Truth and Communion

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“Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.” (Luke 12:1)

The leaven of the Pharisees was hypocrisy; externalism and legalism; role-playing; masks. They were company men through and through. They loved power, position, and authority, and they had a protective allegiance to any political or religious reality that supported them. Jesus, on the other hand, hated nothing so much as hypocrisy because it made impossible the loving communion with others he so treasured.

God always seeks loving communion with us and truth is the one indispensable prerequisite to that communion. Jesus often found it easier to associate with those deemed “sinners” by religious authorities, than with more respectable people. “Sinners” could also be hypocrites but they were less so than those with appearances (masks) to keep up.

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Truth is essential to all relationships. Jesus tolerated sin more easily than denial of it. Forgiveness of sins and restoration of loving communion are impossible without rigorous honesty; truth. Grace and truth go together in the nature of things.

How much truth would Jesus find in the Church today? How much hypocrisy? I wonder, would Jesus of Nazareth even be welcomed or accepted in the Church that claims to represent him?

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Wisdom of Heart

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Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain wisdom of heart. Fill us at daybreak with your kindness, that we may shout for joy and gladness all our days.

(Psalm 90)

Once you’ve been nearly dead you learn how to be alive. Having come the bitter way to a better life, I now try to number my days aright and I am often filled with joy and gratitude. Of all the things I foolishly wanted or wanted to become, to be alive is enough and God takes care of the rest. Who knew it would be so simple and so difficult to find rest in God’s mercy? It was there waiting for me all along. All I had to do was say yes.

The Lord became my protector. He brought me out to a place of freedom. He saved me because he loves me.

(Psalm 18)

Strong Women

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My life is blessed and upheld by strong women. Without them, I would be much less of a person and lost in this world.

Wife

Over the last 2 years, my wife has dealt with the death of her father, the onset of rheumatoid arthritis, and the appearance of breast cancer. She has endured radiation treatments and 2 surgeries, plus fatigue and pain while trying to find a suitable medication regimen and a new lifestyle. Meanwhile, she remains the CEO of our home and helps raise our teenage son. She remains strong, optimistic, and kind to everyone. Her love never wavers. She is a fierce warrior and I am so proud of her.

Mother

This year, my beautiful 91-year-old mother had 2 cancers, radiation treatments, and surgery, and had to move out of her home and live with my sister, who kindly cares for her. Despite it all, she remains optimistic and concerned for the well-being of others, and she still has a sense of humor. Her love and her faith always inspire me. Amazing.

Sister

My sister went through the ordeal of losing her husband to cancer and had to face the prospect of living her later years without him. She went through several very difficult months caring for him in their home. Now she has taken our mother into her home and provides for her needs. She remains kind, caring, and selfless, filled with love for her family. Her faith is stronger than ever. She radiates love.

Mother-in-law

My mother-in-law lost all of the relatives she had grown up with, including her mother, then moved away from the only home she had ever known, and lost her husband to cancer just as they entered their later years. She cared for him in their home during his final days, just as she cared for her other relatives who died. She remains loving, generous, kind, quick to make new friends, and always eager to make the best of life. She is a treasure.

Strong women. Signs of God’s love. Examples of faith and strength. They inspire me and give me strength. How I love them.

 

Nature is a Sacrament

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October 4                                                                                                                                              St. Francis of Assisi 

“The kingdom of God is spread out upon the earth and people do not see it.”                Gospel of Thomas

Nature is a pure sacrament of God’s personal presence. Nature does not operate in secrecy or duplicity. It strives always toward balance, harmony, and life itself, not the destruction of the innocent. It has no hidden agenda. It does not seek money, power, or allegiance. It simply is. It supports life, it does not take it away. Nature conveys God without false vestments, contrived words, manufactured dogma, or written rules. Its vestments are not a cloak; nothing is hidden, except the invisible spirit of the One who gives life to all things and makes them holy. Nature is pure. The soul is pure.

While we celebrate our liturgies in closed houses of worship the gospel of life is being preached without words beneath God’s open sky. The trees are a cathedral. The flowers are saints looking up into the face of the sun.

                      “The lands of sunrise and sunset you fill with your joy.”                                Psalm 65

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A Father’s Advice

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I would rather die than explain to my son what war is and what human beings have done to God’s gifts, but explain I must. My hope is to at least help him awaken to who we are and who we are not in the scheme of things. Perhaps he will learn to be kind.

Questions, he always has questions, and I welcome them. I am not afraid to tell him I don’t know, but I do know this: if the natural world (so beautiful) is not enough, then nothing more can be said. No philosophy or theology can supersede what unfolds from the mind of God.

Look to what has been given, son, the world not made with hands, and you will always find your way home.

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