Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Sunday Sermon

February 24, 2013
The Second Sunday in Lent
Our Father Who Art in Heaven,
Don't interrupt me. I'm praying.
But -- you called ME!
Called you? No, I didn't call you. I'm praying. Our Father who art in Heaven.
There -- you did it again!
Did what?
Called ME. You said, "Our Father who art in Heaven" Well, here I am. What's on your mind?
But I didn't mean anything by it. I was, you know, just saying my prayers for the day. I always say the Lord's Prayer. It makes me feel good, kind of like fulfilling a duty.
Well, all right. Go on.
Okay, Hallowed be thy name.
Hold it right there. What do you mean by that?
By what?
By "Hallowed be thy name"?
It means, it means. . good grief, I don't know what it means. How in the world should I know? It's just a part of the prayer. By the way, what does it mean?
It means honored, holy, wonderful.
Hey, that makes sense. I never thought about what 'hallowed' meant before. Thanks. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.
Do you really mean that?
Sure, why not?
What are you doing about it?
Doing? Why, nothing, I guess. I just think it would be kind or neat if you got control, of everything down here like you have up there. We're kinda in a mess down here you know.
Yes, I know; but, have I got control of you?
Well, I go to church.
That isn't what I asked you. What about your bad temper? You've really got a problem there, you know. And then there's the way you spend your money -- all on yourself. And what about the kind of books you read?
Now hold on just a minute! Stop picking on me! I'm just as good as some of the rest of those people at church!
Excuse ME. I thought you were praying for my will to be done. If that is to happen, it will have to start with the ones who are praying for it. Like you -- for example...
Oh, all right. I guess I do have some hang-ups. Now that you mention it, I could probably name some others. I haven't thought about it very much until now, but I really would like to cut out some of those things. I would like to, you know, be really free.
Good. Now we're getting somewhere. We'll work together, -- You and ME. I'm proud of You.
Look, Lord, if you don't mind, I need to finish up here... This is taking a lot longer than it usually does. Give us this day, our daily bread.
You need to cut out the bread. You're overweight as it is.
Hey, wait a minute! What is this? Here I was doing my religious duty, and all of a sudden you break in and remind me of all my hang-ups.
Praying is a dangerous thing. You just might get what you ask for. Remember, you called ME -- and here I am. It's too late to stop now. Keep praying.
(. pause . . .)
Well, go on.
I'm scared to.
Scared? Of what?
I know what you'll say.
Try ME.
Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.
What about Ann?
See? I knew it! I knew you would bring her up! Why, Lord, she's told lies about me, spread stories. She never paid back the money she owes me. I've sworn to get even with her!
But -- your prayer -- about your prayer?
I didn't -- mean it.
Well, at least you're honest. But, it's quite a load carrying around all that bitterness and resentment isn't it?
Yes, but I'll feel better as soon as I get even with her. Boy, have I got some plans for her. She'll wish she had never been born.
No, you won't feel any better. You'll feel worse. Revenge isn't sweet. You know how unhappy you are -- Well, I can change that.
You can? How?
Forgive Ann. Then, I'll forgive you; And the hate and the sin, will be Ann's problem -- not yours. You will have settled the problem as far as you are concerned.
Oh, you know, you're right. You always are. And more than I want revenge, I want to be right with You. . (Sigh). All right all right. . I forgive her.
There now! Wonderful! How do you feel?
Hmmmm. Well, not bad. Not bad at all! In fact, I feel pretty great! You know, I don't think I'll go to bed uptight tonight. I haven't been getting much rest, you know.
Yeah, I know. But, you're not through with your prayer are you? Go on.
Oh, all right. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
Good! Good! I'll do that. Just don't put yourself in a place where you can be tempted.
What do you mean by that?
You know what I mean.
Yeah. I know. Okay.
Go ahead. Finish your prayer.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.
Do you know what would bring me glory -- What would really make me happy?
No, but I'd like to know. I want to please you now. I've really made a mess of things. I want to truly follow you. I can see now how great that would be. So, tell me . . . How do I make you happy?
YOU just did.

In today’s Epistle reading, St. Paul says something that many of us hear from the Church and her ministers quite often. It is amazing when you think about it; the reading was written almost two thousand years ago, and yet it speaks as if it were written today. “…their minds are set on earthly things.” In other words, they are set on worldly things. No matter how much time changes things; things remain the same. We think the technological advancements seem to give us much distraction, yet it appears even without these advancements, people addressed as the Philippians apparently had similar issues of distraction from God. Our minds are set on worldly things.
How often do we hear this from various ministers of the church? Probably, sometimes, more than we would like. We will listen to the words and rationalize our lives as if somehow we are having the same conversation with God as the man who was trying to pray the Our Father prayer. We try to make ourselves believe we are really living a good life and not allowing all the distractions and temptations from making us detour in our life’s cycle.  But are we really? Truth be told, we are too distracted and tempted.
St. Paul makes it clear that he has not yet reached his goal. He has not yet been raised and not yet perfect. Resurrection and perfection are, for Christians, goals to be pursued, not ones we already have. St. Paul states that the Philippians, and thus we, should imitate him. Obviously, he is not asking us to imitate him completely, but in the manner in which he is attempting to reach the goal as a follower of Christ. St. Paul is making it clear that this is continuous work.
This goal should be like that of an Olympic athlete, such as like a runner, who goes on to win the prize, not concerned with whom they have passed by, because they have their eyes on the prize. The athlete is in the world; running in the world; even uses the world to be the best athlete he can be; but seemingly oblivious to those things in the world that would distract them from the prize. He has to be in the world. He has to have the proper running clothes and shoes. He must have a trainer and do an immense amount of training. In-between these things, he has his life away from the track, but still with his mind on the prize and how he must live his life off the track, to keep his life on the track in step. He cannot eat multiple pounds of candy and snacks; smoking excessively; spend many nights out in the clubs; skip his training sessions; and still expect to perform with a winning performance on the track. He simply can’t do all that and win. Period.
Our lives are much the same. Living a life that is not in line with being a winning track star – a faithful follower of Christ – will not win the ending goal and win the prize. Those who do not live in this state of almost constant training and temperate non-training time, are like those St. Paul refers to as the “...enemies of the cross of Christ.”
How easy it is for our minds to be set on earthly things. Daily responsibilities and the lure of a good life quickly consume our thoughts and energy. Are we living in the moment, keeping our eyes on the goal, or are we living for “me”? It is easy to become entrenched in this. We can be with a group of people, and easily become disappointed if the group is not following what we want or going where we want to go. Is it important in the end? Are we focusing too much on ourselves – are we too focused on what is driving us at the moment? Are we so engrossed in the present, trying to live in ease and luxury?
We are enemies of the cross when our goals are fixed on this life, be it looking out for our own economic well-being without concern for society, striving to fulfill personal drives and pleasures regardless of the impact on others, or living for the moment contrary to the teachings of Scripture. Like St. Paul, we should count everything in our lives as loss, because our citizenship is in heaven. We are merely foreigners in a foreign land, on borrowed time. Our citizenship is in heaven. Christ is there, interceding for us, our advocate before the throne of the Father.
Our hope as Christians is found with Christ in the heavens. As we fix our eyes on Jesus, we will find the answer to all our desires. As we fix our eyes on Jesus; we will find answer to all our desires. We will begin even now to know the power and love of God through Christ in a way that will bring life and hope to the world as we interact with those around us and respond to the suffering we see.
A father wanted to read a magazine but was being bothered by His little daughter, Stacy.
Finally, he tore a sheet out of his magazine on which was printed the map of the world. Tearing it into small pieces, he gave it to Stacy and said, "Go into the other room and see if you can put this together."
After a few minutes, Stacy returned and handed him the map, correctly fitted and taped together. The father was surprised and asked how she had finished so quickly. "Oh," she said, "on the other side of the paper is a picture of Jesus, when I got all of Jesus back where He belonged, then the world just came together."
Sometimes our life is like the map of the world. It fits together better when we put Jesus together, thus into our lives, and the rest becomes easier to see. Like I say so very often….. Being Catholic is a way of life, not just a religion. Today’s reading helps us to see how this little teaching of mine can be so true.
When we take the principle of Jesus, knowing we are not yet perfect and have yet to be raised from our own death, all the while trying to live a good Catholic Christian life. It can be as simple as in the conversation of the man with God that I relayed to you earlier. It can be as simple as remembering to say grace at meals, even in public, even further if no one with you normally does or is even a practicing Christian. Maybe it can be as simple as saying just a few short prayers at morning and before bed. How about reading a short Bible passage each day. How about forgiving someone that is hard for you to forgive. Maybe spending an hour each day with our Blessed Lord. Doesn’t have to necessarily be prayer, it can be reading something Christian or religious based. Or working a crossword puzzle on the Bible. Anything that helps your mind focus just a little bit more on God. Just as Jesus was transfigured before Peter, James and John, may He be transfigured in your life events also.
I will end with this little missive that that a variation of was posted on Mother Teresa’s home for children in Calcutta:
People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.
The biggest man with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest man with the smallest mind. Think big anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.
If better is possible, then good is not enough.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.
God Love You +
+ The Most Rev. Robert Winzens
Pastor – St. Francis Universal Catholic Church
San Diego, Ca.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

sunday sermon

February 10, 2013
A soldier walks forward slowly in the jungle. He has been ordered to protect some villagers from a terrorist cell; each step could lead to danger. Suddenly a command reaches him on his radio. His senior officer has seen where the enemy is hiding. The soldier must obey quickly, not for his own sake, but for others. It isn’t what he is expecting, but he has been trained to do what he is told without hesitation.
This kind of authority and obedience to the authority is vital in many dangerous jobs. An order goes from the top down and each rank in their turn must not only convey the order, but carry it out immediately as directed.
Most of us do not live under this kind of authority or structure. Granted, there are always people at our place of work whose decision we carry out and go along with. As children, we learn to respect and obey our parents, though we do not totally realize why until we are much older. We take for granted this authority and even sometimes challenge it. But, if we were a soldier in the field, our choice to accept or challenge could mean the lives of himself as well as others.
How often is it that we treat God with the same respect and obedience? Do we treat God with the respect the soldier does for his commanding officers, or do we challenge God and His laws? Of course, God’s sovereignty over the world is exercised with such love and compassion that the image of a commanding officer organizing a battle or route march is hardly the best picture to use, unless, of course, you might be the ancient Israelites fighting their enemies who to expect a warrior type of God .
There are multiple facets to today’s Gospel reading, and the Epistle which ties into it as well.
The biggest piece of the Gospel account is first and foremost the faith of the Centurion. Here was a middle ranking Roman officer, stationed at Capernaum. He would have roughly a hundred men under him, hence the title ‘Centurion’. He would regularly receive orders from a commander, probably from Caesarea fifty miles away. Men would be assigned to him to perform tasks locally and even keep the peace (in the old Roman sort of way).
It was common for officers of the Roman army to despise the local people as though they were an inferior race. However, our Gospel tells us that this Centurion did not despise them, but loved them it would seem. He even paid for the building of their local synagogue. (I have to meet this guy. We have some things that could use some work right here! Anyway…) Luke presents this Centurion as a humble Gentile looking in on Israel and Israel’s God from the outside, if you will. It would seem that by so doing, he was opening himself to learning a new truth from this seemingly strange and ancient way of life the Israelites led.
As we advance in the story, we see something quite out of the ordinary. We see Jesus emotionally astonished. Normally, it is the people who are astonished at Jesus, not Jesus being astonished by one of them. The reason of Jesus’ astonishment? The sheer faith of the Centurion! This is no abstract belief in God or the learning of dogmas or laws. It is simple and humble belief that whatever Jesus commands will in fact be done. No ifs, ands or buts about it. The Centurion knows whatever Jesus commands will be so. He regards Jesus as he would a military officer with authority over sickness and health. If Jesus says get well, they will.
We do not know where he got this faith. Neither this Gospel or in the Gospel of Matthew where the story is also written, is there any reason for the Centurion’s faith. If he had been living in Capernaum for some time, there is no doubt he would have probably heard of Jesus. Keep in mind; cities of that time were not of the populations of San Diego. News would spread and it would spread quickly. He may have even seen Jesus at some point perform a miracle. This Centurion grasped the very center of the Jewish faith; that the one true God, the God of Israel, was the sovereign one. The Lord of heaven and earth. Whatever the cause, this Centurion in faith was willing to risk more than the Jews that followed Jesus.
Contrast this situation with the Centurion and that of our own prayer lives. We all too often might say to ourselves, “Lord, I would like you to do this … but I know you may not want to, or it might be too difficult, or maybe even impossible…” We then go on our way puzzled, worried and not sure whether we have really asked for something or not. Of course, sometimes we ask for something and the answer is ‘no’. God reserves the right to give that answer. But this story and Jesus’ subsequent astonishment shows us that we should have no hesitation in asking. Is Jesus the Lord of the world or isn’t He?
Now, let’s move on to something else about this Gospel reading that many people do not know. As you all know, the country is in a little stir about same sex marriages. Now, without getting into that topic directly, I bring this up only because this passage is sometimes used as a defense by gays and lesbians that are advocating the ability to be married as heterosexual couples do.
Why is it used as a defense? I will try to make this as short and uncomplicated as I can and still get the point across about the text.
First, as many scholars will admit, Jesus is suspiciously silent on the topic of Homosexuality. Nowhere in any of the Gospels does Jesus mention Homosexuality by name or otherwise. The argument could be made that he speaks of marriage, and the answer to that would be correct, but he does so only in so far as in that of “traditional marriages”, as they are so being called today. His discussion usually centered on the topic of adultery and divorce, not on the topic of whether Homosexuals could marry of if they were even sinful in being so. We have to be careful not to try to put words in Jesus’ mouth where they don’t exist. He simply did not speak of Homosexuality, period. Homosexuality was known in the same context then as it is now anyway.
Now, in the Gospel of Matthew, the identical story uses the Greek word, pais. This word could mean ‘son’ or ‘boy,’ ‘servant’ or ‘slave,’ or ‘junior/younger male partner.’ This was the common meaning at that time, and additionally, it was a common practice at the time as well. Roman soldiers or affluent men would have this type of slave. Luke uses a different description of the sick man; he calls the man the Centurion’s entimos doulos. The word doulos usually means ‘slave;’ it did not normally mean son or boy. Entimos means ‘honored’, so the combination would produce ‘honored slave’, as we read today. This would be a contradiction of terms and meaningless unless it applied to a ‘junior or younger male partner.’ Thus the meaning of pais in Matthew is limited to the partner in a same-sex relationship (reportedly, the shield bearers for Roman soldiers were their lovers). In the only example in the Bible where anyone asked for healing for a slave, Jesus was not only healing for a conquering overlord, he was healing his male partner. So it would seem anyway.
We need to allow reason to be our guide here. Romans viewed slaves as nothing more than a possession that were there to wait on them hand and foot and do whatever they were told. Their life as a slave was usually pitiful and thankless. Most slaves would be allowed to die instead of their owner even taking the time of day to acknowledge that the slave was even ill. There obviously was something more to this slave. Maybe it was an earlier form of ‘bromance’.
However, the point is this: If Jesus cared about whether people were engaged in such activities, given how common it was among Greeks and Romans, he really missed a good opportunity to ask, and potentially offer a rebuke. I wonder how those who think the answer to “WWJD?” is to “condemn homosexuals” will explain the fact that Jesus did not even bother to ask or address the issue, apparently missing an opportunity that his conservative followers today would not have passed up.
There is no denial that Jesus may have had many “missed opportunities” in addressing sin, but as we in this church teach, Jesus was not as preoccupied with every law we break, much less with what goes on in some people’s bedrooms. Why? He was far more concerned with our relationships with each other and our relationship with God our Father. Remember what He said are the two greatest commandments. He taught us that the commandments were not so much laws, as they were a guide to the treatment of others and in so doing, our involving God in our lives.
Now, this topic can be argued for hours, however I am not intending on giving a doctoral thesis on the topic in the limits of a sermon, or even argue every possible point that could be brought up by it. I merely bring this up for two reasons. First, this understanding of the passage is not readily known by the average Christian. Most on the conservative right would rather no one even thought about it. Secondly, as some of you know, in September of 2011 the Bishops of our denomination passed a resolution allowing for the marriage of Gays and Lesbians within our churches if the pastor of any our church parishes were so requested and he or she were so inclined. Our denomination does not agree with some other branches of Christianity that Homosexual orientation is ‘disordered’, ‘sinful’ or ‘evil’.
Now, finally, how does the Epistle reading tie into all this today? First, let me read the entire passage from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. Our Epistle misses some of the passage and it loses some of its meaning because of it. (I Corinthians 12:1 – 13:4).
As we have seen by the Gospel reading, Jesus wants us to have faith. Not only have faith, but be willing to put that faith to work, as it were, by praying for what we really want and need fully knowing He has the authority and power to make it happen. By Jesus’ willingness to help a Gentile Centurion and his slave who would appear to be a bit more than a slave, he is making a statement to all of us, just as Paul has done to the Corinthians.
We have to learn as humans that every fellow human being is deserving of the kingdom of God and we are all called to treat each other in a manner that is appropriate. As St. Paul points out, we are all believers in the community of faith. A church is a community of believers. We come from all walks of life with various backgrounds and abilities. We are all a part of the Kingdom of God. We each are given certain faculties by the Holy Spirit that is a benefit for the path we are called to follow.
This is another example of the importance of being a part of a faith community; a church. No one person can act out life on their own any more than the hand can say to the arm ‘I do not need you’. Many of us have gifts that are given to us to use for the greater good. Some of us go through life never using them or even realizing them sometimes. Not only must we have faith to pray for our needs, but we must put faith into action by treating each other with Christian love and using our gifts as a church community for the benefit of others if and when we are called to do so.
We all have our commanding officers, no matter whom or what they may be. We have a sovereign commanding officer that is calling upon each of us to do something; Our Father in heaven. Let us open our hearts and ears to that command and carry it out as soldiers of Christ. Let us do this by letting our faith build and be willing to ask for that help when and where we need it knowing full well He has the authority and power. Jesus is waiting on our call; let’s call Him!
God Love You +
+ The Most Rev. Robert Winzens
Pastor – St. Francis Universal Catholic Church
San Diego, Ca.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Sunday Sermon

February 3, 2013
Today we read about three of Jesus’ many parables. Yet, taken as a whole, we can see they speak of much the same thing. Our Epistle speaks of putting on imperishability or immortality. Both these readings can be read in the same light. So what is the Holy Spirit telling us through these passages? Can we see ourselves at the surface of these readings?
What we do not see on the surface of the Gospel reading is something we can discover only through research. These parables Jesus put forth were being put forth due to rival and/or problematic teachings by the Temple elders of the time. Teachings, they claimed, would bring you to the gates of heaven, but in reality would make you drop into a ditch of dirty water. Regardless of the intended application then, we can still apply these to us today. Jesus often spoke in words that can resonate in any age.
Little do we realize, sometimes, that we go through our everyday lives sometimes doing exactly what Jesus was preaching against. As followers of Christ, we sometimes forget that every waking moment of our lives can sometimes be, not only a witness to others, but an act of love for God.
As I have often stated, being Catholic is not just being someone who merely goes to church on Sunday, it is a way of life. Jesus’ parables and St. Paul’s Epistle to the Corinthians show us that this isn’t just something your idiot pastor just came up with while stirring cookies in the kitchen.
No matter what age, life is full of distractions that try to arrest some time away from us. Jesus challenges us to break out of the molds that the world has to offer and come to a better way of living, that as St. Paul puts it, will help us to change our mortality into immortality. We have to understand, no matter young or old, that life is but a short time in the span eternity. What we do in this time span can make all the difference to our spiritual and emotional health not only now, but in our eternal health later.
Obviously, as Jesus makes clear, the blind certainly cannot lead the blind into unchartered territory. Regardless of any blind person’s skills, there are terrains that would be difficult, if not impossible for a blind person to navigate on their own. This is true in a physical sense, but Jesus implies it as a spiritual sense as well.
Jesus is not speaking of a fraternal correction done in love, but of that of a hypocrite blinded by their own sin who is interested only in exposing another’s weakness. As brothers and sisters in Christ, we are called to imitate Him in selfless service to others. Each time we “serve” others with impure motives, it must break Jesus’ heart.
It can be something as simple as writing off a neighbor as hopeless merely because we perceive that they do not think the way we do. We can sometimes be quick to point out an error or some hurt by another caused to us, but fail to see the harm we ourselves have caused in the situation ourselves. So selfless was Jesus’ love, that His last breath on the cross was not an appeal for punishment toward those who caused his crucifixion, but a prayer of forgiveness!
Of course, we should not stop trying to help others until we have reached a state of being “completely holy”, because holiness can be elusive in some terms of the word to the point of never really achieving it, but to some degree we all fail to be “holy” most of our lives due to our nature. Further, if we all stopped helping others because we felt as though we were not perfect or holy enough, no one would help another soul. We must always carry on as good Catholic Christians in charity toward others, but in so doing, we must always leave open our hearts and minds to be examined by our Blessed Lord and allow Him to bring us to deeper repentance and healing.
The parable of the speck and the log was Jesus’ use of humor while putting forth a very valuable and important point. It sounded ridiculous, but it was a deliberate caricature. Like with the blind leading the blind, the question becomes can we see clearly enough to lead, let alone criticize someone else? What people criticize in others is frequently, though not always, what they are subconsciously aware of (or afraid of) in themselves. Psychologists refer to this as “projection”. The person knows there’s something seriously wrong with his or her own eye, so they try to avoid the problem by telling someone else there’s a tiny problem with theirs.
Jesus was attempting to point out then, as still today, that the Pharisee’s have many rules and regulations in which they were trying to fine tune obedience to the law down to the last detail, while missing the law’s major point. They were trying to make Israel holier and holier, but the point of the law and the prophets was to make Israel the light to many nations.
Jesus’ message is much like our church (denomination). We attempt to be a light to others. We want very much to bring the light of Christ into the hearts of others. We want His love to shine through to and for them. Yes, as Catholics, we acknowledge a vast amount of doctrine, dogma and Tradition that has been handed down through the ages. Not only through the Church of Rome, but even through those Catholic branches who have split off. We, as one that has split off, have tried to take Jesus’ parable to the level He was speaking.
It is our hope that those who come to us, are coming to a church that not only lives the light of Christ, but also makes Him a part of our daily lives, knowing full well we are sinners, but while we work on those things, we know that our Blessed Lord still loves us, and we are redeemed by his sacrificial love on the cross.
Jesus moves then into the parable of the fruit tree. He is trying to show all of us that we are much like the trees.  When we allow Christ into our lives, when we live our Catholic faith as a way of life, we become good trees that will bear good fruit. If we lead good lives, we bear good fruit. It really is simpler than it seems. Jesus prunes the bad branches in everyday ways. How hard is it to make sure we take a few moments to pray each day? A minute or two in the morning or before bed? Saying hello to those we would rather not even pass on the same sidewalk? Saying a prayer of thanks at each meal? A little bible reading each day? Even if all of this were combined, it would not amount to much time at all. And for what end? To be that good tree that will help build the moral and loving character as a good Catholic Christian who will bear good fruit to others.
Jesus is inviting us to a way of life so completely new that it will not only need a change of heart, but it will do just that and more. The last parable in today’s Gospel speaks just that. It is easy to see the analogy Jesus is using and how it applies to our mortal selves. Like St. Paul in the Epistle, we must put on imperishability and immortality. We must build our house on a firm foundation. Listening to Jesus’ true wisdom and not putting it into practice is like building a house without a foundation.
The slightest little bad event in life will knock a person off course and it will take days, weeks, and maybe even months to get back. But, as we apply our faith to our daily lives; as we lead a Catholic way of life, we become stronger to deal with these problems in a better light. It can be amazing sometimes, how one can discover stress that once knocked you for a loop, will no longer affect you as much as it once may have.
Living a faith-filled life and being a good Christian doesn’t mean that no harm or bad weather will come to you, but by building that foundation on solid ground, we can bounce back easier and quicker.  We all know that life has its ups and downs. The earth has its weather and it will be bad sometimes. We are human, and we have free will. Sometimes people will do wrong, and sometimes it may be toward you. But, if you keep your life based on the principles and teachings of Christ and His church, you will find the strength and wisdom to deal with the bad weather and even the bad people. Who knows; you may be the key to turning that bad person into a good one!
So, this leads us to questions. Are we willing to look for the log in our own eyes before we pronounce the speck in someone else’s? Do our plans and schemes look good on the outside but leave the heart untouched? Are we building without a foundation? Are we remembering that our life is not eternal on earth, but eternal in the kingdom of God, thus we must put on imperishability and immortality to secure our eternal victory over death? Are we making our Catholic faith a way of life, or just a religion we occasionally practice?
As we ask those questions about ourselves, we must be cautious we are not lured into traps of others, intended or otherwise, ensuring we maintain a Jesus parable approach in all we do. As good people, we want to treat others well, just as we want to be treated well. Sometimes we have to let our faith lead us, instead of our hearts, when we are faced with a less than pleasant situation or person. We must take a breath and say a quick prayer asking the Holy Spirit to lead us in the situation at hand, and let your tree be pruned to bear more good fruit.
God Love You +
+ The Most Rev. Robert Winzens
Pastor – St. Francis Universal Catholic Church
San Diego, Ca.
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