I have to recognize my humanness and be vigilant. There’s a spiritual battlefield happening around me (and a selfishness in my own heart still) with an enemy wanting to tear me down, especially in this time of engagement and preparation for marriage. I’m thankful that the Lord rooted this out of me; I would never want to bring this evil into my marriage. But I also understand the struggle and the humility I’ve learned in passing through what will likely be the major battle of our generation, and the battle our sons and daughters will all have to face.
If you haven’t heard about Kermit Gosnell, I’d like to fill you in. After reading the entire grand jury report on his trial, it is undoubtedly something that needs to be discussed. When I first started following his story, I spent a lot of time in tears of rage and thinking this case is so terrible it had to be made up. I want to preface this post by warning that this story is graphic in nature, but I believe it’s an ugly truth that we should not shy away from.
Kermit Gosnell is currently on trial for 8 counts of murder – one count for a poor immigrant woman and seven counts for newborn babies.
I’d probably be on my way home, too. Because, in a way, I have felt like they felt. Maybe you have, too.
We’ve been on the great retreats, attended the amazing youth conferences, heard the killer homilies, felt the graces of Confession, gotten into the power of the Triduum. We’ve heard His voice and felt His presence. Everything is working according to plan.
And then, a little time goes by . . . a couple hours, a couple days, a couple weeks. And the feelings are gone. And it feels like Jesus is gone, too.
If I want to live, there are things in me that need to die. My selfishness, my lust, my greed, my grudges, and my sin have got to go.
Each day we’re faced with this choice: will I live for myself or will I lay my life down? Is my life focused on success or sacrifice?
When we walk into a church, we are confronted with the radical call to die. When we see the baptismal font, we are reminded that it’s only through death that we can rise with Christ. And when we dip our fingers into the Holy Water, we trace the sign of the cross to say, “God, drown whatever needs to be drowned in my heart. I want to live with you, so I’m willing to die like you.”
One of the reasons I love the book of Acts so much is because of the amazing miracle stories. They aren’t just high drama; many of them are also high comedy. Let’s take a look at some of the miracles in the Acts of the Apostles: Acts 5:15: Peter is so filled with the Holy Spirit that even his shadow has the power to heal, a fact that makes Groundhog Day even less impressive. Acts 8:39: after teaching about Christ and baptizing the Ethiopian eunuch, the Holy Spirit snatched Philip immediately in a scene almost reminiscent of Star Trek.
I had grown up a Presbyterian Christian who believed that as long as you were a Christian who believed in Jesus, you belonged to the “church.” It didn’t matter which church you belonged to or where you went to worship on Sundays, it just mattered if you believed in Jesus. If you believed in Jesus, you were doing just fine.
If you’re on any type of social media and have an opinion about anything, you’ve probably experienced this. You type, “Wendys fries are so much better than McDonald’s” as a status update. You walk away from your computer and return to find World War III has broken out on your wall, with friends declaring their allegiances.
There’s no room for that kind of wishy-washy-ness when it comes down to deciding where you want to spend eternity. Saying “I do” during those baptismal promises was a powerful moment for me. It meant I was recommitting to giving my life over to my bridegoom, Jesus Christ, and His Church (Ephesians 5).
It was annoying. It was irritating. It was frustrating.
These are not major things. They are tiny, annoying things that piled up one after another. There are greater tragedies in the world, for sure, but that doesn’t mean that I still didn’t feel like throwing my hands up and wallowing in my own misery.
Let the risen Jesus enter your life, welcome him as a friend, with trust: he is life! If up till now you have kept him at a distance, step forward. He will receive you with open arms. If you have been indifferent, take a risk: you won’t be disappointed. If following him seems difficult, don’t be afraid, trust him, be confident that he is close to you, he is with you and he will give you the peace you are looking for and the strength to live as he would have you do.
St. Paul had to deal with a lot of “high minded”, philosophical types in his day. Most were very prideful, long on academics but short on humility. Some people back then claimed that Jesus didn’t really rise from the dead (as we celebrate this weekend). Rather than mince words, Paul gave it to them straight (in the verse up above). Many people will tell you that “based on human logic” the Resurrection makes no sense. The first thing we need to remember is that “human logic” is not omnipotence. God makes it very clear that “(His) ways are not our ways, nor are His thoughts our thoughts.” (Is. 55:8-9)
Beaten, bruised, bloody, gasping for air, hands and feet nailed to a cross, hearing passersby scoff at the sight of his mangled body – in the midst of all this, Jesus chose to entrust His life to God the Father.
One of my favorite books is Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. There is a chapter entitled The Perfect Penitent, in which the author writes about the mystery of the Lord’s passion. He explains how “God can only share [with us] what He has.” For example “we love and reason because God loves and reasons and holds our hand while we do it.”
He applies this to the passion of Christ. Up until the time of Jesus, God had not gone through the suffering, humiliation, and death of the crucifixion. This dying to self, which is what going back to God is like, is what repentance entails.
These words can be a little confusing. When I read them I can’t help but think, “Really, Jesus?”
Because we all know that when He said these words there was still the resurrection to come . . . all the ways the Holy Spirit comes to us . . . and even how Jesus comes to us in the Mass every day through the Holy Eucharist.
So what exactly was Jesus talking about when He said, “It is finished”?
Once Jesus has done all this, poured out His love so incredibly, we deny Him. We turn down His love in the most horrifying way . . . by putting Him to death.
He accepts it. He embraces it. He hangs on the cross and says, “I thirst.”
This summer I read about Blessed Mother Teresa. At the center of her spirituality were these two words of Jesus: “I thirst.” Her love and devotion to Christ can be summed up in that simple phrase. She understood what Christ meant when He spoke those words.
Sometimes light reveals things that we don’t want to see. Lent has a way of doing that. It causes a little bit of pressure and stress, and shows us just how weak we can be sometimes. In my case, sitting in the sun revealed some things in me that I needed to work on. Had I gone and escaped into the shade, I may have missed out on the chance to improve myself.
Sometimes God seems far from us. Sometimes it seems as if He’s forsaken us completely.
When I was sixteen, my dad died from lung cancer. Both during his illness and after his death, I felt very alone, both in a worldly sense – none of my friends had lost a parent—and in a spiritual sense. Part of me believed that God let my dad die, and that he’d left me alone to suffer and grieve.
You see, Mary is our Mother, whether we want her to be or not. God, our Father has made it so through His son’s words. He knew our need for a motherly presence in the spiritual realm. So, with His dying breath, “Jesus saw His mother and the disciple there whom He loved, He said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son.’ Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother’” (John 19:26-27).
Mercy. That oh so confusing attribute of God. In the bible (specifically Psalm 116:5) we are told God is both just and merciful and I believe that. But sometimes that idea still confuses me. How can a God that is perfectly just, who can and does punish people rightly for their sin, also be perfectly merciful and “relenting in punishment?” (Joel 2:13) Well, these words of Jesus gives us all an opportunity to see how. In the gospel passage surrounding this verse, we are introduced to Read more [...]
It’s true! For a long time, even though I knew that Christ offered me forgiveness, I got tired of asking to be forgiven because I knew that no matter how hard I tried, I kept falling into the same sins. Even for sins that I committed once, I had a hard time receiving His forgiveness because I didn’t feel worthy of being forgiven. Even after going to confession, I still felt guilty and ashamed for what I had done because I didn’t believe enough in His mercy.
Perhaps the toughest part of forgiveness is forgiving ourselves. This Lent, I’ve made specific efforts to forgive myself for past wrongdoings. I’ve reflected on what lead me to those sins or mistakes. I’ve confessed them and have felt Jesus take them off of my shoulders. The freedom that comes with Jesus’ forgiveness is life-changing. But we have to let it change our lives. We have to accept that He forgives us. He doesn’t hold a grudge, so who are we to hold one?