Tuesday, August 15, 2017

                                           Don’t Die Before your Dead

Jesus says: “I came that you might have life and have it to the full.” (Jn 10:10)

Mary was in Home Hospice Care for 7 months before brain cancer took her life.  But she wasn’t worried about it.  She showed no fear.  She never said: “Why me?”  She didn’t complain.  The Hospice Nurses and her family gave her great care.  And her mom and I brought her Communion…food for the journey…nearly every week. 

She died recently. Her breathing was very shallow and her husband knew it wouldn’t be long.  So what did he do?  He got an ice cream bar from the freezer and shared it with Mary.  She ate some of it and so did he. 20 minutes later, she took her last breath. 

Mary didn’t die before she was dead.  She lived her life fully until the end. 

Anxieties, worries, regrets and fears can deaden us.  They disguise the fact that we can’t control everything. They keep us from living the present moment.  And that’s sad.

Doesn’t sharing ice cream with a loved one just before dying sound pretty good?   

What does it mean to live life fully?  What deadens your spirit? What and/or who could help you die with grace? 

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

                                                   Hidden Treasures

“The kingdom of God is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all he has and buys that field.” (Mt 13:44)

In his commentary on this parable, Bishop Sklba says that parables are normally about God. And he suggests that this parable may point out that God hides treasures for us to discover.* Where does God bury them?  My guess is that they’re buried in our hearts. 

That helps me explain the recent discovery of some self-love, which was hidden in my heart for as long as I can remember.  Growing up with a negative self-image, led me to a variety of insecurities and ways to put myself down.  With the help of a good spiritual director and some trusted friends, I’ve finally uncovered the treasure of self-love. 

It makes a huge difference.  It clearly affects the way that I love my neighbors.

Are there some treasures hidden in your heart?  What could those treasures be and who could help you find them?  Take some time to think about this…and then…start digging! 

*Bishop Sklba’s commentary is found on page 294 of “Fire Starters”.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

                                                Wheat and Weeds

A man sows wheat in his field.  But an enemy sows weeds in that same field.  When the wheat sprouts, umpteen weeds also pop up. The servants want to pull out the weeds  But the landowner says: “Don’t do that. You’ll also pull out the wheat.  Wait until harvest. Then we’ll separate the wheat from the weeds.” (Mt.13:24-30)

At harvest, the wheat was stored in barns and the weeds tied in bundles for burning. 

It’s a parable about the mix of people in God’s Kingdom.  The wheat is the group of committed disciples.  The weeds are the rascals who persistently sin.     

Are you the wheat or the weeds?

I’m both.  I want to be kind, but sometimes I’m selfish.  I want to be honest, but sometimes I fib. I want to pray well but then I fall asleep.  What will happen to me?

Here’s my hope.  The grain is in the barn.  And the weeds tied up in bundles for burning.  Both of them had a purpose.  The grain was a source of food.  And the weeds provided fuel for the ovens and kindling for camp fires on chilly nights.

The bottom line is: Our merciful God loves the whole package that we are.  That’s the best news I’ve heard in a long time.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

                                                      Sowers of Seeds

“A sower went out to sow some seeds…” (Mt 13:3b) So starts a section of parables in Matthew’s Gospel. Jesus was a genius at telling these stories which made various points and which often had twists or surprises that captivated His audience.

The ‘Sower’ parable is among the most famous.  The usual interpretation is that God sows seeds on the hard, rocky, thorny or good soil in our hearts. In spite of everything, there is a 30, 60, or 100 fold return.  (Such a return was a twist because farmers of Jesus’ day were used to a ‘good’ return of only 4 or 5 fold.)  So the crowd was entertained, but they were also left thinking and talking about what Jesus meant.   

But this parable can also be about us as sowers. Don’t parents and grandparents try to sow good seeds in their children and grandchildren?  Name a few seeds you’ve tried to sow.  Can you see how some of them are bearing fruit?

Think about people who sowed particular seeds in you when you were young. Who sowed which seeds in you that are producing a good harvest now? 

What kind of seeds will you sow this week?

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

                                                                 The Bathroom Mirror

If you tend to see what’s negative about yourself before you see what’s positive, you might like to make a copy of the following reminder.  It will help you see yourself the way that God sees you.  I have a copy of this in my bathroom, where I see it every morning. 

                                                             Creator God,

                                          Thank you for making me in your image.

                                                              Merciful God,

                                   Thank you for loving the whole package that I am.

How do you take after God?  When others see you and know you, how do they know that you are God’s child?

Tuesday, June 27, 2017


Chapter 10 of Matthew’s Gospel contains Jesus’ Missionary Discourse, in which He prepares His disciples for their work. He is particularly concerned that His disciples be ready to face persecution.  To that end He says: “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body, but cannot kill the soul.” (Mt. 10:28) 

Those words were especially appropriate for Matthew’s audience in 80 A.D., when his Gospel text was written down. It was a terrible period of persecution and martyrdom for anyone who dared to identify themselves as friends of Jesus and followers of ‘The Way’.   

In 1994, Pope John Paul II said: “At the end of the second millennium, the church has once again become a church of martyrs.”  Pope Francis echos the same message for the 21st Century. Search online for 21st Century Martyrs.  You will see names like Clement Shahbaz Bhatti and Annalena Tonelli. 

Mr. Bhatti was shot by a fringe group in Pakistan because he defended the rights of the Christian minority.  Ms. Tonelli was shot because she operated a hospital that cared for tuberculosis patients and victims of HIV/AIDS in Somalia. As lay witnesses to their faith, they are on the road to canonization.   

Could you be a martyr?  I’d like to think I could. But honestly, I’m not sure.  For which teachings of our faith might you be willing to die?

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

                                                The Movie Version of Your Life
                                        (A Lighthearted Summertime Reflection)

A while ago a ‘Ted Talk’ presenter said something like: “We are the lead actors in the story of our lives”.  That language got me to think about seeing the thread of our lives as a movie.    

So, imagine that you’re writing the script for the movie version of your life.  What would the core message be?  Name 2 or 3 real-life incidents that would capture your basic story line.   Include a time of crisis in your life.  

The Ted Talk presenter also said something like: “Everyone else in our lives are ‘supporting actors and actresses’.”   Name your real-life best supporting actors and actresses…people who made/make a big difference in the unfolding of your life.   

How would you show your relationship with God in the movie?  Is/was there a particular incident in your life when you just knew that God was with you?  How would you depict that moment?       

If God/Jesus were to name the film of your life, what would it be called?