Accepting fully the shared mission as a member of the Body of Christ—that you are called just like the original eleven apostles to "make disciples of all nations" (Mt 28:18)—you know and believe that you are sent out into the world to bring people to Jesus, or even more so to bring Jesus to the people. Yet, this mission can often seem overwhelming.
I realized at Mass this past Sunday as I held my son in my arms, my back straining from the extra weight, that it was much more difficult for me to kneel down during the consecration, in fact it felt like my own little calvary. That's when it hit me. I was literally carrying my cross.
It is not everyday that we are blessed with the opportunity to meet someone who is truly a living reflection of all that Jesus Christ is and challenges us to be. Yet, those of us who had the great privilege of knowing Fr. Frank Wagner can say just that. For he was an extraordinary example of what it means to walk with God.
For many people it is difficult to see God as anything more than some ethereal, external force that floats around in a far away nothingness seeking at all times to burden our lives with rules and punish us for each and every misstep. This unfortunately false concept of God is what those who deny His existence often believe Him to be, but this couldn't be further from the truth. The one true God, Creator of the Universe is actually closer to us than we can ever imagine, who desires at all costs to enter into intimate relationship with us. In fact, God loves us so much that He wants to marry us.
All of us experience suffering in some degree. Whether physically, emotionally, or spiritually, there are struggles in all of our lives. And the beautiful truth is that God is merciful and wants nothing more than for us to ask His help so that He can reach out and touch our lives.
Every now and then I read something or hear someone comment about how Jesus hates religion or that religion is bad and what we really need is a relationship with Jesus. As much as I share the belief that a relationship with Jesus Christ is key to being a Christian, I strongly disagree with the idea that religion is some perverted form of the true faith, because I hold fast to the idea that we should be religious about our relationship with Jesus.
Parenthood is no easy task. Family life is full of it's challenges. It was designed that way. It is center of formation for us to learn how to love, to forgive, to live selfless lives. There are those moments where we as parents feel like we're literally going crazy. I've been there myself. However, I have come to believe that even in these difficult experiences, rather, especially in these difficult experiences, God is speaking to us as parents.
Heaven is not just about being happy in a temporal sense of the word. Heaven is about being happy with God. With God is the key. For those who leave out or neglect that with God, will never actually experience Heaven for what it truly is—eternal intimacy with God. The reason this is so important to understand is because billions claim to be Christians, because they were baptized or because they go to Church on Sunday, which is all well and good. However, claiming to be a Christian, as we will see, is not enough. For your life on earth, should be a reflection of your faith in God, of your relationship with Him.
Just weeks after hurricane Patricia devastated Western Mexico, the fact that storms will come in life remains fresh in our minds. Suffering is inevitable, even for the holiest of Christians. It comes with the territory.
Before I give a talk I often start by greeting the audience and by asking them a question that at first seems common enough: How are you? Comfortable? The obvious answer for most people is in the affirmative. However, my response is what tends to surprise them, which is the reason I use it. Well, hopefully we can change that. It catches them off-guard and gets their attention, which is one of the reasons I use it. But even more importantly, I say it because I really want them to be uncomfortable.
We talk a great deal about catechesis and evangelization here at Leaders that Follow. In fact, I even wrote a book about it. When most of us think about faith formation or catechesis, we think about it in the context of sacramental preparation—going to a pre-baptismal talk or sending our children to catechism in preparation for their first holy communion and confirmation. Parishes exert great efforts to reach the youth, to bring the life-changing message of Jesus Christ to them.
When you look at the state of our modern world it is easy to fall into despair. It can seem impossible to find hope when you see everything around you falling deeper into darkness. Things are not always as we’d hope. Honestly, they never will be, at least not in this world. But the good thing is that you were not made for this world, but for something greater. And this is why you should not lose hope.