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conversion

No Greater Love…

 



Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)

On this day, approximately 2,000 years ago, Jesus Christ suffered and died on a cross so that you and I can one day live in the eternal happiness of His kingdom. He gave everything, holding nothing back. As we look over our lives, what have we done to express our gratitude? Speaking for myself, I have to admit that the answer is “not much”. As a matter of fact, not only haven’t I done too much for the Lord, but I’ve done many things to hurt Him. I’ve repaid His selfless love with indifference, ingratitude and numerous mortal and venial sins. I’ve disobeyed His command to “love one another” (John 13:34) more times than I’d like to admit and often ignored His warning that I’ll be judged for “every careless word” that I speak (Matthew 12:36).

Although we should feel sad that our sins put Him on the cross, we shouldn’t be paralyzed by our grief. We shouldn’t just wish that He didn’t have to suffer. Instead, we should vow to make changes in our lives TODAY. The very first change that each of us should make is to ask Jesus for the grace to lead holier lives. If we rely on our own power we’ll fail miserably, but when we turn to Him, “all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).

Thank you, Jesus, for suffering so that I may have eternal life. Help me to turn away from my sinful behavior and become more like you. Amen.

Don’t Just Feel Sorry For Jesus…

 

For several years, my reaction to Our Lord’s Passion was the same:

How could the authorities do this to Jesus?
How could people cry out “Crucify Him”?
What did He ever do to deserve this?
How could Peter and Judas betray their friend?
These people were really nasty!

But eventually the sadness passed (usually by the evening of Good Friday) and nothing really changed in my life. As I started to learn more about my faith, however, I realized that my sins were responsible for the Lord’s suffering. Although that was a big revelation, the guilt it produced was short-lived. At best, this would lead me to say a few prayers and apologize to Jesus and then it was “business as usual”.

Although it is commendable to feel sorry for Our Lord and even better to blame ourselves for His death, we still need to take it a step further and make some changes in our lives. As we focus on Our Lord’s passion and death during this Holy Week, something should become very obvious. Jesus Christ gave all that He had…His very life…for each one of us. He held NOTHING back. In His own words, “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). How about us? Are we giving ourselves completely to the Lord or are we holding back?

How much do we trust His Will when difficulties arise in our lives?
Are we generous with our money and time?
Do we follow the teachings of His Church?
Do we obey His commandment to “love one another AS I HAVE LOVED YOU”?
Do we unite our sufferings with His?
Do we set aside time to speak with Him in prayer?
Do we ask for the grace to avoid sin?
Do we pray daily for an increase in faith, hope and charity?
Do we follow His example and serve others or do we prefer to be served?

While reading the Passion should make us feel sorry for Jesus, it should also move us to look at our own lives and make changes if necessary. He gave everything for us…

what are we giving to Him?

Lent: Becoming Uncomfortable About Being Comfortable

 

“I didn’t go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity.” (C.S. Lewis)

One of the biggest mistakes that we can make in our lives is to become comfortable. While this attitude is common among atheists and those with little faith in God, it is a BIG problem for believers as well. The fact that we are Christians doesn’t stop us from retreating into our comfort zones and transforming the Lord and His teachings to fit our own personal needs. In fact, it’s astonishing how often “our God” is willing to overlook and even condone the sins we commit each day.

We are blessed that the Church gives us the season of Lent to “repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). It is a time to begin anew, to be “cleansed from our idols” (Ezekiel 36:25). Rather than focusing on what makes us comfortable, we are urged to focus on what makes us uncomfortable. About what should we be uncomfortable? For starters, let’s look at the fact that OUR SINS are responsible for Jesus suffering and dying on the cross (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 598). How is it then that we have become so comfortable in ignoring this fact? The main reason is that we don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the effect our sins. Every time we sin, we not only hurt God but we hurt the entire Church. Since we are all connected as members of the Mystical Body of Christ, my sins have an effect on every member of the Church.

OK, Gary…what about me? I’m a good person and go to church every week. I try to lead a good life. I haven’t committed any sins lately. Am I off the hook? Let’s look at how Saint John answers that question in the pages of the Bible:

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 8-9)

The good news is that, even though we are sinners, THERE IS HOPE! Jesus is standing by, waiting to forgive our sins in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. In order to obtain that forgiveness, however, we first need to acknowledge that we have sinned. We should pray every day for the grace to see our sins AS GOD SEES THEM. Then, we can repent and seek out the Lord’s pardon for the damage we have done.

In his Spiritual Exercises, Saint Ignatius of Loyola suggests that we imagine Christ present before us on the cross. While looking at His battered and bloody body, tortured so that we can be redeemed from our sins, he proposes that we ask ourselves 3 questions:

“What have I done for Christ?”

“What am I doing for Christ?”

“What ought I to do for Christ?”

If we think about these questions long and hard enough, it’s likely that we’ll become uncomfortable…and that’s good. Because becoming uncomfortable about being comfortable is what Lent (and our Catholic Faith) is all about.

Hello, Amarillo!

Today at 12 Noon Central, I’ll have the pleasure of visiting with Sister Miriam Grady on her radio program, Catholics In Action.   I’ve been on the show in the past and I’m looking forward to catching up with Sister Miriam and sharing the “Good News” of the Catholic Faith with my brothers and sisters in the Amarillo area.

We’ll speak about my transformation from a lukewarm Cradle Catholic to someone “on fire” for Jesus Christ, how I’m actually mentioned in the Bible (sort of…Rev 3:15-16), my encounter with the Lord on the road to Emmaus (I was the unmentioned 3rd disciple who walked beside Jesus and never knew it!) and my advice for getting closer to Christ.

For more information about Saint Valentine Catholic Radio and the good work they do in the Texas Panhandle, visit their website.

If God Can Use Saul…

He can use you!

I had the pleasure of being a lector at daily Mass this morning and got to read one of my favorite readings – Saul’s (a.k.a St. Paul) conversion on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-20).

If you ever doubt that God can use you to accomplish His work, this story should make you think otherwise.  Why God chose a notorious persecutor of Christians to proclaim His message to the Gentiles is beyond my comprehension, but that’s why He’s God and I’m not!

God saw something in Saul (Paul) and chose him to become the “Apostle to the Gentiles”.  With the Lord’s help, St. Paul went on to be a great evangelist and apostle.  This all happened because Paul said “yes” to the Lord’s call.

How can God use you to accomplish His work?  That’s something you have to work out with the Lord, so I recommend you pray about it.  You might end up being surprised by your mission.  The Lord knows your talents better than you do and he may present an idea that never occurred to you before.  Don’t worry, you’re in good company…

Saul never expected to be used as an apostle and he didn’t do too bad!