Thursday, February 24, 2011

Don't Worry. Be Happy.

Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?
- Matthew 6:27
I'm a natural born worrier. I actually think there might be a 'worry gene' than runs in my family: my mother is a worrier, I'm a worrier, and I already see it in my 5-year-old daughter. Knowing that worrying won't change the outcome doesn't help. I find it hard to let go of my worries, to put them in God's hands, and to trust that He will resolve the situation.

I remember reading once that worrying about something is a form of blasphemy - because if we are worried then we do not have faith that God will help us. That's quite a strong statement, but I can see the logic in it. If we fully trusted that God would take care of our problems, then there would be no need to worry. But it's not always that easy. Even if we are willing to leave everything in God's hands, if we don't get an immediate resolution, or if it looks like things are getting worse, the worry starts to creep back.

Chronic worrying can consume you. Some people even develop disorders: agoraphobics who worry what will happen if they go outside, so they stay locked up in their house; or germaphobics who worry about getting sick so are constantly washing and cleaning. Of course I'm not saying that if these people had faith then their worries would disappear. They cannot control their behavior. But we can see from their actions how worrying too much can destroy your life.

Sometimes having faith is hard. Giving God all your worries is very hard, maybe impossible. So start small. Choose something minor that has been on your mind, and offer it up to God. Vow to leave it in His hands, and to trust in His methods. Each time you find this worry starting to creep back, remind yourself that it is in God's hands now, and offer it back up to Him. It's okay to keep praying about the situation. St Paul tells us that we should pray without ceasing, and Jesus Himself tells us that persistence pays off (Luke 11:5-10). But at the end of the prayer leave it all in God's care, and have faith that He has everything under control.

When you let the worry go, you make room for God's peace to enter. If you can trust that God will resolve your problems, the worry will slip away and your heart will be at peace, just as God intended it to be. Let go. Let God. And maybe, if we can lower our stress by worrying a little less, maybe we can add a day or two to our life-spans.

This is another reading full of great verses. In addition to verse 27, I also loved 28-29, and 32-34.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Servants and Stewards

Thus should one regard us: as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.
- 1 Corinthians 4:1
I am a team leader in my church's RCIA program, and I feel this verse describes that role perfectly. By serving in this ministry, I am serving Christ, am a servant of Christ, doing His will. And I am a steward of God's mysteries, treasuring them, and passing them on to the Candidates and Catechuemens.

But you don't have to be an RCIA team leader to be a servant or a steward. We are all called to serve Christ. We do this in different ways of course. Some are called to the religious life. Some take on the cause of the poor or mistreated. Most of us serve in much simpler ways - raising our children as best we can, working hard in our jobs, praying for those in need.

No matter how we choose to serve though, we all can and should be stewards. A steward is someone who tends and cares for something, and is responsible for its well-being. As Christians we are entrusted with God's treasures, His mysteries. And we are expected to pass these mysteries on to the whole world, to share the good news of the Risen Christ.

Never be ashamed to pass on your faith. Accept that not everyone will always agree with you, and be okay with that. Be the best servant you can be anyway. God's mysteries are yours. Treasure them, and share them with everyone who touches your life. Be a good steward.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Never Forgotten

Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you.
- Isaiah 49:15
There are probably many times when we feel like God has forgotten us. Things go wrong, our lives are filled with struggles, and prayers go unanswered. At times like this it can be hard to keep our faith strong. It may even evaporate completely. Even Jesus, when He was on the Cross, felt that God had abandoned Him.

As a mother, I can't imagine ever forgetting one of my children. They are my life, my reason for living. Everything I do is for them. How could I ever forget them? Even when, many years from now, they are grown and no longer living with me, they will always be in my thoughts and in my heart. If we mere humans can do this, we must accept that God does too. Our children might think that we are not listening to their problems, or not helping when they need it, but we are always there for them.

So is God.

He hears our prayers, He sees our struggles, He knows what we need. Even when we can't hear Him, He is always there, always with us. He will never forget you, and He will give you the strength you need to get through anything.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Hardest Prayer

But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for He makes His sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.
- Matthew 5:44-45
This is one of those tough teachings of Jesus: love your enemies. How can we do that? It's too hard! And if we could love our enemies, would they really still be our enemies? But Jesus immediately gives us the answer: pray for those who persecute you.

If we can bring ourselves to pray for someone who has hurt us, if we can ask God to bless them and speak to their heart, then we are showing them love. Because what greater gift could we give to someone than a relationship with God? Don't you have friends or family with a weak or non-existent faith? Don't you pray that they will come to know God and Jesus? And how happy would you feel if just one of them became a believer?

It is the same with our enemies. They cannot fully comprehend just how much they've hurt us until they accept Jesus and follow Him. So we should pray for them, and we should truly hope that their hearts will be changed, and we should be ready to welcome them if they are. None of this is easy. We may never forget what they did. But how much easier would it be to forgive them if they have repented of their sin and are now a brother or sister with you in Christ?

Remember, we are all sinners. But God loves all of us, regardless of our actions. He makes his sun rise on the bad and the good. And His Son rose for the bad and the good. If God loves all the sinners of the world, who are we to judge? No, it's not easy. But it's part of our calling as followers of Christ. And we have the Holy Spirit to give us strength.

Enemies can be as big and far away as an oppressive country or government. Or as close to home as your own family. So start small. Is there one person in your life who has caused you pain? Is your relationship with that person broken? Do you long to regain what you once had with them? Then pray for them. Pray for God to pour out His blessings on them. Pray that He will speak to their heart, and that they will hear Him. Pray for the strength to forgive them. Then, the next time you have the opportunity, reach out to them. Remember, God loves this person. You can too.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Feed the Fish

Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
- 1 Corinthians 3:16
About a year ago I got my daughter a pet goldfish. Everything I read told me I needed at least a 10 gallon tank. But we didn't really have room for a tank that big, so we got a 5 gallon one. And that worked fine, until a few weeks ago. The fish had grown, and it became impossible to keep the water clean for more than a couple of days. I was left with no choice but to either let the fish die or get the 10 gallon tank. I got the tank.

Do we nourish the fish that dwell in us, and give it room to grow? First, we need to take care of our tanks, our temples. We need to keep them clean and strong. Then we need to feed the fish, the Spirit that dwells in us. Initially just attending mass and receiving the Word and the Eucharist might be enough. But the Spirit is hungry, and the Spirit wants to grow in you, so you need to feed Him. Attend a Bible study to delve deeper into the Word. Join a prayer group and learn how to communicate with God. Find a ministry that really deepens and strengthens your faith, your understanding and your relationship with God.

Let the Spirit inside you grow and grow. And be prepared to get the bigger tank.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

How far?

As far as the east is from the west,
so far has He put our transgressions from us.
- Psalm 103:12
I found it hard to pick a favorite verse from this week's psalm, there are so many golden nuggets in it.

God does not hold on to our sins, so why do we? He wants to put as much distance between them and us as possible, but He can't do that if we're holding on to them. Sometimes we find it hard to forgive ourselves, but often we are being too hard on ourselves. As long as we are repentant of our sins, God is willing to forgive us. So we need to learn to forgive ourselves too, to let it go. We're only human. God knows this, and understands. We all make mistakes, but as long as we try our best then we are doing God's will.

Don't hold a grudge, especially with yourself. Forgive others. Forgive yourself, and let God push your transgressions far, far away.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Speak to Me

The Lord said to Moses,
- Leviticus 19:1

Does God speak to you? What does He say?

Moses had a relationship with God much different to the one we have. He heard God speak out loud, he saw manifestations of God such as the burning bush, he saw signs and wonders performed by God such as the parting of the Red Sea, and on a few occasions he even saw God with his own eyes. He could go up on the mountain and chat with God for days.

Not us. We can't see God directly, but we can see Him in other people. Miracles do happen, and prayers are answered. But to have a relationship with God that even comes close to Moses', we must learn to communicate with Him. That means bible reading and prayer. God speaks to us through His Word in the Bible. We speak to Him through prayer. And He also speaks to us in prayer. Listen. Don't just rush through your list of thanks and petitions. Take some time to be silent. Clear your mind, and wait to see what God wants to tell you. What message does He have for you today?

The Lord said to me...

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Do As I Do

Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
- Matthew 5:19

I have learned from a couple of different sources recently that you can't take much of what is written in the gospels literally. Even passages I thought were straightforward are turning out to have a much deeper meaning. As a result, I now find myself questioning everything I read, wondering if there is a deeper message I am not getting. However, until I am told otherwise by a respected source, I must continue to read the Word of God as I always have, and trust that the Holy Spirit will inspire me as I read. So here goes.

Jesus tells us we must lead by example. 'Do as I say not as I do' just won't cut it. And we do lead by example, whether we like it or not. Everyone whose lives we touch can plainly see by our actions what kind of person we are, what our beliefs are. Do we spread gossip, or do we point out the good in others? Do we try to beat all the other cars to the next red light, or do we allow some of them to slide in front of us?

Do you live in fear of breaking the commandments, or causing someone else to do so? Maybe you should. To be called 'least in heaven' must be a terrible thing. But to be called 'greatest in the kingdom of heaven,' how amazing would that be! It sounds like a tall order, and it is. But we can only do our best. Think about your actions. Strive to keep God's commandments. And be glad to lead by example.


Today's gospel reading has a long form and a short form. Most likely you will hear the short form during mass. The verse above is taken from the long form.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Unveil My Eyes

Open my eyes, that I may consider the wonders of your law.
- Psalm 119:18

Whenever I sit down to read the bible in earnest, I try to remember to pray like this. I ask the Holy Spirit to open my eyes, my mind, and my heart to truly receive the Word of God. Reading the Bible is not easy, especially for someone like me who is easily distracted. No matter what time of day I choose for some quiet time, I find it very hard to switch off my 'responsible brain,' the one that's trying not to forget all the important stuff I need to do later. And it's not as if the Bible is an easy read. The language is unusual, the context was aimed at people living 2000+ years ago, and there is often (usually?) a hidden, deeper meaning.

To get the most out of a bible reading, we need to concentrate, and personally I can't do that without the Holy Spirit's help. It was He who inspired the writings in the first place, so who better to guide us as read them now? Invite Him in. Ask God to speak to you through His word. Then read, and listen.

Friday, February 11, 2011

My Peace I Give You

For the Spirit scrutinizes everything, even the depths of God.
- 1 Corinthians 2:10

The Holy Spirit is amazing. I can honestly say I have felt Him guiding me at specific times, especially recently. I know He gives me wisdom when I need it. And now I learn from St Paul that He even scrutinizes the depths of God.

If He can see into the depths of God, what could I hope to hide from Him, and why would I even try? Because there are parts of my life that I regret or am ashamed of, things I've said or done that I will not admit to God, and wish I could keep secret from Him. Of course I can't though. As much as it might bother me, I have to accept that God knows everything about me. And He loves me regardless. How amazing is that! All He really desires is that I admit my mistakes. Think about it: if you have a child and you know they've done something wrong, don't you feel better if they admit it to you rather than trying to hide it? That's what God wants.

I don't usually think of God the Spirit when I'm confessing something though. I usually pray to God the Father, or to Jesus. We know Jesus forgives sins, it's mentioned many times in the bible. Whenever it does occur to me to pray directly to the Holy Spirit though, I am always left with a great sense of peace.

I think the third Person of the Trinity, the one who sees into the depths of God, longs for a deeper relationship with me. With all of us. Talk to Him. Listen to Him. Then receive His peace.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Choose Life

If you choose you can keep the commandments, they will save you; if you trust in God, you too shall live. - Sirach 15:15
This is such a simple message: trust in God, keep His commandments, and you will live. It is our choice though. We have free will, and we can choose whether or not we want to keep the commandments. So ultimately, we are choosing whether to live or die.

I want to live - now and forever. I want to keep God's commandments and please Him, but I often struggle and fail. Why? Maybe I just don't try hard enough. Maybe I am not ready to let go of the things that get in the way. Or maybe the struggle is part of God's plan for me. Whatever the reason, I should offer it up. Offer up my desires, my struggles, my successes and my failures.

Choose life. Pray for strength, and never give up.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

My Inspiration

The inspiration for the title of this blog came from a song by
Rebecca St James - 'Love Being Loved by You.'

Jesus, You are so wonderful
I can not live without Your love
Jesus, You are so glorious
No one can move me like You do
I love being loved by You

Rebecca is an awesome Christian singer. Check her out.