A BALANCED CHRISTIAN


IS A RADICAL CHRISTIAN

by Father Ray Zeugner,
Liaison to the Bishop, Diocese of Marquette Michigan

Fr.Ray
DO YOU LOVE THE LORD? BEFORE YOU ANSWER TOO QUICKLY,
LOOK INTO YOURSELF DEEPLY. THEN ASK YOURSELF,
'AM I ON FIRE FOR THE LORD?'

If you answered yes, then what kind of a fire are we talking about? Think for a moment how fires grow and die depending on how they are fed. In your mind, picture the following: A fire with embers barely glowing and a boyscout fire with a few sticks built up like a tepee with a moderate flame inside. Then think of a huge bonfire, the kind people build for special events and celebrations. How do you see yourself? Which of these fires burn inside of you?

As a priest, when I look around parishes, I see the people falling into three general categories:

SILENCE INTO SONG . . .
Some are going to church but are barely participating. It is always amusing to me to hear the people sing the opening hymn at Mass. As I proceed from back to front, it goes from next to nothing, to a faint union of voices, to the people in front being the most vocal. Does this tell us anything about the fire of and in a Christian?

Then we go to the moderate parishioner. This person is active in the church, probably serving in some ministry in the parish and maybe going to the prayer meeting but the fire is just moderate. When trials and difficulties arise they tend to buckle under. They become disgruntled and angry at God and at life. Sometimes they get upset with others who attend the prayer meeting and stop coming. Often this attitude is carried into the parish family and priest. Their anger is answered by not going to church.

On the other hand, the person on fire and desiring to be fully alive is not only active in the parish, but in his or her tremendous love of the Lord will be ready to console those who are down in the mouth. They don't leave. They listen and help guide others so changes for the better may come about. Because of their regular and active deep prayer life, they have a readiness to help their neighbor and are filled with the zeal to evangelize.

THE VAN THAT GREW INTO A BUS . . .
I had to smile when I heard about the seven men from Stephenson that attended the first Men's conference at Steubenville in 95. On their return they were so on fire with the Lord that they were determined to return next year, not with just a van of seven, but they planned to schedule and fill a bus simply by sharing their stories with other men. (note: a bus-load of 40 men returned to Steubenville in 96 to attend the Men's Conference. Many brought their sons.)

A BEACON IN THE DARK . . .
The person on fire for the Lord is easy to spot. You see a diligent and sensitive person trying not to offend God or neighbor. He or she is open to celebrate regularly the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This person, when burdened with trials and difficulties will be humble in God's sight and try to rely on God's grace not always understanding the reason of how it will come out. This person will not try to carry the cross alone, but will take seriously the Lord's words:

"Come to Me you who are burdened and I will refresh you."

This Christian too, is always ready to be open to the surprises of the Spirit and does not say, "I feel uncomfortable with what the Lord wants me to speak or how I am to pray."

MY FIRST PRAYER MEETING . . .
I remember many years ago at my first prayer meeting, where one particular woman from the Assembly of God Church was at the meeting and praising God vocally. Her voice stood out because the rest of the group, being Catholics, barely opened their mouths above a whisper. At first her voice disturbed me, but after a few more meetings I began to follow her example. I opened my mouth and without shouting, eyes closed of course - for fear of being looked at - attentively began vocalizing my praise. I found it to be very freeing with my spirit brought readily into the presence of God. It wasn't easy at first. I didn't feel comfortable but as I stepped out, not caring what others might think, I found the fruits were there, How true the saying: "The Lord came to make the comfortable, uncomfortable and the uncomfortable, comfortable."

Today I am totally convinced that the Lord is working through the Renewal throughout the world. He is calling His people back to an attentive vocal praise in the Spirit as part of normal prayer life. He is doing this in the assembly at Mass and privately. It is also interesting that this is an avenue into quiet contemplation. St. Theresa of Avila stated the same when she wrote: ". . . keep occupying yourself all the times with the praise of the Lord."

I have come to light a fire on the earth, How I wish the blaze were ignited" (Lk12:49)

The Lord is very clear about his desire to set a fire on the earth. He is not talking about embers or a boyscout fire, He is talking about a blazing bonfire. This is what He desires. What does this blazing bonfire look like? It comes out as a tremendous passion for the Lord.

He is calling for the soul to be on fire in love for Him. The person who loves Him will go to extremes in this love. It is a passion that is radical. The balanced Christian is to be a Radical Christian.

A LITTLE BIT OF THIS . . . BUT NOT TOO MUCH . . .
Sadly, many people feel a balanced Christian is a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Often they will look upon a balanced Christian as a false fanatic. A false fanatic does go to extremes, but is more in love with themselves that the Lord. They are motivated more by fear than love because they are not following the balance of the Spirit. They tend not to go to the body, the Church for discernment after receiving what they think is God's word or guidance. David Koresch and the cult in Waco, Texas would be an extreme but good example of this.

SEEKING OUT THE SPARK THAT LIGHTS THE FIRE . . .
On the other hand, the person who is radical for the Lord is wounded by love of the Lord. I often feel within myself a certain amount of surfacing indifference. To counter this, the Lord quite regularly fills me with a deep but delightful yearning for Him. He lets me experience my emptiness and yet the longing for Him is overcoming.

The Lord desires to draw all to Himself. This should be our goal as a Christian, the prayer group and the Church. When we sense something missing or empty in our lives, when we are hungry, this is our opportunity to seek and knock and yearn. I believe the Lord desires all of us to pray for that yearning, that longing. As we pray for this, the Lord is able to move more freely. I believe that is how the Lord will light that great bonfire of radical love for Him in each one of us.


From the Spring 96 issue of the UP Catholic Charismatic Newsletter

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