Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Christian Love & Charity

Christian love is simply found by looking no further than the Cross, which flows right into God's word and his promises.

God said, “Ask something of me and I will give it to you."

This past Sunday's readings show us Christian Love and Charity unlike no other. This love is a two way street, with our cooperation being a key part of the equation. Opening with the book of Kings, Solomon is front and center as God asks him for anything he wishes. Solomon however doesn't ask for selfish things. He simply asks for wisdom, understanding and humility, which are aligned with God's desires for all humanity. God then gives him what he asked for and so much more! How often do we ask for things from God like a vending machine, rather than trusting him in his infinite wisdom?

In the responsorial psalm, we are reminded that our lives are much more than material things. Living God's law and avoiding the many things of the world can be difficult at times, even though they are overly appealing and draw us away from him.

"Lord, I love your commands.
I have said, O LORD, that my part
is to keep your words.
The law of your mouth is to me more precious
than thousands of gold and silver pieces.

In this, I can't help but see a connection in the psalm to Judas' selling out Jesus's location for 30 pieces of silver.

Moving to the second reading, Romans continues to teach us so much more...

"We know that all things work for good for those who love God,
who are called according to his purpose.
For those he foreknew he also predestined
to be conformed to the image of his Son,
so that he might be the firstborn
among many brothers and sisters.
And those he predestined he also called;
and those he called he also justified;
and those he justified he also glorified."

God will take us down a path of sanctification if we simply ask and accept the graces he gives us. This is all too often not an easy thing to do. Justifying us, we glorify him in return.

Putting all this together, we get a whopper of a Gospel that certainly opened my eyes.

"Jesus said to his disciples:
“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field,
which a person finds and hides again,
and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant
searching for fine pearls.
When he finds a pearl of great price,
he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea,
which collects fish of every kind.
When it is full they haul it ashore
and sit down to put what is good into buckets.
What is bad they throw away.
Thus it will be at the end of the age.
The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous
and throw them into the fiery furnace,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.

“Do you understand all these things?”
They answered, “Yes.”
And he replied,
“Then every scribe who has been instructed in the kingdom of heaven
is like the head of a household
who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old.

So true! Once the grace of God shows us the love he has for us in the kingdom of heaven, we always want to find it anew and share it with others. Unfortunately, this can be problematic if we don't share it in the best way possible. We can become prideful, pushy, or even agitating towards others if not done with patience, love and simply letting our actions speak for themselves. I know how I've wanted to share God's word with some individuals so much that it caused harm more than it did good.

I have found myself battling Christian Love and Charity throughout my return to the church. Moreover, I seem to catch myself not being charitable to those who don't see the faith in its true light. This can be from fellow Catholic Christians to Christians of other denominations. This is one area that God is working on within me. Many thanks to the Lord for continuing to show me how to be a better person in all respects. Deo Gratias!

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to meet Jim and Joy Pinto (www.jimandjoypinto.com) who have a radio show on EWTN called "At Home With Jim and Joy". What a great couple full of Christ's love! I learned so much from their talks at the family conference they were headlining. Certainly, if you have never listened to their show or dvd's,  you are missing out. Both have powerful testimonies of how God has worked in their lives and taken them on a path to the Catholic church. After speaking with them at the event, they asked me to call into their show to share some of my testimony. What an honor, as I was on the show for about 5 minutes on Monday. Thanks be to God for the opportunity to meet them and share some of my story to the listeners on the show!

I will close with a powerful prayer called "The Face Prayer. Jim and Joy Pinto ask people to pray this daily and live it out in their daily lives. I have heard them pray this numerous times on the radio, but it really came alive for me during their live talk. I am now praying this every day and reminding myself of it every time I have a thought or action that would not be Christ-like.

"Heavenly Father, I embrace your grace this day,
So that I might not:
Think of another,
Speak to another or
Touch another,
without first looking for
Your Face in the other.
I ask all this through
Jesus Christ:
God Incarnate,
God with Skin,
God made Poor,
God with a Face. Amen!

-by James Pinto, Jr, MEV"

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