • We are fools on Christ’s account, but you are wise in Christ; we are weak, but you are strong; you are held in honor, but we in disrepute, 1Cor 4:10;
  • The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1Cor 1:18:
  • For since in the wisdom of God the world did not come to know God through wisdom, it was the will of God through the foolishness of the proclamation to save those who have faith. 1Cor 1:21
  • We proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 1Cor 1:23
  • For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. 1Cor 1:25

More than ever the Lord needs a few fools to risk ridicule and hatred to proclaim his gospel to a hostile world that often thinks it is a foolish doctrine that is hopelessly out of touch with today’s reality. For fools like me and you, we can turn that belief on its head and know that, in truth, today’s reality is out of touch with God, but, due to His unconditional Love, definitely not hopelessly…after all, we’re hear and here…chortle. Amen.

[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] R. Rohr, OFM, Paul’s Dialectical Teaching: Flesh and Spirit; Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation, Friday, April 10, 2015, Center for Action and Contemplation

[3] We sometimes confuse forgiveness with guiltlessness. God doesn’t; this verse continues: yet not declaring the guilty guiltless, but bringing punishment for their parents’ wickedness on children and children’s children to the third and fourth generation![Ex 34:7; see also Ex 20:5-6; Deut 5:9-10; Jer 32:18; this version of God’s wrath on children is obliquely referenced in Jn 9:1-3 where His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”Jesus answered, “Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him. The NABRE note on Jn 5:14 makes the point: “While the cure of the paralytic in Mk 2:1–12 is associated with the forgiveness of sins, Jesus never drew a one-to-one connection between sin and suffering (cf. Jn 9:3; Lk 12:1–5).”

This condemnation of the children is reversed in other verses; as the NABRE note on Ex 20:5 states: “Other Old Testament texts repudiate the idea of punishment devolving on later generations: Parents shall not be put to death for their children, nor shall children be put to death for their parents; only for one’s own crime shall a person be put to death.[Deut 24:16; quoted in 2Kgs 14:6, 2 Chron 25:4; and is the basis for Jer 31:29-30 and especially Ez 18:2-4;19-20]. “Yet it is known that later generations may suffer the punishing effects of sins of earlier generations, but not the guilt.”

While God forgives our sins, our guilt remains as does the effects of sins. This must be rectified, the scale of justice balanced, either here or in eternity, the basis for the purging of Purgatory.

The Parabola of Faith: the Hand of God

As banishment from Eden preceded the incarnation, as the annunciation preceded the birth, as three days preceded the Finding, as the passion and death preceded the Resurrection, sorrow precedes joy. So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. Jn 16:22

Sorrow is manifestation of the hand of God, “my father’s business.” Lk 2:49  Joy in the midst of sorrow is the realization of the hand of God.  Faith grasps the hand of God in the darkness of sorrow and gives birth to joy.

Faith is the belief in the goodness of God regardless of the circumstances; faith is solidified and strengthened by the challenges of bad or even evil things being faced and, with God’s help as savior, overcome.  Amen. Alleluia!!!

The Temptations and the Passion

While meditating on the Sorrowful Mysteries this morning, it struck me that there is a definite parallel between the temptations that Jesus experienced at the beginning of his ministry and the Passion sequence.

While Jesus was tempted to turn stones into bread, at Gethsemane, he is tempted to not drink the cup that the Father has given him. The two, combined, are, of course, what he has already changed into his Body and Blood of the new Covenant and required men to eat in order to be saved. From stones to bread to His Body, a phenomenal transition of being into God. The Word that feeds us is both the Scripture and the Word, Himself, of God, by which we live. Thus, the Bread become Body is that by which we will live in Him.

His confrontation with the Chief Priest ultimately brings Him to the point that He declares Himself the Son of God, the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Father. How much more powerful an image than the mere tossing oneself from the pinnacle of the temple so that angels would save him from dashing his foot against a stone. It should be noted his reply to the Devil which was indeed appropriate for the Sanhedrin also: ‘You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.’”

Jesus third confrontation is with Pilate, symbol of the power of Rome. The Devil has offered him all the kingdoms of the world, if He would but bow down and worship the Devil. Jesus casts him out: “The Lord, your God, shall you worship and him alone shall you serve.” And His rebuttal to Pilate’s inquiries about his kingship: “My kingdom does not belong to this world….You say I am a king. For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.” His are the kingdoms of the world. They are all part of the Kingdom of God which is the Kingdom of Heaven. The Devil had nothing but lies to offer Jesus, for Jesus already possessed what he offered. The Devil has been spending his time “roaming the earth and patrolling it.” God has given the devil power over the earth: “all that he has is in your power.” But not heaven, not God and not even ultimately; but the endgame is foretold: “The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away;
blessed be the name of the LORD!” Amen. Alleluia!!!

Saturday of the Seventh Week of Easter: Pentecost Eve

And now we wait. “you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” Acts 1:5   “Not many days from now” is a very fluid, indefinite time.

Jesus gave us a model of waiting; “He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus advanced [in] wisdom and age and favor before God and man.” Lk 2: 51-52. Again, “My hour has not yet come.” Jn 2:4 The hidden life…20 years from age 12-32….a carpenter/builder/mason in a rustic, unimportant village of Nazareth. 7300 days of ordinary life when he knew in his heart: “I must be in my Father’s house?”

The disciples, Apostles and Mary have waited 9 days thus far, “devoting themselves to prayer,” “continually in the temple praising God.”

On the 40th day, reminding us of the year the Jews finally past into the promised land, Jesus ascended into the true promised land, the first born from the dead. Now we approach the 50th day, the day the Lord declared holy: “Then you shall present a new grain offering to the LORD.” Lev 23:16. The harvest of the Kingdom has begun. The first grain offerings, the 120 gathered in the upper room, is ripe and ready to be an acceptable sacrifice to the Lord. And the world had descended on Jerusalem for the feast, and 3000 of them were ready for the harvest. Acts 2:41 And each one shall heard them speaking, God’s Call, in his own language. Acts 2:6,8

All this when the Hour of the Church has come! And the Church shall burst forth, never to be hidden again…the Treasure is found, the Pearl is opened. Mt 13:44-45

But today, an echo of Holy Saturday, we wait in silent expectation, even without breathing, in hopes of hearing His coming. Patience. “A thousand years in your eyes are merely a day gone by.” Ps 90:4. The clock has changed, we are all operating on God’s time now….Amen. Alleluia.

I want a refund

“O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” Lk 24:25-26

God’s ways are not our ways, nor are God’s thoughts our thoughts. Which of us, in designing a Christ, would have him “suffer these things and enter into his glory?” We’re right there with the Apostles: “Is it now that you are going to restore the kingdom of Israel?” None of this arrest, interrogation, whipping, bullying, condemnation, carrying of the cross, crucifixion and death….all extraneous to our concept, our vision, our plan. This is, perhaps, why we are the “foolish ones…slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken.” Didn’t they mean what they said as hyperbole, exaggeration, visionary unrealities? You mean they really meant it…or if they didn’t know exactly what they wrote, the Spirit really meant it, foresaw it, and the Trinity preplanned it from all eternity. It’s that latter, that “preplanned from all eternity” that catches you off guard, brings you up short, makes you wonder… what kind of a God is God? Where is the warm, gentle, fuzzy God I know and love? Where did this God come from? I didn’t bargain for this type of God! I demand a refund!

“I am who I am. I can be no other. You can picture me anyway you want…but I do not change. I am goodness, I am love. This Christ is goodness, this Christ is love. I want only your greatest happiness and that of the whole world, of every man, woman and child that ever lived, are living or will live. That is why Christ suffered these things…for you, and you, and you. He had no need of suffering for Himself, for Me…He did it for you…so that you would know the Way, the Truth and the Life. So that you would know that all I want, all I ever wanted, is your happiness. What I can’t seem to get you to understand is that your happiness is not achieved by doing what you want but in doing what I want you to do…in being the best, the holiest, the most wonderful person you can be with my help. That’s what the prophets were saying, that’s what I have been saying all along. Come, come, come. Follow my Son…and you will find eternal life, eternal happiness, you will find Me.” Amen. Alleluia!!!

Why The Subterfuge?

Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him. Lk 24:18
Thank you, Luke, for doing your homework, for conducting interviews with extant witnesses, for weaving their eyewitness accounts into your Gospel under the influence and inspiration of the Holy Spirit. We, your 21st cent. Theophili, are truly thankful for your and the Spirit’s handiwork. His inspiration flows from it to us today.

Jesus, you are the consummate psychologist, the paradigm of teachers. You knew that if you had revealed yourself to Cleopas and his companion immediately, you would have lost the opportunity to show from Moses and the prophets why you had to suffer and die, that this was part of the Trinity’s plan from the beginning, in order to show by imitation of the Heavenly Processions the true way of the earthly one, humble, submissive to the Father in love, obedient to the Father in love. The exaltation of seeing you alive would have overwhelmed their minds and your exegesis, your teaching, would not have been able to be explicated so that they would remember and relate it to others. In their sadness, they were receptive to any explanation concerning their “prophet mighty in deed and word…the one who would redeem Israel.” Thus, as you explained each text, one after one, the love of the Lord was again enkindled in their hearts from the dying embers of their grief. You, indeed, did not quench the dying embers but fed them and encouraged them, en-couraged, gave them heart. Find us today, walk with us, enlighten us, show us your way, your truth and your life, so that my heart and the hearts of all who need and follow you will be burning within me. Amen, You are Risen!!! Alleluia!!!