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Are you the Fox: A Lenten Reflection


The Crown of Thorns by Matthias Stom.

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31 At that time some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, “Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you.”

32 He replied, “Go tell that fox, ‘I will keep on driving out demons and healing people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.’ 33 In any case, I must press on today and tomorrow and the next day—for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!

Luke 13:31-33 (NIV)

Are you the Fox; are you the one trying to kill Jesus? Harsh question, but one that must be asked. The answer, I would venture to guess would be the same for all of us, “Yes, at times, I am the fox, yes at times I do try to kill Jesus.” Our actions or even inactions are how; our sins and lost opportunities are what we use as our weapons. When we sin, we are piercing the side of Jesus, pounding the nail into his precious hands and applying the crown of thorns upon His head. No action goes unfelt by Him who gave everything no sin goes unnoticed.

It sounds a little harsh to say that we are trying to kill him, but in truth, we already have, Jesus died for our sins, our sins of yesterday, the day before and the sins of today and what lay ahead. His death upon the cross was not just a moment in time, it was time itself, and it shattered time and placed His suffering, death and resurrection outside of time. His passion is not repeated with each sin, because it is happening now, in the moment and all moments, because no moment exists outside of the passion.

As Catholics we celebrate the passion at each Holy Mass we attend, the last supper, were Jesus is seated with His friends, the agony of the Garden, were Jesus weeps tears of blood for our inequities and the scourging, were Jesus is beaten and bloodied for our sake. Moreover, the death upon the cross, the cross of humanity, the cross of humility the cross of forgiveness, we witness this at each and every Mass. The resurrection of our Lord and the promise of life everlasting is celebrated at the altar of Love, the altar of Sacrifice, all this is our privilege to witness and partake in. The Holy Eucharist is not a representation or a reenactment; it is the Passion, the one and only Passion of our Lord. Jesus is not re-crucified over and over again, He died for our sins once, and we celebrate it and take part in it at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

So no, I do not think saying we are like the Fox, out to kill Jesus, is too harsh. It is our sins that killed Him, and it is His love for us, in the here and now, that raised Him from the dead and offers us the promise of eternal life. Nevertheless, that eternal life comes with a price, His life and our cooperation.

We are called to cooperate with Jesus, to allow the Holy Spirit to work within us and through us. Our works and our faith are the price we pay for our sins. Yes, I know Jesus paid the price, His death, and yes, I know that our actions can never pay that price. Yes, I know that some do not agree with works as a part of salvation, that faith alone get you into heaven. All I can say to that is, good luck, for faith without works is dead. That is for another blog. This blog is asking you, are you the Fox?

Are not our sins the nails that pierced the Lords skin and held him tight to the cross of iniquity? Is it not our actions, murder, lies and deceits that bloodied His body? Are we not culpable for His persecution? Anyone who says no is either a liar or the devil, the Fox that pursued our Lord, persecuted and Tortured Him and put His innocent life to death. We are the solders that marched him to Pontius Pilate; we are the centurions that delivered Him to Herod for humiliation. We are Simeon, who reluctantly took up His cross, and yes, we are the ones who pounded the nails in to our Lord.

Lent offers us a time to reflect upon that, to look at our lives and see the moments in time when we pounded that hammer of sin upon the nail of humanity, piercing the skin of love. Lent offers us the opportunity to revisit the passion of our Lord is a special way, and look upon His face as he takes His last breath, and offers up His spirit for our sake, the sake of a fallen creation. Spend some time with our Lord as He walks His way through the passion narrative, read Bible stories and let yourself be seen in them, become one of the many that crowded the streets as Jesus walked to His death. Place yourself at Peter’s side when he denies our Lord and recall the times you denied Jesus for your own sake. Be upon that hill and fell the grief of Our Lady as she watches he son, Our Lord, put to death and hear the words of Jesus within your heart, when he says “Forgive them, they know not what they do” for those word were spoken to you. Experience the moment of death, when the sky turned black and the tears of God fell upon the earth. Feel the shame of the Centurion as he came to realize what he has done and feel the joy when his heart is converted.

Lent is a time of reflection, a time to look back over your life and see it through the eyes of Christ. The Church offers us this Holy Session as a time of preparation and purification before the Holy Session of Easter. Use it, allow the graces of Lent to work within you and face your past. See the times that you, like Herod, are the Fox chasing after Jesus to kill him. However, Lent is also the time that you allow Jesus to reach His goal, the goal of driving out demons and healing people. Allow Him to heal you this Lent, allow Him to drive out your demons. He can only do this, if you are open to Him, so open yourself to Jesus this Lent and let His sacred hands to heal your soul, let the blood of Christ wash away your sins and renew your soul.

God Bless & Happy Lent

Paul Sposite

Guided Insight Life Coach

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Forgiveness… Can you do it?


Forgive, and ye shall be forgiven, as in the r...

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The only survivor of white supremacist Mark Stroman’s bloody rampage after Sept 11, 2001 is asking that his attacker be spared the death penalty Wednesday for his crimes….

…I forgave Mark Stroman many years ago," he writes on his blog. "I believe he was ignorant, and not capable of distinguishing between right and wrong, otherwise he wouldn’t have done what he did." (You must read this)

How many of us could say this? How easy is it to forgive? Look around you, examine your own life, have you forgiven people who have hurt you, wronged you? Have you forgiven your parents that abused you or the priest that took advantage of you? Have you been able to let go and let God? Have you found the place in your heart were forgiveness lives? Or is it just a dark spot?

Forgiveness is not easy, yet it is something we all must learn to do. Jesus, on his cross, forgave:

And Jesus said: Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. But they, dividing his garments, cast lots. (Luke 23:34)

In the New Testament, Jesus speaks of the importance of Christians forgiving or showing mercy towards others. The Parable of the Prodigal Son is perhaps the best known instance of such teaching and practice of forgiveness.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus repeatedly spoke of forgiveness, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” Matthew 5:7 (NIV) “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.” Matthew 5:23-24 (NIV) “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” Mark 11:25 (NIV) “But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also.” Luke 6:27-29 (NIV) “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” Luke 6:36 (NIV) “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” Luke 6:37 (NIV)

Elsewhere, it is said, "Then Peter came and said to Him, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy-seven times.’" Matthew 18:21-22 (NAS)

Jesus asked for God’s forgiveness of those who crucified him. "And Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’" Luke 23: 34 (ESV)

In his time, Jesus created controversy among the Pharisees, when he told people their sins were forgiven. "The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, ‘Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?’" Luke 5:21 (NIV) (Read this)

Pope John Paul II also forgave his would be killer (read this), But can we, me and you, forgive? I know I have a hard time with this concept, I hold grudges for a long long time… It is one of my many human traits that I must work on, daily. It is some thing I have prayed about, seek guidance for and something that I am aware of. It is, in a nut shell, something that is holding be back from being the creation that God wishes me to be. Forgiveness… We all say it, but do we all truly mean it, do we truly understand it. I know I don’t, but I also know that once a crack that nut, I will be in a much better place than I am now…

God Bless

Paul

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Posted by on July 20, 2011 in Death, Faith, Forgiveness, Life, Love, Religon

 

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Love becoming Loving


Abraham and Isaac (detail), 1645, by Rembrandt...

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I am sure as Catholics you have heard the phrase “Offer it up” as in offer up all your pain and suffering to Jesus. I know I have heard it and to me it often sounds like “Suck it up” a phrase we often times tell our kids when they get hut playing a sport or are unhappy about some work they have to do. It’s a phrase we use to tell them, some times life is hard, sometimes life ain’t fair, but get use to it.

So are “Offer it up” and “Suck it up” said in the same vein? Do they really mean the something. Can a fellow Christian be telling me to get use to it, life ain’t fair? Or is there a deeper meaning to “Offer it up”?

Offer it up…

Fist off, where does that phrase come from, why would we tell fellow brothers and sisters in Christ to “Offer it up” and what exactly are we offering?

The phrase is linked to a few things. If we start in the Old Testament we will see that God commanded that His people “Offer up sacrifices”. when I did a searched the bible for the word offering it returned 728 hits, starting with:

 

2 Later she gave birth to his brother Abel.
      Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. 3 In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD. 4 But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, (Genesis 4:2-4 (New International Version)

And ends with:

 

The Living Stone and a Chosen People

4As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him— 5you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6For in Scripture it says:
   “See, I lay a stone in Zion,
      a chosen and precious cornerstone,
   and the one who trusts in him
      will never be put to shame.” (1 Peter 2:4-6 (New International Version)

With 726 passages between them, so the idea of “offering it up” is not a new idea. But here is the next logical question… Why? Why did they offer up fruit and animals to God, did He need them? was God lazy and did not want to cook for Himself, could not God just create what He wanted?

First point: God does not and never did need anything from us.

Second point: God has no need of our offerings

Third point: God has us make offerings not because He needs them (points one and two) but because He wanted to make a visible sign for us, an act we can perform to show our love.

Gods love is not depended upon the offering, He will love us regardless. So why have us make the offering to start with? It is an action, the verb of our noun, love. Turning our none, love, in to a verb, loving. Once again God does not need our love nor does He need the action of it. God created the actions not for Him, but for us. Sacrificing and offering is a human condition, not a Godly condition.

Did God need Abraham to offer up his son? Was the test necessary of him?

2 Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.”

3 Early the next morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. 4 On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. 5 He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”

6 Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, 7 Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”
      “Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.
      “The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”

8 Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.

9 When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”
      “Here I am,” he replied.

12 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”

13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.”

15 The angel of the LORD called to Abraham from heaven a second time 16 and said, “I swear by myself, declares the LORD, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, 18 and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.” (Genesis 22: 1-18 Abraham Tested (New International Version)

The simple answer, no, God did not need to see the results of the test, God knew Abrahams devotion and love to Him. So why make Abraham “Offer it up”? All that God does with and through us, human beings, He does for us. Nothing God does is self-serving or self-gratifying. Everything God does it out of love for His creation. Could God do anything else? Could God be self-serving? No, God is pure light, pure love, pure spirit, God has no need for self-glorification, He is God. Self-serving, Self-glorification and Self-gratifying are all works of the evil one, the devil, they are sins and God is incapable of sinning.

So why make Abraham do this, why make His own people give offerings to Himself if he has no need of it. In today’s politically correct world with its pseudo social justice, the idea of sacrificing and offering up to God food items would be cause for unrest and rebellion, the  “enlightened” would find cause for arrest and persecution of those that made the offering. So why? We keep coming back to that simple question, Why make us do it? And what good does it do if God truly does not need it? Why “waste” the time and energy to “Offer it up”?

It’s the lessons learned by humanity, it’s the discipline gained by Gods creation and its the devotion of love. It is the noun becoming the verb, love becoming loving. The description, I love, becoming the action, I am loving. Words are easy to speak, all to often we say “I love you” but how often do the works truly have meaning behind them? The action of love, with or without the words, speaks louder than anything else.

God proved this by offering up His only begotten son, Jesus. No words ever spoken by humanity could ever speak the depth of this unspoken action. The words of Jesus as he walked this earth would be hollow and empty with out the action to back them up. Jesus said :

 

12My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. (John 15:12 (New International Version)

 

But with out the action of His crucifixion the words would have fallen like so many others words spoken with good intentions. But Jesus did not let the words become meaningless, He backed them up with action, He offered it up freely, and offered His life for our salvation.

So is it truly that hard to understand the concept of “Offering it up”? Is it difficult to see the difference between “Offer it up” and “suck it up”, one is done for the glory of God the other is done for self-preservation. Both have a time and place, but I would offer this, all that we do should be done for the glory of God, so all that we do should be offered up in His name.

God Bless

Paul

Friendship with God: An Uncommon Dialogue
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