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Sunday, May 9, 2010

Finding Peace Through Obedience

Sixth Sunday Of Easter
(Finding Peace Through Obedience)
Acts 15:1-2, 22-29
Rev 21: 10-14, 22-23
Jn 14: 23-29

We live in a world in which we are bombarded with influences.

Influences that come to us through a variety of mediums: TV, Radio, what we chose to read, our friends, work, school, teachers, and parents, just to name a few.

And the more we are presented with these influences, life events, and worldly situations, our brains begin to normalize whatever it is exposed to.

The more we are repeatedly exposed to something, we begin to accept it as “Normal.”

This in itself, could be good or bad, depending on the situation and influence.

My question to you is: What are the main influences in your life, and what have you come to accept as “Normal.”

This now brings us to today's readings, beginning with the first reading when there was a question about the need for circumcision and Saints Paul and Barnabas were presented with this dilemma.

Who or what do these two men turn to for direction on this sensitive issue, sensitive for sure for the gentiles, as well as the Jews of the time?

I am sure each of the men, Paul and Barnabas had a personal opinion on this issue, yet, they remained silent.

Embracing a spiritual mind, these followers of Jesus placed the Divine Will of God first. They turned to the Church for the direction and the answer.

By subjecting themselves to the authority of the Church, they sacrificed their personal opinions.

This is a wonderful example of what a Catholic is expected to do today as well, and we will explore the reasons why.

This is Especially pertinent for those who cling on to mixed feelings regarding:

Pre-marital relations,
Birth control,
Euthanasia, and Female Priesthood,

just to mention a few worldly issues.

By educating ourselves to the teachings of our church, and accepting the authority of the Holy Catholic Church, one finds peace of mind.

Through peace of mind, one can answer their calling to do all things in the Spirit as a new creation of God.
During today's Gospel reading, we heard Jesus say, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do  not let them be afraid.” (Jn 14:27)

When we do not do all things in the Spirit, our hearts are troubled.

We are afraid because deep inside we know that we are in disobedience and the wrath of God is pending.

We are afraid because the Spirit of Christ talks to us in our hearts and reminds us that we are not walking in the Spirit. The peace of Christ comes to us when we obediently submit ourselves to God's Divine Will through the authority of the Church.

Then, we are blessed with Divine peace; we are no longer troubled or afraid. The mixed feelings that we once had, they have faded away.

So why Rome? Why would we want to have Rome be the influence that directs our lives?

I think we would all agree, that it only makes sense, that when Jesus did something, it had a purpose. Prior to leaving this world for the next, Jesus handed over the keys to the Church, His Church, to Peter, and asked Peter to guide His Church.

And then like tongues of fire, God sent the  Holy Spirit, the Advocate, down upon the apostles, down upon the Magisterium, and especially down upon His Pope, to be the voice of God here on earth.

Remember what Jesus Proclaimed: The Holy Spirit will teach you everything....

Saints Paul and Barnabas knew and understood this, we see that clearly in their actions and where they turned to for guidance.

And what is the purpose of the Holy Spirit?

To build up the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. Visible in nature with its seat in Rome, its invisible reflection in the holy city with its seat in Jerusalem where the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostalic Church had its beginning.

The unity of the two form the mystical body of Christ, the Church, also being known as the bride of Christ.

The second goal of the Holy Spirit is to sanctify us in Christ so we may be purified and transformed in the likeness of Jesus.

When we turn to Rome, the teachings of the Church, and live in obedience to them, we are able to walk with the Spirit of Christ. We are able to be led not by ourselves and our own desires, but are truly led by the Spirit.

When the apostles and the elders reviewed the issue of circumcision that Paul and Barnabas had brought before them, such was done under the guidance and leadership of the Holy Spirit.

This truth is affirmed in the context of the response that the church authority sent to them. The reply began with the words, “For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us....” In other words, they were walking in the Spirit of Christ, proclaiming spiritual wisdom that had been made known to them through the Holy Spirit.

Once again I return to the question or where do we as Catholics turn to for advise and direction?

What or who do we allow to be the influential factors in our lives?

And what behavior have we accepted as Normal in our society.

I regret to say, that for many, it isn't Rome, nor the Pope that they turn to for direction. In fact, they live lives in direct contrast to what the Church teaches and asks from us, yet they still call themselves catholic.

And in regard to being obedient, most are more concerned with being independent than submissive and obedient, even if it was the Holy Church, the Bride of Christ,  that we are speaking of.

Why Obedience, and what does it actually do for us?

Obedience brings us peace and freedom.

As Jesus stated “Peace I leave you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you.”

To understand what peace really means, we should take a closer look at this word Peace.

Actually the term Jesus used was was not peace, but Shalom.

This Hebrew word is generally translated into English as “peace”, but this is a simplistic rendering of a very rich expression.

Shalom really describes completeness, wholeness, fulfillment – everything in life being as it should be.

We tend to equate peace with the absence of war or conflict, but it is much more than that.

Peace in our lives, in our souls, goes far deeper.

It is a sincere peace that assures us we are truly loved by God.

It is not the World's peace; Jesus says it is His peace.

The peace we search for is the peace that only comes from Chrsit. It is a peace the world cannot give us, and that we will never find if we look for it anywhere other than God.

This is the peace that comes from His presence in our lives, it flows from Him. It is Jesus Himself, living and acting in us, and through us.

Sometimes, it is us bringing Christ's peace, being Christ's peace, to others.

The more we work, not for ourselves,but for the glory of God, the more we find peace.

The more we keep Christ's word because we love him, the more His peace will live in us, and the less our hearts will be troubled or afraid.

We can  see this in the lives of so many Christians who go through trials and even tragedies. Yes they suffer, and they grieve, but they do so with a level of peace that comes to them through their faith in and love of Christ.

To be obedient to the church and her teachings, is to free oneself from the burdens, temptations, and evils of the world.

It is Christ himself, working through the Holy Spirit that decides what is “Normal” not the other influences in our lives.

To be Catholic means to be complete, whole, fulfilled – and having everything in life being as it should be.

Jesus has shown us the way and has even left us with His Church, under the direction and guidance of a Pope,  to guide, support, and love us.

My final question is:

Are we embracing this gift, or throwing it away?

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