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If our love is deep and broad enough, we will be pained by obstacles to unity and will work harder to overcome them.
When I consecrate a new church in the Archdiocese, I often point to the altar and explain that the altar in every Catholic Church is the center of the universe, because Christ is the center of history.
In recent decades, greater appreciation of our being sisters and brothers in Christ because of our baptism has grown. This has changed the psychological and social climate of our living and praying. We are not enemies but family: a fractured family, but still family.
Jesus did not come back from the grave as a ghost. Nor was it a simple resuscitation of a corpse. Jesus reversed death.
Jesus died with nothing at all and preached that the poor are blessed. He condemned those who have riches and are content that others remain poor.
The primary means of achieving unity, after prayer for the conversion of all of us to the ways of the Lord, is to engage in dialogue. Genuine dialogue means each party brings the fullness of their beliefs and shares them, trusting the dialogue partner to respect them.
We have to move forward together into a future that is not at all secure except for our certitude that God’s love is constant.
Whatever our level of education, we can truly read and understand the Scriptures in the light of our faith in Jesus, the living Word, who is present and speaks to us today in and through his Church. Outside of that faith, no one can do theology or understand Scripture as God intends it to be understood.
When a very bright light shines in our face, we blink. We close our eyes. The light is still there, but our eyes reject it because it is too much for them. On the first Easter day, even the apostles and Jesus’ close friends blinked. It took a while to recognize him and to realize what had happened. It was too much to believe until the Lord pressed them with the evidence. Once convinced, they testified to Jesus’ resurrection even at the cost of their lives.
An effective ecumenist loves the Church, because the Church’s life is part of the mysteries we assent to in our act of faith. Secondly, we have to meet other Christians always in a spirit of reconciliation, mutual respect and understanding.
A man and a woman are able to take the risk of loving each other completely because they know themselves to be loved completely and faithfully by God.
Appearances are deceiving when it comes to the Holy Eucharist. It looks like the bread of Jesus’ time, tastes like unleavened bread, smells and feels like bread but it’s not bread. It’s the body and blood, human soul and divine nature of Jesus of Nazareth, risen from the dead.
Christian freedom is found in relationship to Christ himself, not in autonomy or individual independence. Identifying the sources of enslavement today is part of the discernment of spirits which marks our quest for holiness.
A disciple of Jesus Christ has received gifts from the Lord, and the Lord asks his disciples to be generous with others as he is generous with them.
Giving alms is not commanded just to help those in need. It is also necessary to help each of us live more freely, more gratuitously, more like the God in whose image we are made.
God makes us a new creation in Christ, forgiving our sins and forming us into the Church. The purpose of evangelizing is to make Jesus Christ known and to invite people to be part of the company of his disciples in the Church. The motive of evangelizing is gratitude for what Christ has given us. The method of evangelizing entails our own personal renewal in the faith and in living Christ’s life in his body, the Church.
Jesus rose bodily from the dead. His whole person is with God, but he is still in contact with the world, with each of us. Jesus is with the Father and the Holy Spirit, but he is constantly acting on us in the world. Free of all the bonds of space and time, the risen Jesus can be wherever he wants to be. And he wants to be with us.
A person of integrity oversees himself or herself. For Christians, the principle of integrity, what holds us together, is faith. The belief that a provident God accompanies us on every step of life’s journey and in everything we do keeps us from doing anything that cannot be done in God’s company and with the help of His grace.
Because unity in faith is a gift, dialogue can never be a search for compromise, never have as a goal a negotiated agreement like a business contract.
We need to learn how to forgive or we cannot be missionaries anywhere. Only forgiveness from the heart can release us from our own hurts and misery and free us to share Christ’s gifts with others.
The devil is the source of temptation, but succumbing to temptation is our own doing. Only if we come face to face with our own sinfulness, do we begin to be grateful for the power of God’s forgiveness. Only if we recognize the connection between sin and death, do we begin to probe the meaning of Christ’s death and resurrection. Only if we experience the evil we have done, do we begin to understand how God has brought redemption out of loss, love out of hatred.
Again and again, Scripture tells us that God’s is a faithful love. Made in God’s image and likeness, we are called to be faithful. Fidelity grounds our relationship to God and to those he has given to our care.
Because marriage celebrated in the Church is a sacrament, it cannot be undone. The Church cannot break a bond created by Christ himself.
God shows those in hell all the love they are willing to accept: his justice. To us on earth, God shows his loving mercy. To those in heaven, God shows his face, which is beyond all imagining, the face of love that has no limit and never ends.
If the bishop is doing his job, the people have a certain security in their relationship to Christ. If we are all faithful, Christ himself will forgive our sins and heal our wounds. That is all that is possible, and that is more than enough.
It is always amazing to me how anyone who holds the faith can ask what we get out of the Mass. What we get out, is the risen Christ. What he does is explode our tiny ways and small minds to bring them into a dimension of existence that is sometimes resisted because it can be terrifying. The risen Christ is not a 'nice man'. He is certainly not the sentimentalized Jesus who never makes demands that bring us beyond our very selves and turn the world inside out.
It is neither liberal nor conservative to lie or to commit adultery. It is simply wrong. It is neither liberal nor conservative to obey the laws of the Church. It is simply right. Wrong and right are the difference between death and life. They are the guideposts along the paths to damnation or to eternal life. That difference is what our lives are really about. All the rest is distraction.
Jesus Christ is the end of the ages, the axis of time. In him, the salvation which is the future that God has in store for us has already broken into time.
On the cross, Jesus overcame sin. On the evening of the day he rose from the dead, Christ gave his apostles power to forgive sins. In the Sacrament of Penance, through the ministry of the Church, Christ releases the power of Easter into our lives.
Pentecost is a feast of conversion. Our minds are converted to Christ in faith; and our hearts are converted to His mission in charity. Faith and charity are given with the coming of the Holy Spirit. Everything in the Church is a gift.
People of faith care how Scripture is read and interpreted because, like faith itself, Scripture is a gift given to the care of the Church for our salvation. God gives us these gifts because he wills us to be saved.
Some resent being called sinners, but when pastoral oversight and charitable concern for others falters, lives are sooner or later, in this life or the next, brought to destruction.
The Church is founded upon God’s self-revelation to his people. This revelation is made in events in which God intervenes in human history, acting to unite people to himself here and for all eternity. People gather around these events and become a community, God’s people.
The Church understands herself in terms of holiness; the world understands the Church in terms of power.
The eternity we enter at death begins with a judgment. God has created us to live forever because, made in his image and likeness, God calls us to share, as far as creatures can, in the life of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This happy ending to our earthly life is not, however, a foregone conclusion. All depends upon our cooperation with God’s plan for us. What we are and do in this life is heavy with eternal consequences. When we emerge from the shadows of this life into the light of God’s presence at death, what we have made of ourselves will measure itself against the truth of God for us.
The God who is Lord of the universe, the personal God who created and sustains our world so that it does not fall back into nothingness, the God who saves us through the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, seeks to be the center of each and every human life.
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