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Thursday, July 4, 2013

gods-hands-holding-child[1]1 John 4:1-3

Belonging

Beloved, do not trust every spirit but test the spirits to see whether they belong to God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.  This is how you can know the Spirit of God: every spirit that acknowledges Jesus Christ come in the flesh belongs to God, and every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus does not belong to God.

The prophets and the apostles warn us about false spirits and false teachers and their warning is a universal call to be wary of those who come to us in the false disguise of God’s holy ones.  The world is full of those who are adept at deceiving the faithful, and they are often most successful in their deception when we are celebrating.

God says: I do not mean to frighten you; I only encourage you to be cautious when your guard is down.  Know that I am with you always and do not abandon you to the wolves.  But also know how cleverly the false ones costume themselves in sheep’s clothing.  They spend their time and energy looking for ways to gather in my sheep for themselves and yet they never win for I always save my sheep.  So do not fear . . . but be prudent and circumspect . . . and call on me always to save you.

God loves our innocence and trusting spirit.  We can rely on God to preserve us when we falter and to save us when we are beguiled by the false ones. This is why our daily contact with God is so important.  We belong to God and God alone.  Let us rejoice in our belonging.

Enter the word belonging in the blog search bar and examine how, and who, and what, and why you trust.

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September 3, 2012 – The Catholic Letters – Universality

The New American Bible explains the inclusion of the letters of James, Peter, John and Jude in the canon of the New Testament saying that “early Christians saw the New Testament as the depository of apostolic figures to whom they are attributed”.  That being said, there is ambiguity about the authorship of some of these letters; however, they were all written during the early “apostolic age” and as such are important to us – the apostles of the twenty-first century.  What lessons can we take from them?

I am at school and do not have access to a study Bible or notes but what the introduction of the NAB tells us is that they demonstrate the true meaning of the word catholic.  They underscore the idea that Christ came for all.  Christ heals all who seek him.  Christ loves all.  Christ answers all who call upon him.  So it follows that if we are Christ we, too, must have a universal view of humankind. 

When I think of James, I love that he reminds us to be doers of the word and not sayers only.  We cannot be saved by faith alone.

When I think of Peter, I remember that his letters did not make much sense to me until I had suffered greatly.  Peter, Cephas the Rock, writes so beautifully of the way to suffer properly, of how to make our suffering holy and thus unite ourselves with Christ through the cross so that we become co-redeemers with Christ.

John’s letters, and in particular the first two, are beautiful anthems to love.  They are surfacing as first readings at Mass this week and I am always struck by how they amplify the message of John’s lyrical Gospel, and how they give us a clear understanding that God is love and that love is God.

Jude’s one simple letter tells us how to live in a Christian community, how to beware of false teachers, and how to admonish one another properly.

Taken together or separately, there is much to be gained by sitting with a commentary and an epistle or two on a quiet afternoon to understand the allegory and the message meant for us . . . the modern apostles.

We seek God.  We seek union and intimacy with God.  This cannot be done unless we follow in the footsteps of those who shared bread with the Master.  Jesus came as God’s expression of love to us, his creatures.  He comes to us each day in the persons with whom we interact.  He calls us to be the universal church.

God seeks us.  He seeks union and intimacy with us.  This cannot be done unless we allow our hearts to be open to the potential planted in us.  We go to Jesus each day as we demonstrate our faith by loving God our creator fully.  We go out to Christ each day as we unite with Christ, becoming co-creators of love.  We become the universal church.

Jesus, breath of God, abide with us as we rise, become us as we go about our day, dream with us as we put our head upon the pillow at night.  Jesus, we seek you even as you seek us.  Amen.

Written on January 11, 2008 and posted today as a Favorite.

Investigate the Letters of the New Testament at: http://www.americancatholic.org/Newsletters/SFS/an0400.asp

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Ash Wednesday, February 22, 2012 – 2 Peter 2 – Waterless Springs

“This letter can be appreciated both for its positive teachings and for its earnest warnings.  It seeks to strengthen readers in faith (1, 1), hope for the future (3, 1-10), knowledge (1, 2.6.8), love (1, 7), and other virtues (1, 5-6).  This aim is carried out especially by warning against false teachers, the condemnation of whom occupies the long central section of the letter (2, 1-22)”.  (Senior 382)

Bold and arrogant, they are not afraid to revile glorious beings.  We all know people who do not fear cursing God and goodness. 2 Peter tells us how to cope with these false teachers.

But these people, like irrational animals born by nature for capture and destruction, revile things that they do not understand, and in their destruction they will also be destroyed, suffering wrongs as payment for wrongdoing.   We have seen this familiar story often in scripture, in Esther, in Genesis, in Exodus, in Judith.  Those who lie on couches plotting the downfall of others will be brought down by their own plot. 2 Peter reminds how to deal with corruption and destruction in our own lives. 

These people are waterless springs and mists driven by a gale; for them the gloom of darkness has been reserved.  Waters that do not quench and dew that does not nurture.  We have all felt the effect of poor leadership.  We have all been caught up in the whirlwind of an escalating calamity. 2 Peter teaches us how to withstand the storm.

They promise them freedom, though they themselves are slaves of corruption, for a person is a slave of whatever overcomes him.   Last week we reflected on what it means to be slaves for Christ.  How much better it is to enslave ourselves to the light than to the dark.  2 Peter calls us to enslave ourselves to the one who teaches patiently, forgivingly, and gently. 

2 Peter gives us an open door to the season of Lent and its promise of transformation.  Let us spend some time with these verses today and ponder . . .

When have I been a poor leader and a false teacher?

When have I been a slow follower and an obstructer of truth?

When have I enslaved myself to my little gods and turned away from the Living God?

When have a promised sustenance and delivered dust?

When have I been given the opportunity to encourage and animate flagging souls only to gossip and add to a fire already out of control?

This is the Lenten time, a time of promise and a time of change.  It is a time of transformation and a time of growth.  It is a time of contrition and a time of salvation.

And so we pray . . .

Patient and forgiving God, we come to you today on this first day of Lent and we bow our heads to receive the ash that reminds us to rise in new birth from the ashes of an old self.  We move toward you today on this Ash Wednesday and we fold our hands in supplication to you, asking for the courage to shed old, false habits in order to take on the new.  We arrive at this place before you today and we ask that you send us your counsel and wisdom as we search ourselves and prepare a room for you.  Teach us how to be teachers of truth.   Love us into being lovers of good.  Call us always back to you no matter how often or how far we stray.  Amen. 

 For more on 2 Peter, see the 2 Peter – Passion page on this blog. 

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.382. Print.   

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