Saturday, October 31, 2015

Christian Is a Way of Life, Not an Adjective

Integrity and simple mindedness are essential for the faith life.

The Scriptures celebrate God’s fidelity to the Covenant He made with His people. This is what integrity is all about – remaining faithful to our promises and seeing to it that what we proclaim with our lips is confirmed by the way we live.

Saint Benedict endorsed this concept in Chapter 19 of his Rule. “Let us stand to sing the psalms in such a way that our minds are in harmony with our voices” (RB 19.7). Only when our hearts and our lives are in harmony with the words that we pray can we hope to contribute to the building up of God’s Kingdom on earth.

The life of faith demands integration and integrity. If we profess to walk in God’s provident care, then our every action must be consistent with the words we utter during the celebration of the liturgy.

“Christian” in not just an adjective, it is a way of life. This means every action and the end of every path we follow must be consistent with what we are called. Every aspect of our lives must be taken to prayer, and the scrutiny of Scripture must be brought into every moment of our lives because we believe beyond any doubt that the God we seek is actually seeking us.

Integrity is essential to Christian living. Not to live the message we profess is a scandal! Our lack of integrity becomes a stumbling block to those who follow after us.

 Jesus told us that we should never become a stumbling block to the little ones. An important aspect of nurturing the young is to live life with integrity. This is a lesson that cannot be taught. It can only be caught! We confuse young people when we punish them for doing things that they see us doing.

If we wish to be good teachers, we need to repent and live authentic lives. Only then can we pass on our values and beliefs to others.

Jesus tells us that we can learn from the little ones. We have often heard how He set a little child in the midst of the apostles. Then He told them that unless they changed their way of thinking and began to look at life through the eyes of a child, they would never enter the kingdom of the Father.

Young children do not desire authority, nor do they regard outward distinctions. For them, imagination and make-believe frame reality. They cloth themselves in the garments of salvation and live as children of Light. They believe that promises are meant to be kept.

My brothers and sisters, we need to change. We need to be renewed in our minds and hearts so that we may become simple and imaginative as little children whose angels are in God's presence. If you remember the words we used to say as kids, feel free to join me.

Angel of God, my Guardian dear,
To whom His love commits me here,
Ever this day be at my side,
To light and guard,
To rule and guide. Amen

Father Jerome Machar, OSCO

The Blessedness of the Mother of God

One thing is certain--we cannot escape the day when we shall stand before the God of Justice and Truth.

On that day, all that does not reflect the grandeur of God will be consumed by the Fire of Divine Love. Only the radiant glory of God’s grace will be seen.

Saint Paul expressed it this way: “I shall know fully even as I am fully known” (1 Cor. 13:12). God Who is love, and who as a loving father sees into the depths of the human heart, expects us to own and confess what He knows.

In the light of the Fire of Divine Love, we shall see the reality of our actions and find the grace to beg for Mercy. In Christ, justice is served and mercy is extended to all who call upon His name.

Knowing that we are the objects of God’s love, let us humbly and honestly confess our sins. Because of His infinite love, let us gaze into the mirror of our souls and declare the truth of what we see. Then, cleansed of all sin and brought to fullness of life in the Spirit let us cling to Christ.

God has shown himself to be love, especially in the self-sacrificing love of Christ on the Cross. With Saint Paul, “I continue my pursuit in hope that I may possess that for which Christ has taken possession of me” (Phil. 3:12). We must never forget how much Jesus desires to take possession of all of us.

Blessed Virgin Mary and Christ as King

Consider the Blessed Virgin Mary. Mary’s blessedness does not rest in her motherhood but in her faith.

The ever-virgin Mary is completely at home with the Word of God.

She never sets herself at the center but leaves the core of her being open to the will of God.

Her only desire was to be the handmaid of the Lord.

She committed her life to think with God’s thoughts and to will with God’s will.

God loved her for His own sake and He loved her for our sake.

God claimed her as His own and He gave her to us.

Since she is completely imbued with the Word of God, she is able to become the Mother of the Word Incarnate. Like her, let us ponder the Word we have heard and surrender our lives to it.

God has planted the seed of His Word in our hearts. Let us conform our lives to Christ Whom we shall receive as the Bread of Life. In the light of the Word we have heard, let us examine the signs of the times so as to interpret and do all that is in our power to contribute to the building up of the Kingdom.

Remember how Pope Francis challenges us to be a community of welcome, of dialog and of service.

Ponder this prayer written by St. Ildephonsus of Spain:

I beg you, O holy Virgin, hear my prayer. Intercede for me that by the power of the Holy Spirit through whom you became the Mother of Jesus I may conceive and bring Christ into the world. Pray that I may come to know Jesus and proclaim His saving message. Depending on your maternal intercession, may I come to love Jesus Whom you worship and adore. Amen.

--Father Jerome Machar, OSCO

Lessons from Abraham, our Father in Faith

We are People of God. As such, we have an ancient heritage, dating back to Abraham. For this reason we should consider the faith journey of our renowned patriarch.


Abraham had nothing to boast about concerning his own merits in the presence of God. It was God Who sought him even before he knew the One Who sought him. Encountered by the Unknown One, he is told to: “Set out from your country, and from your kindred, and from your father's house, and go to the land that I will show you” (Gen. 12:1).

This invitation will be repeated by an unknown itinerant preacher from Nazareth to a group of fishermen: “Put out into the deep water, and let down your nets for a catch” (Lk. 5:4).

Leaving all that was comfortable and familiar, our patriarch in the faith is like the apostles, set out on a journey of faith into the depths of God’s provident love and grace. Not knowing where the journey would lead, he followed the Voice that spoke to his heart. It was this obedience of faith that was accounted as righteousness.

Newness of life is offered to all who surrender to the movement of grace. The initiation rite does not justify us. Circumcision or baptism serve as a sign that we have responded to the One who called us.

In this light, Abraham is our Father in the Faith. Following in his footsteps, we run on the path of God’s commandments with our hearts expanded by the inexpressible delight of love.

The seal ofthe Holy Spirit is our sanctification, making us new creatures conformed to Christ. The object of our faith is God and God alone, in whom we are justified and recreated. Because of God’s love for us, our sins have been atoned and our iniquity cleansed.

Since Christ has taken all our sins to Himself, let us walk in the freedom that His victory has won for us. As children of the kingdom, let us sincerely seek to do the will of Him who created and redeemed us.

The author of the Letter to the Hebrews wrote: “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, and the guarantee that the things not seen are true” (Heb. 11:1). The assurance of our hope is in Christ who has told us that we are precious in the Father’s eyes.

God has told us to cast our cares upon Him because He cares for each of us individually and promises to provide for all our needs.

Allow me to close with a blessing.

Wherever your faith journey may lead, may the Living Lord go with you; May he go behind you, to encourage you, beside you, to befriend you, above you, to watch over you, beneath you, to lift you from your sorrows, within you, to give you the gifts of faith, hope, and love, and always before you, to show you the way. Amen.
(Benediction - Blair Monie)

--Father Jerome Machar, OSCO

The Invitation of Christ

Because we have free will, each of us becomes the servant of the master we choose. Because we have free will, we are not hapless victims of some mindless and cruel fate. We can choose either to surrender our allegiance to our disordered passions or to the God Who created us in His image and likeness.

We can decide to close in on ourselves and become slaves to our passions or we can breathe in the breath of the Spirit and enjoy the freedom of the children of God.

The world around us is filled with distractions and chaotic noise. This noise makes it very difficult for us to hear the gentle voice of the Spirit that is speaking to our hearts. It takes effort to listen. The Psalmist encourages those who pray with his words, “Oh, that today you would hear his voice. Do not harden your hearts” (Ps. 95:7-8).

Into the midst of our chaos, God speaks a word of peace. “Be still and know that I am God” (Ps. 46:10). If we listen to the word of the Lord and allow His Spirit to flood our souls, fear and trepidation will be transformed into holy awe.

At the heart of this meditation is the question: when God speaks, who will answer? Only those who choose to listen to the movements of the Spirit are made partakers of Christ and are thereby brought to the fullness of life. Our anchor is Christ, the God of Jacob is our stronghold, and forever will be our refuge and strength.

In Christ, God has called us to hear His Word. As servants of the one true king, we are to listen to the voice of the Spirit and surrender to His Word. Hardness of heart is at the root of spiritual deafness.

Fashioned as vessels of clay by the hand of God, we are made to contain the treasure of great price. Only when the clay is fired in the kiln of divine love can our hearts become hearts of flesh rather than of stone.

As heirs of the Kingdom, we should ponder God’s Word and make it the rule of our lives and the well-spring of our consolation. In Christ and in Him alone, do we find joy and peace. Nothing else matters if we are not subject to Christ.

Submitting our wills to Christ changes us and alters the way we look at ourselves, at the world and at other people. Saint Paul was willing to do or to suffer any thing, to attain the glorious resurrection of saints. This hope and prospect carried him through all difficulties he had to endure in the service of the Gospel. He did not hope to attain it through his own merit and righteousness, but through the power and righteousness of Christ.

When the Spirit of the Lord descended upon the apostles, He came in the appearance of fire. The desire of Christ’s heart was fulfilled in that gift.

In the Spirit, the Fire of Divine Love engulfed the earth. This transforming flame gives both light and heat. It enlightens the path the People of God are to follow and warms their hearts with love for all that God loves.

Jesus, the Love of God made visible and tangible, invites us to accept this transforming fire. By nature, invitations are offered and received with freedom on both sides. There is no force or coercion. Are we willing to accept it?

--Fr. Jerome Machar, OSCO