A rose is a beautiful symbol of love all over the world. God created the seed of a rose, but he gave the chore of developing this seed to become the great symbol of love that he intends to human hands. With the much needed tender loving care given to the seed of a rose, we all know what a beautiful symbol of love it becomes.
The earthly life of each of us is that of a rose, we are created by God as a seed. At creation of this seed, along with the gifts, graces and love of the Creator, he gives the responsibility of developing this seed into the most beautiful symbol of love possible, to our parents, families, church, friends and others. When we reach the age of reason, through Baptism and other Sacraments, he gives each of us the responsibility of developing this seed he created. We must on a daily basis, use the necessary tender loving care in developing the seed in each of us into the most beautiful symbol of love he intended for each of us. Through our Baptism, we are also called to nurture the seeds of our brothers and sisters by the example of the life we live.
In growing roses, it's very difficult at times to give them the attention they need. For roses to continue its successful growth, a priority of unselfish love, dedication, sacrifices, determination and commitment are needed. Our journey of life is no different if we are to become the "Rose" God wants and desires from each of us.
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Our journey of life at times is very difficult, there are many obstacles that block our development of the seed from God. One of the most evil obstacles that we are all familiar with is "unforgiveness". Let me go further to say the lack of unconditional forgiveness.
How often do we allow our inability to forgive keep us from becoming the symbol of love that God expects from each of us? This is the basis on which we will be judged. How can we rid ourselves of this terrible obstacle that prevents us from becoming the beautiful "Rose of Christ"?
First, we must listen to the word of God, we must believe the word of God and we must live the word of God. Jesus tells us in Mark 12:30-31: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your hear, with all your soul, with all your mind and all your strength. The second greatest commandment is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these". How can we live these commandments if we refuse to forgive our neighbor? Are we sincere when we pray to God as he taught us how: "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us"? Matt: 18:21-22 tells us when Jesus was asked, "Lord, if you my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? Jesus answered: I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times". Luke 7:37 tells us "Forgive and you will be forgiven"
Ephesians 4:32 tells us "to be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ". These are a few of the many passages in scripture that tells us that in order to grow in Christ, we must be able to forgive.
May of us are willing to forgive, but not on God's terms. We want to forgive on our terms: I am willing to forgive if ., I will forgive you, if you ., I will forgive, but I will always hold it against you , I will forgive, but I will always remember what you did to me , I will only forgive under these terms . Etc.
God forgives us unconditionally, therefore we must forgive unconditionally. Unconditional forgiveness removes the obstacles that lie in the way of intimate union with God and others; which is a must if we are to become the great symbol of love, God expects of us. We have an awesome God. His love for us is so great that it is a force that draws us into him, and consequently away from obstacles that could keep us from God. For this reason a focus on unconditional forgiveness is an essential dimension of Christian spirituality and a condition of spiritual growth. God's love, experienced as unconditional forgiveness, thus move us in the direction not only becoming the "Rose" God wants us to be, but moves others in the same direction. It is in this way that our forgiveness of others is part of spiritual growth. Our actions of unconditional forgiveness show not only in reaching beyond the faults committed against us and refusing to allow them to become barriers of our love of God and neighbor but also in seeking to eradicate the obstacles that exist between people and their God.
Let us forgive unconditionally as we have been forgiven unconditionally. Let us reconcile unconditionally as we have been reconciled unconditionally. The unconditional forgiveness we show to others that makes us the salt of the earth and a light for the world are acts of a perfect "Rose". We embrace in the good that we do-the very person of God.
A friend told me that I am "Crazy" for growing roses. If growing roses helps me to love my God and neighbors, then I will be "crazy".
Deacon Will (Bill) G. Johnson is a product of 12 years of education by the Oblate Sisters of Providence in Charleston, SC. He is a Permanent Deacon for eight years in the Diocese of Camden, NJ. He is the Director for the Office of Black Catholic Ministry for the Diocese of Camden. Deacon Bill is married to Sandra (Bailey) for forty-two years and the parents of three sons and two grandchildren.