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 2-5-17

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“Thus says the LORD: Share your bread with the hungry, shelter the oppressed and the homeless; clothe the naked when you see them, and do not turn your back on your own.”
Is. 58:7-10

“…your good deeds must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.”
Mt. 5:16

There are times when the world appears to be falling apart. For many people, this is one of those times. Writing nearly 15 years ago, Sr. Joan Chittister wrote,

The world is getting smaller, they tell us, but we know that it is also getting to be more than that. It is getting infinitely more confusing, infinitely more uncontrollable at the same time. We are now a people whose children are born in one state, educated in another, employed in a third, retired in a fourth, and buried in a fifth. We are people who wear clothes made in one nation, eat food grown in another, and work for someone who is a citizen of a third. We are a people who travel the world and take it for granted. We are a globe on which some of the largest economies in the world are corporations, not nations. We are people born in a white, Western Christian culture that we watch become more brown, more Eastern, more polyvalent every day (Scarred by Struggle, Transformed by Hope).

This statement is even truer today.

How do we live in this bewildering world?

It’s not rocket science. “Share your bread with the hungry, shelter the oppressed and the homeless; clothe the naked when you see them, and do not turn your back on your own” (Is. 58:7-10). We are called to live in this constantly changing world with gentleness and peace. The beatitudes (Mt. 5:1-12) are our guide. No matter how perplexing the situation is, we are called to live as disciples of Jesus, giving and receiving love.

This gives us a starting point to engage our culture. When we are confronted with new situations we can look to the guidance of Jesus through the teaching of the church. During these changing times, it is more important than ever to stay rooted in prayer. Being a disciple does not make life easier, but it does help us find clarity in the midst of constant change.

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln A. Wood

Deacon Lincoln’s Log 1-22-17

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“Jesus called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father and followed him.”

Mt. 4:22

“As members of the Church, Jesus calls us to be disciples. This has astonishing implications:

  • Mature disciples make a conscious decision to follow Jesus, no matter what the cost.
  • Christian disciples experience conversion – life-shaping changes of mind and heart – and commit their very selves to the Lord.
  • Christian stewards respond in a particular way to the call to be a disciple. Stewardship has the power to shape and mold our understanding of our lives and the way in which we live.” (from Stewardship: A Disciple’s Response)

Each one of us has been called by Jesus. Following that call, we enter onto the same path that Peter, Andrew, James, and John began in today’s Gospel. It is the path of discipleship. The path is filled with joy and sorrow, loss and recovery, healing and pain. Today’s Gospel highlights a particular pattern we all encounter on this path of discipleship: leaving and following.

Peter and the others left their boats and their father. Their jobs and their families were less important than following Jesus! Our own path as disciples also entails leaving. Each of us leaves behind whatever it is that gets in the way of following Jesus: our ego, our pride, our greed…. We leave it behind and take the next step as disciples.

And those steps, like Peter, Andrew, James, and John’s steps, lead us down a path filled with generosity and sacrifice. ““Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me” (Mt. 16:24). The early disciples were often confused about what Jesus was asking of them, but it was always clear that His call was to generously serve the “little ones” (see Mt. 25).

Our call is the same. How are we following the Lord?

You received a stewardship flyer in the mail recently. It is an opportunity to respond to Jesus call to sacrificial service and generosity. Take some time to complete the flyer and return it to the parish. God calls us together to follow Jesus.

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln A. Wood

Deacon Lincoln’s Log 1-15-17

Sala capitolare di s. felicita, volta con virtù di di niccolò gerini, 1390 ca. fedeBy Sailko (Own work) [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

“Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God…”
1 Cor. 1:1

‘You did not choose me,’ Jesus said to his disciples, ‘I chose you.’ This affronts our ego because we like to be in charge of our own choices. But finding a spiritual teacher is not like signing up for a course at college. The Christian disciple feels he or she has been chosen and has given their consent to this calling.
Laurence Freeman, First Sight: The Experience of Faith

This weekend we transition from the Christmas season to the season of Ordinary Time. Ordinary time is a time to reflect on our call to be disciples of Jesus. Today’s readings highlight God’s call  to discipleship and ask us for our response.

St. Paul had a powerful experience of being called on the road to Emmaus (see Acts 9). He knew that he was responding to God’s call.  He was “called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God… “ (1 Cor. 1:1) and he responded with deeper faith every day.

John the baptist recognized his call when he saw “the Spirit come down like a dove from heaven and remain upon [Jesus]” (Jn. 1:33). His response deepened from being a prophet, to being a witness, to being a martyr. John responded with greater fidelity each day to the Lord’s invitation to discipleship.

Sometimes we think that we have chosen to follow Jesus. We decide to follow Jesus. We can even take pride in this. “Surely Jesus appreciates having such a great disciple as me” we think to ourselves. But the truth is that, like Paul and John and every disciple, we do not choose Jesus, we simply respond to His call.

Ordinary time reminds us of that call. Jesus’ call comes to us at every moment. He invites us to deeper love of God. He summons us to deeper service of our neighbor. He asks us to love even our enemy.

How will you respond to Jesus’ call today?

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln A. Wood

Deacon Lincoln’s Log 5-11-14

Pasture gate...

Pasture gate… by Richard Reeve (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

“Let the whole house of Israel know for certain that God has made both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”  Acts 2:36

Jesus said, “I am the gate.  Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture.”  Jn. 10:9

We continue our journey through the Easter season and ponder the meaning of the new life that we received through the gift of Jesus’ resurrection.  Jesus is the gate to eternal life.  Through him, we will “come in and go out and find pasture.”

We come in through the gift of faith.  The gift of faith makes us children of God.  We have been claimed by the God of Jesus Christ.  Jesus calls us to be his disciples and we come to him week after week and day after day in prayer and the celebration of the sacraments.  We follow Jesus in faith every day.

We go out by the love born of the Holy Spirit.  This weekend, our candidates for confirmation receive the gift of the Spirit in a new way.  They are empowered and sent forth to witness to Jesus.  They have been given the gifts of the Spirit, not for their own sake, but for the sake of the world.  They have new wisdom and knowledge, their hearts are filled with mercy and compassion.  And so our ours.  We go out by the power of the Spirit.  We go out in love.

We find pasture in the hope of eternal life.  As disciples following Jesus we know our destination is eternal life.  Jesus resurrection reveals where he is leading us.  He has been established as Lord and Christ.  As Lord he has defeated the power of death.  Our pasture is not of this world.  We are destined for eternity where faith, hope, and love find their fulfillment.  As disciples, we live the way of faith, hope, and love.

Peace,

 Dcn. Lincoln A. Wood

Deacon Lincoln’s Log 11-17-13

“Before all this happens, however, they will seize and persecute you, they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons, and they will have you led before kings and governors because of my name.” Lk. 21:12

“… there have been seventy million martyrs since the time of Christ. Of that total, fully half, or forty-five million, went to their deaths in the twentieth century…” John Allen, The Global War on Christians

I just started reading John Allen’s new book: The Global War on Christians. John Allen is a respected Vatican journalist who covers global issues. He is one of the best. His book is helping me to see the church in a new light.

On the world stage, Christianity is not a global power. Christianity is primarily made up of oppressed minorities and women who are often persecuted for their beliefs. Many Christians today are suffering for their faith, often to the point of death.

This fact makes us uncomfortable. We tend to think of our faith as a source of peace, and indeed it is, but it is a peace that the world cannot give.

“Hearing accounts of how Muslim radicals in Egypt pour sulfuric acid on the wrists of Coptic Christians in order to eviscerate the tattooed crosses most Copts wear is not exactly conducive to inner peace. It’s disturbing and uncomfortable, and perhaps not what some Christians in the West are seeking,” (Allen 17).

The Gospel is not comfortable. It challenges us to look deep within ourselves and find a love beyond our capacity and a faith beyond our strength. The witness of these martyrs can give us hope and perspective. Hope in God’s power to conquer death. Perspective in seeing that love alone matters.

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln A. Wood

“Carrying Christ”
Into the hillside country Mary went
Carrying Christ, and all along the road
The Christ she carried generously bestowed
His grace on those she met. She had not meant
To tell she carried Christ. She was content
To hide His love for her. But about her glowed
Such joy that into stony hearts love flowed,
And even to the unborn John Christ’s grace was sent.
Christ in His Sacrament of love each day
Dwells in my soul a little space and then
I walk life’s crowded highway, jostling men
Who seldom think of God. To these I pray
That I may carry Christ, for it may be
Some would not know of Him except through me.
Ruth Mary Fox

A poem shared by Bishop Morneau with the deacons this weekend.

“Carrying Chris…