Archive for May, 2018

Hold Firm for a “Little While”.

Thursday, May 10th, 2018

Thursday of 6th Week of Easter
Acts 18:1-8; John 16: 16-20
Dc. Larry Brockman

“You will grieve, but your grief will become joy.” Such were the words that Jesus spoke to his disciples. They just didn’t understand what the “little while’s” meant in his words to them.

These men had been through it all with Jesus. Now that he had risen, they expected him to stay with them so that things would be the same as they had been during his earthly life and ministry. Or even better, that they would be part of some worldly conquest restoring the Jewish nation. But that wasn’t what Jesus meant to do at all. After all the breakdown of scripture he did for them, after all the time he spent with them, they still didn’t get it- that this life was not what it is all about.

Indeed, Jesus words apply to all of us today too. It will seem that Jesus is not with us, particularly when the world closes in on us with its skepticism, cynicism, doubt, and persecution of our true Faith- and especially when we get close to death. That will cause us to grieve; but our grief can be turned to joy if we hold firm to the end in our belief, our faith and follow the Gospel path in Jesus footsteps.

I visit a local hospital twice a week to help the chaplain. I visit a lot of folks there who are facing death. Some of them have been suddenly plucked from the mainstream of life and now face an uncertain future in this world- a heart attack, a stroke, a cancer diagnosis- or any of a number of other surprises. And it is clear that many of them are scared- scared of infirmity or death.

Even many of those who profess to believe are scared of death. They are in the middle of that “little while” where it seems God has abandoned them. Many can only think about what they will be missing if they die- their children, their activities, their retirement; as if these things are the whole meaning of their life. To be sure, many are concerned about leaving loved ones vulnerable, a sense of duty, as well. Indeed many of these folks are preoccupied with the world at a time when they should be getting closer to God. Some are even angry with God rather than working to get closer to Him.
Now I bring all this up because we are a people who like to be in control. We like to plan everything in our lives. We plan for our education, for employment, for marriages, for child rearing, for entertainment, and for retirement.

Well how many of us plan for our real future, everlasting life? Because after we pass on, we have this wonderful hope for the future, one that is guaranteed for those who believe and practice their faith. It is an everlasting life in heaven with God and with all of those who love him.

Have you ever thought about what that would be like? Have you planned for it? Because, you see, if you think about earthly situations where we hold grudges, don’t forgive, avoid certain kinds of people, and work for our own benefit to the exclusion of others, well, it certainly won’t and can’t be like that in heaven, can it?

So, take advantage of today’s wake-up call by Jesus. Take some time to plan for the ultimate future. It may require some changes in your daily life. Then you will be ready for the future in a little while when Jesus will be with all of us again- all of us. And our grief will turn to joy.

Loving As God Loves Us

Sunday, May 6th, 2018

6th Sunday of Easter
Acts 10:25-26; 1 John 4:7-10; John 15: 9-17
Dc. Larry Brockman

God is love! So, let us just think about that for a moment.

Ponder the fact that the very essence of Almighty God, who made everything from nothing; knows everything; and keeps everything that he made in existence; is love. It’s the only thing that makes sense, isn’t it? Why would God make anything except that it pleased him to do so; and why would he maintain it unless he loved it? In fact, once God creates something, his attention is always focused on the welfare of His creation. It’s self sacrificial love.

Now you might think of some examples to challenge my statement that everything God created is out of love. For, as Ogden Nash so succinctly put it: “God in his wisdom made the fly and then forgot to tell us why”.

But you know what?” Anyone who studies the hierarchy of God’s created life forms can tell you exactly where the fly fits in. There is an incredible master design of both the physical world and plants and animals. And all of it behaves according to God’s plan. As it says in the creation story in Genesis over and over again; “And God saw that it was good, very good”.

So, while there are things that happen in nature, so called “acts of God”; and there are interactions between animals and animals, or people and people, which seem to contradict what a loving God would do or allow to happen, that simply isn’t true, just as it isn’t true that flies are all bad.

Things may seem differently to us sometimes because we don’t have the big picture; “For who can probe the mind of God” as it says in the Psalms. The problem that we have with God’s “love” is that we really don’t understand love. And in fact, as human beings we will always be incapable of understanding the mind of God, and that includes the depth of his love for us.

I’m sure that parents and Grandparents and can appreciate what it must be like for God when they find it necessary to discipline their children. In so many cases their children just can’t understand the wisdom and love in that discipline. But the parents and Grandparents have been there, done that.

And so, we have to accept on Faith that God is Love and that love is what motivates everything He does. And it is not such a great leap of faith either. Because here we all are- we came into existence out of God’s love; and out of God’s love we were given life, talents, limitations and a free will. God does not interfere with that out of love. He lets us take our “gift of life” and run with it. However life unfolds for us, it is constantly maintained by God within the constraints of the consequences we face for our own choices made by our free will.

Now, our readings today tell us more about God’s love. First, God loves all of us the same, but manifests that love differently. Wasn’t that the point of the reading from Acts? The Disciples were uniquely gifted by God. After all, they were born as part of the chosen people, the Jews, and they lived with Jesus and were intimately familiar with him. Then, they were witnesses to his resurrected body. They had everything going for them in accepting the Faith. These Jews did not mix with Gentiles. It would have been unthinkable for them, taboo.

But those hundreds of Gentiles that heard the Gospel Story accepted it on Faith. They were welcomed into the Church and received the gift of the Spirit. Peter recognized that, different though they might be, these Gentiles were ready. They were loved just as much by God, but that love was manifested differently.

Now since God loves all of us the same Then clearly, if we are made in the image in likeness of God, that means all of us are called to love one another as He loves us. That’s what Jesus tells us in the Gospel and John says in the second reading. God sent Jesus to us to redeem us- the gift of his only begotten son. But Jesus also gave us a roadmap, the Gospel, for how to love as he loved us. It’s called unconditional, sacrificial love, the kind of love where a person, “lays down one’s own life for his friends” as Jesus says.
You know what? We are called to do that all the time, aren’t we? Mom’s and Dad’s do it all the time for their children; children do it all the time for their aged parents; men and women in the armed services, police, and fire departments do it all the time for the rest of us. Whatever station in life you have, you are likely called to sacrifice your own interests for others in some way. That’s what Jesus did for all of us. And that’s the kind of love we are called to show for each other.

But the challenge is that we are called to love everyone, even those pesky folks down the street who we don’t like, just as Peter and his disciples were called to love and accept the Gentiles.

When you think about God’s love for us, it can be no other way, can it?