Lincoln’s Log 1-24-2021

Review: Love your enemies

“Your ways, O Lord, make known to me; teach me your paths.”

Psalm 25:4

Over my “staycation” this past week, I spent a lot of time praying and reading. One of the books I read was Love Your Enemies: How Decent People Can Save America from the Culture of Contempt by Arthur C. Brooks (You may know him as the author of The Conservative Heart). I would recommend this book to anyone who is struggling with the division in our country and our world.

As the title indicates, he names the source of division as contempt – the view that the person you disagree with is unworthy of consideration. Rather than engaging in genuine disagreement or debate, many of us are likely to dismiss the person we disagree with as unworthy. One jarring statistic from the book was that “in 1960, only 5 percent of Americans said they would be displeased if their child married someone from the other political party. By 2010, that number was 40 percent, and no doubt has risen from there.”

We are deeply divided politically, and this division is spilling over into the other facets of life, including our religious and spiritual lives.

How do we begin to heal this division? How do we move beyond simply tolerating those we disagree with to loving them?

Brooks offers some very practical guidance on how to heal this division. Here are his five summary rules:

  1. Stand up to the Man. Refuse to be used by the powerful.
  2. Escape the bubble. Go where you’re not invited, and say things people don’t expect.
  3. Say no to contempt. Treat others with love and respect, even when it’s difficult.
  4. Disagree better. Be part of a healthy competition of ideas.
  5. Tune out: Disconnect more from the unproductive debates.

Reducing the book to one sentence, Brooks writes, “Go find someone with whom you disagree; listen thoughtfully; and treat him or her with respect and love. The rest will flow naturally from there.”

This is good advice for all of us in this politically divided world. If you are distressed by our current division and looking for practical ways to love those you disagree with, I would urge you to read this book.

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln

Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 10-25-2020

The Law and the Gospel (Kerygma)

“‘Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?’ Jesus responded, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment.’ ”
Mt. 22:36-38

Last week, I wrote that the heart of the Gospel “is not primarily about words or doctrines or laws or structures or systems. The Gospel is about a person.” Our reading from Matthew’s Gospel this week clearly makes this same point.

When asked by a scholar of the law about the greatest commandment, Jesus does not point to any particular behavior that is commanded, but rather to a person’s relationship with God. Rather than behavioral compliance, Jesus roots greatness in a personal loving bond with God. This bond affects the person at every level (heart, mind, soul, strength). Jesus interprets the law in the context of love.

What does this mean for us?

It means that everything we do needs to be rooted in an ongoing encounter with our loving God. This is the Gospel. It is personal. It affects every level of our being. It changes our behavior, not because of our own willpower, but because of the grace of God given to us in Jesus. We do not initiate this relationship. “In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins” (1 Jn. 4:10). We are called to respond to this invitation to a new way of life.

St. Augustine famously said, “Love God, and do what you will.” As we respond to the loving invitation of God to new life, we are transformed and our actions become more loving. The law can show us what love looks like, but it cannot change our hearts. Only the Gospel, a loving encounter with Jesus, has the power to change our hearts.

Today, right now, take a moment to invite Jesus into your heart and into your life. Give Him permission to affect you at every level and change the way you think, feel, and act. Say “yes” to the Gospel and live a life of love!

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln
Parish Pastoral Leader

Deacon Lincoln’s Log 3-19-17

fountain-1642204_640

“… 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 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 1-29-17

Image from Pixabay

Image from Pixabay

“Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted… Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”
Mt. 5:4,7

“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing.”

“At other times it feels like being mildly drunk, or concussed. There is a sort of invisible blanket between the world and me. I find it hard to take in what anyone says. Or perhaps, hard to want to take it in. It is so uninteresting. Yet I want the others to be about me. I dread the moments when the house is empty. If only they would talk to one another and not to me.”
— C.S. Lewis, opening paragraphs of A Grief Observed

Winter is often a time when we grieve. If you have lost a loved one recently, the grief is acute. But all of us carry grief with us and the long, gray days of winter can bring it out. As I meet with people, I hear how much loss we each bear. Here are a few nuggets of wisdom that help me in my own “dark times” of grief, that might help you.

  • Pray, pray, pray. God understands and heals the broken heart. His own heart has been broken and in love, he comes to us in our pain. Bring your grief to the Lord.
  • The loss takes time to process. It runs its course. Grief comes in waves and sometimes all you can do is ride the wave, but it does diminish.
  • It is OK to be happy, even if you are grieving. Laughter and joy are more fundamental that sadness and sorrow.
  • Cherish the real gifts rather than the loss of what might have been. Our minds can pull us into the world of imagination and trick us into dwelling on what might have been.. This can prevent us from being grateful for the real gifts we have received.
  • Turn to others for support when you need it. Spending time with others and making new memories can help us out of the darkness and loss. If you find yourself unable to cope, seek others to walk with you. Sometimes professional therapy is necessary or joining a support group (St. Rose and St. Mary’s offers a support group periodically throughout the year).
  • Grief is a part of love. The risk of love will lead us into grief, but our faith tells us that love is eternal and all tears will be wiped away when we are united with one another in heaven.

As a community of disciples of Jesus, we are called to reach out to one another. If you know someone is hurting, reach out to them with a kind word and an offer of assistance. If you are hurting, turn to the Lord and to one another.

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 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

Lumen Fidei Part 4 (Chapter 2)

Picking up with the second section of Chapter 2….

Chapter two of the encyclical is divided into six sections.

  • Faith and Truth (23-25)
  • Knowledge of the truth and love (26-28)
  • Faith as hearing and sight (29-31)
  • The dialogue of faith and reason (32-34)
  • Faith and the search for God (35)
  • Faith and theology (36)

Knowledge of the truth and love (26-28)

Faith and knowledge of the truth are linked through the heart.  “One believes with the heart” (Rom. 10:10).

the heart is the core of the human person, where all his or her different dimensions intersect: body and spirit, interiority and openness to the world and to others, intellect, will and affectivity (26).

It is faith’s connection to love that opens it to truth.

Faith knows because it is tied to love, because love itself brings enlightenment. Faith’s understanding is born when we receive the immense love of God which transforms us inwardly and enables us to see reality with new eyes (26).

This love is more than emotion.  It is a love that “aims at union with the beloved” (27).  Therefore it is a love grounded in truth.  We can only attain union with the beloved when we know the beloved.

Because it is born of love, the knowledge of faith is primarily relational.

It is a relational way of viewing the world, which then becomes a form of shared knowledge, vision through the eyes of another and a shared vision of all that exists (27).

Faith-knowledge is rooted in God’s covenant with his people.  It is born from a trust in God’s fidelity.  God has been faithful in the past.  He will be faithful now and in the future.

Faith-knowledge, because it is born of God’s covenantal love, is knowledge which lights up a path in history… the true God is the God of fidelity who keeps his promises and makes possible, in time, a deeper understanding of his plan (28).

Because, in faith, we are aware of God’s love for us, his plan becomes clearer and clarifies all of history.

Faith-knowledge sheds light [on] …the entire history of the created world, from its origins to its consummation (28).

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Charity does not grow by addition, like a heap of wheat. This addition would multiply charity without making it more intense. The increase would be in the order of quantity rather than quality, which is quite a different thing. In reality, charity or love increases in us in so far as it becomes stronger, takes deeper root in our will. As with the scholar, learning becomes more profound, more penetrating, more certain, without always reaching out to new conclusions. So charity grows in us by making us love God more perfectly and more purely for himself, and our neighbour for God.

Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P. The Three Ages of the Interior Life: Prelude of Eternal Life Volume One. Translation by Sister M. Timothy Doyle, Tan Books and Publishers INC, 1989, pp 132-133

Ran across this quote in an article from Homiletic and Pastoral Review.

Charity does no…