Flash

"METANOIA" 05/16/11

In the summer of 2010, Peter Seewald, Catholic journalist and author, was granted a six hour interview with Pope Benedict XVI.   What followed from this interview was an amazing book, “Light of the World,” which, by addressing and bringing transparency to many important questions and issues, reveals to the Church and the entire world the depth of the Holy Fathers love for Jesus, the Church, and the world.

 

Topics like: the abuse scandal, relativism, proclaiming the Gospel, overdue reforms in the Church, the return of Jesus, and many more.  The one question that was most intriguing to me, because of the answer the Pope gave, and also because I believe that we can help in our own Spirit led way was this:

 

The paraphrased question is, “How is it possible that in many Western countries, Catholic children spend years studying their faith, but when they graduate they know more about Buddhism than their own faith?”  Thank you Mr. Seewald.  This is the Popes answer in it’s entirety:

 

“This is a question that I also ask myself.”  Every child in Germany has nine to thirteen years of religion in school.  Why, in spite of that, so very little sticks, if I may put it like that, is incomprehensible.  You are right that the bishops must seriously reflect on ways to give catechesis a new heart and a new face.”  Light of the World, p.140.

 

The Pope’s answer is wonderful and at the same time astonishing.  Wonderful in the honest, direct, and transparent manner in which the Pope responded, because in reality what the Pope said was, “I do not have an answer for that question.”  The Popes answer is astonishing in this manner: have you read the Pope’s two books: Jesus of Nazareth I and II?   This is a man is brilliant, a man with a supreme knowledge of the Word, his insights and exegesis are as profound and important as the best theologians I have ever read (Brown, Fitzmyer, Meier)  but his greatest gift is that he can explain the Word and faith in way that most theologians are unable to, namely in a way that the faithful can understand it.

 

Astonishing also because this is just not one of many brilliant men on earth, this is the Bishop of Rome, the Vicar of Christ, the Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, the servant of the servants of God.  Hey I’m Catholic and all in, I love my faith, serve my Church, study and believe the teachings of the Magisterium, and I know without a doubt that Pope Benedict the XVI, was chosen by Jesus, to be the anointed person on earth, the only person on earth, entrusted with the unique charism to do what Jesus commanded Peter to do, “Feed my lambs, tend my sheep,”  John 21: 15-16, and so it amazing to hear that this holy, Spirit filled and led, chosen leader of over a billion faithful, reply in that manner, and that the question of why so many of his faithful, can be taught their faith for years, but never really understand the majesty of their faith, remains yet a mystery.  I firmly believe that those of us, who lived that experience, need to help our Church understand what happened, how to address it, and hopefully begin to change it.

 

Yes, I believe that everyone who lived the reality that our Holy Father speaks of, that which is “incomprehensible,” to him, has an obligation to help the Church answer that question based on their personal experience.  From the empirical witness of a couple generations of Catholics now worshipping in other Christian denominations, from the testimonies of so many Sowers, and others in the Church, which are close to if not identical with mine, if I had the once is a life time opportunity/honor, to speak with Pope Benedict, about what we as a Church could do to give catechesis a “new heart and a new face,” our explanation and handing on of our ancient and Christ founded faith, this is what I would say:

 

Holy Father, as a Catholic growing up in the United States, I had a similar experience to the children in your native Germany, who after literally thirteen years of Catholic education, knew more about Mahatma Gandhi and Hinduism, Siddhartha and Buddhism, than I did about Jesus and the majesty of our Catholic faith.  Therefore in all with all sincerity, in an effort to help the Church which I worship in and love, the Church I was Baptized and saved in, let me share with you what I believe what we need to do give our catechesis that new heart and face.

 

First of all let me say that Mr. Seewald’s observation needs nuance.  It’s not that Catholics do not “know” their faith, they do.  I (we) got good grades, we passed all the exams, year by year, we kept moving along with memorized prayers, creeds, sacraments and Church history.  We know when and how to genuflect, we know about “holy water” and to dip our fingers in it when entering Church and how to make the sign of the cross, we know how hold our hands properly in prayer, and about the lighting of candles.  We know a lot about the saints and angels and man do we know all about sin.  We know about the cross, the catacombs, the crusades, and the inquisition.  So in actuality, we have always known many truths and teachings of the Church, we are good students, but the entire issue and problem is that I (we) never knew Jesus.

 

Some will say, “All we teach is Jesus.”  I would reply yes but no. We do not teach Jesus in a manner in which those being taught can receive, know, and live with Jesus in a personal and intimate way. Let me give you a simple example of how we need to teach about Jesus in a personal, intimate, and “present” way.

 

A few years back, I was with a group of Catholic children who were just about ready to receive their first communion and I asked them this question, “Where does Jesus live?”  There were about 40 children, and one by one, they raised their hands and began to express what they were taught.  The first pointed to the sky (we were outdoors) and said, ‘up there,’ the next pointed to the Church and said, ‘inside of there,’ meaning the tabernacle, the next said, “in the bread and the wine.”

 

After every answer, I would say, “excellent, you are right, Jesus does live in heaven, in the tabernacle, yes, Jesus is truly present in the bread and the wine, the Eucharist, but there is one place that Jesus must live first ______?”

 

As the children were raising their hands, I kept noticing one little girl who was not answering but quietly and intently listening, and every time I would say, “you are right, but Jesus must live somewhere else first,’ she had a look in her eye like, ‘I got this.’  Finally there were no more hands in the air, and I repeated the question once again, “Where does Jesus live?”  The little girl, shyly, innocently, with a small smile, raised her hand and said, “Jesus lives in my heart.”  Amen to the Blood of the Father’s Lamb.  I said yes, and she smiled brightly.  In special moments like that I like to give little gifts, like holy cards or rosaries but did not have any with me at the time, so I gave her something that sealed the deal for all her classmates….money….not a lot, just enough for a double double, fries and a milkshake, but soon the entire class was talking to that one Spirit filled girl and asking lots of questions.

 

Of all the children in that class, I believe that she had the best chance of knowing and understanding her faith: the prayers, the Eucharist, Reconciliation, Jesus’ unconditional love and presence, because she understood (was taught, more than likely by her parents) that before Jesus is up there, over there, inside there, Jesus needs to be ‘in here,’ in her heart. This was missing for me, and millions of others.

 

Religious education, at all levels, needs to begin with “Presence,” the presence of the resurrected Jesus, whom, in the power of the Holy Spirit, lives within us, someone we know for sure is there, attentive, listening, caring, acting, and loving us.  Someone we can talk with and know without a doubt, is with us at all times of our lives, in moments of great need and joy.  Holy Father, you have beautifully explained this truth, in your exegesis of Jesus’ teaching on the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple, where Jesus, in his passion, death, resurrection, and sending of the Spirit becomes the new living Temple, who believers have access to everywhere and at all times.  Jesus of Nazareth, II, p. 28-40.

 

How do we do that?  How do we teach the ancient Christian faith, beginning with the abiding presence of Jesus Christ within us?  My thoughts are, that we as a Church should stop spending literally millions of dollars a year, and every year we buy new ones, on all these “lesson plans,” that each week impose on our catechists the need to teach a new lesson and instead, and instead begin with and focus on the Word of God.

 

A few parishes around the country, lead by their priests, DRE, or catechist, such as one of our own Sowers, Ana de Anda, have already implemented this way of teaching the Catholic faith, and in my mind are they bringing Jesus into the hearts of our children as never before, passing on our ancient Christian faith in a way that it can be understood and lived, through the Word of God.  Vatican II opened the door to catechesis based on God’s Sacred Word.

 

“The Sacred Scriptures contain the Word of God, and, because they are inspired, they are truly the Word the God.  The study of the sacred page should be the very soul of sacred theology.  The ministry of the Word, too: pastoral preaching, catechetics and all forms of Christian instruction, along with the liturgical homily, is healthily nourished and thrives in holiness through the Word of Scripture.”  Vatican II, Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, # 24.  Amen to the Blood and the Church founded by the Blood.

 

Instead of being nourished by the Word, every week, we went from lesson to lesson, test to test, but the end result is that myself and too many other Catholic children, “know more about Buddhism,” than their own Catholic faith.  This model is a failure and has been for the longest time.  It is not working.  As the highest authority in our Church, you have gracefully said so loud and clear.  So where should we start?  How do we begin to teach the majesty of our Catholic faith?  What must be the new heart and face of catechesis?

 

The Word.  The Word made flesh. The power of the Holy Spirit, teaching and reminding us of everything Jesus said and did, John 14:26.  Let’s buy some bibles!!!   If we as a parish, school, or Church, are going to spend millions of dollars a year teaching the faith, let’s spend the money on bibles, and use the Gospels as our “lesson plan.”  We proceed chapter by chapter, miracle by miracle, revelation by revelation, mercy by mercy, not “lesson plan” by “lesson plan.”

 

How could we go wrong explaining and teaching the faith based on the Word of God?  Seriously, how could we?  It is significant to note that St. Paul understood the absolute importance of guarding and handing on the true faith and traditions. In a short period of time, there already were many false Gospels being spread in the Churches he had established, as he warned the Catholic Church in Galatia, “I am amazed that you are so quickly forsaking the one who called you by the grace of Christ for a different Gospel.”  Galatians 1:6.

 

Yes, the entire Church and St. Paul, were keenly aware that non-believers, false prophets, former believers, and Christian heretics were constantly trying to change the Gospel and Church traditions, and encouraging others to follow them, as we read in St. Paul’s letter to the Church in Corinth, “I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold fast to the traditions, just as I handed them on to you,” 1 Corinthians 11:2, and to the Church in Thessalonica, “Therefore brothers, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught, either by an oral statement, or by a letter of ours.”  2 Thessalonians 2:15. This is God’s Word, divine revelation, and points to the truth that what the Catholic Church teaches is true, namely that Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition “make up a single sacred deposit of the Word of God.” Vatican II, Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, # 10.

 

Knowing this, Paul only selected the most trustworthy and Spirit filled disciples, with the task of guarding and handing on the Apostolic faith, and not a Gospel and traditions made up by the Gnostics or disgruntled believer, nor the Gospel of a person seeking personal power or glory, nor a Gospel proclaimed by a Jewish Christian, who taught that the Jewish Law had to be observed along with the Gospel, but the Gospel he received from Jesus, the Gospel he personally lived and taught, and that is why this Apostle choose Timothy,  “O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you,” 1 Timothy 6: 20, and “Guard this rich trust with the help of the Holy Spirit that dwells within us.”  2 Timothy 1: 14.

 

It is not a coincidence that St. Paul chose Timothy as a disciple he personally trusted to hand on the faith, there were many disciples, St. Paul had to have a reason for choosing Timothy, and without a doubt, one of the reasons he was chosen and able to guard and hand down the authentic content of the Apostolic faith was because, “From infancy you have known the Sacred Scriptures, which are capable of giving you wisdom for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.” 2 Timothy 3: 15.  Timothy was chosen to teach and hand on the faith because he was a man of God and a man of the Word from childhood.

 

Through his Baptism, the Word became part of his ontology, yes, as it has for me and tens of millions of other Catholics around the world today, the Word became rooted in his being, in his spirit, and therefore no foolish ideas, threats, opinions, philosophies, or interpretations could ever convince him to change the Gospel, no, what Timothy received, Timothy handed on.  Punto final and Amen to the Blood of the Father’s Lamb As a Catholic, with 2,000 years of Christian history, always remember the sacrifices made by the men and women who were reviled, imprisoned, and martyred, so that today you and I and every generation, can live the Apostolic faith, the faith, which through the Spirit, Word, and the Catholic Church, reveals Jesus and only Jesus, as Lord and Savior, the One who through his Blood, Resurrection, and sending of the Holy Spirit, offers the gift of salvation to all the world, to all who believe.

 

My thoughts are that all teaching of faith should begin and end with the bible because Jesus is the Word made flesh, and all our children, through the Word of God will begin to personally know of the presence of Jesus Christ in their hearts and then in Baptism, Reconciliation, and Eucharist.  Just as it did for me, many of the Sowers, and countless Catholics now worshipping in other denominations, through the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus himself, as the Word of God,  as the Word made flesh, WILL INTROUDUCE HIMSELF, to all those who seek him, in a way they can receive him into their hearts, know his mercy, love, and presence, and again, Jesus himself, as the Word made flesh will reveal to them his presence in Sacrament, especially in the Body and the Blood, the Eucharist.

 

Pick any of the Gospels and like Jesus did, begin to use everyday examples of how God is present to and loving: the homeless, the sick, the depressed, the marginalized, the hospitalized, the weary, those with out jobs, and sinners. I am not saying this is going to be easy; however with the Word and the Spirit as our two arms of catechesis, I believe the change will be immediate and noticeable, but not easy.  Here is another example as to why the handing on of our faith to this generation of children will be difficult and challenging.

 

A few years back, I was again in a class with children studying their Catholic faith.  These children were a little older, 10-11, and had not yet received their first communion, in terms of faith, they were literally at a five year old level.  It seemed, in all those years, no one, including their Church appointed and anointed catechists, their parents, see Catechism of the Catholic Church, # 2225, #1656,  had never taught them anything about the bible, Jesus, prayers, Church, nothing.

 

What did they know everything about?  And this will be our central battle ground for this generation.  They knew all the lyrics to Fergalicious and all their other favorite songs, they knew, had access to, and so much time for: video games, iPods, television, and internet, including porn, and yes, because of the internet, porn begins early these days, believe it. In every generation the Church faces new battles and new faces of evil, in this generation, media and internet are breaking down every moral fiber in our families and culture, so the battle will be hard fought and intense.

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Personally I welcome it this because I’m battle tested, no brag just fact.  I have battled some of the ugliest and meanest spirits satan can attack us with: selfishness, pride, lust, and in my experience the evilest spiritual enemy of all, fear.  I did not win every battle, still do not today, but since metanoia, there is one victory the enemy will never have and that is the victory over my heart.

 

At one time the enemy did have the victory, he did reign in my heart, but after the surrender of my life and self to Jesus, and receiving of the power and authority of the Holy Spirit, my heart is forever his, in his Name and through his power, I choose to never be the person I once was, Jesus himself removed all my masks and died for my salvation on the cross, I remain a sinner but I believe and trust in the victory of Jesus’ Blood and sending of the Spirit, over any and all enemies, spiritual or carnal.  Amen to the Blood of the Father’s Lamb, Jesus Christ.

 

No my brothers and sisters in the Word and Spirit, this is not going to be easy!!  But if we trust in the guidance of the Holy Spirit, focus on the alleluia of metanoia, JFJA, Jesus First Jesus Always, by teaching our faith based on God’s Word, a personal encounter with Jesus as an always present and living and loving God, we will have the victory in Jesus’ Holy Name.  Holy Father, these are my thoughts on how to begin to teach the ancient Christian faith in Jesus Christ, the Catholic faith to our children, here are some thoughts on how to do the same with teens and adults.

 

From what you have just read and all those who know me personally, you will not be surprised to hear that I believe the way to teach our teens and adult Catholics their faith in Jesus Christ is the same way in which we teach our children, with the bible, but as St. Paul says, with a little more “solid food,” beginning specifically, in the Gospel of Mark 1: 14-15.  Why there?   Because I believe, in order to answer the question of ‘why a Catholic can be taught their faith for years and not embrace it,’ a person must begin with themselves, their experience, their failures, their sins, their walk of faith, and for me and for countless other Catholics in El Sembrador and the Sower, this (Mark 1:14-15), was the essential and missing piece of our faith.  Let’s read it together:

 

“After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God: ‘This is the time of fulfillment.  The kingdom of God is at hand.  Repent, and believe in the gospel.”’  Last week, we touched upon the importance of metanoia, and now, on the lips of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we see hear this word and its significance for an authentic faith, a disciple’s faith, because the word that we translate as repent, is the explosive Greek word metanoia.

Please read what was written last week about metanoia, and that will help you with what follows.  A person has had a metanoia, when they can honestly say, as we teach in the Sower: JFJA, Jesus First Jesus Always.  Jesus first means that prior to having a metanoia, Jesus was not first in a believer’s life, in fact Jesus was a distant fifth, sixth, seventh, sometimes, as in my journey of faith a distant last, more of a habit of how a person grew up, a routine of life rather than a response of worship, love, and faith.

 

Ask yourself right now what Jesus First Jesus Always, means in your life today.  Is Jesus really first in your life or for example did you blow of worshipping him last Sunday because (please add your personal examples these are simply a few of mine): the Lakers were playing, your children had a soccer game, got in late from a great night with friends and wanted to sleep in, just didn’t feel like going, somebody told you ‘Jesus loves you just as much at home as he does in Church,’ and that “it’s about the relationship not the religion,” and you believed them?

 

Like the Holy Father’s answers to Mr. Seewald’s tough questions, I believe this is the kind of meaningful/ honest/transparent dialogue and teaching our teens and adult faithful are seeking.  They really are tired of the grey area where everything is “well maybe,” and “I’m not sure.”  They are looking for truth and the truth is Jesus said, “metanoia,” meaning, ‘change the way you are thinking because the way you are thinking is wrong, the way you are thinking is not leading you to my kingdom, the way you are thinking is not based on my Word, but your college teacher’s foolish philosophy, which for some reason you took as the “gospel truth,” while ignoring the truth of my gospel.’

 

‘Yes, my son, my daughter, metanoia, change the way you are thinking and your  heart with it, and then you will be able to change the way you are acting and living.  You keep coming to worship me on Sunday, you say, ‘I confess to almighty God and to you my brothers and sisters, that I have sinned,’ but your sins are not forgiven because I know your heart, you honor me with your lips but your heart is far from me, you say these things, you hear my Word, you receive my Body and Blood, but your heart does not change nor repent, let me show you why, go and get your wife, oh yes, she is sitting next to you, but this is not your wife, this is the woman you live with, and you have had many such women.’

 

In the Greek, the language of the New Testament, metanoia literally means, ‘change your mind,’ it begins with our minds but metanoia is written as a command of the heart, meaning Jesus is saying ‘I am not first in your life, you need to put me first, change your mind and I will change your heart, right now all these things are more important to you than me:  your jealousy, your bud, your money, your free time, your Budweiser, your figure, your ladies, your gossip, your car, your friends, your education, your clothes, your vacations, your job, do I need to go on?  Every time one of these things is on your mind, I am out, I am last, you only seek me when you have problems with your money, your health, your job, listen to my Word, metanoia is my command, change the way you are thinking, change your heart.’  Unless we have a metanoia, we cannot authentically follow Jesus’ second command, in Mark 1:15, BELIEVE.

 

As I shared before, that was my mess, that was my life, I SAID Jesus was first in my creeds, my receiving of the Body and Blood, but it was never true, my actions dictated the truth, not my words. I knew a lot about Jesus, I believed in Jesus, but because I never knew him, my faith was in my head and not my heart, my professions and confessions were false, my Amen’s were empty, because I never did resolve to amend my life, why should I, I liked the life of sin I was leading, in my little world, life was good, I was the man, I had the money and ladies, I was not looking to change anything.  So I went to Church on Sunday, always received the Body and the Blood, but because Jesus was not first in my life, I walked in spiritual blindness, led by the wrong spirit, the grace of the Body and Blood was not efficacious because of MY incapacity of heart and spirit to receive true and everlasting life.  Ouch, ugly, and real.  I needed a metanoia.  How does that happen?

 

Here we go.  Come Holy Spirit, Jesus I need a full breath here, yes Jesus please breathe upon me now the Pentecost Fire of your Love, let me witness to you in Spirit and Truth. This teaching is based on the new I, me, mine, in my life Word/Spirit/Sacrament which means a life in the Spirit, a daily walk in the Father’s vineyard.  Here is the hard truth and reality: Jesus is a “come as you are God,” he will take us “as is,” walking or crawling.  From personal experience, I encourage you to come to him today, literally right now, walking if you can, meaning if your life is blessed and you know it, if you have not hit “rock bottom,” if your faith is a reflection of how you were brought up, but not in your heart, because Jesus is not first in your life, change this immediately, place him there right now, surrender your life, your “self” and all that you place above him, to him, NOW, because if you don’t, the crawl is inevitable, and it is really, really painful.

 

The crawl is for the hardest of hearts, the most selfish, those who think that they are untouchable in life, bulletproof, attached to the things of the world in a visible and often scandalous way, a heart like mine.   After the cleansing of the heart and mind is over, in actuality, you will see the crawl as a testament to God’s faithfulness, God’s love and mercy, but when you are going through it, you will not know or understand this, it’s just going to be constant suffering, until the surrender of the self, the metanoia, takes place.

 

The crawl, what some may call, “rock bottom,” will bring you to your knees.  If you’ve never cried before, plan on it.  You will also become constantly anxious, distraught, depressed, fearful, not understanding what is going on or even why.  The reason you will be anxious, distraught, and depressed, and not know what is happening is because Jesus is going to clearly show you, that the thing or things you thought were most important and precious in your life, the things truly on your heart and mind, the things you loved, were in reality not yours to possess, but his gift and blessing.

 

Yes, Jesus will begin to take that which you held most precious in life from you, that which you always placed first in your life, that which made you so prideful, callous, selfish, and hard of heart, that which you thought would always be there: your health, your power, your drugs, your freedom, your wealth.  At this point you will be confronted with two choices, you can either follow the advice of some of your friends and relatives, go to a doctor, be prescribed some medicine and hope the medicine changes your reality, or you can do what I and millions of others have done, seek Jesus, crawl to Jesus.

 

Jesus knows everything, including our secrets and hearts, “There is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known.”  Luke 12:2.  Jesus knows that certain hearts need to have their “first love,” that which they desire and cherish the most, that which consumes their mind and heart, taken away from them, so that he can finally enter and become the true “first love,” and so Jesus, begins to take away everything that made us who we are, the things that we loved and wanted the most in life, that which for years has dominated our minds and hearts and actions.

 

When our idols are being removed, and literally there is no other place we can turn, the cleansing has begun, your mind and heart are changing, then and only then, by the grace of God, we will begin to realize that the  life we were leading was false, we will begin to realize and look back at some of the teachings of the Word and Church, teachings that for the longest time we chose to ignore or selfishly chose not believe because they did not fit our lifestyle, and then in total humility, we literally will crawl to Jesus, asking for his mercy and forgiveness, which he will lovingly bestow upon you.

 

When this happens, you are experiencing the essential, cleansing, Spirit filled, and beautiful gift of the Word and faith, metanoia.  Amen to his Blood.  This Holy Father, based on the Word of God, is what we need to constantly preach and teach to our faithful family, a life lived in and with the Holy Spirit, through a total/complete/authentic surrender of the self to Jesus Christ, metanoia.  JFJA, Jesus First Jesus Always.

 

My crawl was all about the money, because the money was always first in my life, the money gave me my self-esteem, it shaped me into the person I thought I was, and gave me access to all those other temporary pleasures that I have already mentioned.  So when the money started to go away, and I could not control what was happening, and without a doubt, being in control is very important to a selfish person, something I could not have imagined in a thousand years, when the money was no longer there to make me be who “I am,” then the person I was had to change, there was no other possibility, I had to change, because that which for so years had made me the person I was, was no longer there. Thank you Jesus.  Amen to your Blood and Name.

 

You see in my life, money was the mess, money was the mask, money was satan’s tool, (the love of money is the root of all evil: 1 Timothy 6:10) his way of keeping me his fool, spiritually blind, with moments of pleasure but never peace, incapable of knowing and receiving God’s true love for me, from becoming the person God had created me to be, a temple of the Holy Spirit, an authentic disciple of Jesus Christ, a son.

 

Yes, today, and everyday, I can now look back and say, thank you Jesus for the crawl, for opening the eyes of this blind man.  Thank you Jesus, for my family, for my Church, all my Spirit filled ESNE and Sower friends.  Thank you Jesus, for defeating this enemy, who, for so many years had me believing and living his lies, masking my true identity as your son.  Thank you Jesus, for showing me how temporary and easily things we place above you and love more than you, can be instantly gone, literally overnight: health, money, power, and possessions.  Thank Jesus Christ for not abandoning me in my selfishness and sin, for not giving up on me, for calling me to yourself and taking the mask of satan, the mask that I wore for too many years away from me and through your Church, covering me with your Blood, Word, and Spirit.  Thank you Jesus, for calling me to metanoia.

That’s the crawl.  Now what?  Depends on where your heart is.  If your heart is filled with money, worldly power, possessions, adultery, hate, revenge, addiction, or jealousy, then Jesus is not first in you life and now it’s on you. Now the Holy Spirit is again tugging at your heart, your conscience is putting this question on your heart right now, “Is Jesus really first in my life, have I really surrendered my life to him, do I honor Jesus with my lips and not my heart, do I live in and with the Holy Spirit?”  Amen to the Blood if you are making an honest assessment of your faith because honesty/transparency/truth is the only way to make the necessary changes of mind and heart, to have a metanoia, and live a life in the Spirit.  Go there. If you have had a metanoia, then you know what to do, the Spirit will guide you in your daily life of Prayer/Word/Sacrament/Service, a life in the Father’s Vineyard.  It’s really nice there.  Like that garden the bible talks about!!!

 

Understand always, just as the Word reveals, Jesus knows your secrets, Jesus knows your heart, Jesus knows if the prestige, the money, the sex, the house and cars are more important that him or not.  You can do this, not in and of yourself, but by the power of the Holy Spirit.  The Church is in constant prayer for those who need to come to Jesus, those who need to surrender their hearts to his love and mercy.  Go there. You can do this.  Repentance/metanoia is real, it is his Truth, it is Jesus’ command and call to eternal life, a life in the Holy Spirit, through the true surrender of your life, your “self” to him.  Our ministry is with you in prayer and hope.  I am with you in prayer and hope. Jesus will be there for you, the majesty of our faith, teaches us, that Jesus rejects NO contrite heart, yes, when you turn to him for mercy, forgiveness, and love, trust me you will receive MORE THAN YOU EXPECT.

 

That’s today’s reflection. Next week we will begin a reflection on what it means to be a mathetes, a disciple of Jesus Christ.  Pray for the Holy Father, and all bishops and priests, stay in the Word, keep reading those beautiful chapters of Luke/Acts, receive the Body and Blood as often as possible, and as you battle the spirits that try to confuse and bind you, may Jesus breathe upon you always the power and authority of his Spirit, so as to cover you in the Blood and victory over all enemies.

 

JFJA

 

Grace and peace,

 

Joseph