Tag Archive: concern for others


Pope Francis’ Talk to the World

pope congress

Pope Francis has spoken both to the Congress of the United States, our representatives, and to the United Nations, the representatives to the peoples of the world. Each son or daughter of a given country, like the United States, or of any other nation in the world, each of us, (you and me), we have a mission, a personal and social responsibility. The Pope is not speaking just to the people in Russia, or China, or the state of New York. He is addressing everyone. And, he is not speaking so that we can read a laundry list of “things to do” and then determine to whom it applies. The actions, described by the Pontiff, are ways all of us must seek out to improve our own way of living. Our actions, our lifestyle, will guide us to being concerned human beings. And, in so living, we will help bring change to others in need.

To many groups, Pope Francis holds out hope for a better life, a better world. However, it is not something that will magically appear. We need to open our eyes, the eyes of our heart, to recognize and embrace our struggles and the struggles and efforts of those with whom we come in contact. These may be our family, our friends, our neighbors, our co-workers. They should also include the people who are in need of food, shelter, clothing, safety, clean living, and clean water. To this list should be added, all those who abuse not only alcohol, drugs, but also other people, and children. Their instabilities, their hurts, their confusion play a huge part in their abuse of the world. In short, all people with whom we come in contact, we must look at their heart and see how they are suffering. Everyone is!!! We cannot focus on what they look like, how they act, or how they smell. All of these people heard or will hear the Pope’s message. Is this just going to be one more carrot dangled before their impoverished eyes? It will be, unless each of us strives to fulfill our own personal mission, our own social responsibility.

What is our mission, then? When does mission turn into a social responsibility? Our mission is as unique as we are. Our circumstances, our lives, our cultures, each of these play a part in forming what our mission is. On a global scale, to grow wholesomely as a human being. A concerned, loving human being, that is what forms each person’s mission. Our own personal mission is to view our own individual circumstances, where are we lacking, what do we need. The need that we seek, however, is not material, but spiritual. Do we need that 3rd or 4th TV? Do we need the approval of everyone? Do we strive, at all costs, to be liked by others? What are the things that we have grown accustomed to having, to searching for, to expecting? Look within, at our own heart. What requires adjustment? Are we striving to be a better person? Or, is the status quo acceptable to us? How do we view ALL PEOPLE? Unfortunately, for many of us that view falls into: some we like, some we don’t care about, and, some, we just don’t even want to be near.

Our mission is to uncover what it is about us that could be better…should be better. Oh, I can’t do that. That is too much trouble. This is usually our normal response, as we settle back and play one more game on the IPhone, or change the channel to watch our favorite show. We think we are ok, just as we are. However, other people … well, that is a different story. Look at the goodness of Pope Francis, his smile, his concern for others, his patience, his desire to serve, and still we see no need for us to change. “Well, he is the Pope. He has to be that way.” NO, he doesn’t have to be that way. But, he is that way and he is the Pope. Good people desire to be better. They strive to overcome themselves, to understand themselves. And, in that striving and understanding, they see what they are lacking and want desperately to change.

It is in this remaking of ourselves that we ask God’s assistance, because we cannot do this on our own. It is only through our relationship with God and seeing His Goodness and Love, that we will recognize our failings and our mistakes. God’s arms are extended to us, welcoming us, almost begging us to come into His embrace. It is only through our true acceptance of God’s love, our recognition that everything He has said and done is done for us, then, and only then, can we recognize how closed in on ourselves, we really are. God’s embrace showers His love, His kindness, His concern upon us. His example is for us to go and do likewise to the world around us, the people around us, the family and friends around us. This is our personal mission. But we cannot fulfill it, we cannot embrace others, if we keep hugging only ourselves. God has shown us His embrace encompassing all mankind. “I am the Way”, He says. Let me show you how you are to act with the people you come into contact with. Open your arms and embrace them, and, be concerned about their needs above your own.

TO READ THE ENTIRE TEXT OF POPE FRANCIS ADDRESS TO CONGRESS (click the prior underlined words).

The 5 Posts directly below, blend with this theme. They continue the thought. Thanks for coming:

1) Our Wake Up Call
2) Triggers In Our Lives
3) Love, Do we have it?
4) Whispers
5) Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus

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Love, Do we have it?

vine branches

Think of someone who you do not like. Think of that person, who just thinking about them, gets you feeling angry, and makes your blood boil. You know who I mean. Even now, you can feel the annoyance growing inside of you. Yes, that is the person to whom I am referring. Can you think of love at the same time? It seems impossible, doesn’t it? And yet, when Christ says, that we must, “love one another”, He doesn’t say except that person. There is a reason for this, let me explain.

Love is the active concern, for someone else’s health, welfare, growth and happiness. And here we are descendants of Adam, full of guilt, sickness, selfishness and sadness trying to perform a truly divine action, namely, “Love”. We cannot do it. No amount of our twisting and turning will get this shoe on our foot. So how is it, that Jesus tells us to love one another? How are we supposed to accomplish that?

Before we try to answer that, we have another question to focus on. Does He really want us to love everyone? Really? Without exception? Come on, let’s be realistic! But, in John 15:12, we read, the words of Jesus, “This is my commandment, that you love one another, as I have loved you.” There it is. It is repeated again a little farther on in the same chapter, “These things I command you, that you love one another.” This being a Christian is not for the faint of heart, is it?

This brings us back to the first question, “How are we supposed to accomplish loving one another?” Jesus gives us a hint, as I have loved you. Jesus, God, is Divine. How can we, mortals, tarnished mortals at best, love with a divine love? We might as well try lifting ourselves up by grabbing our feet in our hands and pulling upwards. Impossible. Yes, impossible. Mortals, such as we, cannot perform divine actions. But, He says, “…as I have loved you”. What is Jesus telling us? We know He forgives and loves us. We know He forgives and loves everyone. He even forgives and loves that person we were told to think about at the outset. Earlier in that same chapter of John 15:4, we hear the words, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in me.”

I think that brings us full circle, back to the beginning. We, of ourselves, will find it impossible to love everyone, (actually, to love anyone). We are imperfect and perfection cannot flow out of the imperfect. “The branch cannot bear fruit of itself.” Our attachment, our connection with, our reposing in Christ, allows this seemingly impossible gift to flow through us. It is really, not our love that goes out to others but the love of Jesus flowing through us to the world. If we do not love all, then we can truly question whether we love, at all. We cannot measure the amount we love. We cannot distinguish who we love. We can only accept the love of our God, freely and gratefully. And in turn, allow His love to pass through us to everyone, (even the person at the top.)

Even now, I can hear the protests of, “I know how to love”, and “I love my children”, and “I treat people with love and respect”. To which I guess the questions need to be asked, “What about the person singled out, up at the top?” Do you love those people who treat you poorly? Do you pray for and respect the people who make it clear that they don’t like you? Everyone? Is love an emotional knee-jerk? Or, is it a true concern for the well-being of someone else, with no exceptions? (If there are exceptions, then we are limiting it. And, limited love cannot be from God, and so, it is not love at all.)

If it is an emotional knee-jerk, then we can truly doubt whether we understand the concept of love and all its’ implications. If it is a true concern, then we must accept the fact that we, as imperfect mortals, can only pass on to others that perfect divine love which we receive from our God. We pass this on, not because we have it, but because God has given it to us to be shared, to be passed on. If we have Love, then by its very nature we must give it away to everyone.

The 5 Posts directly below, blend with this theme. They continue the thought. Thanks for coming:

1) Music In Your Soul
2) Triggers In Our Lives
3) A Time For Love
4) It Starts With Christ
5) Pro Abortion is Really Pro Self

Pro Abortion is Really Pro Self

abortion and self

If you enjoy this post, please read through the five listed below in yellow. They continue the thread. And Please pass this on to those you love.

Three days ago I had the good fortune to attend a Pro Life Mass at my church. The homily really opened my eyes. I always knew that abortion was wrong, and couldn’t understand why those favoring it were so adamant about their stance. Didn’t they see it was murder? Couldn’t they understand that a life was being destroyed?

What I didn’t see, what I didn’t understand was that people in that position were not looking at the fetus. Their thoughts were not directed inward towards the womb, towards the life they were shutting down. They did not care about the potential that this baby’s life had. Who might this person become? What bright future does this child have for the world? What, dare I say, is God’s plan for THIS child? No, their focus is directed elsewhere. Their sole concern is the affect that this baby will have on their situation, their life, their freedom. How do we become so self-centered, so self-absorbed that another life counts for nothing?

It takes a lifetime to arrive at this totally negative condition. It begins when we are small and insist on getting our way. We want things done so that they please us. Our parents, out of a misdirected love, grant us our wishes. And so, our desires, our needs, our wants become the sole satisfying driving force. Day after day, year after year we want and get our way. Our God becomes unimportant. Our lifestyle is totally predicated on our needs. “God”, you say?? What God?? I am God!! I call the shots. I do what I want. I satisfy my own expectations. I don’t need God. Life is too short to worry about anyone, or anything else.

And so, we become an island unto ourselves. The lives, the needs, the pains and worries of others do not matter to us. These “things” only matter when they collide with our island. We become so alone, so self-absorbed that we do not even know how to look at our own motives, anymore. Well, that’s not really true. We do look at our motives, but those motives have become singular in nature. Our motive for living, for doing things, for acting the way we do is based on one need…self-satisfaction. That self-satisfaction has become so important, so demanding that we find it very difficult to even question our own motives. “It is too difficult, it is too tiring. I just get to a blank wall and then I stop”. And so, the isolation of self continues.

There is really only one way to break this free fall, this spiral downwards. God has given to each and every one of us a purpose. Our life is totally different from any others. We are not meant to be focused inward on ourselves, but rather to be concerned about other people. Love goes outward, not inward, not back at self. God really and truly is LOVE and has given us Himself. We are not rocks, nor trees, nor irrational animals, but living breathing thoughtful human beings. We have emotions, and thoughts and most important of all free will. All of these are to be used to find and follow our purpose in life. And, we do have a purpose with our life. God has given us this purpose to find our way back to Him.

How do we do that? How do we find our way BACK to Him? We follow our life, the life that God has intended for us, the good that we do for, and to, others. This is our life’s purpose. To bring goodness and love to others, this is what our life is meant to be. This is God’s Divine plan! A world that is concerned about other, a world that loves other, this is what God has intended from the beginning of time.

Oh, yes, that baby, that unwanted baby, he/she is also part of God’s plan. God has a purpose for that baby, as well. We may not know it, nor see it, nor ever know it, but there is a plan; there is a purpose. It is not our right to say this baby is not needed. God needs it to fulfill His purpose. Fulfill your purpose, by loving one another, even the unborn.

Here are some other Posts that blend with this one. Continue the thread:

1) Our Purpose in Life
2) Who Do You Trust
3) Why Are you…YOU?
4) God Walks With Us
5) What is God to Me?

love hate

When we hear the word exorcism, our mind thinks immediately to what we know about this rite. We can’t help but think of the movies that we have seen. In them was depicted all sorts of oddities, a young girls head turning around and around on her neck, objects flying across a room, vulgarities and condemnations being slung from a person’s mouth. Strange as all of this is, it is a film maker’s attempts at capturing in the film, the ultimate horror of evil, the degrading of sin, in short, the ugliness of being without love. This being without love is the cruelest torment of all. It is the fate of all who live lives that care for no one but themselves, who seek to take advantage of anyone or any moment to satisfy their own needs. Such is a life without love. It has sought no love, it has given no love, and so, in the end it receives no love.

The Church in her wisdom holds up a scrutiny for us to consider. Last week we addressed the Creed, the articles of faith that we believe. If we haven’t read through the Creed and tried to, at least, attempt an understanding of its contents, we are wasting precious time. Your Baptism declares that you do believe these articles of faith, even if you don’t understand how they can be.  It is not something that we can prove with philosophy, or logic, but that which our heart knows to be true, but doesn’t fully comprehend. This is really what faith is.

So, this Sunday, the Church speaks to us of exorcism. Why? Why the jump from Creed to Exorcism. All that we believe everything that is contained in the Creed, brings us to love.  In the Creed we speak of God, a God who loves and creates, of Jesus and what He said and did for us, and the love He has shown us. In it we pray to the Holy Spirit to surround us in love. We speak of the Church which is the gathering of all who love. Why is the Creed so important to us? Because, it leads us to all that is loving and beautiful in this world. Without this Creed, without this belief structure, we would be nothing but plotting, conniving individuals seeking only our own good and not caring for anyone else around us. So the horrors of exorcism, or rather the horrors, that necessitate exorcism, would be rampant without the Creed and a belief structure that the Church teaches and reminds us to follow.

Baptism brings us into the peace and love of God; we become adopted sons of God. We become part of the mystical Body of Christ, a group of loving individuals. The purpose of Christ, of Christianity, is to bring peace and concern for others into this world. Catholicism is not a club. It isn’t something that we have in our back pocket and pull it out when necessary. It is a living of life. It is an attempt to show God our love, by living lives that reflect His goodness, His love.

And so, the Fourth Sunday of Lent, the scrutiny speaks about exorcism. It does this, not for us to focus our attention on it, but to help us realize the horrible lengths that living without the church will take us. We live Catholic Christian lives not out of fear of what may happen, of what condemnation we might endure. No, nothing like that. We live these lives because Christ, who we follow, who we believe in, has shown us how to live. Can we honestly call ourselves Catholic Christians if we don’t live lives that reflect the joy, the happiness, the love that comes with being at peace with ourselves?  This is what we are called to do, this Sunday and every day of our lives. We must recognize that Jesus is beside us, always.  And with Him, through Him, and in Him, we can live a life that presents joy and love to a world that needs it.

Remember Man, that Thou art Dust

YOUNG WOMAN RECEIVES MARK OF ASHES

What does New Year’s Day and Ash Wednesday have in common? Go ahead, think about it. We will wait…………………… Those dots could be seconds, or minutes or hours. You choose. Anyway, when you resume reading, the time is up. We’re back. And the answer is: On both days’ people make resolutions. At the start of the year, people see this as an opportunity to begin anew, to be the person they want to be. Stopping smoking, losing weight, cutting back on sweets, trying to kick habits of alcohol abuse, drug abuse, or sex abuse…all of these are seen as something to avoid. Why? They are preventing us from being the person who we so desperately want to be.

Ash Wednesday comes along, and we see that our New Year’s resolutions are a little ragged at the edges. Every one of the do not’s have changed into have done’s. Most of the time we want to cut back or stop altogether, because we don’t like ourselves as we are. We don’t like what we see in the mirror. What we see in the mirror, however, is NOT what our mind’s eye sees. Our mind sees that part of us that a diet, a smokeless day, or a kicking of a habit can’t change. Our mind sees our weakness, our frailty, our inconsistency. Period. We have attacked the result, not the cause.

What is different about Ash Wednesday, then? The things given up and the sacrifices are not the end result; they are not the desired purpose. No, they are (pardon the pun), the stepping stones that bring us closer to being the person that we know we should be. We sacrifice for a purpose, not a result. We are kind and attentive, not because it does something for us, but because it helps someone who is need. We want to feel the hurt of our sacrifices; we want to feel the hunger, not because we are sadomasochistic, but because we have a love for our God, a love for the Christ, a love for our fellow man.

We know that Lent is leading us eventually to the cross. It is leading us to the death and resurrection of Jesus. Our lives, from the moment we were born, have been relentlessly leading us to our own death and resurrection. So why now, do we emphasize the sacrifices that are so typical of lent?

We said earlier that we sacrifice for a purpose. That purpose is not pointed at ourselves. That purpose is for someone else. We give up candy, and cigarettes and alcohol so that that money can be used by someone else, who desperately needs it. We stifle our sharp tongue because people are weary of hearing our belly aching, our laments, our curses. No matter what the sacrifice, two things are happening: one, we are feeling a discomfort; and two, someone else is benefitting from that sacrifice.

So, the ashes are placed on our forehead, today. We walk around with them, not to proudly announce we were at church today.  Those ashes should serve as a reminder to ourselves and to anyone who sees them, “We are all dust and unto dust we shall return”. Now is as good a time as any to repent, to love Him, to love our neighbor. Have a Happy Lent.

The Gospel in Tuesday’s Mass pulled no punches. Jesus is talking to the crowds and His disciples. He tells them that whatever the Scribes and Pharisees tell them to do, they should do. Observe and practice whatever they tell you, for they are speaking from the words of Moses. He goes on and cautions them, however, don’t do what they do”. For what they preach, they do not practice.

This is the same Jesus who earlier was trying to point out to these same Scribes and the Pharisees their evil ways. He did this through parables, through examples. He did whatever He could to teach them and gently but firmly wake them up. The timeframe is shortly before the Passover and His death. Jesus cannot try to convince them anymore. Time is running out. Time is of the essence. Now all of His efforts must be directed at the people, the followers of the Judaic Law. He wants to point out to them that the words (the 10 Commandments) handed down by Moses should, and must, still be observed. The words spoken by the Scribes and Pharisees are true. But these same leaders do not observe the very things they preach. Don’t do what they do, don’t imitate their actions.

And today, don’t look around you, to see who falls into that category. Don’t look to see which priests, preachers, or leaders don’t seem to practice what they preach. Don’t be scandalized when people come up short in your estimation, for we are all alike. Look within. We know what we should do. We know what is expected of us. We feel, down deep within us, the tug at our hearts when we know we are really not moving in the direction we should be. And yet, we will be the first to say what others should and should not do. We will be the first to observe that, that person needs a haircut. She is looking for trouble. They should be doing this or that. They need to be more concerned about others. Whoa!!! Stop right there. How do we know what others are about? How do we know what they should do? How did we come to this knowledge of their motives, their limitations?  The Pharisees were very good at observing the faults and limitations of others. And so, Jesus tells them and us, not to be like the Pharisees.

It is difficult to assess ourselves. In order to do that, we have to be observant of our actions, and truly critical of our motives. Excuses for what we do, must be non-existent. In the glare of a bright light (our earnest seeking of God’s truths), that is the only way we can ascertain what our true motives are. And yet, after all this, the best that we can come up with is, “I am a sinner, Lord”. For in that moment of recognition, of affirmation, we lay ourselves bare, stripped of all pretenses. It is at that precise moment, that the only thing we have is our trust in God.

Trust in God, that seems like such an easy solution. But, is it? To trust Him and say, “You are in charge and I accept that”, that is no small feat. But that is exactly what God is looking for in us. He doesn’t want to hear how clever we are, nor, how much wealth we have, nor how many electronic trinkets we have. Our lives of serving others’ needs, of giving people our time, of praying for those who are suffering, these are what God is looking for in His people, His creations. If we recognize the brotherhood that we share with everyone, and live accordingly, then we are doing not what someone tells us to do, but what God wants us to do.

Triggers in Our Lives

Throughout our lives we are faced with making decisions on how to improve things. Every year at tax time, we see our monies in and monies out. We pay close attention to dollars saved and spent. Based on these findings we make certain adjustments. Every six months or yearly we take our car to get inspected and tuned up. At work we are reviewed by our management and suggestions are made to help us advance in the company. The list goes on and on and seems endless. Most of these are triggered by a date or an anniversary of something. In short, we know it is time to do something, to improve something.

What triggers do we use to evaluate our spiritual progress? A retreat? A Holy Day? A death in the family? A marriage? How do we assess our friendship with Jesus? How do we know that our bonds are getting closer to our Savior and Redeemer? This is a difficult situation. On the one hand, we cannot just assume that because days are going by we are getting closer to Him. It might even seem presumptuous of us to think along these lines. On the other hand, we know ourselves and we see all the areas that need improvement. Our struggles seem to pulling us farther away.

Let’s take a look at one area of our lives that is with us always, our perceptions of others. You see someone of another race walking in your direction, what are your first thoughts? The dirty, unwashed beggar, you see at the corner, holding up a card board sign asking you to, “Please help”, what are your first thoughts? The woman in the bank or grocery store, dressed with a veil from head to toe, what first thoughts does she prompt in you? The noisy neighbor, the unruly child, the son or daughter that seems to do just the opposite of what you want, what do they prompt in you? Every person that we see on the street, in the store, in our lives, all of them prompt in us a first thought, our perception of them.

We cannot go to church on Sunday declaring to Jesus how much we love Him and then go out and harbor these first thoughts of others. John chapter 4, verse 20 says it clearly enough for us, “For he that does not love his brother, whom he sees, how can he love God, whom he does not see?” Our first thoughts of others, our perceptions of others, they portray the stereotyped images that we have built up in our lives. These images are holding us back and we may not even realize it.

In each person that we meet in our lives, the suffering Jesus resides. Each person is struggling as we are. They have the same basic concerns that we have. They, too, wish to be loved, wish they were better. They, like us, are trying to figure out the HOW. We must become aware of these perceptions that we have, when they occur, not the day after. Instead of wrapping ourselves tighter for protection, or aloofness, or disdain, try a smile, a kind word, a prayer. Be careful though, of feeling justified if you should do this. They are brought into our lives not so we will feel good, but so we can provide them comfort. We can give Jesus what He needs for that person.

These people are letting us know how we can truly be a Christian. They are if you will, our daily triggers that let us know our progress or stagnancy in following Christ. Around 200 A.D, Tertullian cited, “See how these Christians love one another.” This remark was posed in stark contrast to the hatred and killing that their pagan persecutors were filled with. How well do we love one another? Don’t know? Just wait a minute. Another trigger will pass by shortly.