De La Mennais Brothers: Weaving A Tapestry Of Relationships Like Jesus

De La Mennais Brothers: Weaving A Tapestry Of Relationships Like Jesus

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Following the call

Here’s a reflection on vocation/call by Don Schwager from his excellent collection of daily scripture reflections inspired by the readings of the Mass for that day, to be found at

Are you ready to follow the Lord Jesus wherever he may lead you? With the call the Lord gives the grace to respond and the strength to follow all the way to the end. Why does Jesus issue a challenge with the call? Jesus was utterly honest in telling people what it would cost to follow him. When a would-be disciple approached Jesus and said he was ready to follow, Jesus told him it would require sacrifice - the sacrifice of certain creaturely comforts. Jesus appealed to this man's heart and told him to detach himself from whatever might hold him back.

Spiritual detachment is a necessary step for following the Lord. It frees us to give ourselves without reserve to the Lord and his service. While many of us may not need to give up the comfort of our own home and bed to follow Jesus, we, nonetheless, must be willing to part with anything that might stand in the way of doing God's will. Don't let anything hold you back from following the Lord Jesus Another would-be disciple said he would follow as soon as he had buried his father. What he meant by this expression was that he felt the need to return to his home to take care of his father through old age until he died. The third had no obligation to return home, but simply wanted to go back and say good-bye. Jesus surprised these would-be disciples with the stark truth that nothing should hinder us from following the Lord.

Was Jesus being harsh and rude to his would-be followers? Not really. We are free to decide whether we will take the path which Jesus offers. But if we choose to go, then the Lord wants us to count the cost and choose for it freely. Don't miss the good path God has set for you - it will lead to joy and freedom.

What does the story of a plowman have to do with the journey? A plowman who looked back while plowing his field caused the line or furrow he cut into the soil to become crooked. One crooked line easily leads to another until the whole field is a mess. The plowman had to look straight ahead in order to keep the plow from going off course. Likewise, if we look back on what we have freely left behind to follow the Lord - whether that be some distraction, attachment, or sinful habit which leads us away from doing God's will - our path will likely diverge and we'll miss what God has for us. Will you say "yes" to the Lord's call for your life? The Gospel does not record the response from these three would-be disciples. We are only left with the question which Jesus intends for us as well. Are you ready to take the path which the Lord Jesus offers?

His grace is sufficient and his love is strong. There is nothing greater we can do with our lives than to place them at the service of the Lord and Master of the universe. We cannot outmatch God in his generosity. Jesus promises that those who are willing to part with what is most dear to them for his sake "will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life" (Matthew 19:29). The Lord Jesus offers us a kingdom of lasting peace, unending joy, surpassing love, enduring friendship, and abundant life. Is there anything holding you back from pursuing the Lord and his will for you life?

"Take, O Lord, and receive my entire liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my whole will. All that I am and all that I possess you have given me. I surrender it all to you to be disposed of according to your will. Give me only your love and your grace - with these I will be rich enough and will desire nothing more." (Prayer of Ignatius Loyola, 1491-1556) 

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Blessed Advent 2014

Here's a nice reflection video on Advent.

Being "missionary-disciples" - Pope Francis + Catholic "orthodoxy"

Here's something I wrote a few weeks back in a webpage comments section. Just thought I'd share it here:
Pope Francis has chosen a particular way of responding to God's call to follow Christ, his Son, by striving to become more like him in his own daily actions and relationships with those he meets, of being, as Francis puts it, a "missionary-disciple". This is the theme for the year in my congregation and its wider Mennaisien Family with our lay associates, colleagues and friends. It is a challenge that the Pope reminds us is given to all Christians through their baptism, not just to religious and clergy. As disciples of Christ, we are by definition also given a responsibility to share the faith we have been given, to share the graces bestowed upon us and to do so with the joy in our hearts that only God can give.
It seems to me that in this sense he is far closer to the core of Catholic "orthodoxy" than most of us, myself included.

There is, however, a debate to be had about the issues that are raised by the focus of his papacy on Christianity in action and away from the reinforcing of dogma. As the more enlightened commentators recognise, however, he does not deny the pillars of our Catholic faith. Rather, he strives to put them into a context of daily living where they serve not as an end in themselves, but rather as a means to an end. Is this not what Jesus did through his actions and teaching in parables?

Teaching in parables, modern parables (using modern media, i.e. film/tv/video, music, art literature, story, poetry...) would this not be an excellent use of the time and effort of Catholics in the blogosphere instead of the sniping, criticism and negativity that nowadays seems to dominate?? Where are the Catholics producing media of the quality of the following video, a testimony by Gareth Gilkeson, the drummer of N. Ireland Chrisitian worship band, Rend Collective, currently enjoying worldwide success for the songs, albums and live ministry?

The obvious joy that he exudes through his deep personal encounter with Christ and the passion that he has for wanting to share that joy with others is for me an inspiration. Would that we were all like him, striving to bring others closer to Christ and helping them to know and understand God's love for each one of us.

There are a few Catholics that have broken through in the modern worship scene: Matt Maher and Audrey Assad to name but a couple (check out Audrey's beautiful, prayerful concept album "Fortunate Fall"), but in this area Catholics are very much in the minority compared to our Evangelical Protestant cousins.

On a related point...

I'm a firm believer in the power of the Holy Spirit working within each of us and through us working in the Church (funny how it rarely gets a look in on most Catholic debate forums). Can we not trust it to work through the minds and hearts of the College of Cardinals when it comes to electing a Pope?? Do we as individuals know better than them? Do we have a hardline connection to His Spirit and therefore know better than the chosen leaders of His Church what His will is? I would call it a supreme arrogance on my part to presume that I knew better than them.

So, let's have reasoned debate, yes. Let's have the defence of Catholic beliefs, yes. But, most importantly, let's show love and respect to all... YES!!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

God of Justice (We Must Go) - Tim Hughes

A wonderful, wonderful song that I rediscovered recently. A rallying call for us all. 

"Freely we've received now, freely we will give..." as "missionary-disciples" (Pope Francis) invited into a communion built on love with God the Father, through his Son, expressed through the action of the Spirit's creative dynamism within us, inspiring each of us as baptised Christians to reach out to others, to walk with them and invite them into that same communion so that they too will know the depth of God's love for them.

Graham Kendrick - Worship is a Journey Graham shares his thoughts on the...

What a wonderful teaching! Revelation to response... what he says expresses so well Pope Francis' call that through baptism we are called and sent into the world as "missionary-disciples". This keeps bringing me back to John's Gospel and the Priestly Prayer in Jn 17...

‘Consecrate them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world, and for their sake I consecrate myself, that they too may be consecrated by the truth.
 ‘It is not for these alone that I pray, but for those also who through their words put their faith in me. May they all be one; as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, so also may they be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me.' (Jn 17:17-21)

Communion + mission, revelation + response...