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Do I live like I believe?

By Bishop Terry R. LaValley

Jan. 3, 2018

Every day is a good day to count our blessings.  We ring in the New Year with much joy and hope, as we Bishop Chbeir Bishop LaValleycontinue to celebrate how blessed we are whose God has been born and continues to live among us.

I don’t need to rattle off all the ills and evils of the day.  Presenting a litany of what’s wrong with our world is no way to welcome the New Year.

Now, that doesn’t mean we bury our heads in the sand (or snow) or avoid meeting evil head on.  On the contrary. 

What it does mean is that we take up the challenge to light a candle, to make 2018 the year in which we become blessings ourselves for our neighbors as we consciously seek to bring a ray of light, to radiate the warmth of Jesus’ love and compassion in a darkened, cool world (global warming notwithstanding).  

It’s so easy to become discouraged and lacking in hope particularly when we forget what we just celebrated on December 25th. 

God took on the human condition, revealing the depth of the Father’s love for every one of us.  God shows us how to live in this world so that we might enjoy eternal happiness in the next.  Do I really believe this? 
It might be a fitting New Year’s resolution to keep that question before our eyes and hearts throughout 2018. 

Do I live like I believe?

The Holy Father wrote that “we have often been on the defensive, wasting pastoral energy on denouncing a decadent world without being proactive in proposing ways of finding true happiness” in the Lord. (The Joy of Love, 30)

Rather than curse the darkness around us, light a candle.  A candle sheds light.  We can come to see reality around us more clearly when we understand more and more the great gift we have in Jesus and in the companionship of our sisters and brothers in faith. 

Candles offer warmth.  If I live like I believe, the compassion and care I have for others will radiate the warmth of Jesus’ love to them.

Our neighbors are not competitors to be defeated nor people to be shunned or bullied, but women and men to be accepted, no matter how different from ourselves. 

Certainly, in his recent visit to the North Country, Bishop Chbeir has exemplified for us what it means to serve and love those who do not accept us, indeed, may even hate us.

For instance, do I show respect for the other person by being a good listener, even if I disagree with him or her? 

Does my vocabulary affirm and build up another person or does it cause division and reflect a certain meanness of spirit?

Do I give Godly example to my children and grandchildren?

In his recent visit to our Diocese, the Bishop of Latakia spoke about the life of desperation of his people.  He asks us to do what he asks of his people:  pray and fast.  These spiritual disciplines have enabled him to be a source of blessing, of light and hope to his people.

Bishop Chbeir grew up in a country that was under attack by a neighboring nation for over thirty years.  His family and neighbors lived in fear for their lives. 

Then, about three years ago, Father Chbeir, then a priest of Lebanon, was asked to be the bishop and shepherd of a diocese whose nation had been at war with his.  Prayer and fasting have been the spiritual tools that have sustained Bishop in his care and love for those he serves, those who were his enemies.

For me, Bishop Chbeir is a candle that continues to burn brightly in a land where hostile winds blow constantly. 
We have the same means at our disposal when we encounter hatred, vitriolic language and disrespect for God’s ways.  Our prayer and fasting can be the fuel that keeps our candles burning brightly throughout the New Year, keeping us hope-filled.

Now, more than ever, Catholic Christians must be sources of hope and encouragement.   We continue to offer prayer and support to Bishop Chbeir and his faithful and here, in our own little corner of the world, we can radiate Gospel joy.

As Disciples in Mission, we can live like we believe. Blessed New Year to you and your loved ones!

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