Loosed, bound

MT 18:15-20 is today’s Gospel, and it has quite a bit to say.  We hear Jesus explain to the disciples how to handle a dispute between you and someone you know.  First you go off with this person privately and try and work it out.  You can’t get satisfaction than you bring in people who know what is going on to try and resolve the situation. If that does not work, you go before the Church.

Many times this is the focus of homilies.  Read just a few lines further and you have the bound and loose discourse. These two aspects are linked and should be linked.

The expressions “bind” and “loose” were common to Jewish legal phraseology meaning to declare something forbidden or to declare it allowed.

Jesus is telling us that how we think of a difficult situation is going to guide our reaction, responses, and remedies. Think about difficult situations we have had that did not work out well; we are very likely going to find that our thoughts were very negative, and the results that were created were very negative.

Every day we are binding: declaring it forbidden, and loosing: allowing.  Jesus is telling us to be very careful with these because if our action, which are always prayers, are done in the heat of emotion we may create something we do not want.  Of course, that does not mean that through prayer, spiritual-emotional work, as Jesus describes in the earlier part of the Gospel, the situation can’t be turned around.  Jesus is warning us that there is great power in what we do, how we think, how we act/react.

Here is a story from my life that illustrates the Gospel: I remember when Greg and I were first married I was so angry at something he had done I blurted out God damn you!  Greg looked at me and asked why I would want God to damn him?  Being made aware of what I had done, If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother, I was very embarrassed at what I had done.  I apologized.  But still the damage was done.  I had cursed my husband to enteral damnation. It wasn’t what I wanted to do; I was just angry.  Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven,
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

Think back to times when you blurted something out in anger, (bound).  Did it help or hurt?  Now think about times when you carefully examined the situation and then chose your words well, (loosed).  Which was better?

 

Do you remember your first image of God?

Image result for child spiritual development stagesHe called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven.

There is a great deal going on in the Gospel.  The Disciples are trying to understand their role in Jesus’ mission. After all, they are with Jesus doesn’t that make them among the greatest?

No.  Jesus makes it very clear that the dispossessed are the greatest in the Kingdom.

Jesus uses a child to illustrate his point.  In Jesus’ time children had no rights.  They were the property of their parents.  Life was hard in Jesus’ time.  Three of very ten children didn’t outlive childhood.  That isn’t to say that parents didn’t love their children. Of course, they did!  Parents often sought Jesus out to bless their children.

The importance of children to Jesus is great.  It is through children that we can see faith in action.

From birth to three years a child’s greatest need is for security.  God calls us to protect, love and nurture our children.  It is through our acts as Priest – Nurturer, Prophet – First Teacher, and Queen – Protector/Guide that our children learn of God and the constancy of God’s love.

From three to seven they are experiencing faith as they have been shown and as they perceive it. They see God as a constant.  Parents model a belief in God and show how faith is lived.  God is the Great Man Who Lives In The Clouds and has a white beard.

Now from seven to 12 years faith becomes more relational.  This stage of spiritual development corresponds with children’s emotional growth. The peers become important.  The children still look to the parents, but now they may be seeing the cracks of human imperfection in their parents. This crisis may have the children questioning what they have experienced.  They may leave the Church for a while, but as Jesus shows, patience with his beloved always pays off.

Think back on your experiences as a child.  Do you remember what God was like when you were a small school aged child?  How did God change as you became a teen?  In college did you drift away for a while?  What brought you back?

Reviewing our reactions can help us understand our children’s feelings and give us some insight into how to handle what they are feeling at any stage.

Mom and the power of the ego

What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?” MT 16:24-28

Gain the whole world and forfeit his life.  We all know those moms whose children have to be the best.  Their children are put into sports, entertainment, anything that puts the children in a position of peer focus, that will give them: both the child and the parent, a chance for the spotlight. For these parents, it isn’t because the child will grow positively.  No, these parents need the attention.  They need to stand taller and say their child is a star, but what it means is the parent wants to be/must be the real star.  And it comes at a cost for the mom and the family.  It comes at a cost to the mom.

For these parents, it is all about the show.  They are forfeiting their lives, their families life for the ego.  And it is that ego that Jesus is warning us about.   Through the ego, we experience the world.  It is through the ego that we react to the world, control how we react, what desires we express and how we achieve our goals. Are we going to do this positively with the support of others, with prayer and respect for God’s call on our life.  Or do we steamroll over anyone who stands in our way.  That is what Jesus talks about in today’s Gospel.

Jesus isn’t saying become a doormat, let others walk all over you; that is equally as bad.  You are still forfeiting your life.

Jesus’ warning to us tells us that when we become ego-centric we become egotistical: self-interested, self-seeking, no good can come from it either for ourselves or our family, it will be damaging.

In the triangular relationship of the Great Commandment: God = Neighbour = Us: how we act toward neighbour shows how much we love God and ourselves.  When we are the centre we push everyone else out of our world.  The others of our world become things we use to move our agenda forward.  God knows the more connected we are with our world, the more we have real joy.  The more connected we are with God the more we achieve because our lives are in line with his will for us, our calling.

We are put on this Earth to be Preist, Prophet and Queen.  We are put on this Earth to do great good.  We are not put on this Earth to “Lord” over others, we become little gods.  We are not on this Earth to do all we can to achieve: what good is all the wealth, stuff, fame in the world if we have no love, no friends?

If you are dealing with issues like this, take the time to discern why.  Needing to be the centre of attention can be related to feeling of abandonment.  Ego is a trap.

Today, I am going to examine my own life.  Where have I sought after material things and not been aware of others needs?  Where have I been blind to others need for my support?  Where have I done things that are hurtful just so I can come out on top?

Mother Transformed

Me and my Vicky

Me and my Vicky

Jesus took Peter, James, and his brother John, and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves. And he was transfigured before them….”

Today we read of the Transformation of Christ. He brings Peter, James and John with him. All the Gospels says is that they are off apart. Are they praying together, talking?

Then suddenly Jesus is transformed.  Was he truly “suddenly” transformed? Or was it that Peter, James and John finally saw Jesus as he truly was/is?

During our lives we have had many transformations.  We were born; our first transformation. We went from being in our mother’s womb to suddenly thrust out into a world we did not know.  Each stage of our development was a transformation.

Then there are the transformation that leave a permanent mark on our lives, a mark that is visible to everyone.  We grow from child to young woman and with that transformation comes all the bewildering issues and challenges.

When we are married the transformation shines on our faces, and then when marriage has become mundane that shine is gone.

Children transform us profoundly.  The transformation is so complete that our old selves have died and this new person has taken her place.

Now here is where Gospel hits our lives.  Peter, James and John want to put up tents for Moses, Elijah and Jesus.  But then a cloud moves overhead and Elijah and Moses are gone. What is important is that God says that Jesus is His beloved Son listen to him.

Motherhood does not make us Christ, but it does call to us to be Christ-like.  Jesus’ garments become dazzling, “such as no fuller on earth could bleach them”.  Our old self is gone, this new self in her place.  We have an opportunity through prayer and study, through understanding of our new selves to be so new we dazzle even ourselves.  We need to listen to Jesus and hear what he has to say to us.

Our friends may not even know us as Peter, James and John were so terrified by Jesus transformation.   This is an opportunity to become new people, to live our Baptismal role of Priest, Prophet, and Queen.

So, today, I pray that we all become transformed.

AIM Apostles In the Marketplace could be becoming Apostles In Motherhood Podcast

11080914_896694973687050_1222511226849895303_nBut whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.

While, in high school in Washington DC, I belonged to AIM:  Apostles In the Marketplace.  It was a support/prayer group that took the daily reading of the Mass as a way to live life.  The group was evangelistic, but we were  encouraged to not be pushy about it.

AIM’s purpose was for us always to invite by our actions, like the first reading of yesterday, where the crippled man was healed: “Leaders of the people and elders: If we are being examined today about a good deed done to a cripple..”  The Disciples were healing in the name of Christ, but they were not doing it like circus barkers.  They wanted people to come to Christ by how they were seen in the community, how they were acting, by their gentle manner, not pushy attitude.

The Priest who created AIM was a Jesuit who so unassuming and gentle.  His mantra was that we show them how we are by our actions, not our words.

If people asked us questions we would answer, but we never went to someone with the hackneyed have you found Christ.

In our support/prayer meetings, we would discuss how our days were going.  How well we were living out the Gospel of the past Sunday.  We asked each other for supportive ways to change.  We sought out ways to do, be better.  We prayed for each other.

Hearing, “But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep”, made me think of AIM.  We are the gatekeeper. Jesus can’t be everywhere so that is why he made mothers.

Maybe I should start thinking of AIM as meaning Apostles In Mothering.  I have been feeling called to restart being a podcaster, that would make a great name.

 

Relationships, or How being challenged makes me more me

Athirst is my soul for the living God.

This past Sunday was Good Shepard Sunday, and the Gospel and readings focused on relationships and the importance of the Holy Spirit in influencing those relationships.

In the first reading, Peter explains how everything the Church will be doing from now on, every good deed, will be done because of Christ, through Christ.  Then we are told that we are beloved children of God who are needed to bring Christ into the world so that the world will know us and because of that they  will follow Christ. Finally, Jesus explains how we are to be as Christians.  We are to lay down our lives for everyone.

I began thinking about parenting, mothering, and relationships.  Remember your mother saying: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, say nothing.”  Well, the reading adds a layer to that telling us all: if you can’t do anything nice how can you call yourself Christian?  Think about relationships.  Aren’t they emotional/spiritual dances we have with others?  Every action has a reaction.  Aren’t good deeds moving us forward, wrongful ones moving backward?

The second reading is our relational triangle:  alovecard
It draws us deeper into the relationship dance, the Great Commandment Triangle.  How we relate to others is a mirror into how we feel about ourselves and by connection how we feel about God.  This reading is important. “Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed.  We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”

Not only are we examining relationships, but also our calling; which is a response to our relationship with God. None of us will fully known who we are until we have revealed what it is that we are called to do.  Think about that for a moment.  When you were in college you had one sense of who were going to be, you “just knew”.  But it was amorphous, it changed with the next class or next whim.  As you were called to motherhood things became clearer but only slightly.  It wasn’t until you were challenged that who you are coming into focus.  And that challenge is always in relation with someone else.  So, you are being called, as in the first reading, to look at everything you do as if you were doing it for Christ.  Through the second reading, you see that the more you do as for Christ.  The more you do according to your calling. The more you do while loving God, your neighbour and yourself with your whole mind soul and heart.  The more you find the you are becomeing more YOU.

Finally, Christ tells us that when we have achieved all that, it will be easy to lay down our life.  Think about that.  How often have we done something for someone without every a thought about ourselves, just because that friend, that fellow mom, really needed something, right now.

Lazarus: Child Abuse

Media preview

Australian Childhood Foundation brilliantly captures HOW abuse children feel. Invisible.~

Moms, the Gospel can speak so profoundly. LK 16:19-31

On Twitter there is a champaign to #StopChildAbuse and this picture was on my Twitter stream. <——-

It is very significant because this campaign reminds me of the Gospel of today.  Lazarus, the beggar, is at the door of the Rich man asking for food. The Rich man ignores him. Both men die.  Lazarus goes to the bosom of  Abraham while the Rich man goes to hell.

The Rich man has received all he wanted and needed in his life while Lazarus relied on others charity.  This made Lazarus invisible.  He had no power, no prestige, no money/wealth, so he had no status quo.

The Rich man has no name, he is all of us; those of us who walk past the homeless man, don’t know the name of OUR postman, wouldn’t give a second thought of the maid in a hotel.  The Rich man does not see, will not see, can not see all the pain around him.

But we must see.  The most powerless of our society are children.  We can say why does God allow innocent children to suffer at the hands of those who claim to love and protect them. It makes it so easy for us to throw up our hands and say there is no way to stop this, because it’s what God has brought.

Believe me when I say God does not bring illness, suffering, sorrow; that would go against what we know of a loving God. Thinking like that makes a sham of God as Love.  No, God does not cause suffering – let’s be very honest here – we do!  We are called by our Baptism to help #StopChildAbuse.  We are called by our Baptism to treat children as the gift they are.  We are called by God to raise our children with love so they will love.

Prefect Fit

I found this tweet on my timeline and thought: “How perfect a fit is this for the Gospel of today!”

The Gospel today is filled with ways we break covenant with our neighbours by judging harshly, calling them fool; and when we break this covenant with them, we break it with God MT 5:20-26

Although it can be painful at times, it’s a beautiful treasure to have people who will speak truth into your life. Accountability is a gift.