The Good News

Welcome to The Good News Blogspot! The Good News is real and alive in my own life. Jesus has fulfilled in my life His promise of fuller and more abundant life (John 15), a quality of life I could not have created for myself. I invite you to share experiences with me so we can all grow into the life He offers us all.

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Catholic by call, Jesuit by nature, a preacher/spiritual conversation partner by choice. Learning about getting older, learning to live in the present moment, one day at a time. Learning to let go and laugh.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Why Be Religious? - Part 1 of a Lenten Reflection

We all have a choice to make:

-- either I will choose to believe that I am the master of my destiny and can create a successful and happy life through my own efforts;
-- or, I will recognize that I cannot be the master of my own destiny because human life is unpredictable and beyond my complete control.

We must choose. Not to choose is to choose.

Our culture believes that “religion” or “God” is no more than a lifestyle choice, like deciding to be a vegetarian or a carnivore. And there are no consequences to the choice, since “God” doesn’t exist in any real sense. Since affluence, education, and science permit a certain control over one’s life, the affluent can create for themselves the illusion that they control the events of their lives. To turn away from God and rely on self is serious Sin.

But affluence and science could not prevent Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Education, social and economic status, and physical goodlooks cannot prevent the onset of cancer, the suddenness of car accidents, the drying up of professional opportunities in mid-career, the unpredictability of what one’s children do and become. We cannot give ourselves hope and well being in the face of suffering.

Catholicism asserts that the Triune God exists “out there” in Creation and “in here” in my experience and in the experience of the believing community. The mystical experience of Catholic saints, confirmed by many ordinary believers (I am one), demonstrates that God works in our lives on our behalf: “…God works and labors for me in all creatures upon the face of the earth…” (Spiritual Exercises, 236).

We come to believe because we see God act in our lives. I had chosen to live without God in my early adult life, and that choice ended in frustration and confusion as I approached 40. What had seemed like control proved to be an illusion. As I turned 40, then 41, God revealed himself to me in my experience in the person of Jesus Christ. My acceptance of God’s self-revelation has given me a life of meaning and value that I could not have created for myself.

Religion offers no lucky charm that averts all disaster. But God gives comfort in the face of grief, strength in the face of opposition and injustice, and meaning in the midst of suffering. I can come to recognize that God, who created me in love, has invited me into relationship through which I have hope of what Jesus calls “fuller and more abundant life” (John 10:10).

The Lenten season invites us to enter into this reality in a new and deeper way, to avoid the Sin of false self-reliance, self-satisfaction and self-congratulation and to enter into relationship with the Lord who is our only hope and strength.


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