Thursday, May 28, 2009

God's love is unconditional

I know I just wrote, but I had to share a message I heard recently.
While working with the poor and suffering, I am always touched by how God allows me to see His face in them and love unconditionally.
I am daily trying to live out this unconditional love within the walls of my own home - the biggest challenge and gift of all!

The other night I listened to a local priest, Fr. Joachim, speak about the dynamics of our relationship with God/Jesus Christ.
He was speaking about how much God loves us and that His immense love never changes. We can't do anything to earn more love or lessen the Father's love for us because God is Pure Love.

Along these lines, Father Joachim shared a powerful quote from Father Richard Rohr, OFM - "God doesn't love us if we change; He loves us so we can change."

Close your eyes and allow those Spirit-filled words settle in your heart.

In our world where so many base their identity on their accomplishments or the latest trends, these words really touched me.

Are we teaching our children that their identity comes from God? As Christians are we sharing this message of unconditional love with our brothers and sisters - especially those who are suffering?

Just some food for thought to chew on...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Are you available?

"The value of our life does not depend on the place we occupy. It depends on the way we occupy that place." St. Theresa of the Child Jesus

It's been awhile since I've written on the blog - The well is dry lately.

My personal journal pages are filled with utterings and prayer, yet I don't feel I have much to share that's worth anyone's time. I believe that's right where God wants me - where He wants all of us. We should be completely dependent upon Him and not our own ability. Therein lies true faith.

When I don't know what's up ahead or can't find the answers, that's when Jesus can do His best work. Sure, He can and does work with me when I think I've given over everything but still have my hands on the wheel, but He wants me to take my hands off the wheel and let Him drive.

So many people that we meet living from one day to the next on the street or in the mission are walking by faith, depending on God. They say they have no other choice, but they do. Many exercise other choices through drinking, drugs, prostitution, etc... but our loving Father is so very close to them even in their suffering. He feels their pain. The body of Christ, His children, are supposed to be Jesus' hands and feet helping to ease our brothers and sisters burdens.

The most important way is through prayer. Of course, prayer calls us to love in action. We may do this through serving meals, providing clothes or hygiene items or offering a smile and a listening ear. In doing so, opportunities for evangelizing will present themselves.

Evangelizing doesn't mean we have to shove a Bible in their hands and start preaching. Yes, I have handed out Bibles and had in-depth conversations about the Lord with many brothers and sisters on the streets, invited them to ask Jesus into their hearts and taken them to church. But I never go downtown focused on talking about Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit is in charge. If he wants me to open my mouth to share the name of Jesus, then so be it. Many times I find the Spirit wants me to be like Jesus without mentioning His Name. When we serve Him, others see His reflection in us and ask questions.

St. Francis once said, "preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words."
My Catholic faith and the witness of the saints who walked in Jesus' footsteps have taught me more than anything how to live like this. Yes, the saints were sinners like the rest of us, but they spent much of their lives seeking after God's will with no cost to themselves. They spoke up when called upon, but many laid down their lives and shed their blood for Jesus.
I don't know about you, but reading about the apostles and the saints being martyred shows the Gospel message.

In the book of James, the author writes to the people saying, "be doers of the word and not hearers only." He also says, "be quick to hear and slow to speak..."
Oh, if I only followed this more in my earlier years! I've been told that God gave us TWO ears and ONE mouth for a reason :-)

What is God saying to you today? How do we know when the words we hear within our from Him? Are they in line with Jesus' commandments and the teachings that He handed down to the apostles through His Church?

Each morning after saying good morning to Jesus, the first prayer on my lips is, "Lord, open my lips that I may sing Your praises. Give me ears to hear You and eyes to see Your goodness in all things." It's amazing the perspective He allows me when I focus on Him and forget myself.
On the other hand, it's very evident and sad for me and my family when I don't!

As I was praying over the weekend, the Lord spoke in my heart and said, "step aside and let Me take over. You are weary, rest in Me."

I gave my whole life over to Christ years ago, but I knew in my heart exactly what He was saying.
I can get cruising along following Him, but then I start trying to figure out what He wants.
Yes, Lord. Yes, Lord. Hmmm... what does this mean? I wonder if He is saying this or that? Sound familiar to anyone? Maybe I'm the only one who likes to know all the answers. That is a true weakness of mine, but the Lord has turned it into His strength because He showed me how tiring the "desire to know" can be or how I can trick myself into thinking I know the plan, which then puts "I" first instead of last.

There is so much freedom in humbling myself before God and saying - I DON'T KNOW, but YOU DO and that's good enough for me! The peace that pours out is serene. The Lord reveals His plan in His own time, not mine.
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." Praise Jesus for that!!

He calls. We answer. We step out into the abyss by faith. We listen more than we talk. A great place to do this is in Eucharistic Adoration. We can just be in His presence without an agenda.
He opens the doors when we hear with His ears and see with His eyes. When we don't know the way, He steps in and does miraculous work in our souls so we can go out and serve in His Name.

Those around us will know we are Christians by our love, as the song goes.

Evangelization will happen when we are going about the business of loving God with our whole heart, soul, mind and strength and loving our neighbor with the love of Christ.

We may say, "what do I have to offer that Jesus really needs?
To quote Angus Buchan from the movie FAITH LIKE POTATOES, "God doesn't need our ability. He needs our availability."

Are we available to Him this week?

Our awesome Lord is "able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us." All we have to do is be available to Him right where we are. He loves us because He created us in His image. Reflect that image in all you do.

May the peace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ reign in your heart, your mind and on your lips today and always. Amen!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Opening our eyes to miracles

Every day our Lord Jesus Christ is working miracles right in front of our eyes. Do we believe?

By His grace, we can see the miracles. We only need to ask Him, in faith, to open our hearts and eyes. Lord, heal my brokenness that blinds me from seeing.

Here's where humility comes in again...

We know that before Christ Jesus healed the body, the person seeking to be healed had to step out in faith. So, they had admitted their sinfulness within their heart and believed in One greater than themselves. That's a difficult step for many of us. I know when confronted by my husband or another family member about my uncharitable behavior, I sometimes try to defend myself rather than admit my fault. When this happens, there's a period of unrest and disorder. God has shown me my sinfulness, yet I have chosen to be prideful and shut out His healing hand.

The times I do readily admit my faults are the times the Lord's peace immediately sets in and brings harmony to an otherwise negative situation. I know this doesn't qualify as a miracle, but there have been times my family would say, "Hey, it's a miracle! Amy admitted she was wrong!" ha ha

It is only by the grace of God that any of us can admit our sinfulness. Recognition of our shortcomings is a gift from the Lord. The day we stop recognizing is the day we're in big trouble.
Many in the world are in trouble, but the good news is that Christ's mercy is vast and neverending.

If so many don't have faith in miracles today, this may be the reason we don't see them as often. "...Jesus said to them, Only in his home town and in his own house is a prophet without honour. And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith." (Matt. 13:57-58)

Every once in awhile the media spotlights a modern-day miracle like the "Miracle on the Hudson". The story spreads around the world for a few weeks, then dies down.
Was the miracle that the plane landed like it did on the river so hundreds of lives were saved or was the miracle that Jesus Christ saved lives and healed spiritual blindness?

Do you wonder if the miracle really has died down in the lives of those who were involved? We would have to contact those people to see how/if their lives have changed. Have they gone back to their usual routines or are their lives bearing fruit from Christ's saving grace? Isn't that the true outcome of a miracle?

In this story, the news media were praising the pilot. To be sure, he was chosen for this day by God, though he tried to remain humble amid the attention. How much praise were we giving to Jesus Christ - the real miracle worker? Can you imagine if the headlines the next day read - "JESUS CHRIST WORKS THROUGH PILOT ON THE HUDSON. HUNDREDS OF SOULS REPENT AND BELIEVE IN THE GOSPEL" Whoa! See this article for a story that didn't make the mainstream media headlines.

Well, that was just the kind of "headline" that the disciples were proclaming after Pentecost. Some tried to praise the disciples, saying they were gods, but the disciples would have none of that.
"In Lystra there sat a man crippled in his feet, who was lame from birth and had never walked. He listened to Paul as he was speaking. Paul looked directly at him, saw that he had faith to be healed and called out, Stand up on your feet! At that, the man jumped up and began to walk. When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, The gods have come down to us in human form!
Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes because he was the chief speaker.
The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought bulls and wreaths to the city gates because he and the crowd wanted to offer sacrifices to them.
But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of this, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting:
Men, why are you doing this? We too are only men, human like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made heaven and earth and sea and everything in them."
Acts 14:8-15

What are the headlines we're proclaiming in our homes and communities?

Are we stepping out in faith to proclaim the healing power of the One True God, the Miracle Worker?

Recently, there was a chain of events downtown that led to someone's life being saved - literally.
Only God could have lined up the people involved to make this happen as we were all strangers weeks before. Some praised me for bringing to light the situation, but there was no way I could take credit. I just kept proclaiming the awesomeness of Jesus Christ and His hand in arranging everything. Of course, all the people involved had to step out in faith and play their parts.

There are numerous miracles like this in our lives every day. Lord, increase our faith so that we may see and believe in Your miraculous ways and zealously proclaim them to all!