Challenged to be Free Authentic Witnesses to Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church

March 31, 2020
Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Lent
John 8:21-30

Jesus said to the Pharisees: “I am going away and you will look for me, but you will die in your sin. Where I am going you cannot come.” So the Jews said, “He is not going to kill himself, is he, because he said, ‘Where I am going you cannot come’?” He said to them, “You belong to what is below, I belong to what is above. You belong to this world, but I do not belong to this world. That is why I told you that you will die in your sins. For if you do not believe that I AM, you will die in your sins.” So they said to him, “Who are you?” Jesus said to them, “What I told you from the beginning. I have much to say about you in condemnation. But the one who sent me is true, and what I heard from him I tell the world.” They did not realize that he was speaking to them of the Father. So Jesus said to them, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I AM, and that I do nothing on my own, but I say only what the Father taught me. The one who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, because I always do what is pleasing to him.” Because he spoke this way, many came to believe in him.

Our Lord is stating very clearly that he knows what is going to happen and where he is going. If we step back this will, hopefully, instill in us confidence and hope that he was not the victim of circumstances. You and I might feel this way (and sometimes it is very hard to change those feelings) but Jesus knows – he knows what is going to happen to him and he knows the same thing when it comes to you and me. This in no way impinges (takes away or diminishes) free will. It is – to be honest – a mystery but if it was not true then God would not be God by the very definition of what it means to be God (Omniscient being one of his attributes).

This is both a statement of comfort and one that is (I’m not sure any other word than) scary. Jesus states – and he is addressing these Pharisees but all those who knowingly reject him because they do not – they at some point refuse – to be open to him (and God knows this and the person would know it – at some point – as well) … that these individuals if they do not use their precious time well and refuse to repent then this will what is said of them: “You belong to what is below, I belong to what is above. You belong to this world, but I do not belong to this world. That is why I told you that you will die in your sins. For if you do not believe that I AM, you will die in your sins.”

So – to knowingly reject Jesus … to reject his grace that calls us to God … will result in our eternal loss. Like I said – scary words but they are also meant to, in a sense, shock us out of our complacency, out of our refusal to make a decision or just put things off.

We need to look at life in all of its aspects and not just settle for a “horizontal view” of everything … meaning that we live as if we are just going along this world and then … then … what??? Nothing? No – there is something and someone who awaits us and it is a binary option: God or Satan.

You and I are called to use our time well – while we are here in this world. This teaching of Jesus should not lead us to try and force anyone to accept him but rather (no one can be or should forced to accept anything) but rather we (believers) are challenged to be authentic witnesses to Jesus Christ and his Catholic Church.

Then all we can do is leave the rest to God. God will resolve all things — in the meantime it is for you and me to be good examples, the best examples to those around us.

Trust Is Even More Important When You’re Working Remotely

Management Tip of the Day

Supervisors who suddenly have found themselves managing a fully remote team may be wondering how to measure employee productivity and quality of work from a distance. The key ingredient is trust. You may not be able to see what people are doing, but you can still equip them with the information they need, assign them tasks, and check on them like you always have. Since you can’t monitor process in the same way, your review will have to be based on outcomes. Of course, there’s no reason to believe that, in this new environment, people won’t do the work they’ve been assigned. Remote work has been around for a very long time, and today we have the technology to not only do our own work but also to successfully collaborate. So as a manager, your main job is to heed Ernest Hemingway’s advice: “The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.”

This tip is adapted from “15 Questions About Remote Work, Answered,” by Tsedal Neeley

I’m not ok and your not ok but that is ok

“If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How can you say, ‘You will become free’?” Jesus answered them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin. A slave does not remain in a household forever, but a son always remains. So if a son frees you, then you will truly be free. I know that you are descendants of Abraham. But you are trying to kill me, because my word has no room among you. I tell you what I have seen in the Father’s presence; then do what you have heard from the Father.” They answered and said to him, “Our father is Abraham.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works of Abraham. But now you are trying to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God; Abraham did not do this. You are doing the works of your father!” So they said to him, “We were not born of fornication. We have one Father, God.” Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and am here; I did not come on my own, but he sent me.”

The whole concept of sin is often rejected by the so-called “modern age” and is often misunderstood by those who follow Jesus … who claim to be his disciples.

Many reject the idea or the concept of sin as a throwback to an old age when everything was black and white, sin or not sin … when the Church ruled and was seen or understood (rightly or wrongly) to use sin to keep people in line.

Then after the Vatican II Council the (to use one of my favorite examples … that is just meant to highlight this point) the Church changed (altered) its discipline regarding “no meat on Fridays.”

So before Vatican II – it was a mortal sin (if done deliberately) to eat meat on Friday but after the Council (around the 70’s) the discipline was relaxed and you we were taught that you could substitute for another act of penance. The problem here is that a whole lot of disciplinary acts that we were required to do were thrown out or just not done anymore. And we wonder why – along with the dissing of the Sacrament of Penance – we have major problems in society and the Church? This is no claim that things were perfect or hunky-dory before the Council but in many ways things were better than now.

This whole (what I would term as a ‘mess’ or a time of profound confusion) has led many to not understand the nature of sin. It does exist – period. Chesterton said that Original Sin is the only teaching (dogma) of the Church that provides ample anecdotal evidence of its existence — just look around you and even within yourself and be honest about it!

The 70s produced this statement “I’m ok and your ok” which is partly true but also very deceptive because it would be truer to say: I’m not ok and your not ok but that is ok” MEANING that we are defective, we have a major fault line in our soul, our nature, and to ignore this or sugar-coat it is disastrous.

The Good News of Jesus Christ requires us to acknowledge our sinfulness — this doesn’t mean we beat ourselves up or think we are horrible (although we all know we can do horrible things!). No! It means we are born with what is tantamount to a spiritual disease – it is called “sin.”

Jesus Christ has come into this world to offer us an antidote to this noxious poison (this disease) that is within us and he communicates this medicine from the Cross through the Sacraments. It still requires that we struggle every single day we get out of bed – not assuming, no presuming anything. Everyday we start again. You take your vitamins every day or eat everyday and we need Jesus Christ everyday … and the sacraments from Baptism through to the Anointing of the Sick.

And so – one of the essential criteria benefitting in any way when it comes to Jesus Christ is acknowledging that I need to be saved. I’m not ok. This acknowledgement opens the heart to grace and Christ is just waiting for you and me and whoever reaches out to him so that he can come in to their lives. We cannot do this on our own but with him we can.

Today – tell the Lord you love him and that you need him. Don’t just tell him once but as often as you need to or want to. It is just the truth but is also a wonderful to cultivate presence of God.