Deacon Lincoln’s Log 3-26-17

Image from Pixabay“When Jesus heard that they had thrown him [the man born blind] out, he found him and said, ‘Do you believe in the Son of Man?’ He answered and said, ‘Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?’ Jesus said to him, ‘You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.’ He said, ‘I do believe, Lord,’ and he worshiped him.”
Jn. 9:35-38

Faith is a gift.

The story of the man born blind, at its roots, is a story of coming to faith. At the beginning of the story, the man cannot see. Jesus heals his physical blindness which begins the process of healing a deeper blindness. As the blind man encounters persecution, he comes to see who Jesus really is. First, he sees Jesus as a healer, then a prophet, and finally, when Jesus reveals Himself, as the promised Son of Man. The Lord has healed his “inner eye.”

The man who was blind can now see with the eyes of faith.

The Pharisees follow the opposite path. They begin physically able to see. But as the story progresses they reveal the blindness of their own “inner eye.” A miracle has happened, yet they cannot recognize it for what it is. Nor can they recognize Jesus for who He is. No proof is enough for them because they lack faith. Any explanation will do except the recognition that Jesus is the Son of Man who has been promised. They will continue to persecute those who see what they cannot. Their faith is dead even though Jesus is standing right in front of them.

During lent, we are called to deepen our faith. Jesus reveals Himself to us in the Scriptures and in the Sacraments. Indeed, our entire lives can open us to believe in Jesus. We pray that our “inner eye” will be opened and Jesus will reveal Himself to us in new ways.

Beg the Lord for the gift of faith. He will empower you to believe. Like the man born blind, it may take adversity to open our “inner eye” to see the truth of who Jesus is. If we persevere, we will see.

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln A. Wood

 

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Deacon Lincoln’s Log 3-19-17

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“… the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
Rm. 5:5

“There is a really deep well inside me. And in it dwells God. Sometimes I am there too. But more often stones and grit block the well, and God is buried beneath. Then God must be dug out again.”
Etty Hillesum

We thirst.

In the first reading (Ex. 17:3-7) we hear of the people’s thirst. God freed them from Egypt and as they wander in the desert they become thirsty. This thirst leads to quarreling and resentment. They become so angry that Moses is afraid for his life.

God responds to their thirst. He commands Moses to provide them with water. God cares about His people’s thirst and responds.

The theme of thirst goes deeper in the Gospel story of the woman at the well. Jesus sits at a well. He is thirsty. God is thirsty. Jesus thirst comes first.

Then along comes the woman. Like each of us, she comes to the well because she is thirsty. Perhaps her life has become routine and empty. She has sought fulfillment (five husbands). But still, she thirsts. She comes to the well, seeking something to quench her thirst.

And she finds Jesus at the well

Something happens.

This mysterious encounter with Jesus quenches the woman’s thirst. She leaves her water jar beside the well. With renewed energy, she returns to her village trying to share this powerful encounter with others. It has changed her. Jesus has changed her. He has satisfied her deepest longing.

Each day, Jesus comes to us. He thirsts for us. He pours his Spirit into our hearts so that our deepest thirst can be quenched. Like God coming to His people and like Jesus at the well, the deepest longings of our heart can be fulfilled in a mysterious encounter with Jesus.

This encounter is prayer.

In prayer, something happens. This encounter digs out the well within our hearts where Jesus thirsts for us. Each day, when we come to prayer, we come to the well. At the well of prayer, we encounter Jesus who can fulfill our deepest desires. He transforms us.

This encounter is what lent is all about.

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln A. Wood

Deacon Lincoln’s Log 3-12-17

“When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate and were very much afraid. But Jesus came and touched them saying, ‘Rise, and do not be afraid.’ And when the disciples raised their eyes, they saw no one else but Jesus alone.”
Mt. 4:11

“We… look upon the transfiguration above all as the celebration of that presence of Christ which takes charge of everything in us and transfigures even that which disturbs us about ourselves. God penetrates those hardened, incredulous, even disquieting regions within us, about which we really do not know what to do. God penetrates them with the life of the Spirit and acts upon those regions and gives them God’s own face.”
Kathryn Spink

Every year, on the second Sunday of lent, we hear the story of the Transfiguration of Jesus. It seems like an odd time to hear this story which so clearly foreshadows the resurrection. Some scholars speculate that we read this story near the beginning of lent to give us the courage to persevere in our lenten discipline.
I have a different theory, at least for this lent as we focus on being forgiven.
Read as a story of forgiveness, the Transfiguration takes on new meaning. Jesus reveals His glory to Peter, James, and John. He also reveals their need for forgiveness. They are confronted with Jesus’ majesty and see how pitiful they are in comparison. They fall short of their calling. Jesus glory confronts them with their sinfulness. They fall prostrate and are overcome by fear. They see their brokenness for what it is. In the light of the Transfiguration, sin is exposed for what it is.
But the story doesn’t end there. After revealing His glory (and the disciple’s sinfulness), Jesus comes to them with the healing words, “Rise, and do not be afraid.” They are forgiven. There is still a long journey of healing and transformation ahead, but Jesus assures them that he will be with them. He is not a judge, but a savior. He does not condemn but forgives.
What is true for Peter, James, and John is also true for us. Jesus brings us face to face with our sin. He does not let us off the hook. The close we come to His glory, the more we realize our need for forgiveness. But the story doesn’t end there. Jesus also assures us that He is our savior, not our judge. He releases us from fear and invites us to continue to follow Him.
We are forgiven. Let’s follow Jesus!

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln A. Wood

 

 

 

Deacon Lincoln’s Log 3-5-17

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“At that time Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.”
Mt. 4:11

“The Holy Spirit makes us discern between trials, which are necessary for the growth of the inner man, and temptation, which leads to sin and death. We must also discern between being tempted and consenting to temptation. Finally, discernment unmasks the lie of temptation, whose object appears to be good, a ‘delight to the eyes’ and desirable, when in reality its fruit is death.”
CCC 2847

What is the difference between undergoing trial and being tempted?

Trials are different than temptation. Trials happen to us. Trials come upon us. They are beyond our control and affect us from the outside. Trials lead us to depend on our strength. Trials reveal our weakness. Through trials, we develop our character and can become stronger, holier, better people. Trials are endured. “… affliction (trial) produces endurance, and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope, and hope does not disappoint… “ (Rm 5:4).

Temptations also happen to us. However, temptation works from the inside. Temptation asks us to consent. It asks us to give our heart over to the temptation. Temptation asks for our cooperation, not merely our endurance. Temptation invites us to sin by freely choosing evil. Temptation makes evil look appealing. Temptation has a moral component to it. It engages our will.

Because God has made us with free will, temptation can be consented to or resisted.Eve and Adam were tempted by the devil, they consented. Jesus was tempted in the desert, he resisted and overcame. We are all tempted when something we know to be wrong or evil appears good. Our minds twist and we justify what we know to be wrong.

The good news of Jesus’ overcoming temptation in the desert is that with Him we can overcome temptation as well. The closer we follow Jesus, the greater our ability to overcome temptation.

When temptation strikes, turn to the Lord. Remember that He has conquered all temptation. Trust that He will get you through. In resisting temptation, by God’s grace, you become free!

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln A. Wood

Deacon Lincoln’s Log 2-26-17

Goose, Goose Breast, Fry, Food, Christmas Food, Feast“There is nothing better for mortals than to eat and drink and find enjoyment, for these are from the hand of God.”
Ecclesiastes 2:24

“One will have to give account in the judgment day of every good thing which one might have enjoyed and did not.”
The Talmud

Lent is nearly upon us, but before we began our time of fasting, we have the time of feasting known as Mardi Gras (or Fat Tuesday). Mardi Gras is not a time of overindulgence or immorality as it is sometimes portrayed. Instead, at its heart, Mardi Gras is about enjoying the gifts God has given us to the fullest. It is a time of gratitude and thanks.

I priest in the diocese recently shared his favorite Mardi Gras prayer, which gets at the sensuousness and delight of Mardi Gras.

O Lord, refresh our sensibilities.  Give us this day our daily taste. Restore to us soups that spoons will not sink in, and sauces which are never the same twice.  Raise up among us stews with more gravy than we have bread to blot it with, and casseroles that put starch and substance in our limp modernity. Take away our fear of fat, and make us glad of the oil which ran upon Aaron’s beard.  Give us pasta with a hundred fillings, and rice in a thousand variations.  Above all, give us grace to live as true folk – to fast till we come to a refreshed sense of what we have and then to dine gratefully on all that comes to hand.  Drive far from us, O Most Bountiful, all creatures of air and darkness; cast out the demons that possess us; deliver us from the fear of calories and the bondage of nutrition; and set us free once more in our own land, where we shall serve thee as thou hast blessed us – with the dew of heaven, the fatness of the earth, and plenty of corn and wine. (Robert Farrar Capon)

May the next few days be days of great joy and gratitude in your life as we prepare for the coming lenten fast.

“Come, therefore, let us enjoy the good things that exist, and make use of the creation to the full as in youth. Let us take our fill of costly wine and perfumes, and let no flower of spring pass us by. Let us crown ourselves with rosebuds before they wither. Et none of us fail to share in our revelry; because this is our portion, and this is our lot” (Wisdom 2:6-9).

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln A. Wood

Deacon Lincoln’s Log 2-19-17

commandments-49012_640“So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Mt. 5:48

“Be holy, for I, the LORD, your God, am holy.”
Lv. 19:2

Today’s readings challenge us to be like God.

Yes, you read that right. Today’s readings challenge us to be like God. Leviticus tells us to be holy as God is Holy. Jesus tells us in the Gospel to be perfect as the Father is perfect.

How is it possible to be like God?

The short answer is one word: love!

Love changes us. On a human level, we see this all the time. Fulton Sheen reminds us, “We become like that which we love. If we love what is base, we become base; but if we love what is noble, we become noble.” If we surround ourselves with things that are beautiful and noble, we start to become nobler ourselves. However, if we surround ourselves with things that are wicked and dishonorable, we quickly find ourselves descending to their level. This is especially true of our friendships.

It is even more true on a spiritual level. St. Paul reminds us, “Whoever is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him” 1 Cor. 6:17. Our love for the Lord binds us to Him and we become like Him. Rooted in the gift of faith given at our baptism and the other sacraments, our love for the Lord makes all the difference in our lives.

Love is how we become holy, as God is Holy. Love is the key to becoming perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect. The greater our love for the Lord, the more we become like Him. This is the core of Jesus’ teaching on the Law that we’ve been reading the last several weeks. The Law is a matter of the heart. It is a matter of love.

May we continue to grow in love for the Lord so that we can become like Him in all things!

 

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln A. Wood

Deacon Lincoln’s Log 2-12-17

Picture from Pixabay

“If you choose you can keep the commandments, they will save you; if you trust in God, you too shall live; he has set before you fire and water to whichever you choose, stretch forth your hand.”
Sir. 15:15

“Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Do not think I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.”
Mt. 5:17

Jesus came to fulfill the law. What does this mean?

The Law Jesus is talking about is the Old Testament. Jesus fulfills this law in His life, death, and resurrection. He inaugurates the Kingdom of God and institutes the New Law of the Kingdom.

The New Law of Jesus has many names.

  • First, the New Law of Jesus is called the law of love. As disciples of Jesus, we are moved by the Holy Spirit. We are motivated by love, not fear. The Lord has given us His commandments to show us how to live a joyful and happy life. He has given us His Spirit to prompt us with love and inspire us to act for love alone.
  • Second, the New Law is the law of grace. This New Law does not only motivate us, but it empowers us. The Law is often seen as forbidding behavior, but the law, as it is fulfilled by Jesus, enables us to act. God’s grace makes it possible for us to follow Jesus which is the fulfillment of the Law.
  • Third, Jesus fulfills the Law making it the law of freedom. We are no longer bound by the rituals and customs of the Old Law. Instead, we are free to follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Love is the source of freedom. We are not only free from the punishments of the Old Law, but, more importantly, we are free to love in the way God loves.

The ultimate goal of Jesus fulfilling the Law is to make us transform us by the power of His Spirit.  We are no longer slaves, cowering from the Law. We are friends, living in the Kingdom. Following the New Law of Jesus makes of loving, empowered, and free.

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln A. Wood

*Picture from pixabay