Easter Sunday: He is Risen!

RisenJesusFrom the Word Among Us:

He saw and believed. (John 20:8)

Alleluia! Christ is risen! Father, we exult in your glory! We rejoice, turning our thoughts to the One who lives, who is seated at your right hand above every power and authority and dominion.

He’s alive! Mary’s thoughts spun at the empty tomb: Jesus is missing! What happened? Who took his body? But we fix our eyes on the living Christ. Our thoughts don’t have to spin fruitlessly, hopelessly grasping at “reasonable” explanations. Because Jesus lives, we have hope. We are a new creation. We can look at life through new eyes, think with life-giving thoughts, and speak words of wisdom and understanding. Because he lives, we have peace. The unknown doesn’t have to shake us. God is for us, and nothing can separate us from his love.

He’s alive! Peter’s thoughts, perhaps, churned in regret: “I failed him. I said I would die for him, but I ran away. Now he’s gone.” But there is now no condemnation. Jesus has reconciled us to himself. We are seated with him at God’s right hand. Because he is alive, we are free from the law of sin and death. We are forgiven. Period. Jesus’ blood has cleansed us, and because he lives eternally, this cleansing is powerful. Though our lives are hidden in Christ now, one day we will appear with him in glory.

He’s alive! John saw the same empty tomb—and believed. He might not have understood fully, but still he believed. He recalled Jesus’ promises, and seeing the evidence of the empty tomb, he trusted them more than his own thoughts.

He’s alive! What about you? Jesus’ promise of life that never ends, a life full of grace and glory, freedom and endless joy. Though for a time (like Lent) we endure want and difficulties, we still fix our eyes on what is above, knowing what the empty tomb really points to. Christ is risen, and in him we now share in the promise of eternal life!

“Jesus, you’re alive! In you I live and move and have my being! Alleluia!”

Acts 10:34, 37-43; Psalm 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23; Colossians 3:1-4

For more meditations and reflections for group discussion, bookmark the Word Among Us.

Have a Blessed Easter!


Good Friday Meditation


From The Word Among Us:

Into your hands I commend my spirit. (Psalm 31:6)

It’s Good Friday, the very day for which Jesus was born into the world. His whole life, everything he ever said or did, had been leading up to this day. Every miracle, every sermon, every word of forgiveness or challenge—none of them makes sense apart from the cross. And today, we are invited to join millions of people all over the world in gazing upon the Lamb who was slain for our sin.

So let’s follow Pilate’s words and “behold the man” (John 19:5). Come and behold the Christ in his humanity. Recall his humble beginnings as a newborn in a manger. Wonder at his hidden years as he grew in stature and grace.

Come and behold the One on whom the Holy Spirit rested as a dove. See him in his humility, trust, and surrender to his Father as he walked with God each and every day. Behold the One who prayed, “Into your hands I commend my spirit” (Psalm 31:6). See how this prayer, which he breathed with his dying breath, was but the full expression of a lifetime of yielding to his Father.

Come and behold the One who said, “I thirst” (John 19:28). Gaze upon the One who experienced hunger, thirst, and pain, both physically and spiritually. He came not to be served but to serve. He washed his friends’ feet. He dined with sinners and touched lepers. He poured out his life day after day for his people. And now here he is, crucified, betrayed, and abandoned. He is nailed to a cross, and he is still pouring out his life.

“Behold, your king!” (John 19:14). Before his pierced and bloodstained feet, we bow our knees, anticipating the day when every person will kneel before him. Look upon this ravaged rabbi, and see here your eternal King, the One through whom all things were created. See your high priest seated in heaven, even now constantly interceding for you, just as he did on the cross.

Behold Jesus. The sky blackens. The earth shakes. The rocks rend. His body lies still for now. His majesty is emptied but for a season. Here is your King.

“Jesus, into your hands I commend my spirit.”

Isaiah 52:13–53:12; Psalm 31:2, 6, 12-13, 15-17, 25; Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9


Papal Paranoia

PopeFrancisI’ve been so busy this week with Writestream, ghostwriting, my birthday and other things that I haven’t had time to post about the newly proclaimed Pope Francis, formerly known as Jorge Mario Bergoglio. As a follow-up to my previous articles, Defending The Knights of Malta and On Papal Resignations and Anti-Catholic Bigotry, and in response to even more rampant bigotry from the Right, in the form of many Facebook connections who have revealed themselves to be not only disrespectful but ignorant about the role of the Pope and the tenets of Catholicsm, it’s well worth taking the time.

First, I cannot even express the depths of my disappointment and disgust. Yes, the Left has consistently engaged in their usual depravity ever since Pope Benedict announced his resignation. But that’s to be expected from these soulless, inhumane, amoral and godless people. I don’t hold them to a high standard because they’ve repeatedly proven they don’t have any — unless of course we’re talking about double standards. And while I appreciate my conservative compatriots in the blogosphere highlighting the unadulterated and unvarnished garbage thrown at the Catholic Church and the Papacy by gutter-dwelling Leftists, I must also point out the hypocrisy of not doing the same when the vitriol emanates from fellow conservatives.

I get that we’re trying to stick together and maintain a united front as we fight against the tyranny of anti-Constitutional progressives inhabiting the permanent political class, but it does a disservice to our movement to deny the existence of the same sort of bigotry within our ranks. This isn’t easy for me to write; many, many people I once considered friends have engaged in such illogical crap as “The Pope is here to usher in the NWO”, “The Pope is a False Prophet”, The Pope is the Anti-Christ”, “Pray hard everyone, he’s a Jesuit!” etc. that I will never feel the same about them again. Those among these ranks who are also bloggers and/or internet radio hosts will never again receive my patronage. I am thoroughly, completed DISGUSTED with all of them.

As I’ve said before, I have been a vocal critic of the church, particularly in light of the pedophilia scandal. There is such a thing as well-deserved, fact-based and and constructive criticism; then there’s conspiracy paranoia, bigotry and slander. Most of what I have seen falls into the latter category. When I commented about this in a Facebook thread, someone tried to justify it by claiming that the attacks coming from conservatives were not not nearly as vile as the ones coming from the Left. To which I replied something along the lines of “Sorry, nice try but no dice. They are just as bad and I’d submit even worse because they ought to know better.” Of course, many of these people are the same ones trashing The Bible mini-series, using the same “unChristian” tactics.

wedding-rings-and-handsWhich brings me to another point: hypocrisy. Jesus taught us to love the sinner and hate the sin. I believe as the Pope does that the sacrament of marriage was instituted by God as a union between one man and one woman. That doesn’t make the Pope or me a homophobe; nor does it mean we hate gay people. On the contrary, it’s possible to disapprove of someone’s lifestyle and still care about the person. It’s possible to believe homosexuality is wrong, based on God’s own word and still uphold the individual’s right to life, liberty and happiness, while resisting the gay left agenda. But it is truly laughable that at least some of the members of the anti-Catholic brigade — which appears to be mostly comprised of Evangelicals in my experience — are quick to excuse homosexuality and contort Bible passages in order to do so, yet have no problem spreading lies about the Catholic Church and attacking its leadership. It’s also highly disappointing when I think of the numerous times I have defended Christians of every denomination, especially Evangelicals, from Leftist assaults. Unlike them, I was busy focusing on what we had in common: belief in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and the sanctity of innocent, unborn life being just two examples.

But when push comes to shove, it seems Catholics like me can count on non-Catholics to return the favor by smearing them, commonalities be damned. Shared fight for religious freedom and freedom of conscience be damned. While we’re at it, truth be damned, too. If I hear one more non-Catholic falsely claim that we “worship” Mary, Mother of Jesus, I think I’m going to have to start teaching classes on the difference between the words “honor”, “respect” and “worship”. Honoring Mary is NOT tantamount to elevating her to God’s status. Doesn’t her perfect obedience to God — especially living in a time when being unwed and pregnant could have gotten her stoned — merit a modicum of respect? I truly don’t understand the grudge against Mary, but then again I don’t understand how you can justify homosexuality as being ok with God using the words out of the Bible, and simultaneously condemn Catholics as devil-worshippers following a “False Prophet” either. Guess I am reading the “wrong” Bible.

Given that this new Pope has been adamant about proclaiming abortion and homosexuality as sins against God there’s plenty for Left and Right to dislike about him. Which brings me to this great piece from American Thinker:

How can we tell that the conclave made a good decision in elevating Jorge Mario Bergoglio to the papacy?  Exhibit A (through at least D): liberals are annoyed.  But leftists’ problems with Pope Francis, well-emblazoned as they were within hours of the announcement, reveal some crucial truths about the Church that even many Catholics are loath to confront.

 When it came to Benedict XVI, the willfully uninformed chattering class had a field day — rather, a field eight years — with the thoroughly discredited “Nazi pope” meme.  (We might call noted luminary and theologian Susan Sarandon the “Nazi ambassadrix” in this effort.)  In the same vein, media outlets in all corners are itching to label the new Holy Father, and despisers of the office may find purchase in Francis’s hard-line — or, to put it more accurately, quite Catholic — stance on “gay rights” and homosexual acts.

The caviling has already started.  Indeed, as Saint Peter’s Square erupted with applause, and as the newly elected Pope Francis gave his first address to the Catholic faithful, Cavan Sieczkowski of the Huffington Post was already flexing his fingers for the first of a procession of disappointed jeremiads.  “Pope Francis Against Gay Marriage, Gay Adoption,” Sieczkowski’s headline blared, with the new pontiff’s vestments still settling on his shoulders.  He quotes GLAAD President Herndon Graddick, who decries a “Catholic hierarchy … in need of desperate reform.”

There’s more to this lashing out than just “Francis the Homophobe.”  From the parade of hand-wringing gay activists in Sieczkowski’s piece to the aggrieved commentators at Mother Jones, what really dismays the dismayed is the inflexibility not just of Francis, but of the Church herself.  At MJ, we read, “I think this is a missed opportunity to bring the papacy closer to where the people are,” and even at Forbes, John Baldoni, an ardent admirer of the Jesuits (Francis’s order), writes of “a Catholic Church that is resistant to change but one that must certainly adapt (and rather radically) if it is going to continue to attract well-intentioned men and women who adhere to its faith but also are willing to devote themselves to its perpetuation.”

BibleRosesWhile it focuses exclusively on the vitriol of the Left, this article makes an excellent point that applies to Christians everywhere: God’s Word is timeless, and there is no need for the Catholic Church or Christian Churches in general to adapt their God-given teachings to “conform to the times” or to whatever our current amoral society deems fashionable, acceptable or cool. And that includes gay marriage and homosexuality.

So on a constitutional level, I stand with all conservatives who are demanding a return to limited government — gay, straight, male, female, single, married, whatever. We all sin, and therefore we all fall short. Love the sinner, hate the sin.

But if you’re going to get on a moral high horse about the “evils” of the Catholic Church, accusing it of every conspiracy from world domination (gee, you know there is something masquerading as a religion that really IS hell-bent on controlling the world..I think it begins with an “I”) to Satanic worship, I will call out your hypocrisy when you’re living a life in opposition to God’s commands and Natural Law. As for the others, all I can say is you have certainly shown your true colors. Thanks for turning off the majority of Catholics to the conservative message. Thanks for alienating the Catholic vote even further by nitpicking on religion instead of focusing on the many principles that unite us as outlined in the United States Constitution. Yes, you are free to worship as you please and believe whatever fallacies you want about the Catholic Church. But since we’re all fighting for our freedom here, is it too much to ask for a little respect and constructive discourse?

How many of these same people sat home on Election Day, not because of Mitt Romney’s moderate/progressive record, but because of his Mormonism?  

I was virulently ABR last year, but not one of my reasons for opposing Mitt Romney as a candidate had ANYTHING to do with his religion (note: I still would have taken him over Obama in a heartbeat). NOT ONE. If nothing else, the past few months have instilled a newfound respect for my Mormon friends who are also on the receiving end of this ugly bigotry on a regular basis. If only some of these non-Catholic Christian snobs demonstrated the same warmth, sincerity, respect and compassion as my Mormon friends maybe we could all keep our eyes on the prize, restoring our Constitution, while allowing every individual to worship (or not) as he or she pleases.