Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Learning to Forgive

St Francis, it was said, 'walked this earth as the Pardon of God.' Immersed in God's healing goodness he radiated mercy and forgiveness. And he constantly echoes the teachings of Jesus on the necessity of cleansing our hearts of all resentment, bitterness, and of the desire for revenge. 'Since you speak of peace, all the more so should you have peace in your hearts.'

I find that when I speak on this topic it is always listened to with great eagerness. Very many people carry the hurts and wounds of the past with them, often from childhood and family. Those closest to us can hurt us most deeply precisely because they are close to us, and what they say and do has great power to build us up or tear us down.

Because these memories and emotions are hard to face they are often denied. But just because something is covered does not mean it is healed.  Just because something is denied does not mean it is not influencing our daily living. Just because someone is dead does not mean the hurt is dead.

As we grow in our friendship with the Lord there comes a time when the burdens of hurt and anger carried from the past need to be recognised, acknowledged and, by God's grace, put down in forgiveness. It is a law of life, hard but true, that when a deep injury has been done to us we do not find healing and peace until we forgive.

Forgiveness is medicine for our hearts.  With forgiveness we are freed from the cold grip of the past. Forgiving we regain our souls.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Power for daily living

The Acts of the Apostles has been called the Fifth Gospel, the Gospel of the Holy Spirit, because of the strong presence of the Spirit on every page. 

The Spirit of God is shown guiding and fortifying the Christian community and the lives of individual disciples in dramatic ways. We see the Spirit of Jesus direct the mission of the apostles in a very definite manner – through miracles, signs and wonders.

The Risen Lord offered power from on high, and that divine indwelling is very manifest in what we read in Acts.  
The Spirit of the Lord is still with us, and we can still experience His presence and power in remarkable ways. Normally, however, in our lives we look for this gift of the Spirit in the less miraculous, in the less extraordinary. 

The power given from on high is revealed in our lives
in the strength to follow daily in the footsteps of the Lord,
in the miracle of grace at work in courageous Christ-like choices,
in a life that shows forth the beauty of holiness.

 Miracles and the extraordinary still are part of the life of the Church of God. But we do not look only there for the signs of the Spirit’s presence. The vision and courage, the fidelity and love that are required in daily discipleship are the truest signs of the might of the Spirit at work in a human heart.

As an old Christian verse puts it:
Moment by moment I am kept by His love.
Moment by moment I have light for my feet,
Moment by moment I have power from on high.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Fan the flame

“Fan into a flame the gift given you… the Spirit of love, power and self-control” (2Tim 1:6,7)

The ongoing experience of Pentecost is meant to be a reality in the life of the Church and of individual believers. It is the ever-deepening awareness of all that God promises us as our inheritance, in which there is always more that we can receive.

"If you but knew the gift of God!" Faith and desire open us to the divine gift.

Expectant faith is not about new efforts.
It is a new desire. 
Growing in expectant faith is growing in desire. 

The more we desire, the more we ask for.
The more we ask for the more we receive.
The more we receive, the more we are capable of giving.
We are invited to move deeper and deeper into the stream of the Spirit.

Trust releases the power of God to act in us. But the Lord can only fill the empty. Am I expecting the Lord to fill a container that is already filled? Hand over all the burdens - the fears, the hurts taken on, the resistance to His grace and will.

Let Him prepare your heart.

Christ wants it for you more than you want if for yourself – the fruit of the Cross of Jesus is the Spirit poured out.

In these days of grace we asked to be available to recreating Love – in simple prayer we open ourselves to the Divine.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Look Beyond...

There is a beautiful song about the Eucharis that invites us to: “Look beyond the bread you eat -see you Saviour and your God. Look beyond the Cup you drink – see His blood poured out as love.” 

We are invited constantly to look beyond in our Christian living and see the deeper reality present. St Francis used to speak of the “eyes of the Spirit”. 

Before the crib – look beyond the helpless infant – see your God.
Before the Cross – look beyond the horror – see your salvation.
Before the altar – look beyond the obvious – see your Risen Lord.

This is how God works – He calls forth faith, a sight that is deeper than the merely visible, that does not depend only on outward appearances.

We need the same faith vision, the same eyes of the Spirit, the same light of God when it comes to the Church. We need to look beyond the institution heavy with history, the Church whose failures are trumpeted by the world, the sins of whose members are only too obvious at times.

There is an old Latin saying about the Church - Ecclesia semper reformanda  - the Church is always being reformed, always in need of reform. And the powerful image of Jesus cleansing the Temple has been used again and again throughout the centuries by popes and prophets, saints and reformers working for that renewal. 

But even as we pray and work for that deeper renewal we must not hesitate to view the Church in the light of faith. In the Creed each Sunday we profess our faith in the Church; we profess that it is not merely a human institution but the work of God.

The community of faith, made up of us ordinary human beings, is being built into the temple of the Holy Spirit. Each gathering of the Lord’s disciples especially for the Eucharist, weak and broken as we are, is truly that sacred space from which living water flows to heal and refresh. 

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Always Gratitude

I just finished reading the newspaper and came away dispirited. So many articles and comments voice discouragement even harshness, whether about society or the Church.

Now as I write I look out on a garden that is fresh and radiant with new life on this May day, and prayer and gratitude stir within - once again gifting me with perspective, helping me to "regain" my soul.
"Prayer is our humble answer
to the inconceivable surprise of living.

It is all we can offer in return
for the mystery by which we live.
Amidst the meditation of mountains,
the humility of flowers
— wiser than all alphabets —
clouds that die constantly
for the sake of God’s glory,
we are hating, hunting, hurting.
Suddenly we feel ashamed
of our clashes and complaints
in face of the tacit glory in nature.
It is embarrassing to live!
How strange we are in the world,
and how presumptuous our doings!
Only one response can maintain us:
gratefulness for witnessing the wonder,
for the gift of our unearned right to serve,
to adore, and to fulfil.

It is gratefulness which makes the soul great."

 Rabbi Abraham Heschel