Friday, January 20, 2012

Sin in Perspective

Whom are you pursuing? A dead dog, or a single flea! David's question to Saul really puts sin in perspective. Remember that Saul is filled with anger, resentment and jealousy because the people, especially the woman, are acclaiming David as a hero. In the first reading today, Saul's sinful thoughts and feelings have fermented in the misery of his self-centeredness long enough that he is now actively pursuing David seeking to kill him. David's question to Saul puts Saul's motives into perspective. What is the point Saul? A dead dog is worthless as is a single flea. This question brings clarity. It demonstrates the futility of Saul's blood lust. The ridiculousness of Saul's anger, jealousy, and resentment. The source of this vicious quest, is laid bear as Saul is presented with the absurdity of David's question. The sinful motives are absurd as is the sin of Saul. We are no different. Saul has felt and thought he was justified in his anger, jealousy, and resentment. Thus he cultivated them and harbored them and nurtured them and finally has acted upon them for a sustained amount of time, the length of a military campaign. All this time and energy wasted. For What? A dead dog or a single flea! The futility and absurdity of Saul's sinful passion is certainly evident to us as we listen to the first reading. What about our own? How much time do we waste cultivating, harboring, and nurturing our own sinful thoughts and desires? What tortured reasoning goes into the justification of such feelings and thoughts, as well as desires?How committed are we to acting upon that which we have falsely justified? Often our whole life revolves around a few well cultivated sins. How long have we sustained our commitment to a particular sin whether it be in Thought, Word, or Deed? All this time and energy wasted. For What? A dead dog or a single flea! Yet we follow Saul. We follow his lead. Sin gains us nothing. It is a waste and it wastes us. If we can admit the absurdity of our reasoning then perhaps we can begin to turn from the vicious cycle of sin. If we can admit the futility of our quest for satisfaction in a sinful thought, word or action perhaps then we can begin to cooperate with the sanctifying grace offered to us in the Sacramental Life. If we can humbly admit we are not justified in these sinful attitudes and pursuits then perhaps we can begin to heal. The choice is ours to make this day, Virtue, Grace, and Healing on the one hand opening us up to Everlasting Life, or a flea and a dead dog on the other. These are symbols of misery, futility, slavery and death. David poses the question to Saul, but each of us better answer.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Illusion of Thoughts and Feelings

Saul was very angry and resentful of the song, for he thought:
"They give David ten thousands, but only thousands to me.
All that remains for him is the kingship."
And from that day on, Saul was jealous of David.

Saul discussed his intention of killing David
with his son Jonathan and with all his servants

The jealousy of Saul in the first reading is understandable. After all David in a rather short time has become a young charismatic hero. Saul is certainly blessed, he is anointed by the Most High as king, but in the face of such great accolades that women in every city give David, it is understandable that he would feel jealous, resentful and angry. The commission of a sin very often hinges on what we do with our feelings or thoughts. So often people are compelled to certain acts based upon their feelings. We are not our feelings. We are not our thoughts. Yet so many people degrade themselves based upon the false notion or more clearly the lie that says we are our thoughts or our feelings. Many believe the lie that says since we have certain feelings or thoughts we must act upon them. The frequency of a certain thought or feeling is often the only consideration when deciding to act upon that feeling or thought. Reducing ourselves to our thoughts and feelings in this way has disastrous effects. Vice and addictions abound among those who live according to this lie. Slavery is the end result. Slavery that is often vigorously defended by those enslaved simply by repeating the same lie they have embraced.
A simple definition of prayer is lifting of ones heart and mind to God. Enslaved in the belief that we are our thoughts and feelings and thus compelled to act upon them, our souls do not reach out to the Living God, they collapse in upon themselves. Pride and Vanity are what drove Saul even to seeking approval from his son Jonathan and all his servants. Approval of his murderous thoughts and desires. He did not lift his heart or mind to the Living God. He sought the approval of men. Spending time in Adoration helps us lift our hearts and minds to God. In humble Adoration before our Lord our pride and vanity are tempered by Grace. We are not our thoughts. We are not our feelings. We are beloved sons and daughters of God. We are called to live accordingly.

Monday, January 16, 2012

And What Have You Been Doing?

People came to Jesus and objected,
"Why do the disciples of John and the disciples of the Pharisees fast,
but your disciples do not fast?"

The people in the Gospel today unfortunately mirror the spiritual life of many in the modern world. They object to the practices of the disciples of Jesus, but they are not disciples of John the Baptist nor of the Pharisees. What have they been doing? It is easy to object to some spiritual practices and even easier to ignore the promptings to perform some others. In the end what are we left with but strong opinions and our own ruminations usually leading us down the road of self righteousness. In this self centered state of mind and of being they do not see clearly the Bridegroom in their midst. We too fall victim to the same blindness when we refuse to have some spiritual discipline in our lives. When we reject the fervor and piety of some while refusing to practise that of another, we become spiritually blind and self centered. The truth is that the Lord is in our midst. He reveals Himself to these judgmental people today as a way of calling them out of themselves to rejoice with Him in the gift of Life that He gives each one. Thus the challenge for each of us is to entertain and practise some spiritual discipline each day. The Rosary is often a starting point but for many a beginner it is too hard or perhaps perceived as being too long. For others who struggle with it each day and have let it go, it can be hard to pick back up. I recommend to both groups the praying of the Angelus. It is a short yet powerful prayer and meditation on the Paschal Mystery with devotion to Mary the Mother of the Church who can guide us in the deepening of our faith. It also can be prayed three times a day, morning, noon, and evening. It is a great way to jump start your devotional life so you do not have to stand dumbstruck when asked, "What Have You Been Doing?"

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Holy Name of Jesus

At your name they rejoice all the day this line is taken from Psalm 89 in the liturgy today and is worthy of our reflection. The Psalm says that they rejoice all the day at the name of the Lord. It does not mention whether they are having a good day or a bad day, a hard day or an easy day, a stressful day or a relaxing day. At Jesus name they rejoice all day. In some way this is the key to holiness and happiness. This is the key to living a peaceful life. Rejoicing in Jesus name in our hearts and minds and even on our lips all day every day brings us true peace because Jesus then is present to us. He is not a thought or feeling nor an idle word. He is our Lord and He is with us, present to whatever the day is bringing us. Unlike the crowds in the Gospel today we do not have to push to see Him. We do not have to break open the roof to belowered down as the paralytic man was in order to be healed. We can simply rejoice in His Name Jesus each day in our minds and in our hearts and He is present. Emmanuel, God with us. Jesus, God Saves. Rejoice in His Holy Name. The scribes in the Gospel were hurling accusations at Him in their minds and their hearts were turning away from Him until He spoke directly to them demonstrating in this healing that He was Lord and Savior. So He knows our hearts and He knows our minds. He, Jesus, longs to be united with us both in our heart and mind. By rejoicing in His Name each day all day we open ourselves up to living in that Communion.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Everyone Is Looking For Jesus

Simon and those who were with him pursued him
and on finding him said, "Everyone is looking for you."

How profound are the words that Simon speaks in the Gospel today. In truth they reflect what is in fact the longing of every human person. That being the longing for God, but more importantly and this is reflected in the Gospel, a longing for Jesus. Every heart, every soul, every person who has ever lived longs to know Jesus. "Everyone is looking for you." This is the TRUTH. The truth of this longing really is at the heart of our human experience and existence but for so so many it is overlooked, or ignored or tragically misunderstood. Thus in not acknowledging the longing for Jesus our lives are consumed with emptiness. For most modern men and women if they are asked what are they looking for in life, Jesus would not be their response. Like St. Augustine they look for satisfaction in created things but ignore, overlook, and tragically misunderstand that they Really are looking for the Creator, for God, and most clearly for Jesus. Jesus. The Word made Flesh. God Incarnate. Son of God and Son of Mary. Saviour of all mankind. Many say this is presumptuous of the Church to believe this and even if we believe it we should never come out and speak it. The TRUTH is that when Simon speaks in the Gospel today, he is not only refering to the people in that town, but all humanity."Everyone is looking for you."
In not recognizing this, or in not admitting this many are left wondering what life is all about or why they can never be at peace, or how to simply be each day. In the western world life becomes about the pursuit of goals, every moment is about fufilling responsabilities in order to get things done, that we may be a good: mom, dad, father, mother, daughter, son, student, boss, worker of whatever kind. The goals, responsabilities, and roles constantly change. Nothing in that sort of life remains the same. Their is always something new to try, or to do, or to learn that will tell you what life is all about, to bring you peace,that you can finally be comfortable with yourself. "Everyone is looking for you."
Jesus is the same Yesterday, Today, and Forever!
What then is the remedy to the miserable condition so many experience each day? First is to admit the TRUTH that we are looking for Jesus. He is the answer to the longing we feel deep inside. The second is also found in the Gospel. Simon and those who were with him pursued him. They PURSUED JESUS! They FOUND HIM! They were WITH HIM! Jesus IS our LIFE and our HOPE. In LOVE Jesus teaches us what life is all about. In LOVE Jesus fills us with His PEACE each day as we go about our duties. In LOVE Jesus reveals to each one who we are as beloved sons and daughters of God. Thus we come to understand how to Be Loved.
Today Simon's words express the deepest truth of the human condition, and his example shows us what needs to be done in response. Today we can imitate Simon by simply going to Mass or Adoration to be with Jesus.