Posts tagged ‘Gospel’

Go Now: The 1st Disciples & Our Call to Proclaim

Calling of Andrew and Peter

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The Gospel of Mark, Chapter 1 includes the recounting of the story of Peter, Andrew, James and John’s call to discipleship. These guys were wealthy fishermen. This is after Jesus has been baptized by John, of course. Don’t you imagine word about what happened had spread? This is also after Jesus had been tempted by the devil and prevailed. Still, though, would you just drop everything to follow a stranger? Jesus must have oozed of conviction and truth! We know the Good News, the Truth, and have all the more reason to be confident in Jesus the Christ. It is rooted in that confidence, that we must go now to proclaim.

I went on to read today from Paul’s really long letter to the Romans, Chapter 10.  Paul reminds us that Christ is the end of the law. Christ is the new covenant. Looking to be rewarded for righteousness that reflects only our ability to follow rules will be met with failure. Paul tells the Romans, “Hey, if you are willing to risk identifying yourself as a believer, if you really believe deep down, then whatever harm or hardship comes to you here on earth will be worth your great reward in heaven.” This doesn’t mean we say it, then do nothing. Paul continues, saying, “Christ is the good news people don’t even know to look for. If people don’t hear the truth, how can they believe it? Get out there and tell them.”

Questions for Contemplation
1) With whom have you shared the Good News?
2) What made you first really believe?
3) Where are you in your journey of faith?
4) When have you had opportunity to share the Good News and haven’t?
5) Why is it difficult for you personally to share the Good News?
6) How have you seen people share their faith and the Good News without being “preachy”?

Prayer of Devotion
Lord, Answer to Our Every Prayer,
You come to us with the gift of Your mercy and love
and ask only that we share.
Strengthen our faith that we hold no self-condemnation or anxiety.
Let our rituals be tools rather than distractions.
Embolden us with courage and Christ-like charisma to proclaim Your Truth.
Believing in the power of Your name, we ask You Jesus the Christ,
to grant these requests.
As it is Your will, so let it be.

Dwindling Church?

Jesus is considered by scholars such as Weber ...

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[Note: What I’ve written here is partly in response to another blogger’s thoughts; see the link  just below this post.]

Our growing world challenges us as faith communities to grow with it.  Persons create organizations, religious included, to do together what none of us can do alone. Organizations organize, allowing efficiency and productivity in meeting needs, including spiritual, to prevail. Jesus first organized his disciples about him. He set the example for further organization in the distribution of the loaves. He rarely sent anyone out to preach alone. He gathered people together. He sent his disciples to do the same as they spread the Good News. Organizations serve people by serving the purpose for which the people created them. As our world changes, expanding across the miles, we must learn to clarify our mission and modify measures for living it out.

I’m 39. Social media IS social because social means connecting. Connecting flows in many currents but the common conduit is communication. We must have both a voice, eyes and ears to connect. The only communication entirely lost in the cyber-world is touch, which could be another blog topic entirely. I attend services at as many as four different spiritual communities per week because they each communicate God’s message to me. They each fulfill a different need at different times. I am most disappointed and unfulfilled when I expect more than an organization or person can offer me.

One of the greatest needs I have is to exercise my spiritual gifts. Countless times I’ve told the admins of religious communities, “Here’s what I can do for you. Here are my limitations. How can I give?” The most common answer I receive is…nothing. Eventually, I move on. Recently, I joined a new community. I like to sing. I get sick often. Their answer, “Come sing with us (the choir) now, whenever you want. Sing what you know. Lip-sync the rest. Praise God. Come be WITH us.”

That church‘s population is dwindling in size, but recent statistics show they’re giving more financially per person than most other churches in the area and they run a homeless mission that serves far more than the church’s population. Across the street, I attend services at a different community. It is large and growing in population. It found the resources and faith to embrace multimedia and cyberspace.  It’s giving percentage is small but sheer numbers sustain it. The smaller church could continue as it is, but it recognizes the need for change. It will soon band with others near it to share resources, including staff, collectively.

Both communities will survive for now. BOTH are actually growing, just in different ways. I am quite sure the larger will never shut its doors. I’m equally sure the doors to the smaller one’s heart will never be closed. Its mission will remain the same, while its methods may mold themselves to the modern world in a different and ever-changing way. My questions are these: How will each of us as co-creators, having been given choice, mold and remold ourselves to live our personal missions as Christ‘s followers in the modern world? How much am I willing to change in order to grow? By what means will I be so moved in the Spirit that I am joyfully able to proclaim the Good News? Am I ready to thrive? Am I even surviving? Make me a channel of Your peace, O Lord. God made us to love and be loved. How am I loved? How am I loving? Love your neighbor…

“A Painful Experience” at the OpenPath blog

 

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The Word Shall Heal

Pope Benedict XVI celebrates the Eucharist, a ...

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One of my most favorite moments in the Catholic Mass is when as a congregation, everyone speaks together during the Eucharistic celebration, “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the Word and I shall be healed.” This is derived from today’s Gospel reading. The centurion, a man of compassion and great faith, humbles himself to the Lord to ask for healing for his suffering servant who lies at home paralyzed.

Lord, I am not worthy to have you under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed. (Matt 8:8 NAB)

The adaptation in the Mass embodies a great deal of my core faith. Without humility, I cannot surrender to God‘s will. If I cannot surrender, I cannot be in full union with God. Out of union with God, I am discontent, without joy. Without joy, I cannot fully love. God created me to love and be loved. Without humility I cannot be the person God created me to be.

I am to receive the Lord. I am to be open. I am to recognize God as a gift. I am to recognize that God comes to me, is with me. We’ve never really been apart except in our minds. I am to welcome God into my heart as an honored guest.

I’ve found so many Protestants to be pleasantly enlightened by my explanation of the Eucharistic Celebration in the Catholic Church. They are quite happy to discover we don’t believe in cannibalism. They are then intrigued that our belief in the real presence of Christ is rooted in believing that the Eucharistic Celebration reunites us with Christ in time and place. While the Spirit is with me always, I’m filled with such gratitude to be joined with Christ each time I participate in the wondrous experience of Holy Communion. I feel even more personally connected to God which sets the foundation for what is said next.

When we say, “only say the word,” I think of three things. First, God is so powerful that only God’s voice, not God’s physical presence, is necessary to animate God’s will. Yet, the Creator gave us Christ to be a physical presence to humanity. Second, I imagine “word” to be capitalized. The Creator spoke us all, including Jesus the Christ, into being. Third, the Word who existed since the world began is the source of our healing. The moment concludes with the assurance that our hope is in the Lord and we shall be healed. Isaiah reminds us that the glory of the Lord is made manifest through God’s merciful cleansing of our souls, bringing light to the darkness. If I allow it, welcome it, welcome Christ into my heart, I am healed today in so many ways.

To Contemplate
For whom do you struggle to have empathy and compassion?
What is your reason to receive communion…to comply with tradition, to be comforted, to be more fully united with Christ the Lord in the mission of bringing peace and salvation to the world?
Where do you see opportunities to bring God’s message and ministry of healing to those around you?
When will you know that you are fully healed?
Why is it so difficult for you as an individual to feel a personal connection with God?
How can you better prepare yourself for the coming of Christ in glory?

To Devote Ourselves, We Pray
Lord you have washed away our sins, healed us and made us stronger. We are in awe of your compassion and power. Gently humble our hearts to recognize our unworthiness, empower us with empathy and fill us with compassion. As we have been healed and are filled with Your presence, let us likewise share the same with all those about us, bringing peace to one moment, one person at a time until you come again to heal in full all who will receive you. Amen

People Get Ready

Michelangelo's The Last Judgement, Vatican City

Image by Eustaquio Santimano via Flickr

The song below nicely sums up some readings I’d like to reflect on today…

People Get Ready, Jesus Is Coming
by Crystal Lewis

Lord I’m ready. Now I’m waiting for your triumphant return. You’re coming soon. This world has nothing for me. I find my peace and joy solely in you. Only in you, I want the world to see that you’re alive and living well in me. Let me be a part of the harvest for the days are few. He’s coming soon. Those who do not know, they will hear, “Depart, I knew you not.” For my friends, you see, there will be a day when we’ll be counted, so know him well.

So people, get ready. Jesus is coming. Soon we’ll be going home.
People get ready. Jesus is coming to take from the world his own.

There will be a day when we will be divided right and left for those who know him and those that do not know. Those who know him well, will meet with him in the air, Hallelujah, God is with us…

Date Lectionary Readings [1st, RP, ( 2nd), A*, G]
S 11/28 1^ Is 2:1-5, Ps 122:1-9, (Rom 13:11-14), Ps 85:8, Ma 24:37-44

Summation of the Readings for 11/28/10
The 1st Reading from Isaiah tells us about his vision concerning Judah and Jerusalem. The previous passage describes Zion as the Messianic Capital and the passage after focuses on judgment against idols. The 2nd Reading from Romans concerns the duty of a Christian to obey authority and to recognize that love fulfills the law. The passage before describes a Christian’s duty to live and die for Christ, while the one following tells Christians it is our duty to exercise patience and self-denial. The Gospel Reading reminds us that we do not know when Jesus will return. Of course, a specific relevant message for us today beyond these basic topics is contained within the readings.

Reflection
The 1st Reading also tells us that at the Second Coming, people will come to be instructed in the Way of the Lord, some people will be taken from the world, the Lord will judge and impose punishments, and nations then will be at peace. Isaiah concludes by telling the people to “come walk in the Way of the Lord.” Why? If people are wanting to be instructed in the Way, we must realize that our actions speak louder than words. If someone else is looking to me for the Way to salvation, I don’t want to let them or God down.

In the Roman’s passage, we are told to “wake up” because “salvation is nearer than when you first believed.” Further, we are reminded to “conduct ourselves as if all can see.” Whose watching? Anyone who is looking to learn the Way of the Lord might see what we do. Even when all might not see, some see. Again, shouldn’t we take the responsibility seriously if someone’s salvation might depend on us? Further, even if no person sees, God sees. If we claim to be people of the Light, we better be walking in the Light, in the Way. When the Lord comes again, He will leave those walking in the dark, those focused on desires of the flesh, to dwell in darkness. We have a choice now. We will not then. Choose the Light and now, before it’s too late.

The Gospel of Matthew reading tells us we don’t know when the Lord will return anymore than people knew when the Great Flood was coming. No doubt, we realize what a disaster missing the boat then was. I don’t want to miss the boat. The author goes on to say, hey, stay awake as if a thief might be coming. We might be a bit resistant to thinking of the Lord as a thief, but the simile sure catches our attention. We certainly should care more about losing our opportunity to live eternally in the Light than losing anything of this world. Further, if half will be taken presumably to the Heavenly Kingdom and 1/2 will be left behind as it says in the reading, it makes sense in context that those who are ready – those who are walking in the Way of the Lord – will be the ones taken up. If Satan is going to reign, I don’t want to be here. Do you?

To Contemplate
How do your personal thoughts of sin affect you and those around you?
Why might the Lord judge you as “not ready”?
When do you examine your conscience?
Where do you imagine the Lord will first make His return known?
What will you do to stay awake and ready yourself?
Who brings out the best in you?

Prayer of Devotion
Lord of Heaven and Earth, King of Kings,
each person formed in God’s image has the potential to be as beautiful as You;
thank you for showing us how by your example.
As I move forward from this moment, help me to put forth the effort to be more mindful of my thoughts and actions, more willing to make amends and more able to recognize how best to proceed in the Way, yielding to God’s will.
“Lord make me an instrument of Your Peace.”
Let it be, O Gracious Lord.

If you have enjoyed this, my PEOPLE GET READY post, (which alludes to the image of the Second Coming of Jesus the Christ as a thief in the night for whom we should be awake and awaiting) or if you like poetry, the following link may be of interest…
On One Thief I Wait (on Poemhunter.com)