catholic: all-embracing, all-inclusive, open-minded
Faith is professed with the lips and with the heart, through words and through love. (Pope Francis)
I call myself a follower of Jesus; my choice of label is intentional.
Too many times, I’ve heard accusations and condemnation emanating from the lips and hearts of my Christian brothers and sisters. Too many times, well-intentioned Christians expect the calling out of sin to produce fruit; it doesn’t. Too many times, this behavior catapults people away from the unconditional love and exceptional grace of God.
Not that this is exclusive to Christians; Jews and Muslims can be just as critical and disapproving of their own. And those who are discipled from one religion to another, as I am, are subject to the slings and arrows of misguided people of two religions.
When I first began blogging, I had a few haters and trolls who felt free to reply to my posts with angry, argumentative rants. After much prayer, I recognized my blog to be my living room where, through moderated comments, I invited guests to have respectful, kind conversations with me and with each other. I no longer allow rude or undignified comments in my online home.
My intent in blogging is to write about my personal relationship with God – my Father, with Christ Jesus, and with the Spirit they placed inside me. It is to give voice to the indulgent and unconditional love, the scandalous and extravagant grace, and the breathtaking and unfathomable peace I have received from being in this relationship. It is to disclose the way I open myself to the daily transformation of Spirit’s work in me so that I am able to produce His fruit.
The Holy Spirit produces a different kind of fruit: unconditional love, joy, peace, patience, kindheartedness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. You won’t find any law opposed to fruit like this. (Galatians 5:22-23)
As a follower of Jesus, I hold the red-letter words in the Gospels as sacred. I admit, I often fall away from the path He has set before me, yet I choose to not be the same person I was before He changed my life, intent on having my own way. I must ask myself daily, “Do my thinking, speech, emotions and actions demonstrate I am allowing Jesus, through the Spirit, to determine who I am?”
In order to fulfill my role as the Father’s beloved, adopted daughter, I choose to allow His love and grace and peace to permeate my every cell. For how can I communicate the freedom in His gifts if do not let them shine through me? And they are gifts, for I did not earn them – they were given freely, willingly because God is selfless – because God IS love.
Through this ever-evolving relationship, I choose to be catholic – all-embracing, all-inclusive, open-minded. I choose to be encouraging, uplifting and compassionate because that is what He tells me is my role. I choose to profess my faith through love, grace, compassion and peace because they are, by virtue of those red-letter words, the true Gospel of Jesus. It is why our Father sent Him here.
So I give you a new command: Love each other deeply and fully. Remember the ways that I have loved you, and demonstrate your love for others in those same ways. (John 13:34)