Think about those times in your life when you have felt inspired to something really great. Where does that inspiration come from?
The Holy Spirit. God inspires us to do great things with our lives.
----Matthew Kelly

Sunday, September 10, 2017

It's All About Community

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I'm so busy dealing with my own salvation that I forget about my responsibility to others. Salvation isn't just about me...it's about everyone I meet. Not just those I meet on a daily basis, but even those who may enter my life for a fleeting second.
We are called to evangelize, to spread the news of God. In today's First Reading (Ezekiel 33:7-9), I applied it in my life as meaning that if we have the opportunity to evangelize but don't say anything, we are responsible for that person not being saved. But...if we say something and that person chooses to ignore, they are accountable.
I have a co-worker whom I have seen at Mass. I mentioned to her that I didn't realize she was Catholic, and she said she wasn't; the man she is seeing is so she has been coming to Mass. (The times I have seen her, she was coming back from communion but I didn't make it a point to watch to see if she was taking the Eucharist, or if she had her arms folded.) She said she enjoys coming to Mass but doesn't understand all of it. I invited her to look into RCIA, and gave her Sister's name to call at the church office if she was interested. We were around a group of people, so I didn't want to say anything about her taking communion. I decided I would wait until I see her alone and bring it up. It also gave me time to think of how to word what I needed to say. I'm going to start by telling her that I'm not judging, just informing. That was mainly because I didn't know if she was taking communion. Last week, however, I didn't play in the choir and was sitting in the congregation when I saw her go to communion and take the Body & Blood of Christ. Now, I feel that it is imperative that I speak with her, only I haven't had time. I need to make the time to talk to her. I can't be so busy that I can't find a couple of minutes to talk to her. Am I nervous about it? Absolutely. I'm more nervous that she will say something & I won't know the right words to say back to her, but this is a discussion that needs to happen...soon.
That takes us to the Second Reading (Romans 13:8-10) and the Gospel (Matthew 18:15-20). We should love our neighbors enough to care about their salvation. Even those people we don't particularly care for deserve to be saved. I don't know about you, but being a cradle Catholic, when a Protestant friend comes up to me and spouts off Bible verses and starts talking about Jesus, I get uncomfortable. To me,  your faith is personal and is unique to each person. We don't have to say anything to evangelize...actions speak louder than words. And, as St. Francis is attributed as saying: "Preach the Gospel at all times and if necessary, use words." BINGO! That is exactly what I think the Readings are saying! Always be preaching. I'm so guilty of acting one way in the work place and another way at home. At work, I try to be all sunshine & roses, and by the time I get home I'm over it. My poor husband takes the brunt of it. It's not easy to preach all the time; in fact, it's quite exhausting. Jesus didn't say it would be easy, though.
In the Gospel, we're given a plan. If someone wrongs us, we are to go directly to that person. If he can't be swayed, then we get a couple of people to go back with us and try again. If that doesn't work, we get the church involved. (That had me a little puzzled, until the Deacon mentioned in RCIA that "church" meant "community".) If that doesn't work, then we make them aware of the estrangement. To me, this means that at some point you have to let go for your own sanity. If you've gone through every step you can to reconcile, then it's time to back away and continue to pray for that person. I'm not a confrontational person; in fact, I avoid it at all costs.  In reading the meditation from Magnificat, Pope Francis says that "This approach is one of sensitivity, prudence, humility, attention towards the one who committed a fault, to avoid wounding or killing the brother with words." In his Homily, Father said that he is often the last to know that someone isn't happy with him, because that person rarely comes to him and tells him. He finds out 3rd or 4th hand. When you go to that person who wronged you, you do it out of love. When you go to someone else and that person goes to another person, and so on, you may be destroying that person. As Pope Francis said, "words can kill". I am guilt of gossiping (I don't know anyone who isn't), but I do have a responsibility to stop gossip. I heard someone say that if you tell 1 person you're venting, but if you tell more than 1 person, you're gossiping. Oh, but isn't it so easy to "vent" to a few people at a time? And, couldn't it be avoided if you just went to that person and discussed the problem? Hmmmm...seems like I read that in today's Readings!
As Father summed up the Second Reading: "There is no evil in love". I had the pleasure of listening to Father Leo Patalinghug last year at our Diocesan CCW Convention. His advice is to pray for the person we don't care for. How can you dislike someone you're praying for? Good, sound advice!
I don't think the Readings are telling us to have the weight of the world on our shoulders. It's not telling us to be anxious about trying to save everyone. It is telling us to act like a Christian, be humble, sensitive, prudent, and attentive. Or, as Matthew Kelly puts it: "Be the best version of ourselves". If we do that, others will take notice and will want to emulate us. It's our responsibility to show that love and to spread the Gospel. It doesn't have to be with words; actions will do.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Conflicts

Photo by Kris Schulze
I really didn't want to get up and go to Mass this morning. I initially planned to go last night, but got busy with a project and didn't go. I've got to focus on Him. I definitely feel like I've lost that focus that I had over the past few years.

I read the Readings while in Adoration on Thursday...that is, after almost falling asleep saying the Rosary. The First Reading (Jeremiah 20: 7-9) had me duped.  Why was Jeremiah saying those things? Why in the world is that the First Reading? After reading it a couple of times (to make sure I read it right the first time), I opened the Bible and read what came before and after, as well as the introduction to this book. It kind of made sense after that.
Jeremiah was called to be a prophet, but it didn't always go well for him. My take on this reading is that he was just tired of being a prophet and sick of being unappreciated. The Catholic Study Bible (3rd Edition) indicates that he had more of an impact after his death. He voiced his frustration in what we read today, but then he turns it around and says that the Lord will prevail over those who are condemning him. But then...he goes back to wishing he hadn't been born. Such a conflicted soul!


The Second Reading (Romans 12:1-2) is a short one, but reminds us to stay true to God. Do what is right and don't succumb to peer pressure or what's going on right now. Our country is such a mess in terms of "if you don't agree with me, then you're (insert word here)." Instead of respecting others' opinions, the "other side" is criticized and ridiculed. St. Paul tells us in this very short passage to stick to your guns and don't succumb. You know what is right...keep doing it and believing it. Even when, like Jeremiah, you get discouraged and it seems that the whole world is against you, keep fighting the good fight.

The Gospel (Matthew 16:21-27) wraps everything up. If you stay true and conduct yourself as you should, you will receive your heavenly reward. Peter & Jeremiah both wanted to take matters into their own hands, forgetting God's will.  During RCIA last week when we discussed this week's Gospel, the question came up about knowing what your cross is that you have to bear. Maybe we don't really know what that cross is; we have to have faith that whatever it is, God will give us the grace to carry it as long as we don't turn our back on Him.

As I said in the beginning of this post: I really didn't want to go to Mass this morning. While I was in the shower, I thought about how the devil is trying to get me to not go, and he will not win. I refuse to let him win or have any power over me. So I finished getting ready & went. Imagine how surprised I was when Father said "When we least feel like being at Mass we need to be there most." That was definitely a "Jethro Slap" moment!  (If you watch NCIS, you know what I'm talking about.) No matter what you're going through or whether you're on fire, lukewarm, or kind of cool about God & your faith, keep working through it. He's there for you, and he's waiting with open arms. After all, even the saints went through cool periods in their lives.