Tuesday, October 12, 2010

From Babel to Baptism or Thank God for the Holy Spirit

"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?"

Here comes that Holy Spirit guy again...

Not surprisingly, this quote from St. Paul was helpful to me in my prayer today. And also not surprisingly, it kind of ties in to what I've been teaching these days to my Freshmen and Junior (Scripture and Sacraments) students respectively.

First of all, let me just say I KNOW how annoying it is when all people seem to be able to talk about is their kids and I KNOW it seems like teachers are just as bad when talking about their students. I get it. I just can't help it, though, when all of these aspects of my life intersect. But I'm glad they do, and I believe God uses my prayer to help me teach. I just have to always be aware of what is for me, what is for them, and what can be used in both realms.

So I'm actually teaching about Abraham and his crew lately in my Scripture class. Let me just say the topics of sodomy, incest, and polygamy are not fun to teach about in general...let alone to freshmen in high school. You can imagine my pain; the looks, the comments, yeah. They are totally 15.

So today we were talking about Isaac and how he sees the beautiful Rebekah and then we do the math that Rebekah is Nahor's granddaughter, and Nahor is Abraham's brother. Isaac is Abraham's son, sooo....

Yeah. And it doesn't get better with Isaac's son Jacob. Two wives. Who are literally SISTERS. Umm...

How is this all part of our Salvation History again?

And the kids totally call me out on that. "Why does God allow incest? Polygamy? The like? And if it was okay back then, how come it's not now?"

Okay, first of all, do we really have to ask the question of why is it not okay now? And second of all, we know the all encompassing answer for "why does God allow...(fill in the blank here)" questions...right?

The standard answer is: God gives us free will. And he can use even our sinfulness to do His work through. Also, He makes all things new in Jesus.

Which brings us to the whole 'our bodies are a Temple of the Holy Spirit thing', which was an answer to a question in my Sacraments class: "What are the effects of Baptism?" ( I just went a little Jeopardy on you there. Can you handle it?! ;)

Well, we get all kinds of goodies at Baptism. Things that we often don't realize we have like: virtues, the Holy Spirit, membership into a mystical body...all that good stuff. But thank God for these gifts! The Scripture quote I started with from St. Paul reminds us that we can't do anything on our own, we need the Holy Spirit. And he dwells inside of us due to our Baptism.

Needless to say, our incesteous ancestors coulda used a little Holy Spirit and some Baptism, ya know what I'm saying? No? Okay.

Another one of my all-encompassing answers for the kids in the Old Testament class is that God makes all things NEW with Jesus. So the old ways are done away with because now Jesus is on the scene giving us new ways to follow. (THANK. GOD.)

And so it is with Baptism, our old sins are washed away, making us new in Christ. If only we would tap into those gifts of the Holy Spirit we are given...

Which is where my personal prayer took me today. I surely cannot do anything on my own. I keep remembering that (like I wrote a couple weeks ago when I was reflecting on how I would have to 'run to God' in these new adventures He's placed before me.)

I was also gearing up for this Sunday (as I have to play for a Mass and am picking songs to go with the readings), so I read this Sunday's Gospel which was PERFECT. I know we all feel at times like we are going to God with the SAME things and he must grow tired of hearing us and not want to grant our requests. This Sunday's reading reminds us that being persistant is something:

Jesus told his disciples a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary. He said, "There was a judge in a certain townwho neither feared God nor respected any human being. And a widow in that town used to come to him and say,'Render a just decision for me against my adversary.'For a long time the judge was unwilling, but eventually he thought,'While it is true that I neither fear God nor respect any human being, because this widow keeps bothering meI shall deliver a just decision for herlest she finally come and strike me.'" The Lord said, "Pay attention to what the dishonest judge says. Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen oneswho call out to him day and night? Will he be slow to answer them? I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?" (Luke 18:1-8)

That last question Luke leaves us with Jesus saying is something...what will Jesus find when He comes again?

Thank God for the Holy Spirit dwelling within us. Hopefully, the answer to will be that when He returns we will be taking care of our living temples and not re-enacting one of those earlier biblical scenes...

Oh, yeah, I went there. Salvation history ancestry and all....

Today in my meditation I received hope and confidence once again through the Holy Spirit, who is inside of me with all I need. And God wants to hear and answer our prayers...even if we are being annoying about it.

A pretty good deal for a people who came from...well, technically....I guess....if you think about it...

Yeah. I'd rather not think about it too much either :)


Sunday, October 3, 2010

Keepin' the Faith

How great were the Mass readings today, huh? Not surprisingly exactly what I needed to hear, as per usual.

It's all about faith. I think we forget that sometimes, as silly as that sounds. And what is faith? Belief in things unseen. Somehow I turn my faith into trying to make God show me things. Um, I'm pretty sure that's the laziest way to go about faith ever. I'm supposed to believe without seeing...right?

The Gospel doesn't mince words today. Sassy Jesus is in full effect. The apostles are once again bugging him, asking Him for things they clearly don't know about, and Jesus silences them by saying, "look...I'm only asking you the bare minimum here. These are things you are supposed to do irregardless of reward or increasing anybody's faith. You should only need the faith of the mustard seed. I have given you all you need."

So pop off, apostles!

Just kidding. He doesn't say that.

He's sassy, but He's still the Savior which requires an unfathomable amount of patience, I'm sure.

But yeah, I think we forget sometimes that faith means believing even without the proof. Just this past week, I mentioned that I was praying a novena to St. Therese, wherein, we ask for a proof that God heard our prayer. God allows these types of requests because he knows our hearts and minds are weak and small. St. Therese herself was always declaring herself the smallest, but had immense trust in God. So if these types of prayers are needed in order for us to exercise our trust in God, I believe God uses them as such.

If you are like me, though, even when I pray these novenas, I still don't totally believe the answer all the time. I think I received my roses on Friday...I'm pretty sure...but I still had to question. Is this, then, proper faith?

As Christ said in today's Gospel, we should only need the faith of a mustard seed. I think I've mentioned before that I'm teaching Old Testament to Freshmen and Sacraments to Juniors. Both of these topics require an immense exercise in our faith to believe their truth and power. Most of the book of Genesis is stories that the ancient Hebrew writers used as literary devices to declare spiritual truths about God. Without faith, it's easy for us to think these are just stories. We try to demand proof of their historical accuracy, and this is to diminish some of their value and purpose. Likewise, our Sacraments may use tangible things like water or bread, but without faith, they are just those things- bread and water.

Getting kids to understand faith is tough! They want proof. Did Noah's flood really happen? How does Baptism wash away sin? What do you mean the Flood is a prefigurement of that Baptism?!WHA!? (and this is where I watch their heads explode. Just kidding. That doesn't happen, either :)

We can't prove these things, and even if we could, that's not the point. We rely on faith. God wants us to exercise our faith in Him.

A good reminder today, those readings were. I too often sound like Habakkuk crying out all crazy like to God. But even then He recognizes our faith and answers us, despite the crazy.

And the reading from St. Paul is just plain beautiful, but we all know I'm partial to Paul :) He essentially tells us what Christ does in the Gospel- we have all we need. We just need to tap into it and stir up the faith within us.

Stir up that faith! Get it! Keep the faith!

Keep up prayers for me and the teens I now work with...Thanks!

Until later... (which is most likely when I finish most of my research paper for grad school unfortunately...sigh.)