Think about those times in your life when you have felt inspired to something really great. Where does that inspiration come from?
The Holy Spirit. God inspires us to do great things with our lives.
----Matthew Kelly

Welcome to The Not So Perfect Catholic!

Disclaimer: I am not a theologian, just a Catholic empty-nester trying to figure it all out. The views on this blog are my own.

It's Difficult To Be a Believer!

Being a Christian isn't so easy at times. Looking at the Mass Readings for the 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time, we can see that it was difficult to be a believer in God even during Old Testament times.

Jeremiah 20:10-13 tells of his pain. After reading it before Mass and then listening to it during Mass, I went back and read the whole chapter. Pashhur, the priest, didn't like what Jeremiah was saying was going to happen, so he beat him and put him in the stocks. When he was released, he told Pashhur that God renamed him "Terror on every side" (Jeremiah 20: 3) to indicate what was going to happen to Jerusalem. The Reading during Mass is part of Jeremiah kind of complaining (for lack of a better word!) that he tried to get away from prophesying but the Lord would have none of it. He didn't want to be ridiculed for believing in God and prophesying but the Lord kept on him until he continued. So now, those who he called "friends" are watching him like a hawk to see what's going to happen to him. They're waiting for him to make mistakes. How stressful would that be?
Fast forward to today: How many times do we feel like people are just waiting for us to make a mistake so they can say, "See? They aren't perfect. They aren't acting like a Christian would." Or, how many times do we watch people and think the same thing? I know I'm guilty of it. But now, just as in Jeremiah's time, "...the Lord is with me, like a mighty champion..." (Jeremiah 20: 11) Will we be made fun of for our beliefs? Yep. Will people take offense when we're in a restaurant and we make the sign of the cross and say the blessing before we eat? You betcha. God's got our backs, though, and we have to pray for those people who mock us and tells us they're offended.  Those are the people who need Jesus in their lives. Our country wouldn't be in the state it's in if people had Him in their lives.  But...that's another post for another day!

Psalm 69 is the Responsorial Psalm. I pulled out my Bible and read the Psalm from there instead of just the bits and pieces that were said during Mass. Once again, here are some complaints that believing in God isn't all unicorns and rainbows. Like the end of Jeremiah 20, the psalmist is also asking that God allow him to see what vengeance God will take on those who are mocking and just being mean. Verse 9 reads: I have become an outcast to my kindred, a stranger to my mother's children. Because zeal for Your house has consumed me, I am scorned by those who scorn you.  Even within our own family, there may be members who get all fired up because of your beliefs. With my siblings, we try to adhere to not talking politics or religion. The exception is if we're talking with a sibling we know share beliefs in either of those things. But...sometimes heated discussions occur because of the disagreements. Feelings get hurt. Quite honestly, it's very difficult to not talk about religion when it is such an important and key part of your life. Again, prayers need to be offered for a return to the Church. And, silent prayers to know when to be quiet need to be sent up when someone says something about your faith.

In Romans 5:12-15, Paul reminds us that we are all sinners. We all will experience death. We are no better than the people who mock us because we are Christians and we openly show our faith. Jesus died for all of us, not just those of us who accept Him. I struggled a bit with the part about transgression not being like the gift. As I understand it, (reminder: I'm not a theologian so I may have this all wrong!) Adam is the transgressor. He's the one who handed sin and death to us in the Garden of Eden. ("transgression of the one" Romans 5: 15) The gift is for everybody. God's grace is for us all. Even for those who mock us.

In the Gospel of Matthew (10:26-33), Jesus is prepping the apostles to continue His ministry. He's warning them of persecutions that will come their way and is preparing them for martyrdom. He's telling them not to worry; God will take care of them. Just prior to this passage is the verse not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say. You will be given at that moment what you are to say. (Matthew 10:19) One of the Deacons in my parish said that the grave is not our final destination. Heaven is our ultimate goal. Jesus gives a pretty strong warning at the end of today's Gospel Reading: If you deny Him, He will deny you. So, you're going to get what you give, in other words. Looking back over my life, it was so easy to joke around about Jesus when someone else was doing it; just to get a laugh. Even today there are times when I may make an off-handed remark at His expense. But, man! This hits home. Hopefully, that will make me think twice about saying something.
This passage also contains the verse about God accounting for every hair on our head. When you think about how many people are on, how many people have walked on, and how many will walk on this earth, it's unfathomable. That I matter that much to Him is just incredible. All He asks is that we acknowledge Jesus and don't deny Him. I'm all in!

Yes, being a Believer can be difficult. It's easy to surround myself with other Catholics and other Christians, but how many non-believers do we come into contact with every day? That person in the grocery store, the person in the car that we pass, the person we pass on our walks. There are many people we come across who we just don't know if they're believers or not. But we can make sure everyone knows we believe and don't deny Jesus by our actions and our words. Be kind to one another!

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