Community Conference

February 21,1999

 

 

Prophecies

I love you with a compassionate love that is forgiving, restoring, a love that disciplines. Imitate this love and share it with my people. But you cannot share it if you are full of yourselves so I will allow my Spirit of truth to speak to you so you will see who you are. I have to strip you of your defenses, pretenses, your anchor, your fears.

Mercy, mercy, mercy- from your Father who loves you,   Mercy that puts no conditions,  Mercy that is available for you, for the whole world that I have come to love and save.  As you receive this mercy from me, mediate this mercy in the love you have for one another. Justice makes many demands but mercy gives and gives without question.

Now, you feel your humanity, sins, failures. Am I any less of a God because of your suffering? For every suffering you have, for every trial, count your blessings which far outnumber your trials. I never leave you, I am always with you.

 

The Year of the Father

by Fr. Catalino Arevalo, S.J.

  1. There is only one way we can know God the Father and this is through Jesus. In Matthew 11:25 it says," No one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him." It is only in Jesus that we get to the Father. The very center, the very heart of Jesus is a drawing to the Father, getting to know the Father. In Fr. Fuellenbach’s book, Throw Fire, he says that what drove Jesus, what gave him identity was his personal experience of who God really is. In moments of exaltation, in sorrow, in trial, Jesus always turned to the Father. Thus experience is very necessary in our lives.
  2. How does Jesus reveal the Father to us? Jesus came to say that we INFINITELY LOVED, UNCONDITIONALLY LOVED. Compassion in the gospel is a word only used in relation to Jesus. Compassion is from a root word that means to be moved from the guts. It is a word that best describes Jesus so if "He who sees me sees the Father", then our Father is moved from his guts. It is not pity that the Father feels for us. Pity is a dead end street. Compassion in the Scriptures is a two-way street. Jesus takes on the suffering himself. Jesus is the compassion of God. Who is Jesus? The man on the cross. Others may find this revolting, but we see INFINITE LOVE, the INFINITE VULNERABILITY of God for us.
  3. In the Pain of God it is discussed whether God can suffer or not. The only time God revealed Himself to us ended in the cross. Is the CROSS only a revelation in time, or is it the deepest meaning of God, the deepest revelation of the Father? There is a story of a mother who came to see what the crowd was agitated about. She found out that there was an accident and inside the car that was bumped was her daughter, crushed in the cab. No one could remove her without severing her arms or legs. The mother prayed," Please, couldn’t it have been me! Let me take her place." This is true of God’s love for us. It is a suffering love from the place of security, wholeness and light, to take the place of suffering, to take the place of the one in pain. This is God’s love for us. This is why Jesus came. God, out of love, let us do what we want with His Son, then God changed the destruction into glory.
  4. The CROSS is the deepest revelation of God’s love, a love that cannot be killed, destroyed, broken, a love that can never be denied. When we see Jesus on the CROSS, we see the Father. God is unconditional love, that is where Jesus finally brings us. The life that we live should be like Jesus at the transfiguration- we go back to reveal the father to others.
  5. 1999 is the Year of the Father, and the story for this year is The Parable of the Prodigal Son. The arrogant younger son goes back to his father not because he is sorry but because he doesn’t have enough to eat. When the father catches sight of him, the father runs. Jewish law forbids old people to run, but this is the response of the father. The father was all over the son, hugging and kissing him. He did not even wait for the son’s prepared speech of contrition. This is our ‘abba’, Father, who cannot wait for us, but runs to meet us.

 

The Gospel of Life

By Fr. Herb Schneider

We should aim to grow as a people who celebrate and serve the gospel of life. The greatest gift of all is life. Human life comes directly from God, and we are created in His image. We were not created by a command but He formed us with His own hands just as an artist would. God is the giver of life and so has absolute lordship over every human life. Human life is INVIOLATE. It doesn’t matter that the person is a criminal. When cane killed Abel, God put a mark on him so nobody could touch Cane, because even if he killed his brother, his life was of innumerable value. The same is true of the unborn, the sick, the physically or mentally handicapped, the elderly, sinners. All have life because God gave this life. And all have a dignity and worth that has nothing to do with their attainment or their talents. The value of a gifted person with a big contribution to society is the same as that of a person with no talent and with little contribution to society. They are both of infinite worth. The story of the adulterous woman who was about to be stoned to death shows that God gave her a new beginning, a chance to start over. The story of Levi the tax collector shows that there is forgiveness and restoration for those society has written off. Even people like Levi are called to discipleship, to be a friend of God. To all, "I have come that they may have life and have that life to the full." Recall the story of the unmerciful servant that his master forgave. His debt was a big as the national treasury and the master wrote off the entire debt. We are called to be channels of life and love for others. God forgives us and we must do likewise, 70 times 7 times.

The mission for Christian communities is that we should be proclaimers of the gospel of life, channels of that life to others. If so, we need to know what is opposed to is- the culture of death. This shows itself in the prevalence of abortion, euthanasia, the casualness with which these are accepted. Vatican II lists the sins which are manifestations of the culture of death: sub-human living conditions, prostitution, disgraceful working conditions, willful destruction of ecological balance because of profit, child labor, etc.

We have a calling to be a people who knows how to celebrate life, that immense gift of life of God, and to celebrate God who gives us this life. The beginning is PRAYER, CONTEMPLATION. If we realize that everyday , every hour is a gift from God, to say, "Thank you Lord, I’m alive and well," becomes natural.

The Pope said that we need to connect life with freedom, to invest ourselves so that we and others will grow in freedom based on truth. We need education especially in the sexual area. Trivialization of sex leads to contempt for human life. The Pope calls for a lifestyle on the basis of a correct scale of values- persons are more important than things always.

Are we proclaiming the gospel of life? Are we channels of life to others? Here is a checklist of areas where we have control:

  1. In this year of final preparation, be reconciled to one another. If we need help, get the help of a pastoral leader or coordinator. Forgive debtors, tear up IOUs, people who have sinned against you.
  2. Review how we treat our helpers, how our children treat our helpers. Do we treat them with respect, how are their working conditions? Let the transformation begin in our own homes.
  3. For husbands and wives, do we treat each other with deep respect and dignity. How do we treat our children? Are we building a good relationship with our children?
  4. If we are employers, review how employees are treated. Are they respected as human beings with a dignity worthy of sons and daughters of God? Can we be channels of grace to them?

Respect for the dignity of everyone has to be evident. We should train our young in chastity and right preparation for marriage. For the next generation to take over the work in our community, they need training in moral thinking and moral values. Their consciences should be trained and educated, sharpened up to what is right and wrong, so they can STAND UP and DEFEND THE GOSPEL.

We should be united with other organizations within and without the Catholic church against the culture of death. We should stand firm, and not be shy or afraid.

Love is always ready to begin again, to forgive, to give and to share. Our purpose is to be a community, to be a place where God’s love is visible in our relationships. If we evangelize, set up communities, but we can’t see the love of God in our community, then we haven’t done our mission. We have to MAKE TIME for one another. Be to the other the FATHER even if the other is the PRODIGAL SON or DAUGHTER.

 

"You are my ligaya, if you love and serve one another."

 

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Thank you Lord for my community.  I see your face in my brothers and sisters.  I see how you love me by calling me into the Ligaya.  Thank you for your infinite, compassionate love.  Truly knowing you is more than wonderful!

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