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The Chosen

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A few months ago, I was needing to let my brain quiet down for a bit and started looking for a brainless show to watch on TV. I recalled hearing about the series called “The Chosen,” so I searched for it. I watched the first episode, then the second. I am now in love with this series. For those that do not know what the series is, it is about the life of Jesus. As a child, I grew up watching the TV mini-series “Jesus of Nazareth,” which was the quintessential telling of the life of Jesus at the time. My brothers and I watched it every time it was on even though we knew how it would go. We even recorded it on our VHS so we could watch it whenever we wanted. (I know, I am dating myself terribly there and sounding like a total nerd.) When I began teaching, I took those VHS recordings to school and shared them with my students during Holy Week. I loved that I could quote Scripture while watching the Gospel come to life. “The Chosen” captures me in an entirely different way. The gospels scripted “Jesus of Nazareth.” It isn’t the same with “The Chosen” even though the gospel is there. It is more of the inspiration and guide than it is the script. I am finding myself falling in love with my faith all over again by watching it. The cast of characters that we all know have become so real, so human. I find myself laughing and crying while I watch. I am completely captivated by it all. What I am seeing is exactly how I imagined things to be when I take time to ponder the gospels. I am transported to a different place and find myself desperately wanting to be with Jesus. Is that weird? I am falling deeper in love with Jesus because of this show. My faith is being reinvigorated and restored. I highly recommend it.

Posted by Jill Fischer

The Tenth Commandment

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The Tenth Commandment, reads almost exactly the same as the ninth. “You shall not covet…anything that is your neighbor’s…You shall not desire your neighbor’s house, his field, or his manservant, or his maidservant, or his ox, or his ass, or anything that is your neighbors. (CCC # 2534)” We have traditionally taken the Ninth Commandment to mean not coveting your neighbor’s wife and the tenth as not coveting your neighbor’s goods, but it is quite obvious that God felt he needed to be very clear and specific and say it twice. In fact the Jewish Ten Commandments incorporate our ninth and tenth into one. I do not know the history of how the differences occurred except to say, isn’t that just like religions, they can’t even agree on the same Ten Commandments.

If the Ninth Commandment speaks to the deadly sin of lust, this commandment speaks to the deadly sin of greed-with a side of envy. They are not so far apart in their sinfulness. Wanting is wanting, whether it be person, place, or thing. Both these two commandments come around to remind us of the first three. “Where our heart is so will be our treasure (Matt. 6:21).” Anything we want besides God becomes idol worship. God is not admonishing us by this commandment as much as warning us. We will not be satisfied with “stuff.” Wealth never sees enough wealth, there will always be someone who has something more. For me, it was always my distain that I was never the smartest. In grade school, high school, college, medical school, and even in seminary, I wanted to be number one…I was always about number sixteen.

Someone was kind enough to give me a one year subscription to the Wall Street Journal. I like to read newspapers, and I have been so disappointed with the content and the cost of the Milwaukee Journal that I took to reading my sister’s Wall Street Journal. One of the more interesting features, which I think is on Friday, is subtitled ‘Mansions.’ It lists some very high end homes for sale, in the 35 million dollar range. It must feed many people's desire for want, under the cover of, “I was just curious.” I get reminded of my sin every Friday.

I like Fr. Richard Rohr. He wrote this about the Tenth Commandment. See if you agree, “We can’t possibly preach on, 'Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s goods' because Western society is based on this. It is called capitalism. Mass advertising tells us we need things none of us need. It sows confusion about what’s important for life. The level of need has moved to such a level of illusion and sophistication that what were once ultimate luxuries have become necessities…The affluent West has made happiness impossible. We’ve created a pseudo-happiness, a pseudo-success, a pseudo-security that will never satisfy the human heart.”

I quoted him extensively because I want you to spend some time on his words. I know my definition of success was money, a career, “running with the big dogs.” But as I may have said before, God gave me a king’s ambition with a jack’s ability, so I was always just off the mark. This led to a dissatisfaction with my work, and then the death of my wife, and the walls of what mattered came crashing down all at once. It took a spiritual car accident to get me to wake up to God’s voice. Our struggle is not with others, our struggle is within ourselves. The need to matter, outside of mattering to God, seems to drive these desires. We try to prove we matter by accumulating stuff. We are all guilty of this desire. Even now as I write this, I still have about fifteen pair of Allen Edmond shoes from my past life still neatly tucked away. If you saw my black and whites for Christmas, you were privileged to see a pair from my collection.

So here is my debatable point. Lust, greed, and envy, are products of our brokenness, our Original Sin. We can never, even with the grace of God, be freed from these temptations, because they are a part of our broken humanity. They are the reality we carry in our hearts that we are not masters of the world. If we were to be freed from them, we would believe we were gods. So what we need to do is harness the energy of these drives and direct them to good and moral ends. We must use our “lust energy” to build up other people rather than satisfying ourselves. We must use or envy to support those who have fallen instead of stepping on them to get higher. We must use the energy of greed to give from our need. This is how I view this commandment, not as something we should constantly judge ourselves in what we do and not do covet. Rather, I see this commandment as a reminder, as means of using what we would do for selfish motivations, are channeled into self-less caring. Now that takes the grace of God and you know what …he knows it, because he is the one who made this commandment in the first place.

I have had a personal experience which convinced me, and I can tell you as fact, that nothing we have here matters. What does matter is the love and goodness you have built up by practicing the challenging of our brokenness with the grace of God into service, and then God alone will be our only desire. St. Theresa of Avila said that is the Way to Perfection. 

Who Seeks Whom?

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About 13 years ago, my wife and I were separated and I was raising teenage and preteen daughters. I was diligently seeking to know the faith that I had learned as a young boy, a seven-year-old boy to be exact, and I was succeeding. I had encountered God in some amazing ways, but I was still driving the boat so to speak. I was in control, seeking Him in the best way I knew how, which was admittedly simple but also effective. 

My son Matt had just returned after a year and a half as a volunteer at an orphanage in Miacatlán, Mexico. I was so happy to have him home. It was great to have an older child home to discuss matters of the day with, to talk sports, to just be with. Skype was great, but this was much better. I was certain that God had sent him to be with me as another sign of just how much he loved me, and that certainly was true, but there was much more.

A few years later on the Feast of the Epiphany, as I was leaving St. Dominic driving down Parish Drive, I realized that more had occurred when Matt came home than God showing me he loved me. I had an epiphany of my own. In a lighting bolt type moment, I realized that God was seeking me.  That God had always been seeking me. That he not only was seeking me, but he was seeking everyone else as well, and my job was simply to let Him find me. Sure, I needed to seek, but the heavy lifting was being done by a God who loves beyond measure.

From that day, I began a journey of allowing God to find me. Sure, I continually tried to take control, but each time I had to relinquish it. I am the beloved, the one the father seeks out. I am not the initiator. The journey continues. My God loves me(us), he loves all of us so much that he seeks each one of us out. Just like the Shepherd and the lost sheep. Best of all, He will not rest until he finds us.

 

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