Thursday, June 13, 2019

He will not speak on his own....

When I was invited to join this band of brothers and asked to consider sharing my reflections on the weekly Gospel readings, I had mixed emotions. I was not really sure that what I had to offer was of much value to others or if it was, that anyone might actually take the time to read it. On the other hand, I do have a great love for Scripture and I thought maybe this was the Lord's way of inviting me to continue this journey of mine. So it was with confidence in the Lord's presence and guidance that I stepped out of my comfort zone and accepted the challenge. My brothers, The Pilgrim, Anonymous, The Older Brother, Bernard of Clairvaux and I began (and continue) this effort in prayer; prayer for each other, prayer for the Universal Church, and prayer for you, the person reading this blog right now. One of the things that we are praying about currently, is "what's next?" - How do we all come together and share fellowship?  What strikes me as important about all of this, is that our God is a god of Relationship and this is naturally expressed in the everyday life of the Church.

Throughout Scripture God reveals himself to us in terms of relationship. In Exodus he tells us that He is our God and we are His people. Jesus tells us that with God as our Father, we are His children. Jesus doesn't call Him "Father" but "Abba" the Aramaic word for "Daddy" - further characterizing the nature of the relationship. God reveals Himself as the Bridegroom; and we are the Bride. The Lover; and we are the beloved. He is the Vine; we are the branches. As branches, we are to bear the "fruit of the vine." This relationship defines us. We are parts of one body; the Body of Christ.

This week's Gospel reading causes me to think of the relationship between God - Father, Son and Holy Spirit  - and each member of the Church; Jesus said that everything that the Father has is His and that the Spirit will take from what is His and declare it to us. Jesus tells us that He will send the Spirit to guide us to all truth. I wonder at the mystery of who are we that God should care so much to guide us to all truth; and I take comfort in this awesome God of ours that loves us so much that He chooses to be in such intimate relationship with us.

              + Theophilus

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Hanging in There on Pentecost Sunday

JN 21: 19-23
This week’s Gospel reflection relates to the birth of our church and its current status.  Have you ever witnessed or heard of a miracle occurring? During my long life, I’ve encountered both the inexplicable & miraculous.  I am writing to you from the locked, upper room, praying & sitting among a group of frightened disciples of Christ.  Try to image yourself in this room with us.  Can you feel the apprehension & uncertainty?  You might overhear someone ask, “How do we escape from the mobs who are hunting us down?” Another’s voice steeped in disappointment echo’s a similar sense of urgency.  Perhaps some are even having second thoughts about following Jesus because of the predicament they are facing? It appears they are in a need of a miracle.

Suddenly Jesus miraculously appears and dismisses their fear.  As the Lord greets them with a peace offering, their distress is transformed into ecstasy.  After eating, Jesus empowers them with the Holy Spirit; reassuring them that they will never be alone again.  Vested in the Spirit, the apostles courageously begin their respective journeys to preach the Truth to the entire world.   This was “the birth of our church.”

Fast forward to 2019 and we see that our church has gone through many challenges since that first Pentecost Sunday. Again, our church is under siege and the attackers are from within.  It is wounded and in need of an intervention.  Some of those we trusted most with our children, families & faith have strayed far from the Truth & vandalized many of the faithful. Thank God, they are a minority, compared to the majority who have sustained their vows and follow in the footsteps of Christ.  The loyal ones, both ordained and lay alike, are the staunch defenders of the Church.  The deranged and deceitful actions of those who have gambled with their souls because of sexual perversion and an insatiable desire to control others have made their choices. The scandal has infiltrated the highest levels of authority in our church. Did you notice that I am calling the church “our church?”  I say this because it is truly ours and no longer theirs. 
The Pilgrim believes that life is much about choices.  These “vandals of the faith” have caused immeasurable suffering.  After some discernment & prayer, I came to the decision to hang in there.  I refuse to allow these disordered and disturbed clerics (and those who conspired to hide their criminal acts) to abandon something I've invested my life & soul into.  My decision was not to leave my church because of a spiritual investment & promise I made many years back.  An investment that paid back in more ways than I could have imagined.  I understand that some decided to depart because of this tragedy and are either worshiping in other churches or have chosen to abandon all religious institutions.  I understand their anger and resentment, yet I believe that is the wrong choice. We must now fight for what is ours and has been since that first Pentecost Sunday.  As for me, I've decided to remain behind & rebuild my church.  I choose to stand alongside the Eucharist and with my brethren, deacons and priests (many who I am proud to call my friends in Christ).  The Pilgrim simply asks, “Will you join me in solidarity by praying for our Mother Church?  Will you also hang in there?”  I beg of you, "Please do not allow a few rotten apples to destroy the entire orchard." If that happens, evil continues to triumph.  Hope to see you on the road (and in the pews).  The Pilgrim. (Please click on the link below to hear this beautiful and powerful prayer)Disregard any ad  that may pop up.