Take Ten - God Has A Plan

God has a Plan - Lent Weekend of Feb 24/25

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  • Written Summary: When I was child I must have heard my Father say a million times, “The right tool for the right job!”  As a man who knew a lot about construction he was keenly aware that each tool was created for a purpose.  When a skilled laborer used that tool for its created purpose it was indeed a work of craftsmanship.  Each week as we together proclaim the creed we begin by professing our belief in God, the Father, the Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.  While those words roll off our tongues have we really reflected upon what it means to call God our Creator?  In our human experience we create things with a purpose.  It may be to perform a function. Perhaps our creation is meant to express or evoke an emotion. We create with purpose.  So does God!  In fact God creates with a grand design in mind.  Each individual part of creation is designed together according to his plan.  It is hard to imagine that God, the almighty, all-powerful, all-knowing King of the Universe in a moment of time imagined each of us into being.  You have a purpose in God’s grand design to bring the good news of Christ’s salvation to this world.  It is your mission!  But did you know that the Holy Trinity, God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit also have a shared mission?  Here is what one of the documents of the Church tells us:  “… the three divine persons (are) committed to the same mission, to accompany humanity in the discovery of love, and to the understanding of who God is…”  Simply said, God created you for the purpose of discovering and sharing his divine life and love with you for all eternity. You were created for heaven-- to be enfolded in the perfect love that is the very essence of God. God, our Creator fashioned us with the capacity to know and respond to his life-giving love.  The next time you say the Creed will those opening lines reach deeper into your heart? 

What Happened to the Plan? - Lent Weekend of March 3/4 

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  • Written Summary:  Has this ever happened to you?  You are in a tense conversation with someone.  In the heat of the moment you say something that the minute it leaves your mouth, you regret.  You are left with knowing that no matter how much you want to, you cannot take it back.  The consequences will now fall.  While God’s plan for all of humanity was a life of ever deepening communion with him and therefore each other, there was a disruption in God’s plan.  Disorderness entered the world because humanity through our free will chose to seek purpose and meaning outside of God’s plan.  Original sin was a choice against God’s will for us, a choice counter to our own happiness.  And like the moment when you can’t take back what you’ve said, we could not make right this broken relationship with God.  The consequences fell.  Suffering, death, sin and alienation are things that human beings now experience as the result of that sin.  As significant as our action was, the Scripture invites us to focus on God’s action. God allows the consequences of our action, in order to preserve our freedom.  Yet, his last action as Adam and Eve leave the garden is to sew clothes of leather for them, protect them from what they will encounter.  This can only be an act of love—an act of mercy and forgiveness.  How you hear the tone of the Father’s voice as he grieves over the life we will now have is critical in your life of faith.  Is it punishing or sad?  There is a children’s song about the fall of creation in which speaks God to Adam.  Hear his lament as he speaks to his childre: “Where are you Adam?  Why are you hiding from me? I made you to be happy and to love perfectly. But now you have chosen to sin and disobey. You must leave this garden.  You cannot stay! Even though I love you, you must go from here. You will have to work and toil year after year.  Yet, my love for you will never have an end.   I am the God of mercy and forgiveness.”  Human beings disrupted God’s plan for our happiness. We ruptured our relationship with God and forfeited the right of eternal life with him. But the God of mercy and forgiveness will find a way to love us home once again.

The New Plan is Perfectly Revealed - Lent Weekend of  March11/12 

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  • It is a challenge to wrap our minds around an act of complete mercy and forgiveness.  That may be because we never really believe we are COMPLETELY guilty.  There often seems to be a small part of us that thinks, “I am sorry, but…”   Last week’s reflection on Original Sin may have brought us to a deeper understanding that we are wholly in need of God’s mercy and forgiveness. We must leave the garden, and yet we were asked to trust in the God of mercy.  There is original sin and there is our personal sin.  The times we choose to look for meaning and purpose outside of God’s plan for us.  The times we stand guilty with no “buts” about it.  Incredibly, despite our unworthiness, our incapacity to even begin to understand a love that is totally without condition, we hear these words from John 3:16.  “For God so loved the world be gave his only Son…”  And in verse 17,”For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.”   In his life, death, resurrection and ascension, Jesus reconciles the world to God.  He offers himself, pours himself out right up to the final and complete sacrifice on the cross.  Pope Francis tells us that Jesus is the face of the Father’s mercy.  In Christ’s sacrifice on the cross we are saved from our sin—and the fullness of a life of communion with God is available to us once again.  We are given the gift of salvation. That is why crucifixes, not crosses are visible in our Catholic churches.  We live as an Easter people, but never take our eyes off the face of Christ crucified.  For on that cross we gaze upon love poured out, love made visible. What a gift to know that his sacrifice will be made present for us again today at the sacrifice of the Mass. Pope Frances says it this way, “Faith in Christ brings salvation because in him our lives become radically open to a love that precedes us, a love that transforms us from within acting in us and through us.”  (Lumen Fidei  20)

The Plan Needs Water - Easter Weekend of April 7/8

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  • Celebrating is fundamental to our human spirit.  Who doesn’t love a good celebration?  We mark important events in our lives with family and food.  We tell stories and might even play games.  Celebrating is not just fun, it connects us more deeply to one another.  Baptism is a ritual celebration in which we welcome a new life.  It is a joyous experience of receiving a new child into our family, into the world.  While this is all good, Baptism is SO much more than that.  In the past several weeks we have reflected upon God’s desire for us and what God desires from us.  He invites us into a life-long journey of receiving and returning his love. We recalled Jesus’ sacrifice of love that restored God’s plan and saved us from sin and death.  How do Christians gain access to the gift of salvation?   We enter into divine life through Baptism.  In the waters of Baptism we are joined to Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.  We become one in him.   We are mistaken however, if we think of Baptism as a onetime event—simply a great family party.  In the waters of Baptism we meet the risen Lord and begin a relationship that must become the priority of our daily life. Baptism is in fact a miracle.  It is the miracle of God sharing his life with us, a life that is now forever changed.  We have a new identity.  This immersion in Christ gives us a name, it gives us a purpose and it gives us a mission.  Because of my Baptism, I am a Christian who lives in Jesus, withJesus and through Jesus.  He is the center of my life.  By the power of his Holy Spirit I become a disciple, who through word and deed invites others to meet the love of my life.  Let the waters of Baptism in our Church this Easter remind you of your true identity, a beloved daughter/ son of God, a sister/brother of Christ and a temple of His Holy Spirit!

The Plan Needs a People - Easter Weekend of April 21/21 

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  • We have considered how Baptism unites us to Christ.  The gift of his life given for us in his death and resurrection and then to us in the waters of Baptism, changes our very identity.  We are now alive in Christ, his disciple. Entering into that Divine life begins a personal relationship that is a life-long growing into total communion.  And today we consider how that same communion with Christ places us into relationship with all those who live in him through Baptism—we become his Body.  St. Paul tells us that we are his Body.  This is not symbolic or an analogy.  We are not LIKE his body.  We are his Body.  By the power of the Holy Spirit we are connected to one another through Christ.  We confess this each time we proclaim the Creed and confess “ONE, holy, Catholic and apostolic church.”  We are the one body of Christ in the world--a body that holds the vision and the call to manifest the kingdom of God.  Our growing in holiness not only has a consequence for our personal journey of faith but contributes to or detracts from the entire Body. In the days ahead we will be called to honor what we have experienced in the Body of Christ we call parish.  We will also hear the call to reimagine our experience of parish in the church of Pittsburgh.  God is calling us through his Son by the power of his Spirit, to find new and joyful ways to manifest his Kingdom.  It will require a personal growth in holiness as we personally die in him and rise in him and it will require that we support, challenge and celebrate our oneness as we wait in joyful hope to see what we will become in his name.  As his Body, our parish is missioned to proclaim that there is no one or nothing that is more important in our lives than Christ and his Kingdom. 

The Plan is Universal - Easter Weekend of April 28/29

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  • While this Easter season immerses us in the waters of Baptism and the call to discipleship that we hear in the Scriptures, it might lead us to ask these questions. How do people who are not baptized come to live in total communion with God?  Will they have eternal life in the fullness of the Kingdom?  This question can be complicated by the fact that some of our Christian brothers and sisters confess that salvation can only happen when someone accepts Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior.  The Catholic Church teaching is clearly spoken in the Church in the Modern World, a Vatican II Document when it says, “Every man who is ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and his Church, but seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it, can be saved.  It may be supposed that such persons would have desired Baptism explicitly if they had known its necessity.” (1260)  In other words, people who have been raised in non-Christian faiths, or people who may not even belong to an organized religion, through the gift of Christ’s reconciliation of the world to his Father can be saved.  Father Karl Rahner S.J. calls this the “arrogance of Christianity.”  What a beautifully arrogant belief it is!  That all people who are striving to live in response to God’s will, however they name or understand God, can be saved because of the love of Jesus Christ.  Why then is it not only important but necessary for we—disciples of Christ, to proclaim the story of Jesus?  How can we not, if we our hearts are bursting?  Knowing Christ and his truth has changed our lives forever.  Doesn’t everyone deserve to hear that truth?