Saturday, 31 December 2011

New Year - A Different Resolution

As New Year approaches, this reflection by Jon Walker, struck me; I intend to make time to draw up a different kind of list!

"Imagine if God created you to be the Michelangelo of this age, but you stayed so busy doing all kinds of things — good things — that you never got around to painting and sculpting. You’d end up missing God’s plan and design for your life because you got distracted chasing lesser things.
What a disappointment it would be for God, you, and all the people who would have been blessed if you’d stayed focused on your original purpose!

Today, make a list of things not-to-do in 2012. Fill your list with things you do that don’t match God’s purpose for your life or things you think you have to do but haven’t been told to do by God.

Ask God to clarify the things he wants you to do this year, and then ruthlessly move everything else onto your list of things not-to-do. 

Then, 'press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called you' (Philippians 3:14)."

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

In Bethlehem's Light

As we believe so shall we hope. The measure of our faith is the measure of our hope. 

Every day we are bombarded with many different understandings of our lives, about what really matters, about the purpose of it all. I find that if I do not nourish and deepen my Christian vision it is bound to become feeble and ineffectual. Then I am easy prey; I can fall into the grip of anxiety and discouragement.

So, a this time, I need the truth of what we celebrate at Christmas to refresh my soul.

In the story of God’s love affair with humanity I discover who I am.

In the presence of Jesus my Brother I glimpse the meaning of my joys and sorrows, my victories and defeats.

In the light of Bethlehem I know I am invited to the unimaginable happiness of sharing God’s life.

And the most hope-filled truth for me is that whatever happens in my life can be transformed by divine goodness into a step towards that fullness of joy.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Christmas - Beginnings of our Transformation

Avery Dulles, the American theologian, once said: “The Incarnation does not provide us with a ladder by which to escape from the ambiguities of life and scale the heights of heaven. Rather, it enables us to burrow deep into the heart of our humanity and find it shimmering with divinity.”

So Christmas celebrates the incarnation, not just the nativity. The incarnation is an on-going process of salvation, while the nativity is the once-for-all-historical event of Bethlehem. We look back in joy and gratitude for the unspeakable gift of God's Beloved. As St Francis might put it - we rejoice that "the Lord of Glory has become our brother".

But Christmas is not simply a history lesson. Guided by the light of the Holy Spirit the community of faith grows in ever-deepening understanding of the implications of the Incarnation, of the historical fact that the Eternal Word has taken on our flesh.

In this blessed season we celebrate nothing less than the beginning of the transformation of all history and creation by the presence of the divine in our midst.

Wishing you a Christmas radiant with his light and grace.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Celebrating Christmas in hope

Incarnation is not yet resurrection. Flesh in Jesus, as in us, is human flesh, vulnerable, weak, and incomplete. Christmas celebrates Christ's birth into this reality, not his removal of it. The Lord redeems limit, evil, sin and sorrow. They are not abolished. There is a definite difference.

For this reason we can celebrate Christ's birth without in anyway denying or trivializing the darkness in our world and the very real struggle we can experience in our lives and within our Church. Christmas is a call to celebrate while still in struggle.

The incarnate God is called Emmanuel,  God-is-with-us. That fact does not mean immediate festive joy. Reality has its harshness and Christmas does not ask us to make-believe.

The incarnation does not promise us heaven on earth. It promises heaven in heaven.

Here, on earth, it promises us something else – God's presence in our lives. This presence redeems because it is the grace of God-with-us that empowers us to keep on choosing the light, to not lose heart,  and to walk on together in hope.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Advent - Making Room for Love

Diadochus of Photice was a fifth century bishop and mystic. In one of his sermons he said: "The measure of a person’s love for God depends upon how deeply aware that person is of God’s love for him or her.”

D0 you want to love the Lord more? Do you want this Advent-Christmastide period to be a time of  renewal in Christian discipleship? Then let God love you more!

In Advent we speak of making space within so that the Lord can find a welcome, an openness, and thus he "rebirths" in us. What forms that space, that welcome is the experience of a love that frees us to trust, to let go, to surrender.

Angela of Foligno, the Franciscan saint,  wife and mother, felt Christ say to her one day: "You create the capacity and I will make myself a torrent within you" - a torrent of light and love and joy. Our love for God will always be a response to a love eternally present.

The key is to let that love stretch the heart and increase our capacity for God's self-giving.

Then the gift of divine love can grow and the depth of our response can expand.

God loves all his lovers first.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Mary's Total Yes to Pure Gift

I want to share with you a reflection from Richard Rohr, OFM, on the giftedness in Mary's life.

"Mary is the archetype, the personification of the one who represents and sums up the entire mystery of received salvation. In her Immacualte Conception, before she had done anything right or wrong, she is chosen.

Look at the free election at the Annunciation; there is no mention of merit or worthiness. The Annunciation story is the crescendo point to Scripture’s theme of total grace and gift. Did you ever notice that Mary does not say she’s 'not worthy'? She only asks for clarification: 'How can this happen? I am a virgin'. She never asks if, whether, or why! That is quite extraordinary and reveals her ego-lessness. Mary becomes the archetype of perfect receptivity. It takes the entire Bible to work up to one perfect vessel that knows how to say an unquestioning yes to an utterly free gift

'Mary, do not be afraid, you have won God’s favour,' declares the angel Gabriel. The word favour doesn’t say anything about the recipient. Favour says something about the one who is doing the favouring. So it’s really not an evaluation of Mary. It’s saying something about God’s election of Mary. She is one who is the absolutely perfect receiver and refuses to play the 'Lord, I am not worthy' card that had become normative in most biblical theophanies. She simply states, 'Let it be done unto me.'

 She lets God do all the giving. Her job is to receive such perfect giving.

God does not love you because you are good; God loves you because God is good. God does not love you because you are good; you are good because God loves you."

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Why Praise God?

When did you last dance before the Lord?

St Francis used to dance through the woods singing God’s praises. He understood that we adore, praise and thank God because he is more than worthy of it all. But that quality of prayer is also a wonderful blessing for us.

Adoration, praise and thanksgiving lifts us up into the wonder of who God is, of the vastness of his goodness, the depth of his purposes at work in the world and in our lives.
Praise of God opens my eyes, gives me a wider, cosmic vision, and deepens my faith in God.

What you feed your mind with comes out in feelings, emotions and actions. In prayers of praise and adoration we feed your mind with the reality of God.

Old lies have a way of creeping back. The lies we can speak to ourselves are very powerful. Do you recognise any of these thoughts?
Nothing can change. 
This situation is hopeless.
What’s the use?
I can’t go on! 
God does not care.

Those are lies and we need the light of God to expose them as false. When I enter God’s presence in a spirit of adoring praise, his light scatters the darkness of those falsehoods.

I know that I need to speak the truth to myself daily – the truth of God’s greatness and goodness. I need to celebrate that truth in prayers of praise and thanksgiving. I need to live in that truth so that I am not overcome by fear and discouragement.