Thursday, April 28, 2016

Bishop’s Note: April 28, 2016 – A New Commandment

Bishop Eric Menees


In KAIROS Prison Ministry they have a saying: “God is good all the time. All the time, God is good!” What a blessing it was for me to assist with retreats at Donovan State Prison, in the Maximum Security Unit, to hear forty men serving their time proclaiming in full voice, “God is good all the time. All the time God is good!”

This past Sunday’s Gospel gave us a wonderful biblical example of the Kairos Proclamation. Jesus had gathered with his disciples in the Upper Room. It had been a chaotic week. Jesus had entered Jerusalem hailed as a king, with shouts of, “Hosanna in the highest, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” However, shortly afterwards, the people of Jerusalem were turning on Jesus. “When Jesus had said these things, he departed and hid himself from them. Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him.” (John 13:36-37)

Into this hectic and difficult situation, Jesus welcomed the disciples with a simple and profound act of service – the washing of feet. As the disciples gathered at the table for the Passover Supper, Jesus told them that he was about to be betrayed by one of them. And, of course, we know that Judas soon left the table to make his deal with the religious authorities to turn Jesus over for thirty pieces of silver. Jesus then said that he would soon glorify God by giving his life, but that where he was going the disciples could not follow. Then what Jesus said was absolutely phenomenal – in essence he says: “If you want to glorify God and glorify me, then you must live out a New Commandment.” “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” (John 13:34)

Admittedly, our lives in the Diocese of San Joaquin are uncertain at the moment, and a bit chaotic. Now, more than ever, we need to dedicate ourselves to living out the New Commandment of Christ! It is in the divine witness of sacrificial love that new people will be attracted to our churches. It is in a divine love that welcomes the stranger – not leaving them, or us, in our sin, but rather, in the power of the Holy Spirit, transforming and sanctifying lives – it is that kind of love that will preserve us and cause us to grow.

My prayer for the Diocese of San Joaquin is that the transforming love of Jesus Christ, which we have received, will be the same love that we will give to others. Our reputation should not be based on our stuff – the external signs of our lives – but on the inner Grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

“God is good all the time. All the time God is good!”

I pray you all a truly blessed week!

Catechism Questions: 278-280

278. How was Jesus tempted to break the first two commandments?
Satan tempted Jesus to bow down and worship him, promising him a world kingdom without the pain of the cross. Instead, Jesus loved and worshiped God faithfully and perfectly all his life. He chose the will of his Father over the promises of the Devil, and accepted the cross. (Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 22:39-49; Hebrews 4:14-16)

279. How will idolatry affect you?
If I worship idols I will become like them, empty and worthless, and alienated from God, the only One who can make me whole. (Psalm 115:4-8; Jeremiah 2:11-19; Romans 1:18-32)

280. How can you love God in worship?
The Holy Scriptures teach me how to worship God, and the Church’s liturgy guides my worship in keeping with the Scriptures. I can show love to God by worshiping him in this way. (Romans 12:1-2; Hebrews 9:11-14; 10:11-25; 12:18-29; 13:1-19)

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