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Lent is a time for Christians to fully examine their relationship with the Lord. Through prayer, sacrifice and service, we develop an understanding of what it means to "take up your cross and follow me." (Mark 8:34) As Christians, we are called to live Christ's life- not to study the life of Jesus and try to be like Him, but actually let Him live through us.

In my own journey this Lent, Our Lord is asking me to fully understand His love. Through several prayer experiences, I hear him calling me to this deeper understanding of His love- not just with my head, but with my heart. And the key to understanding that amazing love is to understand His suffering. My intellect understands that the Lord suffered, but I have never explored His suffering with my heart. His love is greater than His suffering, but how great was that suffering?

I am participating in an independent Threshold Bible Study called People of the Passion by Stephen J. Binz. In this study, I will explore the meaning of discipleship through the people who encounter Jesus during His passion. These people witness and are impacted by the suffering of Jesus. They saw the suffering of our Lord first hand. It is my hope that by going on this journey through their eyes, I will have a better understanding of His suffering and then of His love.

Please know that I am not a scholar. I have no formal education in theology, philosophy or church history. I'm just a regular person trying to make sense of what Jesus is asking me to do- to love like He loves.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Final Thoughts

The people I encountered in the People of the Passion taught me a lot about myself.  I think that I went into this with the idea that I would always be the faithful disciple.  In other words, if I were to be a character in the story, I would be a good guy.  But the reality is, I saw myself mostly in the bad guys.  Like Peter, I have publically denied my relationship with the Lord.  Many times, I have sided with the crowd instead of with Jesus.  I am like Nicodemus who asked numerous questions before finally stepping out in faith.  I am like the Centurion who needed an earthquake to reveal the truth to him.  I am like Barabbas who is released while the Lord is crucified. I am like Pilate who does what is easy instead of what is right.  I am like Judas who tries to do things his way instead of God's way.  But, I also discovered that I am a little like Mary Magdalene in that I have had an encounter with the Lord.  And even though throughout my life, I have been all these other characters, he still called my name.  And I heard him call.  I was sitting in the pew of an old Catholic Church in New Orleans.  I wasn't Catholic yet and I was struggling with the belief of the true presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.  But on that day, when the Priest held up the host and began the Eucharistic prayers, I knew.  I knew without a doubt Jesus was there.  He was offering himself up on that alter.  That day, I heard him call me to himself.  He called me to his Church that he established- the church he built on the rock.  It has taken me a long time to really unwrap the faith he gave me on that day.  But now that I have gotten most of the wrapping paper off, I am starting to understand that amazing love- the love that drove God to suffer and die for me so that I may live.  Even though I was all the bad guys in the story, he still did it.  He wanted this sinner that badly and loved me that much.  And now I am reaching this understanding, I hear him calling me again.  Just like when he asked Mary to go tell the rest of the disciples the good news, he is asking me to do the same.  In one of his blogs, Catholic rock musician Matt Maher said that once you've had a conversion experience like he did, the only appropriate response is to dedicate all of one's self to the Lord.  I think that is a totally awesome idea.

I would like to thank Stephen Binz for sharing his talents and his dedication to adult education in God's Word.  There are several other bible studies in the Threshold Bible Study series and I encourage all of you to check it out.  I would also like to thank Rosina Hendrickson for making this study available in our parish community.  And I would be remiss not to thank the readers of this blog.  I have no idea how many readers made this journey with me and that is probably a good thing.  Writing on the internet like this is a double edged sword.  On the one hand, I feel like I can be candid because I can pretend no one reads this blog.  But on the other hand, I feel very vulnerable because I have no idea who reads this blog.   It’s a little like being on stage completely naked and not being able to see the audience.  Anyhow, I pray that the Lord touched you through these words as much as he touched me. 

All glory and honor be to the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit forever and ever.  Amen.

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