Love and Forgiveness

We are all called by God to live a just life following the Laws of God, and I believe the most important, can be summed up in Love and Forgiveness. The laws of The Commandments; “Thou shall not steal, Thou shall not kill… speak of what not to do, and yes, we need to obey. However, they “don’t move us to love more; they just keep us from failing to love.

True love overtakes us and leads us to do more than we ever thought possible of ourselves. We can develop patience, forgiveness and kindness over and over. It allows us to Forget, truly Forget grudges and past wrongs. What God is asking of us, is no more than he is doing for us and our failings.
What are some small ways we can move forward showing our love especially for our neighbors, or those strangers that cross our path every day for a reason? And how can we show it whether they see it or not?

It is a love with patience for someone who doesn’t get it or is incapable of understanding. It is understanding someone who has a different opinion or perspective than we do. It is that act of kindness like holding the door for someone and smiling at them. A few kind words to someone you pass by, as that maybe the only person they have in their life that day to talk too. A compliment to someone you don’t know to make their day, or just a simple thank you. A kind word of “Keep Smiling” that always evokes a surprise and a smile from them. Hopefully, you have made their day!
An easy scripture to remember that you can carry with you all day is ‘You shall love.” (Romans 13:9) Yes, I fail at times, as there are people I have tried to live with what I have noted above. But in a particular case, I have failed for years with a certain neighbor. But, I am still called to keep trying as these situations ring true to me: “Make us know the shortness of life/that we may gain wisdom of the heart.” (Ps. 90:12)

I recently participated in the Year of Mercy by attending the ceremonies and Mass for the relics of St. Maria Goretti. A very moving time and an overwhelming experience of forgiveness. Learning how to forgive and forget. Many miracles of recent times were shared with those in attendance, and in this special time, it was impossible for anyone to leave and not further embrace Love and Forgiveness.
I am noting some very powerful words that speak to Love below by Etty Hillesum:

“There is a passage in the Bible from which I always draw new strength. I think it goes something like: “He that loveth me, let him forsake his father and mother:” Last night I had to struggle again not to be overwhelmed by the pity I had for my parents, since it would paralyze me if I gave in to it. I know that we must not lose ourselves so completely in grief and concern for our families that we have little thought or love left for our neighbors. More and more I tend toward the idea that love for everyone who may cross my path, love for everyone made in God’s image, must rise above love for blood relatives. Please don’t misunderstand me. It may seem unnatural-and I see that it is still far too difficult for me to write about, though so simple to live.”

(Words by Etty Hillesum from Amsterdam, Holland and put to death in Auschwitz.)
And as the time ended with the ceremony for St. Maria Goretti, the Saint Child who shows us how to forgive, a speaker ended on this powerful and reflecting note. For those who pray the Our Father every day, and does not subscribe to forgiveness as we are asked, the speaker said: “I dare you pray for forgiveness; yes I dare you to pray for forgiveness.” As it goes in the Our Father, “give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespasses again us.”

So how do we ask God for forgiveness, when we are not willing to forgive. We will see.

Conor
Find A Way!!

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Prayer

What is prayer? Just something you do once a week at services because you feel an obligation? Is it something you have no interest in at all, and no time to consider because of your schedule? Or maybe you feel you only need to pray when you need something or some tragedy has entered your life?

Or, is it that you do pray occasionally but it has no meaning or purpose in your life? See no results. In fact, the praying you are doing is boring, burdensome and awkward. Almost very discomforting.

Is it maybe you don’t know how to really pray? Would you be surprised to know that sometimes, and over a period of time, praying is sometimes lonely, empty and very dry for those that do pray? And do you know why?

Let me ask, have you in your life ever worked hard at something like a sport, project, an advanced degree, or a skill set you never had, but so desired by you? Maybe to play a musical instrument or being an accomplished public speaker? And you did it by your simple determination, effort and with help along the way. And yes, it did not happen overnight, as it required a lot of effort and commitment on your part. You had to make time for it in order to get something out of it and get where you needed to be.

What a great feeling! And when you have experienced that great feeling, wouldn’t you do anything to get that same feeling again?

There is a saying in the martial arts, whether you’re a white belt or a dedicated black belt that simply says, “You need more practice.” And where does that not apply in our lives?

Know that God loves you and He wants to be with you and be part of your life. He has loved you before you even knew Him, and He can be part of your life. It requires you to “open your heart” to Him and put the above efforts into praying.

Have you heard of the analogy of how you protect what is most important to you? It is explained through rock, sand and water. In a large jar of water, you are asked to put in pebbles, sand, water and also rocks, with rocks being the things most important in your life. Without putting the rocks in first, one will never have the important things in their life.

As I have noted in previous writings, find your corner. Find your spot to pray and make it yours. Start out with 5 minutes, settle down and clear your mind and let it grow from there. As you begin to notice change slowly, experience God’s love and mercy, and you will want to grow that time together. Sometimes prayer is not needed. Just speak from your heart. Settle in His presence, feel nourished and know that you are in His love.

Know, you are never alone.

Conor
Find a Way!

Hugs and Your Corner

In this post time of Easter and Passover, it is important to share our hugs and joy with others. And yes, we then need to find “our” corner to pray and give thanks.

Yes, it is time to change; to be the adult in the room, to be positive, accepting, and quietly showing our strength and commitment by example. Touching others’ lives, helping those in need, and yes, being who we are intended to be. And then, back to our private corner to pray and to listen for God, and wait for our hugs and overwhelming love.

In the secret place of “our” corner, we can pray and to speak to God through prayer, silence, reflection or just the words from our heart. Sometimes, just from our heart is the only way God is waiting to hear from us. Just tell Him whatever is happening and what you’re going through. Tell Him how you feel! Tell it straight out. Those times are not disrespectful, but in fact, in these times we can become even closer to God. He knows what is written on our hearts. It is a powerful and close way to pray, and know He can handle it.

God is always waiting on us so He can give His love and attention to us along with His mercy and forgiveness. In these times, He will forgive us if we are remorseful for our actions and one with a contrite heart.

However, sometimes it may feel like He is not listening in any way to you. It may be temporary or for some extended time, but be assured; He is next to you and with you always. It may be a test of faith and patience, or one of your trust in Him. In these cases, just stop asking why and develop your trust in the one who loves you.

But do know; you can always find Him waiting in the corner of your home.

Find Him there and know how much He loves you.

Find a Way!
Conor

PSALM 32: 1-7

“Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.

Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit.

When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.

Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord”-and you forgave the guilt of my sin.

Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to you while you may be found; surely when the mighty waters rise, they will not reach him. You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.”

“Go and do likewise”

Scripture: Luke 10:25-37

And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read?” And he answered, “You shall 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 your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered right; do this, and you will live.” But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion, and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, `Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed mercy on him.” And Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

Meditation
If God is all-loving and compassionate, then why is there so much suffering and evil in this world? Many agnostics refuse to believe in God because of this seemingly imponderable problem. If God is love then evil and suffering must be eliminated in all its forms. What is God’s answer to this human dilemma? Jesus’ parable about a highway robbery gives us a helpful hint. Jesus told this dramatic story in response to a devout Jew who wanted to understand how to apply God’s great commandment of love to his everyday life circumstances. In so many words this religious-minded Jew said: “I want to love God as best as I can and I want to love my neighbor as well. But how do I know that I am fulfilling my duty to love my neighbor as myself?” Jesus must have smiled when he heard this man challenge him to explain one’s duty towards their neighbor. For the Jewish believer the law of love was plain and simple: “treat your neighbor as you would treat yourself.” The real issue for this believer was the correct definition of who is “my neighbor”. He understood “neighbor” to mean one’s fellow Jew who belonged to the same covenant which God made with the people of Israel. Up to a certain point, Jesus agreed with this sincere expert but, at the same time, he challenged him to see that God’s view of neighbor went far beyond his narrow definition.

Jesus told a parable to show how wide God’s love and mercy is towards every fellow human being. Jesus’s story of a brutal highway robbery was all too familiar to his audience. The road from Jerusalem to Jericho went through a narrow winding valley surrounded by steep rocky cliffs. Many wealthy Jews from Jerusalem had winter homes in Jerico. This narrow highway was dangerous and notorious for its robbers who could easily ambush their victim and escape into the hills. No one in his right mind would think of traveling through this dangerous highway alone. It was far safer to travel with others for protection and defense.

So why did the religious leaders refuse to give any help when they saw a half-dead victim lying by the roadside? Didn’t they recognize that this victim was their neighbor? And why did a Samaritan, an outsider who was despised by the Jews, treat this victim with special care at his own expense as he would care for his own family? Who was the real neighbor who showed brotherly compassion and mercy? Jesus makes the supposed villain, the despised Samaritan, the merciful one as an example for the status conscious Jews. Why didn’t the priest and Levite stop to help? The priest probably didn’t want to risk the possibility of ritual impurity. His piety got in the way of charity. The Levite approached close to the victim, but stopped short of actually helping him. Perhaps he feared that bandits were using a decoy to ambush him. The Levite put personal safety ahead of saving his neighbor.

What does Jesus’ story tell us about true love for one’s neighbor? First, we must be willing to help even if others brought trouble on themselves through their own fault or negligence. Second, our love and concern to help others in need must be practical. Good intentions and showing pity, or emphathizing with others, are not enough. And lastly, our love for others must be as wide and as inclusive as God’s love. God excludes no one from his care and concern. God’s love is unconditional. So we must be ready to do good to others for their sake, just as God is good to us. Jesus not only taught God’s way of love, but he showed how far God was willing to go to share in our suffering and to restore us to wholeness of life and happiness. Jesus overcame sin, suffering, and death through his victory on the cross. His death brought us freedom from slavery to sin and the promise of everlasting life with God. He willingly shared in our suffering to bring us to the source of true healing and freedom from sin and oppression. True compassion not only identifies and emphathizes with the one who is in pain, but takes that pain on oneself in order to bring freedom and restoration. Jesus truly identified with our plight, and he took the burden of our sinful condition upon himself. He showed us the depths of God’s love and compassion, by sharing in our suffering and by offering his life as an atoning sacrifice for our sins upon the cross. His suffering is redemptive because it brings us healing and restoration and the fulness of eternal life. God offers us true freedom from every form of oppression, sin, and suffering. And that way is through the cross of Jesus Christ. Are you ready to embrace the cross of Christ, to suffer for his sake, and to lay down your life out of love for your neighbor?

“Lord Jesus, may your love always be the foundation of my life. Free me from every fear and selfish-concern that I may freely give myself in loving service to others, even to the point of laying my life down for their sake.”

_Kairo’s

Psalm 111:1-2,7-10_Reflection

Psalm 111:1-2,7-10

Praise the LORD. I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart,
in the company of the upright, in the congregation.
Great are the works of the LORD, studied by all who have pleasure in them.
The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy,
they are established for ever and ever,
to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness.
He sent redemption to his people; he has commanded his covenant for ever.
Holy and awesome is his name!
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom;
a good understanding have all those who practice it. His praise endures for ever!