Monday, December 22, 2014

Beware the Boy MOST of All

“This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom…”
- Ghost of Christmas Present

Many of us may reflect on The Christmas Carol this time of year. We are given an ominous warning about “our business”. Mankind is our business, the common welfare, charity, mercy, forbearance and more. We are to help “the girl”, but our doom seems to stem ultimately from “the boy”. Why? Because what we know directs what we do.

If God is Truth, then Truth should direct the will. If love is an act of the will, then to love or judge something, we need to know it. The primacy of the intellect is important in order to love and judge things in the right way. If we are ignorant of what is true, how will we direct our will? What is our criterion for judging, other than our own desires?

Scripture gives us a subtle warning on the topic. “My people are ruined for lack of knowledge!” (Hosea 4:6). If we chose to ignore “the boy”, then doom will engulf us all, because it all starts with ideas, and ideas have consequences. “Sow a thought and you reap an action; sow an act and you reap a habit; sow a habit and you reap a character; sow a character and you reap a destiny.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson

In the 25th chapter of the Gospel of Mathew we hear, “For I was hungry and you gave me food”. This is certainly about physical food, but also about the spiritual work of mercy to feed the intellect. One can think of the truths of our faith as a kind of health-food for the mind.

The seeds of God’s image & likeness are in every person, so we have a natural hunger for truth/knowledge. Stop and contemplate “hunger” for a moment. What happens to people if they are hungry enough, for long enough? They’ll eventually eat something; they’ll eventually eat somewhere, but will it be good food or will it be garbage? Will they care where the food comes from as long as it gives some satisfaction?

The Fall of Man has dimmed the intellect and weakened the will; as a result the human soul easily grows flabby and tired. In other words it is natural for us to be spiritually stupid and lazy. We then default to our animalistic sensibilities and have the habit of replacing God with other masters since it seems to save us so much trouble.

We all like to think of ourselves as independent thinkers, but people are like sheep and everyone eventually sits at the feet of a master. Who will feed our intellect about the right to life, human dignity, the nature of marriage, just war, capital punishment, etc.? Will we sit at the feet of Jesus through His Church or will it be some politician or political party, a celebrity or talk show host, a television evangelist, your favorite college professor, or will it simply be the always "infallible" majority? Who is your master?

Whoever it is, be prepared to give an account for what you believe. “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will render an account for every careless word they speak.” (Mat 12:36)


Monday, December 15, 2014

J-O-Y to the World

The word “joy” is used often during the holidays. I’ve heard it said that the key to joy in life is to keep the following acronym in its proper order.

Joy  J-O-Y:
Jesus First
Others Second
You Last

It also helps at times to look at things in different ways, from different angles, completely upside-down or backwards.

Joy backwardsY-O-J:

Obedience has a negative connotation of blind submission that conflicts with our pride. We think of obedience as a kind of strangle hold on our freedom, but try thinking of a hug instead.

God’s laws are not meant to take the fun out of life; they are really laws of love and the boundaries are more like an embrace. The Good Shepherd tells us that if we live within these boundaries, He can protect us, guide us and love us; when we go outside of this embrace, He can't promise us these things. When we sin, we refuse God’s embrace in our life and then we wonder why we feel abandoned, depressed, prayers not being heard or answered, etc.....

“If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.” (John 15:10-11)

This gives true meaning to Christmas Joy.

Wise men still seek him...and his embrace.
"...the law of the Lord is his joy;
and on his law he meditates day and night."
(Psalm 1:2)


Friday, December 5, 2014

For the Lonely

Some may feel more loneliness than joy during the Holiday Season. Thanksgiving to New Years can be just a series of obstacles to get through for a whole host of reasons. Perhaps the absence of something or someone haunts us like a ghost of Christmas past. The hustle & bustle of the season can also show us how a crowd can be the loneliest place.

For any believer who feels this way, this brief reflection might help…
“Any experience of being left alone, disregarded, forgotten – if it does not isolate the soul and make it retreat inwardly – invites a recognition. Our unimportance to others can combine with a fruitful realization. The more we disappear from the attention of others the more we are watched by God in a different manner.”

Our fallen nature tends to make us dissatisfied with God and what He gives us; always seeking something “other than God” when he has already given us himself. Emmanuel means "God is with us", so we are never truly alone. Theologically, we can say that God is so “with us” that he holds our being continually in existence. If God were to stop thinking about us or to stop loving us, we would lapse into nothingness, but how can one internalize that kind of closeness? Perhaps a mirror can help.

When you stand in front of a mirror, what do you see? You see your image & likeness. If you leave the mirror even for an instant, what happens to your image & likeness? It ceases to exist! You “being” in front of the mirror continually holds your image & likeness in existence. So God is right there, continually holding us and constantly sustaining us as we journey through the holidays or anytime.

“And behold, I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20).
Objects in mirror are closer than they appear.