Sunday, February 14, 2016

You are invited to observe a Holy Lent

During Lent we talk of repentance, resisting temptation, and the Passion of Jesus.  We dramatize the story of His final days and make movies which reenact those terrible moments of pain and suffering Jesus underwent for our sake.  

We live in a world of competing stories. In such a world, we must know the Christian story in order to resist the false stories that seek to take us captive. The reading in Luke 4:1-13 is the familiar story of Jesus’ temptation by the devil in the wilderness. This story is so well known that we sometimes conflate the different accounts in Matthew, Mark, and Luke into one story about Jesus’ temptation. But each account is unique from the others.  As we read Luke’s version carefully, we can see two competing stories: the story that Jesus taps into in order to resist the devil and successfully navigate the temptations laid before him and the narrative the devil presents.

 We have stories as well, concerning our temptations with the devil and our challenges to be the kind of person we seek to be.  We face temptation each day and we try to resist that still small voice which whispers into our ear, leading us away from the path we intend to take.  

Lent is a good time to take on new things and one thing we all should take on this year is the attitude that all of our stories and resolutions find their genesis in God.  We can resist temptation if we turn to God; through God, we are able.


Father Mark+

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.  (Rom 12:2)

Paul’s letter to the Christians in Roman lays out the perfect description of what is expected of us. Matthew Henry’s age-old commentary describes our journey as one from being under the control of this world—with all the temptations and desires and sin to which our lives are subjected—to true holiness. It is not a journey which has a certain end or destination, rather it is a journey which results in a change in the qualities of the soul.

It is a process through which the Spirit is allowed to work within us to affect a change in our understanding of supernatural things—until through a process of conversion and sanctification our minds are renewed and we see the world with fresh eyes. Think of Jacob as he wrestles the angel.

Sanctification means we die to sin. We more and more reject the worldly offerings which taint our ability to be god-like. More and more we reject evil thoughts and actions which drive us away from the love of God which is freely offered and rightfully ours to receive. We become more and more spiritual beings living in a physical world. We become more god-like by giving up ourselves to God and turning away from worldly things.

We are specifically warned to not plan for our own happiness because all we can do to be happy involves things of this world which are fleeting and will soon pass away. We learn true happiness is found in being children of God who are heirs to the kingdom which God desires us to receive.

This is the great renewing work which the Spirit is doing in us—conversion and sanctification until we are changed into the likeness of God in knowledge and righteousness and holiness.

And the only thing we have to fear is conformity to this world. Falling in love thing earthly and rejecting the things eternal. Therefore, Paul says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”


Father Mark +