Reading the Bible

Alright, I have to admit that I had an idea for a post and then decided against it.  So what should I talk about?

I do not like to read.  It goes back to when I was a kid in grade school.  So I decided that this year, I would read the entire Bible.  I am glad that I read the New Testament first.  If I had read the Bible from beginning to end like a normal person, I would likely not get to the New Testament at all.

I am on the Book of Judges.  It was like pulling teeth to get to that point.  A lot of what I read was repeating what was already written.  I think I have read about which tribes of Israel got which areas of the promise land and which cities about three times.  Women are not treated really well.

Deflower a woman outside the city and she is yours if you pay her father.  Then the man can never divorce her.  Whoa!  Made me think about the movie “Dogma” where Selma Hayek’s character, a muse, said the whole Bible is gender biased.

Then I remembered what my dad told me.  He was raised a Catholic.  His father followed the Gospels and the New Testament, not the Old Testament.  And I can see why…

Yes, I will finish reading the Old Testament, but it is a history of God.  Through Jesus, we now have a new covenant to follow.  That is in the Gospels.

 

 

 

He Who is Without Sin…

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There has been a lot in the news about the whole Hobby Lobby ruling.  And I am not here to say that whether or not it was right or wrong.  This is a very touchy subject with many individuals.  But I am wondering if we are making discrimination excusable in the name of the Lord?

What do I mean?  Take the state of Mississippi for example.  On April 3, 2014, the governor signed a law that allows business to refuse service for “religious reasons”.  Many view this as a pass to refuse to serve the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender community.  Have you ever seen “The Help”?  Same state, different laws.  Many Christian businesses were very happy with the new law until they found out that not all Christian businesses were going to exercise their religious rights.

Some businesses started displaying a decal next to their doors that states, “We don’t discriminate.  If you’re buying, we’re selling.”  Now some of those who won their right to refuse service are saying that they are now being discriminated against.

I have an uncle who is gay.  I grew up with a family friend that was gay.  So what?  Are they sinning?  Bible says so.  If the Bible says they are sinners, does that allow me to pass judgment on them and discriminate them?  That is where a lot of Christians may come up with different answers.

I see discrimination as HATE.  I have been discriminated against.  I believe the fact that I am Catholic weighed against me for a job that I applied for.  I am also overweight, and many people think I am not capable of keeping up with the work load for some jobs.  It is hard.  It is an ugly aspect of society.  And it is wrong to do.

John’s Gospel explains it:

And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them.And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst,They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.-John 8:2-7

 

So again, are they sinning?  Bible says so.  Can I pass judgment and discriminate against them?  Well, am I without sin?

Who wants to be a Martyr?

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This is a story that has broken my heart but has also left me wondering. 

On May 15, 2014, a Sudanese woman by the name of Meriam Yehya Ibrahim, who is 8 months pregnant with her second child, was sentenced to death for breaking Sharia law and committing apostasy (leaving Islam).  Her marriage to a Christian man was also voided which meant she was also guilty of adultery, for which she has been sentenced to 100 lashes. 

Miss Ibrahim was born to an Islamic father and a Christian mother.  The law in Sudan states that Islamic women must only marry Islamic men, but Islamic men may marry Christian women.  The children take on the faith of the father.  

Miss Ibrahim’s father left her and her mother when she was 6 years old.  She was raised and sees herself as a Christian.  

The government does not see it that way. 

All Miss Ibrahim had to do to avoid her death sentence was to recant her Christian faith.  She refused.

 

“…if we persevere, we shall also reign with him.  But if we deny him, he will deny us.”-2 Timothy 2:12

 

Many of the saints of the Church have died for preaching the Gospel of Our Lord and for refusing, the very same thing Miss Ibrahim has refused to do, to recant on their faith in Christ. 

They faced the very same thing Miss Ibrahim now faces:  Martyrdom 

Many may feel that she should just say she is a Muslim.  She would live, and, maybe, even be able to flee Sudan.  Where is the harm in that?

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But Jesus warned us not to deny Him or the Father would deny us.  But how many of us really could not deny our faith if facing martyrdom?  I do not know if I could be strong enough to stick by my convictions.  St. Peter was not strong enough.  He was weak.  He denied our Lord; not once, not twice, but three times.

As I read about Miss Ibrahim and other Christians facing violence for believing in the Lord, my heart breaks for what they must endure.  But I also look up to those individuals for they strength they have to remain faithful to Our Lord Jesus Christ.

*Personal Note: I pray everyday that the Sudanese government are merciful and do not execute Miss Ibrahim.  But I am in awe of her strength and her faith.  I would totally understand her recanting.  But I hope she sticks to her convictions.  She is an amazing person.

 

 

Whatever Happened to the Golden Rule

 

“You may be the only Jesus your neighbor will ever see”-Mother Angelica

 

The news has been extremely depressing as of late.  There is all the strife in Syria and Ukraine. And pick a country and there is some sort of anti-Christian or anti-Semitic or anti-Islamic or anti-whatever sentiment.  One of the worst stories is the abduction of 270 Nigerian girls by an Islamic extremist group.  What the hell, people???
Yes, you can say there is a lot of hate and indifference in the world. But why? Indeed, much of it comes from the lack of forgiveness in the world, but I believe most, if not all, comes from the inability and/or unwillingness to love thy neighbor.

The greatest commandment includes love thy neighbor as you love yourself.  This is basically the golden rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  But why is it so hard to follow these rules?

Years ago, before my conversion and joining the Church, I was spending a weekend with my newly Born-Again cousin and her husband.  We were watching the movie “Gladiator”. My cousin’s husband mentioned that it was sad that Maximus (Russell Crowe’s character) would never go to heaven, since he never knew Jesus.  I thought that was stupid. Then my cousin asked me if I thought our great grandmother had gone to heaven. I said that I did. I was getting angry that she asked. If our great grandmother, who was a genuinely good hearted person and a Christian her whole life, could not get into heaven; then there was no way my cousin’s born-again ass was getting in!

That same weekend, we had a discussion that I found disturbing on their part. I said I did not care what people thought or how they worshipped. I felt it was their preference, and a protected right of all in the United States, to believe how they wished. I respected that. My cousin and her husband said that they did not have to show that respect. They said that if it went against their beliefs, then they could not respect how others might worship/believe. I did not understand this. They said that according to their Christian faith, they could not and would not respect others.

And that there is the problem!

 

It is not a question of whether or not I respect another persons beliefs, it is that I respect them as an individual and a human life.  I do not have to like their thinking or faith or politics or whatever.  But I do have to show them “love”.  How do I show them this love? By not judging them and respecting their rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

If that is how we show others love and if we “agree to disagree”, that would solve all the problems we see in the world.

Oh, and a big pinch of forgiveness makes it sweeter for us all.

My Journey thru this Lenten Season 2014: The Great Commandment

*Note:  There might be a few words that some might find offensive.  My apologies.  They are just for the sake of explaining where I was both emotionally and spiritually at that time.  Thank you.

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I had been away from the Church for about a year, this last time.  I have had my ups and downs, but, in my heart, I felt a pull to the Church.  Why was I away this last time?  Like the times before, I would start getting very angry and judgmental with people, mainly my customers.  Some look down on others because they think they are better than most people.  Some are alcoholics, drug addicts, homeless or a combination of the three.  They feel bad about life and can be “not so nice”.  You might think I had every right to be angry with these people when they called me an “anal whore” or a “f—ing bitch” or talked down to me like I was a five year old, after all I worked in a gas station.  But according to the “Great Commandment”, I was to love them as I loved myself.

Easier said than done!

I would try and try, everyday, to not get angry and be a good Christian.  But I could not and felt like a bad person for it.

After all that and being laid off and not finding work, I felt God had abandoned me.  I had difficulty trusting that God has a plan for me.

So this Lent, my hope was to learn to trust in God.  What I got was much more.

A few weeks ago, I was lying in bed, a little depressed, thinking, why can I not trust God and why can I not put my trust in anyone.  I realized that I have an issue with loving others.  Yes, I love my son.  But do I love anyone else?  I thought about old boyfriends and friends in general.  I do not think I loved any of them.  I am not even sure if I feel free to love my family.  I lost touch with nearly all of them.  And that was when it hit me…

Love and trust go hand in hand.  I have problems trusting, because I have problems loving others, unconditionally.

That was when I thought about what Jesus said along with loving your neighbor as yourself, love God above all else.

But what does it mean to love God first and foremost?  Do you love God the same way as you love your child or your spouse or your kitty?

“There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test him and said, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life? Jesus said to him, “What is written in the law?  How do you read it?”  He said in reply “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”  He replied to him, “You have answered correctly; Do this and you will live.”-Luke 10:25-28 (NAB)

 

To love God one must obey the Word of God.  That is a different sort of love than that we have for friends and family.  It is an unconditional love.  We show God that we love Him by respecting His Will and choosing to follow His Word and not sinning against Him.  He knows that we are not perfect, so He gives us an infinite number of chances.

Through God, I learned that my brokenness is a little deeper than I thought.  But I know what is wrong and what I need to work on.  I also learned that I must strive to “live” that commandment.  I need to strive to  love the Lord, my God, with all my heart and all my soul and all my strength and all my mind every moment of every day.

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Happy Easter everyone!

*This was just a single chapter in my spiritual life.  There will be more and I will continue to share them here.

My Journey thru this Lenten Season 2014: Forgiving others

*Note:  this might be a bit of a rant.  There is a lot of hatred in the world rig

 

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Right now in the world there is a lot of tension.  Christian militia groups are taking their revenge on Muslims in the Central African Republic.  Christians are under attack in Syria.  Russian/Ukraine tensions are at an all time high.  And the Israeli government does not like anyone, even their own ultra-Orthodox Jews.

And the United States is not immune.  A man shouted “Heil Hitler” from the back of a police car after shooting and killing three people at Jewish Community/Retirement Centers (the irony there is that those individuals where Christians).  A teenager was given 10 years probation for killing four people in a drunk driving accident, because he was a spoiled, rich kid and did not realize it was wrong.  And there are too many stories of children being beaten, starved and killed to list.

My son came to me and started going on about something the United States government was lying to the people about.  I was in the middle of playing Mario Golf.  Finally I interrupted him and said, “You really hate the US, don’t you?”  He said that he did and then tried to explain why.  That is when it all clicked for me.

It is easy to be hateful.  It is easy to be selfish.  It is easy to be greedy.

During Lent and prior to Easter, Catholics are encouraged to seek the sacrament of reconciliation.  We must go before God with a contrite heart, speak our sins and ask for forgiveness.  This is not necessarily an easy thing to do.  You have to admit that you did something wrong and be truly sorry for what you did.  But we are also expected to forgive others.

Those tensions throughout the world that I mentioned at the beginning are all in some way the result of not letting go and forgiving others.

I said it is easy to be hateful, selfish and greedy.  Those are all sins.  It is easy to sin.  That is why so many of us are so good at it and do it so often (I am raising my hand here).  It is natural for us to get angry when someone hurts us.  It is natural for us to be greedy and selfish and keep what is our right.  It is easy to figure that “they did me wrong, so to hell with them.  I’m going to take it out on them.”

I was having a disagreement with a woman that I use to work with about the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.  She informed me that the Palestinians had been the ones that started the conflict by attacking Israel.  My feeling was that it does not matter anymore.  Be the one to “swallow your pride” and just stop.  No more retailiations.  She said that will never happen.  And she is right.  Why?  It is easier to continuing hating eachother than forgiving the other for whatever they did and loving thy neighbor.  That is what is going on between Christians and Muslims throughout the world.  One might say that Muslims do not know better, but I know that the Christians do (I am very upset with what is going on in the Central African Republic).

 

The bottom line is the people of this world need to be more forgiving and loving to others.  We all need to say that it is not worth hating anyone for any reason anymore. 

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