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.

Find A Way!!

“Coming to our Senses” Reflection of Good Friday

The author begins to take us through the days of Holy Week starting with Maundy Thursday to Easter Sunday, but we never get there; he asks us not to rush by Good Friday, and, we never leave. He says, “Don’t hurry by the Cross on your way to Easter Joy, for we know the Risen Lord only through Christ and him crucified.” To understand Our Lord, we must begin to understand what Good Friday is, and what it means. What it means to me and to all people of faith, whether they are in love with Jesus or just know him, and to those that have not yet found Him. In order to understand Our Lord, we need to know and understand the sacred ground of Calvary and what really happened that day for all of mankind. As here at the Cross is the real world, the place we need to know, grasp and understand, and most importantly; give thanks to Our Lord for his Cross and sufferings, his crucifixion, and ultimately his death. At Calvary, we need to understand Our Lord’s first words from the cross, “Father Forgive them,” as it speaks to who Jesus is. We need to embrace his real expression of love he has for us, as well as, the forgiveness of those who do not know what they did. Love and Forgiveness. This is where we see ourselves in the life and death of Jesus Christ. This is “Axis Mundi.”

It is here where we see, sadly so, that “Forgiveness Costs.” As the author points out, it is not Forgetfulness. It’s about actions and decisions. It’s how forgiveness has costs and how it impacts our lives, and in many cases, those around us. Whatever it is, something must be done so it is made right. Otherwise, it doesn’t matter. Yes, otherwise it doesn’t matter. This is something that is in everyone’s life at some point, but it is here at Calvary, that we can begin to see and understand the enormity that “Forgiveness Costs.” Whatever and wherever forgiveness is, and to what degree, the Cross and Calvary are at the heart of what “Forgiveness Costs.” With the Cross, we can see the gravity of wrongs and the sins of all. This gravity of wrongs and sins is not just for past sins. Our Lord, died for all sins, both past and present and all future sins of mankind. “Forgiveness Costs.” If not, “the trespass does not matter.”

“Stay for awhile. Don’t rush to Easter Sunday,” as I was there too. My sins, both large and small, brought me there with Our Lord. The times of where we put ourselves ahead of others. The times we lose our patience, and forget about kindness towards those that need help and gentleness, for those that are bruised and hurt, and the times where we don’t make a difference, as our time is all too important. Yes, I was there, and I like to think I was at the foot of the Cross with Our Blessed Mother to the end, as I made the time and wanted to grieve for my God. But on the other side of the Cross, I want to thank him for what he just did for me and what now awaits me, because I am looking at and grieving about Our Lord’s death right now. From here moving forward, it’s up to me. It is here where I need to pick up my Cross and start down my path and continue to give my thanks.

Sins are serious. We see the consequences as we remain in Calvary. “In the Cross, we see the rendering of the verdict on the gravity of sin.” As humans, we make sins insignificant and smaller than they are. We alter their seriousness in our minds; thus in our actions. We change the truths of them, the definitional changes of what is good or evil, or what is right or wrong. We redefine the meaning and what is acceptable, thus changing the outcomes. Things now look the way I want them. We set up the rules of judging ourselves. However, “the truth is that we do not judge the truth; the truth judges us.” The judgment that matters is the judgment of God who alone judges justly. He defines the good and what is right, as there is a line in everyone’s heart that divides good from bad and evil. There is no changing that, and there is no changing our struggles with good and evil.

St Paul says it best for me. “I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want, is what I do.” So the struggles continue. How is it corrected? How are all sins are justified, from the husband cheating on his wife, to “everybody is doing it,” and to the sins that reflect so poorly on the human race? The killing times of Auschwitz and all the others camps, to murder, rape and hunger throughout Africa, and the atrocious of Kosovo. Let us not forget the killing fields of Cambodia and current state of affairs in Syria and the slaughtering of innocent men, women and children around the world. It is something we can read about in history, but is also something we can see today all around us. And in fifty (50) years, these events may just be a footnote in history books, rather than the story.

“Stay for awhile. Don’t rush to Easter Sunday.”

Man has found ways to justify his actions. Man has found ways to blame it on God and ask where God is? “How could he let this happen?” Man has found “God guilty” again! So again we have to ask the question, how is this going to be corrected? What must we do? Yes, “Forgiveness Costs.” But are we capable of correcting our own sins? The simple answer is no. That is why God accepted His Cross and our guilty verdict. He took up the Cross to correct what man has done, because man is not capable of correcting his own sins. Sins are serious. It had to be corrected and God did it, at a great cost and out of love for us.

Stay for awhile. Don’t rush to Easter Sunday.”

As Adam came to his senses, and the prodigal Son came to his senses, I have come to my senses here at the Cross on Calvary. I weep on one side of the Cross, for what has happened to him by me, and I thank Jesus on the other side on where I can go now.

“Here, through the Cross, we have come home, home to the truth about ourselves, home to the truth about what God has done, about what we have done. And now we know, or begin to know, why this awful, awe-filled Friday is called Good.

Thank You God.
I love You.

Life of Christ Essay

Life of Christ Essay

There are volumes of letters and gospels, both from the Old Testament and New Testament that talk about the Messiah, Coming of a King, Coming of a Prophet and the Son of David. But with all these volumes of information on the life and works of Jesus Christ, what can we consider the pillars of faith that define Christianity? For me personally, they are the Birth of Christ, his crucifixion and death on the cross, and finally his Resurrection. These three, non-negotiable precepts, demonstrate the fulfillment of scriptures, provide a means of salvation to all and explains how Jesus has saved us from sin, and through his death, has made us children of God. These examples promote opposition and dissent, but because they are pillars, one can accept that; but one also has the responsibility to explain it. I’ve decided to use Matthew to that end, as Matthew links the Old Testament, Jewish Tradition and Jesus Christ together in terms and writings we can understand.

In Matthew (1: 1), he literally starts out from the beginning telling us “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, and the son of Abraham” that the writings from the Old Testament are fulfilled, because the Messiah would be a descendant of King David. Matthew continues on (1: 18-25) saying “it is through the holy spirit that this child has been conceived in her,” “and they shall name him Emmanuel.” This is critical as we are faced with many divisions in faith today, mainly from our roots in Judaism, which fails to accept the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, as God. God is one with Jesus Christ, and only through him can we become one with God the Father. And for this reason, this pillar is contested in many religions, but essential to our belief in Christianity.

Matthews begins describing the start of the ministry of Jesus by his Baptism by John. In Matthew (3: 13), “Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him.” After Jesus was baptized, “the heavens were opened and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove coming upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, saying “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” Matthew (3: 16-17). This occasion marks our Lord, as the Son of God, but now also with the Holy Spirit as he begins his public ministry. This also is our mark to begin our faith with Jesus. Another important aspect of his ministry is something we also covered in Christology, and that is the Call of the Disciples. In Matthew (4: 19-20), “He said to them, come after me, and I will make you fishers of men. At once they left their nets and followed him.” This then sets the stage through Baptism and the Call to the Disciples as the start of Jesus’ public ministry of miracles, healings of Demoniacs and Paralytics and the preaching to all throughout Israel.

The second non-negotiable for me is the Crucifixtion and death of Jesus. As Jesus begins to prepare his disciples for this part of his mission, Matthew notes the first prediction of the Passion, (MT 16: 22-23), “Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him; He turned and said to Peter, Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.” Jesus knows what is to come and forewarns his disciplines, as Jesus is preparing on fulfilling his promise to God. This gets to the second pillar, and a so important part of our journey with God, and what we are asked to do for him. The cross is our connection with Jesus, and it is our way to be with him every day in our prayers, conversations and reflections. It’s up to us, for with the acceptance of the way of the cross, the cross becomes a symbol of our victory to all. Jesus has delivered life to us. This is where our faith does not ask specifically, but where we should thank the Lord for giving us the gift of the inheritance to life.

The final pillar, and a sense of full circle, we have the resurrection of our Lord. Matthew notes, (Mt 28: 5-6), “Then the angel said to the women in reply, Do not be afraid! I know you are seeking Jesus the crucified. He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.”
I’ve noted what I consider the pillars of the faith and the life and ministry of Jesus, but there are critical keys points to be made that are the essence of his life, and more specifically, the essence of Jesus himself. Throughout his life and his teachings, we see Jesus as love, forgiveness and salvation itself. What I’m really saying is Jesus is love; Jesus is forgiveness and Jesus is salvation.