God, do You love me? by Father Daniel Francis
Father Daniel told us we need to have a sense of humor. People make their problems bigger than God. And it doesn’t have to be their own drama, it can be someone else’s. If we have a sense of humor, we can put things into their proper perspective.
He reminded us all we need to do to make God laugh is to tell Him our plans. God is sovereign. God makes the sun rise, we don’t. We have to let go and let God.
When we are in Christ we can have a sense of joy even if our circumstances are not great.
Spiritual maturity is having joy in situations that would ordinarily drive us crazy. To keep peace when a person cuts you off on the road, when there is someone in front of you that has 12 items in the 10 item only line.
Father Daniel told us whatever gets us upset can be our greatest teacher. We don’t choose our teachers. We don’t choose our broken marriage, we don’t choose our hurts. But we can choose to be teachable in our situation. We can choose to be a person in Christ.
Sometimes in our situation we do not feel Christ is there, but that does not mean He is not present in the situation. We too need to be present for Christ, to sit in His presence. Sometimes it is hard for us to be present to Him. But Jesus offers everything. He will not go away or abandon us.
Father Daniel gave us an acronym for the word LOVE.
L – listen. Listen beneath the words that people are saying. So often we are like ships that pass through the night. There is a quality of presence when you listen. Try to hear what the person is saying. He said a Simon and Garfunkel song expresses what some feel, “The Sounds of Silence” – some of the lyrics are “people talking with out speaking, people hearing without listening.” We often take each other for granted. Margaret Mead once stated the loneliest people were not the ones who had no one around, but they were the ones with many people around but no one listens to them. Married couples can be lonely. God tells us to, “Be still and know that I am God.” Father Daniel said he likes to take away one word at a time from that phrase. “Be still and know that I AM.” “Be still and know.” “Be still.” “Be.” Sometimes after mass (or church) instead of running out, sit and stay in His presence for a bit. Let it sink in. He also told us we need to make sure to spend time listening to single people, to priests (who often feel like they are the odd man out), to older folks in nursing homes. Teenagers have a desire to feel connected, and they are in a time of difficulty for they want to be connected, but then they don’t want to be, then they do. It is a very confusing time for them, but they need to know someone is listening.
We had teenagers in the group and Father Daniel spoke to them about not having sex outside of marriage, and told them the joke of the ant and the elephant. He said an ant and an elephant got married. They consummated the marriage and the elephant died. The ant was complaining, one night of passion and I am spending the rest of my life digging a grave. His point was we should not be ruled by passion outside of marriage, for we will live with the results of that for the rest of our lives.
O – overlook. We have to overlook some things, and not let them affect us. We have to stop carrying grudges for things people did 20 years ago. Not carry around bitterness and unforgiveness. Unforgiveness won’t change the pain. He told us, when our kids were little, they liked to put their feet on ours and we would walk around with them, then they get older and they walk all over our hearts. To overlook things does not mean we are a doormat. Being a doormat is a form of self-hatred. Who is it in your life that is causing you distress? Sometimes fellow church members can cause us distress, but that doesn’t mean we leave church. We are learning to be the Body of Christ. Sometimes people at church look so holy, but then they go home and tear your guts out. That was not what God wants us to do. He wants us to treat each other in a loving manner.
V – verbalize. Say the things that need being said. Don’t let the sun go down before you tell someone you are sorry. Don’t assume that people know that you love them – tell them. People need to hear that they are loved. When you need to make amends, sometimes you have to be the first one. Send a card, call a person and get the situation straight between you. (Heather’s comment, Jesus tells us if we have anything against another to make things right, then leave your offering at the altar.) To be Christian means to involve all of yourself.
E – effort. We need to make an effort even if it is difficult. We want to be a person of peace.
Luke 7:36 Then one of the Pharisees asked Him to eat with him. And He went to the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to eat.
Jesus would have been reclining to eat as they did in those days. So the table would be in the middle, and all the diner’s heads would be toward the table, and their feet would be facing outward.
Luke 7:37-38 And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil, and stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil.
Her loose hair was a signal of her trade. She had a bad reputation. She brought the oil which was her life’s wages. Father Daniel told us sometimes that oil would be used to mask the pungent odors of those who came to her for services. She must have heard Jesus’ preaching and teaching, and needed a touch from Him. She felt she had to touch Him so He knows me. The people who were hosting Jesus did not offer him common courtesy, but she washed His feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. (Heather’s comment. I heard a teaching once that mentioned that the fragrant oil would fill the room and the people would have a momentary whiff of it, but the woman would carry the fragrance of her worship around for a long time because it would cling to her hair. That worship is fragrant to God, a sweet savor.)
Luke 7:39-44 Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he spoke to himself, saying, “This Man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner.” And Jesus answered and said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” So he said, “Teacher, say it.” “There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?” Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.” And He said to him, “You have rightly judged.” Then He turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head.
Jesus told them to LOOK AT HER. So often there are people we overlook. We don’t notice. Or we choose not to notice people we walk by that we don’t want to be bothered with. Jesus knew her many sins and forgave her. Even Peter, who recognized Jesus as the Messiah, a few minutes later was told by Jesus, “Get thee behind me satan.”
Jesus never shunned anyone but those who should know better like the priests and Levites.
In the Presence of Christ, we have to be present to each other. We need to make the effort to act in a Christian manner toward others. The world view of Christians are that they are hypocrites. If we don’t make the effort to show Christian love, people are left with a bad taste in their mouth.
Sister Dolores, a classmate of Father Daniel, works with handicapped children – these children face many changes in their lives as health care professionals change on a rotating basis and the significant ones in their lives are changing. She told Father Daniel the kids ask 4 questions.
1. Am I good? They know they are different and they wonder why they were born handicapped, so they equate that with not being Good. Sister Dolores confirms that they are good.
2. Do you love me? They feel unlovable – and she assures them that she does love them.
3. Will you be here tomorrow? The volunteers in their lives are constantly changing, and they see so many people that they want some consistency. She is still doing this same job, so she has been there for them consistently.
4. What’s for lunch?
We as adults ask the same questions. Am I good? Do you love me? Will you be here tomorrow? We also ask those questions of God.
Jesus, am I good? We are weighted down by our past. And yet He died for our sins. Does anyone love us? So many are false friends, who say nice things but don’t follow through. Jesus loves us. Will you be here tomorrow? Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He will always be there for us.
The Redemptionists publish a magazine called the Ligorian Magazine. One time they put a cover picture on their magazine of Jesus laughing. They got more complaints about that cover than for any other magazine. People cannot conceive of Jesus laughing.
Father Daniel asked, how can you be saved except by someone who loves you, and has joy. Christ has joy, loves us, and died for us. He told us about how his sister was pregnant, and one thing he always wanted to do was feel the baby move in someone’s belly, so his sister let him feel the baby. Then after the child was born, he got to hold the child and it was then that it dawned on him how Jesus came to earth, and was fully human. His mom, Mary, held Him much the same way that Father Daniel held that little baby. That Jesus came fully in the flesh, fully human and yet fully God.
Father Daniel told us the most important thing we can do for our kids is to keep telling them how much we love them. There are very critical periods in a child’s life where there are growth spurts and synapses that are very strong, 2 months, 9 months, 2 years and 7 years were times he told us about. During these times what is given to a child is absorbed and held onto. Make sure you speak how loved they are.
A baby does not have a sense of self, so when he cries and mom comes and cuddles him, he gets the sense I am good. It isn’t his sense of I am good, but the other (mom) that gives him that sense through her actions. Then when he cries and father come to pick him up, he also gets the sense of I am good. I love you.
God says I love you, you are good. When we fully understand the depth of God’s love it will change our life.
We don’t change so that God loves us. God loves us, so we change.
God feeds us, giving us spiritual food and love, so that we can feed others.
If we look to God, we can ask, do you love us? Jesus says, “Yes, enough to die for you.”
We ask God, are we good? He answers, “Yes, I created you that way.”
Will you be here tomorrow? God answers, “Yes, I will be here till the end of days.”
We were then led in a guided meditation that showed that God was with us through all of our life, even when we did not feel He was. And ended with a blessing of oil being given to us with the question, “Do you accept the love and healing of God.”
Very powerful and impacting.
Praying your Saturday is blessed.
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