Salvation Belongs To Our God!
The theme of the Charismatic Retreat in February was "Salvation is from our God, who is seated on the throne, and from the Lamb" (Rev.7: 10). From this one verse, alive, powerful, and descriptive, Peter chose four topics which he displayed before a house packed with eager listeners. His four talks: Salvation, God, Throne, and The Lamb were more than sufficient for our very short week-end.
Peter emphasized over and over again that our sin is that original sin of believing the lie that God doesn't love me, is far from me, has abandoned me, really doesn't care about me, and has no plan for my life. Oh, what a lie! When we allow such thoughts to take hold of us we have opened the door of our hearts and invited fear to come in and take control of our lives. Then our journey toward God is slowed down, side tracked, even halted and brought to a stand still. The devil's strategy is to make me fearful through death. But we know that death is not the end. It was not the end for Jesus and because of his life, death, and resurrection, will not be the end for us.
We were reminded by Peter that the Church exists between the two comings of Christ; The first coming when God became man and the second coming when Jesus will come to judge the living and the dead. The time between these two comings is the time of the `great tribulation' spoken of in Revelation in which we are now living. The people who believe the truth, that God is Love, is always with them, will never leave them, and has a perfect plan for their life, that will be carried out as they daily walk in his will, are those who will someday be clothed in long white robes holding palm branches in their hands and crying out, "Salvation is from our God, who is seated on the throne, and from the Lamb!"
Peter quoted St. Augustine when he said, "Christianity is the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” Jesus is alive and Mary is alive in glory through the power of the resurrection of Jesus. Saint Peter was totally confident about his inheritance. He taught us that trials are part of our life here to purify our faith and transform us. That which is at the center of our being, lust, envy, and jealousy, rivalry, conceit, and unforgiveness, anger, bitterness, and hatred, violence, and rage, are the things that defile us. Jesus died to give us a whole new heart that enables us to love God and love our neighbor. We can see God through faith. I can see my destiny so I am happy in the midst of trials. Saint Peter tells us that although you have never seen Jesus, you love him... We are called to fall in love with the Son of the ‘Most High’ God. We need a new heart to do this. God is so eager to change us through trials and tribulations so that he can take our hearts of stone and give us new hearts, to love God with our whole being and our neighbor as our self. Those who have not experienced this new relationship with God try to earn God's love by the good things they do. But those who have experienced this new birth, this new relationship, is already secure in God's love and do the good works in joy and thanksgiving for what God has done and is doing for them and through them.
How do we reclaim the ground that the devil has taken from us? The answer Peter presented to us was not unfamiliar. We are to exalt the Lord, raise him up, praise his name, proclaim his power and might, resist the devil and he will flee. When the accusing spirit catches us unaware we begin to believe what he is saying and often it takes a brother or sister in the Lord to get us back into the light of Christ. How we need each other! How much we need to be rooted in God's word and allow it to come alive in us. There is power in the Gospel that we are to use as a weapon in spiritual warfare; it’s that same power in the Gospel that is released when evangelists preach the Word and trust the Holy Spirit to bring about conversions.
We were reminded how Abraham, the Father of Faith, trusted in God, left everything familiar, set aside all fear to follow the path pointed out to him. He believed that God was able and could do the impossible. What hope and joy welled up within us when Peter cried out:
"God is trustworthy!
God is able to purify the priesthood today!
God is able to win the young people today!
God is able to renew the Church today!
God is able to repair and strengthen marriages today!
It is our duty to speak it into being, proclaim it and we will see God make it happen.” Peter pointed out that this kind of power has to come from the Renewal and from the Church.
God continued to work in power as our devoted musicians led us in praise and worship both in the teaching sessions and at Holy Mass. The Spirit was very active during the time of reconciliation bringing about deliverances, and inner healings. The confession of our sins opened the door for physical healings as Father Mike Steber and Father Jamie Ziminski, in the person of Christ, absolved us. What a treasure we have in the Sacrament of Reconciliation! The Spirit continued his work of healing during the Saturday night prayer meeting.
On Sunday morning to hear the witness of those who had been healed of paralysis, curses, and other infirmities was such a faith booster. Even more powerful, I believe, was the stirring of the Holy Spirit in each of us to become evangelizers ourselves of God's mighty love, power and mercy.
Carol Kean, who accompanied Peter, is preparing to work with the Renewal Ministries and shared with us her witness of God's great power in her life, that brought her back from the brink of death to be his instrument in evangelization.
When I was young I heard holy priests tell of Saints who endured persecution and even martyrdom for love of God and they would end their talk with the words, "But that will probably never happen in our lifetime."
During this retreat we heard that the Church is being persecuted and many are even giving their lives for what they believe. We too must be prepared to fearlessly stand strong for our Lord Jesus Christ, who promised to be with us to the end. May God grant us the privilege to be part of that vast throng, clothed in white robes and holding palm branches in our hands, because we will have shared our witness and washed our robes in the blood of the Lamb. Trial and triumph await the Church. Are we ready, brothers and sisters, to take up the challenge? Are we ready to say, "Yes”?
From the Diocese of Marquette Michigan, U.P. Catholic Charismatic Newsletter (Spring 2006) .