Listen, Nineveh, to this prophecy. Release My people from the yoke of slavery. And you shall enjoy the fruits of the land. In three days, you will listen, Nineveh, and put on a sackcloth, proclaim a fast, and your cover head with ashes. In three days, you'll receive your reward.
The ways how man can get everything wrong is just amazing. Even through our very effort or desire to do good, we may come out wanting. R.S. pointed this out the other night, as he quoted from a book he's reading. He said that even our deesire for holiness may be self-directed or ultimately selfish. Our desire to be holy may turn out to be all about us, all about our desire to be in God's favor. Of course, this doesn't mean we shouldn't desire to be pleasing in the eyes of God. The point is even that desire is not immune to sin, even that can be selfish. The test that reveals our heart's true focus is whether we are willing to obey God's command (i.e., whatever He's telling us at a given moment). Obedience is better than holiness.
Update: The point I am trying to articulate here is put into better perspective by this WAU reflection:
Saturday, March 03, 2007
"Observe these statutes and ordinances . . . with all your heart and with all your soul. (Deuteronomy 26:16)
"With these words, Moses exhorted his people in his final address before his death. By targeting their hearts and souls, he made it clear that what God wants is both simpler and harder than simply obeying laws.
"We all have a bit of the legalist in us. We want to know exactly what God requires of us, the minimum that will guarantee our salvation, or the maximum that will accomplish our holiness. But when we focus on laws in this way, we risk becoming discouraged and guilt-ridden. How can anyone do everything God demands? Perhaps more seriously, this preoccupation is fundamentally self-centered. It misses the love God wants to pour out upon us. Moses made it clear that fidelity to God goes far beyond external rule-keeping. It comes from the heart, from our fundamental identity as a beloved child of God.
"The basic question is not, What does the law require of me? or even, What is Gods will for me? Rather, it is, Who am I? Only when we accept that we are Gods beloved, called and empowered to manifest his love in the world, can we fully embrace how the Father may be inviting me to respond to his love."
Or, Why I believe in God
It is, of course, the height of irony that I credit science for bringing me to God. Science has no place for God, ‘tis true, because He’s really scientifically, empirically untenable. But thank God science is not God. Science has lots of flaws, which makes a cynic wonder whether there’s a God. Call it vicious, but this unending circle or cycle stopped being unending to me not when the questions started getting clear and conclusive answers, but when the questions end up remaining as questions through the years. The vicious cycle stopped being a cycle once and for all when science has unintentionally confirmed with alarming consistency that there is a God behind all that confusion.
Try to restudy genetics, embryology, physiology, biochemistry, chemistry, physics, and you’ll find each field riddled with questions and mysteries – at the most basic levels!
(Will discuss further, with concrete examples, soon.)
Our loving God is a hating God –- what’s wrong with that? Atheists think that’s fundamentally wrong; a God who hates is a crazy, inconsistent God.
But God is God, isn’t He? We His creation has no right to question His mood swings; we can only analyze Him and take it from there. We are His slaves, if we need to put things really bluntly. We have no right to question His logic, even when He may be having a fun time allowing us to speculate.
What’s wrong, anyway, with a God who hates? Other laughably false and fictitious gods, like the ancient Greeks’ Ares, are a God of unrelieved hatred. Why can’t the one true God be the same when He has every right and every reason to be offended and be angry and be hateful and be vengeful?
Of course God’s love is unconditional, but it’s really up to Him who to give that benefit of the doubt to, right? The thing is, that God hates makes a lot of sense. In fact, it makes perfect sense considering how stupid and weak and bull-headed/obstinate/rebellious His imperfect creation, man, can be.
The Bible is a study of this God who hates so much.
God hates lying. Read the tale about Ananias and Zaphira and how they were struck dead, without being given a second chance, a chance to explain themselves further.
God hates superstition/occult/paganism/false icons or false gods. Recall how God reserves His hatred/ire for Baal, the Jewish idol. Remember how he went out of His way just to save Meschach, Shadrach and Abednego when they refused to bow down to the heathen King Nebuchadnezzar's gilded idol.
God hates lack of faith/doubting followers. Recall how the grumbling Jewish people perished at Masa and Meribah. Recall the massive deaths after snakebites plagued this wavering, nomadic people.
God hates un-forgiveness. People who believe in these things trace family curses such as sudden deaths, accidents, and terrible diseases as part of punishment for one's forebears' not forgiving somebody who had wronged them during their lifetime.
God hates un-repentance. This is supposed to be the real reason behind God's inflicting eternal unforgiveness for someone "blaspheming the Holy Spirit."
God hates sterility. (This one I got from Fr. J.) Mention the parable of the fig tree that bears no fruit, and what comes to your mind? Notice how barren wives/women are constantly regarded as accursed. Note how God reserves His wrath on those supposed disciples who bear no fruit.
God hates coldness. You may have been a believer all your life, but if you followed with a lackadaisical spirit, "you will be spat out." Ouch. What a terrible risk it is to mistake lack of zeal as a trivial error or 'weakness.'
God hates arrogance. Look how kings who battled the Jews through the ages were violently brought down from their thrones. Recall how the pharaoh and his army were made blinded and stupid by obstinate pride that they couldn’t see the hand of God behind the series of supernatural upheavals that culminated in the parting of the Red Sea.
God abhors all that is evil. This may perhaps explain why He is God. Divine hatred may perhaps explain why He is a good God.
It's a test of will and spirit to me when a lot of people that are close to me look like they need a lot of intercessory prayer. Some come really asking, some just give a hint. But they are all the same in that I need to be the friend in deed to a friend in need. You know how I approach requests like this. When I say, "I will pray for you," I really mean it, unless by some stroke of un-luck, I forget all about your request. Anyway, here's a litany of sufferings I am currently praying for, as a reminder to self: R., for his ailing mom, who's afflicted with ovarian cancer. G., for breast cancer and cysts in her lungs (although her tumors miraculously were gone after going through an introductory chemo and a session with Fr. Joey, a healing priest.). V., who is presently unemployed. M., for going through an awful crisis: husband D. left her for another woman and has no sense of remorse whatsoever. L., for her ailing mom, who's going through a lot of things: cancer, bone trouble; it must be the advanced age, but still, the financial troubles alone unbearably add up to the already overwhelming physical (for the mother) and emotional (for the child) ones. For R., who's still unemployed up to now, although he freelances here and there.
I know that when I pray for these folks, I am not giving them something from my own power. Who am I, what am I, anyway? What can I possibly give? I can only be a "channel of grace," hoping I too emerge spiritually refreshed/recharged for it. Who knows if I don't become stale as a Christian without this duty thrown at me. I can only help plead that God have mercy on His suffering people, hoping He'd listen, bribed enough by somebody's desire to care for others, even though he has his own cares and worries and troubles, which can also be too overwhleming at times.
Maybe I have something to offer, after all: the ability to bribe God - nay, please may be the right word - with the thought that His children are somewhat genuinely trying to love one another, as He has loved them.
But since God is a God of surprises, I am anticipating something, based on my own past experience. More often than not, I too gain something from all this interecessory thing, at least spiritually speaking and with reference to the here-and-now. What could that 'gain' be? Well, who knows? Only God knows. I am glad to wait for it. But I guess learning how to love others with no strings attached is not too bad? Maybe the thought that I haven't become stale so far is reward enough?
There are a lot of surprising things I didn't know about Luke.
Luke, not Paul, wrote the Bible's Acts of the Apostles.
Luke was not one of the 12 apostles.
Luke was a doctor, a stylish writer, and a painter.
He is the author of the four great prayers/songs in the Bible: "Gloria in excelsis Deo," "Benedictus" ("Song of Zechariah") "Magnificat," "Nunc Dimitis" ("Canticle of Simeon").
He is reputed to be the painter of the original of the Our Lady of Perpetual Help icon.
if you are street-wise
you take care of yourself to survive
if you are Jesus-wise
you take care of others to survive
those whom I love
I reprove and chastise
be earnest then and repent
revelation 3:19 
microscopic and galactic all at once
temporal and eternal
nowhere and everywhere
simple and complex
obvious and mysterious
merciful and wrathful
these are what You are to us Lord
fear not if you are poor
for there are angels in dark nooks
fear rather if you are rich
for there are demons in lofty places
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