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

 

 

 

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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 9-15-13

His Father ordered his servants, ‘Quickly bring the finest robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Take the fattened calf and slaughter it. Then let us celebrate with a feast…’”

Lk. 15:22-23

In the parable of the lost son (Lk. 15), the father welcomes his younger son back with open arms. This is the son who asked for his inheritance early and left his father behind to pursue his own selfish ends. It is for this son that the father throws a party.

Like the father, Jesus embraces those who have left God behind to pursue their own desires. And that is a great gift to us. We, the church, are like that younger son. Each one of us has chosen to leave God behind in some way. Jesus welcomes us to the divine feast. That’s grace.

But grace doesn’t stop there. The grace of God’s mercy cannot be contained. If celebrating our own salvation becomes all we do, we have turned salvation into another selfish goal. We have owned it and forgotten that it is a gift. It is true that we have been included in the Father’s feast, but God’s mercy flows beyond our selfishness.

Like the servant in the parable, God’s grace empowers us to prepare the feast. When God’s mercy touches a human heart, we, the church, are there to rejoice and celebrate. We aid the repentant sinner and embrace them, showing them a new way of life. That’s grace. But God’s grace doesn’t stop there.

Imagine the end of the parable. The elder son is standing alone while the party continues inside. He hears the joy and laughter but can’t bring himself to go in. Imagine the younger son coming out of the party to embrace him. He and the father listen to him and meet him in the midst of his anger and pain. After hearing him out, they apologize for their own failings and invite him in to share the feast. That’s grace.

God’s grace has been poured into our hearts…. but it doesn’t stop there. It has been given to us to be shared.

Peace,

Lincoln A. Wood

Healing

I am not a mechanism, an assembly of various sections.

And it is not because the mechanism is working wrongly, that I am ill.

I am ill because of wounds to the soul, to the deep emotional self,

And wounds to the soul take a long, long time,

Only time can help,

And patience, and a certain difficult repentance,

Long, difficult repentance, realization of life’s mistake,

And the freeing oneself from the endless repetition of the mistake

Which mankind at large has chosen to sanctify.

“Healing” by D.H. Lawrence

Do we want to live forever?

Death was not part of nature; it became part of nature. God did not decree death from the beginning; he prescribed it as a remedy. Human life, because of sin… began to experience teh burden of wretchedness in unremitting labour and unbearable sorrow. There had to be a limit to its evils; death had to restore what life had forfeited. Without the assistance of grace, immortality is more of a burden than a blessing.”

St. Ambrose, quoted in Spe Salvi (10)