LET NOT YOUR HEART BE TROUBLED
Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me ..
JUST when we felt we were refocusing past the last tragic happening of September 11th, something new has come to take its place, shattering the meager courage we were beginning to rebuild. Those whom we thought we could trust and depend on have left a trail of sin so monstrous and terrible we have turned our faces away in disbelief, making us hesitant to believe in the church leaders we counted on to offer courage and strength. Because of what has taken place within the last few months, the faithful priests are working overtime to overcome one of the biggest scandals to hit the Roman Catholic Church in recent history and the cloak of silence shrouding these acts has only fueled further those who do not think kindly of the Roman Catholic Church.
IN all given positions of power we find good as well as bad. If we look honestly within our own hearts, we will find that we are grappling with our own sin on a daily basis, perhaps not such serious sin as molestation of children but sin nevertheless. This is why it is disheartening to hear that the clergy we take for granted as holy men have indulged in these abhorrent actions, actions that most people would not even contemplate.
THE vast majority of our priests are dedicated and God fearing disciples. They radiate the goodness of true leaders without needing to verbalize for they represent the gentle reminder of what Christ personified in His most holy way. It can be seen, felt, and by good works these selfless priests become a living monument to the greatness of God. Also let us not forget the clergy who have been falsely accused by those who have their own personal agendas. Priests wrongly targeted deserve our prayers and support and whoever bears deceptive testimony will have to answer before Almighty God on judgment day.
WE want to believe the best of the priests our archdiocese sends to us. We want to believe these men chose to live for God and so have fallen prey to the notion that all clergy are obedient servants of the Lord. This is why we become grievously disappointed when something comes up to taint this idea. But lest we puff ourselves up with disdain at the actions of others, we too have to take some of the blame for we have placed on the shoulders of our priests a royal mantle that in a few cases has become a detriment to normal living. We Catholics put our priests on such a high pinnacle of righteousness it makes us perceive them as living saints and are inclined to trust them as such. We think the sins of ordinary man do not apply here, so we put finite beings into infinite positions then are shocked to learn they have human failings too.
ALL humans are prone to sin and as such are filthy rags before the Heavenly Father. It is only when we hold fast to the lifeline of Christs teaching that we can pull ourselves out from the cesspool of earthly sin. Only when we live by faith, are made whole by the grace of God, and stay close to Him can we avoid the pitfalls Satan throws in our path. Before we judge the actions of others it would be wise to remember the words found in Matthew Chapter 7 Verse 1 which says Judge not, lest ye be judged.
JESUS' simple and forthright solution to sin and overcoming it is now mistakenly surrounded by rituals, man made laws and interpretations that may overshadow the very essence of what Christ wants us to understand and follow. We need to take a long look at what Jesus taught and how he taught it. There were no fancy edifices, robes and golden chalices where Jesus presided although He was the Son of God. There were no artistic altars and accouterments in the humble abodes where the disciples taught; no adoration of the men or women who carried Christs word. The only hero was the Savior and just plain teaching on how to get to Heaven, usually taught in a home or in the open. Jesus was a simple and humble man, without fancy clothes or jewels, and many times had no place to lay His head. He encouraged His Apostles to have faith, carry little on their journeys to spread the gospel and depend on God for sustenance. He laid it all out for those interested to see and understand, and at the end paid the highest price through love for our salvation.
IS there anyone of us who can measure up to that?
THE primary function of our present day disciples called priests is to be Christ like and be His audible voice, to show the way and help us stay on the path to glory. Too often we have overlooked the basic and simple truths of our sinful nature. Not one of us is worthy of Gods gift of Heaven. It is only CHRIST Who makes us worthy. This extends to all of us and clergy too. Priests are human messengers; not the Messiah. They are important, yes, because we need to see a visible and living example of what our Lord wants of us. They are expected to sustain us, encourage us, and help us grow strong in the faith. And most are dedicated to do this; no small feat. The sadness comes when a few succumb to sin, when those who sinned fall from the throne we are responsible for putting them on. Yes, these things existing in our church have made us uneasy in our faith because it has filtered down to us. We want to know that our priests are living righteous lives and are above reproach. We want to take them at face value. In Titus1:7-9, the Bible tells us a bishop (or priest) must be blameless; as a steward of God, not self willed, not quick tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober minded, just, holy, self controlled, holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught
SURELY we need to take a good look at what God planned for us. By reason of the sacrifice of His only Son, He made salvation a simplistic achievement, yet cannot be stolen or bought. It is a simple acknowledgment of faith that Jesus was the Son of God, died for our sins and if we believe that He rose again and if we love Him and live by His commandments, we get eternal life. Anything else such as putting faith in mankind instead of God will absolutely not save us and takes away our attention from Almighty God. When we bend our knees it should be in prayer and obedience to our Lord. We place our supplication to the one Who paid the price for our salvation. No one else. It is time to take a long look and put Jesus first in our churches. God alone with the Son is worthy to be praised. If we will do this, we will not be disappointed. Anything else negates what Jesus taught. So we must not allow the tragedy of sin deter us from trying to live Christ like lives and achieve what He wants us to achieve, namely salvation. We must continue to cling to our faith, firmly keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus.
THE Church belongs to the people and for the people and the priesthood should not offer an inviolate sanctuary where priests answer to no one. It is time to share in the choosing of leadership and take an active part in what has slipped through the cracks along the years. We need to open our eyes to changes that move away from what God wants. It is time to take the word of the Almighty and use it as He intended, not watering it down to human terms. Enough is enough. If we cannot abide by the things He taught us, if we put ourselves in the forefront rather than God, then all is lost forever, and we have already received our rewards and we cannot look to eternity for anything else. It is time to wake up, Christian Catholics, and voice what Jesus has taught us all. Those in the seat of power must openly purge the church of all iniquities. We may lose a few souls in the purifying process, as there is the stench of uncleanness surrounding our church now but we can build on our weaknesses and learn from this setback, growing stronger than before. Even though a few priests are impure vessels, Christ salvation and the sacraments remain pure forever.
CATHOLIC Christians, this is a wakeup call that can open the door to the grace we all want and seek; this is the time to appreciate the many wonderful and dedicated priests who serve us unstintingly. These dedicated priests are sacrificing their entire lives in service to the Lord. They deserve honor and respect. And now they are giving even more of themselves to pacify the panic of parishioners during this sad period.
JESUS in John 14:1 tells us Let Not Your Hearts be Troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me . We must forge ahead, letting God be our goal, letting only Jesus be our unfailing hero. Man is imperfect; God is not. We must pray that our priests grow strong in the will of God and carry His shield of salvation with unbending zeal. We must pray that they see only the light of God beckoning and point the way to that light for everyone to see. Catholic believers, we must change the order of importance here, giving credence to the things that matter, discarding the things that dont. We must know and understand the hardships, the dangers and the burdens of our priests divinely appointed lives. We must share in the work of Him who saved us, surrendering our lives only into the hands of God almighty. We must focus on what Jesus taught us, taking a hard look at things that serve no purpose on our walk with Christ, keeping an eye on the main goal that is eternity with the Father.
ST PAUL, II Cor. verse 9 Jesus says My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness. St Paul then tells us, Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christs sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
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