Friday, March 16, 2012

Beyond compare

“Lord, there is no god to compare with you; you are great and do wonderful things, you are the only God.”  (Psalm 86: 8, 10)

God is greater than the sum of all that the human heart hankers after:  fame, power, money, health, science, technology, etc, etc, etc.

“Assyria will not save us, nor shall we have horses to mount; We shall say no more, ‘Our god,” to the work of our hands; for in you’re the orphan finds compassion.”  (Hosea 14: 3)

Even when we abandon our God and Father who made us, He never abandons us:

“I relieved his shoulder of the burdens; his hands were freed from the basket.  In distress you called, and I answered you.”  (Psalm 81: 6-7)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Love is patient

"Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, [love] is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." (1 Corinthians 13: 4 - 7)

Here is the question we had to grapple with in our Bible Study on the above scripture:  “Think of past examples in your own life for each of these characteristics of love, either when you have practiced them or when you have been the recipient of another practicing them.  Now think of a specific, concrete way to employ each of the attributes of love in the future.”

Looking back at my experience, I found it difficult to categorize love in its different characteristics.  I see love as a single act which encompasses all the elements listed by St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7).  God is the source of every gift.  Every act of love that I receive from people is God loving me through the person.  Every act of love that I give is God loving someone through me.  I do not always recognize all the loving acts of God during the day.  “Man does not live on bread alone.” (Matthew 4:4)  There is multiplicity of ways in which God extends His love to us during the day.  “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord” (Isaiah 55: 8)   Expect God’s pleasant surprises every day.  Remember too that no matter whatever happens, “All things work together for good to those who love God.”  (Romans 8:28) God’s loving and powerful providence provides all that we need always and everywhere.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

God promised it

“Lord, direct my steps as you have promised, and let no evil hold me in its power.”  (Psalm 119: 133)

Direct my steps in the Church, at work, at home and everywhere.
God promised it.  Therefore He is able and willing to do it.
When I pray according to God’s promise, I know I am praying according to His will.  I claim continual guidance and power today.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Naaman the Leper 2

"Elisha sent him the message: “Go and wash seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will heal, and you will be clean.” But Naaman went away angry, saying, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand there to call on the name of the LORD his God, and would move his hand over the place, and thus cure the leprous spot." (2 Kings 5: 10 - 11)

“Go and wash seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will heal and you will be clean.”  It is not surprising that Naaman found this instruction simplistic and ridiculous.  Who has ever heard of someone healed of leprosy through such simplistic command?  To make matters worse, Elisha did not even honor the general by delivering this message himself.  He sent his servant to give it.  Our deacon called the story one of the most beautiful in the bible.  I agree.  The story reminds me of God’s self revelation in these words: 
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways—oracle of the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, my thoughts higher than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55: 8-9)

As I reflect on the story of Naaman and the scripture from Isaiah 55: 10-11, my mind is taken the seven sacraments of the Church:  Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Penance, Matrimony, Holy Orders and Anointing of the Sick.  They are described as outward signs that convey inward grace.  The more realistic description might be: “simplistic and ridiculous signs that claim to accomplish mighty miracles.”  Indeed, the sacraments accomplish mighty miracles. If they do not, then the Church could be accused of falsehood.  This has been the claim on the Church for 2000 years.  Generation after generation bears witness that the sacraments accomplish what they signify.    Faith is needed to accept the teaching.   If obedience is added to faith, then Naaman the leper would become Naaman with the skin of a baby.