Love’s Way Out

With a new year before us, I’m starting my personal challenge to read through the Bible in the year, and so i will be posting from time to time from my personal reflections (I would love to post daily, if God wants, but He will have to provide the time!). So, here are some thoughts on Day Two.

Today, reading from Genesis, Chapter 3:

Now the snake was the most cunning of all the wild animals that the LORD God had made. He asked the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You shall not eat from any of the trees in the garden’ The woman answered the snake: “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; it is only about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden that God said, ‘You shall not eat it or even touch it, or else you will die.’”  But the snake said to the woman: “You certainly will not die! God knows well that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods, who know good and evil.” 

The woman saw that the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eyes, and the tree was desirable for gaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.

When they heard the sound of the LORD God walking about in the garden at the breezy time of the day, the man and his wife hid themselves from the LORD God among the trees of the garden….

My first thought in reading this passage was, what bliss it must have been, to able to ‘hear the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden’. Imagine turning back time and sitting in the garden, just to hear the Lord walking… it is what every human heart wants but doesn’t know it is missing that incredibly intimate relationship with their Creator. To be able to walk with God, talk with God, ask questions about why the sky is blue and the why the moon’s shape waxed and waned. To watch God in His creative work. To see God’s delight in being with us, His creation. But then this perfect relationship and harmony came to an end.

There was the Serpent, the Tree, and the Woman.  What if that tree wasn’t there? Would sin have been avoided? Could God have prevented this disaster of separation from His creation?  Of course God could have avoided the very messy consequences of that unfortunate encounter. Then, why did He allow it? Everything was perfect, except …

If Eve didn’t have a way out of loving God, could she have been free to fully love Him? Would there have been a capacity for love at all if God did not allow the Tree, and the Serpent for that matter, to coexist with her and Adam in the Garden?

God gave them abundance in His love. In the first creation story, God said:

“See, I give you every seed bearing plant all over the earth and every tree that has seed bearing fruit on it to be your food” (Gen. 1:29).

The second creation story spells out God’s condition:

“You are free to eat from any of the trees of the garden except the tree of knowledge of good and bad. From that tree you shall not eat; the moment you at from it you are surely doomed to die” (Gen. 2:16-17).

They had the world of food to choose from as God’s expression of His love. And because of His love, they were given a way out of His love, if they so chose to not love Him in return. What does this teach us about our relationship with God, and with one another for that matter?

Love must be free to be received and to be given. Without the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Bad, the woman could not express her love for her Creator through obedience. She would have been no better off than a robot or puppet unable to exercise her conscience. Everything would have been constructed for her.

And human beings would not have known love.

AdamandEve

Three Reasons for Mary

The Bright Maidens posed this question for today: “Why Mary?”

It is a beautiful question to reflect upon as we begin this month of May, traditionally dedicated to Mary, the Mother of God. As I reflect on the question, “Why Mary?”, particular passage of the Sacred Scriptures come to mind that convince me of Mary’s definitive role in our journey of faith, and how she is meant to be honored because of her role in salvation history.

Reason One: Luke 1: 26-38 – the Annunciation

Mary is, like many young women, looking for her future, but as we learn in the Gospel, her plans are interrupted at the words of the angel who tells her she is needed for a special project. she responds “Ecce ancilla Domini. Fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum.” I am the handmaid of the Lord, be done unto me according to your word. What an example for us especially for a society that projects an autonomous attitude of focusing mainly on one’s own project.

Why Mary? She shows us that there is a bigger project in life than our own, and that it is manifested only when we, establish a rhythm of prayer that guides our actions and decision, rather than relying solely on our passions and practical desires; in her trusting the Word of God spoken through the angel, she was able to give an example for us, to become ‘Women of Listening’ to the desires of God, and include His will in our plans.

Mary shows us, that in following God’s design that flows from our obedience to His Word and His precepts (commandments), we to can sing a Magnificat of praise: “God has done great things for me, and Holy is His name!”

Reason Two: John 2:1-11 – the Wedding Feast at Cana

At the wedding feast, as the wine was running out, Mary approached her Son, saying, “They have no more wine.” Have you ever wondered about Jesus indirect answer to her? He responds, “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come” (v.4). Mary doesn’t wait to clarify. She turns to the serveants and tells them, “Do whatever he tells you.” And it is through her intercession Jesus’ first recorded miracle in the Gospel of John takes place.

In this example, we are encouraged to rely on Mary in a role as an intercessor. She as a mother knows that if she asks her Son to do something, he will do it. It is a sign of her faith in Jesus’ divinity. She doesn’t know how wine will be supplied – that is not in the scope of her concern – but only trusts that Her Son will provide because she has asked Him.  Today’s Gospel points to this reality, in the kind of faith Mary exhibits: “If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it.” (John 14:14).

Why Mary? Mary, the Woman of Faith, understood these words of Jesus intuitively. She experienced through her relationship with Him that he never disappoints, but brings about everything, so long as it is not contrary to the Father’s will. We then, have recourse to Mary, to intercede on our behalf, just like she did for the wedding couple. And all will be accomplished so to glorify the Father.

Reason Three: John 19:23-27 – at the Foot of the Cross

Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. When Jesus saw his mother 11 and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.


Ecce Mater Tua. Behold your Mother. When I first heard the Bright Maidens’ challenge to write a post on the topic, “Why Mary,” the tender scene at the foot of the Cross, was the first thought that came to my mind. It is, for me, the culmination of Mary’s ‘Yes’ at the Annunciation. She had no idea when she first said ‘fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum’ that she would one day find herself looking up at her Son on a tree of pain and suffering. Nothing could have prepared her for that day, where her own heart would be wrenched in two. No prophecy (like that of Simeon in Luke 2:34-35) could have told her how sharp that sword of sorrow would be, piercing her motherly heart. Yet, there at the Cross, participating in the suffering of her Son, she continued to say:

“Yes”

“Yes”

“Yes”

I believe that it is here, at the foot of the Cross, Mary teaches us the most important lesson for Christian living. Her “Yes” to God has no conditions placed upon it. No strings attached. It is freely given to God, with her recognition that Her life is forfeited to whatever it is God wants.

Why Mary? Whenever I, in giving myself to God, wish that I hadn’t been so generous, it is Mary that tells me, “No, Lisa Marie, be generous with your ‘yes’, no matter what it costs you.” Looking to her example, how can I take back my small offerings when she has made it her life project to fulfill what she began as that young fifteen year old girl, in that first ‘yes’ to God? My prayer is, that I too, may be faithful in my own daily ‘yes’ that continues to build on my vows as a religious, my first fiat, allowing the Lord’s project for my life, to become my own.

This essay is cross-posted at Canossian Sisters – Sacramento

Linked on Friday Morning Edition at The Pulpit.

Linked at New Advent.

Linked at National Catholic Register.

Linked by The Anchoress at Patheos.

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Related Posts:

By the original ‘Bright Maidens’:

More Posts by Bright Maiden friends:

Saint Joseph, the Silent Servant

On the feast of Saint Joseph, the Husband of Mary, I went to the Parish of St Joseph’s, hoping to find a Mass, but all was quiet. There are no Masses usually on Saturday morning, but being the Church’s patron saint, I hoped. Instead, I decided to pray before the statue of St Joseph in the courtyard, meditating upon his role in the life of Jesus.

Praying the joyful mysteries of the Rosary, I marveled how, unlike Mary whose words resonate in the telling of the salvific story in the Gospels, a constant fiat to God’s will, Joseph’s voice is not heard. We hear, perhaps what he was thinking (‘Mary was found with child…(he) decided to divorce her quietly’), but never do we hear Him, but in silence obeys in his own service to God. Though his actions, he proves the mettle of his character. A faithful servant of the Most High.

My thoughts turn back to the silent servant of Saint Joseph, too, reading with sadness the allegations charged against Fr. John Corapi, S.O.L.T.. He posted a message, “A Call to Prayer” on his website:

On Ash Wednesday I learned that a former employee sent a three-page letter to several bishops accusing me of everything from drug addiction to multiple sexual exploits with her and several other adult women. There seems to no longer be the need for a complaint to be deemed “credible” in order for Church authorities to pull the trigger on the Church’s procedure, which was in recent years crafted to respond to cases of the sexual abuse of minors. I am not accused of that, but it seems, once again, that they now don’t have to deem the complaint to be credible or not, and it is being applied broadly to respond to all complaints. I have been placed on “administrative leave” as the result of this.

I’ll certainly cooperate with the process, but personally believe that it is seriously flawed, and is tantamount to treating the priest as guilty “just in case”, then through the process determining if he is innocent. The resultant damage to the accused is immediate, irreparable, and serious, especially for someone like myself, since I am so well known. I am not alone in this assessment, as multiple canon lawyers and civil and criminal attorneys have stated publicly that the procedure does grave damage to the accused from the outset, regardless of rhetoric denying this, and has little regard for any form of meaningful due process.

All of the allegations in the complaint are false, and I ask you to pray for all concerned.

There is a lot of speculation about Father Corapi’s case on the web, some coming to his defense, while others plant seeds of doubt of his innocence. And in this, I only look to Saint Joseph whose feast we celebrated as this story unfolded. Would he be sitting around speculating on this matter? How would this ‘righteous man’ respond to this sad news? His example in the Gospels, perhaps indicates, he probably would say very little, if anything, but at the same time, be a man of action, placing all in God’s capable hands. And perhaps, this is a message for us too.

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To understand the character of Saint Joseph, you may want to reflect upon the Seven Sundays Devotion to Saint Joseph, with each day’s consideration taken from Pope John Paul II’s Apostolic Exhortation “Redemptoris Custos” (Guardian of the Redeemer).

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Related Posts:

March 31 – An Update via National Catholic Register: What is known, and what isn’t.

An efficacious way we can help Fr. Corapi and other accused PriestsA Novena for Fr John Corapi via www.couragiouspriest.com

The Anchoress demonstrates the proper attitude we need to have right now.

Pat Archbold has a statement from Fr. Corapi’s superior, Rev. Gerald Sheehan.

Happy Catholic looks at it in the Lenten context

Fr. Dwight Longenecker reminds us to be wary of adulation of priests, and to not place them on pedestals.

What is known, and what isn’t.