Good morning! The Christmas songs are beginning to play on the radios and one feels a certain joy of the season of ‘good will’!

Last night I was at a Bible study and just before the meeting I had an interesting chat with a prayerful lady!

Somehow I happened to mention purgatory and like stepping on someone’s toe with a boot she totally changed!

‘I don’t believe in purgatory, I believe in what the Bible says’ she said!

I was thinking ‘well I do too and I believe in what the church says and what experiences and testimonies have taught me too’

However I decided not to rise to the bait and simply said

“I can see we don’t agree, anyway we are both children of God, have a nice evening’

The incident got me thinking of just how much controversy can come from different understandings of the bible and also how intolerant people can be of other people’s beliefs!

Even if we are 100% sure that we are correct, we should still make every effort to respect the other person’s point of view and not treat them as bad people, heretics or idiots!

God looks at hearts and consciences and may be far more upset by our lack of love and charity than He is about somebody else’s erroneous theology!

Ultimately we will all be judged on love and if greater knowledge doesn’t lead to greater love then perhaps it’s time to question our motives!

It is also very easy to get into debates about the Bible!

Worth remembering is that Satan is an excellent Bible scholar and even had the arrogance to quote it at Jesus in the desert! He is a fallen angel and knows the Bible better than any human being.

Jesus didn’t enter into a debate with him for He knew that He wasn’t going to convert the devil!

Instead Jesus proclaimed the truth and moved on!

At times we need to know when to do this and this only comes with discernment!

On the way home in the train a drunken woman from Russia began to make sexual advances towards us. She even began to do a poll dance!

We told her that we were coming from a prayer meeting but she continued to mock and make sexual jokes.

Sadly she had no self-respect and we were forced to stop talking to her rather than continue a fruitless exchange with a woman who wasn’t ready to listen.

Satan loves to confuse us, to mock us and to distract us!

Jesus likes to keep things simple and to keep us focused!

And so that is why we need to be full of love, full of truth and in every situation discern what God is asking us to do and what God is asking us to say and when God is asking us to move on!

I’ll finish with what Our Lady said to St Bernadette in Lourdes!

“I am not asking you to make them believe you but to tell them” (paraphrase!)

Have a great day!

Michael