Monthly Archives: March 2019

Saint Patrick & Forgiving Trespasses

The story of Saint Patrick is a fascinating one, and has something to teach us today.

He lived in the 4th-5th century; born in Britain- his father was a deacon and his grandfather was a church leader. Patrick was kidnapped and  enslaved, taken from his family at 16, and made to be a pig-hearder in Ireland.

One day he escaped, and worked his way back home to Britain on a ship. Returning to his family, then he felt called to be a priest, which took him to Rome. One day he had a vision-heard the voice of the people of Ireland calling him “Return and walk among us once again.” The people who had enslaved him for several years, keeping him from his family, making him live outside as a pig herder… What would make it possible for him to do this? He not only forgave them, he returned to them as a missionary-priest.

WHY we find it difficult to forgive:
Ask non-christians to quote Jesus’ teaching, and “forgive your enemies” is one of the most quoted. It’s one of the core teachings that drew Gandhi’s admiration. Yet, universally, people struggle to forgive. Why do we find it so difficult to forgive?

We have a sense of justice, as long as it applies to everyone else, whereas we would rather have mercy, grace, and forgiveness applied to our injustices.

Patrick, when out in the countryside by himself, would recite any thing he could remember. Any scripture, any song, any psalm, any prayer. What’s one prayer almost every believer knows? The Lord’s Prayer, no doubt Patrick had this in his heart and his mind.

Matthew 6:12-15
forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us…If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.

That’s what made it possible for him to return to Ireland and it’s people.

What happens when we don’t forgive: Someone said it’s like drinking poison and expecting the other person to get sick.  Dr. Robert Enright is a professor at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. He found in his research that unforgiveness causes cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, hypertension, cancer & psychosomatic illness.

Ephesians 4:31-32 tells us:
Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

When we live in a state of non-forgiveness it can effect us mentally, spiritually, and even physically. But developing the spiritual discipline of forgiving, the power of forgiveness, can set us free and heal us.

Jesus’ example to us in Luke 23 verse 34: Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

When Christ hung on the cross and said “Father forgive them-“ he meant me and you as much as he meant the soldiers at Golgotha that day. If we are truly His disciples then we continually seek to develop the discipline of forgiveness in our live, following Jesus’ example. Saint Patrick exemplified this well in his life and ministry, making his enemies his friends.

Welcoming all as Christ

Welcome all as Christ:
The Rule of Saint Benedict may seem antiquated to us today. Written in the early 6th century as a rule of life for those living together in community as Christians and monks, the Rule of Saint Benedict provided much needed direction and a path to living in community together. (Without killing each other -anyone who has had several roommates understands what I’m saying here).

As a priest in a local church, The Rule of Saint Benedict (RB) also provides me with insight, and it challenges me on how we can be the church in the world today. In a culture that is so very self absorbed, the RB can help us recover some of what is best on being the community of God and to give hope to a despairing world. The RB also may enrich our culture today by reminding the community of God how the early church and early monasticism viewed each other, and how each was to view the stranger, the new person among you. According to the RB, each person has great value.

Chapter 53: The Reception of Guests

All guests who present themselves are to be welcomed as Christ, for he himself will say: I was a stranger and you welcomed me (Matt 25:35).  Proper honor must be shown to all, especially to those who share our faith (Gal 6:10) and to pilgrims.  Once a guest has been announced, the superior and the brothers are to meet him with all the courtesy of love.

(RB p.89 Anthony C. Meisel and M.L. del Mastro, Doubleday 1975).

To do this we have to train our eyes to really see people, to be aware, to see people as Christ sees and to respond in kind.

Ashes and Dust

Things that didn’t live up to their reputation:

  • The Ford Edsel in the 1950’s was to be an innovation in cars- sucked.
  • New Coke in the 80s was to build on Coke’s reputation- it didn’t.
  • PS3 is great! -unless you get the three rings of death… (old school, I know)
  • Facebook Games.
  • Planking.

There’s a difference between reputation and reality. Jesus, dictating the letter to the church at Sardis to the Apostle, John said:

“You have a reputation that you live, but you are DEAD.”

They were living on reputation, they were living on past accomplishments, they were living in the glory days, but had fallen asleep to living the life and doing the stuff of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

WAKE UP: Jesus says “WAKE UP!!!”…living on past accomplishments just isn’t enough. Any time we live in the past it is not a good thing, it robs us of today-good or bad. If you live in the past of the bad things that happen in life then you’ll never go forward, never heal, never explore and discover life now. The same is true for the good things: starting a business, being a star athlete in school, whatever the accomplishment; to live in the past is DEATH.

Paul speaks clearly words that the church at Sardis needed to hear and words relevant for us today in Philippians 3:13 “This ONE thing I do- forgetting what is past and move forward.” Do this and live.

Let us begin again! Saint Francis said something as he gathered the brothers around not long before his death- “Let us begin again, for up to now we have done nothing.” For Sardis, For our churches, for each of us individually, these words ring true. It is a time for us to begin again. Jesus said “repent & return to what you have received and heard.”

In ancient culture, cities kept a book with the names of all it’s citizens, when someone moved or died they would scratch the persons name out. Look at the promise Jesus gave to Sardis:

“He who overcomes will be dressed in white…and I will never erase or blot out his name from the book of life…” -Rev 3:5

Let’s not live in the past, not fall asleep, but be awake! & let us begin again; letting go of the past and moving forward! Let Ash Wednesday and the Lenten Season be a fresh start of your journey as you follow Christ.

Before The Season Of Lent

Trudge through the pain to get to the joy of really living

Don’t heed the tiredness of the hours

you’ve had a black eye before

not the first time

it’ll be alright

The snow gives way to sprouting green

Soon the leaf and then the fruit

The sun’s warming

the last fire of winter

reduced to embers

Cardinals feed on waning winter feast

New work is at hand now

Yoke the old horse to the new

experience and strength

side by side

Doing the Master’s work

The season is new