Disregarding The Bread of Life – Secular Humanism Series

The Dangers of Nonbelief!

Twenty-First Week of Ordinary Time

48-51 “I am the Bread—living Bread!—who came down out of heaven. Anyone who eats this Bread will live—and forever! The Bread that I present to the world so that it can eat and live is myself, this flesh-and-blood self.” ~ John 6:48-51  The Message (MSG)

Convenient Absentmindedness pt. 2

Last week I wrote, “We have become unmindful of the one who bore us, the one who gave us life, and forgot where we have come from.” (Brother Brian Disregarding God, August 21, 2018) I took aim at what I feel is a great and terrible evil we are fighting in our everyday lives. I gave examples of how humanity is guilty of being collectively unmindful. I asked, “Is anyone listening?” This week I give more examples of how Secular Humanism pulls us away from God and makes us blind to God’s offer of everlasting life and instead living your life on a ledge of disaster!

Secular Humanism says, “How can this man serve up his flesh for a meal?”, just as the Jews had begun asking in, (John 6:52 MSG). This rhetoric sowed disbelief because man inherently fears what he does not understand but that is only a small part of what drove the mass disbelief. Even the disciples had a hard time with this one, proclaiming, 60 ” this teaching is difficult; who can accept it?” (John 6:60 NRSVACE).

Thinking Deeper: “Why is it that this specific teaching sowed so much disbelief?”

Perhaps, my brothers and sisters, we like children take things too literally! Maybe, we think so basically as to misunderstand what Jesus said? Surely it is easy to hear one thing and interpret it in a completely different way than what it was meant to mean. On this point how many times have you intently listened to the rhetoric other people say? How many times do you take them at face value or doze off not really hearing their overall message?  Worse yet picking and choosing the parts you like and discarding the rest? (We will circle back around for more on this point.) Notice that those who left John calls them disciples indicating that they all had once believed and followed but had lost their way or maybe simply had grown tired and so they simply wandered off to take up their old lives. Maybe, the idea of being the bread of life; the most staple food source at that time period referencing the bread (manna) that fell from heaven when the Jews were escaping Egypt was simply too much for those one-time disciples of Jesus to bear? Whatever the reason, modern secular humanism supports the falling away from Christ, enforces the disbelief in God, blurs our vision so much so we do not know where then to look for salvation. Jesus made many hard to understand and follow statements but in each one of them at the root, He was calling us to Himself so that we would have the hope of everlasting life. Secular Humanism, however empowering will not and can not save your immortal soul because man cannot save himself apart from God.

On the other hand, maybe those lost disciples did indeed get Jesus’s “I AM” proclamation of everlasting life! Maybe they had also heard Jesus’s teaching on marriage, his view of both husband and wife needing to be equal partners; which flies in the face of both Mid-Eastern culture and practices going back thousands of years. I have to admit this scripture found in (Ephesians 5:21-32), is a blow to the male ego in almost every culture around the world. But simply put that is our Lord and Savoir, He was not afraid to say it as it was or needed to be. Maybe His message was too harsh for some, but whoever said everlasting life was going to be easy to attain?

Thinking Deeper: “How does being subordinate to another person in marriage mix with the message of disregarding the bread of life?”

21 “Out of respect for Christ, be courteously reverent to one another.” Ephesians 5:21 The Message (MSG)

Many of Jesus’s “I AM” proclamations were intended to shock, to stir up, to challenge the way we see this secular world. But mainly to wake us up to what is coming upon His return. But more to the point we will not be awake if we as a human race do not first get with the program of submission and being subordinate to each other first. Oh yes… I said the words that our own egos can’t stand to hear or even confront, (submission and subordinate), without saying the word love. Truth be told many people in their marriages treat their spouses horribly and try to assume the role of the boss in the relationship! After all our secular world is all about the wants of the individual right? How then can you possibly be submissive to your spouse if your mentality is all about the preservation of ‘SELF’ wants? In this listening and communicating becomes the last priority then lies and deceit creeps in to fill the gap of being submissive and subordinate i.e. loyal to your spouse! If then love is not associated to any of this then marriage is not rewarding and thus tiresome and labor intensive. You will my brothers and sisters lose the love you so crave from the world, blinded so severely that you do not know where to look for salvation! Therefore, to love and honor your spouse and children is both the greatest gift and redeeming qualities that emulate God! Think of it this way, submissive love is being God-like! So Yes… “He who loves his wife loves himself.” (Ephesians 5:28 NABRE) For Jesus so loved the Church and sacrificed Himself for her – (the collective of mankind as His Holy Church!) 

Putting It All Together: In short my brothers and sisters, to be loyal, faithful, living your life honoring your relationships with fidelity and love is one of the best ways any human-being has available to honor and emulate God.  To live for your own selfish means then is the same as being that group of disciples who got bored and wandered off and consciously or unconsciously ended up emulating secular humanist. When we fall into this secular mold we become lost and blind not knowing or seeing where to turn for salvation and/ or redemption. Sadly in that state, we become the property of Satan and headed for damnation. But when we honor our relationships we emulate the Christian Family Jesus had wanted us to live. We, in turn, serve God and are headed for His everlasting grace and mercy. Believing in Jesus, honoring your personal relationship with Him is, in turn, mastering the concept of eating and drinking his body and blood which is traditionally in the Church known as the Eucharist. For spiritually Jesus lives within each one of us and loves all of the human race. He is always calling to us to be that better person, He is always reaching out to intervene and protect us which is something this secular world cannot do. In the end my brothers and sisters, the choice is yours to make. Which interpretation of living in this secular world will you choose? Who do you want to emulate?

LET US PRAY

PRAYER FOR LOVING OTHERS

From: Catholic Doors.com

Lord, Make me an instrument of your love. 
May I see each circumstance in my life 
as an opportunity to grow in your love.
May I see my environment 
as a place to grow in your love.

May I then take this love to other people…

When I am tempted to become impatient, 
help me to be patient. 

When I am tempted to become unkind, 
help me to be kind. 

When I am tempted to become jealous, 
help me to be tolerant. 

When I am tempted to become boastful or proud, 
help me to give you the glory. 

When I am tempted to be rude or selfish, 
give me the gift of gentleness. 

When I am tempted to take offense, 
help me to let go. 

When I am tempted to become angry with someone, 
give me the gift of forgiveness. 

When I am tempted to become resentful, 
give me your power to love. 

Lord, grant that I may take no pleasure in criticizing others, 
but that I may see good in them, as you do.

When I begin to concentrate on the faults and failures of others, 
give me the courage to praise their accomplishments. 

Help me be loyal to those you give me to love. 

Help me to believe in them, 
even when they do not believe in themselves. 
To expect the best from them, 
but accept the best they can give. 
May I always defend them, 
as you always defend me. 

All gifts and powers come from you. 
All will come to an end. 
With one important exception, the gift of love!!! 
Lord, when I was a child, 
I thought like a child, 
I acted like a child, 
and I reasoned like a child. 
Now that I have become an adult,
I release my childish ways.

In Jesus’ Name and with the help of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

NEED HELP OR ENCOURAGEMENT?

If you would like to receive ongoing encouragement, to help you stay focused, and/or need some guidance in where to look for motivational scriptures in the bible then feel free to email me at listeningfaithfullyblog@gmail.com with your request. Remember you’re never alone.

Amen, Alleluia!

May the Lord bless you, protect you from all evil and bring you to everlasting life.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Saint Joseph, Pray for us. ~ Sancte Ioseph – ‘ora pro nobis,’

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Transformation – My Brother’s Keeper

Chair of Saint Peter the Apostle

Feast Day 2018
LENTEN SEASON YR. B

“Since the fourth century, the feast of the Chair of Peter has been celebrated at Rome as a sign of the unity of the Church founded upon that apostle.” – Proper of Saints, pg. 1095.

18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. – Matthew 16:18 New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised (NRSVA)

Guiding Question: How has God transformed your life, made you the example of change to others?

In our life, before meeting God for the first time we are unmistakingly human, flawed, corrupt, with sin written in blood on our foreheads.  Lies are easy as they come forth with such splendor and detail. We are operating on the basic level with little conscience and little desire to change. Our needs are met on the basic level, food, water, companionship, with very little loyalties or commitments to anyone or thing. We are like a hunk of clay unformed lacking detail and filled with many wants and desires. Take Peter for instance, before God he fished for a living, followed in his father’s footsteps with no desire to do anything other than fish. Peter had a family, but they were not what motivated him rather they were his duty, not his motivation. Peter before God was just like every other man of his age, rough around the edges, no more or less interesting, and he lived like everyone else from catch to catch never getting ahead in life. In comparison to what he would become Peter lead a life based upon just the basic requirements complete with basic needs and wants, quite boring really.  No one would have ever looked at him and thought, ‘hum, this man I will build my church upon.’ For there was not a religious bone in his body.

But after God, Peter was quite different indeed, see his life was no longer just a basic ordinary life that everyone else in the world was living. No sir! Peter’s heart though still filled with sin was set aflame and the light of God burned deep inside him. His mind had stopped thinking about the concerns of an everyday life of a fisherman and instead was focused on the salvation of all mankind. He intently watched everything Jesus did and said, wrote some of it down, then when Jesus had shared His fate on the cross Peter didn’t want Jesus to go, though His heart in the right place his humanity he allowed to take over. On Gethsemane when Jesus was betrayed Peter pulled a sword, in Jerusalem when the crowd recognized him Peter lied three times and denied knowing Jesus. From that moment until Christ appeared Peter was operating out of fear, suspicion, and deep shame. Then when Jesus asked him three times, ‘Peter do you love me?’ Peter three times said yes and just like that Peter went from a sinner to a Saint. Peter allowed God in and became the rock of which Jesus build the modern day Catholic Church upon.  Peter underwent an incredible transformation and what is so exciting about this story is that all of us can also undergo this same transformation if only we allow God in.

Change in the Modern World

Tribute to Billy Graham 1919-2018

My dear brother’s and sister’s truly I say to you we can be transformed and become the catalyst of change for other people. All we have to do is look around and see how badly this world needs to change. A good example of a person changing and then driving change in the world is the young men and women of Parkland, Florida who refuse to go another day with allowing semi-automatic firearms to be sold. How about Billy Graham who past away today at the age of 99 and who shared the gospel with more people than any other modern-day preacher but yet he too needed to be converted, transformed, and molded. This special person as the story goes was his Sunday School Teacher when he was just a boy who told him,

“You can count the apples on the tree, but who can count the apples in a seed?” goes the old aphorism.

We can’t forget Saint Augustine’s conversion as it is found in the Province of Our Mother of Good Counsel of the Augustinian Order website, “Augustine’s life as a young man was characterized by loose living and a search for answers to life’s basic questions.” par. 1 One day he heard a child singing a song, “Pick it up and read it. Pick it up and read it.” After some discernment, Augustine reasoned it was a command from God to pick up the bible and read it. So he did and read the first thing he saw,

Not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual excess and lust, not in quarreling and jealousy. Rather, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh. Romans 13: 13-14

It was this Scripture that changed his life forever, and like Peter, the Students of Parkland, Florida, Billy Graham and thousands of others became a pillar of positive change within the world.

“Do you love me?” asks Jesus. Our Lord and Saviour is the example of what grace in leadership is all about, from parenting which starts and ends with love to a manager of a corporation who can exhibit dignity in the workplace, and to the leaders in Washington who can if they want to build fairness and security into every law. Saint Peter is celebrated as is many others because they emulated Jesus Christ, in heart, mind, body, and soul and through them led thousands to a transformation, they truly were their brother’s keeper and those they impacted came to Jesus on their knees in praise. See my brother’s and sister’s each and every one of those examples can be that one special instance in someone’s life that turns them to God, allows them to open up their heart just enough, and to fill their whole body with the Holy Spirit giving them the ability to answer that one fundamental question Jesus is asking,  “Do you love me?”. 

Let Us Pray

All-powerful Father, you have built your Church on the rock of Saint Peter’s confession of faith. May nothing divide or weaken our unity in faith and love. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever.

May the Lord bless you, protect you from all evil and bring you to everlasting life.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Saint Joseph, Pray for us.Sancte Ioseph – ‘ora pro nobis,’

Amen, Alleluia

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Listening Faithfully Blog written by Brian K. Stark © 2009-2018

From Beatitudes to Attitudes: Part 2

Acknowledgement of Sin

4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” ~ Matthew 5:4 (NRSVACE)

Question: “What condition is our heart in if it is one that morns?”

The definition of the term ‘mourn’ means: ‘to feel or express grief or sorrow’ ~ “Mourn.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 8 Oct. 2017.

We mourn for those in our families who have died, we mourn for those who suffer great loss, and we mourn for our own emptiness in times of great turbulence. But to mourn as Jesus describes it in the second blessing in the Beatitudes is to truly be remorseful over sin as we recognize its deep impact on our lives as individuals, the stain and weight it has upon our hearts, and our inability to erase this sin on our own. To recognize our sin is but the first step in mourning for we also need to take responsibility; take ownership for that sin as well.

In truth, I tell you, my brothers and sisters, when we are in such communion with our creator that we are in agreeance over our own mortal sin it is a blessing from God worthy of great reward. It is an even greater blessing when we take responsibility for our sin and fall on our face before God in the deepest of sorrow. It should be an emotional response and therefore, a means test of our sincerity.

The Process of Mourning

18 “The Lord is near to the broken-hearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” ~ Psalm 34:18 (NRSVACE) 

In fact, where sin is concerned we as a race of sinners undergo definitive steps before we can ever get to the deepest level that of mourning as described by Christ.

  1. Guilt – Sin makes us guilty before God, as such we can never obtain true forgiveness without the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross. But in a deeper sense of the word, ‘guilt’, we feel the weight of this sin in our hearts, bearing the stain of it upon our immortal soul. In this way, we have been found guilty and full of blame separated forever from God branded forever as a sinner.  The recognition of this state of being allows us to emotionally grapple with our sinful nature.
  2. Sorrow – When we recognize our sin and the damage it has done in our life can we then feel the sorrow over our sin; broken before God and in God’s eyes ready to be molded and shaped through this emotional response of sorrow.
  3. Remorse – Taking ownership of our sin and the damage it has done in our lives can we begin to feel remorse, falling deeper into the limous test of emotional and spiritual atonement.
  4. Mourning – In this level of emotional and spiritual unity can our hearts now meaningfully cry out to God in true repentance of the sin which our human nature clings so readily to. It is here in this state of being can we come before God and truly confess our sins and for the first time in this process acknowledge Jesus as our savior, but more importantly willing confess our need for a savior.

Question: “Can there be true forgiveness without there first being a true sense of mourning?”

Consequence to Receiving a Blessing

28 “Just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.” ~ Matthew 20:28 (NRSVACE)

In many ways, our sin which is part of our earthly condition forces us into a never-ending cycle of contrition. We who are born in sin can never truly walk away from it and become sinless, hence the need for salvation, the need for a savor, and the need for forgiveness. Therefore, I tell you, my brothers and sisters, that it is not enough to understand where we stand within sin as a sinner but to also comprehend the love it took to pardon all of us sinners from Jesus’s death on the cross to this very day. For it is Jesus who took on our sin so we might have hope for salvation and sit at the table with God everlasting. Each and every blessing found in the Beatitudes cost God His son’s life, the consequence far exceeds any amount we as sinful humans could ever pay on our own or together. In fact, every person on Earth could stack their wealth up in a huge pile and offer it to God and it would still pale in comparison to the cost of one sin, let alone the thousands each one of us does in the span of our lifetime. Therefore, it is a priceless blessing that God bestows upon those of us Christians who understand this dynamic and are obedient in the taking on of our sin; the understanding of the necessity of giving that sin to God on an hourly, daily, weekly, and even a yearly basis; never ceasing to understand how much God loves us and how much we need His divine love and forgiveness. The consequence for Jesus was to die and the consequence of his death for us was life everlasting so that we could be comforted while we live here on this earth.

Question: “In what way has this gift of being blessed impacted you the most?”

“For they will be comforted.”

It is truly a blessing I tell you, my brothers and sisters, when we are in such communion with God that we are in agreeance over our own mortal sin. It is truly a blessing when we take responsibility for our sin and fall on our face before God in deep sorrow confessing that sin to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  The blessing of comfort can be found in all areas of our lives, from the hard decisions we face not knowing which way to go, or which path to take, to the last act we do before passing away. Comfort is found in a life well lived, in the knowledge your sins have been commuted and the Gates of Heaven have been opened to you, to even feeling Jesus’s hand in yours as he brings you into Him. Comfort is found in the understanding that our salvation extends to the healing of this despicable condition our hearts are in. Comfort is found within the relief of this never-ending cycle of sin which is our reality here on this earth. The human condition can never be understated but so too can the blessing of God never be lacking in its ability to free us from that condition.

The Relational God

26 But Jesus looked at them and said, ‘For mortals it is impossible, but for God all things are possible.’ ~ Matthew 19:26 (NRSVACE)

In my life when I am given a choice and I know that no matter what I do it will be a sin, thus being boxed into sin, I have always chosen to pray to God for His divine strength and understanding, I have asked Him to give me the knowledge and strength to do His will. I write this because we have a God who cares, a God who loves, and God who is relational. Our Lord so wants to be apart of everything we experience in our lives, to teach us His divine ways, to mold us into better human beings. God so wants to take on your worries, your problems, your roadblocks, and your sin. Because our God is relational He can relate to you in a way no one else here on earth can. God is forever, the master of the universe, and your personal savior. In God, there is nothing you cannot do or accomplish.

Amen!!! Alleluiah!

Primary Goal: To Alway Image Christ in Mind, Heart, Body, and Soul.

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Sancte Ioseph – ‘ora pro nobis,’

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Listening Faithfully Blog written by Brian K. Stark © 2009-2017