All Reflections

Stuck in the muck

Scripture readings for today

While spending time with a friend recently, our conversation turned towards the subject of optimism.  He shared with me briefly the power of optimism and positive thinking during the course of his life.  He really stressed that we have to avoid getting ‘stuck in the muck,’ those attitudes which render us downtrodden, negative, and slow to accomplish duties.

As I continue to reflect on The Lord’s Prayer in my own life, I tend to focus on the line, Thy will be done.  When I ask that God’s will be done in my life, what am I really asking; and am I really willing to accept his will and negate my own?  When his will is in the process of being accomplished in my life, when his will for my life is very challenging, do I choose joy in knowing that his will, not my own is being accomplished?  Do I respond with generosity and hope and optimism?  I continue to be convicted that I am to cling to hope and to be optimistic, especially in the difficult times.  I often try to reflect on those Christians who have lived exemplary lives.  The saints of the Church stand out as witnesses to joy, a community of optimists, especially in their trials and challenges.

read more…

For His glory

Scripture readings for today

Did you just examine your conscience as hard as I did and look down on yourself for your actions recently? Or even actions that have accumulated over years that you haven’t truly taken the time to think about? Maybe it’s been quite a bit of time since you’ve truly considered the effects your actions have on your relationship with God, your family, your friends, your “enemies”, and especially yourself.

Well, my friend, you are not alone. However, now that you have re-read these readings and been reminded that you are on this earth for something besides your own well-being, you are responsible for following these commandments to the best of your human ability. No pressure, right?

read more…

Become conscious

Scripture readings for today

Well, here comes a whole week of Lent now and I am trying to catch up with it.

1 Peter 3:18-22. It sure seems to me that men who work with their hands think deep thoughts. This reading from the first letter of Peter moves from the waters of the flood to the waters of baptism. Jesus, by His life, death and resurrection, saves us out of the flood and gives us the gift of a clear conscience.

read more…

“Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening”

Scripture readings for today

Often, I am asked why I became a deacon. There was a time when I seriously considered the priesthood, and after much prayer I realized that God was calling me to be a husband and a father. After my wife, Leti, and I married in 1998, I continued to feel that God was calling me to serve Him in religious life. When I began the five-year diaconate formation program, I had no idea where God’s call to serve Him would lead me. Part of the call to be a deacon that most intrigued me was how to serve God in my daily life; at home, at work, at the grocery store or any number of places. Every Christian is being called to serve God and to turn his or her life over to Him. Jesus is not asking us to respond as Levi did, but He wants us to let go of anything that is holding us back from growing closer to Him. God is calling you at this very moment, your future is a blank slate, and the past is the past. How will you respond?

God calls us because He wants us to discover the many ways in which we are created in His image and to share that knowledge with others. It does not matter what we have done in the past or those sins that we feel are unforgivable. It does not matter if we are doubtful or fearful. God knew that we would not respond to His call, which is why the Bible, God’s inspired word, contains variations of the expression “do not be afraid” throughout the 73 books. Saint John Paul II’s first public words as Pope were, “Do not be afraid. Open wide the doors to Christ.” Speaking at World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro, Pope Francis’ message was, “Go, do not be afraid, and serve.” The message for more than 2,000 years has been the same, because God continues to call His people. There is no doubt that Jesus is calling Levi, telling him, “Follow me.” If we feel even an inkling of a calling or desire to step out of our comfort zone and to serve God in some way, it is because He is calling us.

read more…

Why Are We Fasting?

Scripture readings for today

Isaiah 58: 1-9a
Psalm 51: 3-4, 5-6ab, 18-19
Matthew 9: 14-15

It can easily be seen that the common theme of the readings today is the meaning of fasting. And what better day to have this theme than the first Friday of Lent, only a few days into our Lenten journey of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving? I absolutely love the responsorial Psalm today because it shows the disposition our heart should have when fasting. “A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.” The definition of “contrite” from www.dictionary.com is “filled with a sense of guilt and the desire for atonement”. As we begin this season of fasting, our hearts should be truly sorry and saddened for offending our good and gracious God from whom we deserve absolutely nothing.

read more…

Follow God’s Rules

Scripture readings for today

“If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake with save it.” Luke 9:22

The reading, responsorial psalm and Gospel all have a very clear theme: follow God’s rules and life will go well. Whenever I think about doing what is right, when I read these kind of scriptures, my first reaction tends to be that old childlike attitude: following the rules is hard. But something about growing in trust and love (and maturity) helps us understand a little better why God wants us to do what he tells us to do- because it will make life better.

read more…

Your Whole Heart

Scripture readings for today

“Even now, says the Lord, return to me with your whole heart…” These are the first words we hear from the readings as we begin our Lenten journey and they provide direction for our 40 day journey. Can I return to the Lord with my whole heart? Can I truly say the Lord has captured my heart? What do I think about all day long? What motivates me? What are my goals and vision? Is it to give my whole heart to the Lord?

FT lentI love the image of going out into the desert with the Lord. Once I spent a few weeks doing missionary work in Mexico and I remember our host missionary taking a regular “desert day” – a day to go literally into the wilderness and pray in the quiet and listen to the Lord. In some way we try to recreate that in our lives this Lent. We try to slow down the merry-go-round of work, family, friends, and obligations and create a quiet space to ask, “How am I doing, Lord?”

How can I create that necessary space over these 40 days to sincerely hear the Lord? Two practical ways to return to the Lord are through Confession and the Eucharist. Over this season seek to make a good Confession, baring your heart before the Lord. There is an honesty in confession that is like going into the desert and being cleansed. Stay close to the Lord in the Eucharist. Perhaps you could attend one extra daily mass during the week or perhaps take some extra time to pray before the Blessed Sacrament. What a better way to return to the Lord than to be close to his heart?

Whatever our commitments are this Lent let us pledge to give our whole hearts to the Lord! We have a 40 day season of grace in front of us. Let us open our hearts to all that God has for us! “Behold now is a very acceptable time; behold now is the day of salvation!”

Fr. Tim McKeown is in his 18th year as a priest of the Diocese of Savannah and serves as pastor of St. Francis Xavier Church in Brunswick and Nativity of Our Lady in Darien, GA.