regeneration

And they will be
amazed.

Then the righteous man will stand with great confidence in the presence of those who have afflicted him, and those who make light of his labors. When they see him, they will be shaken with dreadful fear, and they will be amazed at his unexpected salvation. They will speak to one another in repentance, and in anguish of spirit they will groan, and say, “This is the man whom we once held in derision and made a byword of reproach — we fools! We thought that his life was madness and that his end was without honor. Why has he been numbered among the sons of God? And why is his lot among the saints?

The Scripture above from the Book of Wisdom obviously points to Jesus, a man mocked and spurned by His people, thought to be just another mad prophet, and eventually killed in the most horrible of ways even though innocent. He emerges victorious in the end and is recognized to be what He always was, the Holy One of God, the only Son of God, God made man Who now sits at the Father’s right hand.

Beyond this obvious reference to the life of Jesus we should be able to see in ourselves the same experience. As Jesus was mocked and derided by the leaders of the time, so too are we. As Jesus was thought mad, so too are we. As Jesus was mocked, so too are we. As people said: ‘how can this be possible’ of Jesus, so too they say it of us. Yet, in the end, we know we, like Jesus, will emerge victorious.

Is emerging victorious a foregone conclusion for us?

Victory is solely dependent on our likeness to Jesus. The prerequisite for our victory is the same as that exhibited in the earthly life of Jesus Christ. It is by our faith that we will be victorious. That is both the starting point and the reality that must underpin all we do. In approaching our work, joys, struggles, and interactions – in both our interior life and social interactions – we must define ourselves by our life in Jesus.

A life fully lived in faith and likened to Him will result in others being amazed by us. That faith life makes us changed people with the potential of being amazing. That is what regeneration in Jesus is. Because of essential change we become a confusing lot of people in the face of the world. We get up early, worship by faith, work hard, and have a totally different attitude than that of the majority of people. We believe that we can change individual hearts and the wider world. We think that by all this effort will make God’s kingdom a reality. We may face derision, be assessed fools, and might be mocked. Yet we know that by living regenerated lives we will be numbered among the saints and victorious. Be ready to be amazing.

Reflection for the Solemnity of the Baptism of our Lord

Baptism

Why should I join?
What does it mean?

“He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

It wouldn’t be unusual to wonder about baptism, what it means. We might also wonder why Jesus was baptized.

For us, baptism is membership in the body of Jesus, the Church – we are made part of Jesus by descending into the water, as He descended into death. With this membership we are promised that we, like Jesus, will rise again.

For us, baptism is washing. We are washed of sin. In baptism we recognize that we fall short of the glory of God. As St. Paul wrote to the Romans “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” We know that we are sinful, no one is perfect and without failings. In baptism we acknowledge our sinfulness and our reliance on God, who through Jesus’ sacrifice washes us of our sinfulness, brings us forgiveness, and welcomes us back – always, no matter what.

For us, baptism is proclamation that Jesus is the Son of God, true God and true man. We proclaim the triune nature of God, Jesus’ sacrificial death, resurrection, and ascension. In baptism we proclaim the Creed – stating definitively what we believe by faith. At Jesus’ baptism the heavens were opened. The Holy Spirit descended in the form of a dove. The Father’s voice is heard: “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” This is God revealed, as He is, plain and simple, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Jesus’ baptism pointed to all these things. At Jesus’ baptism John publicly recognized and declared that Jesus was the One who was awaited, the Messiah, the One who would baptize “with the Holy Spirit and fire.

Jesus’ baptism also showed that He identified with sinners. His baptism symbolized sinners’ baptism into His righteousness. In addition, Jesus baptism showed His approval of John’s baptism, bearing witness to it, that it was from heaven and approved by God. Later, after His resurrection, He would tell His followers that by baptizing the many they would be made His disciples. In Jesus’ baptism the reality of God was revealed in testimony direct from heaven.

All the glorious truth of the mercy of God found in Jesus Christ is on display at His baptism. We join ourselves to that glory and truth in our baptism.

In the dynamics of baptism we join ourselves to all the truth of Jesus. We proclaim that God has freed us by His grace and our acceptance of that grace. We declare with all the faith that we have – we are members of His body, and that He is our Lord and God. We are His members – and it means this: That we receive His mercy and glory.

Reflection for the 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

I’m locking up Jesus.
Hey, wait a minute…

“John said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, we saw someone forcing demons out of a person by using the power and authority of your name. We tried to stop him because he was not one of us.’”

We meet someone, and find out that they are doing amazing things in Jesus’ name what do we think. Maybe they are drawing dozens of people into their Church. Maybe they are really effective at serving others, helping them find God’s forgiveness and healing through their words and actions. Maybe they are a really great preacher. What’s is our reaction especially if they are not members of our parish or our Holy Church?

Today’s gospel shows us that the disciples’ reaction is jealousy, anger, and a desire to stop that person. Better yet, they want to use the power of God (that’s Jesus) to stop them. It sort of reminds us of how petty the disciples could be at times.

Remember, in Luke 9, after a town had rejected Jesus the very same disciple, John, came to Jesus and asked if he could call down fire from heaven to destroy the town.

Jesus tells us today that our reaction to our brothers and sisters who bear His name should be one of joy, happiness, thankfulness, and fellowship. The person the disciples saw, and the people we find, doing great things in Jesus’ name all belong to Him. Jesus isn’t claiming exclusivity for His followers, or creating one human boss over all.

Jesus did not create one human boss over all because He well knew human weakness. If the disciples couldn’t rejoice in the wonderful things being done in His name, if their first reaction to anyone who didn’t get Jesus was to destroy them, how could He trust any one of them to be the “one over all?”

It is sad and unfortunate when one Church claims such things. It makes all Christians look bad because those that do not know Jesus see a sign that says Church is a closed community – a gated community with Jesus locked up inside. It speaks of exclusivity rather than openness.

Jesus left us a sacred and holy way of life. He gave us His word. He provided us with the nourishment of His sacraments. He showed us love and welcome. He expects all that follow Him to do just that – follow Him as the “One in charge.”

When we get the urge to lock Jesus up in a gated community, to claim Him exclusively, remember today’s example. He says: You cannot lock me up. There is no “one in charge” but rather “One in charge.” All who follow the “One in charge” are blessed and welcome.

Convo 2012: Confirmed to Walk on Water

The Buffalo-Pittsburgh Diocese of the PNCC will be hosting Convo 2012: Confirmed to Walk on Water from July 23rd-27th, 2012 at Niagara University in Niagara Falls, NY. As we hit the one year count-down to Convo 2012, keep all of the youth of the PNCC in your collective prayers.

For more information, visit the Convo website on Facebook or the Convo 2012 website.

114th Anniversary of the Organization of the PNCC

The Confession of Faith of the P.N.C.C.
(accepted at the Second Synod ofthe Church in 1907 and confirmed at every Synod hence)

I believe in one God, the Father, the cause of all
existence, Eternal truth, Love and Justice.

I believe in Jesus Christ, the Savior and
Spiritual Regenerator of the world, who was the
Emissary of God, of one substance with Him; and as
to humanity born of the humble woman Mary.

I believe that this Nazarene Master through His
Divine Life, Work, Teaching and Sacrificial Death,
became the glowing ember of a new life of
humankind, taking its beginning and deriving its
strength and fullness in knowing God, loving Him
and fulfilling His Holy Will.

I believe that the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God
rules the universe, that from the Holy Spirit flows
grace, which brings it to pass that, when one
cooperates with it in life, eternal joy in God shall be
attained.

I believe in the Holy Church of Christ,
Apostolic and Universal.
I believe that this Church is the
true teacher, both of the individual and humankind,
that it is a steward of Divine graces and a light in our
temporal pilgrimage to God and salvation.

I believe in the necessity of hearing the Word
of God and the receiving of the Holy Sacraments.

I believe that all people, as children of God are
equal in themselves. I believe that all people have
equal rights to existence, but also sacred
obligations toward God, themselves, their nation,
and all of human society.

I believe in the ultimate justice of God, life
beyond the grave, immortality and eternal bliss in
union with God of all people, generations and times.
Amen.