The World is Good Friday, and We all Play Roles on That Stage


   

We have all heard Shakespeare’s famous “All The World’s a Stage” line from As You Like It wherein we are reminded that life is but a large play in which we are players who change roles depending on the circumstances that face us. I propose that increasingly, this world is Good Friday, and we as Christians will play various roles in that production. Sometimes we will portray the terrified followers of Jesus, boasting eternal loyalty just before heading for the hills like terrified sheep.  Other times, we will gleefully embrace the role of Pilate; boasting of authority, and pretending to be wise, while judging while clothed in hypocrisy and washing our hands in cowardice.  Perhaps this will be the year we sink our teeth into the role of Simeon the Cyrene, annoyed to no end at being forced to help Christ carry His cross only to be eternally depicted in that fraudulent gesture of assistance. How many times have we impressed the audience with our portrayal of Peter, denying Our Lord while warming our hands in the fire of this world’s perceptions?

Before we are through, unless we have already mastered the role of the soldiers driving the nails into Christ’s hands with our sins, we will play the villains in this play with increasingly realistic effectiveness. Whether we are mocking Jesus with our demands that He prove His power, gambling to see who can own the robe of His fame,  or pushing the crown of thorns on a Christ we want to twist into our own deluded sense of majesty, we will all take turns in this litany of roles offered on the most important Friday this world has ever seen.

While I am sure that each of us has grabbed the chance to take the low hanging fruit that the roles above represent, roles that allow us to participate, on our own terms and in our own time, perhaps this is the year we stick our necks out and try for those more challenging roles which Good Friday offers.  Maybe, with a little effort on our part, we can try the role of the weeping women, at least identifying and mourning the injustices that sin inflicts upon this world. Perhaps, in fact, we can go outside of the envelope and portray Veronica, bravely ignoring risks to provide a little comfort to our suffering King, with a resulting reward of His Image in our hearts that is far better than any golden trophy. Dare we aspire, for that matter, to play St. John, standing by Our Blessed Mother as Our Lord blesses our fidelity to Her?

Ideally, as followers of Christ, we are supposed to be carrying crosses right behind Our Lord on this Good Friday play, enthusiastically and proudly proclaiming to all our firm loyalty, love, and obedience to the Playwright of our eternal stage. Ideally, we should be embracing every mocking insult, sarcastic challenge, and spitting utterance of hatred in His Name. In our own way, we should be sacrificing ourselves for others regardless of how much they actually appreciate our efforts, and loving the very actors who want to turn our masterpiece play into a farce.  However, as God very well knows it and we very well depict it on a daily basis, we are far better at playing some roles than others and, all too frequently, those roles are the low hanging fruit from the same tree that first caught Eve’s eye.

Perhaps, just maybe, this will be the year we stop pretending and portraying, running and hiding, or judging and seeing being a Christian as some annoying task or convenient mask of imagined immunity. Possibly, this time around, this will all be more about living as, and being, a follower of Christ instead of merely portraying one in this world’s very temporary stage.

Copyright, 2014 Gabriel Garnica   All Rights Reserved.

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“Lent” is a Good Name for This Time of Year


We are told that the word “Lent” is from Anglo-Saxon roots and means Spring. However, in an ironic way, the word “Lent” is perfectly suited to what this period before Easter is all about.

In addition to the known meaning as the 40 days before Easter wherein we fast, pray, and give up pleasures in remembrance of Christ’s sacrifice, the word “lent” happens to also be the transitive verb form of  the verb “lend” which is to give something with the understanding that it is to be returned at some future date, perhaps with interest. This second meaning is very ironic to me because, if we think about it, everything we are, have, and will ever be is lent to us by God with the understanding that we are to make some use of it during our lives to bring greater glory to Him.

Our earthly materialism is mere absurdity given the eternal reality that, not only is whatever we have here on earth very temporary and cannot be “taken with us” after we die but, also, even its temporary use here on earth has the very strict requirement, if it is to be properly used, of being used to serve and bring greater glory to the wonderful God Who gives us everything, and to Whom we owe everything in return.

Taken in this context, our lives, our possessions, our children, all of our blessings, our health, our money, and everything we have or are, for that matter, are temporarily handed to us as an experiment to see what we do with all of these blessings. Our first responsibility, or mission, if you will, is to discern and discover what each of these blessings are. Our second responsibility, it follows, is to maximize these blessings to the fullest in the  service of the greater glory of God Almighty. It is thus that our third responsibility, then, is realized, which is to give these blessings back to God with interest. What is that interest? Perhaps it is the added enhancement of having been used for God’s purpose beyond its mere existence.

Just as Ash Wednesday reminds us to repent, and that we will all eventually return to dust, so too the entire context of the word “Lent” should remind us that every hair on our head and every moment of our lives has been “lent” to us by God, with the clear understanding that we are to do something very unique with those blessings beyond the selfish use for self-comfort and benefit. This is why materialism and possessiveness are such absurd, foolish traits.  Everything we are and have belongs to God, and it is our responsibility to return as much of what we own and are to  God with some return on His investment, or else have to answer why we failed to uphold that responsibility as children of God.

Notice, as stated before, that “lent” is considered a transitive verb. Now,, the word “transitive” itself means being characterized by transition and having a direct object. Well, should  not this earth be nothing but a transition to us, a temporary holding post on our journey back home to Heaven?  Likewise, should the Word of God and the example of Christ be our direct objects, that which all we do aims to?

So, you see, the word “Lent” means more than a coming spring. For true Catholics and likewise fervent Christians, the word “lent” reminds us that we came to this earth naked and poor and we will leave it that way as well since, after all, wealth comes from people and circumstances of this earth, and has no special connection of influence with Heaven.

Ultimately, we each have a duty to bring others to Christ through example and word, which means that we are merely temporary stewards awaiting a rich reward in Heaven while adding interest, compounded spiritually, to everything we do, everyone we help, and everything we are, as long as God is involved.

Copyright, 2014  Gabriel Garnica,  All Rights Reserved.

This Love Triangle is Good For Your Marriage


My wife and I participate in our local parish Pre-Cana program helping to prepare couples for marriage, and we find this opportunity to be a great blessing to us as individuals and as a married couple. I find it particularly inspiring that Christ’s first reported miracle occurred during a marriage ceremony, for we truly need miracles to help those about to embark on this sacred mission in a society which threatens its very existence.

Normally, the phrase “Love Triangle” conjures images of infidelity, deception, and corruption of the very essence of what Christian marriage should be all about.  After all, aren’t we talking about committing ourselves to one other person, through richer and poorer, in sickness and health, till death do us part? Given that promise, how can one then be in love with another person while committed to someone in Christian marriage?

The answer is simple. That Other One, to Whom we must be committed, even as we are committed to a spouse in Christian marriage is, of course, Christ. In order for our marriage to be truly blessed by the Lord, we must invite Him to every facet of that union, and trust completely in Him within that union as well. Rather than making decisions with our own personal and individual agendas in mind, or even with the combined agendas of  husband and wife in mind, we must include Christ in our discussions, deliberations, and decisions as well.

The media often portrays a married couple about to make love as turning all images of Christ away, indicating that it is somehow disconcerting or uncomfortable to express physical love to a spouse with Christ overhead.  While I am not suggesting that people make love surrounded by religious statues or pictures, neither am I indicating that we should make so diligent an effort to push Christ out of our love life.  The truth be told, being surrounded by one hundred statues and religious pictures means  nothing if the hearts, minds, and souls of those about to  make love do not embrace the Presence of Christ in their marriage in all areas and on all levels.

The married couple should pray together as often as is feasible. They should ask God to bless their marriage and family whenever possible.  They should teach their children to easily see God as a loving Partner in their young lives as well.  If a Christian marriage is a symbol of God’s love for us, then it follows that God’s love and Presence must be embodied in any Christian marriage, not  just in words or symbols, but in the very depth and essence of what that marriage is about.

Like it or not, the wine in all marriages can run out as it did  in Cana. The struggles, hardships, and obstacles of life can certainly impede the spiritual progress of any union. We may often find ourselves “running on empty” in coping with the everyday difficulties which face all marriages, not to mention Christian ones.  This is why we must invite Christ into our marriages, not just as an invited, temporary Guest but, more importantly, as a permanent Presence, a Source of Love rejuvenation which all marriages must have in order to survive our society’s present moral winter.

Copyright, 2014,  Gabriel Garnica.  All Rights Reserved.