Tuesday, October 16, 2018

                                               The Rich Man Who Walked Away Sad

A rich man asked Jesus what he had to do to gain eternal life.  Jesus told him to keep the commandments. And the rich man said that he had done that since his birth.  So Jesus said: “There is one thing more you need to do…sell all you have and give it to the poor. Then come and follow me.“ And the rich man went away sad because he had many possessions.

                                            Questions to think about:

       1. As the rich man got older do you think he regretted walking away from Jesus?
       2. If Jesus asked you to the same thing as that rich man, what would you do?

 3. If  you asked Jesus what you personally need to do to attain eternal life, what do you think Jesus would specifically ask of you? 

 4. What do you think happened to the rich man when he died?  

       5. What cost would you be willing to pay this week for an ‘Eternal Life Insurance Policy’?

In the next day or two, make it a point to tell someone the story of the rich man and what that story means to you.   

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

                                                         (Morocco Reflection no. 3)

Morocco is more than 99% Muslim.  Until this trip, I’ve never really talked to a Muslim.  But the following conversation changed that. 

We were in an ancient building getting info from a local guide. 10 days into our trip, I was tired of looking at buildings. So when the guide invited us to walk around the site, all I wanted to do was find a place to sit down.  I spotted a bench where one man sat.

Unsure of his language, I hesitantly asked if I could sit down. He said: “Yes…please join me.”  I complemented his English. He said: “I have to speak it well. I’m a tour guide.” We both smiled.

He asked what I did and I said: “I’m a Catholic Priest.” It was as if he was waiting for a moment like this. He quickly replied: “The problem with religion is that we have too many extremists. We need more normal people with moderate voices.” “Yes”, I clearly agreed. 

Then I told him the one thing I knew about the Koran: “It has more verses about Jesus’ mother Mary than the Bible does.”  He smiled and said:  “Yes, and Miriam (Mary) is the most common name for Muslim women.” What an interesting connection!

His tour group gathered round us.  We stood, hugged, and exchanged names. We agreed to pray for each other. He’s the only Muslim on my prayer list.  I won’t forget him.    

Think about a conversation you’ve had with someone that you’ll never forget.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

                                                      (Morocco Reflection 2.)

Morocco is ruled by King Mohammed VI.  Besides being very powerful, our guide pointed out that the king has more than 30 palaces.  We saw palaces in every city we visited.  But we only saw walls surrounding them and their main entrance gates.  At each gate there were military officers and other officials, who monitored those who wanted to enter.      

Seeing those gate-keepers reminded me of Pam Cremer and Mary Ann Huser who served as ‘gate-keepers’ for me when I was Pastor of St. Richard Parish.  They did a great job of fending off salesmen on the one hand, and making sure that I talked to or got messages from parishioners on the other hand. Thanks Pam and Mary Ann!

Is there someone in your life who is like a gate-keeper?  Someone who speaks for you when you need to rest or when you’re just not up to dealing with someone or some issue? 

In John’s Gospel we are reminded that Jesus is not only our good Shepherd, but He’s also the gate and the gate-keeper. (John 10:7-9)  We enter the heavenly sheepfold by going thru Him. The good news is that He’s a compassionate gate-keeper and a merciful judge. 

What do you think Jesus will say to you when it’s your turn to enter that gate?    

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

                                              The Man Who Wore Yellow Slippers
                                                          (Morocco Reflection 1.)

I visited Morocco for 12 days, returning this past Saturday night.  I’d like to write some blogs that relate to a few experiences there.

Our tour guide led us thru a number of “Kasbahs” in different cities.  Kasbahs are fortified neighborhoods or towns where tribal families live. Some Kasbahs date back to the 1200’s.  Their passageways are narrow and it is easy to get lost.
One day our guide led us thru a Kasbah in Marrakech.  Some members of our group noticed that there was a man in yellow slippers following us.  They were uneasy about this strange guy and mentioned it to our guide, who smiled when he heard their concern. 

It turns out that the man in yellow slippers was hired by our guide to follow our group. His job was to make sure that no one got lost in the maze of so many passageways. 

The yellow-slippered guy had a God-like job…making sure no one was lost.

Name a few times that you were lost…in different ways.  Name someone who helps you find your way or watches out for you.  My friends Carlos, Javier and Antony watch out for me.  I’m so grateful for their friendship.  And then, of course, there’s Jesus too. 

Make it a point today to thank someone who helps you navigate the maze of your life.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

                                         …Disciples Returned to Their Former Way of Life
                                                                         (John 6:66b)

Five weeks ago we started reading chapter 6 of John’s Gospel.  The whole chapter is dedicated to Jesus’ description of Himself as the ‘Bread of Life’.  The chapter begins with the Feeding of the 5,000.  But by the end of the chapter nearly all 5,000 people have walked away from Jesus.  Only some committed disciples and the 12 apostles remained.

But then, even the committed disciples became disillusioned with Jesus when He claimed that anyone who ate His flesh and drank His blood would have eternal life.  As a result of that, verse 66 says that “many of His disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied Him.” 

What strikes me about that sentence is that following Jesus meant that people had to adopt a ‘new way of life'. What do you think that means?

How does being a disciple affect your way of life?

Being a disciple affects my priorities.  It helps me make better choices.  It forces me to be honest with myself.  And, people on the margins are more visible to me.       

If you returned to your former way of life, what would that mean?

If I returned to my former way of life, I think I’d be a mess!     

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

                                                             Soul Food

This not a blog about African-American cuisine.  It’s a blog about food for our souls. Ron Rolheiser calls our souls the ‘fire inside us that give us life and energy, and the glue that holds us together’.  And he says that, just like our bodies need to be nourished, so do our souls. 

What has been food for your soul in the last couple of days?

Yesterday I found a prayer that I’d lost years ago.  It's food for my soul and maybe it'll be that for you too. “O Lord, support us all the day long, until the shadows lengthen and the evening comes, and the busy world lies hushed, and the fever of life is over and our work is done.  Then in your mercy grant us a safe lodging, and a holy rest, and peace at last.”

Today food for my soul is the story of St. Maximilian Kolbe.  Aug. 14 is his feast day.  He was a prisoner in Auschwitz. In retaliation for an escaped prisoner, the commandant chose 10 men to be killed.  One of them wept because he wouldn’t see his children again. Maximilian took his place. And that fellow was present at St. Maximilian’s canonization.

What has been food for your soul in the last couple of days?    

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

                                                             Beetle Poop!

God gave manna to the Jews on their journey to the Promised Land. It came from the excretion of desert beetles which formed cocoons. The morning dew weighed them down and they fell off the bushes to which they were attached. They gathered the cocoons and pounded them into a flour that made very nutritious bread.  Not bad for beetle poop!

Last weekend I mentioned beetle poop in my homily. Afterwards a couple friends told me about a conversation they had about that.  And they were drawn to the idea that sometimes God also works thru the crap in our lives. 
I like that idea.  And I know the truth of it from my own experiences.  Can you think of any examples of that in your life? 

For many years I struggled with the issue of not loving myself.  But little by little that’s changing with God’s help. The result is that I’m gaining a healthier picture of who I am. And an even better result is that now I can even help others deal with similar issues. 

If you can see how God has helped you deal with something crappy in your life, make it a point to tell someone about it.  Maybe God (and you) can help them too.