Deacon Lincoln’s Log 8-25-13

I often talk about our community as a “community of disciples.” We have each been called by Jesus to follow him in a loving, personal relationship. My hope is that by reflecting on the values of discipleship we will create a culture that fosters ever deepening discipleship.

I ran across the following description of what is normal for a disciple of Jesus. I posted it to my blog ( www.exploringhiskingdom.wordpress.com ) a few weeks ago and wanted to share it with you as we continue to grow as disciples of Jesus.

 1. It is NORMAL for lay Catholics to have a living, growing love relationship with God.

2. It is NORMAL for lay Catholics to be excited Christian activists.

3. It is NORMAL for lay Catholics to be knowledgeable about their faith, the Scriptures, the doctrinal and moral teachings of the Church, and the history of the Church.

4. It is NORMAL for lay Catholics to know what their charisms of service are and to be using them effectively in the fulfillment of their vocation or call in life.

5. It is NORMAL for lay Catholics to know that they have a vocation/mission in life (primarily in the secular world) given to them by God. It is NORMAL for lay Catholics to be actively engaged in discerning and living this vocation.

6. It is NORMAL for lay Catholics to have the fellowship of other committed lay Catholics available to them, to encourage, nurture,and discern as they attempt to follow Jesus.

7. It is NORMAL for the local parish to function consciously as a house of formation for lay Catholics, which enables and empowers lay Catholics to do #1-6 above.

Sherry A. Weddell, Forming Intentional Disciples

 How well does this describe your experience as a disciple?

Peace,

Lincoln A. Wood

Deacon Lincoln’s Log 8-18-13

I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing! There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished.”

Lk. 12:49

 Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and enkindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And you shall renew the face of the earth.

Prayer to the Holy Spirit

Fire!

Fire burns. Fire consumes. Fire destroys. Fire spreads.

Jesus came to set the earth on fire. A passion burned in Jesus’ heart that cried out for justice. He knew the Father’s love and saw the capacity of each person. He also saw, more clearly than anyone else, what opposed that vision. The forces of evil and injustice, selfishness and greed were working to oppose the Father’s love. The Holy Spirit burning within Him compelled Jesus to oppose everything that promoted injustice. With the passion of a prophet Jesus words flashed out against all individuals and powers that prevented human flourishing. How he longed to unleash that fire!

But he knew it couldn’t be unleashed without sacrificial love for the fire was love itself. Jesus’ baptism on the cross unleashed that great fire of love on the earth. His great sacrifice kindled the fire of love in the world. It revealed the love and mercy of God and his passionate desire to heal all creation.

That same fire of love burns in each of us. The Holy Spirit of love burns within our hearts and calls us to the same sacrificial love of Jesus. Through prayer and sacrifice may we spread that fire of love through our lives this week.

Peace,

Lincoln A. Wood

Deacon Lincoln’s Log 8-11-13

Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.”

Lk. 12:48

With great power comes great responsibility.”

Spiderman’s Uncle Ben

While we may not be Spiderman, we have each been given everything we have from God. The first response to the gift of our lives – everything we have and everything we are – is gratitude. It is all a gift, after all.

Our next response is generosity. We have been given each of these gifts to be shared with others. We have a responsibility to one another, whether we have been given a lot or a little. Our gifts connect us to one another and demand to be shared.

Sometimes fear prevents us from being generous. Jesus says to us, “Do not be afraid any longer… “ (Lk 12: 32). The Kingdom of God has been given to us. There is nothing to fear. Sometimes it is hard to believe this but it is true. The generous God who blesses us daily will not abandon us in our need. With that confidence we can reach out to others and mirror the generosity God has shown us.

This week reflect on what you have been entrusted with. Do you have previously unknown gifts that are now calling to be shared? Have you shared your gifts generously? How can you grow in generosity? What fears prevent you from sharing the gifts God has entrusted to you?

We may not be able to leap from building to building or cling to walls, but we do have gifts to share. Let’s grow in generosity together.

Peace,

Lincoln A. Wood

Deacon Lincoln’s Log 8-4-13

Someone in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me.” He replied to him, “Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator?”          Lk. 12:13

“When I meet a gay person, I have to distinguish between their being gay and being part of a lobby. If they accept the Lord and have goodwill, who am I to judge them? They shouldn’t be marginalized. The tendency [to homosexuality] is not the problem … they’re our brothers.”     Pope Francis in an interview on his return flight from World Youth Day

Pope Francis made headlines for the response he gave to reporters when asked about homosexuality (see above). What struck me as I saw the various reports about this statement was that this has always been the church’s teaching. There is nothing new in the content here (see CCC 2357-2358).

But what became apparent from the reporting was that it was the style and the openness of the response that struck people. It was clear that Pope Francis meant what he said. He loves and respects our brothers and sisters who are gay.

The Pope took as his starting point love and respect, not judgment. While church doctrine has been consistent, explicitly rooting that teaching in our shared faith in God and our common brotherhood revealed a new dimension to this often misunderstood teaching. The church is not “anti-gay” or opposed to anyone. The church is for every single person.

Like all of us, our brothers and sisters who are gay

“must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition” (CCC 2358).

My hope is that each of us can have the courage and clarity of Pope Francis in our relationships with our gay brothers and sisters. May all our words, thoughts, and actions be rooted in love and respect.

Peace,

Lincoln A. Wood

Lumen Fidei Part 1

Image

Those who believe, see; they see with a light that illumines their entire journey, for it comes from the risen Christ, the morning star which never sets. (LF 1)

I finished reading Pope Francis’ first encyclical.  First of al, it is clear that Pope Benedict XVI had a strong hand in this encyclical.  It reads a lot like his other encyclicals and completes the series on faith, hope, and love, that Benedict began with Deus Caritas Est.  Francis states 

These considerations on faith — in continuity with all that the Church’s magisterium has pronounced on this theological virtue[ 7]  — are meant to supplement what   Benedict XVI   had written in his encyclical letters on charity and hope. He himself had almost completed a first draft of an encyclical on faith. For this I am deeply grateful to him, and as his brother in Christ I have taken up his fine work and added a few contributions of my own. (LF 7).

Lumen Fidei can, in a certain sense, be read as a completion of this “trilogy” and a final teaching from Benedict XVI.

After a brief introduction highlighting the need for a recovery of faith in the contemporary world, the encyclical is divided into four parts.  The first part “We have believed in love” traces the faith of Israel beginning with Abraham and leading to faith in Christ.  This chapter lays the scriptural and philosophical foundation for the rest of the encyclical.  At its foundation, faith is personal.

Faith is our response to a word which engages us personally, to a “Thou” who calls us by name (LF 8).

Faith is a call and a promise which invites us into a journey into the broader “horizons opened up by God’s Word (LF 9).  There is a respect for the Mystery of God, here.  Faith does not provide easy certainty but it does provide a foundation to build on,

Faith accepts this word as a solid rock upon which we can build, a straight highway on which we can travel… The man of faith gains strength by putting himself in the hands of the God who is faithful (LF 10).

Faith is both surprising and somehow expected.

God’s word, while bringing newness and surprise, is not at all alien to Abraham’s experience (LF 11).

This journey of faith which begins with Abraham is deepened and purified in the history of God’s People, Israel.

Israel trusts in God, who promises to set his people free from their misery…  God’s light shines for Israel through the remembrance of the Lord’s mighty deeds, recalled and celebrated in worship, and passed down from parents to children  (LF 12).

Along this journey, the temptation to unbelief is present.  This temptation manifests itself particularly in the form of idolatry.  Quoting the rabbi of Kock, the Pope explains 

idolatry is “when a face addresses a face which is not a face”.[ 10] (LF 13)

Idols lead to selfishness and confusion.

Idols exist, we begin to see, as a pretext for setting ourselves at the centre of reality and worshiping the work of our own hands. Once man has lost the fundamental orientation which unifies his existence, he breaks down into the multiplicity of his desires; in refusing to await the time of promise, his life-story disintegrates into a myriad of unconnected instants. Idolatry, then, is always polytheism, an aimless passing from one lord to another. Idolatry does not offer a journey but rather a plethora of paths leading nowhere and forming a vast labyrinth. Those who choose not to put their trust in God must hear the din of countless idols crying out: “Put your trust in me!” (LF 13).

Faith, on the other hand

consists in the willingness to let ourselves be constantly transformed and renewed by God’s call. Herein lies the paradox: by constantly turning towards the Lord, we discover a sure path which liberates us from the dissolution imposed upon us by idols (LF 13).

1. It is NORMAL for lay Catholics to have a living, growing love relationship with God.

2. It is NORMAL for lay Catholics to be excited Christian activists.

3. It is NORMAL for lay Catholics to be knowledgeable about their faith, the Scriptures, the doctrinal and moral teachings of the Church, and the history of the Church.

4. It is NORMAL for lay Catholics to know what their charisms of service are and to be using them effectively in the fulfillment of their vocation or call in life.

5. It is NORMAL for lay Catholics to know that they have a vocation/mission in life (primarily in the secular world) given to them by God. It is NORMAL for lay Catholics to be actively engaged in discerning and living this vocation.

6. It is NORMAL for lay Catholics to have the fellowship of other committed lay Catholics available to them, to encourage, nurture,and discern as they attempt to follow Jesus.

7. It is NORMAL for the local parish to function consciously as a house of formation for lay Catholics, which enables and empowers lay Catholics to do #1-6 above.

Sherry A. Weddell, Forming Intentional Disciples

1. It is NORMA…

Deacon Lincoln’s Log 6-30-13

“Elisha… taking the yoke of oxen, slaughtered them; he used the plowing equipment for fuel to boil their flesh, and gave it to the people to eat.  Then Elisha left and followed Elijah as his attendant.”

1 Kgs. 19:21

“For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.”
Gal. 5:1

“No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Lk. 9:62

This upcoming week we are celebrating Independence Day. As a church, we are also celebrating the Fortnight for Freedom, a time dedicated to prayer and reflection on the meaning of freedom, particularly religious liberty.

The readings this Sunday challenge us to recognize the radical nature of freedom.  We hear about Elisha’s call to follow in the footsteps of a prophet.  A call requiring him to  turn his back on his former way of life, as good as it was, and start over.

St. Paul tells us that true freedom is the freedom to follow the Spirit.  This requires turning away from all that is unhealthy and harmful to our bodies and souls and setting our sights on following Jesus.  Freedom, like love, is not easy.  It requires change.

Jesus teaching in the Gospel is clear:  the freedom of discipleship does not allow excuses.  We must be willing to follow Jesus all the way to Jerusalem, and die with him there.

As we celebrate Independence Day this week, may we remember the freedom our hearts desire is not a cheap freedom.  It is not simply freedom to do whatever we want.  A disciple’s freedom demands that we turn our backs on the past and resolutely follow Jesus, wherever he leads us.

Peace,

Lincoln A. Wood