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Para leer las lecturas y el evangelio oprima aqui .
I went to visit a woman on her deathbed last month; she claimed to be atheist, but spiritual. I hear that expression often: being spiritual. It has a wide range of meaning; from a religious point of view, being spiritual is an inclination to a deeper inner connection with the Divine, like a contemplative monk.
Spiritual is also a concept adopted by those who disagree with their religious upbringing but are aware of a higher power or Spirit. For others it is a journey, a search for meaning from the Spirit. The woman of my story meant it that way; she acknowledges something unexplainable, a mystery if you wish, but she has not paid much attention to it.
There is the “New Age” though, which integrates the old traditions in a new way under the label spiritual.
To me, being spiritual is to resonate to the call of the Spirit and acting on it. To resonate is to feel its vibration, to be drawn to a specific practice. “Acting on it” defines “being spiritual”, because if the person is not pursuing that interaction, then it is no different than feeling attracted to vegetarianism, but still eating meat. Being spiritual necessitates both: the call and the action.
I realize that my definition is dangerous; because Satan is a spirit and his teachings are also spiritual. Therefore, calling ourselves spiritual does not mean much unless you state which spirit you are following.
“New Age” is not new, but rather a revival of old ancient knowledge accessible only to monks and sages. It is a wisdom that can be traced back three thousand years before Christ. This is important, because it says that God’s wisdom has always been present in the world, even though not everyone could see it or access it.
Deuteronomy 6:5 says that you shall love God with all your hearts, while Leviticus 19:18 says: you shall love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus will use these two versus to summarize the teachings of God, but they cannot be separated, their effect is simultaneous and cannot be disjointed. Let me explain:
The Israelites love God above everything, so they became obsessive. They forgot to see God in the needy. Just like today, the important thing was to go to mass, give donations, fast and avoid eating meat on Fridays. At the same time, they had no remorse in rejecting the sinner or closing the doors to a desperate woman begging for her life. In their hearts they justified themselves as doing the right thing. When Jesus came he criticized them for their lack of integrity and hypocrisy.
There are those that dedicate their lives to serve the needs of the poor. If they do not have the other two principles, of loving God and loving themselves, then they will run out of gas and end with a nervous breakdown.
I know priests who have become bitter after serving the church for years. I also knew a priest who shot himself in the mouth after much desperation. One of my classmates hung himself after two years of priesthood. Some priests give so much, but people do not appreciate them and, as soon as they make a mistake or get too old, they are replaced. Loving thy neighbor is important, but not at the expense of self-love and the love of God.
Loving one’s “self” does not mean buying the latest iPhone or BMW. Some people love themselves through excess. Others love themselves with their favorite chocolate cake and end up rewarding their incompletion.
Johnny was an only child; his parents sacrificed their lives in their business. He lost his mother at 14 and his father two years later. “My parents gave me everything”, he said to me once, “but what I wanted the most they could not give me”. He had no interest in religion and did not care about anything, even though he was very rich.
How many parents allow their kids to do everything in excess? They work hard to give to their children what they did not have growing up, but frankly, that’s not what the children want or need.
In the gospel of today, Jesus brings an old law back to life: love God and yourself and your neighbor. St. Augustine said: love and do as you please. Was he speaking of the same love we know? Today, the word love has been distorted, just like the word “spiritual”.
Jesus’ starting point is: loving God and his essence inside of you and in your neighbor.
The simple and uneducated or even the unreligious person that loves his neighbor is tasting an ancient reality; the reality of serving others like we would serve God if he had been invited to dinner at our home. Could you treat God for a nice dinner? What about treating yourself? Do you know that God is inside of you and that his holiness can sip through your skin and you can taste God in you? What about treating the God inside of your enemy? Do you know that God is inside your enemies, even though you or they do not recognize him or feel him?
Have you ever wondered why Jesus was so nice to Judas, even though he knew he was about to betray him? That’s because Jesus saw in him the image of God and chose to overlook Judas evil side. Could you imagine a world in which everyone is treated for their goodness, where everyone is seen for his or her inner divinity? …Some of you will find it hard to imagine loving a criminal, while others have a hard time loving their children because they chose a life we are not fond of.
The truth is that it is hard to see the image of God in others, because we fail to see the image of God in ourselves, and even worse, because our relationship with God is reduced to bible readings, traditions and church going, while their experience of God is distant.
I pray that one day we can love God, ourselves, our neighbors and our enemies (yes, people do not include the enemies in the word neighbors). I pray that you enrich your relationship with God. I pray that you try harder and find what you are looking for. I pray you understand Jesus’ calling and stop over rationalizing your excuses for not being more spiritual. I pray for you and your loved ones. God bless!
Thank you and many blessings!
Rev. Marc Angelo, MDiv, MBAacc
I would like to announce that I have been chosen to be consecrated bishop. On November 18, 2017 I will be consecrated at 11:00am. In order to be recognized by the Vatican as legit, three bishops will be present. It promises to be a great celebration and the beginning of a new mission. Please pray for me as I get ready for this new step.
Remember that you can listen to some of my sermons in English and Spanish on the webpage: http://archangelschurch.org – look for past sermons.
Fr. Marc Angelo
2851 W. 120th St. Suite E-279, Hawthorne CA 90250
Fr. Marc Angelo
Fr. Marc Angelo and Fr. Jacob are very appreciative of your support and your contribution to Archangels and Seraphim Church: please continue to support us by visiting http://archangelschurch.org/ and making a generous donation. You can also send a check to: 2851 W. 120th St. Suite E-279, Hawthorne, CA 90250. May God multiply your generosity in health and love! Thank you
Mass every Sunday at 5:00pm (Spanish) and 6:00pm (English) at St. Mary’s in Palms 3647 Watseka Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90034-3914