Saturday, February 24, 2018

in memory of Billy Graham...


"he heard the word, got the call, took the message to us all, said his message so we'd all understand..."


The world mourns the passing of Billy Graham this week. A man, called by God to deliver His message in the most simple yet profound way possible. A man who lay no claim to a "religion" but a spiritual awakening. This same situation is no different than when St Francis of Assisi received the call from God to "go, rebuild My Church, which as you can see, has fallen into disrepair." At the time, Francis thought that God was referring to the church at Portiuncula and began, in his feeble way of replacing stones. But then the larger message sunk in and Francis then went into the world to call lost souls back to God. This was hard for him as he was basically a shy introvert. Note his introspective time spent with the birds around him!






We are also called to lead souls to God. One person remarked of how the world may never see another Billy Graham and that is true. The world may never see another "Billy." But how about Sally? James? Matthew? Tom? Diane? Yes, I received "that call" many years ago and since then, since I have stepped away from the "rules and regulations" that have kept me bound and realized that it is people we are to serve, not a certain pastor, not a certain way of a particular religion that I must adhere to, but to go back to what Jesus' initial calling was all about. I have felt more free, more inclined to want to spread that Love all around me.






A few nights ago, I watched the movie, "Terms of Endearment." Lots of tears at movie's end; as those of you who have watched it know, the main focus of the film passes away due to cancer. This was made back in 1983 when cancer was still that big, bad boogeyman in the room, unlike today when the chances of surviving it are much better. At movie's end, I pondered my own life and asked myself (and maybe God, too) if I have done "enough" for others. After 20 minutes of no real "response," I let it go and fell asleep. Last night, I again asked God, "have I done enough while I am here?' I then heard His reply: "you're still here, aren't you? No, you have not done enough! There are still more out there who need you!"

Powerful words!

I have not done enough and never will I "do enough." This revelation is not meant to be a slap in the face of my self esteem, but rather, a push of motivation to keep going, keep pushing forward. Billy did not "do enough," though in his way he did a lot more than I ever will! But when it was his time to leave us, I am sure the words that the Apostle Paul heard also were heard by him: "well done, my good and faithful servant!"

My friends, look around you. See how the world is still in pain, still in need of love, kindness, compassion and empathy? That is where you and I need to go, to be the "somebody" for another. God knows when we will be finished, though the work may never be done.

To hear those words at the end of our journey: "well done, my good and faithful servant!"...wow! Such a rewarding pat on the back that will be, to see the smile on Jesus' face....it brings me to my knees in gratitude!

May God be with you today and always!

Friday, February 9, 2018

would YOU answer His call?






I was having a conversation a few days ago with a friend and the subject of "religion" came up. While I admitted that yes, I am Catholic, I also added that just because I say that does not mean that I feel that being Catholic puts me on a higher pedestal than anyone else. I know the Catholic Church has suffered a huge black eye over the past decades...ok, probably hundreds of years, am I right? I know that if Jesus were here right now, he would take to task what the popes over time have done with His original mission; that is, to bring souls closer to God. Instead of simplistic teaching, the Church, as well as all of the other churches that followed, have created a series of "rules and regulations" that have nothing to do with the original message of Jesus: namely, bringing others closer to His Father. Instead it has driven a wedge between people across the globe, it has drawn a line in the sand that has nothing to do with why Jesus came here in the first place! It has brought nothing but pain and sorrow, which began at the time of His Passion and death.









Consider: when Jesus first began His ministry, His call was to "Come, follow Me!" "Follow Me!" It's meaning was as He said it, "give up all that you have and...follow Me!" Give up material goods, yes, give up that extra coat, that extra portion of food to someone who needs it, give up greed, give up the idea that you are somehow "better than" someone else and follow what He does! See how HE lived! When asked, "how do I get to heaven?" His response was to follow the Ten Commandments. Then, He simplified even that by saying, "Love God as you love yourself, and love your neighbor as much as you love God!" So easy...and so hard! Loving yourself...we see that all the time in the news, am I right? Such vanity! Greed...power and control that national leaders have for themselves and over their people. But loving yourself actually means that we see ourselves as being children of God, we don't wish ill of ourselves...and so, we should not wish ill on others, either. Whatever creed, color, nationality, gender...we must love all equally, no strings attached! Then by doing so, you will have that peace you crave for...love will spread over the land!





Jesus followed up his parables by performing His miracles, by showing us through example of how we are to love one another: in His day, it was "Jew vs Samaritan"... He showed how to love them all equally, even "giving up your very life if you have to for them! Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for a friend!" He taught how the humble shall be exalted while the exalted will be humbled. He showed again by example that we must all be like little children, saying the meek shall inherit the earth and more.






Looking about today's sad, sorry world, I see nothing but greed, vanity and hate, yes, but I also see acts of love. What we need to do is to focus more on creating more acts of love. It is a fact that love wins out over hate. It is NOT about how I am Catholic...I am NO better than any of you! It is not about how much we can splinter religion until it is nothing like what Jesus foresaw while He was on Earth. Rather, it IS all about spirituality-getting closer to God by treating others with kindness and compassion. I can quote all the Scripture I want to, but if I am not DOING what I say, how is that being like Jesus? It is all about simplicity-seeing to it that others have what they need, even if it's at my own expense. It is about how we can BE Jesus for each other. I am sure that with each malicious act performed here on Earth, God is slapping Himself upside His head, thinking, "is this what it as all come to, then? Was my dying on the Cross all in vain?" Lent is just a few days away. Let us prove by word and deed that it was not!