Monday, October 30, 2017

70 X 7 Times

70 X 7 isn't just math. It's a condition of a heart. When Jesus instructs us to forgive "70 X 7" in the gospel of Matthew 18: 22 that's because he wants his disciples' hearts to be--big, soft and open.

So many things come at us--mean people, hurtful remarks, rude people, wounded people, bullies, and we can recoil and say, "No one's ever gonna break or wound my heart again." Or, "I'll never have anything to do with that person again."

But we gotta keep opening up. It sets us free. Otherwise, we deceive ourselves and can remain in bondage.

Big--living this Word for a bigger purpose. It's not just about me and someone else--it's about how I affect the whole world by my choices. I choose to forgive and I keep the love flowin' within me. Or I choose not to forgive and build a dam within myself. I'm creating my own misery by this choice.

Soft--I sit in the presence of the Lord and ask the Holy Spirit to melt my heart. Melt any areas that have hardened and need His touch. Living with a hardened heart affects everything in my life negatively. Maybe especially attitude and vision. Unforgiveness can blind me from seeing God's vision for my life. And attitude has to do with the mind. The Word in Romans 12: 2 encourages us to "be transformed by the renewing of your mind." So I use good reason and surrender once again (70 X 7) to commit to His will, instead of letting my emotions overtake me.

Open--Once I make a constructive choice to forgive each time and rely on the Holy Spirit to touch my heart, I trust God will work it all together for good as He promises in Romans 8: 28 for those who love Him and are called according to his purpose. I don't look back or have any intention of drudging that issue up again. I've removed the barriers by being honest with myself about what needs to change within me. I recognize I can't change anyone else. And I rejoice that I've had another breakthrough--a new passover into the land of freedom. The land of milk and honey--sweet because the river of life, the love is flowing again.

Come, Lord Jesus, into my heart and give me the grace to transform it into yours. It's not about me but You!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Rest in Him

In a wonderful homily a few weeks ago, our Pastor preached about resting in the Lord which are the words I hear a lot in my quiet prayer time.

He explained, "to whom the mysteries of God are revealed and in which context these mysteries are unveiled. The answer is very  clear," he said, "the mystery of God is revealed to the simple ones who are willing to come and rest in the Lord."

rest in the Lord like a child

Hey, I want to be simple and have eyes to see and ears to hear. Do you? If "yes", it's worth sharing with you the rest of his homily:

"To rest in the Lord demands an intentional act of humility that only the simple ones are able to exercise. To be simple we have to prayerfully consider our desires, worries, expectations, and fears, and objectively determine if the burdens we carry in our minds and hearts are really the crosses the Lord wants us to take upon ourselves. This realization is what the gospel describes as “resting in God.”

Three quick intentional acts of humility that I find helpful are:
  • 1) confess my sins and ask for mercy so I can see and hear more clearly
  • 2) be truthful with myself as my Pastor is recommending
  • 3) pray for the grace of humility    
  • 4) pray for the grace not to be resistant to inspiration and the promptings of the Spirit 
I remember learning more about burdens years ago. I must clearly discern if the cross(es) I am carrying is/are really the one(s) the Lord wants me to carry. They may not be. And so, I let go of them. You would think carrying a cross for one of your loved ones is certainly what the Lord wants us to do. But maybe not. Maybe it's better for us to let go and trust he is working it all together for good on our behalf without our assistance. Maybe there's someone forgotten that needs prayer more and he will reveal what that cross is--if we listen carefully and surrender to his will daily.

"After reading the same passage, St. Ambrose wrote in the IV century, 'Christ is the bed of the saints, where the men of this world come to sleep and find their rest.' Our questions now are, how do learn to rest in Christ? How can we be meek and humble of heart in order to surrender our lives to the repose God offers? What kind of mystery does God want to reveal to us if we choose to be simple?"

In Matthew 13: 16-17 we learn about the privilege of discipleship. The Word says, "But blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear. Amen, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it." In order to see and hear better, our Pastor suggested these things:

"The disciples taught us that in order to rest you have to be willing to spend time with the Lord. It begins with simple things such as:

  • preparing yourself to come to Mass, or church if you are another denomination
  • allowing yourself to transition from your hectic life into the celebration or service with a serene prayer; 
  • not to rush after you receive communion and move on quickly to your next activity: the Lord makes himself present to you, be present to him; 
  • dedicate every day some time to pray and meditate on the Word of God; 
  • consider coming to adoration or daily Mass or setting aside more time for prayer and you will see that whatever time you give to the Lord is time well-invested: you will be filled with grace, you will be more focused and intentional, and you learn to filter any negative emotion, remove the false gods you normally worship (power, vanity, pleasure), and become more like Christ.

Whatever way we choose to rest in God, it will always be a way to allow him to minister to us. We are all indeed labored and burdened, we all need rest. Let us be meek and humble like him, and in our simplicity, let us allow God to guide us."   

by Fr. Elkin Gonzalez (italicized)


Monday, October 9, 2017

Go Into Your Room

I was struck this morning while reading a treatise by St. Ambrose. He was reminding us of how Jesus urged us to "pray earnestly and frequently...with perseverance."

And how Jesus tells us to "Go into your room" to pray.

Ambrose explains, "by 'room' you must understand, not a room enclosed by walls that imprison your body, but the room that is within you, the room where you hide your thoughts, where you keep your affections. This room of prayer is always with you, wherever you are, and it is always a secret room, where only God can see you."

Let us remember today, the Kingdom of God is within us. Lk 17: 21 And our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. 1 Cor 6: 19

So, indeed, as Ambrose says, "every place is a place of prayer."

in a garden

on an airplane

in a chapel