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What is it about nice people that attract total idiots?Nice people are martyrs. Idiots are evangelists.

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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Sunday Message- the simplicity of God

This morning when we went out for our walk, I caught a very familiar scent.  I don't know its actual origin, but I knew what my senses told me.  The smell of incense from high mass at church.  For those who don't know, I was raised Catholic, along with my 4 siblings.  And the smell brought back days of Christmas vigils and Easter mornings, of funeral masses and Good Fridays.  And just for a moment, I was taken by the thought that something so intimate with the worship of God should seem so odd, so out-of-place.

Despite being raised in one church, not all of us ended up staying.  Four of us have come to personal relationships with Jesus, a concept that really wasn't taught in Catholic church  in our day.  I mean, it was there if you paid attention, but buried, if you didn't, in the Pope and Purgatory and Saturday afternoon confession.  Still, our mother planted a seed of simple faith in us, and our father showed us the example of not missing church- in other words, the importance.

One of my sisters was able to reach an understanding of worship beyond the ritual and politics that allowed her to remain at our ancestral parish.  I was not, not at first, because I had to weave my way through the inconsistancies and non-Biblical teachings of the Popes to understand the truth of worship and salvation, and ultimately was led to faith through the agency of non-denominational friends.  My brother had to learn the division between faith and religion the hard way when rigid adherance to misapplied Church Law would have led to his not being able to bury his first grandchild "in the church" had not the "money people" of the parish went to the Bishop.

But we all assembled before Christ in the end, because in the end, God is a very simple concept.  All you really need to know are two things.  First, you have to recognize Jesus as God, not a man but God manifest in flesh.  Second, you have to accept that you have no means to enter heaven due to your fallen state, except through accepting His death for your sins in your heart.  Simple.

What has made it difficult over the ages has been man's desire to apply his own logic to the situation.  Within a couple hundred years of Jesus' death and ressurection, man was battling over the "nature of Christ".  Was He God and man?  Was He God, but acting through a human shell?  Or was He a human given a divine task and Godhood became His reward at completion?  Wars, murders, excommunications followed, because Jesus did not easily fit into the boxes of man's conceptions.  Was the eucharist the transformed Body and Blood, or merely symbolic?  Could heaven be bought by money?  All of these and more were asked by men trying to "understand" Jesus.

But I don't think we ever had that problem.  It was as simple as "God made man in His own image."  Man has mind, body, and spirit, seperate things yet still part of one person.  And God was Father, the will or "mind"; Jesus, the action, or "body"; and the Spirit.  God was just on a higher scale than us.  While theologians argued, "How could Jesus possibly be both God and man?" we knew the answer was, "Because He chose to be."  Simple.

Man has difficulties in conception.  One is a Catholic because he is aided in his faith by the ritual- the Palms on Palm Sunday, the ashes on Ash Wednesday, the Gregorian feel of the hymns,  the focus that a PROPERLY prayed rosary can bring.  Another has to ground himself in the Bible alone.  One likes the feel of an open service, with singing, mingling, and Bible study; another gets more out of a traditional service with a sermon focus.  One is lifted up by a service with a cultural identity, another can walk into any church and be comfortable.  Non-believers laugh and say, "Oh yes, God tells so many stories it's impossible to follow"; but the point is that while God is one, we are many, and He took that into consideration. God is not the one who is limited in perception.

We are.  We are too small to see the big picture, bound by time where He is not, limited in ability where He is not.  And He brings comfort in His measure as well.  I have friends right now dealing with cancer on every side, etc.  And it is hard for us to see His comfort sometimes.  But it is there; sometimes in burdens for our benefit, sometimes in the easing of them for our encouragement.  But it is always with the big picture, the life beyond, in mind, not this life.  And we who are bound in this life have a hard time seeing that, and He knows that.

And that's why He made us as an image of Himself.  And why He only gave us two things we really had to remember. Jesus became man. Jesus died for us.  Simple.

11 comments:

  1. What a great post, I am not a church goer but I do have my own realationship with God........

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  2. I wish I could hug you right now and tell you how timely this is to read and apply for Pooldad and I. I wish I could send you those cookies to thank you for putting into words, so simply, so beautifully what religion, especially the Catholic faith, is to us.

    I am blown away by this post CW and I will be printing it out to keep in my bible with me.

    I wish I could thank you more. Blessings my friend. I am lucky to know you.

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  3. "What has made it difficult over the ages has been man's desire to apply his own logic to the situation."

    I think this nails it on the head. People try to understand God by using their faulty human logic, and when they can't, they say he doesn't exist and we were all created from a random meaningless explosion and now we're just a bunch of talking monkeys with no purpose flying through space for no reason whatsoever. Sorry, but I don't believe that.

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  4. CWM:
    Can't add a single word to such a great message (and I wouldn't attempt to, either).

    Your commenters and you have said it all (as has God).
    Very well spoken by everyone here, my friend.

    Stay safe up there

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  5. Thank you everybody for the responses. This was much like when I was teaching Sunday School- I had something to post in mind, and God hijacked it for everyone's betterment. Fortunately it not only edified you, but saved you from a post on how to pick sports teams. God does work in mysterious ways!

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  6. hey there, I'm one of your newest followers. I stumbled on your blog today and this post sealed the deal that i wanted to continue to read your blog. Nice to meet you!
    Holli
    www.hollishootsandhollers.blogspot.com

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  7. Chris,
    I have been learning more about LDS beliefs re Jesus via my Christian and Conservative friend David McKay. If I understand correctly, per the Mormon belief, Jesus and Satan (Lucifer) are brothers, Jesus is not one with God but is a distinctly separate entity, and that all persons can become gods. Do you know if that is accurate? If so, what are the views of Catholicism toward Mormons and the Church of Latter Day Saints?

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    1. That is pretty much the gist on LDS about Jesus and Satan as I know it as well. And when I was a child, attending a church other than a Catholic church if you were a Catholic was grounds for excommunication. The old timers of mom and dad's generation interpreted that as, if you become a Baptist, Lutheran, etc., you were going to hell. Though apparently you got mulligans for weddings, funerals, baptisms, etc. Mom would have had a stroke had she lived long enough to see me become a Sunday School teacher in a Baptist church.

      These days, I'm not sure how this plays out with all the ecumenicalism and so forth. I consider myself undenominational Christian, though I was baptised (as an adult) in and am comfortable in the Southern Baptist church.

      I guess the thing that bugged me about the LDS story is that Joseph Smith allegedly discovered these tablets of gold in some lost city, hid behind a curtain as he read the tablets and an aide transcribed, and then the tablets were whisked back to heaven before anyone else saw them. A little more outlandish IMHO than Mohammed's creation of Islam, but just as believable.

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    2. Thank you, CW, I appreciate your insight.

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