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Posts Tagged ‘The Father’s Love’

Our Father: It all begins with relationship

Our Father who art in Heaven

“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

(Matt.6:7-13)

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My dear fellow pilgrims,

It all begins with relationship.

Only when we enter into the awareness that we are truly The Father’s Spiritual Children in Christ Jesus and enter into a personal relationship with the Divine can we begin to fully understand our inheritance in His Kingdom (cf., § Becoming Children of God). And that, through that understanding and the Divine Wisdom that comes with it, we may find our place and role in the here and now so that, through us, His Kingdom may indeed be manifested here on Earth as it is in Heaven.

For just like children of the flesh in this world who mature to fill distinct and varying roles and positions of responsibility, so too, we, God’s Spiritual Children, are purposed by Him to be His Arms of Love extended to the world – the world He created and redeemed so that He could manifest His Kingdom in their midst.

In His loving will He also has determined where and how are to serve Him and the spiritual gifts we will need to accomplish His will in this world.  That is why it is so important that we discern our individual calling and ask for His Holy Spirit to empower us to carry out that calling. But we cannot do this outside of a relationship with Jesus and the Father.

Lest we let this concept of being His instruments incorrectly exalt us, we must also be aware that this work is not to be accomplished by us, but by the Son of God who lives in us and works through us. He, and He alone, is the author and source of the work of the Kingdom. The only way we may participate in this work is through our complete surrender to Him and His Love. This surrender is not easy and is termed by Jesus as “ carrying your Cross”.  Believe me it is a difficult cup to drink from because requires us to die our own self-sufficient mentality and enter into a God-centered mentality – where we acknowledge to ourselves that, “without Him we can do nothing” (Jn.15:5)!

The Foundational Prayer for Discipleship  – The “Our Father”

That is why the prayer form that Jesus taught His disciples (cf., Matt.6:7-13) begins with the acknowledgement that God is “Our Father” and that we, as His Children, are totally dependent on Him and His Glory and power. A recognition that, although His Name, that is His Character and Person, is Holy and beyond the reach of any human rapprochement, He, through His Son, has breached the gap of holiness that separated us, so that we enter into a full and true relationship with him through His Son!

The prayer further states that, it is only through this relationship of obedience and love with Him, as Father, our source of life, provider, and sustainer, that we can be His instruments in bringing His Reign (Kingdom) into full manifestation in this world.

But of course, before we can be channels of His Love, His Reign must begin in us through our full surrender to Him and His Holy Spirit so that He might begin the work of His Kingdom in us!  The work of His Kingdom in us begins by His Spirit working in our lives to conform us to the image of His Son! Blessed be His Holy Name!

Recognizing that it is His work that must be accomplished, we ask for His daily sustenance and provision.  Although most of us take this request to mean “food for the table”, the reality is, that it is a request for His continual and daily spiritual empowerment, the infilling of His Spirit, to be able to carry out His Will. For us today, it refers to the living spiritual strength that is derived from communion with Christ in the Eucharist.

In the prayer we also recognize that our human failings against Love are a major impediment to the fulfillment of His Will and therefore ask for His forgiveness, in accord with our forgiveness of those who trespass against us.  In doing this we clear out anything in us that would impede His Will from being accomplished.

Recognizing, also, that the enemy will come against us through temptations to impede the Father’s Will from being completed, we also petition that He not permit any testing that goes beyond our ability to resist.

The reason this prayer, which we term “The Our Father”, is so important is because it is foundational to establishing the appropriate spiritual attitude of faith which underlies our ability to serve Him as His Children and fully committed disciples. That is why many have stated that this prayer really ought to have been named “The Disciples Prayer”.

If the problems of your life situation are creating impediments to your progress as a disciple, always keep in mind the admonition Jesus gave His disciples,

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? … [S]eek first the Kingdom of Heaven and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you”.  (cf., Mat. t6:25,33)

Or, put in today’s modern dialect, “ Do not let the worries and concerns of everyday life deter you … your first priority must be to let God reign in your life so that you are always faithful to accomplish His Righteous Will, then you will find that the worldly concerns in your life will be resolved appropriately”.

The Necessity of Prayer

Once, when through faith in His Word and Prayer, you have entered into an intimate relationship with the Father through Jesus and deeply desire to follow Jesus in discipleship, you will find that your need for a deeper continuing prayer life increases.  Just as Jesus, spent most of his evenings or early mornings in prayer, so to we who are following Him, must do the same.  We will do so, not so much as an imposed devotional practice, but instead to fill our awareness of the increased spiritual need for His presence in our renewed lives.

As we go deeper into discipleship we will find that we will not be able to adequately deal with the events and situations which we are called to handle without our daily prayer encounters with Jesus and the Father. Once we begin our prayer encounters and see the results in our everyday lives, we will willingly seek out these payer times on our own – for we begin to understand that our continuous need to tap into the source of LIFE without which we cannot function spiritually.

First of all we need to remember, that it is only through the intimacy of prayer that we receive from Him the wisdom, knowledge, empowerment, and Love we will need in preparation for the next day’s events. Secondly, it is through meditative  prayer in union with His Inspired Word, that we continue to be taught by the Holy Spirit in order to be formed and grow spiritually and learn from our experiences. St. Ignatius of Loyola tells us that “…there are very few people who realize what God would make of them if they abandoned themselves into his hands, and let themselves be formed by his grace.”

Once we have entered into true discipleship we will find that we can no more do without daily prayer than we can do without food or water.

The Need for Discernment

One of the problems we face as Lay Disciples of Jesus, is that the modern church is not structured to properly assist lay people, who are not part of the “religious establishment”, to follow the personal path of discipleship the Lord is calling them to follow.  The modern church establishment does not expect lay people to enter into such individual callings.  The establishment expects that any one who has such a call to either enter a seminary to become a priest, deacon, or minister or to join some religious order. It is difficult to overcome the prejudices of the past that have placed lay Christians as passive , un-empowered, servants of the clergy, having no understanding of things spiritual.

As a result, until the Lord works to change the situation we must seek the Lord intensely for personal discernment and guidance for what the Lord wants of us each day– a discernment that goes beyond that of our calling – a discernment that leads us to hear the voice of the Head Shepherd, Jesus Our Lord! (Cf., § Hearing and Obeying His Voice)

It is only through hearing and living His Word, inspired by the Holy Spirit that we will be able to distinguish between our fleshly-driven instincts and the spiritual directives and revelations from Our Heavenly Shepherd. Praised be His Holy name!

Now, I don’t discount our need of our earthly shepherds because they are still the dispensers of the sacraments, especially those of Reconciliation and the Eucharist. It is just that some of them cannot fully comprehend where we Charismatics are, spiritually, making it difficult for them to provide in-depth spiritual guidance for us when they themselves have never experienced the fullness and spiritual gifts of the Spirit and, in many cases, even resist them.

I try to maintain good relations with all members of the clergy, but I usually feel them out before going into spiritual issues until I sense they are on the same page with me and with the Holy Spirit. I know its not their fault, its just that the depth of their spirituality varies depending on their seminary and life experiences especially if they have not been introduced to the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.

By the way, I expect that this spiritual lethargy that is still evident with some of our clergy will all be changing in the church of the new era we are entering, where the Spirit of God will overwhelm all Christians with His Glory and many of those who are now holding back will be surprisingly renewed in the Spirit. It will be a very difficult era for Christians and He is preparing us for those times when we will need to draw upon His power and strength to manifest His Kingdom on this Earth!

I must also mention that If you are struggling with discerning the Lord’s Will in your life, obedience to the Father is of the essence. If you yoke yourself to the Lord He will bring you though the times when you are being tested because of the fleshly baggage we all have to contend with.

Even the very smallest thing that we allow in our lives that is not under the control of the Holy Spirit is completely sufficient to account for spiritual confusion, and spending all of our time thinking about it will still never make it clear. Spiritual confusion can only be conquered through obedience. As soon as we obey, we have discernment. This is humiliating; because when we are confused we know that the reason lies in the uncertain state of our mind. But when our natural power of sight is devoted and submitted in obedience to the Holy Spirit, it becomes the very power by which we perceive God’s will, and our entire life is kept in simplicity.

Relationship is Everything

Finally brethren, in order to make clear the importance of our relationship with Jesus and the Father, let us recall the words of  Our Teacher when he told His disciples to …

“Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’ “But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’  “Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’  “But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’  (Luke 13:24)

Yes, we also may claim a mundane familiarity with Him through your religious practice and even have worked signs and wonders in His name, but unless you personally “KNOW” Him, He will tell you when you come to His door: “depart from me you workers of iniquity, I do not KNOW you”.

Relationship, then, is everything, and without it our works for God become meaningless for entry into the Kingdom.

I pray brethren that the preceding discussion has been of help in encouraging you to move through the “narrow door” into a personal and private discipleship relationship with the Father through Jesus.  If you have that desire in your heart then you can be sure that the Holy Spirit placed it there. Pay heed, then, to that desire and seek the face of the Lord in prayer. If He placed it there He will confirm it and bring you to the open door to the Kingdom!

Baruch Ha Shem! Blessed be the Name!

Your Brother In Christ Jesus …. Bartimaeus

(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2016])

Related Links

<> Sweet Yoke of Love

<> Husbands Love your Wives

<> Walking the Walk

<> Discerning the Spirit’s Call 

<>  Hearing God’s Voice and Obeying It

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The Prodigals Amongst Us

When he [the prodigal son] had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything. But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands.” ’ (Luke 15:14-19)

 

So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. Then the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ (Luke 15: 20 -21)

 

Quickly bring a robe and put it on him …

But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly, bring out a robe—the best one—and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate.  (Luke 15: 22-24)

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

As we grow older and experience more of the evils that this fallen world throws at us, we will all without doubt, encounter those whom we would classify as “prodigals”. That is, someone who has deserted his/her Christian roots in their futile and misdirected attempt to find “fulfillment” in the enticements that the fallen world system offers.

The “Classical”  Prodigals

Of course the term “prodigal” is best understood by the allegorical tale that Jesus told about a young man, one of two heirs to his fathers’ estate, who decided to seek independence from his father and take his share of the estate to “become his own man”, so to speak, and make a future for himself in the world system. What he found in the world was not the freedom and independence he envisioned but rather an enslavement to the world and its vices and evils. Instead of fulfillment he experienced spiritual hunger and desolation; instead of being fed he found himself feeding the pigs of his own fallen nature. It was through this experience and disillusionment with the world, that he finally “came to his senses” and said to himself, “I will return to my father’s house, maybe he will take me on as a servant…”.  His father, who had been expectantly waiting for his return was waiting for him and when he saw him on the way he ran to meet him, lovingly embraced him, and fully restored him as a “son” and not as a servant. (Read the story for yourselves: Luke 15:11-32)

In his day Jesus told his disciples this story to illustrate that the Love the Heavenly Father had for His sons was not dependent on their mere performance of their family duties but because they were under covenant relationship; they were legitimate heirs and truly his “sons” – sons, because of how they were related to Him by covenant and birth, NOT by how they performed their duties. The implied condition is that both brothers had a personal covenant relationship with the father to start with, and the story deals with how one of the sons, while still under covenant, distanced himself from the father, and how upon his sincere repentance was accepted back into his covenant relationship with the father because of the father’s unconditional and loving acceptance of his son’s act of repentance. Repentance is critical to the prodigal’s acceptance. Of course, his act of returning to his father was THE demonstration of his repentance and that was the only thing the father was waiting for – it was all that mattered, and that is why on-going repentance (through confession) is critical to us!

In telling the story, Jesus especially wanted to point out to the Pharisees who were present in the audience that tax collectors, prostitutes, and other outcasts remained part of the old testament religious covenant system relationship to the Father, and, were as much God’s children as those who legalistically followed the religious requirements of the Mosaic Law. He wanted to make it clear that God  was just as eager to receive them back into covenant relations as His children as those who remained compliant to the Law, if not more so.

The story also points out, that the Father longs to reach out to those who, although being His sons and daughters, leave His care to seek their own way in life. He lovingly waits for them, so that they, through their mistaken dip into the world of sin, would realize their error and return to Him in repentance so that He might envelop them and restore them in His Love. Because He loves them He does not interfere with their choices using their own free will, but rather, waits until they taste what the world offers (and what it does not) so they can experience for themselves that the Father is the only one who can satisfy their spiritual hunger and discover their true self in Him. And, so as a result of coming to their spiritual senses, they will freely repent and return to Him once they have realized their error, appreciating all the more what they left behind in their Father’s house.

Of course, when we come across such “prodigals’ in our day-to-day experiences, it is not for us to judge them, but rather, pray that the Holy Spirit would hover over them so that, by whatever means, He, the Holy Spirit, may “bring them to their senses”, permitting them to repent and return to the arms of the Father.  Normally, this type of intercession requires spiritual warfare because the reason many of our brothers and sisters depart from our Christian religious traditions is not only to erroneously seek self-fulfillment but also because they have been deceived by the lies of the enemy and/or hurt and abused in our families, in our fellowships, and in our churches, for which we also need to repent so that we are not impediments to their return

The “Hidden” Prodigals

More importantly, we need to realize that the story of the “prodigal” may also be our story, although, this realization may have been, until now, hidden from our hearts. Yes, “hidden”, because in our self-righteousness, as the other brother in the story, we did not think of ourselves as separated from the Father because we had been faithful in the performance of our religious obligations, but not in the desires of our “hearts”. That is, in regard to our spirits (hearts) we, in fact, were as far from the Father as the other brother. Yes, we considered ourselves as religiously compliant but were doing it with the wrong motives. We were obedient for what we could get out of our religious performance rather than as a result of manifesting our love for the Father Himself  – for who He is, our Creator, Our Father, and Our Savior. He is the HOLY ONE, the lover of our souls.

He freely embraces us with His Love because He desires to Love us as His Children of Covenant and not because of our insincere religious acts and devotions! While we were yet sinners He loved us and sent His Son to die for us as the ultimate manifestation of His Love! Thus, through our impure motives, we, like the Prodigal, also distance ourselves from a true relationship with the Father – a relationship to which he is now urging us to return.

So, before we pray for what I call the “classical Prodigals”, we need to examine ourselves as to where we stand in our relationship to God. Are we merely paying  “lip service” to God by practicing our religion because it is culturally of intellectually comfortable for us, or have we come to a true conversion in our lives where we have personally encountered the Father through Jesus, who is the Way to the Father? Are we using compliance with religious rules and regulations as a fig leaf to cover our spiritual nakedness?

Or, on the other hand, have we come to the point in our lives where our spirits have been revived to where we can truly say that we can worship the Father in Spirit and in Truth, as Jesus asked of the Samaritan woman (John 4:23-24)? Can we truly say that we discern the move and leadings of the Holy Spirit in our lives John 3:6-8)?  And, in loving obedience to His call, do we have a steady personal spiritual prayer relationship with the Godhead? If not, then I think that we should consider the possibility that we may in fact be “hidden Prodigals” ourselves and the Lord is calling you right now to turn back to Him in repentance with a sincere and faithful heart! Remember! He is waiting, just waiting for you to say to yourself, “I have been deceiving myself long enough, I will return to my father’s house …”. He is waiting with open arms to embrace you and restore you as a SON, how can you refuse?

Now, brothers and sisters, I am making this plea, not as someone apart from you all. No, in fact, it is from my own fig-leaf experience as a “hidden prodigal” that I speak.  Yes, I am one of you, an elder brother who, in the past, justified himself by saying, “ I have served Him all these years… “

I was like the prodigal’s brother. Who didn’t want to enter the party that the father had thrown for his younger brother when he returned home. I speak as a cultural religionist who thought that I was living the “Christian” life, who kept all the rules (well, at least so I thought). I was married to a wonderful Christian woman and we parented two wonderful children who we were sending through the Catholic school system. My uncle was a Jesuit priest and I was in the Catholic educational system through my first years at University. I attended worship services weekly with my family and did all that was required of us in the Church community.

However, I was a prodigal and didn’t know it. Without realizing it, I had given my heart to another master, another god who ruled my life and my desires. This “god” was My career! My profession!  My personal ambitions and pride! (notice how often I use the term “MY”) . Yes, in all appearance, I was doing all that my religion required but I was very far from the Father! I was seeking my own self-fulfillment in what I was doing and achieving. My heart was dedicated to intellectual pride in what my achievements in the engineering profession offered, I was serving an evil master and spiritually I was far removed from the Father who was calling and waiting for me. I was feeding the pigs of my own ambition and getting nowhere fast!

Then, the Lord in His compassion, through the excesses I was putting my mind and my body through, permitted me to come down with walking pneumonia. I was hospitalized and then ordered to medication and bed rest for two weeks. It was during this time the Lord began to speak to my heart. First of all through the loving care my wife provided and then through some leaflets she placed at my bedside regarding a priest who was giving a series of lectures on the Charismatic Renewal in the Catholic Church.

Since I had very little to do as I lay in bed, I began to read these leaflets and, catching my interest, I asked my wife to bring me the Bible my dad had given to me upon graduation from High School. A bible I kept as a memento but had never read.  But now, every word and every chapter of the Gospels and the Book of Acts leapt out to my spirit as I tried to reconcile what the leaflets and scripture were saying with respect to Jesus, the Father, the baptism in the Holy Spirit, and Eternal Life.  The more I read from the Bible the more the Spirit spoke to my heart and I became spiritually hungry, very hungry, not only for the WORD but for the Promise of the Spirit and a closer more intimate relation to the Father, through His Son, Jesus.

Again, the Lord used my wife, she suggested upon my recovery that we attend a spiritual retreat being given by the same priest who had spoken at our parish. Because the Lord was already working in me, I somehow sensed this meeting would lead me to the spiritual uplift I was sensing I needed. I was not wrong. It was toward the end of this retreat, inspired by the teaching and preaching of the Word that I repented, asking and receiving Jesus into my heart as my Lord and My savior. In asking to receive the Baptism of the Spirit, I received a word indicating that such would be forthcoming but I needed further inner preparation. Indeed two week later on Pentecost Sunday night my wife heard of a group that was meeting for the very purpose of receiving the Promise of the Spirit. Again the Lord permitted me to be Baptized in the Spirit and to begin speaking in other tongues and given other charismatic gifts to share with the community.

Spiritually, I began a new Life, I experienced some very intimate times with my Lord Jesus in prayer and was given some very personal consolations and revelations that turned my whole life upside down. I was indeed a new creature in Christ Jesus and He introduced me to the Father, so that I could truly experience Him as a SON! Blessed be His Name forever!

The first few months were extremely extraordinary. So much so, that I have not sufficient words to express myself, the most I can do is to share with you a poem that came to me during this period (see below). I pray that my witness to His Love will encourage you other hidden prodigals to follow me and answer His Call to return Home to the Father. He is waiting for you too!

Your Brother and Fellow Pilgrim In Christ Jesus ….. Bartimaeus

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As One From a Dream Awakens

As one from a dream awakens,

So the day I came to the light of life.

As the whirlwind of the Spirit entered,

The door to my soul opened wide.

It broke through the shell of self, erected

To defend the self against the embrace of Love,

…. That Eternal Love for which my soul was made.

 

Oh ! I built my defenses well!

In my narcissist enclave all was to justify the Self.

All I said and did was well under the control

Of reason and science and intellectual disdain,

Of a measured theology and attitude profane,

But sorely wanting of the very thing from which I fled,

…. That Eternal Love for which my soul was made.

 

But then as if from nowhere, I heard …

A word that pierced and shook me to my very depths

A word that revealed the sham that I was living

A word that deflated my ego and my pride

It told me that nothing in me was worthy

But that He who Loves me, died that I might have

…. That Eternal Love for which my soul was made.

 

As into my heart His Word descended,

I was overcome by the intensity of His Love.

As His Love called out to me and sought me,

Willingly, I ceded self to its manifold embrace,

Basking in the warmth of His Compassion, the Mercy of His Grace,

Asking only that He renew and restore me, to receive more of

…. That Eternal Love for which my soul was made.

Bartimaeus

© Bartimaeus, BRTimeo and quietplace4prayer, [2003-2012].

Recommended Links:

Praying for Prodigals

Prayer: Our Response to His Call

True Spirituality

A Prayer to receive the Holy Spirit

A Pprayer of Dedication

Releasing the Spirit

Hearing God’s Voice …. And obeying it!

Jesus, the Source of Living Water, and us

A History of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal

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Lenten Observance: A Heart Rending Experience

“Rend your hearts and not your garments” (Joel 2:13)

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

As we enter the Lenten season again this year let us open ourselves to the Holy Spirit to let Him guide us in our devotions and our meditations on the Word of God.  Let us not only let Him guide us but also reform us from the inside out!

The Lenten season provides us with the opportunity to identify spiritually with the passion and death of our Lord, Jesus, and prepare ourselves to share with Him the Glory of His resurrection as we observe the devotions and readings of the liturgy for the season

In order to properly consider Jesus’ Passion and Death let us begin by reflecting on His Baptism and ask the Holy Spirit’s guidance so that through our observance and meditations we may grow spiritually closer to the Lover of our souls.

First, consider that Jesus, in accepting His ministry by accepting to be baptized by John the Baptist, identified Himself with all humanity by taking on himself the responsibility for all our sins and thus offering himself – as the Lamb of God as the sacrifice of atonement for man’s sin.

In lowering Himself into the baptismal waters He accepted the death that was due us for our sins. When we, accept our baptism in water, we also identify with Him by lowering ourselves into the waters of His Death. And, by rising up from the waters of baptism we share in the new life in Christ that was won for us at His Resurrection. (cf., Rom.6:3-18)

By reflecting on Jesus’ passion and death we bring to our conscious awareness the magnificence of the Love the Father has for us. For, in sending His only son, the image of Himself, into the world to suffer and die a humiliating death enthroned on the Cross of Calvary, He manifested the magnificence of His Love – a Love that went beyond all imaginable bounds to redeem us and restore us as children of His Love.

Who would ever imagine that the Divine One who created us would become one of us so as to take on the judgment that was due us for all our sins. And, not only take on the judgment, but to give us His Holy Spirit to remake us in His image so that we could again function as His adopted Children, the objects of His Love!

Such is His Love for us that in order to maintain His Righteousness and Justice as God, the only way left for Him to carry out His Judgment against sin was to come amongst us as a sinless man so that as a man, Jesus the Son of God, could take that judgment on Himself and thus free us from the bondage of sin and envelop us in His Love as his adopted Children.

Because He loves us so much, clearly the main response He desires of us is that we Love Him as He Loved us. He desires our love so much that even our works, though done to Honor Him, are not sufficient to satisfy Him if they are not accomplished in and through Love. That is why the Apostle Paul tells us that unless we respond with this kind of Love (agape Love) we become as a “noisy gong or a tinkling Cymbal” [signifying nothing](cf.,1 Cor. 13:1 ff.).

What we need to ask ourselves this lent is this: “Am I doing what I do during Lent merely out of compliance with tradition, the obligation to participate in a rote procedure, or am I doing it because of my true, intimate, and personal Love for God and in response to the Love He has demonstrated for me through the sacrificial death of His Son in payment for my sins”? Remember that doing something out of obligation or compliance is NOT Love. It may be honorific but it is NOT true Love. Actions that are derived from true Love are done freely out of the desires of our heart for the One we Love and not out of constraint. This is the point of spiritual awareness and purity of motives that we are called to in entering into the season of Lent. This is the kind of heart-rending we need to experience to purify our inner selves in response to His Love. (see also my posting on the second Beatitude)

Listen to what the Lord says through the prophet Joel:

“Yet even now,” declares the LORD,  “Return to Me with all your heart, And with fasting, weeping, and mourning; And rend your heart and not your garments.  “Now return to the LORD your God, For He is gracious and compassionate, Slow to anger, abounding in loving-kindness, And relenting of evil. Who knows whether He will not turn and relent, And leave a blessing behind Him, Even a grain offering and a libation For the LORD your God?” (Joel 2:12-14)

Notice the emphasis on the purity of the motive behind our turning to Him as being with “all your Heart”. It is the full attention of our Heart that He desires, and it is our hearts, that is, our spirits, that He wants us to “rend”, and not just an external ritual of penance, like the rending of our garments; this the way that our true repentance in Love must be manifested before Him if it is to be considered a response to His Love.

That bring up another item that we must also consider as we come before Him in repentance, and that is, that He and he alone must be at the center of our hearts.  If we come before Him with our hearts centered on the world and what we desire from the world, our motives cannot be pure. In fact, if we have these worldly desires in our heart we are considered as adulterers before Him. For He is our Spouse, He is the bridegroom and we are the bride. Can we be His bride and have anything of the world in us? Hear what the Apostle James tells us about the attitude of repentance that must be taken by those who are in such a state:

“Adulterers! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you suppose that it is for nothing that the scripture says, “God yearns jealously for the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives all the more grace; therefore it says,

“God opposes the proud,

but gives grace to the humble.”

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy into dejection. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” (James 4:4-10)

Coming before Him in true repentance then, requires that we purify our hearts and strip ourselves of any double-mindedness that somehow deceives us into thinking that we can have two loves – the world and our Loving God! To truly respond to His Love, He and He alone must be our only Love and desire! As John the Apostle tells us, “Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. “ (1Jn 2:15)

If your conscience bears witness to this, and most of us are in this category, repent from your heart, confess your sin before God and make Him the only Love of your life. In doing so ask for the help of the Holy Spirit, keeping remembrance the following psalm:

Thy Word is a Lamp Unto my Feet

Thy Word is a Lamp Unto my Feet

“Your word is a lamp to my feet

and a light to my path.

I have sworn an oath and confirmed it,

to observe your righteous ordinances.

I am severely afflicted;

give me life, O LORD, according to your word.

Accept my offerings of praise, O LORD,

and teach me your ordinances.

I hold my life in my hand continually,

but I do not forget your law.

The wicked have laid a snare for me,

but I do not stray from your precepts.

Your decrees are my heritage forever;

they are the joy of my heart.

I incline my heart to perform your statutes

forever, to the end.

I hate the double-minded,

but I love your law.

You are my hiding place and my shield;

I hope in your word. “

(Psalm 119: 105-114)

In conclusion brethren, remember that we need to forgive in order to receive forgiveness ourselves (cf., Matt. 6:14-15). We cannot respond in love if in our hearts, we harbor un-forgiveness, resentment or bitterness towards anyone, If we truly Love God then our response to His Love and forgiveness must be for us to forgive those who have offended or hurt us in any way; just as He said to those who had Him crucified, ” Father forgive them for they know not what they do”(Luke 23:34).

In coming to a sincere and true repentance, we all need to examine our conscience and assess the quality of our “love” against the standard that was set by Jesus and aptly summarized by Paul:

“Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous;

Love does not brag and is not arrogant,

does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked,

does not take into account a wrong suffered,

does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;

[Love] bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails; “ (1 Cor. 13:4-8).

If we have failed in responding to His Love, we need not despair, for His Mercy, Love and Forgiveness are always available to us.

“If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.” (1 Jn 1:8-10)

Thus, brothers and sisters, in entering into Lent , let us be observant, but with the pure motive and intent of responding to the Love that the Father has manifested to us through His Son, Jesus the Christ. Opening ourselves totally to the Holy Spirit who has poured His Love into our hearts (Rom. 5:5), keeping always in mind the following scripture:

“Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.  We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren.

He that loves not his brother abides in death. Whosoever hates his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.

Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” (1 Jn 3:13-14)

I pray that the Love Of God envelop you and His Holy Spirit guide you as you meditate and observe the Passion, Death and Resurrection of His Only Son.

May you grow in His Love and may His Love grow in you!

Your Brother in Christ … Bartimaeus

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Recommended Links

<> Jesus the Source of living Water and Us

<> The Kingdom of God; Our Spiritual Inheritance

<> Reclaiming Our Legacy in Christ

<> Receiving the  the Holy Spirit

© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-20011].

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Dear fellow pilgrims in Christ,

If you were somewhat intrigued by my previous article where I posted a segment of the booklet, “Awakening to the Love of the Father”, I hope to satiate that intrigue by attaching the concluding portion of the booklet as part 2 of this series.

I believe that this portion will assist you in your desire to know and experience the Father’s Love thus leading you further along the path of spiritual growth.

Just remember, Jesus gave us the sacrament of His Love, which is actually the Father’s love since He is the manifestation of  the Father’s Love. This sacrament of His Love, The Eucharist, then,  is the doorway to experiencing His Love within us.
And when we act on this indwelling Love that empowers us  we become His agents to manifest the Father’s  Love to the World.

Praised be His Holy Name!

May the Lord bless you as you continue to seek Him and His Love!

Your Brother in Christ … Bartimaeus

(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2010])
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Awakening to the Love of the Father ( Part 2)

(Excerpted with permission from a booklet by B. R. Timeo, AMDG)

Continuing from Part 1

Abiding in His Love

The concomitant challenge we face in maintaining any close relationship is the ability to enjoy a continuous, open, sincere, and intimate dialogue with our partner in the relationship.  When our relationship is with the Holy One Himself, it is an absolute necessity – there is no other way .  If we somehow think we can put on a mask over our soul and have a relationship with our Creator through insincere monologues, we are wrong!  We are deceiving ourselves because such an attitude actually hinders any relationship with the Lover of our souls who knows us better than we know ourselves. In fact, approaching the Lord in this manner is a sin in itself! That is why two-way prayer, that is, a dialogue with the Lover of Our Souls is essential; it forces us to be honest.

In order to abide in His Love and be a channel of His Love to others we must also abide in the Lord in just such an intimate relationship.  This is the only way we can bear fruit In Him. Here are His words as recorded in John’s Gospel:

Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love”. (Jn.15: 4-9 NRSV)

Such an intimate and prayerful communion then is what God desires of us and in fact is what He is calling us to enter into with Him. It only through such a spiritual come-union that we can come to understand and receive His Love in a way that transcends mere intellectual comprehension of a theological concept. It is here in the inner stillness of our hearts that we experience His embrace and awaken to His Love as a baby in its mother’s arms. It is here that we are fed and nourished as the revelation of the Word of His Love permeates our total being and transforms us!

Of course, the Lord in his providence, understanding the inability of the flesh to enter into the spiritual plane, has provided the door to such a spiritual come-union: Himself, present in the Eucharist, His Body and his Blood!  As He said, “Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them.” (Jn.6: 56)

Shall we not, then, accept His Promise and receive Him and enter into His Love to abide therein? Shall we not, then, receive and experience His Love in the inner stillness of our hearts? Shall we not, then enter into this level of prayer that the Lord is calling us to? Not out of our own will power but in cooperation with the graces provided by the Holy Spirit, the Dove of Pentecost, who also gives us to understand the depth and spirit of His Love so that our prayers are transformed into His prayers and our love into His Love.

Emissaries of His Love

At the point where we encounter Jesus personally, as with the two disciples at Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35), our spiritual journey takes a distinct turn – now, the Lord has revealed himself to us in the spirit, not to somehow inflate our spiritual egos, nor to heighten our own sense of unworthiness in the light of His Glory, but rather to empower us to go out and be His witnesses to all who will hear our testimony that “He indeed is risen and we have been with him!”. And not only that we have been with Him but that we have come to tell others that they too can come to Him and experience His Love personally. It is here that we receive our calling to be emissaries of the Father’s Love!

Just as Jesus taught these two disciples on how the messianic prophecies in the scriptures were fulfilled in Him, so also does He open His Word to us today, revealing more of His person as we walk along the way with Him. In this way we also can say “… did not our hearts burn within us as we walked along the way?”. It is through this trove of revelation of Himself to our hearts that Jesus empowers us through the Holy Spirit to share His Love with the world so that they, just as we and the disciples on the road to Emmaus, can turn to Jesus and come to a revelation of His Divine Persona at the breaking of the Bread in the Holy Eucharist.

Even Jesus’ disciples had trouble understanding that relationship with the Master was the doorway to a relationship with His Father. Phillip was speaking for the twelve when he asked Jesus to show them the Father. Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how do you say, Show us the Father?” (John 14: 8-9).

He then further challenged His disciples (and us) by telling them that “as the Father has loved me so I have loved you” and thus they are to “love one another as I have loved you”, clearly indicating that we also are called to be bearers of the Father’s love to others. We cannot, of course, out of our human abilities possibly hope to carry out His command; it is only through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit working through our relationship with Jesus that we can truly be communicators of the Father’s Love.

Growing In The Father’s Love

The Love that the Lord asks us to practice is an altruistic, selfless type of Love. The type of Love that is God-like because it is given unconditionally. This type of love goes against our human nature because it places the well being of others above our own. This means that the activation of this kind of love requires a decision, a decision of our will to go contrary to the self-preservation or self-gratification instincts of our human nature.

This type of love is not an emotionally driven activity, nor can it be. It is a spiritual activity whose spiritual power is opened up by the action of our will and the purity of our motives.

The only way that we can practice and grow in this type of Love is through the Grace of God who has placed a measure of this love in us through the Holy Spirit. For this reason the “gain” from this love is not our salvation nor any merit before God. The “gain” that results from the practice of this Love is spiritual growth. This is so because as we practice it we grow spiritually more and more into the image of Christ.

Consider that this type of love is placed in us as a seed is planted in fertile ground so that it may grow and bear fruit. It can only bear fruit if you decide to activate this type of Love using your own free will.

You may also think of the Love God has placed in our hearts as the “talents” God has given us to use in this world. If we use these “talents” wisely, this love will multiply in the world and bring Glory to God. If we hide this talent and don’t use it God will not receive any glory and the talent will be squandered.

We need to recognize that our spiritual growth usually occurs in spurts. These spurts are usually correlated to our ability to act in Love. That is, we may demonstrate Divine Love at a particular level where we have become comfortable in giving of ourselves. But there are parts of ourselves we still place restrictions on our giving and loving. When we become too comfortable at one level the Lord challenges us with opportunities in our lives to go beyond our current comfort level and go to the next level of Love. It is at these junctures where we experience the pain that accompanies spiritual growth. The way the Lord does this is he permits an event or relationship to bring up a circumstance we have been avoiding because it would intrude on one of those areas we have reserved for ourselves and have not yet yielded to God’s Love. It is at these time that we are given the opportunity to go to the next level of Love and consequently of spiritual growth.

There is no condemnation regarding any decision we make in this regard. The Lord will not condemn us. He is only drawing us forward like children in a kindergarten class. We can continue as we were or we can decide to go to the next level. This part is what is up to us. The Lord provides the grace and opportunities for spiritual growth but it is up to us to go through the doors he opens for us. Just  like it is said that “you can take a horse to water but you can’t make him  drink”.

We grow spiritually as we practice this type of Love. That is why it is important that we discern the opportunities the Lord places in our everyday lives. There is not a day that the Lord will not challenge us with an opportunity to grow spiritually. Unfortunately, our very human nature blinds us to these opportunities because we do not want to see them – they are too painful. Let us pray that we be more discerning of the opportunities placed before us and that we be given the grace to respond with the Divine Love the Lord has placed in our Hearts.

Prayer is one of those opportunities, because the deeper you go into true prayer the more you find that it incites us to the giving of one’s self for the well being of others.  It is through this level of prayer that the Holy Spirit moves us to the spirit-guided actions that will cause the Love of the Father to be communicated to others.

In fact, unless your prayer life is empowered by this selfless Love (true prayer) you will not derive any personal spiritual growth from your prayers. As we progress forward in prayer let it be with this divine type of Love so that through our prayers we may not only hasten the coming of His Kingdom into this world, but that we ourselves may grow in that internal holiness which conforms us more and more to the image of Christ!

May it ever be so, in Jesus Mighty name! Amen and Amen!

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Entering the Inner Stillness

Enmeshed in life’s commotion,

Our ears deadened in the strife,

As cries our famished spirit

For the true sustenance of life.


From an inner thirst and hunger

Beyond all the world can impart.

Beyond the parched desert of emotions

For a Love that satisfies the heart.


Why then, do we refuse to listen,

If so desperate our plight?

To words of Life beyond our hearing,

To visions of Love beyond our sight.


A Love that knocks incessantly

‘Till our hearts we open to its Life.

To drink in the Living Water

And consume the Bread of Life.


Enter then, that inner stillness,

God’s sanctuary, in your soul,

And imbibe that Love Eternal

That fills and makes you whole!

– B.R. Timeo, AMDG

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Related Scripture for Personal Meditation

“As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. “(John 15:9-11 NRSV)

“Beloved let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us. (1 john 4:7-12, NRSV)

“By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world. God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God. So we have known and believe the love that God has for us. . (1 john 4: 13-16, NRSV)

“God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgment, because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. We love because he first loved us. Those who say, “I love God,” and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. The  commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also”. (1 John 4:16-21, NRSV)

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Awakening to the Love of the Father By B. R. Timeo, AMDG

Copyright © 2008 Madrid Family Living Trust (BRTimeo@verizon.com)

All rights reserved.  Permission to reproduce or transmit any portion of this document, without any changes, is granted to any individual or group whose only intent is to promote the Good News of the Kingdom and thus bring glory to God, a the Father and His Son, Jesus. This permission is granted under the condition that, upon citing the source and appropriately crediting the references, the information is provided free of charge or at cost for printing and is not used for personal or corporate profit.

This is a pamphlet about love and it is offered in love to all who can use it to tell others about the Father’s Love for all humanity by pointing them to the Word of God, The Gospel of His Love.

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1989 [Scripture quotations are from] New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. [Note: Any emphasis noted in the quotations is the author’s]

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Recommended Links Regarding This Topic

God’s Call to Personal Intimacy

Sweet Yoke of Love

Opening the Door to Jesus and His Love

Document Download: “ Awakening to the Love of the Father”(v.6a,8×11)


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“Awake, my soul!
Awake, O harp and lyre!
I will awake the dawn.” (Psa. 57:8 )

“..for everything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,
“Sleeper, awake!  Rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” (Eph. 5:14)

For most of us, our lives are lived as in a dream – asleep to the reality of the spiritual nature that lies within us – the temple of the Holy Spirit.

A spiritual nature that incessantly cries out for God’s Love, to fill the emptiness we sense within us – a vacuum that, in our desperation, we vainly attempt to fill with the empty material things of this world.

Then, when through circumstances orchestrated by the Holy Spirit, the Word of God finally enters our hearts and we respond to its leading we begin to awaken to the world of the Spirit and to the Presence of the Holy One within us.

As we awaken spiritually, the glory of God’s Love arises through the clouds and mists of our understanding filling us with His Light and His Love – The Love that is meant for His children – The Love for which He sacrificed His Son.  Praised be His Holy Name!

Bartimaeus

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Awakening to the Love of the Father ( Part 1)

(Excerpted with permission from a booklet by B. R. Timeo, AMDG)

Jesus’ Prayer for Impartation of the Divine Love

“Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me. I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17: 25-26 NRSV)

Abstract : The common way we understand Jesus’ directive to “Love one another as I have Loved you” is to think we are to force or discipline the natural love with which we have been endowed to imitate Jesus’ love for his disciples. We take to this understanding because the real spiritual meaning is too hard for us to believe. For you see the Love which Jesus is asking us to place into action in our lives is the Divine Love that the Father has for the Son. This kind of love is the supernatural Divine Love that flowed from Jesus to His disciples through the Holy Spirit, who is the Divine Love. It is a Love that can only be experienced through a relationship with the Divine. It is such a Love that He is now asking to flow between each of us. This kind of Love cannot be forced through any natural discipline it can only come when we Christians enter into a personal relationship with the Father through the Son and surrender ourselves completely to the Holy Spirit so that we are totally free to be channels of this Divine Love to each other. This treatise deals with our coming to the awareness of this divine type of Love, surrendering to its embrace, and the dying to self that it entails.

What Manner of Love Is This?

Most of us who live on this planet are blessed to have experienced “love” before we even understood that there was a word for it.  A mother’s pure, unconditional and unselfish love for her child is experienced and understood by her child by the loving care and tender concern a mother manifests toward her child through her relationship with that child. If this is this is about the closest we can get, in human experience, to help us understand the pure and unconditional love that God the Father has for his human creation can you imagine the deep, tender, and intimate love that He must have for His only begotten Son, Jesus?  This is a love that transcends human experience. It is a supernatural love that can only be manifested in and through the Spirit of the Loving God!

So, in His prayer, Jesus asks the Father that it is His desire that those who believe in Him come to know the Father as He knows the Father so that the Holy Spirit through a relationship with Jesus may communicate this Divine Love directly to the believers!

For many of us, this Divine Love, is merely a theological concept, which we accept intellectually but without any expectation of the affirmation or spiritual awareness of this Divine Love that clearly Jesus and the Father desire us to have. In our case, we have an understanding of the concept but, unlike the baby in our example, we have yet to enter into a spiritual awareness of that Love. The primary reason being, that like a mother’s love for her child, that awareness must come through an active, loving relationship.

The prophets and writers of the Old Testament attempted to convey the interpersonal and relational nature of the Divine Love for humanity and for Israel through metaphors, similes and allegories, such as comparing the Love of Yahweh for Israel being compared to that of a bridegroom for his bride[1] and a mother for her child[2].

In spite of this, those who practiced of the Hebrew religion, instead of hearing and receiving the message of love the Lord was conveying to them through the Law and the Prophets, instead attempted to please God through dead religious legalism. That is why the prophet Hosea rebuked them in The Lord’s name saying, “For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice and the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” (Hosea 6:6 NRSV). Jesus, on several occasions when challenged by the Pharisees as to why he consorted with sinners and publicans, cited this same verse from Hosea (e.g.,Matt.9:13).

Amongst all the parables that Jesus used to convey the picture of the Father’s Love for humanity, perhaps none is perhaps more poignant and descriptive of this Divine Love than the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15: 11-32).

Not only does the Father desire that we come to experience His Love, like the prodigal son, but He also desires that we also be channels of His Love. Jesus’ directive to His disciples to “Love one another as I have loved you” was also intended for us. And since He was the express image of the Father, it was the Father’s Love that they experienced through Him and it was the Father’s Love they, and we, are commanded to express to each other. Only the Holy Spirit working in us to form a relationship with the Father through the Son can accomplish this!

Our Loving Father, manifests His magnificent and magnanimous Love to our desperately alienated humanity by entering into human history, and offering the gift of this Eternal Love, the Love for which we were created, by reconciling us to Himself through the sacrificial death of His Son on the cross.  But this Eternal Love does not stop at just reconciliation. After Jesus’ resurrection, He empowers us, the body of His Son, with the Spirit anointing that was on Jesus when He was on earth. Thus permitting us to participate in His Divinity through faith in the One He sent, who is, in fact, the image of His Love. In this participation we enter into a deeper relationship that takes us from being just friends to being His Spiritual Sons and Daughters in Christ.

How tragic, then, was humanity’s initial response to this offer of Love, that the One He sends to communicate His Love is rejected, tortured and crucified.  How can this be?  How can anyone reject so great a Love as this? And yet, even today, though millions upon millions have accepted His Love, there are still those in the world who, because of ignorance and misunderstanding, have not really comprehended the Good News of the Father’s Love. Much of the reason for this rejection, unfortunately, lies in the perception that they do not see God’s Love demonstrated in the lives and relations of those who live in what they consider to be “Christian” nations.

God, in His mercy and loving kindness, is not impeded by humanity’s desperate situation. For since He does not wish that any should perish He has predestined us, in His undying love for humanity, that, we believers, the body of Christ in this world, be the communicators of His message of Love and reconciliation to the world – not only through The Word of His Love, the Gospel of the Cross, but also through the Power of His Love, the Holy Spirit, the Dove of Pentecost, who empowers all believers to be channels of this Divine Love to all the world both individually and as a community. It is the Father’s will, therefore, to release the miraculous power of His Love through our living out our loving obedience to the Gospel of His Love. A Love that is not only confirmed by the works of power that accompany the anointed proclamation of His Word but also by the power to reach into the human heart and reveal His Love directly to those who hear and believe the Messenger of His Love, Jesus, His Son!.

For this reason, it is even more urgent that we who are called by His Name be more and more resolved to not only live the life of holiness to which we are called but also to manifest and demonstrate the Father’s Love to all with whom we come in contact. For we, indeed, are His hands of Love extended to the world and to our own communities.

But, as with all things spiritual, we cannot demonstrate or manifest that which we ourselves have not experienced. How can we convince others of the intimacy of the Father’s Love when we ourselves have yet not come to know our creator in a personal way? For some of us, because of the spiritual lethargy inherent in our human nature, this personal encounter with the Lover of our souls does not always come immediately upon our intellectual assent to the faith.  There is usually a gradual transition where the Holy Spirit takes us from learning about the Father’s Love, through His Word and Sacraments, to spiritually experiencing this Love through a deepening personal relationship with Jesus, who is the incarnation of the Father’s Love. Then, as we continue our walk with Him, we become truly aware of His personal embrace of Love, which gathers us to Himself in spite of our own unworthiness. Then, and only then, can it be said that we begin to experience the true and redeeming Love that flows through a relationship with the Father through the Son.

Such a spiritual epiphany is the necessary door to our continued spiritual growth. In fact, without a personal encounter with Christ our spiritual growth is held in abeyance[3]. Yes, we may know and give intellectual assent to all the basic doctrines of the Christian faith, but without the personal experience of “knowing” Christ intimately, our spiritual growth will be deprived of the very sustenance needed to keep from being conformed to the world instead of to Christ.

One of the impediments most of us have to entering into a personal and intimate relationship with our Father is that we have been taught to have such a reverence and awe for God that it is inconceivable to us, who are so painfully aware of our own sinfulness, to imagine how this holy all-powerful supernatural and holy being would even permit us to come before Him.  While it is absolutely necessary that we not lose this sense of awe and reverence it does not mean that we cannot approach him or enter into a personal relationship with Him. For we, who abide in the Son, come before His throne garbed in Jesus’ robes of righteousness and not the filthy rags of our fallen nature.

What we tend to forget is that He first loved us and took the necessary action to remove the obstacle of sin that separated us from Him, namely, through the atoning and sacrificial death of His Son on the Cross and His subsequent resurrection. Through His Word He also us provided the faith we needed to believe in His Son and thus become His Children In Him. And it is through the Son, and In Him alone, that we have access to this intimate relationship with the Father. This is the reason for which we were created. For God Is Love and Love requires an object to be Loved. He created us so He could pour out His Love on us through the Holy Spirit [4].

Through our baptism, confirmation and the other sacraments of the church the Holy Spirit provides us the means to enter into and maintain this intimate relationship with the Lover of our souls. Only one thing is necessary, and that is, that we open the door to the One who stands at the Door of our Hearts, knocking and earnestly waiting for us to open our hearts to Him, who deeply desires that we activate that relationship for which He created us. When with all sincerity we proclaim, “Yes, Lord. come into my heart and abide therein”, He enters in and sups with us and we with Him.

Maintaining this abiding relationship is a constant challenge to us for the world, the flesh and the devil are constantly attempting to distract us from the heavenly fellowship. So as we read this brief reminder of this Heritage of The Father’s Love let us all reaffirm our YES and rededicate our hearts to be receptive and obedient to the Father’s Love by asking Jesus to renew His life in us. And, if at all possible, do so by receiving the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist, the Sacrament of His Love.

(to be continued in Part 2 …)

(see links below if you feel called to open the door to Jesus)


[1] “For as a young man marries a young woman, so shall your builder marry you, and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you..” (Is. 62:5 NRSV)

[2] “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!” (Is. 49:15)

[3]“There is no Christianity without an encounter with Christ. Christianity is not simply a doctrine; it is a meeting, in faith, with God, present in our history with the incarnation of Jesus.” ( Pope John Paul II-World Youth Day 2004)

[4] And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. (Rom.5:5 NRSV)

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Take the Narrow Way

Take the Narrow Way

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it. (Matt 7:13-14)

My Fellow Pilgrims,

Like all journeys into the unfamiliar, our spiritual pilgrimage into the Kingdom of God brings us to many crossroads where we are forced to make decisions and choices that determine the direction our lives will take. What we sometimes fail to consider is that if we make those decisions based on our human rationality, sentiments, and abilities alone we will most likely make a serious mistake.

Decisions that will determine the path our lives will take involve moral and spiritual parameters that will define whether we live our lives according to God’s will or our own worldly will. These are decisions we, as humans, are not fully competent to make and as a result we need to call on God’s Word and the guidance of the Holy Spirit for the discernment and wisdom we need to ensure that our path remains in the Father’s perfect and specific will for us at these specific junctures in our lives.

The main reason finding the right path evades us is because our choices are usually driven by our own self-will rather than the Father’s will for our lives. The denial of our self-will to give place to the Father’s will in our lives is the strait way, the hard path, and the gate or entrance is narrow because we have to leave our own self-will behind in order to enter. And when Jesus tells us that “… few there are who find it”, He was not speaking to unbelievers but believers, those wishing enter into discipleship with Him.

Yes, all too often, even as believers, our decisions are based only on our supposed rational assessment of what is best for us from a purely human standpoint based on our own self-interest or our need to conform ourselves to the world. If we are still immature in the faith, we don’t realize that we are not on this earth to satisfy our own purposes but rather to fulfill the Father’s purpose for our lives. Because of this lack of awareness we more often than not choose a path that exalts and empowers our own self-will – a choice where our human ambitions and desires are satiated to the exclusion of The Father’s specific will for us – we thus always tend to make a choice where we can say “I did it my way”.

Of course, as Christians, in order to assuage our consciences, we usually also try to choose a path commensurate with our moral and religious constraints and tradition, unconsciously justifying and falsely presuming that the choice we are making will somehow be pleasing to the Father, even though we neglected to consult Him regarding our decision or obey His leading for us. We act in this manner in order to preserve our own self-will and self-control over our personal lives by appearing to have made a “good” moral decision.

How many of us, myself included, have been caught up in the initial zeal of our conversion, and without realizing it, merely transferred our self-directed energy and ambitions from the worldly realm to the religious and spiritual realm? Again, this behavior is just where our pride and human survival instincts lead us, but this is not the Father’s will for us.

No! Rather, in our surrender to The Father’s Love, we must realize that when we come willingly into His embrace we are NOT dedicating our self-will to do great works for Him; instead, what we are doing is, out of our Love for Him, surrendering and denying our own self-will and even our own desires so as to please Him and Him alone, so that He is free do His work in us and through us as He and He alone desires.

Notice that Jesus accepted just such an emptying out of Himself in accepting His saving role and surrendering completely to the will of the Father. In his letter to the Philippians, Paul writes the following:

“Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death — even death on a cross.” (Phil, 2-6-8)

We, of course cannot compare ourselves to Jesus in giving up His divine prerogatives. But we, in our own diminished way, are also called to submit our own human will to the calling and will of the Father in our lives. Now, because of our fallen human nature, our self- emptying process may take a lifetime but what is important to the Father is the intent of our heart and our willingness to give of ourselves to Him in Love. As fledgling disciples, this, then, is the Narrow Gate that we are called to enter and our walk of discipleship is to remain on the strait path that the Narrow Gate opens to us. We do this not out of human love but out of “agape” Love with which The Father has endowed us through His Holy Spirit (Rom. 5:5).

Even, the apostle Paul needed to go through such a self-emptying transition. After his conversion, when he first began to preach in Damascus, his fleshly zeal had merely been transferred from persecuting Christians to evangelizing unbelievers in such a self-directed and self-empowered way that he caused several unnecessary disturbances. This was because he was relying on his own human energies and NOT on the grace of God to fully empower him. Things got so bad, in fact, that he had to be helped in escaping from Damascus in order to avoid causing more collateral damage to the small nascent community in Damascus. (see Acts 9:18-30).

It was only after a Holy-Spirit-directed spiritual retreat in Arabia (Gal 1:17) that the Holy Spirit provided Paul the grace of a second conversion (or continuation of his conversion) such that he was later able to pass on to the congregation in Rome what he learned about trying to please God by the works of the flesh, writing to them, “… those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For this reason the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law—indeed it cannot, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Rom. 8:5-8)

Jesus himself warns believers about the dangers of those who attempt to enter into discipleship without fully surrendering themselves to the will of the Father. He tells us in the Gospels that, “… not everyone who says to me Lord, Lord shall enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; but only those who [actually] do the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matt. 7:21)

Thus as we enter into the New Year that is before us let us carefully assess our inner motives for the purity of heart that is needed to truly serve the Father in this world so that whatever we do, we do solely for the Glory of God the Father and not to satisfy our own willful desires or ambitions.  The Holy Spirit will purify our desires if we truly surrender, out of Love, to the Father’s will and purpose for our lives.

As we all proceed through the Narrow Gate in our desire to serve the Lord with purity of heart and faithfulness to His will, let us take to heart Paul’s advice to the believers in Rome:

“… brothers and sisters, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh — for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” (Rom. 8:12-13)

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God —do this as your spiritual act of worship. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” (Rom. 12:1-2)

May the Holy Spirit strengthen us in our resolution to serve Him and may He accomplish His will and His purpose in us and through us!

To Him and Him alone be Glory and Honor forever! Amen and Amen!

Bartimeaus

Related Link:  Surrendering to Divine Love

© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2009]

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