Thursday, January 03, 2013

Birthday musings January 3, 2013

January 3, 2013
Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus
Talk to Knights of Columbus, St Ann Coppell

But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, That I may tell of all Your works.   Psalm 73:28  One of my all-time favorite Scriptures- for myself and sharing with those who quickly need to hear a word of comfort from our Loving Heavenly Father.
Say it with me-the nearness of God is my good.  Let it roll over your tongue and down into the depths of your very being-the same way we take the Body of Jesus in the form of bread onto our tongue, down our throats, and into our belly-our very being-the nearness of God is my good.
I always find humor with the modern colloquial expressions of the day-my bad, my bad, people are all running around saying with a half turned smile-and if they are Catholic enough a pectoral whack to the chest-My Bad. The humor is most of the times people are using this as a way out of a moral failure or an abject work of evil-where they need to be saying to God and perhaps His people publically-I am bad, I am the man, I have sinned, Lord have mercy on me a sinner.
One of the Top news items of the Year 2012 is a famous General who was found to be in a compromising adulterous relationship with a woman-affecting two marriages, children, his honor, and national security. I am sorry we do not need press conferences where such actions can be explained away as a lapse in judgment.   A lapse in judgment is wearing the pants that are two sizes too small, or showing up at the Country club without a collared shirt and Navy jacket, or white wine with anything other than fish-giggles.
We gather together each month to build community and to hold ourselves up to a moral code, a code of honor-we state we are Catholic men in good standing with the Church.  This means when we mess up, we get right with God and man-we pay our dues, we ask forgiveness, we rebuild and start over. So that is what we do with moral failure-we do not call it lapses in judgment and think a cute My Bad will get us out of trouble.
But as in cases of honor, cases of right living, cases of moral judgment-words matter.
So, let us take a quick look at these words of healing, comfort, and hope-
The nearness of God is my good. God is my good. Good, an adjective, could also be translated as "a good thing, a benefit, welfare, prosperity, happiness."

Does it surprise you that nearness is only used twice in the Old Testament?
Nearness means-an approach, a drawing near.
Psalms 73:28 and Isaiah 58:2.

“Yet they seek Me day by day and delight to know My ways,
As a nation that has done righteousness
And has not forsaken the ordinance of their God.
They ask Me for just decisions,
They delight in the nearness of God."

One translation says, “to take pleasure in closeness to God”.

What is your good?  What makes you feel close to God? When I was 17 and meditating on this Scripture, the thought that came to me was of the many times that I felt God’s Presence in my life-where I felt his Pleasure.  I think you can best relate to what we call the “atta boy” moments.
I am a great father to my sons in their 20’s while they are living well and making good decisions.  We have great moral ethics talks each time we are together. Just over Christmas break we have been talking about the General and his being in the news and we had some very good and very frank discussions on honor, moral ethics, when public repentance is called for and what shape that takes.

But when they were younger playing Little League I confess I was not the most attentive.  Often I would work the phone behind the bleachers, talk to the other parents, and even read a book, till my wife nudge me with one of her, “you’re missing it, you’re missing it.” warnings.  I remember, the time I looked up and saw the bases loaded, looked over to see two outs on the board, and my son sauntering up to bat.  Oh my. He takes his time and gets up to bat and I am watching, he swings and I am out of my bleachers and up to the fence, right behind home plate, and I am saying, “Come on son, you can do it, I know you can do it…” as he swings-Strike One.  I am erect, with my feet firmly planted like I am in the batter box, and my hands are curled into the weave fence, with my mouth pressed into the whole in the fence, as my voice escalates, “good job, you’re doing fine-you can do this, you can do this..” and he swings, Strike Two.
Now my hands are so entwined into the fence I am losing feeling.  My toes are pressed against the fence and I am shaking the fence while I scream through the fence the best encouragement I know, “you are doing good son, no worries, and way to attack the ball. You got this watch the pitch and connect, you are doing great, I am here with you, I know you can do it son, you got this…” And he swings, and he connects and he drives the ball deep past Center field and he has made first base and third has made it in, and I am going wild, “way to go Buddy, atta boy, wow, keep running, you can do this..” as he takes his place on second and second gets to third and then to home and first gets to second and then to third and then to home and here he is rounding third while they are passing the ball up and into the infield and he is stopped and he is safe on third and the three runs have come in and won the game—and my hands are out of the fence and I am shouting and cheering and screaming and our eyes connect-and I know he has felt my Pleasure-that his Dad has seen what he has done and loves it, and he takes delight in what he did and in his teams win, and in his Daddy’s absolutely out of control joy over him and his accomplishment.
Do you feel God near to you like that?
Do you feel His pleasure over you?

"Draw near to God and He will draw near to you." James 4:8

"The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth." Psalm 145:18

Listen to some good music, read good books, watch good movies, read the Scriptures, and make as
many daily Masses as you can—and stop walking down the aisle to the Alter without really saying to yourself—I am going to take Jesus on my tongue, into my mouth, and He is going to come and live inside me today, He is going to be in me…

I know I have lived long enough to no longer be surprised by what some people think of as their greatest good  in life.     The things most important to them include things like money, clothes, popularity, and power over other people.     They strive for such things at all cost.     They don’t think God cares what they do in this life, so they go after their material goals and think little of the life to come.  In 1985 I started preaching at Trinity Church Waco, and we had a beautiful church plant on Lakeshore above Lake Waco and at the entrance at what was the time the nicest Gated Community in Waco.  There was a car I would see often—a brand new Red Mercedes convertible with the vanity plates-My Goal.  And I would smile every time I saw it and the little bottle blonde on the high side of 35 thinking what will life be like for her in 30 years?  I would love to see her now and what she is driving and how life has turned out.
Mental note-if you are shallow, don’t Advertise.
I started you off with one Scripture, and that is good.  But let us take a step back.
Psalm 73 is written by Asaph.  He actually wrote 12 of the 150 Psalms. Ps. 50, and then 73-83. If you remember, last month’s lesson about Heman (the grandson of Samuel),-the Chief Musician of David. Asaph was appointed as his Right hand man-a place of honor among the Temple musicians.
Whom have I  in heaven  but Thee?
And besides Thee,  I desire nothing  on earth.
My flesh  and my heart may fail,
But God is the strength  of my heart  and my portion forever.
For, behold, those who are far from Thee will perish;
Thou hast destroyed  all those  who are unfaithful  to Thee.
But as for me,  the nearness  of God  is my good;
I have made  the Lord GOD  my refuge,
That I may tell  of all Thy works.

Many of you are old enough to remember the Baltimore Catechism-Lesson One, the Meaning of Life-"God made me to know him, to love him, and to serve him in this world and to be happy with him forever in the next.
This is what we were called to-this is our destiny-this is what we were made for.

For I was born to be your dwelling place, a home for the Presence of the Lord, so let my heart now be separated unto thee, that I may be what I was born to be….

Report from The White Rose –they were opened during the Holiday Break and must have been the only center opened.  On December 28th, the Feast of the Holy Innocents they saw 25 girls-16 abortion minded-at risk-16.  It was a full day.  I want to tell you about one couple in closing.  They were well dressed, professional and had one child together already-one year old, and now she is pregnant again and they are stressing they are not together, but they need to do something about this pregnancy.  The counselor was able to show them the video we show-it shows all the forms of abortion and details them.  The girl starts to cry, and the man starts shouting, “If I had wanted a moral lecture I would have gone to see my pastor.”
The brave counselor said without missing a beat, “Did you go discuss killing your child with your pastor? Did you go talk to him about ways to kill your baby?”I do not know the end of their story.  They got information, they got a sonogram, and they left to decide.
That is a powerful life lesson.  When we make decisions that create consequences we need the Truth.  We need the people of God who will still speak the Truth. And it is never just a moral lecture—our life is about morality, about honor, about living in such a way we feel and experience God in our lives and Know that when we mess up we can come running back to a loving Father, honestly saying, I have sinned, I am the Man, have mercy on Me…

And just for funs on this lovely 3rd day of January,
My favorite JeanValJean, Colin Wilkonson singing Danny Boy