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Pope Francis: ‘Jesus is the only One who frees us and saves us’

Posted on March 9, 2015 at 1:58 PM Comments comments (0)
 
Pope Francis, in his Sunday Angelus has spoken of the need to allow Jesus to come into our lives to cleanse us and for us to allow our bodies to be inhabited by him, and only him. The Pope said: “Let us allow Him to enter into our lives, into our families, into our hearts….so that we might be able to rediscover the beauty of the encounter with Christ, the only One Who frees us and saves us.”
 
The Pope said: “His [Jesus’] humanity is the true temple where Godis revealed, speaks, is encountered; and the true worshippers, the true worshippers of God are not only the guardians of the material temple, the keepers of power and of religious knowledge, [but] they are those who worship God “in spirit and truth” (John 4:23).
 
The Pope here is emphasising the need to focus on Christ in order to encounter God.  He is also stressing the importance of worshiping God not just on a spiritual level but also by increasing our knowledge of our faith; our knowledge of Truth.
 
In reference to Sunday’s Gospel passage the Pope spoke about Jesus driving the money changers with their sheep and oxen out of the temple.  The pope suggested that Jesus wants our bodies to be clean just like the temple and that the only way to do this is to allow Jesus’ love to enter us and cleanse us. 
 
The Pope said: “If we are witnesses of this living Christ, so many people will encounter Jesus in us, in our witness. But, we ask – and each one of us can ask ourselves – does the Lord feel at home in my life? Do we allow Him to “cleanse” our hearts and to drive out the idols, those attitudes of cupidity, jealousy, worldliness, envy, hatred, those habits of gossiping and tearing down others? Do I allow Him to cleanse all the behaviours that are against God, against our neighbour, and against ourselves, as we heard today in the first Reading? Each one can answer for himself, in the silence of his heart: “Do I allow Jesus to make my heart a little cleaner?” “Oh Father, I fear the rod!” But Jesus never strikes. Jesus cleanses with tenderness, with mercy, with love. Mercy is His way of cleansing. Let us, each of us, let us allow the Lord to enter with His mercy – not with the whip, no, with His mercy – to cleanse our hearts. The whip of Jesus with us is His mercy. Let us open to Him the gates so that He would make us a little cleaner.”
 
Today let us surrender ever more to Jesus and his merciful and tender love and let us never be afraid to encourage others to do the same. 
 
 
Click this link to read more at the Vatican News site: http://www.news.va/en/news/pope-francis-let-us-allow-jesus-to-cleanse-our-hea
 

No embarrassment in showing your Christian faith to the world (Dwelling on the Word of God, Sunday 8th March 2015)

Posted on March 6, 2015 at 12:27 PM Comments comments (0)
Wouldn't this look nice in your front window?
 
From Sunday’s First Reading (Exodus 20:1-17):
 
‘God spoke all these words. He said, ‘I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
‘You shall have no gods except me.
‘You shall not make yourself a carved image or any likeness of anything in heaven or on earth beneath or in the waters under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God and I punish the father’s fault in the sons, the grandsons, and the great-grandsons of those who hate me; but I show kindness to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.’’
 
 
This first Commandment of God is quite apt considering the content of Friday’s blog when we considered the dangers of Buddhism and its apparent rise in popularity across western culture. 
 
As stated in the blog, it is not uncommon to see Buddhist statues and ornaments in homes and gardens today.  Walk down the street and you are bound to see evidence of Buddhism in at least one or two homes.  Yet it is clear from today’s first reading that God has an issue with this.
 
While it may all seem a bit harmless for a Christian household to have a little Buddhist artefact sitting by the window; what kind of message does this send to others about our faith?  Would God not prefer to see a statue of his precious son on display? Would such a gesture perhaps allay any possibility of God becoming jealous, something He Himself said He is quite willing to do if we should bow down to other ‘gods’? 
 
If someone were to walk into your house right now, what would they think?  Would they think that this person has nice wallpaper or a nice carpet?  Would they think that this person likes Buddha?  Or would they walk in and think straight away that this person loves Jesus?  There is no embarrassment in showing the world that you love God and that you love your faith.  You never know, you might even save a soul or two by your witness.
 

What does "You shall not have strange gods before me mean?" and are new age beliefs acceptable?

Posted on July 30, 2014 at 7:38 AM Comments comments (1)
What does “You shall not have strange gods before me” mean?
 
This commandment forbids us: to adore other gods and pagan deities or to worship an earthly idol or to devote oneself entirely to some earthly good (money, influence, success, beauty, youth, and so on) to be superstitious, which means to adhere to esoteric, magic or occult or New Age practices or to get involved with fortune telling or spiritualism, instead of believing in God’s power, providence and blessings to provoke God by word of deed to commit a sacrilege to acquire spiritual power through corruption and to desecrate what is holy through trafficking (simony).
 
 
Is esotericism as found, for example in New Age beliefs, compatible with the Christian faith?
 
No.  Esotericism ignores the reality of God.  God is a personal Being; he is love and the origin of life, not some cold cosmic energy.  Man was willed and created by God, but man himself is not divine; rather, he is a creature that is wounded by sin, threatened by death, and in need of redemption.  Whereas most proponents of esotericism assume that man can redeem himself, Christians believe that only Jesus Christ and God’s grace redeem them.  Nor are nature and the cosmos God (pantheism).  Rather, the Creator, even though he loves us immensely, is infinitely greater and unlike anything he has created.
 
Many people today practice yoga for health reasons, enrol in a meditation course so as to become more calm and collected, or attend dance workshops so as to experience their bodies in a new way.  These techniques are not always harmless.  Often they are vehicles for doctrines that are foreign to Christianity.  No reasonable person should hold an irrational world view, in which people can tap magical powers or harness mysterious spirits and the “initiated” have a secret knowledge that is withheld from the “ignorant”.  In ancient Israel, the surrounding peoples’ beliefs in gods and spirits were exposed as false.  God alone is Lord; there is no god besides him.  Nor is there any (magical) technique by which one can capture or charm “the divine”, force one’s wishes on the universe, or redeem oneself.  Much about these esoteric beliefs and practices is superstition or occultism.

Dwelling on the Word of God: Shifting Away from Worldly Ideals to the Love of God (Thursday 5th December 2013)

Posted on December 5, 2013 at 7:19 AM Comments comments (1)
 
Today’s Gospel (Matthew 7:21,24-27):
 
‘Jesus said to his disciples: ‘It is not those who say to me, “Lord, Lord,” who will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the person who does the will of my Father in heaven. ‘Therefore, everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man who built his house on rock. Rain came down, floods rose, gales blew and hurled themselves against that house, and it did not fall: it was founded on rock. But everyone who listens to these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a stupid man who built his house on sand. Rain came down, floods rose, gales blew and struck that house, and it fell; and what a fall it had!’’
 
 
In this Gospel passage Jesus, as he often does, gives us a stark choice.  Doing the will of the Father or not doing the will of the Father.  And he provides an example of a house being built on rock as being comparable to someone who listens to him and does the Father’s will.  And he provides a further example of a house being built on sand as being comparable to someone who listens to what he says but who does not do the will of the Father.
 
In today’s western society we have very few excuses for not being aware of Jesus and what he taught.  Gone are the days when you had to rely on the Bible or rely on the Liturgy of the Mass or the readings at Sunday Service to hear what Jesus said.  It’s everywhere!  It’s on the internet, it’s on blogs, it’s on Twitter and Facebook, it’s even on apps for your smartphone! 
 
Yet listening to Jesus is one thing, doing what he says is quite another.  The hard part is living out Jesus’ instructions in our daily lives yet what Jesus teaches us is love.  How can that be hard?  Unfortunately, society makes it hard.  Modern society believes in self-gratification, honour and power, wealth and prestige.  It believes in being the very best you can be and achieving greatness in worldly ideals.  Money, power and honour are idolised and seen as the gauge by which to determine our worth to society.  Yet where someone achieves honour there are others who have missed out.  Where someone achieves more power there are others who lose power.  Where someone increases their wealth there will inevitably be someone who loses out.  The result….conflict.  These worldly ideals are all finite and will inevitably lead to conflict where the weakest are left with little or nothing.  Isn’t that precisely where our world is today?    
 
Yet God offers us love.  And that love is infinite and there is more than enough to go round everyone.  If only everyone turned to that love and made the will of God their goal in life, the world would be a much better place.
 

Evangelii Gaudium: Pope Francis on Money, Power and a new Idolatry

Posted on December 2, 2013 at 7:22 AM Comments comments (9)
 
The Pope states: ‘We have created new idols. The worship of the ancient golden calf (cf. Ex 32:1-35) has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose.’
 
The Pope, who suggested a new tyranny has been born among the wealthy in society, then states: ‘Behind this attitude lurks a rejection of ethics and a rejection of God. Ethics has come to be viewed with a certain scornful derision. It is seen as counterproductive, too human, because it makes money and power relative.’
 
He then pleaded with political leaders stating: ‘I urge [political leaders] to face this challenge with determination and an eye to the future, while not ignoring, of course, the specifics of each case. Money must serve, not rule! The Pope loves everyone, rich and poor alike, but he is obliged in the name of Christ to remind all that the rich must help, respect and promote the poor. I exhort you to generous solidarity and to the return of economics and finance to an ethical approach which favours human beings.’
 

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