How is Your Lent Going?

2nd Sunday of Lent
Gospel of Luke 9:28-36

How is your Lent going?

To be honest, I am not sure as to how to answer that question. Should one even have a “good” Lent? Or, in the spirit of penance, fasting and the giving of alms, is a “good” Lent even the goal?

The word “Lent” itself defines the period of time between Ash Wednesday and Easter. The word’s origins are Germanic and come from a word meaning “lengthening of days”, which in and of itself inspires a bit of hope, but in light of the bitter cold and snow we experienced this past week, maybe not so much. However, this definition still does not provide any real help in finding the appropriate answer to the question, “how is your Lent going?”

St. Luke’s account of the Transfiguration, today’s Gospel reading, describes both a bizarre and holy event. Peter, James, and John accompany Jesus to the mountain to pray… and promptly fall asleep. In spite of this, however, they do witness the incredible transformation of Jesus as he is conversing with two of most significant individuals of their Jewish faith. St. Luke’s tells us, “They saw his glory.”

We might find an answer to today’s Lenten question in the Apostles inability to stay awake, but to be honest that is just low hanging fruit. To condemn the disciples might be a bit too “judgy”. To be honest, I too have a tendency to fall asleep at the most inconvenient times. At about 9pm my internal dial goes from “go” to “no”. This dramatic shift occurs almost every night regardless of where I am at or what I am doing. This tendency of mine has even become a point of contention between my wife and I, especially when my snoring interferes with her conversation with our guests. Now, I am not saying that Peter, James, and John suffer from that same ailment, but from the accounts found in the other Gospels, they also seem to shift from “go” to “no” when it gets dark.

So… what else can we find in today’s Gospel that might help us in answering our Lenten question?

In St. Luke’s words, Peter responds to his encounter with the Glory of Jesus, by stating, “Master, it is good that we are here; let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” Though St. Luke seems to add an editor’s note, “but he did not know what he was saying”, St. Peter, whether by accident or with intent, still said it. In essence, St. Peter the Apostle, the Rock on which the Church was built, gave voice to one of the most prevalent struggles that has plagued us when we encounter Jesus… he wanted to put him in a box.

Jesus cannot be contained. He cannot be compartmentalized. He cannot be controlled. His humility, his sacrifice, his love is without boundary or limit. Yet, just like our beloved St. Peter, we want to build walls, create structures, and designate times and/or places for Jesus.

Jesus reveals himself to us… because that is what he does. In fact, Jesus is always revealing himself to us. Jesus emptied himself and became man that he may reveal the fullness of himself, God, to all of humanity. He walked among us. He ate with us. He suffered and died on the cross for us in order that we might all know him and be saved. Yet, in our humanity, in our weakness, and in our sin we respond to Jesus’s attempts to reveal himself to us, with “Jesus why don’t you just stay over there.”

For example, as Catholics we know that in Mass, and most especially in the Eucharist, we have opportunity to encounter Jesus. Yet do we attend Mass every Sunday? Or do we find excuses and reasons to leave Jesus in his place and remain in ours.

Sometimes the opposite is true. We may be faithful attenders of Mass… every week with out fail. Yet when we encounter the suffering Christ in the poor and the marginalized… we turn our heads, stop up our ears, and tightly grip our wallets. We are perfectly fine with encountering Jesus in the Eucharist but let him into our hearts and minds? Allow him to open our hearts to the suffering of others with love and compassion… “No, it’s okay Jesus, you just stay right there.”

The mountain top experience that Peter and the other Apostles experienced is beyond our human understanding. Jesus’s face changed in appearance, his clothes became dazzling white, and he appeared to them in his glory. Is it any wonder that Peter, even with his lack of understanding, so desperately wanted to control what he was experiencing? It is any wonder that Peter’s first thought was, “How can we make sure this moment never goes away?” Is it any wonder that the Glory of God is so magnificent… so desirable… so enthralling that no one would ever want to be separated from it?

Of course not! The glory of God is a holy and magnificent wonder!

The mountain top experience is not the problem. The moments in our lives when we encounter the glory of God are entirely fantastic. The problem is not the encounter, but it is our resistance to what Christ wants to do to us, through us, and with us as a result of that encounter.

The answer to our Lenten question, “How is your Lent going?” is not a “good” or a “bad”. Rather, our answer to this question is a simple “yes” or “no”. Yes, we are allowing the limitless love of Christ Jesus to transform our lives. Yes, we are allowing the very glory of God to change our response to the suffering and pain of those around us. Yes, we are encountering Jesus in the Eucharist, and in our prayer, and through fasting, and by our giving and we are allowing him to revive us, refresh us, and renew us in his image. Yes, our Lent is going exactly as our Savior intended!

Super Bowl Sunday

6th Sunday Ordinary Time, Gospel of Luke 6:17, 20-26

Good morning and welcome to one of the more significant days of the year.  Obviously, I am talking about the fact that today is Sunday, and we have the distinct privilege and honor of celebrating the Holy Mass.  However, if that isn’t enough of a reason to celebrate, today is made even more significant in that today is the feast day of Saint Catherine Ricci, a 16th century Stigmatic who so loved the Lord, that she was granted the privilege of physically experiencing the sufferings of Christ.  Oh yeah… and at least for an estimated 100 million Americans, this Sunday is significant because it is Super Bowl Sunday.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I will tell you, that for me, Super Bowl Sunday is a significant day of celebration.  Not because I am a fan of the teams playing in today’s game.  Nor, because I am an enthusiastic football fan.  Rather, today is special to me because it is the one day of the year that I will consume the gastric wonder known as… the chili, cheese, coney, with onions, and mustard.

In case some of you are not familiar with this unique and flavor filled delight I will now enlighten you.  First, you will need a can of chili.  Then hot dogs, regular hot dog bun, shredded cheese, and an onion.  Heat the chili and the hot dogs, place the hot dog in a bun, add some yellow mustard, smother it all with a ladle of chili, top off with cheese and onions, and Hello!!!  Pure mouth pleasure!!!

In case you were wondering… today the average football fan will consume 8,000 calories.  Today, as a nation, 8 million pounds of guacamole and 11.2 million pounds of potato chips will be consumed, and close to 49 million cases of beer will be purchased.  It is obvious, that for about 1/3 of the population, Super Bowl Sunday is a significant day of celebration.

Now, keep this in mind as we examine today’s Gospel, and more specifically Jesus’ words, “Blessed are those who are hungry…”.

Speaking directly to his disciples, Jesus states, “Blessed are you who are poor…”, “Blessed are you who are now hungry…”, “Blessed are you who are now weeping…”, and “Blessed are you when people hate you…, exclude you…, insult you…, and denounce your name… on account of the Son of Man.”

If those words don’t make us a bit uncomfortable then give it a minute.  Because Jesus continues, “Woe to you who are rich…”, “Woe to you who are filled…”, “Woe to you who laugh…,”, and “Woe to you when all speak well of you…”.

These words of our Savior can make us feel a bit uncomfortable.  Is Jesus really asking his disciples to financially divest themselves and live in self-enforced poverty?  Maybe… and if you need a bit more clarification, I know that Fr. Flores would like to speak with you and offer some suggestions as to how the church might assist you in removing the burden of your wealth.

Now, to be honest, I can’t really speak to you about what Jesus wants you to do with your money, however, I do think that it would be beneficial to take a moment and ponder what does it means to be poor, to be hungry, to weep, and to be hated.

Poverty is defined as lacking the basic resources and essentials needed for the minimum standard of living.  The same can be said for spiritual poverty, which is the more traditional way to interpret this Gospel passage.  Either way, Jesus is instructing us that living in the reality of our poverty; in the recognition that we are dependent on God for all things, is absolutely necessary for discipleship.  In contrast, when we use our possessions, and believe and behave as if our possessions can insulate us from our dependence on him, we are not disciples of Christ.

Hunger is similar to poverty in that hunger is a state of want and need.  In truth, hunger is a manifestation of need.  As disciples of Christ, we are to manifest our need for Jesus in our daily lives.  We do this first, by faithfully attending mass.  Speaking for myself, do I desire the Eucharist as much as I desire my chili cheese coney with mustard and onions?  We manifest our need for Jesus through prayer.  Are we actively and consistently engaged in prayer?  And we manifest our need for Jesus when we serve others.  Are our celebrations are done so with a clear conscience because our abundance is shared with those who are in need?

To weep can be better understood through the lens of oppression.  To be oppressed is to be subjected to injustice, cruelty, and control.  Is there not a better definition of the consequences of sin?  Do we not know that to live in sin is to live absent of peace, kindness, and freedom?  As followers of Christ, we should weep for our sins, and for the sins of others, and in turn passionately seek repentance for ourselves and for others.

Finally, hatred.  Jesus clearly states, “Blessed are you when people hate you…”.  He is letting his disciples know that living in a manner worthy of our baptism will result in ostracization and marginalization.  This is in direct opposition to our natural tendency to conform and, when that is not possible, hide our faith and abdicate our purpose of going throughout the world and making disciples.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, our challenge today is to be men and women who do not abandon our faith for comfort.  Instead, we are to be men and women who embrace the knowledge that disciples of Christ do not retreat from hardship, hunger, sadness, and rejection.  Christ did not call us ease and comfort.  He called us to be a people of joy in the midst of trial and tragedy.  He called us to be his disciples

Jesus Visits His Hometown

4th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Gospel of Luke 4:21-30

As many of you know, I grew up in a small town, a town of less than 5,000 people.  Now, there are some advantages to growing up in a small town: 1) it can be very safe and predictable.  People tend to leave their doors unlocked… which is most dangerous when Zucchini is in season.  2)  You are never very far from help.  If you accidentally left your purse at home, only to discover that fact while standing in the checkout line, chances are you will still get home with your groceries.  3)  In a small town, people know you.  They know your family, they know your people and, believe it or not, there is a great comfort in being known.

However, those same reasons can also be considered disadvantages to growing up in a small town.  Sometimes safety and predictability can be taken advantage of resulting in pain and loss.  In times of need, judgements about character are often rendered and reputations are tarnished when it is considered that one is “taking advantage” of Christian charity.  Finally, and this can be the most frustrating thing about growing up in a small town… everybody knows everyone.  Errors of judgement or mistakes result in labels that can last a lifetime.  Like; “that’s the guy that holds the record for the most burps in French class”, or “Isn’t he the kid who couldn’t stop laughing in 4th grade and had to sit in the hall”, or “isn’t he the teenager who took the coroner’s car for a joy ride and drove all around town with the emergency lights on”.

If you can appreciate these examples, both the advantages and disadvantages of what it means to grow up in a small town, then you will be able to appreciate today’s Gospel reading.

Today’s Gospel is a continuation of last week’s Gospel as Jesus visited his hometown.  His custom of entering the synagogue and teaching on the Sabbath resulted in people speaking “highly of him” and being “amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth”.  Yet, in a very short amount of time this admiration and amazement quickly dissipated, resulting in anger, and rage, and attempted murder.  The very people who knew Jesus as “the son Joseph”, turned on him and, in their fury, they tried to throw him off a cliff.

This sudden turn of events, this immediate and severe shift from admiration and amazement to fury and homicide started with a simple question, “Isn’t this the son of Joseph?”

In their minds they knew who Jesus was.  They knew his family.  They knew his history, and to them that was all of who he was.  (Please allow me a bit of license here.) They remembered that time when Mary was coming home with the groceries from the market and her donkey came up lame, and the neighbors had helped her get home.  They remembered that time when Jesus, as a little boy, made clay birds and they mysteriously came alive and flew away, though everybody was impressed, it was still a bit weird.  They remembered Jesus, the 12-year-old, who got lost in Jerusalem and his parents had to spend 3 days looking for him only find out that he was in the temple talking to the teachers… “as if he knew everything.”

The people who crowded into that synagogue that sabbath day, believed that they knew Jesus, and because they knew him, they knew what they could expect from him.  Even more tragically, because they knew what they could expect from him, they felt they were entitled.

They were not seeking Jesus the Messiah; they were expecting Jesus to grant favors and pay off debts.  They had created a distorted Jesus.  A Jesus based on their limited experience and complete lack of understanding.  A Jesus who would remember their kindness and neighborly acts and would respond in turn.  To them Jesus was obliged to do them a service.  He wasn’t there to save them; he was there to repay them.

His response to this sense of entitlement; He reminded them of the great prophets Elijah and Elisha and how in times of great trouble and distress they brought healing and salvation to Gentiles, and not those who considered themselves to be worthy and deserving.  In essence, they were furious because they wanted a prophet they could control, and not the Jesus calling them to repentance.

So… with this perspective in mind… let’s ask ourselves a few questions.

Who here is angry?  Who here immediately had a name, or a face, or an event come to mind when I asked who was angry?   Who here is now in an argument with themselves trying to convince themselves that they are not angry… they just misunderstood the question?

My brothers and sisters in Christ we are angry.  Sure, we may not be throwing things, breaking things, getting kicked off planes, or having screaming fits in the grocery store… but we are angry.  This pandemic has caused us to change the way we live, work, and play.  We have lost loved ones, incomes, and freedoms.  We have lost respect for each other and the things that made us different are now dividing us.  Anger is the emotional by-product of loss, and we are angry.

Anger manifests itself in many ways.  We hold grudges.  We pull away from friends.  We stop attending church, or, when we do attend church, we do so joylessly and with an attitude of obligation.  We become bitter and spiteful and eventually, we just stop caring.  Anger has seeped into our lives.  It has affected our health, it has affected our relationships, and it has affected our church.

The next question we need to ask ourselves today… are we ready to stop being angry?

If we are then there are things we must do.

First, be here… in this church, in front of this altar, with your anger, sadness, brokenness, and need.  Acknowledge it, don’t deny it, and bring it to Jesus and place it all at the foot of his cross.

Second, be forgiven… and be forgiving.  Go to the confessional, then go to that individual whose face and name you just now recalled, reconcile with that person… immediately.

Thirdly, go serve.  St. Benedict instructed his monks who were struggling with anger to serve others.  Serving others will overcome anger, causing it to lose its grip upon our hearts, enabling us to live free from bitterness and resentment.

Finally, pray.  Just like the people of Jesus’ hometown whose knowledge of Jesus was entirely historical, so it is oftentimes the same for us.  We have memories of Jesus.  We remember when we last encountered him, when we last felt his embrace, when we last heard his voice… but too often those moments exist in our past and not in our presence.  Pray.  Pray in your homes, pray at your work, pray in front of the Blessed Sacrament, pray always and in all ways pray.

Our challenge today… is to make today the day when encounter Jesus anew.  Make today the day to re-introduce ourselves to our Savior, allowing ourselves to be reconverted in Christ.  Make today the day we say, “Jesus I am angry, and I wish to be no longer.”

The Baptism of the Lord

Gospel of Luke 3:15-16, 21-22

My brothers and sisters in Christ, today is the day that I must address one of the more pressing controversies of this present day.  I recognize that what I am about to say is divisive and may cause hurt feelings and strain relationships… but it needs to be said.  So, I have decided, to summon the courage, and prepare for the chastisement and rebuke, which will undoubtedly follow, and announce:  Today, the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, is the official end of the Christmas Season… not the Epiphany!

There!  I said it.  If there was any doubt as to when one can officially remove the tree, take down the decorations, stow away the lights and extension cords, and box up the creche I have now officially removed it.  The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord is the official end of the Christmas season.  Feel free to confidently and in accordance with the tradition of the Church, remove the Christmas décor from you homes.

On the Nativity, December 25th, we celebrate the coming of God into this world.  With the birth of Jesus, God came to humankind.  On January 6th, the Epiphany, we reflect upon the visit of the Magi and celebrate God’s revelation to both Jew and Gentile.  Today, the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, we celebrate and acknowledge God’s free and complete gift to humankind, his salvation through the forgiveness of our sins.

In the spirit of total disclosure, all three of these events, the Nativity, the Epiphany, and the Baptism of the Lord, constitute an epiphany, which comes from the Greek word epiphanein, meaning a “showing, appearance, or revelation”.  All three of these events in the life of Jesus, as they are celebrated in the liturgy of the Church, constitute an epiphany, and today the Church is asking us to reflect on Jesus’s baptism.

Though today’s Gospel reading is from Luke, the account of the Baptism of our Lord is present in all four Gospels.  Therefore, we can assume that this specific event in the life of Jesus is especially significant in the life of the Church.

One of the unique aspects of today’s Gospel account is that the Baptism of the Lord provides and answer to the question, “why”.

Why did God enter humanity?  Why did Jesus, being both fully man and fully God, come into this world?  Why did God reveal himself to both Jew and Gentile alike?  Why did these events, which occurred in a seemingly insignificant place and time, impact all human history? 

The answer is revealed in the words of the prophet John, when he states, “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire”, and in Jesus’s example, who was without sin, as he modeled for us the necessity of receiving the gift of Baptism for salvation.  Why did God come to earth?  The answer, that we all might be saved.

In response to this Truth let us all reflect upon our own baptism and what it means for us.

Most importantly, through baptism, God has given us new life by the forgiveness of our sins.  Through the Sacrament of Baptism, we are born again.  (Evangelicals don’t have sole proprietorship of that phrase.) So, I will say it again, when we receive the gift of baptism, we are born again.

In addition to the cleansing of sin, the gift of baptism allows us to share God’s divine nature.  Through this we become his adopted children and, therefore, we are members of the Body of Christ.  We are brothers and sisters as we all have the same Father.

Finally, the gift of baptism enlists us into the mission of Christ.  We are to transform the world with the light and power of the Gospel.  In today’s first reading, the Prophet Isaiah clearly communicates this reality.

“I, the LORD, have called you for the victory of justice, I have grasped you by the hand;

I formed you, and set you as a covenant of the people,

a light for the nations, to open the eyes of the blind,

to bring out prisoners from confinement,

and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness.

Now, before moving on, I would like to about gifts.  I have been describing baptism as a gift, so maybe it would be helpful to reflect on what that means.

What is a gift?  A gift is something given without and expectation of repayment.  It is freely given, otherwise it would no longer be a gift, but a bribe, or a repayment.  A gift has meaning and purpose.  A gift is intentional.

For example, this year I received the gift of a hat.  It is a warm hat, which is quite appropriate and necessary considering I am a bald man who lives in a cold climate.  To say that I very much appreciate my gift would be an understatement.  I have worn it many times and it has proven to be very effective in achieving its intended purpose… which is keeping my head warm.

To understand the importance and significance of our baptism we must first recognize that the Sacrament of Baptism is a gift from God.  We cannot earn our baptism.  We cannot live our lives in such a way as to merit baptism.  We are not children of God because of our ancestry.  We are not members of the Body of Christ because we go to church or recite prayers and creeds.  Our salvation is dependent upon the gift of God, given to us through the Sacrament of Baptism.

However, let me be clear, baptism is not a free ticket to heaven.  Yes, it is a gift of God, but it is a gift that must be received.  Baptism is an indelible mark upon our soul, which cannot be erased, but, unfortunately, it can be denied.  Plainly speaking a gift is only a gift once it has been received.

We deny the gift of our salvation when we fail, whether by our human weakness or by our willful disobedience, to love God or our neighbor.  We deny the gift of our salvation when we refuse to be reconciled to God and to those whom we offend.  We deny the gift of our salvation when we turn a blind eye or a deaf hear to the plight of the poor, the suffering, and the marginalized.  We deny the gift of our salvation when reject God’s love and seek salvation in creation rather than the Creator.

In fact, I would propose, that throughout our respective lives we have on many occasions denied the gift of our salvation through our thoughts, words, and the things we have done and the things we have failed to do.  Yet, that doesn’t mean God has “taken back” our gift.  Once we receive God’s gift, he does not ask for it back.

Instead, God has provided us with abundant Grace, assistance if you will, so that we may continue to live out our baptism.  Primarily, he has given us the source and summit of our faith, the Eucharist.  He has given us the Sacraments of Confirmation, Reconciliation, Anointing of the Sick, and the Sacrament of our Vocation in order to manifest our salvation in the world in which we live.

Today, let us commit together, as children of God and as members of the Body of Christ to endeavor to live out our baptism… to live out our faith in the promise of our salvation… to live out the mission of Christ and transform the world with the light and power of the Gospel.

To be an Evangelist

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

Gospel of Matthew 28:16-20

Some of you may be familiar with the Gold Star Families Memorial Monument.  A monument that is established to honor and remember the fallen and their families, who bear the loss of a loved one in military service to our nation.  There are 47 of these monuments located in 41 states in our country and the newest, which is located in Pocatello, Idaho, was dedicated this past Friday.  An event for which I had the honor and privilege to attend.

It was a solemn ceremony as there were several families present to witness the unveiling of the monument and hear the reading of the names of their loved ones who had paid the ultimate sacrifice for their service.  This dedication ceremony even more so significant considering it occurred on the eve of the Memorial Day weekend.  A weekend on which the country is asked to reflect and recall all of those whose lives were sacrificed for the benefit of their country and our freedom.

Today, on this the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, we are asked to reflect and recall on a similar theme; that is the mystery of the Holy Trinity, which is the central mystery of the Christian faith, and our responsibility to carry the “Great Commission”, which is the message of salvation and hope, to all.

My sisters and brothers in Christ, let us not deceive ourselves for one moment.  Let us not fall into the terrible deception that our faith is without struggle, is without suffering, and is without sacrifice.  In the fulfillment of our duty to carry the message of salvation to all the world there is risk… a fact that is evident in the names of the Martyrs and Saints of the Church.

Today we read in St. Paul’s letter to the Romans his reminder that all who are called Children of God, and thereby joint heirs with Christ, must also suffer, “so that we may be glorified with him.”  Our salvation, our freedom from sin, our hope for our glorification with Christ did not come without suffering and sacrifice.  With our very presence here this day, in front of this altar, on which Jesus Christ offers up his very body and blood, we attest to the reality that our hope and our salvation is founded on sacrifice.

We also read today in the Gospel of Matthew the “Great Commission” which is Christ’s call to all who are his disciples to participate in the continuation of his work, which is the salvation of the world.  And so, this day the challenge, which is presented to us all, both laity and clergy, is: are we carrying out Christ’s command to “go and make disciples?”  In essence, how are we doing in our role, dare I say obligation, as evangelists?

To be an evangelist is not a responsibility or title many of us feel comfortable assuming.  Typically, the term “evangelist” is reserved for individuals with a specific gift, or charism, or apostolate.  We use that term to describe anyone but ourselves… right?  We say, “Oh, so and so really has the gift of evangelization.”  Or “The Spirit has given that person the ability to tell others about Jesus.”  Or worse, we abdicate responsibility all together and say, “Evangelize… that is what Protestants do.  We are Catholic we don’t tell people about Jesus.”

My friends in Christ, please forgive me for what I am about to say… when Christ issued this command… when he called his disciples together and laid out their mission and responsibility… there were no Protestants.  Christ was speaking, nay dare I say, he is speaking to us.

So, I will ask again… how are we doing as Evangelists?

When is the last time we have talked to somebody about Jesus?  When is the last time we have shared… with anyone… our own relationship with Jesus?  When is the last time we have invited someone to church?  When is the last time we have taken a moment to provide comfort, counsel, or share our concern with someone who was in desperate need of hearing about the hope available to them in the promises of Christ?

The responsibility of sharing with others the love of God, the forgiveness of sins, and the hope of salvation found in Christ cannot be abdicated.  This responsibility cannot be dismissed, or passed over, or ignored by the simple statement, “I am not called to evangelize!”  Christ in his final words did not provide an escape clause, or place conditions or qualifications on his command to “go and make disciples.”  Rather, his expectation, and our responsibility is clear, concise, and without exemptions… we are all called to share the Good News, the Gospel, with each and every person we know.

So how do we do that?

We do that first by living the Gospel.  We demonstrate to those around us that we are people of faith.  We do not succumb to fear.  We value human life above all things… and I mean all human life, just not life in the womb.  We show kindness and compassion to those who are both physically and spiritually hungry, thirsty, naked, imprisoned, sick, and estranged.

We evangelize when we are generous with our time and talents.  When we share what we have even when what we have is not in abundance.  It is easier to give money when we have it and it is just easy to give our time when we have it, but how are we in giving when we are running short of both?

We evangelize when we prioritize being in right relationship over being right.  Jesus came to this earth, fully God and fully Man, so that all might be saved. The forgiveness of sins, offered through his sacrifice, is free to all, without condition or qualification.  As evangelists that must be our message.

My friends, just about everyday I meet people who are in desperate need of knowing that Jesus Christ desperately wants to have a personal relationship with them.  When I engage them in conversation, and they share the obstacles and barriers to having that relationship, they very rarely blame the Church.  In fact, from my experience, most people do not have a problem with the church, per say, rather, their problem is with us… the people who call themselves the church.

As evangelists we must never place conditions on God’s forgiveness of sins.  Jesus Christ died on the cross, and was raised from the dead, and ascended into heaven so that all of humankind may be forgiven for all of their sin.  As evangelists we must first be a people of love.

I ask now that we all, each and everyone of us, take a moment and reflect on that one person.  That one person whom God has placed on our heart.  That one person who desperately needs you to be the embodiment of Christ in their lives.  Who needs your generosity and to hear from you that God loves them and will forgive them.  Take a moment and recall that person’s name, visualize their face, consider their need… and ask God to give you opportunity this week to evangelize them.