Thursday, November 30, 2006

Worried?


I know that finals are coming soon and that many students become very worried and anxious this time of the semester. So, my questions for you today are - what do you worry about and what are you afraid of?

Do you worry about money, a job, tests, papers, relationships, family, the future, war, your body, illness, fitting in, etc?

The Word of God tells us about these situations in a very challenging way.
Matthew 6:25-34
"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

-The word for worry comes from a Greek word meaning "to strangle". And "to strangle" is a good way of describing how most of us react to worry. It usually strangles our ability to live life to the full.

Of course Jesus tells us in the passage above that we are not to worry, but when He says this, what exactly does He mean? He means that our worries shouldn't keep us from living life, from doing the right thing, and from continuing to offer our worries to Him.

Think of St. Paul. He was persecuted and killed for what he believed. He wrote to others to tell them on how to handle persecution and worry in Phil 4:4-7:

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Paul tells us to handle our worries and anxieties by prayer, petition and thanksgiving. We must come to a certain point of thanking God for what worries us. What a challenge! To abandon ourselves and our wills to the providence of God is no easy task.

In most cases our worry is caused by a lack of faith and hope in God. We are declaring that we do not believe that God is in control or knows what is best for us.

We should not be fearful or worry because God is in control! Of course this is harder in practice, but here are a few steps to help us (I don't remember where I found these...sorry).

step 1) Pray, hope and believe! James 1:2-3 says:

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.

step 2) Reflect on the work of God. Look at the birds, the flowers and see how God takes care of them…then realize just how precious in His eyes you are.

step 3) live in the present and be patient. The future is not yours, only the present is. So, your goal is to make the present alive. How can we do that? Romans 12:12 says:

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

step 4) take comfort in God. He wants to comfort you, but you must throw yourself at His mercy. John 14:16 says:

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever
step 5) dump it all on God! 1 Peter 5:6-7 says
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
-Think of Christ handled His anxieties and worries. He cried, he fell carrying his cross, yet he dumped it all on his father, including his human desires of not wanting the cross…but yet he still chose to do what he was called to.

1 Cor 12:7-9 says that "My grace is sufficient for you". Do we believe that? Sometimes better than others.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Give Thanks

Praise be Christ our Lord.
May we continue to give God thanks for all that we have.


THANK YOU LORD by Margaret Threlfall
Thank you Lord
For the earth beneath our feet,
For the crops harvested,
For us to eat.
For the sky above our heads,
The sun, the warmth it sheds.
Not forgetting
The rain needed to help the crops grow.
Thank you for the food
That graces our table,
For our family to share in.
Thank you Lord for the gift of life,
Sustained by food of another kind.
Thank you Lord , for making me see,
That the gift of life depends on thee.
Thank you Lord for keeping us fed,
By your Holy Spirit, as well as bread!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Stem cells and Emotions



No decision of life and death should be based on emotions. But, that is what we continue to do in regards to policy decisions about fetal stem cell research.

This article, published in 2002, still hits the nail on the head in regards to this issue and how it isn't being rationally discussed. Emotions are leading people to make bad decisions based on false hopes.
BTW - First Things is excellent. I highly recommend it.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Mountains into the Ocean

Matt 21:21-22 - Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer."

Now, I have never seen anyone pick up a mountain (even if by faith) and throw it into the sea. So, is Christ a liar? Of course not. So, how do we reconcile the two?

First, why do we assume that the mountain has to be picked up all at once? I think it would be an amazing miracle of perseverance to have a person work continually for years to move a mountain into the sea one load at a time. The teaching that Christ is trying to get at here is not only faith, but persevering in faith, even when "results" aren't immediate.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Catholics / Condoms / AIDS

There was a guest editorial (originally in the LA Times) about the Catholic Church, AIDS and condoms in the Eagle on Wed. I disagreed with the author on almost every point, so I asked the editor for a response, which he gave me. I recommend reading them both before you send me emails on the topic.

-Boulay's article in LA Times.
-My guest editorial response.