Wednesday, March 13, 2019

                                                         Beloved Children of God

Jesus was tempted in the desert immediately following His baptism. We heard that story this past weekend at mass.  In fact we hear different versions of that same story every year on the first Sunday of Lent. 
What empowered Jesus to resist those temptations for 40 days?  I think His resistance came from the voice of His Father at His baptism. His Father said: “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.”  Jesus’ identity as God’s Beloved Son solidified his resistance to every evil.
By virtue of our own Baptisms we have also become beloved sons and daughters of God. The more we believe that, the stronger will be our resistance to every evil too. 

Unfortunately many of us don’t really believe that we are God’s beloved children. If I ask you to tell me 3 things that God really loves about you, can you do it?

If you can, that’s wonderful.  If you can’t here’s a suggestion.  Ask someone, whom you trust, to tell you what they think God really loves about you. I’ll bet they’ll can come up with a few things pretty quickly.  Listen to them.

Monday, March 4, 2019

                                        Bearing the Cross of Christ

There’s a great ritual for people in RCIA programs during Lent.  It makes bearing the cross of Christ very concrete. On Ash Wednesday Eve, use this ritual to make the Cross a part of you.  

Make the cross on your forehead. It's Christ who strengthens you with this sign of love.

Make the cross on your ears that you may hear the voice of the Lord.

Make the cross on your eyes that you may see the glory of God.

Make the cross on your lips that you may respond to God’s word.

Make the cross over your heart that Christ will dwell within you.

Make the cross on your shoulders that you may bear the yoke of Christ.

Make the cross on your hands that Christ may be made known in your work.

Make the cross on your feet that you may walk in the way of Christ.

Wherever you go, remember you’re covered with crosses. It’s part of you.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

                               Love Your Enemies…Forgive and You Will be Forgiven

Last weekend’s Gospel (Lk 6:27-38) was packed with many sayings of Jesus. A primary focus of that text was to love and forgive enemies.  It brought to mind that school shooting in an Amish School in Pennsylvania about 12 years ago.

10 girls, ages 7-11, were lined up in a classroom.  All 10 were shot by Charles Roberts, a fellow with mental problems. 5 of the girls died and 5 recuperated.  After shooting the girls, Roberts killed himself.

The day of the shooting, the grandfather of one of the girls who was killed, went to the Robert’s home to reach out to the perpetrator’s family. He understood that their family was hurting too, not only because of what Roberts’ did, but also because his family lost him.    

On the day of Roberts’ funeral, more Amish folks attended his funeral than non-Amish people. The Amish community clearly understood Jesus’ message of forgiveness.

Love your enemies…forgive and you will be forgiven. Is there someone you need to forgive?  And, if you are one of your own worst enemies, do you need to forgive yourself?    

Thursday, February 21, 2019

                                                        Stumbling Stones

Do you remember the time that Peter rebuked Jesus?  It happened when Jesus was talking about His suffering and dying.  Peter didn’t want to hear it and he rebuked Jesus. (Mark 8:31-33) Rebuking Jesus wasn’t such a bright thing to do.  Jesus rebuked Peter in return and it stung! He said to Peter: “Get behind me Satan!”
You may recall that Peter’s name means “rock”.  And in this instance Peter…the rock, has become a stumbling stone.  He is not helping Jesus.  He’s tripping him up!  Or, at least, trying to.

Makes me think about the ways we can be stumbling stones for each other.  Parents can be stumbling stones for their children when they give their children bad examples.  Friends can be stumbling stones to friends when they aren’t really honest with them.  And priests are horrible stumbling stones in our church when they abuse children. 
Who is a stumbling stone in your life sometimes?  How are you a stumbling stone to other people?  To whom do you go when you have been tripped up by someone?  Think of recent examples. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

                                                          It is Well for My soul

I don’t listen to music much.  But recently I was humming a familiar melody and Ricardo and Antony (the priests I live with) asked me what I was humming.  They recognized the melody too.  It comforted me that neither of them could remember the words either.  

A bit later one of them said: “I think it’s called ‘The Prayer’ which Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli sing.” (Only recently have I discovered that there are U-tube renditions of these songs.)  So I went on line and found a recording of that wonderful piece.  It brought me to tears.

Are there some pieces of music that bring you to tears? What are they?

The other religious song that currently touches me is a song entitled: “It is well for my soul’.  The point of that song is that no matter what happens, God is with us.  And that’s a rendition of one of my favorite sayings: ‘We’re always in God’s hands no matter what happens, and that’s always a good place to be.’  

Take time today to listen to some religious music that touches your heart.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

                                                                    Early Death Threat  

The last 2 Sunday Gospels describe Jesus’ first visit to His hometown after He began His public ministry. (Luke 4:14-30). His address in their Synagogue seemed to go well in the beginning but it turned sour in the end. 

Here are the last 2 verses of that Gospel: “When the people in the synagogue heard Him, they were all filled with fury.  They rose up, drove Him out of town, and led Him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl Him down headlong.  But He passed thru the midst of them and went away.”  

They wanted to kill Jesus right after He reminded them that God healed the widow of Zarephath and Naamen the Syrian. They were Gentiles…not Jews. Maybe His hometown people didn’t like the idea of God loving everyone?  Did that threaten them somehow?

Pope Francis causes a stir when he talks about welcoming immigrants who come to Europe from Africa.  Why does that happen?

What would it mean for us to love everyone the way that God does? If we do that, will someone want to hurl us down a hill headlong as well?

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

                                                                      The Unsung

I have a beautiful print of an oil painting by famed Wisconsin artist David Lenz.  My friend Jack gave it to me a few months ago. David niche was to paint pictures of the ‘unsung’. The picture I have is of a young African American child, with a Milwaukee sunrise as a backdrop. 

Many of David’s subjects have some sort of impairment. His passion was to see people with flaws as beautiful works of God’s creation. (Of course, who of us isn’t flawed?)  

Like Jesus, David also loved unsung people…people who might not be noticed because they’re in the background or on the margins of life.

Who did Jesus notice?  The blind, the lame, people possessed by an evil spirit, the soldiers nailing Him to the cross, lepers begging from a distance, people whose hearts were broken. Jesus recognized them and thereby lifted up their spirits.   

Make a list of unsung people you know. Or pay attention to people on the peripheries of your life today. What simple things could you do or say that might help someone like that feel like they count?