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Greetings to all who love to wander along the paths of the Holy Scriptures! The purpose of this blog is to share some of the insights of ordinary Catholics who have begun to delve into the mysteries of the Sacred Scriptures. Hopefully you will find these reflections inspiring and insightful. We are faithful to the Church, but we are not theologians; we intend and trust that our individual reflections will remain within the inspired traditions of the Church. (If you note otherwise please let me know!) Discussion and comments are welcome, but always in charity and respect! Come and join us as we ponder the Sacred Scriptures, which will lead us on the path into His heart, which "God alone has traced" Job 28:23.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

A Thanksgiving Reflection

By Sharon Nelsen

“Enter his gates with praise, enter His courts with thanksgiving,” the psalmist sings in Psalm 100.  As we prepare our Thanksgiving celebrations, I find myself looking more closely at how I interpret celebrating that holiday. 

As I reflect on family celebrations where we gather around an abundant table, I recognize a distortion about what is good.  What is good is coming together, being with each other, listening, sharing, catching up on many aspects of each other’s lives.  Being with each other in the context of a meal is a relaxing, enjoyable, healing and so often a fun-filled time.

How does that get distorted?  How does it become something else?  Sometimes the focus is more on the meal than on the people gathered; so all of the talk can be about the food.  Those who prepared the meal like to be thanked, but no one really got on an airplane or drove half a day to talk mainly about food.  Likewise, the turkey isn’t the only animal being stuffed at the meal.  There is another distortion that overeating is a sign of gratefulness—to God and to the cook!  How twisted is that?

Another distortion of a truth is that the way to relax, the way to enjoy each other, the way to celebrate being together, is to drink more alcohol.  I began to understand binge alcoholism in my family—getting drunk was a way of celebrating—a job, payday, a gathering, it didn’t matter, it was a time to celebrate, and that meant drink--for having the alcohol itself was a sign of success--and the more alcohol one drank, the better.

Better, perhaps for the one drinking who needs the drug in order to relax;  who works hard and so “deserves” some psychic time off (at least in their perspective).  But what about those moderate family members?  The ones who really want to be together in a meaningful, sharing way?  What about those present who are actively working for sobriety?  What about the minors around the table; the little children;  What about those with restrictive dietary needs due to medications, illness, age, or allergies?

What does it mean to be a good host, to have good manners, to accept all present graciously?  Who sets the standard at the table?  What if the host is the one over indulging?  What if the most “important person” present is also the alcoholic?  What options are there for those who enjoy being together and don’t need excess in order to celebrate? 

For me, it’s a matter of truth, and that means not joining in the lie with those who overindulge, no matter how accepted it is as an apparent religious mandate or a national pastime.  Enjoy what is real and authentic in each person present and share your own authenticity. God is with us at table, present in all gathered, though perhaps smothered a bit in the excess.   

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

“Seek and you will find”

A Reflection by Sharon Nelsen

 In the daily reading from Give us This Day, a quote from John Kavanaugh, SJ (1941-2012) struck my heart:

“It is only when we let go and turn to God in total trust that our searching hands are at last open to a final embrace of Love who is our Risen Lord.”

I prayed:  Dear God, I let go of all; I unclench my holding-on hands.  Take and receive, Lord, all I have and possess—particularly, my writings.  I connect holding onto with caring.  Please show me Your Way, Your Perspective, Your Vision.  Amen.

As I listened, I heard these words:

 “Ask and you shall receive.  Seek and you will find.” 

Why?  How?  Because the search for truth you so faithfully pursue will eventually meet with All Truth.  The bit you have—the fragment you cling to, will connect with All Truth—God!  God who says, “No one can snatch you out of My Hand!”  Even if you feel loosely held, “I have called you, and you are Mine.”  Continue to walk in that hope.  Who counts the stumbles?  Not important!  The fact that you keep moving with Love—that is the important element.

Now—let’s look at holding on and letting go.  You immediately associate that with control, lack of trust and, a bad thing.

 What if what you are holding onto is a fragment of truth?  What if it is good?  Can you pray?

Lord, God, Creator of all.  I hand to You the truth I hold.  I ask that you return to me whatever you have entrusted to me to complete for You, for the building of Your Kingdom on earth, for the part you ask me to do in the life time you gave me.  I give you all thoughts, feelings, expectations and hopes associated with this truth.  As You hand it back to me, may it be purified of my limitations, and shine with the wholeness that is you, so that in Your Light, we recognize the Light of the world, Jesus, Your son.  Thank you, Dear Abba, now and forever.  Amen

 Do you think you can pray that way—letting go of the fear and self-condemnation associated with your former thoughts?

 Beloved, you are Mine and what you cling to is Mine.  And what is Mine is yours in My son Jesus, who wants it that way because I want it that way.

  Trust Me to complete the good I have begun in you—the uncovering of the Light of My Son shining within you.  I can do that, and, I do it in the particularities of your “you-ness.” The unique image of Me that I created—sending you into the world to be like My Son, a light.  What do you see in the light?  What is there; what is real; what is present.  You see it materially, and baptized—given—into My Son, you see what is real, what is present spiritually.  As you connect that truth, you are able to see more clearly My Will in each situation.  My Kingdom comes as My Will is done!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Pax Vobis! (Peace to You)

A Reflection on Romans 5:3-11 N.A.B. 

By: Larry T

In the second creation story of Genesis, God established moral and spiritual order by giving certain instructions to Adam and Eve; the presence of the tree of knowledge good and evil in the garden presented the possibility of acting contrary to the moral and spiritual order; the temptation to act contrary to God’s instructions is personified in the serpent; sin was symbolized by the eating of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. In the story Adam and Eve represent humanity. Their sin created enmity, or ill will, between all humanity and God, and human beings on their own were powerless to undo the effects of it.

It was not God who needed to make peace with humanity; it was humanity that needed to make peace with God. The process began when Jesus took upon himself human nature, lived among human beings, and suffered crucifixion. Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5) establishes the new moral and spiritual order for all humanity. It demands discipleship and can be understood and lived out only by following Jesus and accompanying him on his journey.

In his letter to the Romans (Romans 5:3-11 N.A.B.), Saint Paul expressed his firm belief that this is how God reconciled us to him and is proof of his love for us. 

3Not only that, but we even boast of our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance, 4and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope, 5and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. 6For Christ, while we were still helpless, yet died at the appointed time for the ungodly. 7Indeed, only with difficulty does one die for a just person, though perhaps for a good person one might even find courage to die. 8But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. 9How much more then, since we are now justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath. 10Indeed, if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, how much more, once reconciled, will we be saved by his life. 11Not only that, but we also boast of God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. – Romans 5:3-11 N.A.B.

Saint Paul was similarly convinced that the risen Lord continues to play an active role in the process of leading believers to salvation – something confirmed by the close connection in Paul’s thought between the Spirit and the impact of the risen Lord, who creates the righteousness that leads believers to life. He made this clear in his second letter to the Corinthians:

18And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. - 2 Corinthians 3:18 R.S.V.

Concerning ill will with God, Pope Benedict XVI wrote: “Enmity with God is the source of all that poisons man; overcoming this enmity is the basic condition for peace in the world. Only the man who is reconciled with God can also be reconciled and in harmony with himself, and only the man who is reconciled with God and with himself can establish peace around him and throughout the world.”– Jesus of Nazareth, 2007

Will being in harmony with God make me a better husband? Will it make me a better parent? Grandparent? Co-worker? Better driver? Umm, well maybe better driver could be going too far! But will the world be a more peaceful place if I am reconciled with God? Is it possible for a mentally healthy person who is reconciled with God to be a bully, a spouse abuser, a rapist, a murderer, a drug dealer, or a suicide bomber?