The Spirit Within

The Spirit Within

Guest contributor:   Ed Trego

“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth.”

Throughout the history of the Church, the Holy Spirit has strengthened the faithful. The apostles were so afraid at the arrest of Jesus that they abandoned Him and ran. Only Peter and John followed Him and Peter ran away after denying three times that he even knew Jesus. After His death they went into hiding and initially did very little to further the kingdom of God. The apostle John relates the appearance of the resurrected Jesus. “On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus cam and stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.” (John 20:19).

Then Pentecost came and with it the Holy Spirit. From that point on, these same men boldly proclaimed the good news of the gospel and grew a small band of followers into the Church as we know her today. They took the word of God throughout the known world, healing, baptizing and forgiving the sins of those who repented, bringing them into the family of Christ. Peter was so full of the Holy Spirit that just his shadow falling upon someone could heal them (see Acts 5:12-15).

Throughout time the Spirit has been there to help the faithful. There were many people martyred for the faith as the young church grew and spread. Christians were flayed alive, dipped in boiling oil, eviscerated, drawn and quartered, and fed to wild animals. Some were forced to watch the brutal torture and murder of their entire family in an effort to get them to deny Jesus. While we don’t hear much of it today, there are still people who are suffering for their faith. Many have died for their faith. Not always in as dramatic a way as the early martyrs, but suffering for the Lord just the same. And the Spirit is always there when they call upon Him to strengthen them in their trials.

I think we sometimes take the Holy Spirit for granted or too lightly. Even though the Spirit is the co-equal third person of the Trinity, we just don’t seem to think of and acknowledge Him as much as God the Father and God the Son. Sometimes I think it’s because we don’t want to give up control of ourselves. To fully receive the Holy Spirit we have to turn our lives over to Him. We find that extremely hard to do. We are an independent people with a lot of self-pride and stubbornness. To give total control of ourselves to anyone, even to God, is a hard thing for us. But the Spirit can’t really work within us unless we give ourselves up to His control, unconditionally. We can’t say “Well, you handle this and I’ll take care of that.” Or, “I’ll let you know when I need you.” We have to say “Take all that I am, all that I’ll ever be and use it for the greater Glory of God.”

We have to recognize that on our own we aren’t capable of doing the good that we should be doing. The gift of free will granted to us by God allows us to choose evil as well as good. Only through unconditional submission to God’s will through the Holy Spirit can we truly do good in this world and reject the evil that Satan would have us do. Once we realize this truth and turn ourselves over to the Holy Spirit, the Spirit can move through us and give us the gifts that we should have and should be using to further the good news of Jesus Christ.

There are such gifts and blessings available if we can only humble ourselves to accept what is offered. No one, not God the Father, God the Son, nor God the Holy Spirit is going to break down the walls we have built. We have to tear them down ourselves. Only then can the Glory of God shine through us.

St. Paul says of the Spirit and His gifts, “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are inspired by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. (1 Corinthians 12:7-11)

All of these gifts were there in biblical days and in the early church. Have we somehow lost them along the way? If the Spirit is with the Church always, shouldn’t the gifts of the Spirit be with us always as well? I believe the gifts of the Spirit are still there and ours if we accept them. But we must accept them of our own free will. The Holy Spirit will not force Himself upon us. He will wait for our invitation. In our world today it seems that not many people are inviting God and the Spirit into their lives.

Have you ever met someone who you knew was very intelligent, but couldn’t seem to explain anything to anyone? They had the knowledge but they couldn’t impart it. I believe we need to look at teachers when we want to find the gift of the expression of knowledge. I’m not only talking about those who teach in our schools but of many others as well. What of the Priest who can take a very difficult passage of the Bible and put it into words that we can understand and make a part of our life? Isn’t that the Spiritual gift of the ability to impart knowledge? Or the confessors who can speak to our heart and really help us understand and be sorrowful for the error of our ways. Doesn’t that demonstrate the gift of expressing knowledge and wisdom”

We all know healers both of body and spirit. Our priests, our confidants, our confessors come to mind. They heal our spirit, which I believe is far more important than a healed body. Can anyone be forgiven their sins and not feel the healing power of that forgiveness”

Those who heal our bodies are also very important and I’m sure many of them are gifted by the Spirit as well. There are many instances where a doctor has performed an operation or a cure far beyond what would normally be expected. I believe that in many such cases the Spirit is working through them. Many doctors will tell of the power of prayer and faith in the physical recovery of their patients. There are many instances of recoveries that no doctor can explain or take credit for. The Holy Spirit, through the faith of the person healed has responded to them and their prayers.

In a very real sense we are all healers through the Spirit, by our prayers and intercessions for others. Most of the time, our society likes to talk about “luck” in such cases, but I believe it is the Spirit acting through the prayers of the faithful in many cases. We can all be healers by the grace of the Spirit if we have the faith and believe. However, we should not expect that every time we pray for the healing of another, we will see them healed as we might expect it. The healing may be completed in the transition from this life to the next. In the presence of the Lord, what added healing could possibly be needed”

On Pentecost Sunday the disciples spoke to a crowd from various places who spoke many languages. “Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven staying in Jerusalem. At this sound, they gathered in a large crowd, but they were confused because each heard them speaking in his own language.” (Acts 2:6) Today, some claim to have the gift of tongues or interpretation of tongues and they speak in a language unknown to anyone except the one doing the interpretation. I can’t say whether they truly have the gift of tongues or not, but, if so, it is different from the tongues spoken by the disciples which was a universal language understood by all. However, I’m convinced that the missionary who is “blessed” to have the ability to quickly learn and understand the “tongues” of a foreign language has that gift of the Spirit. I also think many of those who are able to effectively communicate with the mentally impaired are blessed with the gift of tongues.

We all know of stories of people who have done great deeds far beyond their expectations. One recent example is Mother Teresa. She may have been a physically small, unimpressive woman, but she certainly accomplished some beautiful and great deeds in her lifetime. Many of the early leaders of the civil rights movement in this country also performed deeds of courage and love that were more than they would have expected of themselves. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. comes immediately to mind. But also many others such as Rosa Parks. How much courage it must have taken for her to stand up for her rights in the very segregated south. We’ve all heard the stories of the heroes in battle who were just as ordinary as the next guy until circumstances required more of them. Many gave their lives in an effort to save others. There is no greater courage and love than to sacrifice your life for others. I’m sure we all know people who we look at and wonder at their accomplishments. I believe the Spirit is the driving force in a lot of these deeds.

The gifts of prophecy and the discernment of spirits are gifts of the Spirit that we don’t seem to see much today. You don’t meet many prophets these days. But I’ve read numerous accounts of both of these gifts in the lives of the saints and religious. I’m certain these gifts are present today as well. I think we just don’t do a very good job of recognizing them.

If fact, I don’t think we do a very good job of recognizing the gifts of the Spirit most of the time. Our society believes in luck, coincidence and chance but refuses to accept that God could be the cause. We readily agree that someone who survived a catastrophic car wreck or recovers from a disease diagnosed as terminal is a “very lucky” person. But we all too often fail to recognize that they are the beneficiary of prayer and God’s intervention. To deny this is to deny God the praise and glory He deserves.

Too many times we don’t recognize our own gifts. One of the most important prayers we can make is for the discernment to understand and develop our own gifts of the Spirit. If we are Christians, we all have them; we just don’t always know what they are. We need to find out. Otherwise, how can we ever use them for God’s glory”

In our world today we expect miracles to be larger than life. We have a difficult time recognizing the magnificence of the smaller gifts and miracles that occur every day. We are looking for something spectacular when perhaps the gift is something very simple and very common. We may want to do great things for God but maybe it’s not the big things God is asking of us. Big or small, they are a miracle if they are truly of God and His will.

The prophet Elijah had an experience that I believe is a very good lesson for us about looking for God and the Holy Spirit and His gifts. “Then the Lord said, ‘Go outside and stand on the mountain before the Lord; the Lord will be passing by.” A strong and heavy wind was rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the Lord – but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake – but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake there was fire – but the Lord was not in the fire. After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound. When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak and went and stood at the entrance of the cave.” (1 Kings 19:11-13) Elijah knew that God was not in the wind, or the earthquake or the fire, but in the whispering. If we can be more attuned to the whispering that is in our hearts and souls I believe we will find God and the Holy Spirit there talking to us and leading us.

We need to quit looking for the spectacular and recognize the small workings of the Holy Spirit in our everyday life. He’s there, in the love of a spouse or child. He lives in the beauty of a sunrise, the majesty of the ocean and mountains. He’s there is the simple smile given at a time when we need it most; an encouraging word when we are down; the thanks of another when we share our blessings.

Ask for the blessing of the Spirit, pray for guidance in the ways of the Spirit and make an effort to see the Spirit in your daily life. These are the things that will help us better understand the workings of the Holy Spirit and enrich our lives tremendously.

“But you, beloved, build yourselves up on your most holy faith; praying the Holy Spirit; keep yourselves in the love of God; wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.” (Jude 1:20-21)

The above meditation is a chapter from Ed’s new eBook “The Narrow Gate”.

Available now for only $1.99 on Amazon,


Barnes & Noble,



and other fine publishers.

A Well Formed Conscience

A Well Formed Conscience

Guest contributor:   Ed Trego

“Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)

Humans are amazing creations. We are capable of becoming accustomed to most anything. If we live in a noisy environment, we learn to block out the noise and get on with our lives. If we have minor aches and pains, we are able to get used to the discomfort and continue to live our lives. Even in extreme cases of deprivation or pain, humans will somehow grow used to the discomfort and live with it. If you doubt that, read some of the firsthand accounts of the survivors of Hitler’s death camps. Talk to the survivors of Stalin’s purges in Russia. Those who have survived being held as prisoners of war in any number of wars will convince you that humans have an incredible desire and determination to survive.

We will learn to tolerate much pain and suffering over time. We will live a life that we would have thought impossible before we were forced to live it or die. We will adapt.

We have all experienced this at some time in our own lives, sometimes in some very minor ways, sometimes in much more serious ways. I tried once to learn to play the guitar. One of the first things I learned is that chording a guitar makes your fingers sore. But after a while, you get used to it, develop callouses, and the hurt goes away. The body has adjusted to the new activity. Others have adapted to very serious life changes yet, by the grace of God, accept them and move on with their lives.

Our conscience is much the same. It can be changed for the good or bad by the choices we make in our lives. One of God’s greatest gifts to us is free will. It allows us to make our own decisions and determine our own fate. It is a marvelous, loving gift. However, along with the ability to make our own decisions comes the ability to make wrong decisions. We have a long history of making the wrong decisions. God gave us another wonderful gift that is absolutely required if we are to use the gift of free will wisely. That gift is our conscience.

I think of the human conscience as a means provided by God to allow us to regulate our free will. Have you ever said or done something and immediately knew it was wrong? That’s your conscience trying to help you guide your free will. The same is also true when you do something good and immediately get positive feedback from deep inside. I’m not talking about pride in ourselves or our action, but of a deep-seated knowledge that what we just did was a good thing. This, again, is the conscience providing encouragement for our good choices.

Our conscience, like our free will, is up to us to use wisely. If we choose to ignore it, the conscience can weaken. We can push it out of our lives to the point that we no longer have the aid of our conscience to help us make the right choices and recognize the wrong ones. A poorly formed conscience allows Satan to more easily convince us that the wrong he wishes us to do isn’t really wrong at all, just a silly rule made up by someone who really has no right trying to tell us what we should or shouldn’t do. After all, God wouldn’t have given us free will if He intended for us to let others tell us right from wrong. That’s our freedom to choose, we won’t give it up for some silly societal or religious rule.

There is an old adage about how to boil a frog. If you drop a frog in boiling water it will desperately try to jump out. However, if you place the frog in room temperature water it will settle in and not try to escape. Even as the heat is turned up the frog will remain in the water as long as the heat isn’t increased too quickly. Eventually, the frog will reach the point of being boiled in water, but it will have grown accustomed to the moderate increase in discomfort and will not become aware of the danger until it is too late.

The human conscience operates in a very similar way. That little white lie wasn’t so bad, so the next one will be easier. Skipping Mass on a Holy Day didn’t seem so terrible, so the next time we don’t go to Mass it’s a bit easier. The so-called minor sins aren’t even noticed anymore, and the more serious ones become small in our estimation. What perhaps began as simple forgetfulness becomes habitual. Satan is a master at convincing us that our small failings aren’t important. We just need to worry about the big ones. Of course, the bigger ones get easier the more frequently we commit the supposedly insignificant sins. All of a sudden we’ve gone from missing Mass on a Holy Day to not going to Mass but a few times a year or maybe not at all. We have progressed from that small white lie to become an habitual liar who is trusted by no one.

Fortunately, we have the ability to reform and strengthen our conscience to again help us in choosing right from wrong. Think of your conscience as you would your physical strength. If you exercise it, it will increase. If you ignore it or misuse it, it will decrease. We have the ability to train our conscience just as we can train our muscles. By beginning with small steps we can progress to accomplish great things in both our physical strength and the right formation of our conscience. A few extra push-ups or sit-ups can be the beginning of getting in shape physically. If we recognize the benefit, we are more likely to continue and to increase the training regimen. Eventually, we will be much healthier and our bodies will serve us much better.

Our conscience can operate the same way. Noticing the supposedly minor sins in ourselves and trying to avoid them will accomplish much the same thing with respect to our spiritual life. We will begin to recognize those wrongs that we had ignored and by working to eliminate them we will improve our relationship with God. If we pay attention to the small things, we can develop a ,strong, well-formed conscience that will help us make the big decisions as well as the small. As we can train our conscience to better recognize sin we begin realize that any sin is harmful to our spiritual well-being. By doing so, we will live a life in which our morality and our relationship with God grows stronger and stronger. However, just as with a physical training program, if we let our regimen fade away, we will also be more likely to commit sin. We need a well-formed conscience that will help us seek and understand the will of God. Without it, we can never hope to overcome the temptations of Satan.

One of Satan’s greatest successes is convincing us that we really aren’t bad. We really don’t sin “that much”. Surely God won’t hold us to account for such a minor error. We humans are very adept at minimizing our concept of the sins we commit and the adversary loves it. We draw a line in the sand and vow not to cross that line. We will tolerate sinfulness and immorality to a certain level, and try to convince ourselves that we are doing pretty well. After all, no one is perfect. We go so far as to train our conscience in this wrong-headed manner, allowing us to better ignore the negative feelings associated with evil. Any lessening of our sensitivity to evil is dangerous and results in an ever-growing acceptance of sin and immorality at a greater and greater level. Similar to the frog, we find ourselves in boiling water and unable to do anything about it until it’s too late.

Is it possible for us to kill our own conscience? Can we weaken it to the point that we can no longer distinguish between right or wrong? Do we grow so accustomed to sin that we no longer recognize our own sinfulness or the sinfulness of others”

I believe the answer to all of these questions is yes. We can become so accustomed to evil and sin that we have difficulty even realizing that they still exist. We can weaken our conscience to the point that we can no longer see right and wrong. We can no longer effectively choose between the two. We allow so many “little” sins to become a part of our daily lives that we no longer recognize them as sins. When that happens, more serious sins become smaller in our estimation until they too are no longer looked upon as sinfulness. We can literally kill our conscience.

In our world today, maintaining a well-formed conscience can be a difficult task. There are so many temptations placed before us. Everywhere we look there is the opportunity to sin. Even our friends and family, at times, encourage us to sin. How are we to maintain the correct relationship with God in a world that seems to have pushed God away”

As Christians we must be different than the world at large. Though we must live in this world, we are citizens in the kingdom of God and we must live our lives according to that relationship. If you were to journey to a city similar to Sodom and Gomorrah, you would have two choices before you. You could either become like them and join in the sinfulness and abhorrent behavior common to that city or choose to continue your relationship with God and either leave the city or strive to change the wrongs being committed.

Are there cities such as Sodom and Gomorrah in our world today? Yes there are. There are number of areas of the world and in the United States that are very near the sinfulness of Sodom and Gomorrah. In fact, some have probably surpassed that level of debauchery and continue to grow more evil.

If we are to be part of God’s family, we must strengthen our conscience and rely upon it to guide us in our daily lives. Sin destroys our relationship with God. Just as we destroy our relationships with those we love when we do wrong against them, our spiritual relationship with God can also be destroyed by the sins we commit. It’s important to understand that we are the sole source for this loss. God will never turn from us, we turn from Him. He will always be there to accept and forgive us. “Come now, let us reason together says the Lord; though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” (Isaiah 1:18).

As humans it is in our nature to seek a relationship with God. We were created to seek God and develop a family relationship with Him as our Father. In his autobiography, “Confessions”, St. Augustine said, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” God desires that we have a strong, loving, family relationship with Him. He sent His only son, our Lord Jesus Christ, to allow a pathway for fallen man to return to the family of God. He’s there, waiting for us to realize the love He has for us. We need only to turn to God, repent of our sins and ask His help. He will provide all that is needed to reach our goal of eternal life with Him. A strong, well-formed conscience is vital to establishing and maintaining that kind of a relationship with our God.

“From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who works for those who wait for him. You meet him that joyfully works righteousness, those that remember you in your ways.” (Isaiah 64:4-5)

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9)

The above meditation is a chapter from Ed’s new eBook “The Narrow Gate”.

Available now for only $1.99 on Amazon,


Barnes & Noble,



and other fine publishers.

Childlike Faith

Childlike Faith

Guest contributor:   Ed Trego

And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them, and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:2-4)

Have you ever watched a small child interact with his or her parents? In a loving family relationship the faith exhibited by the child is remarkable. Trust and love is given with no thought of betrayal. This is the kind of faith Jesus was referring to in the scripture above. The kind of faith that a child has when they jump from the edge of the pool into the waiting arms of Mom or Dad. There is no thought of danger, even though the child doesn’t know how to swim and without the saving arms of the parent, he might drown. The child knows and has total confidence in the love of her parents and rightly trusts that they would let no harm come to her.

I once watched as a small child ran full speed toward our priest after mass. When she got a few steps away she jumped, holding her arms up to the priest. She knew that she could trust him to catch her. Of course he did, and both of them beamed with happiness. That little girl had faith enough to risk jumping into thin air, never doubting that she would be caught in those loving arms and be safe from harm.

God wants us to have that kind of faith, that kind of trust in our lives. Trust enough to risk everything, with absolute confidence that God will always catch us and protect us from harm. This is the trust and love that we, as adults, must have in our relationship with God. If we don’t have enough faith to jump into the waiting arms of God with full confidence that He will catch us, we are not living our faith to the fullest.

As adults we seem to lose that level of faith and trust. Certainly, most of us had it when we were children. We trusted our parents and had faith that they wanted what was best for us and would do all in their power to protect us.

What happened? Where did the faith go? Maybe we found our parents, as humans, weren’t as trustworthy as we expected. Maybe they let us fall into the pool instead of catching us and keeping us above water. Maybe when we went to them with a problem, they didn’t seem to have time for us. Maybe, just maybe, we were abused by them, either physically or mentally. Maybe we just began to believe that we could rely on ourselves and didn’t need to trust them any longer. Whatever the reason we lost our childlike faith in our parents. If we are to be children of God, it’s vital that we rediscover that level of faith and confidence in our relationship with Him.

As humans we tend to grow out of the childlike faith Jesus talked about. At some point our parents began to let us replace our faith in them with faith in ourselves. “Grow up”; “stand on your own two feet”; “if you don’t take care of yourself, no one else is going to”. Most of us heard those or similar admonitions as were growing up, becoming more mature. Self reliance is, in many ways, necessary to life as an adult. We learn to rely less and less on others and more on ourselves. While that is needed in the world we live in, it is destructive to our faith life with God. There is a dichotomy at work in our lives; we need to be self-sufficient, but we aren’t self-sufficient. We may think we can handle whatever comes our way, but sooner or later we come to realize that some things are bigger than us and can’t be resolved without help.

As an adult, we still need someone to place our faith and trust in. Without it, life becomes lonely and, in many ways, scary. In some cases it becomes intolerable, resulting in alcoholism, drug abuse, and even suicide. If there were someone to turn to in whom we had absolute confidence, we wouldn’t need the artificial means of enduring the hard times. We certainly wouldn’t reach the point of taking our own life.

The early Christians had that kind of faith. With no hesitation, Stephen, the first Deacon and martyr, clearly stated his faith before the Sanhedrin knowing full well the consequences. “But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; and he said ‘Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God.'” (Acts 7:55-56)

Though it cost him his earthly life, Stephen had faith enough to know that God would receive him with open arms and he would be safe. Even as he was being stoned he asked that God not hold the sins of those throwing the stones against them.

The early Church saw many martyrs who willingly gave their lives rather than deny their faith in God. They saw that the rewards of faith far outweighed the sin of denying that faith. Even today, there are martyrs throughout the world, being punished, imprisoned and dying for their faith. As with most things of God, the national and international press tends to ignore these events. But they occur with far too much frequency in many countries around the world. Even in a country such as the United States, where the constitution promises the freedom of expression of religion, there are those who would take that away. They want to claim a right to “freedom from religion”, whatever that might mean. In many ways we should feel sorry for them. It must be difficult to live in a world where there is nothing greater than oneself to rely upon. I can’t imagine not being able to turn to God; to thank Him for His many blessings and to ask His continued blessing and grace.

How do we regain the faith of a child? By truly accepting God as our Father and knowing that He will always be there for us. We need to reach a level of trust that assures us that, regardless of what happens, God is on our side. He will protect us, shelter us, comfort us. That doesn’t mean we will not have trials and tribulations, but it does mean that our reward will be great when these sufferings are over and we enter into His kingdom. It also means we have a mighty partner in our efforts to overcome those trials. We must give up the concerns of this world and concentrate on the glory of the next.

This does not mean, however, that we have no responsibility for ourselves and our lives. We must willingly turn to God and accept the help He provides. He will always be there, waiting to help; hoping to help. But we must make the decision to ask for and then to accept that help. Even though the path He would have us walk may not be the path we would chose, we must live for Him and follow where He leads. Christ died for us, we must die to our sins if we are to develop the kind of faith He desires. We must look to God with the faith of that young girl who willing threw herself into thin air, fully confident that God will catch us just as the priest caught her.

“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalms 26:1)

The above meditation is a chapter from Ed’s new eBook “The Narrow Gate”.

Available now for only $1.99 on Amazon,


Barnes & Noble,



and other fine publishers.

Children of God

Children Of God

Guest contributor:   Ed Trego

“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of sonship. When we cry ‘Abba! Father!’ it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” (Romans 8:14-17)

“But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God; who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12-13)

“See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” (1 John 3:1)

As Christians, we should find great comfort and joy in these scriptures. I find it unimaginable that I, a sinful man, am a son of God. But if I believe the bible, that is exactly what I am. What wondrous love God has for us. Man has rejected Him throughout history. We rejected and killed His prophets, His kings, His judges, and even His son, our Lord, Jesus Christ. And yet He still desires to adopt us into His family and call us His children.

This is perhaps one of the hardest things for those seeking God to understand. We are conditioned to believe that we are rejected when we do not do those things others request of us. If we are rude, we are not liked. If we turn our back on someone who needs our help, we don’t expect them to help us when we need it. When we lie to others, we are quite certain that they will lie to us as well. This is the way we live in our fallen humanity. What goes around comes around. You reap what you sow. Choose whatever cliché you wish, we don’t expect love and kindness from those we refuse to be loving and kind toward.

God, however, doesn’t return hate for hate, rejection for rejection. He continually gives love and forgiveness. He will certainly admonish us, or punish us. He will try us as gold is tried in fire. But His intent is never to turn us away, only to bring us closer to Him. We are the ones who can, and sometimes do, reject God, not the other way around. If we are condemned to eternal damnation it is of our free choice, not God’s punishment. He desires us to be part of His family, but if we refuse, He won’t force us.

Imagine the hurt and sorrow that is caused by the rejection of a child. I’m sure most of us who are parents have had some experience with that occurrence. Hopefully it was short lived and the child returned to our open, loving arms. But there are those children who never return. Whose rejection is permanent. As much as we want them to come home, they will not. As much as we want to forgive them, take them in our arms and love them, they remain distant. This is an incredible hurt, a hurt that never heals. But in the end, it is the child who must return. We can’t, as parents, force their love or demand their company. We can only hope and pray that they will someday realize the love they are rejecting.

,If we, as parents’ can feel this hurt and understand it, how much more does God know of this pain, this rejection? He has, throughout history, given us blessings, love and friendship. And we, as His children, have rejected His love and caring. We have moved away and refused to be part of His family, just as our children have sometimes done.

Our God is an incredibly forgiving God who loves us entirely and will throughout eternity. Even as we are broken and saddened by the rejection of our children, so God is when we reject Him. Yet He is always there, with His arms open. He would love nothing better than to take us in His arms and hold us in His love forever.

As a family member, we have an obligation to participate in family functions. Whether that be a Thanksgiving dinner, a birthday, wedding, or other special occasion, we are expected to be there. The expectation isn’t one of a requirement, but of a desire. A desire to fully participate in the life of the family. In our world today, our families are sometimes spread all over the country and may not always be able to participate in family events. But the phone calls, the surprise appearance, the regrets for being unable to attend, are evidence that we recognize the importance of the occasion and our desire to be a part of it.

We must also recognize that being a member of God’s family also entails some family responsibilities. Just as being a good family member in our human family, we must also be a good member of God’s family. We must participate in those things that are pleasing to God. This includes attending church as a privilege, not a chore. We are very blessed to have the opportunity to worship God publicly without fear of retribution. In many areas of the world this isn’t possible. We should always be mindful and protective of this blessing.

We need to love one another. Jesus tells us in numerous places throughout the gospels of the importance of this command. The Sadducees asked Jesus, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law.” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all you soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And the second is like it, you shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22:36-40) Without this kind of love, we can’t claim to be a member of God’s family.

We must strive to please God in all that we do. We will fail, and fail again, but we must continue to try. God knows that we are weak and will fail in our efforts to please Him. But I believe that God truly is pleased by our efforts to please Him, even when we fail. He is always there to pick us up from our failures and help us get back on the right track even though He knows that we will fail again. If we were to ask for God’s help before we fail, He would provide us with the strength to not fail. But we, as humans, have a very hard time admitting that we can’t do it ourselves.

As our parents forgave our mistakes in childhood, so will God forgive our mistakes in adulthood. That’s part of the definition of family; the willingness to forgive the errors, or sins, of our brethren. Even though human parents sometimes fail at this responsibility to forgive, God never will. Regardless of our sins, He is waiting to forgive them and welcome us back into His family with open arms.

When I confess my sins and seek forgiveness I say an “Act of Contrition”. It is a prayer of remorse for having sinned against God and recognizing that fault. It is also a statement of willingness to try my best to change my life in order to not offend God with my sins. It is quite simple, but very moving. I consider this prayer to be instrumental in my salvation and continued membership in the family of God. I firmly believe that failing to be sincere in my remorse and commitment to try to do better means that I have not honestly sought forgiveness for my sins.

“Oh my God I am heartily sorry for having offended you and I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell, but most of all because they offend you, my God, who are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of your grace, to confess my sins, to do penance and to amend my life.”

For me the most meaningful part of this prayer is that I detest my sins because they offend God. Of course I don’t want to suffer the pains of hell, but more importantly, I don’t want to offend and disappoint my loving father in heaven. As a human, full of weakness and failings, I know full well that I will need to say this prayer many times in this life. We all fail in our efforts to avoid sin. We are blessed that we have a God who wants to forgive; who wants us as part of His family.

If you ever doubt the forgiveness of God and His willingness to accept us back into His family I suggest you read the parable of the prodigal son. (see Luke 15:11-32). As a member of a family this son did virtually everything wrong that could be done wrong. He essentially wished his father dead by asking for his inheritance. He then took his inheritance and wasted it on a wanton, wild lifestyle, eventually becoming destitute and starving. When he finally recognized the wrong he had done, he went home to his father offering to serve him not as a son but as a servant. He felt he didn’t deserve to be considered a son after all that he had done. The love of his father, however, was so great that he immediately took the boy back in as a son and celebrated his return.

This is the love God has for us. We can do nothing that God will not forgive if we only ask it of Him. He will accept us back into His family and forget the wrong we have done without question. If only we could live in our earthly families with this kind of love, perhaps we could better understand the incredible gift God has given us by counting us among his children.

“But when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying. ‘Abba! Father!’ So through God you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son then an heir. (Galatians 4:4-7)

The above meditation is a chapter from Ed’s new eBook “The Narrow Gate”.

Available now for only $1.99 on Amazon,


Barnes & Noble,


and other fine publishers.

The Narrow Gate

Guest contributor:   Ed Trego

“Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (Matthew 7:13-14)

Narrow Gate

As I look at the world today, it’s easy to understand Jesus’ warning above. So many want to believe, and would have others believe, that they are the chosen ones, the spiritual ones, God’s elect. However, many of them do not follow the path that Jesus has laid out before us. They refuse to accept the hardship and difficulty of finding the narrow gate. Even if they should stumble upon it, they lack the spiritual strength to enter through it.

Making it to church on Sunday and living the rest of the week for themselves is not the answer, yet many follow that pattern. They trot out their “Sunday Best,” not only in clothes, but also in spirituality, and then put their Christianity back in the closet with their suits and finery until the next Sunday. Some don’t even wait until Mass has ended to slip out the doors and get back to their own lives. If they can’t even devout one hour to God on Sunday, why should they expect that God will be welcoming them with open arms? What other relationship could grow and flourish if ignored the way many ignore their relationship with God? Imagine trying to sustain a marriage by devoting an hour a week to it and living the rest of the week selfishly and without concern for your spouse. Your marriage would fall apart very quickly. So will your relationship with God if you aren’t willing to devote the time necessary to make it grow and flourish.

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s foes will be those of his own household. He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and he who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:31-39)

Once again we are told that there will be difficulties to overcome if we are to follow Jesus. If we will only look around, we see that Jesus’ words are very true in many lives today. How many of us have relatives who refuse Christianity and live their lives in sin? How many of us have the courage to confront them? That’s what Jesus was telling us He came to do; to turn us against our own family if necessary in order to serve and follow Him. A very hard teaching that few put into practice. There used to be shame in our society. When someone chose to ignore morality and live in sin, there was a price to pay. Even their own families would shame them and, in some cases, refuse to consider them a part of their family as long as they continued to live in sin. That shame is practically non-existent in society today.

Jesus tells us that we must love Him more than our earthly family. Members of our family may turn from God. Our son or our daughter may live a sinful life. Our brother or sister may be living in a sinful relationship. If we truly love Jesus and wish to follow Him, we must be willing to confront those persons and, with great love and tenderness, gently point out their sinfulness.

Our family should also extend to those people with whom we associate and, in a larger sense, to society at large. Sadly, our society has reached a level of decadence that threatens all of us in its sinfulness. Acts that would have brought shame and the reproach of others are ignored, while those who truly practice their Christianity are under attack from every corner. Not a day goes by that we don’t hear or read of the death of an innocent at the hands of someone who simply has no regard for human life. Kids enter schools and kill other kids; children shoot total strangers out of boredom. Girls and women are drugged and raped and it’s passed off as “date rape” and almost snickered at rather than condemned. We have failed miserably to instill respect for others in our younger generation. If fact we’ve taught them that life isn’t sacred if it’s inconvenient. Through abortion and assisted suicide we’ve taught our children that an innocent in the womb or an elderly in a nursing home is of no value. They can be discarded along with the with the trash if they are an inconvenience. We offer no choice to the unborn; how long will it be until we no longer give the choice to the elderly or the infirm. Are we to decide whose life is of value and whose isn’t? We do not give life, God does. We have no right to take innocent life. It is our responsibility as Christians to combat the sinfulness and lack of morality so common in our society today. Jesus expects that of us if we are to be His followers. He also expects that we will experience some difficulty and even rejection by those we love when we confront these issues in a Christian way. The narrow gate is not for those who refuse to live their spirituality rather than just proclaim it.

“And behold, one came up to him, saying, ‘Teacher, what good deed must I do, to have eternal life?’ And he said to him, ‘Why do you ask me about what is good? One there is who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.’ He said to him, ‘Which?’ And Jesus said, ‘You shall not kill, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ The young man said to him, ‘All these I have observed; what do I do I still lack?’ Jesus said to him, ‘If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure I heaven; and come, follow me.’ When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful; for he had great possessions.

“And Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Truly, I say to you, it will be hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:16-24)

The gospel doesn’t tell us if the young man took Jesus’ advice and sold his possessions and came back to follow Him. However, this teaching again reminds us that following Jesus will have some difficulty and discomfort to overcome. What we hold most precious on earth can rob us of the true treasure of eternal life with God. We must be willing to sacrifice those blessings God has provided without thought to their earthly worth. If we refuse to be good stewards of the gifts of God, we risk losing salvation and eternal life as well.

Thankfully, Jesus also gave us the path to salvation, “When the disciples heard this they were greatly astonished, saying, ‘Who then can be saved?’ But Jesus looked at them and said to them, ‘With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 16:25-26). With the help of Jesus we can turn from our earthly wants and desires and seek those things that will bring us eternal life. But He is also telling us it is not possible without God. We can’t do it alone, we must have the grace, mercy and help of God.

The path, then, requires God’s intervention. If we consider our sinfulness and weakness as Christians, we must know that our salvation isn’t the result of our efforts, but of the mercy of God. Yes, we must do those things that our Christian beliefs would require; prayer, forgiveness; loving others; sharing the blessings we have received. But if we are to enter the kingdom of God, he must invite us through His loving mercy and forgiveness. We don’t have the cost of the ticket, Jesus had to pay that price for us. Only by the intervention of God can a camel “go through the eye of a needle.”

As we have seen, Jesus gave warning to all that the way to paradise is not going to be easy. It will be hard and difficult. Many will think they are headed in the right direction, but find out too late that they have gone through the wide gate that leads to destruction. Many will start down the right path, but turn away when the going gets hard. Still others will try their best to remain on the path to the narrow gate but won’t understand that they don’t have the strength to get through the gate. Without God, it isn’t possible. But with God all things are possible. Even though we are sinful humans, incapable of obtaining salvation on our own, that promise is offered if only we turn to God for his help.

Throughout Christian history many have said, and many today, continue to say they are following the path, but few truly are. “Not every one who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.” (Matthew 7:21-23)

Jesus told us that those who find the narrow gate are few. Even those who work miracles in His name aren’t assured of heaven if they haven’t entered through the narrow gate. How can we know which gate we are approaching? Especially in the world today, the narrow gate is not only difficult to enter, it’s hard to even find. It’s hidden among the sinfulness and secularism prevalent in today’s society. Some might think it beyond the hope of anyone to find that gate and enter the kingdom through it.

Yet, in His teaching, His parables and the guidance given to His apostles Jesus leads the way to the narrow gate. He repeatedly points out the error of those who believe they are righteous, admonishing them to change their ways before it is too late. Some did, but many ignored the warnings and will spend eternity in hell rather than heaven. Today, also, some heed His word, believe what He said, and produce good fruit. Many would have the world believe they are the faithful, righteous followers of Christ, but they ignore His word in many ways and produce no fruit. These are the ones who will be cast aside on that judgment day.

Don’t think that you aren’t capable of finding the narrow gate. Don’t let anyone convince you that you can’t enter through it. Is it difficult? If we believe Jesus, the answer is yes. Is it impossible? Again, if we believe Jesus, no, it’s not impossible. We must strive to do our best while realizing that we will fail from time to time. We must recognize that we can’t earn our way into heaven, but must have the help of God to get there. He waits for us to ask; He waits to forgive us; He waits to welcome us into His kingdom.

“Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7)

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

The above meditation is a chapter from Ed’s new eBook “The Narrow Gate”. Available now for only $1.99 at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes and Smashwords.