Before reading the Scripture readings for today, in the early morning quiet just after waking, lots of thoughts and images started flowing into my brain, like a stream of movie “pitches” on a screen jumping in a logically disconnected way from one thing to another, in front of my still-sleepy mind’s eye.
One image (God knows where it came from! Seriously….God knows, I don’t) stopped me and made me think about it, ponder it, a lot more, just for the sheer weirdness of it and the strange scene that appeared in my mind, coupled with the strange “dissonance” embedded in that scene revealing how what we REALLY KNOW TO BE TRUE about life, and eternal life, deep-deep-down, can bubble to the surface if we’re squeezed hard enough by circumstance, despite NEVER thinking about that truth, or maybe even mocking or denying it when in our normal circles of friends and acquaintances in the world in which we live.
We humans all apparently can experience such a chasm in our lives as a result of being distant from God – and therefore not experiencing life in the Spirit, and being able to BELIEVE in God from the testimony of that experience.
The “weird” thing about what popped into my head, no doubt inspired by what came before, which I can’t even remember now, was the one sentence that one anonymous burly-type, hard-working, really rough around the edges Island middle-aged man who I sensed has, in his daily life, nothing whatsoever to do with religion or God.
He was at his mother’s burial, after she suddenly died, “saying a few words” to the intimate family group gathered, and said:
“I know mom’s in heaven, where’s she not suffering any longer.”
That stopped me. I immediately thought, “I’ve seen that exact thing happen many times in my life, in one way or another,” with people in a moment where it was not only “easy” to testify to the truth, but “expected” by the audience being addressed, to do exactly that: TESTIFY TO THE TRUTH!
I thought to myself: “For one second he says that, but for the rest of his life he says the opposite: does he really believe what he says?”
The answer came quick to me: “He does!” He really believes that is true, or at least he is open to believing it, notwithstanding doubts.
Then I also sensed that he’ll likely head to the bar a little later with his buddies to “drown his troubles” and get busy thinking about something entirely other than what he should be thinking about if he wants to join his mom in that “heaven” where he said, in a moment of clarity a little earlier in the day, that he KNOWS she’s now enjoying for eternity. Hmmm.
That also made me wonder if when the “judgement” happens, which it will for all of us, whether, if it is indeed true that if we are open to truth, that we ALL somehow have access to, and can know the truth, and we sense that to be the case, but we either chose to ignore, forget, not-think-of, or otherwise disassociate ourselves from truth, or perhaps take a different turn and EMBRACE and pursue truth, as the pearl of great price, knowing that all truths are the children of the TRUTH, which is actually not a which, but a “who” = Jesus, the only-begotten Son of the Father, “Light” (John 1:5). and the author of all lights.
WHO’S YOUR FATHER?
If it is indeed the case that we all have a choice to make about whether we prefer:
(1) To keep the reins of life in our hands as we channel what pleases us through the dual funnels of desire and attention, remaining the captains of our own spirit and destiny, or,
(2) To hand all over the reigns of our will to God, and seek only His glory by doing nothing but His Will on earth, as it is done in heaven, powered by His Holy Spirit, remaining always open to allowing God to work wonders through us with His power, out of His great mercy and love for His children, and do that work through us to His glory.
That mission, that “outreach” in these last days, is for all those called to work at bringing in the harvest, and is a work of mercy and love. It is executed and made possible only by the power of God as we allow that saving love to be communicated to others through our surrender to God, being docile to the “good-idea” promptings of the Holy Spirit each day, without hesitation or negotiation, remaining always in the “meekness and humility” of Jesus, who never thought of Himself in any way other than how He could hear and do the Will of His Father.
Hmmm….the Will of His Father? That’s really the key question isn’t it? But who’s really your father?
As every Islander knows [perhaps too well] to really know someone, at least to know how to properly “position” them in the right “community,” you need to know where they live, what village or town, and most importantly, you need the answer to one simple question that usually puts everything into proper perspective: “Who’s your father?”
In the spiritual realm, that is discerned on the basis of whether you are a liar or a truth-teller: one makes you a child of the devil, the other a child of God.
CHILDREN OF GOD (or) CHILDREN OF THE DEVIL
CHILDREN OF TRUTH (or) CHILDREN OF LIES
There is a consistent teaching from Jesus throughout the new Testament that when the judgement comes, when the days when His unfathomable and limitless mercy can be received no more, when that day comes – like a “thief in the night” – the judgement that comes with the revelation of truth will not fall on us all in the same way.
We, the children of God, were meant to have shepherds to lead us, and indeed we always seem to have them, whether we want them or not – leaders in both the secular political realm. and leaders within the religious institutions and organizations, the “people of God,” being all those who have come to life in God’s Spirit through baptism, repentance of sins, conversion, and the acceptance of the mercy and love of Jesus who saves us through His sacrifice and His offer of friendship to us on a go-forward basis in our daily lives as we strive to be like Him.
When leaders “mislead” – there apparently is (according to Jesus) a “special place in hell” for them. Listen to what Jesus says in today’s Gospel about that:
“The Son of Man will send his angels,
and they will collect out of his Kingdom
all who cause others to sin and all evildoers.
They will throw them into the fiery furnace,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.”
To be living in sin is to be a lost soul for the eternal bliss that God wants for us – life that he wants so much, in fact, that He did the following:
“God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son so that whoever believes in him may not be lost, but have eternal life. 17 God did not send his Son into the world to judge the world guilty, but to save the world through him.” [John 3: 16-17[.
When people are misled so as to “participate” in evil, perhaps unknowingly, or not with full explicit intention, though there is likely to be an awareness that something is not right.
Participating in and contributing to evil brings its own “vibe” and negative influences people usually sense and accommodate with a sense they are making unethical decisions (decisions such as avoiding investigating what you may sense is a lie you’re living, but if it is, would demand decisions and changes that are not yet willing to be made).
There will be some ‘blows’ (whatever that looks like after we “cross over”, i.e., (bite the dust) for those “participating in evil”; however, that nasty gnashing and wailing business seems to be uniquely the lot of those who, with decisions, plans and intention, “caused” others to sin, especially children:
“But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” [Matthew 18:6].
So, What are we to do?
Let’s take our cue from St. James, 4:7-10:
7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.
9 Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.
10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.
That’s our “to do” list for today: to renew our faith in God, and our commitment to give ourselves entirely to Him by surrendering to Jesus unconditionally, giving ourselves freely to He who is “all in all” – the Alpha and Omega, and our Lord and Saviour.
Who’s your father? Here’s how you can tell: which group do you identify with:
Are you courageously, but peacefully and without fanfare or soapboxes, testifying always to the truth?
Are you responding to the daily inspirations that come to reach out in charity to others, to listen to their own cry for relief from fear and anxiety, and their longing for the same peace and joy we all seek?
Then you are likely a child of God, because it sounds like you are imitating Jesus – because that’s what we are called to do, imitate what He did, and to follow what he taught, and that is what he did and taught us to do.
Are you fearfully, and anxiously, keeping what you know or sense the truth to be entirely to yourself, as a “secret worry” that frustrates your wish for peace, and becomes a thorn you wish you could remove and never think of again?
Are you desperately responding to those inspirations that come to reach out for something to satisfy your weary self, numb your mind, soothe and pleasure your body?
Then you are likely a child of the devil – because that’s what he calls us to do, imitate what He does, and to follow what he teaches, which is what he does, what serves self and not others, what blinds to truth and cuts off from the eternal life of peace and joy offered to us in God.
I’m not writing this particular reflection thinking that if you are, indeed, either in the camp that (1) is being mislead with lies that are causing you to live a life distant from God in sin, and will get a few blows; or (2) are doing the misleading and “causing” to sin, destined for that wailing and gnashing, that you will likely be moved to repentance and change upon reading what I’ve written, although I pray for that.
These words are seeds to be remembered and recalled when they they then will perhaps offer some help.
I’m hoping you will come to make that great change with a decisive return to God – if indeed you have yet to repent from a life of anxiety and fear, creating a permanently-divided interior spiritual life, etc – and that you accept the great gift of life in God that Jesus offers purely out of love. His boundless mercy is such that there is nothing we have thought or done that can’t be annihilated and forgotten by His love.
But such a transformation may not happen right away, but I’m writing mostly so that these insights will be REMEMBERED when the illumination of conscience happens, and that they will at that time strengthen you, helping you to make a decision to throw yourself completely, without hesitation or a thought for self, into the loving arms of our Saviour, who loves us infinitely and without bounds, and will accept and heal all our sorrows!
“Jesus, as the time for evil’s reign comes ever closer to an end, strengthen us to persevere against all temptations to turn away from you back to self. Protect us from the ‘arrows that fly by day’ and all the ‘terrors of night’ with the comfort of your presence, the knowledge of your victory, and the vision of the glory of God we will, by your saving grace and love, enjoy for eternity.
Father, send forth your Holy Spirit into our hearts to make them like the most perfect heart of your Son Jesus, who poured out the entirety of his precious blood in love and sacrifice, donating his life to rescue ours. Give us this day, oh heavenly father, the clarity of insight into the deep and eternal truth that is reality, so that we can truly “wake up” and live life entirely for You – so that we can allow you to give yourself completely to us, so we can then be completely who we are and who you created us to be, enjoying the freedom and joy of life in You, empowered to bring others into the Kingdom by spreading the Good News of the Gospel.” Amen.