Faith Centered on Jesus’ Teaching

Our faith when centered on us instead of Jesus can become an obstacle to his teaching. It is for this reason that constant discernment of our faith should be a habit.

Let’s take the Sadducees. They were God-believing Jews.  However, their faith was not centered on God but themselves. They were educated, religious and politically influential. They trusted more on their understanding of the law than in what God intended by it: to prepare them to receive His son Jesus Christ.  Their inability to surrender to God’s will blocked them from believing in Jesus and, thus, his teaching including the resurrection.

When they asked Jesus about the widow of seven brothers and her marital fate after her resurrection, they asked to not to affirm Jesus’ teaching but to assert their self-righteousness.

For the last 2000 years, there have always been people whose self-center faith have prevented them from following Jesus’ teaching as intended. At one extreme, people use their faith to justify discrimination, violence, and intolerance. At another, people use their faith to water down Jesus’ teaching on the sanctity of marriage, life, and individual freedom.

The former builds his faith on a heart of stone which blocks Jesus’ teaching; the latter builds their faith on a sandy heart which is easily brought down by the winds of relativism.

We have a little of both groups in all of us. Our desire to protect our ego and our personal interpretations is a strong force which requires our attention and God’s grace. Otherwise we succumb to them.

Faith centered on Jesus’ teaching requires daily reflection, contrition, and amends. These habits offer us daily resurrection from our imperfections. Faith is our tightrope which leads to God. Jesus’ teaching is the balance beam. Proper balance on the rope is obtained by our spiritual life.

In our daily lives we confront situations which test Jesus’ teaching. How we react to them are occasions which define us as disciples of Christ.

In the Book of Maccabees, the account of the martyrdom of a mother and another set of 7 brothers illustrates the forces acting against God’s teaching. Today, like in their time, we have the secular, the unbeliever, and the zealots cajoling us in obvious and subtle ways to renounce Jesus’ teaching. If they succeed, we will fall in line with their values and not Jesus’ teaching. Like the mother and her seven son, we will need to make a choice. Faith centered on Jesus’ teaching is the antidote to provide clarity, understanding, and prudence.

May we have God’s grace to act and the strength to remain steadfast.

Memorial Day 2013

Today we remember the sacrifices of every woman and man who throughout the history of the United States of America have died defending our values.

Since 1775, over 1.3 million soldiers have died in U.S. wars and major deployments. That number symbolizes not only the soldiers who died but also the pain suffered by the spouses, children, parents, relatives, and friends who loved them; they too made a sacrifice for us; therefore on this Memorial Day, we should honor and remember them as well.

Wars are a sad reality of our humanity. Consequently, we can expect future Memorial Day remembrances to be a grave day for a new generation of Americans. However, I pray to God to bless our political and military leaders with the grace of Wisdom so they may seek peace before offering up the lives of our dear men and women as a strategy to conflict resolution. In addition, I pray to protect our brothers and sisters in war that they may come back home safely both physically and mentally.

Wars have many side effects which sometimes go unnoticed by most of us; among them, suicide. This Memorial Day we also remember those who unable to cope mentally or emotionally with the horrors of war succumb to suicide. In 2012, the military suicide rate hit a record high with a total of 349 Armed Forces members taking their own lives; one suicide every 25 hours!!! I pray to God, who witnessed their life’s struggles and was with them as they took their last breath, to embrace them under his wings. Moreover, I pray to provide comfort and peace to their families. Finally, I pray that we as a Christian society are challenged to deal with this issue head on so we can prevent more soldiers from taking their own lives.

May God bless all whom we remember this Memorial Day.

© hectorortiz 2013. All rights reserved.