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Posts Tagged ‘Jimmy Carter’

Jesus “saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.”

+ In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.  Amen.

 

This verse exemplifies the theme of utter renunciation found throughout the Gospels.

Fishing was a prominent industry in the Sea of Galilee, so Ss Simon and Andrew were leaving behind a stable and prosperous future.  Here, the brothers leave their livelihood behind to follow our Lord.  In a moment of decision, they left their nets and followed Christ.

“Follow me!” is a manly command from Christ.  Indeed, Follow Me is the proper name of the statue we called Iron Mike at Fort Benning, of a Korean-War-era soldier leading men into combat.

St. Andrew and his brother could support themselves and their families with their fishing, but making a living differs from making a life.  They left their nets and followed the Living God to a more meaningful existence.  They became fishers of men and bold missionaries eventually martyred on their missions.  They did not follow a school of thought or pious notion but a Man, a divine Person, the Son of God, their friend Jesus.

St. Gregory the Great, a pope devoted to missions and St. Andrew wrote:

Peter and Andrew had seen Christ work no miracle, had heard from him no word of the promise of the eternal reward, yet at this single bidding of the Lord they forgot all that they had seemed to possess, and ‘straightway left their nets, and followed Him.’

We see this ready obedience to instantly follow Christ in the New Testament.

Further along in the Gospels of St. Mark (x.28) and St. Luke (xviii.28) we read :  “Then Peter said, Lo, we have left all, and followed thee.”

St. Luke shows Christ calling various men.  In ix.59:  “And he said unto another, Follow me.”  (St. Luke ix.61-62):  “And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house.  And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Christ demands our obedience to His call.  Each of us must make a decision to the command given to Ss Peter and Andrew.  Consider St. Luke xii.20, after the rich man accumulated great wealth:  “Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee:”

One of my personal favorite verses of Scripture is from St. Paul in 2 Corinthians vi.2.  Quoting Isaiah il.8, he writes:  “(For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)”

 

That now of immediacy is an interesting thing.  In that moment, that now, you can hold your breath, you can stand still, but you cannot keep it.

The now, that moment when swimming in which you are present, but within the flow of movement from what has been to what will be.  Each moment when swimming, you can feel the water flow over your skin, you can feel the resistance of the water as you move forward.  But each moment is a snapshot of our lives in time.  How can we feel the flow of our bodies in the water in a moment?  This is a paradox.

We follow Christ in a moment of immediacy amidst a journey with Him.  The now is not isolated; it is but a moment of our lives:  This moment, this most important moment.

 

Also consider what we do with our hearts and with our bodies.  When President Carter said he had lusted in his heart, he thereby acknowledged that he had effectively committed adultery in the eyes of God.  For we are culpable for what we have done in our hearts.

While you and I may not have been called to renounce our family and work to follow Christ, we ought to be willing to do so in our hearts.  He who puts his hand to the plough and looks back is not worthy of the kingdom of God.  Yet many a farmer keeps ploughing with his body whilst following Christ in his heart.

You and I may not be called to shed our blood for Christ, as St. Andrew and his holy brother did.  Yet we ought to be willing to do.  Each moment is the moment we ought to turn to our Lord and follow Him.

 

As our hearts wander from our Lord, so must we turn back to Him.  We always do this in our now.  This very moment is always the moment to return to Him.  As we slip and fall along the way, so must we accept the Lord’s help in picking us up and setting us back on His path.

1 St. John i.8-9:  “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

We cannot confess the sins we are currently committing, for we have not turned from them.  But if we confess our past sins now, we head off into a future of righteousness in Christ.  We must drop what we are doing and follow Him.

 

Jesus “saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.”

+ In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.  Amen.

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“Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.  Amen.

 

In 1976, the former governor of Georgia, Jimmy Carter, was asked in an interview if he had ever committed adultery.  He answered yes:  “I’ve committed adultery in my heart.”

Jimmy Carter’s answer scandalized some, for he had admitted to adultery.  It reinforced his image as a benighted and foolish rural Christian to some, as his answer seemed rather unworldly and weirdly religious.  Yet this heartfelt and honest answer touched others in the midst of that rather cynical era.

To the world, calling looking at a woman in lust “adultery” is foolish.  In the eyes of the world, adultery is an act but merely looking lustfully is not an act.  The prime similarity between the two lies in intention.

In this teaching, Jesus makes clear that intentions matter.  He takes the teaching of the Old Testament law and surpasses it by addressing the root disposition.  He starts with, “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time” and follows that with, “But I say unto you.”  His teaching surpasses and completes the law.  Anger lies at the heart of murder.  Murder is the natural and reasonable outflow of that infection of the soul which is anger.

Jesus says, “whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgement.”  He says, “whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, [like wretch, silly man] shall be in danger of the council.”  He goes so far as to say, “whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.”  Now, “whosoever” has universal applicability.  “Whosoever” applies to every man, woman, and child, whether brother, neighbor, lover, or enemy.  That calling someone a fool leads to hell fire, shows that the intention of our hearts counts.  Our desire – our will – is an actual and real thing – a thing which has consequences.

Our intention of anger towards another has the logical and natural consequence of leading us down the road towards murder.  And our intention of anger towards another has the spiritual and supernatural consequence of leading us down the road towards hell fire.

Christ’s teaching to us is that now the law is inward.  He teaches us that it is “not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.”  The Almighty holds us responsible and judges us by what we cherish and nurture inside of us which we then pour out into the world.

Haughty disdain and the contemptuous sneer are now valued as worthy of judgement, even death.  What’s more, unlike the old law with its councils and trials, in this inward law we testify against our own selves.

Jesus continues on in the Gospel lesson:  “Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee, leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.”

Our Lord recognizes the power and meaning of intent.  If our brother has ought against us, we are to make that right before worshipping God.  Our intentions, and the intentions of our fellows, can actually interfere with our true worship of our sovereign God.  The purity of the intentions of our hearts matters.  Sacrifices to God do not make up for the lack of love in our hearts.  David says, “The sacrifice of God is a troubled spirit:  a broken and contrite heart, O God, shalt thou not despise.”

The wickedness of our desires stands between us and our God.  He must judge us for we mean murder with our anger, we mean adultery with our lust, we mean idolatry with our gluttony.  Even when we see God mocked, we start out seeking to defend the good God – whom we ourselves assail with our own sins – and yet end up meaning harm by hating our neighbor when we lash out against him.  Working by ourselves in concert with our fallen nature, we cannot win for losing.

But here’s the Good News:  We are not by ourselves.  God is with us.  We have not been left to die alone in our sins, thrashing about and strewing pain and suffering like a wounded animal.  Supernaturally, in ways invisible, in ways astounding, Christ works a miracle in us through the outpouring of His grace through the merits won by Him on the Cross – the Cross of our salvation.  Through the grace of Christ in the sacrament of Holy Baptism, we are born again.  Through the grace of Christ in the sacrament of Holy Communion, we are preserved, body and soul, unto everlasting life.  Through the grace of Christ in the sacrament of Penance, our sins are put away.  Through the grace of Christ in the sacrament of Confirmation, we are strengthened with the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and ghostly strength, the spirit of knowledge and true godliness; and with the spirit of holy fear.

 

“Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.  Amen.

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