Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Matt 22:34-40 Which commandment of the law is the greatest?

Mat 22:34-40
Which commandment of the law is the greatest?

They are at it again. They enlist a lawyer to do what lawyers do best- ask a question designed to put a person on the hot seat. “Which commandment of the law is the greatest?” (Mat 22:34-40). If the law were only the Ten Commandments, this would be tough enough. But the written “Torah” included many more moral, ceremonial, and dietary prescriptions.

Jesus, of course, is a radical. A “radical” is one who goes to the “radix” or root of the issue. The root problem was that these Pharisees majored in the minors. They loved to strain out gnats and swallow camels. They missed the forest for the trees, going to great lengths to observe the letter of the law while totally missing its spirit.

So Jesus fires a broadside. Splicing together two passages from the Torah, he sinks them.
“You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart, with your whole soul, and with all your mind” (Deut 6:5). “This is the greatest and first commandment.
The second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Lev 19:18).”

This sinks them for a couple of reasons. First it brilliantly sums up the entire law because every single precept is an expression of these two commandments. Read the Ten Commandments (Ex 20:1-17) and you’ll see that the first three are about loving God and the other seven are about loving your neighbor. If you read every line of the Bible, you’d be able to put each command in column A (love God) or column B (love your neighbor). So these two commandments are indeed the root of them all.

But the other reason his answer sinks them is that these two root commandments are precisely the ones the Pharisees keep breaking. Observance of the law for them is not an act of divine worship but rather of self-promotion. Rather than their observance of the law leading to love of neighbor, it leads to scorn of neighbors who fail to live up to their standards (see how they treat the blind man in John 9:24-34). Note what Paul, the converted Pharisee, says: “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal (1 Cor 13:1).” Paul knew this from experience–he spent years as a gong. On the positive side, St. Augustine says “love and do what you will.”

Yet Jesus did not say just to love. He said we must love the Lord with our WHOLE heart and soul and with ALL our mind and strength. I made a discernment retreat at the Trappist Abbey of Gethsemane when, at age 21, I felt torn between a desire for religious life and marriage. As I walked into the retreat house, I shuddered to see this phrase inscribed in the stone over the entryway: “God Alone.”

Does wholehearted love of God leave no room in your heart for a spouse or children?

If that were the case, there would be no second great commandment in this story. In fact Jesus says the second commandment is like the first. That’s because the kind of wholehearted love Jesus is talking about is charity (agape), which means loving God for his own sake and all others for his sake, and doing so not by human strength, but with the divine love that is poured into our heart by the Holy Spirit (Ro 5:5) When we love others with charity, we are loving God through them. Our every loving act towards them becomes an expression of our love for God.

So at bottom, the two great commandments are just two sides of the same coin. Jesus says to render to Caesar what is Caesars and render to God what is God’s. The two-sided coin of charity is the only legal tender we can use to pay the obligation that’s even more important than taxes–the one owed to the Creator.


Matthew 19:16-21 Rich Young Man

Matthew 19:16-21 –Rich Young Man
And behold, one came up to him, saying, "Teacher, what good deed must I do, to have eternal life?" And he said to him, "Why do you ask me about what is good? One there is who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments." He said to him, "Which?"
And Jesus said, "You shall not kill, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
The young man said to him, "All these I have observed; what do I still lack?" Jesus said to him, "If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me."

Jesus responded to the rich young man with many commandments. Which one’s are missing?
The first three commandments about loving God alone, keeping the Sabbath and not taking the Lord’s name in vain.
In other words, all of the commandments relating to God.
Jesus doesn’t mention any of those. He only mentions those relating to ‘neighbour’.

In fact, the Jews have a tradition in that of the two tablets Moses brought down the mountain, the first tablet had the first three commandments about our relationship with God and the second tablet had the remaining seven about love of neighbour.

It seems rather odd! It seems like Jesus is leaving God out of the picture.

The man responded to Jesus by saying “All these I have observed; what do I still lack?"
The man has observed the love of neighbour commands.
What does he lack?
The love of God.
It is the first tablet that he lacks.

How does Jesus respond?
“Go, sell what you possess and give to the poor … and come, follow me”
Give up all of your possessions so you are free to follow me totally.
He is saying that by following Him is the same as loving God.
He lacks the love of God, so Jesus is saying you can love God by giving everything up and following Me.

Jesus says there is one thing you lack – the love of God – so He says Follow Me!
In other words, don’t you get it? I am God!
Follow me and you will fulfil love of God as you have love of neighbour.

Source: The Gospel of Saint Matthew Bible Study – by Prof Tim Gray

Mark 13:33-37 What are you waiting for?

Mark 13:33-37
Take heed, watch; for you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. Watch therefore -- for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning -- lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Watch."

Comment - What are you waiting for?

ADVENT IS THE LITURGICAL SEASON OF VIGILANCE OR, to put it more mundanely, of waiting. During the four weeks prior to Christmas, we light the candles of our Advent wreaths and put ourselves in the spiritual space of the Israelite people who, through many long centuries, waited for the coming of the Messiah (“How long, O Lord?”).

Old Testament Examples
From beginning to end of scripture we discover stories of people who are compelled to wait.

The patriarch Abraham received the promise that he would become, despite his old age, the father of a son and through that son the father of descendants more numerous than the stars in the night sky. But the fulfillment of that promise was a long time in coming. Through many years, as he and his wife grew older and older, as the likelihood of their parenthood became increasingly remote, Abraham waited. Did he doubt? Did he wonder whether he had misconstrued the divine promise? Did he waver in his faith? Did he endure the taunts of his enemies and the pitying glances of his friends? Probably. But he waited, and in time the promise came true.

Abraham’s great-grandson Joseph, the wearer of the multi-colored coat, saw in a dream that he would be a powerful man and that his brothers would one day bow down to him in homage. But the realization of that dream came only after a long and terrible wait. He was sold into slavery by those very brothers, falsely accused of sexual misconduct, humiliated, and finally sent to prison for seven years. Imagine what it must have been like to endure years in an ancient prison—the discomfort, the total lack of privacy, the terrible food in small amounts, sleeplessness, torture, and above all, hopelessness. This is what Joseph had to wait through before his dream came true in a most unexpected way.

The people of Israel were miraculously delivered from slavery in Egypt, led across the Red Sea by the mighty hand of Moses—and then they waited. A journey that normally would have taken only a few weeks stretched to 40 years as they wandered rather aimlessly through the desert. The book of Exodus frequently gives us indications of what this time of vigil was like: “The people grumbled against Moses, ‘We are disgusted with this wretched food… Why did you lead us out into this desert to die? Were there not graves enough in Egypt?’” (Exodus 16:2-3) They were hardly models of patience.

Even poor Noah had to wait, cooped up in the ark with his irritable family and restless animals while the waters slowly retreated.
Christian Example
In the course of the Christian tradition, there is much evidence of this spirituality of waiting. Relatively late in life Ignatius of Loyola realized he was being called by God to do great things. But before he found his path he passed through a wide variety of experiences in the course of many years: a time of stark asceticism and prayer at Manresa, wandering to the Holy Land and back while living hand-to-mouth and sleeping in doorways, taking elementary courses in Paris alongside young kids, gathering a small band of followers and leading them through the Spiritual Exercises. Only at the end of this long sojourn—founding the Company of Jesus—did he realize the great thing God called him to do.
God has no express lane
All of this, I submit, is very hard for most of us. I suppose we human beings have always been in a hurry, but modern people especially seem to want what they want when they want it. We are driven, determined, goal-oriented, fast-moving. I, for one, can’t stand waiting.

So when I’m told that waiting seems to belong to the heart of the spiritual life, I’m not pleased, for here, too, I want answers, direction, clarity—and I want them pronto.

I desire to feel happy and to know what God is up to; I need my life to make sense—now. I’m pleased to live a spiritual life, but I want to be in charge of it and to make it unfold according to my schedule: All of this is profoundly antipathetic to the mood and spirit of Advent.

So what sense can we make of the countercultural and counterintuitive spirituality of vigilance? The first thing we have to realize is that we and God are, quite simply, on different time tables. The second letter of Peter states this truth with admirable directness: “To you, O Lord, a thousand years are like a day.” (2 Peter 3:8)

To the God who stands outside of space and time and who orders the whole of creation, our hours, days, years, eons have a radically different meaning. What is a long time to us is an instant for God, and hence what seems like delay to us is no delay at all to God. What seems like dumb and pointless waiting to us can be the way that God, in a unique and finally mysterious manner, is working God’s purposes out.

Theologian Richard Rohr summed up the spiritual life in the phrase “your life is not about you,” and this insight is particularly important in terms of the present question. “Why isn’t God acting how I want and when I want?” Perhaps because your life is part of a complex whole, the fullness of which only God can properly grasp and fittingly order.

But we can make things even more specific. Is it possible that we are made to wait because the track we are on is not the one God wants for us? Author G. K. Chesterton said that if you are on the wrong road, the very worst thing you can do is to move quickly. And there is that old joke about the pilot who comes on the intercom and says, “I have good news and bad news, folks: The bad news is that we’re totally lost; the good news is that we’re making excellent time!” Maybe we’re forced to wait because God wants us seriously to reconsider the course we’ve charted, to stop hurtling down a dangerous road.

Or perhaps we are made to wait because we are not yet adequately prepared to receive what God wants to give us. In his remarkable letter to Proba, Saint Augustine argued that the purpose of unanswered prayer is to force expansion of the heart. When we don’t get what we want, we begin to want it more and more, with ever greater insistency, until our souls are on fire with the desire for it. Sometimes it is only a sufficiently expanded and enflamed heart that can take in what God intends to give.

What would happen to us if we received, immediately and on our own terms, everything we wanted? We might be satisfied in a superficial way, but we wouldn’t begin to appreciate the preciousness of the gifts. After all, the Israelites had to wait thousands of years before they were ready to receive God’s greatest gift.

Even if we are on the right track and even if we desire with sufficient intensity what God wants to give, we still might not be ready to integrate a particular grace into our lives or to handle the implications of it. Joseph the dreamer clearly wanted to be a great man, but if he had been given political power and authority when he was an arrogant kid, the results would have been disastrous both for himself and for those under his control. His many years of suffering—his terrible wait—made him a ruler with both wisdom and deep compassion. And so, when his brothers did indeed finally bow down to him as he foresaw in his dream, he was able to react not in vengeance, but in love: “I am Joseph, your brother.”

Take advantage of traffic jams and annoying lines—really anything that makes you wait. And let the truth of what 18th-century spiritual writer Jean-Pierre de Caussade said sink in: “Whatever happens to you in the course of a day, for good or ill, is an expression of God’s will.” Instead of cursing your luck, banging on the steering wheel, or rolling your eyes in frustration, see the wait as a spiritual invitation.

When you are forced to slow down, pray one of the great, repetitive vigil prayers of the church, such as the rosary or the Jesus prayer (“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner”).

Consider the possibility that God wants you at that moment to wait and then sanctify the time such as through one of those savouring prayers.

The entire Bible ends on a note not so much of triumph and completion as longing and expectation: “Come, Lord Jesus.” From the very beginning of the Christian dispensation, followers of the risen Jesus have been waiting. Paul, Augustine, Chrysostom, Agnes, Thomas Aquinas, Clare, Francis, and John Henry Newman have all waited for the Second Coming and have hence all been Advent people. During this season let us join them, turning our eyes and hearts upward and pray “I’m waiting, I’m waiting”.

Source: Fr Robert Barron

Luke 2:4-5 Parallels in Our Life

Luke 2:4-5
And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.


In this culture of privilege, wealth and prestige which means everything and where people aren’t having children because they want more things and children are too much time and too much expense and they just want to focus on themselves. In a culture where that happens, our Father in heaven shows us that in the simple lives of a housewife and a carpenter raising the Son of God has an intimate connection with the human family and that is why spouses must work together to develop this spirituality in their marriage that attests to the truth that God is love.

It is not easy and it takes work but what we have to remember in those difficult times is that God did not even spare “His own family”.

What kind of parallels can we see in our family life today?

For example, look at the Annunciation in Luke 1:26.
Mary is betrothed to Joseph she gets pregnant and Joseph discovers he is not the father of the child. Gee, that doesn’t happen today does it?

Look at the ordeal of Joseph who has to make a decision– do I leave her or do I stay. So many young men today get their girlfriends or fiancées pregnant and do what the culture say - take the easy option. When you separate love from life you create a culture of death. So they say to the girl ‘you need to go and take care of it, that’s your problem’ Joseph here stood up and could have had her stoned to death but that is not what he did. He was a man of honour and a man of character and the angel came to him and said this is God working here.

Then they have to leave and go to Bethlehem to do the census.
He can’t even find a place for his pregnant wife who is about to give birth so now they become a homeless family. We don’t have those today do we?

Then there was the flight into Egypt. He had to leave his homeland, his way of life, his means to support the family and go into Egypt. We have families today who have to leave their homeland because of war, because of famine, because of strife and move to a foreign country to begin their life again.

Then they actually lose Jesus. They are coming back from the Passover Feast travelling in caravans back in those days and they assume Jesus is with them in this caravan convoy. Mary asks Joseph ‘have you see Jesus around’? ‘No I thought He was with you.’
I can tell you from working with my time in law enforcement, I have been in situations where parents have lost their children and are not sure where they are and to see the terror on the faces of these parents is just heart wrenching so I can imagine what Joseph and Mary would have gone through. Then we read they found Jesus in the temple.

At some stage Mary becomes a single mother when Joseph dies.
How do we know? Because on the Cross, Jesus gives care of Mary to Jesus’ disciple and friend John.
He would not have done that had Joseph been alive.
So at some point Mary becomes a single mother. Gee, we don’t have those today do we?

Then we see Mary at the foot of the Cross. She has to endure something that no mother, no parent ever wants to endure. To see their children die before them.

Even though Jesus came to live in a human family did not mean that their life was perfect.
There was hardship, there was pain, there was suffering and they are the same things we see in families today. We need to draw strength from this in our struggles.

Source: ca060906b -The Eucharist- Heart of the Family -Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers.mp3

Matt 2:13 First Refugees

Matt 2:13
Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, "Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there till I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him."

Jesus, Mary and Joseph were the first refugees of the Christian era.
Countless others were to share their fate later on.
Since the night when the angel woke Joseph and told him to flee to Egypt with the child and His mother, the world has been full of the hunted, the persecuted and the refugees in whom Christ begs for love and help.

And just as once the shepherds may have brought the Christ Child and His family food and just as there were kind hearted people here and there on the way to Egypt who took pity on the Holy Family, so it is now our task to help the persecuted Christ of today wherever He is suffering need in the least of His brothers.

Source: Fr Werefried van Straaten, founder of aid to the Church in Need

Luke 2:9-11 Advent

Luke 2:9-11
And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, "Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

Advent means “coming” and, simply put, Advent is the season when we prepare for the coming of Christ at Christmas.
It is the time when we get our hearts ready for the greatest Christmas gift of all — namely, Jesus.

I’d like to try my best in this meditation by talking to you about the three comings of Christ at Christmas — the triple “Advents” of Our Lord.
If you don’t mind me saying it in a more poetic way, Our Lord comes to us in history, mystery, and majesty.

He came in history as the Holy Infant of Bethlehem.
He comes to us now in mystery — in word, sacrament, grace, and mercy.
He will come in majesty at the end of the world as judge of the living and the dead.

His Coming in History
Our Lord Jesus Christ came in history. This is, of course, the coming that drove the dreams of the faithful people of Israel, who had waited so eagerly and so long for the coming of the Messiah. What we try to do as the Church in Advent, in a small way, is to consolidate those centuries of waiting into four short weeks. And we’re reminded — guess what? — that God takes His sweet old time in fulfilling His promises.

God may have promised a Savior in the Garden of Eden. You bet He did. But He was slow in following through on that sacred promise. So that’s why we hear words such as “yearning,” “waiting,” “hoping,” “watching,” “longing,” “looking,” and “preparing” throughout this holy season. These words all become part of our Advent vocabulary at the sacred liturgy. But all that yearning, waiting, hoping, watching, longing, looking, and preparing — was it ever worth it when He finally did come, for as St. John the Evangelist records: “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). There is His coming in history.

Now, granted, there’s really not all that much we can do to prepare for that first coming of Christ — His coming in history — because as a matter of fact, it has already taken place. But we can, during this Season of Advent, assume the posture of the expectant people of Israel and admit that we have a very real need for a Savior.

Did you get that? We sure do need a Savior!

Advent is an excellent time to prepare, to renew our faith that the baby whose birth we hail at Christmas is indeed the Savior of the World, the long-awaited Messiah — the One who can save us! Now, it might sound easy to make the admission that we need a Savior, but in reality it’s tough because most of us are sort of proud and feel rather self-sufficient, independent — in other words, we feel we’re able to take care of ourselves. We’re not beholden to anybody. We hardly need a Savior.

Yet if we are really honest with ourselves, we admit that there are certain things in our life that we just can’t fix. I need help. I happen to need a Savior — and there is good news! We happen to have the best Savior ever, who was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in history, on that first Christmas Day.

What we actually mean by Christ coming in history is that at a specific time and place, God became Man and entered the human drama. This is called the Incarnation — that is, Our Lord’s coming in history. Advent can be a great time to recollect our utter dependence and need for God made Man, who has broken into the history of the world, to save us.

Come, Lord Jesus!
There is a beautiful traditional prayer for the Season of Advent. It is a prayer that is found in the New Testament and in an ancient document of the early Church called the Didache. It is a simple prayer, but one that can be prayed anytime:

“Come, Lord Jesus!”
Repeat this prayer often during this Season of Advent and you will recognize with the eyes of faith that, in praying it sincerely, Our Lord has already answered it, will answer it, and will answer it again.
“Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20).

Source: Excerpt from Advent Reflections: Come, Lord Jesus! by Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan - The First Week of Advent: The Three Comings of Christ.

(The other Two ‘Comings’ of Christ hinted to above may be included in another email)

My wife mentioned another reflection of the scripture I sent out yesterday and that was both the manger and the tomb were ‘borrowed’.
Jesus had no belongings or possessions. He came into this world with nothing and left with nothing.

Proverbs 30:8-9 What We Really Want

Proverbs 30:8-9
Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, "Who is the LORD?" or lest I be poor, and steal, and profane the name of my God.

Luke 9:2-3
and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal. And he said to them, "Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics.

Comment - What We Really Want

I'm glad we're walking the middle line,'' my husband recently told me. ''We have enough to provide for our needs, but little enough to keep us humble.''

I think he well understood the sentiments of today's proverb: ''Give me neither poverty nor riches; provide me only with the food I need.''

That's not to say we don't have times of want.
The temptation to want more is the plague of our society. Advertisements lure us to fancier phones, classier clothes, sportier cars.

We respond to this because in each of us, there is a longing for something more.
Something better.

That's because ''more'' and ''better'' are indeed our destiny.
But not on earth.
If we stop trying to capture them here, we can spend our time preparing to receive them in heaven.

Prayer: Dear Lord, help me to be content with whatever You choose to give me.

Source: My Daily Visitor Meditation

John 8:31-36 The Truth Will make You Free

John 8:31-36
Jesus then said to the Jews who had believed in him, "If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." They answered him, "We are descendants of Abraham, and have never been in bondage to any one. How is it that you say, `You will be made free'?" Jesus answered them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, every one who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not continue in the house for ever; the son continues for ever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.

Comment: Reject greed and exploitation

The world had "grown weary of greed, exploitation and division, of the tedium of false idols and the pain of false promises", and I urge you to seek the true, the good and the beautiful.
Delivering his first major speech in Australia, the Pope also lamented the advent of television and computer entertainment exalting violence and sexual degradation. "I ask myself, could anyone standing face to face with people who actually do suffer violence and sexual exploitation 'explain' that these tragedies, portrayed in virtual form, are considered merely entertainment?

"Do not be fooled by those who see you as just another consumer in a market of undifferentiated possibilities, where choice itself becomes the god, novelty usurps beauty, and subjective experience displaces truth. Christ offers more. Indeed, he offers everything!"

In his address to pilgrims, as he warned against secularism and relativism and said something sinister stemmed from the fact that freedom and tolerance were so often separated from truth. “This is fuelled by the notion, widely held today, that there are no absolute truths to guide our lives. Relativism, by indiscriminately giving value to practically everything, has made experience all important," he said. But this led not to genuine freedom but to moral or intellectual confusion, lower standards, loss of self-respect, and even to despair. While secularism presented itself as neutral and inclusive, in reality it imposed a world view, he said.

"If God is irrelevant to public life, then society will be shaped in a godless image, and debate and policy concerning the public good will be driven more by consequences than by principles grounded in truth."

Source: POPE Benedict XVI – one of the many 2008 World Youth Day addressess to pilgrims

Luke 15:13,17-24 Prodigal Son

Luke 15:13,17-24
Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took his journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in loose living. …..

But when he came to himself he said, `How many of my father's hired servants have bread enough and to spare, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me as one of your hired servants."' And he arose and came to his father. But while he was yet at a distance, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, `Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.' But the father said to his servants, `Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet; and bring the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and make merry; for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.' And they began to make merry.

The Pope met young people with histories of drug addiction and other problems, who are following the "Alive" rehabilitation program.

The Pope then referred to the personal life stories of many members of the community, who made "choices that led you down a path which, however attractive it appeared at the time, only led you deeper into misery and abandonment." And he acknowledged their "courage in choosing to turn back onto the path of life."

"Dear friends, I see you as ambassadors of hope to others in similar situations. You can convince them of the need to choose the path of life and shun the path of death, because you speak from experience. All through the Gospels, it was those who had taken wrong turnings who were particularly loved by Jesus, because once they recognized their mistake, they were all the more open to his healing message. It was those who were willing to rebuild their lives who were most ready to listen to Jesus and become his disciples. You can follow in their footsteps, you too can grow particularly close to Jesus because you have chosen to turn back toward him."

Source: speech by Pope Benedict XVI - World Youth Day 2008

Matthew Ch7:24-27 Build Your house on Rock

Deuteronomy 11:18.
“Take these words of mine into your heart and soul.”

Matthew Ch7:24-27.
"Every one then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock; and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And every one who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house upon the sand; and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell; and great was the fall of it."


Notice something too, the author of Deuteronomy warns against something too. Turning aside from the way I ordain for you today and following other god’s.

Now that is a good way to put it.
Where do you follow gods? That means of ultimate concern. You follow those at the level of your heart, at the level of your soul.

I mean you can seek after material success, fame and all that, but you should be seeking God at this deeper level.
Don’t run after false god’s because that will lead to a skewing of your soul. That will lead ultimately to a breaking of your heart.

Now we can find much the same thing, this summary statement, in the Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Matthew Ch7:24-27.
Jesus says “Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came and the winds blew and buffeted the house but it did not collapse.

Friends, this is the heart of it.
If you are rooted in God at the level of your heart and your soul you are following the intentions and commands of God.
Then what?
You can withstand anything.
Because you are linked at the very centre of your life to that very power that is here and now creating the cosmos.
That power which transcends all of space and time. You are linked to God and the storms will come, the floods will come and they will not touch you.

How about the one who does not take Jesus words to heart?
He will be like the fool who built his house on sand. The rain fell, the floods came and the winds buffeted the house and it collapsed and it was completed ruined.

Now friends, notice something here.
The winds and floods come in both cases.

Jesus here is giving us the proper reading of Deuteronomy. It does not mean follow God’s command and the winds and floods will never come. No no.
Both the one who follows God’s command and the one who doesn’t experience the rain and the floods. That means all the trials and temptations and difficulties at the surface of your life. That isn’t the question here.
The question is. Where are you rooted?
If you are rooted in something other than God, then when those rains and winds and floods come you will collapse and if you are grounded in your heart in the commands of God you can stand and withstand anything.

I have known lots of people who have got it all together. They have got everything.
Look at that beautiful house but then there comes sickness, there comes loss, there comes failure, there comes the premature death of one of their children.
There comes the death of a friend. Whatever it is, all those normal winds and floods that bedevil us and that house can come crashing down.

So the question is, where do you stand?
How goes it with your heart?
On what precisely, is the whole of your life built?
On the commands of God, then you are built on rock.
On anything else, you are built on sand.
And from that everything else will flow.

And may God bless you.

Source: Father Robert Barron

This reminds me of that famous quote by Saint Augustine
You have formed us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.

Deuteronomy 11:26-28 Suffering and Blessing

Deuteronomy - (the second law) 11:26-28
"Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse:
the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you this day,
and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside from the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods which you have not known.

Some things in life are grey and indistinct and other things are pretty clear. This is one of those latter – follow the commands of God and you will be blessed.
Refuse to follow them you will be cursed.
Ok, clear!
But right away I can sense rising in you an objection.
“You know that sounds good but aren’t there an awful lot of good people, followers of God’s law, who in fact are kind of cursed, whose lives don’t go well, who fail and suffer. And aren’t there an awful lot of wicked people who despise God’s law and they seem to do pretty well. They seem to prosper.”

Point on point of fact, biblical Jews felt this objection. They wrestled with this very question.
The Book of Job is the most famous example of that wrestling. You know because Job was a good man and he knows it so he challenges God “Why am I suffering?”
The prophet Jeremiah complains famously “why, O Lord do the ways of the wicked prosper?”

That is a good question isn’t it?
Especially in light of what Moses says in Deuteronomy, it is a very good question.
You just told me that if I follow His laws I will be blessed and if I don’t follow them I will be cursed.
Well, sounds good, but it doesn’t play out in life.

Ok, what we have to do is to refine what Deuteronomy means and in so doing we will actually open up its true meaning.

Listen to what he says just prior to the blessing and curse in Deuteronomy 11:18.
“Take these words of mine into your heart and soul.”

That is the level we are at. The level of the heart and soul.
The blessing the author speaks of here has little or nothing to do with the surface of ones life.
And the same goes for the curse.
It doesn’t mean that if you follow God’s law you will always have good health, never experience set backs or failures, always be honoured and well thought of.
It doesn’t mean that. Because those things pertain to the relative surface of your life.
It doesn’t mean that ignoring God’s commands will necessarily conduce to failure, sickness and rejection etcetera. Those things are at the relative surface of one’s life.

The rhetoric here is properly religious.
Which is to say, it addresses that deepest level of the self.
The place that the Bible calls the heart and the soul.
What is that?
The heart or the soul is the centre of you.
The place where you are most authentically and deeply yourself.
The point of contact with God.

It is the energy that under girds and informs all the other areas of your life – physical, psychological, emotional, relational.
As such, it is at the same time it is the most important and the most elusive dimension of you.

Here the logic of Deuteronomy obtains.
If you follow God’s commands you will find blessing at that level of your life.
You will find what the Bible calls “peace”.
And Shalom can exist alongside of and in spite of the greatest kind of suffering.
And if you fail to follow God’s commands you will be cursed at that deepest level.
A curse that can co-exist with the greatest temporal success.

Does that make sense?
Someone’s got it all.
They’ve got a home, they’ve got pleasure, they’ve got honour, they’ve got power. They have got material things, big bank account.
You say ‘well that guy is blessed’
Well, at the relative surface of life.

But what’s at the level of his heart?
What is at the level of his soul?
That place where he is at rest most deeply by God?
I can tell you, and you know this too, there are loads of people who are blessed at the surface of life and are very cursed at the deep down level.
And someone can suffer every type of setback at the relative surface – no success, no money, no power, no esteem, no honour.
Yet, I know this and so do you, they can experience the deepest joy and peace at the level of the heart.
They have nothing and yet they are radiant with joy and that’s because they are following God’s command at this deepest level.

Rolling Stone did an interview with Sting and asked him “Is there anything, anything that you wish you had?”
and Sting replied “I have a beautiful wife, a lovely daughter, I have money and I have fame but there is still an emptiness.”

Now Sting, who in the world’s eyes has everything you could possibly imagine a person would want.
He is wealthy beyond comprehension.
He lives in a mansion in Ireland that is amazing.
He is known everywhere and has written some of the biggest hits in the world.
But he says there is still an emptiness.

What kind of emptiness could there possibly be if he has everything that the world says is necessary.
I have everything the world says is important but I am still empty.

Source: talk given by Tammy Evevard.
Franciscan Conference – Young Adults Conference June 2005

Source: Father Robert Barron

2 Maccabees 6:12 Suffering

2 Maccabees 6:12
Now I urge those who read this book not to be depressed by such calamities, but to recognize that these punishments were designed not to destroy but to discipline our people.

Job however challenges the truth of the principle that identifies suffering with punishment for sin. And he does this on the basis of his own opinion. For he is aware that he has not deserved such punishment, and in fact he speaks of the good that he has done during his life. In the end, God himself reproves Job's friends for their accusations and recognizes that Job is not guilty. His suffering is the suffering of someone who is innocent and it must be accepted as a mystery, which the individual is unable to penetrate completely by his own intelligence.

While it is true that suffering has a meaning as punishment, when it is connected with a fault, it is not true that all suffering is a consequence of a fault and has the nature of a punishment. The figure of the just man Job is a special proof of this in the Old Testament. Revelation, which is the word of God himself, with complete frankness presents the problem of the suffering of an innocent man: suffering without guilt. Job has not been punished, there was no reason for inflicting a punishment on him, even if he has been subjected to a grievous trial.

And if the Lord consents to test Job with suffering, he does it to demonstrate the latter's righteousness. The suffering has the nature of a test.

The Book of Job is not the last word on this subject in Revelation. In a certain way it is a foretelling of the Passion of Christ.

Thus the personal dimension of punishment is affirmed. According to this dimension, punishment has a meaning not only because it serves to repay the objective evil of the transgression with another evil, but first and foremost because it creates the possibility of rebuilding goodness in the subject who suffers.

This is an extremely important aspect of suffering. It is profoundly rooted in the entire Revelation of the Old and above all the New Covenant. Suffering must serve for conversion, that is, for the rebuilding of goodness in the subject, who can recognize the divine mercy in this call to repentance. The purpose of penance is to overcome evil, which under different forms lies dormant in man. Its purpose is also to strengthen goodness both in man himself and in his relationships with others and especially with God

But in order to perceive the true answer to the "why" of suffering, we must look to the revelation of divine love, the ultimate source of the meaning of everything that exists. Love is also the richest source of the meaning of suffering, which always remains a mystery: we are conscious of the insufficiency and inadequacy of our explanations. Christ causes us to enter into the mystery and to discover the "why" of suffering, as far as we are capable of grasping the sublimity of divine love.
Love is: also the fullest source of the answer to the question of the meaning of suffering. This answer has been given by God to man in the Cross of Jesus Christ.


1 Corinthians 1:20-23 Suffering

1 Corinthians 1:20-23
Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles,

The two simple reactions to pain and loss:
One is a protest – This is outrageous – How dare God arranges this so that I have to suffer.
That protest is important. Man is asking for fulfilment.
I experience only the loss. It is not right. That is only the penultimate word.

The ultimate word ought to be an expression of hope.

Is there someone, somewhere who can take this pain, who can carry it, absorb it and somehow dissolve it in the fire of His love, which is much greater, which masters the pain. In Christ we have that.

Who God is, is precisely as Jesus shows Himself to be. He really is God. He really is man. Docetism was a heresy that was dealt with early on where they say God was pretending to be man.

We emphasise that we have to look to Christ and to Christ on the Cross to get to the core of this mystery that God is love. What does that Cross teach us?

One thing is clear is that if it hadn’t been for the Cross then the truth that God is love would remain unfounded, unconvincing.

How do you know God is love if He isn’t prepared to prove it?

To dramatise it by His own suffering love, His own willingness to descend into the brokenness of the human condition. Looking at this crucified God, you can’t help but explain this is what love means. Here is the embodiment of love.

Suffering with, entering deeply into my own pain.

Whatever descent I have – depression or pain or whatever, has already been included, contained within the infinite descent of Christ.
He blazes the trail through this forest of pain.

So I could never accost God and say “Look, you didn’t understand my pain and it somehow exceeded what you had to endure”

How does He taking His own pain involve my pain?

What He does not assume He will not redeem!

This is the ancient patristic refrain. If He assumes my life, my death then He includes both in His own life and death.

His humanity somehow encompasses mine. So by looking to Him, I have more than an example on how to suffer and die.
I have a source of efficacious grace which enables me to triumph, not just to endure, not just to simply submit but to become victorious in the face of suffering.

I have Easter.

Source: Regis Martin – “Franciscan University Presents”

Romans 5: 2-5 Suffering

Romans 5: 2-5
Through him we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us.

A very universal experience with respect to suffering especially when it is severe and hits at the root of your physical, and maybe psychological, integrity it tends to reveal your deepest loves and deepest hates.

I spoke with an oncology nurse a few years back and she explained that in the paediatric ward the parents would come in to see their children suffering and pretty much one of two things happen.

Either they are solidified in their love and their faith or they are broken apart and hatred comes out.

The cross, not just Christ, but the two next to Him reveal a lot about how we ought to react to suffering.

The bad thief on the cross reacts with a hatred, a rancour against God and other people.

Christ reacts to His suffering by recognising this is the Fathers will for good even though it is breaking Him ‘to the bone’.

The good thief recognises that he deserves it but Christ does not.

There is a lot to be revealed there but in suffering, our deepest loves or lack of love will be revealed if the sufferings are acute enough.

Source: Michael Sirilla – “Franciscan University Presents”

Romans 8:18 Suffering

Romans 8:18
I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

Reflection - No Suffering, No Love

God has so loved us that he gave himself up for us: This is the message of the Cross, 'mystery of death and of glory.'"

"The cross reminds us that there is no true love without suffering, there is no gift of life without pain,"

We have two treasures of the Christian faith: the Holy Spirit and the cross."

The Spirit opens human intelligence to horizons that surpass it and makes it understand the beauty and truth of God's love revealed, in fact, on the cross.
A love of which no one will be able to separate us, and that is experienced by giving one's life as Christ did.

Source: Pope Benedict XVI - General audience at the Vatican - SEPT. 17, 2008

2 Thess 2:15 Hold Fast to True Teachings

Prov. 22:28
Remove not the ancient landmark which your fathers have set

2 Thess 2:15
So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter.

1 Cor 1:4-6, 10
I give thanks to God always for you because of the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him with all speech and all knowledge -- even as the testimony to Christ was confirmed among you –

I appeal to you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree and that there be no dissensions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.

The scripture quotes above sort of jumped out at me when I had in the back of my mind of a theme for the early Church, your and my ancestors in faith.
Reading the quotes below it should surprise no Christian today that we can find evidence that the truth of the Scriptures were enforced by the early Church, when there was dissension.

Irenaeus (ca. A.D. 140-ca. A.D. 202) writes:
’[B]eing most properly assured that the Scriptures are indeed perfect, since they were spoken by the Word of God and His Spirit.’ (Against Heresies 2,28:2).

Athanasius (ca. A.D. 295-A.D. ca. 373), the great Patriarch of Alexandria, writes:’
[T]he tokens of truth are more exact as drawn from Scripture, than from other sources.’ (Nicene Definition 32).

Tertullian of Carthage (ca. A.D. 155/160-ca. A.D. 240/250) writes:
’If it is nowhere written, then let it fear the woe which impends on all who add or to take away from the written word.’ (Against Hermogenes 22).

Ambrose (ca. A.D. 340 -ca. A.D. 397), the bishop of Milan, writes:
’For how can we adopt those things which we do not find in the holy Scriptures?’ (Duties of the Clergy I,23:102).

Augustine, the bishop of Hippo (ca. A.D. 354-ca. A.D. 430), writes:
’[W]hat more can I teach you, than what we read in the Apostle? For holy Scripture setteth a rule to our teaching, that we dare not ‘be wise more than behoveth to be wise;’ ... Be it not therefore for me to teach you any other thing, save to you the words of the Teacher.’ (Widowhood 2).

Origen of Alexandria (ca. A.D. 185-ca. A.D. 253/254) writes:
’In proof of all words which we advance in matters of doctrine, we ought to set forth the sense of Scripture as confirming the meaning which we are proposing....Therefore we should not take our own ideas for the confirmation of doctrine, unless someone shows that they are holy because they are contained in the divine Scriptures as in the temples of God’ (Comm on Matthew 25).

Source: all quotes above were taken from an article called
The Rule of Faith in Patristic Thought - by J. A. Gallegos

1 Cor 11:2 Passing on True Teaching

Matt 28:19-20
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age."

1 Cor 11:2
I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you


But Polycarp also was not only instructed by apostles,
and conversed with many who had seen Christ,
….., having always taught the things which he had learned from the apostles,
and which the Church has handed down, and which alone are true.

To these things all the Asiatic Churches testify, as do also those men who have succeeded Polycarp down to the present time,—a man who was of much greater weight, and a more stedfast witness of truth, than Valentinus, and Marcion, and the rest of the heretics. He it was who, coming to Rome in the time of Anicetus caused many to turn away from the aforesaid heretics to the Church of God, proclaiming that he had received this one and sole truth from the apostles,—that, namely, which is handed down by the Church.

Source: Irenaeus - Against Heresies: Book III – Ch III

Who was Polycarp?
Polycarp was the bishop of Smyrna on the West Coast of Asia Minor (now Turkey) in the first half of the second century.
He reportedly sat at the feet of the apostle John and knew St. Ignatius of Antioch.
On account of this, he is one of the apostolic fathers, the earliest group of the fathers of the church who play a special role in transmitting to us the teachings given to us from the apostles themselves (also referred to as apostolic tradition).
Polycarp was apprehended by the Roman authorities when in his eighties, around the year 155AD.

Source –

2 Tim 4:21 Linus and Clement

Romans 10:17-18
So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ.
But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have; for "Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world."

2 Tim 4:21
Do your best to come before winter. Eubu'lus sends greetings to you, as do Pudens and Linus and Claudia and all the brethren.

The blessed apostles, then,
having founded and built up the Church,
committed into the hands of Linus the office of the episcopate.
Of this Linus, Paul makes mention in the Epistles to Timothy.
To him succeeded Anacletus; and after him, in the third place from the apostles, Clement was allotted the bishopric.

This man, as
he had seen the blessed apostles,
and had been conversant with them,
might be said to have
the preaching of the apostles still echoing in his ears,
and their traditions before his eyes.
Nor was he alone in this, for
there were many still remaining who had received instructions from the apostles.

In the time of this Clement, no small dissension having occurred among the brethren at Corinth, the Church in Rome despatched a most powerful letter to the Corinthians, exhorting them to peace, renewing their faith, and declaring the tradition which it had lately received from the apostles, proclaiming the one God, omnipotent, the Maker of heaven and earth, the Creator of man, who brought on the deluge, and called Abraham, who led the people from the land of Egypt, spake with Moses, set forth the law, sent the prophets, and who has prepared fire for the devil and his angels.

Source: IRENAEUS OF LYONS A.D. 120–202. - AGAINST HERESIES - BOOK III. Ch 3: verse 3

Phil.4:1-3 Clement of Rome

Now I would remind you, brethren, in what terms I preached to you the gospel,
which you received,
in which you stand, by which you are saved,
if you hold it fast
-- unless you believed in vain.

Therefore, my brethren, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved. I entreat Eu-o'dia and I entreat Syn'tyche to agree in the Lord. And I ask you also, true yokefellow, help these women, for they have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.


But not to dwell upon ancient examples, let us come to the most recent spiritual heroes. Let us take the noble examples furnished in our own generation. Through envy and jealousy, the greatest and most righteous pillars of the Church have been persecuted and put to death.

Let us set before our eyes the illustrious apostles. Peter, through unrighteous envy, endured not one or two, but numerous labours and when he had at length suffered martyrdom, departed to the place of glory due to him. Owing to envy, Paul also obtained the reward of patient endurance, after being seven times thrown into captivity, compelled to flee, and stoned. After preaching both in the east and west, he gained the illustrious reputation due to his faith, having taught righteousness to the whole world, and come to the extreme limit of the west, and suffered martyrdom under the prefects. Thus was he removed from the world, and went into the holy place, having proved himself a striking example of patience.

Source: The First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians Ch 5

Who was Clement?
Around the year 95 AD, a letter was written by the Church of Rome to the Church at Corinth that is attributed to Saint Clement.
This document is the earliest Christian writing besides the New Testament documents.
In fact, the Gospel of John is likely written around the same time as this document.
This "first letter of Clement" was copied by the Corinthian Church and circulated all over the empire.
It was so highly regarded by the universal church that for several centuries the Church in Egypt and elsewhere regarded it as one of the New Testament scriptures.

Early Church Father
The Early Church Fathers are important Christian writers after the New Testament era who, because of closeness to that New Testament era, witness to the authentically apostolic way of interpreting the Scriptures handed on to them by the Apostles themselves or by someone who was taught by the Apostles (and so on).
They are the ones who identified for us the particular writings that should be regarded as inspired Scriptures well before the final list of books were defined as making up the Bible as we know it today.

Clement is one person who has been called an Early Church Father.

These early Christian writings are THE source where we find out about the early church, the heresies, the persecutions etc.
To read more about the Early Church Fathers

or google “Early Church Fathers”

2 Tim 2:2 Spiritual multiplication

2 Tim 2:2 Spiritual multiplication

and what you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

Comment - Spiritual multiplication.

Know Christ Jesus.
Get to really know Him.
You can’t give what you don’t have.

Don’t just live the faith
Don’t just teach the faith
Teach people how to teach the faith

2 Tim 2:2 says teach teachers to teach.
That is all the ‘t’s’ I have.

But that is what we do.
It is not enough to live your faith with other people.
You have got to give them the tools to communicate that to others as well.

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day.
Teach a man to fish and you have fed him for a lifetime.
Teach him how to teach other people how to fish – you can solve world hunger!

Source: Curtis Martin – FOCUS – excerpt from the talk “vision for life” mp3

Acts.2:33,37-39 Promise of the Holy Spirit

Acts.2:33,37-39 Promise of the Holy Spirit
Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this which you see and hear.

Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brethren, what shall we do?" And Peter said to them, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children and to all that are far off, every one whom the Lord our God calls to him."

Dear Young People,
Once again this evening we have heard Christ’s great promise – "you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you". And we have heard his summons – "be my witnesses throughout the world" – (Acts 1:8).

These were the very last words which Jesus spoke before his Ascension into heaven. How the Apostles felt upon hearing them, we can only imagine. But we do know that their deep love for Jesus, and their trust in his word, prompted them to gather and to wait; to wait not aimlessly, but together, united in prayer, with the women and Mary in the Upper Room (cf. Acts 1:14). Tonight, I am praying for you and for young people throughout the world. Be inspired by the example of your Patrons! Accept into your hearts and minds the sevenfold gift of the Holy Spirit! Recognize and believe in the power of the Spirit in your lives!

The other day we talked of the unity and harmony of God’s creation and our place within it. We recalled how in the great gift of baptism we, who are made in God’s image and likeness, have been reborn, we have become God’s adopted children, a new creation. And so it is as children of Christ’s light – symbolized by the lit candles you now hold – that we bear witness in our world to the radiance no darkness can overcome (cf. Jn 1:5).

Tonight, let us pray for the resolve to nurture unity: contribute to it! resist any temptation to walk away! For it is precisely the comprehensiveness, the vast vision, of our faith – solid yet open, consistent yet dynamic, true yet constantly growing in insight – that we can offer our world.

Dear young people, is it not because of your faith that friends in difficulty or seeking meaning in their lives have turned to you?
Be watchful! Listen! Through the dissonance and division of our world, can you hear the concordant voice of humanity? From the forlorn child in a Darfur camp, or a troubled teenager, or an anxious parent in any suburb, or perhaps even now from the depth of your own heart, there emerges the same human cry for recognition, for belonging, for unity.

Who satisfies that essential human yearning to be one, to be immersed in communion, to be built up, to be led to truth? The Holy Spirit!
This is the Spirit’s role: to bring Christ’s work to fulfilment. Enriched with the Spirit’s gifts, you will have the power to move beyond the piecemeal, the hollow utopia, the fleeting, to offer the consistency and certainty of Christian witness!

Source:( An extract of the address Benedict XVI gave at the World Youth Day vigil Saturday night at the Randwick Racecourse in Sydney. JULY 19, 2008

Acts 1:8 Receive Power

Acts 1:8 Receive Power
You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses

This scripture was the theme for World Youth Day 2008
This passage occurs after the death and resurrection of Jesus, just before his ascension to the Father. It represents the birth of the Church. (from

Sent Out into the World: the Holy Spirit, the Principal Agent of Mission

How many of you can claim, by your actions, to have knowingly brought someone closer to Jesus Christ and the Church?

I could go on and on about the excuses we make for not evangelizing. But let's go straight to the heart of the matter: We are, all of us, called to be Apostles. That's our vocation. That's our right and our duty. In a sense, evangelizing is in our Christian DNA from the moment we received the Holy Spirit in our Baptism and our Confirmation, We need to understand that those sacramental moments were our own Pentecost. We've not only been sent but, like the original Apostles, we're empowered to preach the Good News, to become Apostles ourselves. Don't forget this: We have already had our own Pentecost.

The word "Apostle", comes from the Greek apostolos which means "one who is sent forth;" someone who is entrusted with a mission. It has a stronger sense than the word "messenger." It actually means something closer to a "delegate." An Apostle, therefore, is a delegate of Christ: not someone who speaks about a particular doctrine or delivers a message, but someone who gives testimony of something he or she has experienced.

Hardships and even persecution come with "the territory" of being an Apostle. We live in a world that sees suffering as a curse to be avoided at any price. But remember Jesus' warning that hardships, rejection and persecution by the world can't be avoided. I'm sometimes amazed at the discouragement I find in otherwise motivated Catholics — and sometimes in myself — when real obstacles and challenges make the Christian life difficult. These sufferings are precisely God's sign that his followers are doing the right thing. You and I should feel encouraged, not defeated, by the trials that inevitably come our way.

In his novel Lord of the World, the great British author and convert Robert Hugh Benson describes the Anti-Christ as someone who has invented a new "painless" world religion and even a new technique of prayer that takes only minutes and very little effort. Benson's point is clear: If faith is painless and quick, just the way today's culture wants things to be, then it cannot be genuinely Christian. It comes from the devil.

Never lose your focus on this truth: Jesus is always there for you.
After 38 years of ministry as a priest, I can assure you that Jesus never fails; He never fails.

One of those great challenges, all over our world, but especially inside our Church and among our young people, is a fear of offending the world.
Pope John Paul gave us the antidote to this paralyzing disease: "Open wide the doors to Christ!" To open wide our lives to Christ means to let the Holy Spirit act in us, to bring us the grace we need to be courageous. Just look at the Bible's description of Pentecost. The passage begins by telling us that the Apostles were hiding "for fear of the Jews." It ends with an outpouring of courage and joyful preaching, understood in all imaginable languages. What a transformation! And that transformation is within our own reach, because we have already received the Holy Spirit. It's only our fear that prevents God from unleashing all his power in our lives.

Being brave does not mean being blind to the dangers we face, or ignoring the pain of being mocked or attacked. Being "unafraid" does not mean pretending not to fear. Being brave means overcoming our fear with the strength of the Holy Spirit, just as St. Paul and all the great Christian missionaries did, because proclaiming the truth of Jesus Christ is worth any cost.

Pay attention to this reflection Pope Benedict made about St. Paul and suffering in our own Christian life: "The call to become the teacher [of] people is at the same time also intrinsically a call to suffering in the communion of Christ, who has redeemed us through his Passion. In a world where falsehood is so powerful, the truth is redeemed through suffering. Whoever wants to avoid and keep away suffering keeps away life itself and its greatness; he cannot be a servant of the truth and therefore a servant of the faith. There is no love without suffering, without the suffering of self-renunciation, transformation and purification of the self by the real truth. Wherever there is nothing worth suffering for, life itself loses its value."

I pray with all my heart that the Holy Spirit will awaken and unleash in you his joy and power, so that you may go out from this World Youth Day renewed, strengthened and encouraged to become apostles of Jesus Christ.

Source: by Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. Talk given to all youth at one of the many events at World Youth Day in Sydney

Isaiah 11:1-3 Gifts of the Spirit

Isaiah 11:1-3 Gifts of the Spirit
There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear;

These seven Gifts –Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety and Fear of the Lord – are spoken of throughout Scripture, and have been received and explained by saints throughout the ages.

Of these, the 13th century Dominican theologian Saint Thomas Aquinas offers us what is perhaps the clearest and most thorough explanation of how the Gifts work in our life.

The Gift of Fear of the Lord (extract)

Why would God want to give us a gift called “Fear of the Lord?”
How could fear ever be good and desirable?
Saint Thomas Aquinas tells us that we need the Gift as a kind of first beginning of the perfection of all gifts. For the Fear of the Lord conditions us to show proper reverence to God and to be completely devoted to Him. In this way, Fear of the Lord is a kind of foundation on which the other Gifts are built.

The Fear of the Lord is not a matter of anxiety or terror. Rather it is marked by calm yet eager resolve. How does Fear of the Lord help us to follow God?
Saint Thomas helps us to see how when he points out a common fact of life: before people can begin to do good, they must first withdraw from evil. As we know from our own experience, fear always involves turning away from something we consider a threat to our wellbeing.

In our relationship with God, fear can play a role in two ways.
First, fear can be a fear of punishment (especially Hell) Saint Thomas refers to this kind of fear as “servile” fear or the fear of one who obeys the master because of the possibility of punishment.
Servile fear, however, does not involve the full range of freedom and grace that Our Lord wants us to enjoy. There is a second and holier kind of fear that has to do not with punishment, but with the wonderful good of communion with God.

This second kind of fear is not afraid of punishment but of losing God. Saint Thomas calls this “filial” fear, the fear of sons, since it is the kind of fear a good son should have about ever violating or losing his relationship with his father. To have filial fear means to be eager to avoid the evil of offending God or doing anything that might damage our relationship with Him.

The Holy Spirit’s Gift, Fear of the Lord, is a Gift of filial fear.

Source: The Gifts of the Holy Spirit According to Saint Thomas Aquinas

John 16:13-14 Spirit of Truth

John 16:13-14 Spirit of Truth
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput spoke to World Youth Day participants in a teaching session titled, “Called to live in the Holy Spirit” on Wednesday morning. During his address he explained the importance of listening to the gentle voice of the Holy Spirit in today’s ‘violent’ world.

Archbishop Chaput of Denver began his catechesis on the Holy Spirit by asking the young pilgrims to reflect on the Holy Spirit, who is described in the Creed as “The giver of Life!”

“What do we thirst for more than anything else in the world? Life. We want as much life as we can get. We want a long life, a happy life, a healthy life. Everything we hope for is somehow summarized in that powerful word, ‘life’,” the archbishop said.

“So if the Holy Spirit is the giver of life, it means He’s the one that brings us to a full understanding and union with the real Jesus Christ -- not with the ‘nice guy’ or interesting teacher that the world would prefer Jesus to be, but the true Jesus Christ who is the only Son of the Father, the Saviour of the world, and the source of all life and happiness for you, for me and for all humanity.”

The Holy Spirit as a dove?

The archbishop went on to explain that usually, in Catholic imagery, the Holy Spirit is depicted as a dove. “But have you ever wondered, Why a dove? Maybe one of the reasons is that there’s nothing threatening about a dove. A dove typically embodies purity, beauty and gentleness. The kindness of the Holy Spirit operating in our lives is exactly the opposite of the violence that the world and the devil rely on.”

However, this violence “isn’t always bloody. Some things can feel very pleasant but leave a deep wound that we only discover much later.”

The archbishop went on to say that every day, all people – including the faithful, “drink in a river of bad ideas pushed by marketers who want your money, your approval and your conformity -- and they make very sure they get it by using the radio, television, internet, popular songs and peer pressure to wrap you up in, like a spider getting ready for dinner. Today’s popular culture is based on a message that seems liberating, but it actually diminishes your humanity. …In a nutshell, the modern world suggests that you can do whatever you want, whenever you want. If someone else suffers as a consequence, if some damage is unintentionally done to other people by your actions, well, that’s not your fault.”

The archbishop then spoke of the irony of when some young people criticize authority “claiming they want to be ‘free’ or that they want to ‘live their own lives,” but then dress exactly “the same way, listen to the same music, follow the same fashions and generally behave not like social reformers, but like lemmings.”

“It’s the worst kind of slavery,” he continued, “when corporations and fashion designers and political opinion makers treat people like chumps. They trick a whole generation into doing what the world demands, while at the same time telling young people that they’re ‘free,’ ‘original’ and even ‘revolutionary’.”

In contrast, “God acts in a completely different way. That’s why the Holy Spirit is shown as a dove: He reveals to us the truth, helps us understand who Jesus really is, and calls us to a radically new life in Christ. But He never forces us or deceives us into doing anything we don't willingly choose to do. That’s real freedom: when we choose, against our shortcomings and temptations from the world, to live the true life brought to us by Jesus Christ.”


Matthew 5:13-16 Salt of the Earth, Light of the World

Matthew 5:13-16
Jesus said, ‘You are the salt of the earth. But if salt becomes tasteless, what can make it salty again? It is good for nothing, and can only be thrown out to be trampled underfoot by men.
‘You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill-top cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp to put it under a tub; they put it on the lamp-stand where it shines for everyone in the house. In the same way your light must shine in the sight of men, so that, seeing your good works, they may give the praise to your Father in heaven.’

Just a few short miles from here is the National Gallery of Art, containing one of the world’s finest collections of paintings, sculpture and other works of art dating from the early Middle ages until the present. One of the most frequented of the galleries houses a beautiful exhibit of French impressionist paintings. Manet, Renoir, Cezanne, Degas and Monet are all represented. Earlier in my life I painted quite a bit and I loved to do Monet studies. The real beauty of his impressionist paintings, their most notable feature and challenge, is the interplay between color and light in nature.

The color is in the object itself. Its appearance and its beauty, however, depend upon the light to bring it out, to give it life. Impressionist artwork can be breathtaking as you see how important light is to color, as you realize how light can capture and change the way you look at the world.
The scripture readings of today’s Mass are brief, only a few sentences each. Good things come in small packages, so they say. As with impressionist painting, the thing that comes to the surface in both scripture readings today is the notion of light.

St. Paul writes of “the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God … who said ‘let light shine out of darkness’.” St. Paul reminds us, as he did the Corinthian people, that the darkness gives way to the light that is “on the face of Jesus Christ.” No greater work of art, no greater subject for light can be imagined. The more we look on the face of Jesus, like an impressionist painting, the more light we see and the more we are transfixed by it. As the psalmist says, “In your light, we see light itself.”

This idea, this word, is a good lead-in to today’s Gospel selection from St. Matthew. Our brief passage today follows on the heels of the sermon on the mount, Jesus’ beatitudes: “blessed are the poor, the sorrowful, the meek,” and so forth. Our Gospel today presents a commission from Jesus to his followers: “you are the salt of the earth … you are the light of the world.”

In the ancient world, salt was a precious commodity. It gave flavor and zest to food; it served as an important preservative; salt also made people thirst for something more. These meanings, these values attributed to salt were not lost on Jesus. He wanted his disciples to give flavor and zest to the world through his teaching; to preserve the truth as he proclaimed it to the world; to make the world thirst for more, more not only of what he had to say, but more of what he was and is.

In addition to being salt for the earth, Jesus called his followers to be the light of the world. The word “light” is used hundreds of times in the scripture. God’s first words, his first action: “Let there be light.” In St. John’s Gospel, Jesus says of himself and his mission “I am the light of the world.” And so he is, but curiously, in the sermon on the mount, Jesus transfers his light to those who follow him: “You are the light of the world.” There is the most integral connection between who he is and what he does and all of us who take his name, “Christian.” Discipleship is not an abstraction. His Gospel is not a painting, it is not simply an impression of light and color and nature.

To follow the Lord Jesus, to be salt and light for the world, is as real as it gets.
When he says, “I have come that you may have life,” he is speaking to everyone: born and unborn, healthy and sick; rich and poor; innocent and guilty, young and old --- and he is asking us to be that kind salt and light for the world, the kind that brings life. When he says, “I was a stranger and you welcomed me,” he was speaking for everyone, not only for those within our borders but for those who cross them, no matter how they got here --- he is asking us to be that kind of salt and light for the world, the kind that welcomes people home. When he says, “Whatever you do to the least of my sisters and brothers, you do to me,” he is speaking with everyone, whatever color or nationality or state in life, God in our midst, the word made flesh and dwelling among us. He is asking us to be that kind of salt and light for the world.

Because that is who HE is. Because that is what HE does. And he invites us to follow him.
Earlier I characterized the genius of impressionist art as bringing light to color, as presenting light so that it changes the way one looks at the world. Jesus is the light of the world. Jesus calls us to be that same light. What a different view of the world that light gives! Let the light shine!

Source: Very Reverend David M. O’Connell, C.M.,

Matthew 5:14-16 Light of the World

Matthew 5:14-16
‘You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill-top cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp to put it under a tub; they put it on the lamp-stand where it shines for everyone in the house. In the same way your light must shine in the sight of men, so that, seeing your good works, they may give the praise to your Father in heaven.’

"I see now, that true charity consists in bearing with the faults of those about us, never being surprised at their weaknesses, but edified at the least sign of virtue.
I see above all that charity must not remain hidden in the bottom of our hearts: `nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.'
It seems to me that this lamp is the symbol of charity; it must shine out not only to cheer those we love best but all in the house"

St. Therese of Lisieux
"The Autobiography of a Saint", Chapter 9

Matthew 5:13-16 Salt of the Earth

Matthew 5:13-16
Jesus said, ‘You are the salt of the earth. But if salt becomes tasteless, what can make it salty again? It is good for nothing, and can only be thrown out to be trampled underfoot by men.
‘You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill-top cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp to put it under a tub; they put it on the lamp-stand where it shines for everyone in the house. In the same way your light must shine in the sight of men, so that, seeing your good works, they may give the praise to your Father in heaven.’

Whenever I eat a dish that does not have much salt in it, something always seems to be missing for the food tastes bland. However, when salt is added, the food becomes much tastier, and the meal is more enjoyable. The essence of salt is its taste; its purpose is to enhance the food of the taste. Hence, if salt loses its taste, it would no longer be added to our food. It would become useless.
Like salt, we all have an essence and a purpose in our lives. What is this essence, you might ask? I believe that our essence is the light within us which manifests itself in many ways: love, joy, peace, hope, strength, patience, kindness, forgiveness, gentleness, wisdom, maturity, etc. All of us have this light within us. Some of us have a light which shines brightly; others have a dimmer light - but we all have a light nonetheless.

In our world which is becoming increasingly self-centered, to discover this light shining in each other is becoming a rarity. Nonetheless, the privilege of witnessing the glow of this light in another is always heart warming and inspiring.

For example, witnessing a simple gesture of someone give up his/her seat in a bus for another always makes me feel like there is still goodness and light in people. It always makes me feel like wanting to be that person: to do more good deeds and look for opportunities to give my seat up for another. I suppose light never remains in one person but always has the power to inspire others.
Therefore, let us continually look for ways to reveal our light to others so that the light within them may be kindled by our flame. Let us also hold on to the truth that we, you and I, are the salt and light of the world. The spirit of darkness would try to convince us that we are not; that we are not good enough; that we are bad so that we would give up on doing good deeds. However, as long as we are still alive, every moment presents a new opportunity to shine for the glory of God.

Lord, help us to reject the lies of the evil one and to believe that we truly are your salt and your light in this world. Help us to shine in “small” and big ways to glorify you.

We give thanks to God who entrusts us with the responsibility of bringing light to others.
Source : Jean Cheng

Matthew 5:13 Salt of the Earth

Matthew 5:13 Salt of the Earth
Jesus said, ‘You are the salt of the earth. But if salt becomes tasteless, what can make it salty again? It is good for nothing, and can only be thrown out to be trampled underfoot by men.

Jesus also said “You are the salt of the earth”

Here is the question : Why Salt?

What is it about salt that would make it such a beautiful powerful example of the way that Christ expects us to live in the world?

To change and influence the people we live with and the society we live in.

This is such a magnificent common sense example because almost everybody who cooks, cooks with salt and those that do know the effect it has on food when it is mixed in and sprinkled on top.

What are the characteristics of salt?
Think about it.
1. Salt is tiny.
We use it in granular form. The grains are sometimes so tiny and small you hardly know it is there.

2. The colour.
Salt is clear white when it is pure.
And if it is not pure, if it is contaminated, it is no good. You can’t use it. You can’t eat it.
That is the way it is with us. We are to strive to remain pure and chaste.

3. Salt is meant to be mixed with something different than what it is.

4. Salt changes the taste and flavour of the substance it is mixed in with because it sinks in.
It spreads.

5. You will notice it doesn’t take much salt to do the job.
A lot of recipes call for just a little pinch of salt because a little salt goes a long way.

Before the days of refrigerators and freezers, salt was used to cure meat and preserve meat from spoiling.
The purpose of salt is to change, season, flavour, cure and preserve.
And that is exactly what our Lord wants us to do in the world we live in.
That is the way He wants us to live in society.
God is calling us to work and pray to change the world we live in.
To change the course of events.
To cure the wounds of sin, division and injustice. To preserve it from moral corruption.
Salt is a tiny little ordinary substance but the body can’t live without it.
It is vitally important. So do you see what an ingenious example this is?


Our Lord is telling us that even though we may seem to be little, ordinary, insignificant souls, even though we might feel so little so weak so powerless even though we might be tempted to feel our prayers, our good works and our good examples can’t make any kind of difference and won’t amount to anything in the overall scheme of things but the fact is one good man one good woman can touch the lives of many people around them and bring that part of the world to Christ.

Salt it the example that Christ used to strengthen us, to encourage us, to build us up so we can build up the body of Christ.
Jesus said “you are the salt of the earth. If the salt goes flat it is good for nothing but to be thrown down and trampled underfoot.
So friends, lets take the graces that God has given to us, let’s take the gifts of the Holy Spirit and stand up for Christ.
The one who won’t stand up for Christ will fall for anything.

Source: Mission for Truth
Father William Casey, C.P.M

Matthew 5:13-16 Salt of the Earth, Light of the World

Matthew 5:13-16 Salt of the Earth, Light of the World
Jesus said, ‘You are the salt of the earth. But if salt becomes tasteless, what can make it salty again? It is good for nothing, and can only be thrown out to be trampled underfoot by men.

‘You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill-top cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp to put it under a tub; they put it on the lamp-stand where it shines for everyone in the house. In the same way your light must shine in the sight of men, so that, seeing your good works, they may give the praise to your Father in heaven.’

Don’t kid yourself.
There are no exceptions to this.
The Lord Jesus gave us a command.
Not an option. A command.

He said you are to be two things – Salt and Light.

Jesus also said “You are the salt of the earth”

Here is the question : Why Salt?

What is it about salt that would make it such a beautiful powerful example of the way that Christ expects us to live in the world?

To change and influence the people we live with and the society we live in.

This is such a magnificent common sense example because almost everybody who cooks, cooks with salt and those that do know the effect it has on food when it is mixed in and sprinkled on top.

What are the characteristics of salt?
Think about it.

1. Salt is tiny.
We use it in granular form. The grains are sometimes so tiny and small you hardly know it is there.

2. The colour.
Salt is clear white when it is pure.
And if it is not pure, if it is contaminated, it is no good. You can’t use it. You can’t eat it.
That is the way it is with us. We are to strive to remain pure and chaste.

3. Salt is meant to be mixed with something different than what it is.

4. Salt changes the taste and flavour of the substance it is mixed in with because it sinks in.
It spreads.

5. You will notice it doesn’t take much salt to do the job.
A lot of recipes call for just a little pinch of salt because a little salt goes a long way.

Before the days of refrigerators and freezers, salt was used to cure meat and preserve meat from spoiling.

The purpose of salt is to change, season, flavour, cure and preserve.

And that is exactly what our Lord wants us to do in the world we live in.

That is the way He wants us to live in society.
God is calling us to work and pray to change the world we live in.
To change the course of events.
To cure the wounds of sin, division and injustice. To preserve it from moral corruption.
Salt is a tiny little ordinary substance but the body can’t live without it.
It is vitally important. So do you see what an ingenious example this is?


Our Lord is telling us that even though we may seem to be little, ordinary, insignificant souls, even though we might feel so little so weak so powerless even though we might be tempted to feel our prayers, our good works and our good examples can’t make any kind of difference and won’t amount to anything in the overall scheme of things but the fact is one good man one good woman can touch the lives of many people around them and bring that part of the world to Christ.

Salt it the example that Christ used to strengthen us, to encourage us, to build us up so we can build up the body of Christ.

Jesus said “you are the salt of the earth. If the salt goes flat it is good for nothing but to be thrown down and trampled underfoot.

So friends, lets take the graces that God has given to us, let’s take the gifts of the Holy Spirit and stand up for Christ.

The one who won’t stand up for Christ will fall for anything.

Jesus said “you are the light of the world”
Where that word ‘light’ is used in scripture, often it is used symbolically.
Light symbolises all of the good things that come from God.
Faith, Hope, Love, Goodness, Justice and Truth.
Then on the other hand, there is darkness.
Darkness, where that word is used in scripture, it symbolises all of the powers of evil in the world.

Jesus said “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in the darkness but will have the light of life”
What does light do?
Light reveals what is hidden in the darkness.
It banished the darkness and makes clear the way.

Our Lord said “You are the light of the world. Nobody lights a lamp and hides it under a bushel basket”
He said “Let your light shine before others so that they can see your good works and give praise to your Father in heaven.

Source: Mission for Truth
Father William Casey, C.P.M

John 19:41-42 A Third Garden

John 19:41-42 A Third Garden
Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb where no one had ever been laid. So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, as the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.

Comment - a third garden?

Only John tells us that Jesus was buried near the place of crucifixion, and that the tomb was in a garden.

Interesting. For it all began in a garden.
“And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east; and there he put the man whom he had formed.” (Genesis 2:8)

Along the way, there was another garden too.
When Jesus had spoken these words, he went forth with his disciples across the Kidron valley, where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered. Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place; (John 18:1-2)

Now it all ends in a garden. For this garden is not just the garden of burial. It is the garden of resurrection, the beginning of the glorious birth of all creation into it’s destiny.

Garden to garden.
This is a miniature of our own life – our birth, our death … and some gardens of Gethsemane along the way.
We manage … with the help of God, the help of others, and some grit of our own.

This time of prayer, with the Lord present, is a garden that awaits me every day.

Spend some quiet time with the Lord.
Source: Bishop Ken Untener – Little Books for Lenten meditation

Genesis 2:8-9 and 3:23-24 The Garden

Genesis 2:8-9 and 3:23-24 The Garden
Genesis 2:8-9
And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east; and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the LORD God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Genesis 3:23-24
therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man; and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.

We read that God created a garden and placed the first humans there.
What does God want us to have?
Life and life to the full.
That is what God wants. Never stop telling yourself that.

What does this symbolic tree of Good and Evil mean and why is it placed at the centre of the garden?
If the garden means full human flourishing, what stands as the anchor and at the heart of that process?
You need a keen sense of good and evil.

Whose prerogative is good and evil? Not ours.
We don’t, through the power of our minds and wills, determine what is right and wrong. Rather, that belongs uniquely to God.
Do you see what this story is saying?
If God and his criterion grounded in His own mind remains at the centre of your life then it becomes a garden – a place of delight.

Being seduced by the serpent, what have Adam and Eve done by eating of the fruit of the tree?
They have said:
‘We, in our freedom, our minds, our wills now become the criterion of good and evil.
We will decide what is right and wrong.
We will determine the difference between good and evil.

The lie given by the serpent that God is a rival to us has been believed up and down the ages to the present day. This is a lie and flows from the father of lies.

What is the result of eating of the tree?
Expulsion from the garden!

Don’t read it as God falling into a snit. God becoming punitive and irrational.
God has just madly broken His arbitrary law so He expelled them.

No, no.

The Bible speaks of a kind of spiritual physics.
Physics deals with basic laws.
If you do this, that will happen.

Something similar is true with the spiritual life.
When you seize of the knowledge of good and evil, you make your will the criterion of right and wrong, you ipso facto leave the garden.
Not because God is being difficult.
It is just a fact of the spiritual life.

The garden will become a place of lifelessness, aridity, a desert rather than a garden.

Sound familiar?
It should. This is our story. This is the human story to the present day.
The dynamics of this garden are going on all the time, right now.
God holding out life to us and life to the full, but we stubbornly seize at the knowledge of good and evil and make ourselves the ground and criterion of right and wrong and turn the garden into a desert.

It’s true. We know it.

The story doesn’t end there. It culminates in the journey of the Son of God into that desert.
When Jesus begins His public ministry, where does He go?
Into the desert.
What does it mean?
It means He goes into our sin.
He goes to accompany us in this place which we wander and there He confronts the devil.
The devil tempted Adam and Eve and now the devil tempts Jesus and Jesus is standing in the place of our sin.

Friends, here is a question to ask.
• What are you seeking?
• What are you making the centre of your life?
• Is God clearly at that central place?
If not, something else is tempting you – pleasure, honour, power
• Where are you in the desert?

Cling to Jesus, who on your behalf resists, and turns that desert back into a garden

And God bless you.

Source: Fr Robert Barren
This excerpt was transcribed from one of his many audio sermons found on his webpage