theROCK

Be-Loved

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I must tell you, the gospel readings for these last two months have been challenging to me. Words that started the month with “those who exalt themselves will be humbled.” A couple of weeks ago, the story of the prodigal son, and this week the story of poor Lazarus and the rich man. Most of the remarks from Jesus are directed to his disciples…that’s us. The words of Jesus around discipleship are both hard and easy at the same time.

Hard, because Jesus’ call to give up everything and follow him, means letting go of all the protections we have built up over the years. Protections which mask our shame, imagine our control, and falsify our security.

Easy, because of the realizations of the false, paper protections they are. What does God want from us? In short, he wants our response to the unconditional love he offers, and has been offering since he “knew us in the womb.” Why do we, including myself, find it so hard to believe God will provide?

Instead we struggle, we scheme, we try to make life work, and when it doesn’t, we run to God like injured little children run to their parent. I am sure God doesn’t mind how we come to him, but I also know the peace of really letting God provide, and knowing, even if sporadically, that his love lets us lead the best life possible. We could be distressed by the commands of Jesus by trying to be humble, to be compassionate, to be empathetic. The revelation in these attempts is the word “be”. If you wish to know what it takes to follow God, just remember who we are…his beloved, and stop trying so hard to “do” and instead…be-loved.

Advocating for a Culture of Life

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“God will never forget those … who trample upon the needy and destroy the poor of the land.”

This Scripture passage should serve as an appropriate lead in to Respect Life Month in October. We live in a self-gratifying society that uses things and disposes of things whenever something bigger, brighter, better, or newer comes along. It’s the world we live in. We cannot apply that same attitude when it comes to the dignity and safety of all human beings. Respecting life at all stages has been squeezed into four weeks during October, but it must become an effort where we live and speak for a culture of life every day of the year. Whether it’s a baby still in its mother’s womb, the poor and the needy, or a person nearing their end of life, everyone should be treated as a child of God and deserves the dignity given to each one of us by our Creator. For some, living as an advocate for life might mean strengthening our resolve to protect the most vulnerable and, in other cases, it may mean changing our hearts to recognize the dignity in all human beings.

Faith

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Faith. If God loves us, why do bad things happen? That isn't an easy answer. Some of the bad things that happen are the result of God loving us enough to give us free will. We are free to choose what we do and what we don't do. God created us with a conscience, reason, and gifts us with a whole lot of grace, so that we hopefully choose options that are in line with His will. Working counter to God's will results in actions with less than great consequences. That makes sense.

But what about those things that randomly happen. To this I would say, especially as it related to natural disasters, that the Earth has been doing what it has been doing for millions of years. Plates shift and move, air masses collide, stuff happens. People get in the way. The Earth is bigger than people. That makes sense. God has empowered people to develop ways to track storms and warn people so choices can be made.

Then the questions of illness, pain, suffering pop up. Indeed, these are the toughest because one can't reason it away. That is where faith steps in. When we struggle to understand why, our faith compels us to action. There's a reason in the suffering somewhere. It can be hard to find what the reason may be but faith leads us to it. This level of "bad" is to compel us toward God; to a dependence on Him. It doesn't make sense but it will if you have faith. It is said that hindsight is 20/20. When a person takes time to think back to a time of suffering, the fruit can be seen. What was to be learned? What was the reason? In fact, long suffering is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. How is suffering good? It brings us to dependence on God. Faith.

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