By TARA CONNOLLY Staff writer
“Jesus was all about ‘new ways.’ He was always offering people new ways to live their lives. Even on the cross – he offered the thieves beside him a new way. Those same things Jesus offered to people in the Scriptures are available to us,” said Father Allen Hoffa, assistant pastor of Holy Guardian Angels, Reading, during “Faith and Spirits.”
Father Hoffa was the presenter for the informal discussion, “A New Way to Be Human: Living a Life in Christ,” at P.J. Whelihan’s Pub and Restaurant, Reading.
Father Hoffa began the discussion by asking the faithful to contemplate their relationship with Jesus Christ and stressed many people are fearful of maintaining a “love life” with him.
“We have to tell people ‘this is who my Lord is, this is my God and this is what I want you to experience,’” he said.
Father Hoffa cautioned against forcing rules on others and advised the faithful to tap into their personal experiences with God.
“Take the gift of faith and the gift of God and put it in someone’s life and affect them. That is a new way of life. Tell them how you met God,” he said.
“The world is not robotic. It is constantly changing. But God doesn’t change. Our new way to ‘be’ is to constantly look at the world differently.”
Like Jesus Christ, he told the faithful, approach people as individuals and to look into their hearts.
“Everyone is not the same. You can’t beat them over the head. You have to meet each person intimately – like Jesus did. Jesus looked into hearts to see what they needed,” said Father Hoffa.
As human beings, he said, people are built for relationships and noted Adam didn’t find fulfillment until Eve was created.
“The beautiful thing about relationships is that we are called to live and be alive. We are to deposit the faith and set souls on fire through the true inspiration of the Holy Spirit,” said Father Hoffa.
According to Father Hoffa, a person cannot be “partially’ alive with Christ and maintained that people compare a lack of freedom to imprisonment or restriction.
“The last thing we want to give up is God. He is the core and the constant,” he said.
“God is not saying he wants to strip you of your free will. He built creation. He knows what is good for us and what is bad for us.”
He stressed testing the waters is not freedom.
“That is chaos. It’s great to experience things – but stay focused. God gives us an incredible life with parameters. Those parameters are to prevent us from falling into sin and to protect us from things that aren’t good for us,” said Father Hoffa.
“We have to understand that our loving father gave us parameters so we can fully enjoy the good things in this world.”
As Christians, Father Hoffa pointed out that they do not necessarily have to be their “brother’s keeper” but have a responsibility to go to others out of love.
“Sometimes we have to put ourselves aside. That is a ‘new way’ in today’s world because there is nothing in it for ‘us.’ And that type of selflessness changes us. We are called to love people courageously,” he said.
Although the opportunity may appear difficult to be Christ to others, Father Hoffa said the chance to do so should never be underestimated.
“We can make a significant impact. We have the chance to do the same thing Jesus did 2,000 years ago. We can go to people intimately and help them see Christ,” he said.
In doing so, he advised the faithful to talk about their specific encounters with Christ and to take time to make their love life with him stronger.
“I hope you have the desire in your hearts to share that love life with others,” said Father Hoffa.
The speaker series is sponsored by the diocesan Office of Adult Formation. For more information, contact Rick Dooley, assistant coordinator, 610-289-8900 or firstname.lastname@example.org.