Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Luminous Mysteries: The Who What Where How and Why of Christian Discipleship

There are questions at the forefront of every conscientious Christian's mind:  How can I live an actively Christian life? How can I reflect the face of Jesus to everyone I meet? How can I be like Christ? It sounds like a monumental task. It is. But Jesus made it easy for us by providing the example of His life in an instruction manual called the Bible.

The Luminous Mysteries hit the highlights of Jesus' ministry. They are like the crib notes of Christian living.  For those unfamiliar with the Luminous Mysteries, these are the Mysteries added to the Rosary by St. John Paul II to mark Jesus' ministry on earth.  When we pray the Rosary, we meditate upon each Mystery. How does it apply to me today?  What do I need to learn from it right now?What is Jesus showing me through this Mystery of His life?  Or we can simply soak it in.

The Luminous Mysteries spell out everything a Christian needs to know about how to live like Christ: Who What Where How and Why.  Those who pray the Rosary will notice I've taken liberties with the order of the Mysteries to make them fit the order of the questions, but I'm sure they will understand that the important part is the Mysteries themselves.


The Baptism at the Jordan.

"After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and [i]he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.”  Matthew 3:16-17 

WHO is called to live like Christ?  We are. Everyone who was baptized "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."  With our baptism, we become followers of Christ, with the Holy Spirit as our guide.


The Preaching of the Gospel  

From that time Jesus began to preach and say, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”  Matthew 4: 17

Repent and Believe. This is What we're suppose to do. We repent of our sins so that God's grace can move more freely in us, and then we can embrace Christ's teachings more fully.

Repenting goes hand in hand with forgiving. "Forgive us our trespasses as You forgive us." You and I don't know what is in someone's heart, and you don't want to throw out Peter with the bathwater. Peter sinned BIG. He denied Christ. He tempted the Lord not to complete His mission on earth. He started avoiding uncircumcised Christians until Paul chastised him. Yes, Paul chastised the Church's first Pope. But it was done with love, and Paul didn't hold a grudge. Neither did Peter. We can't repent if we're not willing to forgive.


The Wedding at Cana  

When the headwaiter tasted the water which had become wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom, and said to him, “Every man serves the good wine first, and when the people have drunk freely, then he serves the poorer wine; but you have kept the good wine until now.” This beginning of His signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him. John 2: 9-11

Jesus wasn't ready to begin his ministry, but at the urging of his mother, he performed His first miracle and changed water into wine.  He did this to save the newly married couple from big-time embarrassment.  He saved their dignity.

Anywhere we see human dignity being molested, whether through hunger or homelessness, cruelty, or unjust laws, that is were we need to reach out and show the world Christ's love. It isn't just about being nice. Some of the biggest sins are sins of omission--not speaking out against evil. Not performing your role as mother or father to your children.

G.K. Chesterton reminds us that it is easier to help those unknown, unnamed people far away than it is to have patience with that uncle with the irritating habit or be kind to the neighbor with the barking dog. (my examples) We need to be active in the bigger picture of things - helping missions and campaigning against abortion - but we also need to love our neighbor, the one right here.


The Institution of the Eucharist 

While they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.”  Matthew 26:26

Christ gives us Himself - Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.  He is the Word.  We need to read Scripture. We need to pray, not just listing off petitions, but forming an actual relationship with Him. We need to live in communion with Christ's teachings. To give us strength to do all of the above, he gave us Himself in the Eucharist. He gave us this amazing way to physically take Him into ourselves.  It's the most intimate and powerful support tool we have.  Don't settle for weekly Mass. Receive Jesus as often as you can at daily Mass.


The Transfiguration

And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light.  Matthew 17: 2

Why?  Why should we follow His teachings?  Why should we make every effort to reflect His face to the world? Why does any of this matter?

Because Jesus is Lord.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Father, Help My Unbelief

Faith is a Gift. It's a grace from God. Our own faith may falter, and that's why the community of the Body of Christ is so important. It can carry us through those times we can't see that proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.

I have faith.  If I rated it on a scale of one to ten, sometimes it's at the top of the scale, and it sometimes drops to a four or a five.  The latter usually occurs because I've unconsciously put too much importance on my role as a believer instead of on the power and mercy of God.

I've prayed in front of the Blessed Sacrament for many dire situations. When the hubby was in his accident, I had the faith of expectant prayer. I knew in my heart that my hubby would be healed, though I always submitted, "God's will be done," and I was prepared to accept His will, whatever He decided.  There have been other life-threatening situations that friends and family have experienced, and with many of them, I felt confident that my prayers for healing would be answered.  Note that I did NOT have a premonition, and I wasn't given the gift of Prophecy (which is being a mouthpiece for God's Word.) Just a sure faith that it was God's will that these people be healed.

However, there was one woman who had a serious illness. When I would pray for her, I usually felt nothing, and when I did experience a sensation, it was doubt mixed with fear.  I cannot see into the heart of another, but from her choice of church, it seemed she didn't believe in Jesus. And I knew that her painful journey had led her into Pantheistic practices.

I worried that Jesus would not be able to work his miracle without her cooperation.

Mark 6:  Then Jesus said to them, "Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house." And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. And he was amazed at their unbelief.

Jesus couldn't work His deeds of power because the people didn't believe.  He could  have cured them all if He wished. He's God. But He wanted them to cooperate with His grace. And this was my worry.

By Spc. Lindsey Schulte [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
What I had failed to recall was the healing of the paralytic in Mark 2.  Jesus was in Capernaum, and there were so many around Him that four men who had brought their paralyzed friend to Jesus for healing couldn't reach Him. So they cut a hole in the roof of the house where He was staying and lowered their friend down to Him.

The passage never mentions the faith of the paralytic.  His friends  had faith, and through their faith, Jesus healed the man.

This woman had many people offering prayers for her. Many Rosaries were said for her healing. I forgot the power of the prayers of the community. I forgot the power of our  faith, and so, when the woman was healed, I felt joyful surprise.  I also felt shame.

I had faith in my prayers, but didn't have faith in the prayers of the community. I isolated my belief and made it dependent on my interpretation of circumstances, as if there were criteria to be met before Jesus would act.  Spiritual Pride.

We have The Prayers of the Faithful at every Mass where we come together as a community to offer our intentions.  This is a good reminder that the many can pray for the one, and that the one doesn't have to be in a good mood, or grateful, or even believe in order for the prayers of the many to reach God's ears. They believe, and that's enough.