NEW YEAR MSG4CHRISTIANS

I took the words from a speech made to clergy because every Christian is called to service.Not just the clergy and this is why Jesus said, let anyone who would, take up their cross and follow Me.There are no lay Christians or back benchers in the Church of Christ, every believer has a role be they the heart or the toe, like the parts of the body,we all have a role.

As the New Year 2018 approaches, let all who are followers of Christ,pray to be more Christlike, to suceed more in doing that good,perfect and pleasing will of Our Loving Heavenly Father, that in our weaknesses, His strength shall be made perfect. In the workplace,in our homes and businesses that God would empower us by the fire of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us to trully be the salt and the light of the very dark and wicked World.

As Jesus said, behold I send you as lambs among ravenous wolves - sometimes these ravenous wolves are people who were called to be in ministry but they’ve become corrupted by worldly lusts - the love of money and the recognition of men. For all there is in the world ,is the lust of the eyes,the lust of the flesh and the pride of life. They’ve traded eternal riches of God’s life giving Word for perishable mammon. Jesus said, you can not serve two masters, mammon and God. Then He said, little ones keep your hearts free of the love of money and all forms of greed,be content with what you have, for have I not promised you,I will never leave you,I will never forsake you. As David said, I was young and now I am old, I have never seen the righteous forsaken nor their children begging for bread. Watch the path of the righteous for there is posterity for the man of peace.

Still, a believer must never abandon the gathering of the saints, we must all congregate bcz the Lord commands us to, and in such gatherings He sends His ministering angels and commands a special blessing. As Jesus said, during the day of judgement, many will say but Lord we healed in Your name and Jesus will cast them out as wicked people. So Jesus knows there are those who would make merchandise of God’s people yet His Word still admonishes us not to miss the gathering of the saints. This new year 2018 should find every believer in a gathering, in a church. Jesus spent 3 years in the fellowship of Judas, a thief and even let the man be treasurer. If Jesus did not become a lone ranger bcz He was with unreliable men as disciples, from men lacking faith, to falling asleep during His Transfiguration, to hot tempered men who would chop off ears, to betrayers and even those who would deny Him. He would go preach in synagogues filled with Pharisees who hated Him,who were religious hypocrites.He did not stay home and watch tv. We must go out to the world bcz what use is a lamp hidden under a bushel? We must go into those rotten ‘churches’ and become the salt there, not in the comfort of our homes,in isolation. The great commission is for us to go to the ends of the earth and make disciples. Our righteous character and good works do make disciples. Not only our preaching. Jesus said,when men see your good works they will glorify your Father in heaven.

Its not an easy thing to be a believer and a follower of Christ,first because we ourselves who are called bcz noone can come to God unless the Spirit draws them, are the worst of sinners, like Saul,persecuting Christ with zeal, even after Jesus brings our spirits out of shadow of death, we struggle with our mortal sinful nature.Then we struggle with life of godliness in a hostile and perverse world.Like Lot, in Gomorrah, all righteous men, suffer great distress when we observe the unrestrained wickedness and its painful results that are all around us. Like Isaac the child of promise we are persecuted by Ishmael, the child of the flesh. As Jesus said, all who would live godly lives will suffer persecution.If the world loved Me they would love you, but they love their own kind. But be of good cheer for I have overcome the world. Many of us ,in our respective churches will enter 21 day or 40 day period of prayer this January to commit the year to the Lord. Let us during this time remember our country, our world,Our families and ourselves in prayer. Let us repent and ask God to help us by His Holy Spirit to do the will of the Father,so that at the end of our lives,like our Master Jesus, we can say, I have done and finished the will of the One who sent Me.

ThePope speech to the clergy - 2015 during his visit to Kenya

During the reading of the letter of Saint Paul, I was struck by these words: “May God who began a good work in you bring it to completion at the day of Christ Jesus!” (Phil 1:6).

All of you were chosen by the Lord; he chose each one of us. He began a good work on the day he looked at us in baptism, and then later, when he looked at us and said: “If you wish, come with me”. So we lined up and began our journey. But it was he who began the journey, not ourselves. In the Gospel we read about one of the people Jesus healed, who then wanted to follow him. But Jesus told him “no”. If we want to follow Jesus Christ – in the priesthood or the consecrated life – we have to enter by the door! And the door is Christ! He is the one who calls, who begins, who does the work. Some people want to enter by the window… It doesn’t work that way. So please, any of you have friends who came in by the window, embrace them and tell them it would be better to leave and go serve God another way, because a work which Jesus himself did not begin, by the door, will never be brought to completion.

This should make us realize that we have been chosen: “Jesus looked at me; I was chosen”. I am always struck by the beginning of the sixteenth chapter of Ezekiel: “You were the child of strangers; you were forsaken, but I passed by, I cleansed you and I took you to myself”. This is the path! This is the work which Lord began when he looked at us.

There are people who don’t know why God calls them, but they know that he has. Don’t worry: God will make you understand why he called you. Others want to follow the Lord for some benefit. We remember the mother of James and John, who said: “Lord, I beg you, when you cut the cake, give the biggest slice to my sons… Let one of them sit at your right and the other at your left”. We can be tempted to follow Jesus for ambition: ambition for money or power. All of us can say: “When I first followed Jesus, I was not like that”. But it happened to other people, and little by little, they sowed it in our heart like weeds.

In our life as disciples of Jesus, there must be no room for personal ambition, for money, for worldly importance. We follow Jesus to the very last step of his earthly life: the cross. He will make sure you rise again, but you have to keep following him to the end. I tell you this in all seriousness, because the Church is not a business or an NGO. The Church is a mystery: the mystery of Jesus, who looks at each of us and says: “Follow me”.

So let this be clear: Jesus is the one who calls. We have to enter by the door when he calls, not by the window; and we have to follow in his footsteps.

Obviously, when Jesus chooses us, he does not “canonize” us; we continue to be the same old sinners. If there is anyone here – a priest or a religious – who doesn’t think that he or she is a sinner, please raise your hand… We are all sinners, starting with me. But the tenderness and love of Jesus keep us going.

“May he who began a good work in you bring it to completion”. This is what keeps us going, what the love of Jesus began in us. Do you remember any time in the Gospel when the apostle James wept? Yes or no? Or when did the apostle John wept? Or when did any other apostle wept? The Gospel tells us that only one of the apostles wept: the one who knew that he was a sinner, so great a sinner that he betrayed his Lord. And once he realized this, he wept… Then Jesus made him the Pope! Who can understand Jesus? It’s a mystery!

So never stop weeping. When priests and religious no longer weep, something is wrong. We need to weep for our infidelity, to weep for the all the pain in our world, to weep for all those people who are cast aside, to weep for the elderly who are abandoned, for children who are killed, for the things we don’t understand. We need to weep when people ask us: “why?”. None of us has all the answers to all those questions “why?”.

A Russian writer once asked why children suffer. Whenever I see a child with cancer, a tumour or some rare disease, I too ask myself why this child has to suffer… And I don’t have an answer. I just look to Jesus on the cross. There situations in life for which we can only weep, and look to Jesus on the cross. That is the only answer we have for certain injustices, certain kinds of pain, certain situations in life.

Saint Paul told his disciples: “Remember Jesus Christ; remember Christ crucified”. Whenever a consecrated man or woman, or a priest forgets Christ crucified, sad to say, he or she falls into an ugly sin, a sin which disgusts God, which makes God vomit. It is the sin of being tepid, lukewarm. Dear priests, sisters and brothers, religious men and women, beware of falling into the sin of tepidity.

What else can I say, from my heart to yours? I would say, never stray from Jesus. In other words, never stop praying. “But Father, sometimes it’s so tiresome to pray… It wearies us. It makes us fall asleep…” So sleep before the Lord: that is also a way of praying, but stay there, stay there before him and pray! Don’t stop praying! Once consecrated persons stop praying, their souls wither; they grow ugly, like dried figs. Ugly. The soul of a man or woman religious, or a priest who doesn’t pray is an ugly soul! I’m sorry, but that’s the way it is…

I leave you with this question: Do I take away time from sleep, time from listening to the radio, watching television or reading the papers, in order to pray? Or would I rather do those other things? Prayer means being in the presence of God who began a good work and is bringing it to completion in each of you…

The last thing I would tell you – before telling you a few other things too! – is that when we let ourselves be chosen by Jesus, it is to serve: to serve the people of God, to serve the poor, men and women who are outcasts, living on the fringes of society, to serve children and the elderly. But also to serve people who are unaware of their own pride and sin, to serve Jesus in them. Letting ourselves be chosen by Jesus means letting ourselves be chosen to serve.