All you need is love?

gate s“Strive to enter through the narrow gate,
for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter
but will not be strong enough.
After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door,
then will you stand outside knocking and saying,
‘Lord, open the door for us.’
He will say to you in reply,
‘I do not know where you are from.
And you will say,
‘We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.’
Then he will say to you,
‘I do not know where you are from.
Depart from me, all you evildoers!’ (Luke 13)

How could Jesus possibly say, “I don’t know you!”? Doesn’t scripture say:

js walkingBut now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. Isaiah 43.1

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah

I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.

How can Jesus say, I do not know you?

The word ‘know’

The word “know” is an old English word of Germanic origin. It means ‘recognize, or identify.”  In the OT, the Hebrew word for “know” is “yada.” Used in the ot more than 950 times, the word ‘know’ means much more than we use it in English. To ‘know’ is not to just have an intellectual knowledge but an experiential.

So what did Jesus mean “I do not know you?” He of course knows we exist, but has no experience of being with us.

OT example

Bethany 1An example of someone in the Old Testament who ‘knew’ God was King Josiah. The prophet Jeremiah wrote these words from God, addressing the son of King Josiah. The Lord said of Josiah:

“Does it make you a king to have more and more cedar? Did not your father have food and drink? He did what was right and just so all went well with him. He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?

From the scriptures, let’s look at how we can “know” God, so He in turn can “know” us:

  1. From the example of King Josiah, acting in justice and righteousness. Always mindful of the poor.
  2. To “know” is to realize the loss of children, or grief, guilt, conversion, and especially in relationships with others. See how all of these are part of our emotions? Our heart, not just head?
  3. Another way “to know” is used in the scriptures is when a person “knows’ a skill or ability, a talent. Such as hunting, sailings, playing the harp. Jesus would have “known” wood as a carpenter.
  4. Finally, the word is also a euphemism for sexual intimacy. What a wonderful expression of our relationship with God. Sexual intimacy has two purposes: unitive and life giving or procreative.

When we strive to know God and to be known by God through loving the poor, loving our family/friends, loving ourselves. Perhaps John Lennon of the Beatles was correct: All you need is love.

jesus feetFor if God is Love, as Saint John says, then to love is to know God, and to know God is to be loved.

“Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough. After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door, then will you stand outside knocking and saying, ‘Lord, open the door for us.’ He will say to you in reply, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful in with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

Peace.

Father Ken

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Witnesses

vollI saw her looking through the hallway window into the cafeteria/gym of our grade school.  Our class was playing volleyball at PE and it was in the early ’70’s.  Seeing her watch us play, I wanted to play better.  Participate fully.  I wanted to impress her.  I wanted to do better!

She was my teacher, a Sister of Saint Joseph.  I can’t imagine she even noticed me, or cared how I was playing volleyball, but I saw her watching, therefore I responded.

The author to the Hebrews in the 12th chapter writes a similar situation:

Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,
let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us
and persevere in running the race that lies before us
while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus,
the leader and perfecter of faith. (Hebrew 12: 1-2)

When we think of the cloud of witnesses, we should remember our loved ones who have proceeded us in the Faith, plus the many other saints we have either read about, or have known.  This “cloud of witnesses” cheer us on, help us, wants us to join them.

cloud

These witnesses is what finally convinced Augustine to want to live a life of holiness.  In his Confessions he writes:

“I beheld the chaste, dignified figure of Continence….a multitude of boys and girls were there, a great concourse of youth and persons of every age, venerable widows and women grown old in their virginity, ….Continence was smiling at me, but with a challenging smile, as though to say, “can you not do what these men have done, these women? Could any of them achieve it by their own strength without the Lord their God? Cast yourself upon Him trustfully;  He will support and heal you!”  (Confessions Book 8)

We are not alone!  Never!  Where we are, the Lord is with us, and all of those who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith!

What a comforting, challenging, and trusting reality!

Father Ken

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What’s in your wallet?

What is really important? What is essential? 

Have you noticed how the sizes of purses for women have changed? From the dainty little purses of the 1950/60s (think of Jacqueline Kennedy) to the bowling ball bag purses of today. purse

So what is in those purses? Important things for sure: 

  • A mirror
  • Mints
  • Cell phone
  • Make up
  • Credit cards / money
  • Lotion
  • Sunglasses
  • Lipstick
  • Pens
  • Band-Aids
  • Tissues
  • And the list goes on

If asked, a women would say what is in her purse are “essentials.”   Men would say that is crazy! But don’t become judgmental. If your wife would ask you what you have in your garage, or tool box, or your man cave, you would say the same thing: essentials!

What is essential?

As humans, male and female, we want to keep the “essentials” close to us for immediate usage. We do not what to be left without these essentials. Jesus often spoke about “essentials” or “treasures.”   What is essential for our spiritual human life? What should we “treasure” of all of the gifts our Lord has gifted us with? And finally, how do we know what is important to “treasure”

How do we know what is important or not? What is of God or not? In researching this, I comprised a list, a secular list albeit, but one which we can use for our lives as Catholics, to understand what we should treasure.

lateTime. To treasure time, we need to do one thing at a time, with full presence.  “Be like servants who await their master’s return from a wedding, ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival.”  Vigilance means to remain watchful.

Family/friends at the top. Is this being selfish? Parochial? (Matthew 6) These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: ‘Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

We are to be stewards of the gifts given, not the gifts beyond our reach. Our family and friends, the persons immediately before us, is the gift given to us.  As Mother Teresa once said,

Stay where you are. Find your own Calcutta. Find the sick, the suffering, and the lonely right there where you are — in your own homes and in your own families, in your workplaces and in your schools. You can find Calcutta all over the world, if you have the eyes to see. Everywhere, wherever you go, you find people who are unwanted, unloved, uncared for, just rejected by society — completely forgotten, completely left alone.”

Keep the Real Purpose of our life in mind like the Real Presence. Just as in the church building, one is always aware of the Tabernacle, the Real Presence, so we must be always aware (vigilant) of our Real Purpose.  What is our “real purpose?”

ignatiusSaint Ignatius wrote:

Man is created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by this means to save his soul. And the other things on the face of the earth are created for man and that they may help him in prosecuting the end for which he is created.  From this it follows that man is to use them as much as they help him ontoo late to his end, and ought to rid himself of them so far as they hinder him as to it. For this it is necessary to make ourselves indifferent to all created things in all that is allowed to the choice of our free will and is not prohibited to it; so that, on our part, we want not health rather than sickness, riches rather than poverty, honor rather than dishonor, long rather than short life, and so in all the rest; desiring and choosing only what is most conducive for us to the end for which we are created.

Be a steward of your gifts (strengths) and invite others to walk with you (delegate)

Then Jesus[a] summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. 16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 When they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age

“Who, then, is the faithful and prudent steward whom the master will put in charge of his servants to distribute the food allowance at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master on arrival finds doing so.”

 

Ultimate answer. Have faith

Jesus speaks about “essentials” or “treasures.”   What is essential for our spiritual `lives? What should we “treasure” of all of the gifts our Lord has gifted us with? Ultimately the answer is to have faith!

We put our best foot forward, not knowing wither certitude we are doing exactly what the Lord wants, but with faith and trust, for Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.

clip-art-rollercoaster-428971It is said if we don’t prioritize your life, someone else will. On quick way of seeing where we are now is to

  1.             List what is most important to you
  2.             List what you spend your most time at
  3.             Compare the two lists

walletOr perhaps a better way to do this is to ask ourselves the question from the television commercial: What’s in your wallet?  What’s in your purse?  What is it you most treasure?  Is it what God treasures the most? 

 

 

Peace!  Father Ken

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Degrees of heaven???

Friends,

Once we get to heaven, how could there be any “degrees” or “levels?”  Are we not all the same in God’s eyes?

The answer lies in not how God looks at us, but how we look at God.

too lateThe Catechism states in heaven we will be completely fulfilled, and will experience the “beatific vision,” that is, see God face to face. …..

This perfect life with the Most Holy Trinity—this communion of life and love with the Trinity, with the Virgin Mary, the angels and all the blessed—is called “heaven.” Heaven is the ultimate end and fulfillment of the deepest human longings, the state of supreme, definitive happiness (Catechism of the Catholic Church [Catechism], no. 1024).

This being said, the Church teaches the faithful may experience heaven differently, based upon how they have lived their lives on earth.

The Council of Florence (1438-1445) teaches, we will

“see clearly the one and Triune God Himself, just as He is, yet according to the diversity of merits, one more perfectly than another.” (Council of Florence, “Decree for the Greeks,”)

In its “Decree on Justification,” the Council of Trent (1545-1563) affirmed the faithful will experience heaven differently, based on the merit of their good works, and anathematized those who taught differently. (Council of Trent, “Decree on Justification,” canon 32)

Earlier in the Decree, the Council noted several Scripture passages teach about the importance of good works regarding our enjoyment of heaven, such as Romans 2:6, which says that God “will render to every man according to his works.” (“Decree on Justification,” chapter 16)

images87PH6K0UOur eternal destiny, including our reward in heaven, is indeed determined by our state of holiness at the time of our death. The Catechism explains this reality concisely:

Death puts an end to human life as the time open to either accepting or rejecting the divine grace manifested in Christ. . . . Each man receives his eternal retribution in his immortal soul at the very moment of his death, in a particular judgment that refers his life to Christ. . . (nos. 1021-22).

All of this makes sense if we think about our human relationships.  Lets say we come from a family of eight children with a mother and father.  family of eightEach of the children have a relationship with their parents, but each one of the children have a unique relationship with their parents based on their experiences with them. father 1

 

 

 

So it is with our Lord.  Our Lord loves each one of us completely.  We on the other hand, do not all have the same love for the Lord, thus different relationships with Him.

In all of this we must remember, regardless of what our capacity to love God is, our job here on earth is to increase that capacity, then the promise of God will be fulfilled:

“Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the divine mercyfaithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.” Deut. 7:9

Knowing God fulfills His promises, we need not worry about “degrees” or “levels” of relationships.  If we are trying our best, God will fulfill whatever is lacking.

Father Ken

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Degrees of badness

gate s

Friends,

It is a natural response.  Once a person realizes there are certain requirements to enter, and the spectrum of requirements goes from fairly simple to very difficult, it is natural to ask, “How simple can we make this, and still get in?”

In some ways, we have created this response in our understanding of heaven.  How good to I really have to be in order to get into heaven.

The Reading from Genesis Chapter 18, states: 

In those days, the LORD said: “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great,
and their sin so grave,
that I must go down and see whether or not their actions
fully correspond to the cry against them that comes to me.
I mean to find out.”

Our Lord found it to be pretty bad!

What about us?  How can we approach this sticky question of how good do we need to be in order to merit Heaven?  The question the young man asked Jesus ( Mark 10:17-31).

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

IV. The Gravity of Sin: Mortal and Venial Sin

1854 Sins are rightly evaluated according to their gravity. the distinction between mortal and venial sin, already evident in Scripture,129 became part of the tradition of the Church. It is corroborated by human experience.

1855 Mortal sin destroys charity in the heart of man by a grave violation of God’s law; it turns man away from God, who is his ultimate end and his beatitude, by preferring an inferior good to him. Venial sin allows charity to subsist, even though it offends and wounds it.

The Catechism states there are degrees of sin.  Really?  Isn’t sin, sin???

degees of sinLet’s break it down:

  1. Sins are rightly evaluated according to their gravity. the distinction between mortal and venial sin, already evident in Scripture,129″….. What is the Scripture evidence cited? 1 John 5:16-17New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE)

    16 If you see your brother or sister committing what is not a mortal sin, you will ask, and God will give life to such a one—to those whose sin is not mortal. There is sin that is mortal; I do not say that you should pray about that. 17 All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that is not mortal.

  2. “…became part of the tradition of the Church.”  Here are some samples of the early tradition of the church of degrees of sin:“Adultery, fraud, and manslaughter are mortal sins.” St. Cyprian of Carthage, “Treatise VII,” c. 250 A.D.

    “There are venial sins and there are mortal sins. It is one thing to owe ten thousand talents, another to owe but a farthing. We shall have to give an accounting for an idle word no less than for adultery. But to be made to blush and to be tortured are not the same thing; not the same thing to grow red in the face and to be in agony for a long time. . . . If we entreat for lesser sins we are granted pardon, but for greater sins, it is difficult to obtain our request. There is a great difference between one sin and another.” St. Jerome, “Against Jovinian” c. 393 A.D.

  3. It is corroborated by human experience.” Finally, human experience.  This one we all have felt.  We experience through our conscience the different degree of sin, such as the difference between taking a pen from the bank teller and taking money!  pen stole bank robberOr the difference between lying about having lunch plans because you don’t want to be with a certain person, and seriously wishing evil upon a person. 

Whew!!! Thank goodness (God) there are degrees of sin.  We all try, but we all sin!  As Pope Francis described himself, “I am a sinner!”  We are all sinners!  But that being said, we do everything we can to avoid serious, or mortal sins which create a barrier between us and God.  Mortal sins “kill” our spirits!  Literally.

Since there are “degrees” of sin, it might follow there are “degrees” of our relationship with God, or degrees of heaven!  A great topic for next week!

Peace! 

Father Ken

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