Sunday, May 18, 2008

2nd reading for today, Sunday May 18, 2008...

Reading II
2 Cor 13:11-13

Brothers and sisters, rejoice.
Mend your ways, encourage one another,
agree with one another, live in peace,
and the God of love and peace will be with you.
Greet one another with a holy kiss.
All the holy ones greet you.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ
and the love of God
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.

What struck me like a Mack Truck was- "Mend your ways, encourage one another, AGREE with one another, live in peace..."
How are we agreeing with one another? How are 33,000 denoms in this country agreeing with one another? How do so many disagree about so much as concerning some lesser things, but also, sadly, about some very basic, truly vital core beliefs? How do we agree that baptism is only a ordinance, or not even necessary when Peter answered the question "What must I do to be saved?" with "Repent and be baptized." Pretty straight forward, don't you AGREE?

It brought to mind the Louis Palau Festival here last summer. When Mr. Palau was here last August, 2007, there were many faith communities present, and many more that didn't attend simply because he had met with Catholics and invited Catholics to the festival, for a day of genuine praise and celebration of our Lord and Savior and the many blessings we share by the magnanimous grace of God. Many Christian faith communities were NOT in agreement with Louis at all! They would not participate in loving Jesus and coming together as ONE, because...those "Catholics" were going to be there! Not much agreement among those who are to be "known by their love, one for another" wouldn't you AGREE?

Here we are today at Mass, being exhorted by Paul, (as he wrote through the power of the Holy Spirit, not only to the Corinthians, but to US!), to AGREE with one another. When, oh when will we all get a clue, become the people of God we're called to be and LOVE ONE ANOTHER. . . as HE HAS LOVED US? How long will we keep putting up barriers to communication with one another? When will we kill our pride, put it to death, so to speak, and let LOVE rule? TO be ONE, we must attempt, with true brotherly and sisterly affection, to understand and learn what the Catholic Church truly does teach, and dispel the myths and misinformation to the best of our ability. I say we need to learn the Catholic faith because it IS THE CHURCH JESUS GAVE US.

Catholics need to LEARN their faith! The faith handed down by the early Church that has stood the test of time and the attacks of hell. Cradle Catholics, reverts, and converts all need to study as much as they can, to be able to at least know where to direct honest seekers so they can find the answer if we don't know it. It would be great if we could learn all about other faiths, too, to be able to quickly point out the faults of erroneous doctrines, etc. rapidly and hopefully see the "closed eyes" open. But my gosh, I don't have time to do that! I have enough on my plate just to read the Catechism, which I've yet to do in its entirety. To be honest, I've hardly read any of it! I'll leave the learning of other religions to the 'expert' apologists and those who do that for a living. I need to learn the Catholic faith while there's time.

Also, as an aside, while we have the gift of daily Mass, I'd best be going if and whenever I can go because I need ALL OF JESUS as often as I can receive Him! I pray to be transformed and be made more holy by the Eucharist, because someday, we might not be blessed to have that opportunity anymore. We might have to be going underground and that is sobering. I think the American Catholic Church is going to get a WAKE UP call, loud and clear (it already has begun) and there's going to be no "SNOOZE BUTTON" to hit! You reach for the "snooze" and you're going to lose!

When sharing with others, in and with love, the Truth of the Catholic Church and her teachings, if all the gracious and sincere attempts fail, and they reject us, we cannot and shouldn't stamp off in a huff with anger (even if we feel it) toward our separated brethren, or even "dissident Catholics." What we need to realize and what we need to ACCEPT is that some ARE going to reject us just as they rejected our Lord, Jesus. The thing that gives me pause and sobers me most, is that some of "those" could very well be in my own family. That is frightening to me. Yet Jesus warned us of this, too. We're to count the cost before we "hop in the fishing boat, and follow Jesus." Love doesn't divide, it multiplies. Truth on the other hand, does divide. Truth divides the sheep from the goats, the chaff from the wheat.

They rejected Christ first. They hated Him and hated his "good news" because it wasn't what they "WANTED" to hear! Many don't want to hear what the Catholic Church is about or what she teaches, because their minds are made up, and no amount of gentle persuasion or firm clear-cut arguments are going change those minds and soften those hard hearts. Those that hated Jesus were for the most part, very "religious" and were looking for someone completely different to be the Messiah, as they were caught up in the politics of their day. They wanted freedom from Rome, not freedom from sin. They "didn't think they had any sin!" Sound familiar?

He who was PERFECT, the Son of God, Jesus, in his attempts to persuade all people, that God the Father loved them was hated beyond the pale. He came not to condemn the world, but to lay down his life and "Love the world" to Himself and to life eternal. Yet they would not see or believe, because political ideology blinded them from receiving that love, and kept them from knowing the Father who sent His Son for them. He came while we were yet sinners, and bled himself dry on a cross because He and his message were despised. Our sins put Him on that cross while love held him there. He embraced prostitutes and tax collectors, he healed lepers and blind and lame men and women. He raised Lazarus from the grave, and turned water into wine. He did EVERYTHING PERFECTLY and no guile was found in his speech. He never "lost his temper" and never was "impatient" because He was/is sinless. Those who were sick and knew how sick they were, knew they needed His forgiveness and healing. They embraced Him and followed Him with all their heart. However, those who denied their sickness, (sin) hit the "snooze button" and put Jesus to death. No Messiah of theirs would dine with tax collectors and hang out with smelly fishermen!
And surely no Messiah of theirs would touch a leper or hug a whore!

Jesus was hated, cursed, spit upon, and ultimately stripped of his clothes and his dignity, tortured and killed for being a... "perfect gentleman." But He spoke the Truth and that ruffled many feathers and stepped on many toes, and struck many nerves, in those who were too blind to see they needed Truth. Yes, there will be days when no amount of effort for honest discourse, no matter how congenial we are, or how gentle or gracious our attempts at conversing will be, it will be "shoved back in our face."

As best as we can be, we endeavor to live and be "at peace" with all. But, don't be stupid. Be watchful and sober. Don't fall into the traps of those who viciously hate the Church. It is not flesh and blood that we're fighting. Pray for those who accuse, and hate us. Beware that standing for Truth might cost us our reputation, our good name, or who knows, maybe even our life. Are we ready? Am I ready? I pray I will be and I pray that I am, because at times, I find that I've been way to sensitive, or "prickly" and thin-skinned. It's too easy to let anger toward people 'make the break' that needs to occur in some instances, when it should be genuine love that "ends a chapter" with some relationships. The hard truth from a real friend might hurt for a while, but the kisses of an enemy could very well destroy us. Love does have to be 'firm' and 'tough.' Love does indeed know "when to fold 'em."

I pray for the heart and courage of a lion, the gentleness of a dove, and the wisdom to know when to "shake the dust" from my feet and walk on to the "next town" figuratively speaking. God help me. Mother Mary pray for me, a sinner, that I may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.


Tiber Jumper said...

Great preachin sister. I say Amen!

Joyful Catholics said...

Thanks, TJ. I seem to have been rather blabby lately. :)