Saturday, October 3, 2009

"I give you a new commandment, love one another as I have loved you."


“The next day as John stood there again with two of his disciples, Jesus went past, and John looked towards Him and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God.’ And the two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus. Jesus turned, looked at them following and said, ‘What are you seeking?’ They answered, ‘Rabbi’ ~ which means Teacher~ ‘where do you live?’ He replied, ‘Come and see;’’ so they went and saw where He lived, and stayed with Him that day. It was about the tenth hour.

One of these two who became followers of Jesus after hearing what John had said was Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter. Immediately Andrew found his brother and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ ~ which means the Christ~ and he took Simon to Jesus.” (John 2:35-42a)

~ How can we witness and teach about having a relationship with God if we don’t really take the time in our own daily life to really know Him personally? Notice I didn’t say taking time to get to know ABOUT Him, but really, personally know HIM. We have been called by God to teach and to catechize others so that they can come to know Him and encounter Him in their own lives.

I could read a book about a person and tell you all about their life history and their teachings, but it is still pretty much dried out chaff in comparison to if I shared my own personal experiences with this person, if I really took the time and effort to actually meet and come to know them personally. It becomes real ~ Living and Effective~ when I share my own personal witness to what I am teaching. This is when others could say, “Wow, I really wish I could come to know this person and meet them personally like you have.” How excited would they become if, in the middle of your teaching and class, you said, “Would you like to meet this person I have been talking about? Would you like me to introduce you to my Friend?” But how do we open ourselves to really come to know Him and encounter Him?

A friend of mine takes his lunch break from his office in order to go to confession and Mass. One time a homeless man came up to him and asked him for some money. My friend told him this, “I will give you ten dollars, but I will only give it to you if you come to Mass with me.” The homeless man quickly followed my friend and sat next to him in the pew and remained silent throughout the Mass. Once the Mass was over, my friend pulled out a $10 bill and was getting ready to hand it over to the homeless guy, but the man, with tears in his eyes, said, you already gave something to me worth more than $10. I don’t need the money anymore. My friend came to find out that this homeless man used to be a practicing Catholic and had left the Church a long time ago. This one act of kindness and openness to God, brought this other soul back to Him. Every day after that my friend would see that homeless man at that same Mass with a smiling face.

There was another time when my friend would go at three in the morning in downtown Houston to an abandoned warehouse to do ministry with the hardcore homeless. Some Baptist preachers heard about my friend and asked one day if they could join him. My friend told them they could on one condition: they could not bring their wallets and no expensive jewelry. The Baptist ministers met my friend and the designated place and they proceeded into the warehouse. On the way out they were held up at gunpoint. The man asked them to take out their wallets and take off their watches. The ministers proceeded to give the man their wallets and reluctantly their gold Rolex watches as well. My friend began to laugh because he knew God was testing these other men and at the situation they had placed themselves in by their disobedience to what was asked of them. The ministers began cursing and swearing at my friend and they all departed. A few weeks later one of the Baptist ministers called up my friend and began to apologize for the way he and the other ministers had acted. He pointed out that my friend had acted in a Christian manner in letting them come but they did not. After speaking on the phone for a while, the minister asked this: “Do you mind me asking you a simple question? Something in Scripture has been bothering me and I can’t figure it out. Jesus says, ‘Unless you eat My flesh and drink My blood you do not have life within you.’ What does He mean by this?”

Now my friend, very easily could have instructed this minister all about the Eucharist, the Mass and what this teaching was, but he didn’t. Instead, he looked at his watch and said, “Do you have about an hour to spare right now?” The minister did. He then told him to get into his car and proceed to St. Jean Vianney Catholic Church which was close to where he was and go inside for the Mass. After the Mass, he told him to go into the Perpetual Adoration Chapel and spend time there in silence. My friend said he would only speak to him about this passage after he did this. About 2 hours later the minister called back, crying, asking what it would take for him to become a Catholic.

My friend very easily could have just taught and instructed the minister but he didn’t. He stepped out of the way and let this man encounter the living presence of God. There is no teaching as powerful as experiencing God in our own life, of opening ourselves up to meet Him and draw others towards Him too. But where can we come to encounter Him???

PRAYER ~ We need to have a time to get away from everything and everyone and to go into deep silence. This is not the time to add your own prayers where you are talking and making interior noise… but SILENCE… complete and total silence.

“When we sit quietly in private prayer, we eventually face our true selves and the living God. This can be frightening for someone who has not faced himself and is afraid of what he or she might find out. It is also frightening for someone is afraid of God. Some of us, we might be afraid to admit, are afraid of coming into His Presence.

We might not pray because we are afraid that past hurts and pains buried in our own hearts will surface. We have to face ourselves. It is no accident that the spiritual masters have said that the spiritual journey begins with self-knowledge. When the mess that lies within each one of our hearts surfaces, it is painful to deal with. {This is why so many are terrified to go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation.} But facing ourselves is essential for a deep inner healing. We can’t begin our journey with the Living God without it.” (from “The Joy of Priesthood” by Fr. Stephen J. Rossetti, pp. 37-38)

In prayer we have the capacity to make a free and total gift of ourselves before God. When we come before Him as we are, we allow Him to touch us, to heal us, to prune us, to guide us, to give us a new heart and a new spirit. We allow Him to love us completely and entirely so that we can learn to love others in the same way.

When I pray vocal prayers, do I really place my complete and entire self into them? Do I pray from my heart to Him and know that He is listening or am I just repeating words?

ADORATION ~ We need to realize that He REMAINS IN HIS TRUE PRESENCE for us to come to Him. We waits for you. It is Him!

CONFESSION~ Open your wounds, let Him touch and heal the ugliness we hold back from Him so that He can forgive and heal our soul. Do not deprive Him of this joy. Could you imagine your own child falling off their bike or seriously hurting themselves and then run away from you when you have the desire to comfort them and heal them and protect them from hurting themselves again?

SCRIPTURE~ Take the Bible off your bookshelves… wipe off the dust and open it. Sit at Our Lord’s feet and listen to Him speak to you. Let Him teach you.

EUCHARIST~ Do you know WHO it is you are receiving? How do we receive Him? Story of paralytic receiving Our Lord on his knees. Ex opere operato/ex opera operantis Do we offend Him by receiving Him in a state of serious sin? If we don’t forgive, hold on to riches, anger, resentment, lust… we can block Him out.

KEEPING HIS COMMANDS, LISTENING TO HIS VOICE AND ACTING UPON IT~

He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them; he it is that loveth Me. And he that loveth Me, shall be loved of My Father: and I will love him, and will manifest Myself to him. Judas saith to Him, not the Iscariot: Lord, how is it, that Thou wilt manifest Thyself to us, and not to the world? Jesus answered, and said to him: If any one love Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and will make our home within him.” (Jn 14:21-23)

Reflection Questions:

Do I find that spend more time trying to convince and teach others about God rather than drawing them to encounter Him in their own life? Do I honestly allow God to love me as I am… warts and all? Do I hide from Him or am I afraid to reveal myself to Him? Do I seek to encounter Him in my daily life? How? Are there other ways He is asking me to come to Him in a deeper way? After I avail myself to be loved by God, do I honestly try to love others in my life in the same way, even my enemies? Do I pray for my enemies and suffer for them? When I pray vocal prayers, do I really place my complete and entire self into them? Do I pray from my heart to Him and know that He is listening or am I just repeating words?

2 comments:

  1. I post a scripture to live by on a facebook discussion site, and find it here in the next click; "oh, here is a blogsite attached to the discussion board". It stopped me in my tracks. Who is leading me - the Love of my Lord is everywhere.

    Ah, good questions to reflect on. For a start, convince and teach, we do it so much on facebook, with little real result.

    I can say yes to many of the reflection questions, but the surrender is not complete, the journey is never complete. I hide often, switch off and shut out, try to pray, but sometimes disbelief that He can really be listening whispers in my ear. I am reminded of Perelandra, as Ransom approaches in the first chapter, all the doubts and how he continues to walk through them... For example, not until I arrive at Mass, and hear the words, for example, do I sink in gratitude as He blesses and confirms the effort.

    How to love as He loves me, is a constant challenge. I rant and rave, cajole at my family to get my way, but He has never yet done that to me, just so tenderly waits, and points out the wound, and the solution, when I least expect it. Just try, He says, an invitation, not a command. And is so encouraging when I try His way, His Mother's way, showers blessings on us all!

    Bless

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  2. Went to Mass today (with too busy doubts whispering in mind), and it was Mary and Martha (I'd read yesterdays, forgetting that NZ is a few hours ahead), and wanted to know more on Jonah's story...). Our dear young priest talked of Mons telling him never to say he was busy, it put people off. Then our trap of being too busy for our children, caught in our selfish worlds.... oh dear... with my son sitting right next to me.... how many times have I said these holidays, not now, I'm busy... An apology was in order, and he just smiled...

    So encouraging to find it was the better thing to come and sit at His feet, but then what He had to tell me...

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