Tag Archives: Light

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Comiskey at 60 (Isaiah and otherwise…)

‘Arise and shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and deep darkness the peoples of the earth but the Lord rises upon you and His glory appears over you’ (Isaiah 60:1, 2).

Does aging make you better or worse? Guess it depends on who you are looking at. As I turned 60 the other day, I’m more aware than ever of contradictions within me, the mix that alternately cheers and deadens.

How to live honestly yet hopefully? Stay fixed on Jesus: somehow, my ‘cross-eyed’ view apprehends glorious light and sheds it upon the soul’s contours. Shadows flee and hope rises. Almighty mercy frees me to struggle in the Light. In that Light, I can behold the weak one next to me as an equally fit candidate for grace, one destined to wriggle out of frustration and into glory (Romans 8:18-21).

Last week, I reviewed my journals from 2017 and was struck by the year’s difficulty. The gravitational pull of sin and death was evident. But more familiar than a spirit of heaviness were the upward risings that followed every rut in the path. All it took was a gentle act of the will. I offered the shame, disappointment, or fear to the Crucified, who never failed to surge like a crystal stream up the middle of a polluted ditch. I caught His wave through acts of prayerful surrender.

Of course we need reminders of new life. I recall one day last year when I couldn’t summon faith. Giving was down, I had to buy an international air ticket, and the world seemed to be spinning fast, too fast, as if careening off its axis. I called my mother, just shy of her 92-year-old birthday, and offered her my lament. Keep in mind this woman lost her husband of 60 years a decade ago and has had to choose very day to rise and shine. That gets harder every year, as friends die off; she is now the ‘last woman standing,’ the one who cheerfully presides over the memorials of departed friends. She rises on shaky legs, refuses despair and self-pity, and looks to the One who shines upon her.

She heard my lament and responded: ‘That sounds hard. But how great that you are free to launch out into the world and make a difference in people’s lives through His glorious Kingdom!’ I blushed a little and offered my burden to the Lord, who enabled me to straighten up quickly. I positioned myself afresh to reflect His rays. The Light shines in darkness, and cannot be overcome (JN 1:5).

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Turn and Burn Andrew Comiskey

Turn and Burn

‘John was a lamp that burned and gave light.’ (JN 6:35)

I could hardly believe my ears. Surrounded by a host of earnest men, most cradle Catholics, the priest raged like a street fighter as he implored us to turn from what sickened, divided and ultimately would kill us. ‘Repent unto the love of Jesus! The love that woos you will only make you new if you turn from your sin!’

Pow. Right between the eyes. The priest mediated the spirit of John the Baptist unlike any other, fittingly so for the second week of Advent. The Sunday’s Gospel (LK 3: 1-6) declares John preaching ‘a baptism of repentance’, and implores us to ‘make a way’ for Jesus in our lives through turning from everything that hinders love. We know that holy love liberates our repentance. But the Baptist refuses to let us off the hook. We must level our mountains—the craggy defenses and soaring self-justifications—in order to break ground for His entry into our lives.

Incited by the sentimentality that surrounds ‘homosexuals’ in the Church today (victims in need of coddling, not the call to repent unto chastity like everyone else), I began to burn within as I recalled God’s dignifying call for my repentance. I realized I had a choice: turn from my ‘gay’ self and behaviors and live, or die in my sin. It was simple, stunning, and cost me everything. It set me free to follow Jesus.

Like Jeremiah (20:9), my stomach smoking, I declared to my brothers around that table the truth of my ‘gay ‘ past and gratitude for the Baptist’s call to repentance. ‘God in His mercy gave me a choice: He respected me enough to give me the freedom to surrender to Him the whole complicated mess of my sexuality. And He gives you the same gift to turn from whatever seeks mastery over you. You just have to act on it. No-one can do it for you.’

Admittedly, repentance isn’t the only factor in our restoration as persons. But no restoration can occur without it. Through His beloved forerunner John, Jesus reminds us this Advent to turn and so burn with the fire of divine love.

This Tuesday the 8th, Pope Francis initiates his Jubilee Year of Mercy. Would you pray with me throughout this important year for him? Following the Synod on the Family, the Pope is now weighing its report and sometime in 2016 will give his pastoral suggestions on a host of issues, including the pastoral care of persons with SSA. He has been ambiguous in the call for ‘homosexuals’ to repent, and he faces resistance for making such a politically incorrect call.

Perhaps Pope Francis can draw courage from John the Baptist who commanded repentance so clearly that Herod killed him for it (John challenged his sexually immoral relationship with Herodias and was beheaded; Matt. 14:1-12.) Pray for Pope Francis’ clarity, that he not bypass the clear command of repentance unto Jesus and the goal of chastity for all persons, including persons with SSA. To do so is a failure of mercy. We cannot have Jesus without His Baptist. We must turn in order to burn with holy love.

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Darkness before Dawn

‘Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the word of His servant? Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on Him.’ (IS 50: 10)

While Michael Sam, the first gay NFL player to be drafted, cavorted on the global stage with his boyfriend, we gathered for our Living Waters Training. Men and women, Catholics and Protestants, broken people who without Jesus would be enslaved to either gender, entered into the river of blood and water that makes all things new.

We gathered with a new urgency around the Cross, trusting that the Crucified God would calm the dark currents swirling around us and somehow, in our repentance, take us deeper into His heart for His Church. We were not disappointed.

The Holy Spirit fell on us immediately. Though divided by regions and diverse Christian traditions, God united us as we got low and listened together for His still small voice. All of us had been deafened by the din of powerful, media-driven lies–false assumptions about the nature of homosexuality and marriage, and what constitutes sexual liberty. The good news? God woke us up to the fact that we can overcome darkness by heeding His voice.

A wiseman writes: ‘When the wind howls and the doors and windows clatter, one can hardly hear at all…if you will hear the voice of God, that Fatherly word whispered in the inmost depths of your soul, you must become deaf to all the roar of the world without and hush all the voices within. You must yield yourself up like a meek and gentle sheep, confess your sins, and all humbly hushed and quieted, hearken to this voice of God.’

We, the training group, had no time or strength to defend ourselves from each other. The irrational, virulent rise of idolatry in our world reduced us to Jesus: to listening together for His healing Word, and fighting for the healing of a generation who may be lost to perversion unless we manifest the Merciful Creator who can redeem all.

Note to self: those who witness the deception of a Michael Sam and respond only with disgust contribute to his cause. Sam has become the new sexual underdog for a generation who will defend anyone from such sneering.

I want to do more than sneer: I want to live the good news that Jesus reconciles us to our real selves in exchange for powerful lies. The world is shrouded in darkness and we make it worse by only cursing that darkness. Darkness ends in death. We who embody His new life must shine like lights as we hold out that Life to others. We must clarify the One to whom the deceived can repent before death takes away their choice.

That is serious business: a matter of eternal life or death.

At our training, God purified our interior ‘lamps’ through reducing us to One Voice, One Cross, and One Church. I discerned that those who refuse to gather with the saints will be scattered and become prey to the father of lies. The Holy Spirit is uniting us and giving us abundant Life. Through a humbled and renewed people, God wants to dawn for those living in darkness.

‘But now all you who light fires and provide yourselves with torches, go, walk in the light of your fires and of the torches you have set ablaze. This is what you shall receive from God’s hand: you will lie down in torment.’ (IS 50: 11)

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