Tuesday, April 25, 2017

                                                        The Easter Surprise

The resurrected Christ appears to His disciples in unexpected places and often in disguise. And He always brings peace, hope and joy.

To the astonishment of His disciples, Jesus appeared to them on Easter Day when they were hiding in a room with locked doors. 

On that same day He appeared as a ‘stranger’ walking with the 2 disciples on the road to Emmaus. Only at supper did they recognize Him in the breaking of the bread.

Also on that day, Mary Magdalene thought Jesus was the gardener and asked him where he put the body. When Jesus called her name, she finally realized that the ‘gardener’ was Jesus.

I know that the Resurrected Christ is still among us.  It’s just that He appears in people and places where we least expect Him...bringing us peace, hope and joy.

Since Easter Sunday, how has the Risen Lord appeared to you? Have you seen Him in your spouse or your family or a friend?  How do others see the peace, hope and joy of the risen Lord in you?  Take 10 minutes to just think about these things.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

                                                                Empty Tombs

One of my favorite spiritual writers is Ronald Rohlheiser.  In 2015 he puplished a wonderful little book entitled: The Passion and the Cross.  In the final chapter, he described an Easter card he received.  On the cover it simply said: Happy Easter.  But inside the card was this thought-provoking sentence: “May you leave behind you a string of empty tombs.”

I’m still wrestling with that sentence.  I think it means that just as our resurrected Lord left behind a tomb that was empty of death, so should we leave behind whatever deadens us, since we have also died and risen with Christ in our baptisms.

Think about this.  Inside of our hearts there can be little crevices filled with harsh judgments, or feelings of anger over a past hurt, or a hidden jealousy.  Maybe we still harbor a resentment or some prejudice against another person or a group of people, or a feeling of shame about something of which we have never spoken.   

If the forgiveness of the Risen Christ is truly in us, if the joy, peace and hope of the Risen Christ fills us up, then those crevices, harbours and tombs will be empty.   

Name something entombed in your heart, from which you’d like to be freed. 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

                                                           Dying Practice

If we want to be good at cooking or playing sports or speaking a foreign language, we have to practice.  I think the same is true when it comes to dying. 

What does it mean to practice dying?  First of all, let me tell you what it doesn’t mean.  It doesn’t mean laying down on the couch and pretending you're in your casket!  Practicing dying is a much more positive experience.

It’s what parents often do. When my mom was pregnant with me in 1947, my dad took a second job to replace our ice-box with a refrigerator.  He did that to help us. He died to himself 3 days a week and every other weekend for many years. 

I die to myself when I bite my lip before I say something hurtful. I die to myself when I don’t insist on my own way or when I respond to someone’s call for help.  I die to myself when I do good things that are hard to do or when I swallow my pride to respond with love.

Jesus gave his life away many times before He died.  He asks us to do the same.

Last week, how did you die to yourself?  How can you give your life away during Holy Week?  It’s a great time to get some ‘dying practice’.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

                                                        Blind Men and  Women 

Last weekend’s gospel about the healing of the blind man caused me to think about my own kinds of blindness.  Here’s my story.

Do you remember how some medieval heretics were burned at the stake over questions about what revolved around what?  Was it the sun around the earth or the earth around the sun?  In a similar way I’m guilty of my own occasional planetary heresy.  It’s called ‘Thinking the World Revolves Around Me’.     

Here are my symptoms.  When I feel overwhelmed by too much stuff or I think I got the short end of the stick or I’m in a funky mood, I can fairly easily slide into a kind of ‘pity-party’ for myself.  When I do that, I’m like the blind man. I don’t see the blessings and graces that are all over the place!  I hate that when it happens.     

So I pray that the Lord will heal me from my self-centered blindness and from other blindness too…like taking things for granted or judging people before I know their stories.  

From what kinds of blindness do you suffer? Ask the Lord for healing from your blindness before you leave this blog. 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

                                                        She Had Five Husbands 

What a remarkable story about the woman at the well in last Sunday’s Gospel. (Jn 4:5-42) Jesus broke multiple taboos when He visited Samaria, spoke to this woman publicly, used the same utensil she used, and welcomed her as a woman disciple.  No other Rabbi of His time would have done any of those things.     

And He does them knowing that she had 5 husbands and then lived with another man.

Why would Jesus do this?  Although Jesus was thirsty and asked her for a drink, Jesus knew that she was thirsty too.   He knew about the marriages.  And He understood her situation of being belittled and maliciously judged.  She was thirsty for kindness and acceptance.

When we hear about the five husbands, our eyebrows raise and we jump to conclusions that are probably wrong.  There were laws in Samaria that allowed men to buy women and sell them whenever they wanted.  Imagine being bought and sold 5 times and finally gaining her freedom…only to be shunned by her own people.

Why are we so quick to judge people before we know their stories? When have you been on the giving or receiving end of that kind of judgment?

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

                                                “You Are My Beloved Son”
                                                             (Mt. 17:1-9)

                              Or God could say: “You are my beloved daughter.”

While Jesus is uniquely the Son of God and we heard God’s voice proclaim that truth in last weekend’s Transfiguration story, God can also say the same things about us.  Aren’t we also God’s sons and daughters by virtue of our baptisms?  And doesn’t God fully love us too?

Sometimes that’s hard for me to believe. I suppose that’s because I know what a jerk I can be once in a while. But God’s love is unconditional and He loves me even when I am a jerk! It doesn’t seem possible, but it’s true!

I repeat what I said in an earlier blog: God loves the whole package that we are.

Make a list of 3 or 4 things that God sees in you and loves very much. Close your eyes and imagine hearing God's voice, saying those things to you.

Are there some people that you don’t see as beloved brothers and sisters? Name a couple of people. What does God sees in them that you don’t see?

Tuesday, March 7, 2017


Is my guilty conscience catching up to me, or am I a bigger sinner than I used to be? I notice that I’m going to confession more frequently these days. (I have friends who would say that I’ve always been a big sinner…it’s just that I’ve lived in denial for too long!!!) 

Periodically someone tells me that they don’t go to to confession because they don’t know what to confess. They say “I don’t kill anyone and I don’t steal anything, and I’m too old to break the 6th commandment.  So what would I say?”

As a result, confessionals can be pretty lonely places on Saturday afternoons.
Here are some other sins: jealousy, pride, stubbornness, impatience, hypocrisy, talking about the faults of others, gossip, self-centeredness, passive aggressiveness, trying to control others, grumpiness, lying, putting guilt trips on others, judging people harshly, prejudice, feeling sorry for ourselves, putting people down, not doing the good we could have done.

Thanks to a couple Lenten groups for their help in compiling this examination of conscience for us older folks.   

Are there other sins you might add?