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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.

All In!

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“If any one comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” ~Luke 14:26

Did Jesus just say that? Has the Lord become an advocate of hate? Hate my wife and children? I think what Jesus is trying to teach us is the cost of true discipleship. A few chapters later in Luke’s gospel (18:18), a wealthy official asks Jesus what he must do to inherit the kingdom. Jesus tells him to sell what he owns and give to the poor, and then follow him. Perhaps what Jesus is saying is that true discipleship is difficult if one is significantly bound to the things of this world. If we are tied to earthly things we cannot fully take up the cross of discipleship. It’s not that Jesus wants us to abandon our families, but rather to make Him a priority in our life. He wants us to be “all-in” in this discipleship thing. Unlike the wealthy official, let us not sadly walk away from the Lord because of our love of the transitory things of the world. Let’s cling to the cross and walk the road to a more perfect discipleship. Let’s be ALL IN!

Through the Narrow Gate

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Since God revealed himself to Abraham in the Old Testament, all that was ever asked of believers was to have a relationship with Him. This entailed talking to God through prayer and following directions known as commandments. In return, God bestowed all forms of blessings upon them, including children. Children that were to be formed to believe in God as well. Throughout the Old Testament, believers in the one true God struggled but never fully lost faith. By the time history reached the New Testament,
God's people needed a reboot. They had all but lost faith when Jesus arrived on earth to reinvigorate our relationship with God.

In teaching us, suffering for us, dying for us, and rising from the dead for us, Jesus defines the love God has for us and models for us the love we are required to have for God. It is this love, through a relationship with God, that can get us through the narrow gate named in the Gospel.

I don't know about you but I don't want to be left outside the gate. I don't want my loved ones left outside. I don't want anyone left outside. In my mind, to be left outside means that a lifetime was wasted in getting to know Jesus. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. In knowing Him, having a relationship with Him through the Mass and the sacraments and engaging with others in a manner that will assist all of us in getting to Heaven, I hope to pass through the narrow gate. No one should be left outside if we do our very best to lift each other up.

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