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

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

path-in-the-forest

“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

Br. Roger of Taize – Rest in Peace

When I was young, at a time when Europe was torn apart by so many conflicts, I kept on asking myself: Why all these confrontations?  Why do so many people, even Christians, condemn one another out of hand?  And I wondered:  is there, on this earth, a way of reaching complete understanding of others?  Then came a day – I can still remember the date, and I could describe the place:  the subdued light of a late summer evening, darkness settling over the countryside — a day when I made a decision.  I said to myself, if this way does exist, begin with yourself and resolve to understand every person fully.  That day, I was certain the vow I had made was for life.  It involved nothing less than returning again and again, my whole life long, to this irrevocable decision:  seek to understand all, rather than to be understood.

Br. Roger of Taize 1915-2005
On August 16, during a prayer service at Taize,
Brother Roger is fatally wounded by a mentally unbalanced assailant.
  He dies at the age of ninety.

Mission

Variation on a Theme by Rilke

A certain day became a presence to me;
there it was, confronting me–a sky, air, light:
a being. And before it started to descend
from the height of noon, it leaned over
and struck my shoulder as if with
the flat of a sword, granting me
honor and a task, The day’s blow
rang out, metallic–or it was I, a bell awakened,
and what I heard was my whole self
saying and singing what it knew: I can.

Levertov, Denise