2014 Reflections Archive

He is Risen!

Scripture readings for Easter

Happy Easter friends! Let us be glad and rejoice. Alleluia! Today is the Feast of Feasts! The day when the Lord has triumphed over the death showing that it is not the final word. Life is stronger. Love is stronger.

Through the resurrection Jesus Christ has radically transformed our life and redeemed our human nature, freeing us from darkness and offering us the radiant joy of light because He is the Lord of Life!

Passion, death, resurrection….all acts out of love.

This entire story narrated by the evangelist John (who witnessed all) is out of love.

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New Life in Christ

Scripture readings for today

After nine months of classes and spiritual formation, adults all over the world will enter into full communion with the Catholic Church during Saturday’s Easter Vigil. I felt very blessed to serve as a director and an instructor in the RCIA program at St. Matthew’s Catholic Church, and I can say without reservation that it is one of the most beautiful experiences I have ever had. I am sure any person who participates in RCIA in one way or another would agree with me. To witness the journey that adults from different faiths travel to become Catholic, and especially to hear the powerful and inspiring reasons why they feel at home in the Catholic Church, reminds me of God’s infinite love for each one of us. The candidates’ and catechumens’ journey, however, is really the journey of all Christians as well.

God created each one of us with an innate desire to know Him intimately and to love Him with our entire being. No matter how much a person might stray from this purpose or falls down, he or she is still walking with God, because God never abandons us.

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Good Friday

Scripture readings for April 18

Today is the day we remember the greatest act of love ever shown. It is the day we remember the ridicule, torture, and execution of the man we love above all others. Today is the day our Jesus endured physical and spiritual agony so that we might see Him again. Do you remember Mel Gibson’s, “The Passion of The Christ?” I remember thinking this movie was so heart wrenching because for the first time, I saw Jesus as a real person. I saw the look in Jim Caviezel’s eyes as he was being beaten. I saw the look on Maia Morgenstern’s face as she watched her son killed. I hid my eyes from much of the movie, unable to watch.

Can you think for a minute about someone you love deeply? Picture their face. Look at them from across the room for if they are in your home. Now imagine standing next to them as lies are told about them, as they are mocked and made fun of and humiliated. Stay with the image of the person you love as someone beats them and tears the skin from their back, tortures them for hours on end until finally someone drives nails into their flesh.

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Receiving the Gift of Eternal Life

Scripture readings for April 17

Holy Thursday – my favorite night of Holy Week. It’s not my favorite night simply because of the music, the solemnity that fills the air or anything else that only touches the surface of what this night symbolizes. What makes this night so special is that we have the opportunity to truly understand what we have been given. We have been given the ultimate gift at the ultimate price. We have been given the body and blood of Jesus Christ.

We have not been handed a wafer and some wine. We have been handed the gift of eternal life. We have been handed the Abba, Father, the Omega. How incredible is that?

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Why do we turn?

Scripture readings for April 16

So today I want to focus on two thoughts as we begin this Holy week: The first concerns Judas. Judas was an apostle and one of Jesus’ best friends. They traveled together for three years and Judas witnessed miracles of healing, forgiveness, love and His saving power in the lives of so many people. Why then did Judas sell his friend to die? What was Judas searching for in his life that he had to sell a healer, a friend, and the Son of God?

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In Our Darkest Hour

Scripture readings for April 15

Paul and I recently had one of our scariest parenting episodes to date, something involving a brush with pure evil and the innocence of one of our children. It was scary, but also good. Because God, in his merciful love, helped us protect our child while reminding us to be alert and watchful. We can’t fall asleep at the wheel, we have to be on guard. Even as our children get older and more independent — especially then, do we need to be aware.

But of course, instead of simply celebrating how the Holy Spirit directed us, how he guided us in a way that miraculously intervened, well… I was angry and scared. You don’t realize how happy and beautiful life can be until something so out-of-the-ordinary invades your realm with insidious venom. Somehow my heart was full of gratitude while also deeply saddened. How can I ever hope to stay ahead of all the evil in this world, I cried to the Lord, I’m afraid!

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Even Then Will I Trust

Scripture readings for April 14

Well, here we are. We just welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem, with cheers and palms in celebration and excitement. How incredible, that in just five days, the people’s attitudes changed so drastically.

Holy Week…Let’s really take this week seriously. Don’t let it pass you by. If you can’t make it to daily Mass, read the Gospel each day. Enter into Jesus’ Passion with Him.

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Palm Sunday

Scripture readings for April 13

We might think we have reached the end of Lent this week – but we have really reached the height of Lent! For this past season we have been seeking to be purified so as to be drawn closer to Jesus. Now we enter into Holy Week.

Interesting, isn’t it, that of the 52 weeks of the year the Church designates this week as “holy.” What will be different about this week for you and your family? Most of us will still have to go to work or school. The world around us will march on. What can we do to slow down and make this a time of greater union with Jesus?

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Our Good Shepherd

Scripture readings for April 12

What are the roles of shepherds? A shepherd is a person who tends, feeds, guards, herds, and protects his flock. The readings today tell us about Jesus’ role in our life as our shepherd. He is there to guard and protect us in our daily lives.

How many times though do we face difficulties, struggles and evil in our life and question if the Lord is there? I know it can sometimes be challenging in times of adversity to see Christ’s presence and to feel His shepherding role. It is easy to feel forsaken by God, but God will never forsake us. He allows us to have a taste of suffering. Mother Teresa wrote, “ Suffering has to come because if you look at the cross, he has got his head bending down — he wants to kiss you — and he has both hands open wide-he wants to embrace you. He has his heart opened wide to receive you. Then when you feel miserable inside, look at the cross and you will know what is happening. Suffering, pain, sorrow, humiliation, feelings of loneliness, are nothing but the kiss of Jesus, a sign that you have come so close that he can kiss you. Do you understand, brothers, sisters, or whoever you may be? Suffering, pain, humiliation-this is a kiss of Jesus. At times you come so close to Jesus on the cross that he can kiss you. I once told this to a lady who was suffering very much. She answered, ‘Tell Jesus not to kiss me-to stop kissing me.’ That suffering has to come in the life of Our Lady, that came in the life of Jesus-it has come in our life also. Only never put on a long face. Suffering is a gift from God. It is between you and Jesus alone inside.”

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The Lord is With Me

Scripture readings for April 11

God is always with us! This is something we need to remember because there is so much in the world that can cause us anxiety and distress. Within our families and throughout the world we see a tremendous amount of suffering, violence, hatred, jealousy, misunderstanding, etc. All these are the result of evil – sin. Because of our brokenness it is easy to lose sight of the important things in life when we have so much distracting us from the peace that God alone can give.

The reading from Jeremiah is a reminder that even if we were aware of someone plotting to betray or kill us, we need not worry because God is with us. He even goes so far as to praise God in this situation. God is a god of goodness and love. He will never abandon us. He alone remains constant when all else seems lost. He is our hope!

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God Has No Grandchildren

Scripture readings for today

One of the great pleasures in life is to be a part of a team, to belong to a family, a club, a church. It is such an awesome experience to belong and to associate our lives with a particular purpose and mission. Sometimes our allegiance and membership to a team or group is so strong, the sensation is tangible; what an experience! And because of the strength of these associations, it is only natural to take pride in them.

It does us credit though, to reflect from time to time on whether or not we claim righteousness and superiority because of our associations. My dad used to repeat a phrase he had picked up along the way, “God has no grandchildren.” This taught me that my relationship with God was very personal, and that someday, I will stand alone before God. Jesus calls us and frees us, and one of the ways he frees us is by showing us, sometimes very slowly, who we really are before Him as individuals, not groups. This revelation is repelled by our pride, ignorance, and fear of suffering and isolation.

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Jesus is I AM

Scripture readings for April 8

The first time I read today’s gospel from John 8, it seemed to me that Jesus was speaking in riddles. Jesus was addressing the Pharisees. His words puzzled them as well.

The Pharisees were made up of mostly middle class businessmen who were scriptural and historical scholars. They practiced strict adherence to Jewish laws and traditions. This often distilled their understanding of God to a list of legalistic rules and rituals. The Pharisees tried hard to understand the meaning of Jesus’ words in the context of all they knew to be true about life and death.

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Cease Sinful Behavior

Scripture readings for April 7

The story of the adulterous woman is always a good chance to reflect on during Lenten time. It shows the general reaction towards a guilty person, today as in the past, since condemnation has always been a natural attitude of mankind (‘man is for other men a wolf’ quotes the English philosopher Thomas Hobbes in the XVII century!).

In our society we are always ready to wave the stick and point our finger at others (who are the bad ones!) or in other words “to take the speck out of our neighbor’s eyes.”

In this story instead Jesus warns us to look interiorly or…”to take the log out of our own eye!” In fact, this is not a story of condemnation but a story of salvation (if we  just want it!).

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Jesus I Trust in You

Scripture readings for April 6

When my son Luke was nine-years old, he and I played a game called the Trust Game. Standing straight up, Luke would fall backwards, and I, while standing behind him, would catch him as he fell toward the floor. I am happy to say that I did not drop him even once, which is probably why I am still able to play the Trust Game with him. When we stop to think about the enormous trust children place in the people who love them, is it any wonder that Jesus says the following in Matthew 18: “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” This Fifth Sunday of Lent, we hear the story of how Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. But this story is also the story of our own resurrection, and I do not mean the one promised to us after death. Rather, it is our daily resurrection from those situations, people, or events that tend to push us away from growing closer to God. Like Lazarus, we can experience a new life in Jesus if we trust like children. Five weeks into Lent, are you ready to place your trust completely in Jesus?

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Jesus Our Refuge

Scripture readings for April 5

Has there ever been a time when you felt mistreated or persecuted? Have you ever been wronged by someone? At the very least, most of us will experience unkindness at some point in our lives. At worst, some of us will be abused and victimized. As we draw closer to Holy Week, we can find solidarity in our Savior, as he too was maltreated. He was jeered at, lied about, gossiped about, mocked, beaten, and the ultimate injustice, killed. He can be there for us in our sufferings, because he, himself, has been there.

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Opinions vs Truth

Scripture readings for April 4

Am I annoying or embarrassing my friends by professing my love for Jesus and what He has done for me? Are they going to think that I think that I am closer to Christ than they are? Will people think I’m overdoing it? Will they think that I am faking my love for Jesus if I seem too passionate about Him?

SO many questions race through our heads – often due to worrying what others think about us. Whether it’s about what we’re wearing, what we weigh, who we’re friends with, etc., we stress about other’s opinions. Even though we do this and our minds think this way, there is one topic that we should never be ashamed of and that is Jesus.

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Turn to Jesus Always

Scripture readings for April 3

Today in the reading of the Gospel we see that the most important thing in life is to have a personal relationship with Christ. Jesus talks about testifying to him because he came from God.

So since the basketball tournament has been on the last couple weeks I have gotten really into the games. Not that watching the games is bad nor is having a team to root for because enjoying sports can bring people together. But the question I always have for myself is do I get that excited about talking about Christ? Do I get that excited about living his mission every day in my life?

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Jesus, Remember Me

Scripture readings for April 2

Saying to the prisoners: Come out!
To those in darkness: Show yourselves!
Along the ways they shall find pasture,
on every bare height shall their pastures be.
They shall not hunger or thirst,
nor shall the scorching wind or the sun strike them;
For he who pities them leads them
and guides them beside springs of water.

It seems like every Lent around this time, I’m really feeling it. Maybe it’s that my life circumstances always happen to be especially trying this time of year, but here I am deep into my Lenten journey and I’m wandering in the desert. Really wandering. Not just struggling with my Lenten sacrifices, but feeling parched and tired and out in the middle of nowhere.

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Do You Want to Be Well?

Scripture readings for April 1

The fact that Jesus asks this man, who had been ill and waiting at the pool for THIRTY-EIGHT YEARS, “Do you want to be well” is incredible. Of course he wants to be well, to be healed… He’s been waiting thirty-eight years!

This Gospel is a good reminder for us that we need to bring our needs and petitions to the Lord. Yes, He knows what we need without us asking. He knows even before we ourselves know. But we need to turn to Him. To ask Him.

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The Finish Line

Scripture readings for March 31

We have crossed the halfway point of our Lenten journey. Back on March 5 we received our ashes and in less than three weeks we will be celebrating Easter Sunday. How goes your Lenten journey? Today might be a good day to do an assessment.

On Ash Wednesday we heard the Scripture, “…return to me with your whole heart” (Joel 2). Have you been opening your heart to the Lord this Lent? Is there more room for God then when you started? Lent, like our earthly journey, is more of a marathon then a sprint. Perhaps your Lent has gone poorly from your perspective: you have been grouchy with those you love, you have failed on some of your commitments, or your prayer is not where it should be. But be assured that God works through those failures too, sometimes even more then through our successes.

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God Can Use Us All

Scripture readings for March 30

Back in 2006-2007, I spent 9 months serving with NET Ministries based in St. Paul, MN. With NET, Catholic young adults are split up in teams and travel around the country putting on retreats for middle school and high school aged youth. I remember during our training period hearing about all the various roles such as leading retreats, giving talks, etc. While hearing theses roles, I was thinking those positions are definitely not for me. They are without a doubt out of my comfort zone. I’m the middle child of a large family so I do really well with the behind the scenes jobs. I never saw myself having the skills for leadership and speaking positions.

But of course, God has a sense of humor and of course I was assigned to all the positions I didn’t think I had the skills for. I was very nervous the first few times but God provided the grace, peace and skills to accomplish the necessary tasks. Those experiences helped and grow in ways I never thought I could. To this day, God is providing situations that don’t feel comfortable and stretch me such as leading young adult meetings or writing this meditation. But thank goodness the Lord knows me better than I know myself. The Holy Spirit has nudged me enough to say “yes” especially when I wanted to say “no.” It is an area that I continue to grow in but pray that God will wipe any blinders from my eyes and allow me to see the ways he wants to use me.

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Humility: the Beginning of the Christian Life

Scripture readings for March 29

And the one who humbles himself will be exalted

What does it mean to humble oneself and why is it such big deal? St. Bernard defines humility as follows: “A virtue by which a man knowing himself as he truly is, abases himself.” Let’s break this down into two sections.

“A man who knows himself as he truly is” recognizes that he is a creature made by God in His image and likeness and therefore he possesses great dignity whose purpose is to love God and his fellow man. As a creature he is submissive to his creator and subject to his limitations. At the same time he recognizes his fellow man possesses the same dignity as he and is therefore equal. He does not presume to rise above God nor does he lord himself over his fellow man; rather, he places himself at the service of God and man.

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Love Is All We Need

Scripture Readings for March 28

“They were worshipping idols again?” my young daughter asked. “What’s wrong with them?!”

We have been reading through the Old Testament stories of the Hebrew people. In our children’s Bible, there is a pronounced pattern of idol worship, calamity, and repentance. Repeat. My daughter thinks the Hebrews should know better.

Of course, we’re the same way. And we should know better. But the very crux of sin is precisely that we do things we know we should not.

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Remain in Jesus

Scripture readings for March 27

The recent ice storm in Augusta, Ga was a unique occasion.  As over a ½” of ice settled on limbs through the day and into the night, the branches started coming down, and Augusta came to a screeching halt as most of the city lost power.  It was at this point that a neighboring family had a branch knock out their power, so they moved into our house at 1 am to share the heat of our fireplace and remain safe from the massive oak adjacent their lot.  Between our four kids, their three kids, neighboring kids and our in-laws from many directions (one of the beauties of community life!) there was chaos.  People were everywhere, dishes were everywhere, kids were everywhere, and yet, a surprising tranquility pervaded the rooms and the hearts of those present.  Jesus provided the grace we needed during a busy, hectic time!

I mention this story, because it contrasts starkly with many other times where I experience far less intense situations, but I am plagued by anxiety and tempted to harden my heart, as I greatly desire to ‘downshift’ life from fifth to first.  At these times, I am no longer willing to give Jesus everything because I am torqued in many directions; I yearn to provide for myself and take control, to lead myself to ‘peaceful waters’ instead of letting God be God [Ps. 23].

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Obedience is Mission

Daily readings for March 26

‘Obedience is mission: “I have come into this world to do the will of my Father, who has sent me.” Where there is no obedience, there is no virtue; where there is no virtue there is no good; where good is wanting, there is no love, there is no God; where God is not, there is no Heaven.’
–St. Padre Pio

In our house growing up the instruction was clear. You did as you were told. Even as adults my sisters and I have discussed that while we were by no means perfect, we felt compelled to be obedient to our parents. Once I had my own children, I began to wonder how to instill this same yearning in them.

As Moses neared his own death he wondered this very thing. Consider Deuteronomy Chapter 4. After wandering the desert for thirty-eight years, the new generation of Israelites awaits entrance into the promised land. There is a call for covenant renewal and a call to obedience. Moses is an old man now and is recounting the past and giving exhortation for the future. Throughout Deuteronomy, he establishes the fact that God loves His people. While technically the law and our innate sense of justice requires obedience, God is issuing this people an invitation to know and love Him and thus enter the promised land and see the good God has waiting for them with eyes wide open.

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Here I Am, Lord

Scripture readings for March 25

“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.”

Today’s Gospel is one of the dearest to me, because it reminds me of the importance of opening the door to God unconditionally, as the Virgin Mary did, to accomplish His will.

God has a plan for Mary, as He has for you and for me, but he relies on our free assistance to accomplish it.

The little Virgin is our example: humble, simple, generous and open to God’s will.

What does God wants from me now, today, in my life, with that person at work, with my husband, with that friend, with my neighbor, with my children, with my job? It is hard to believe… but everything depends on our response to all these little or big things of each day!

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God is Calling You: Do Not Be Afraid

Scripture readings for today

My family and I moved to Statesboro, Georgia in July of 2000. In 2003, I entered the Diocese of Savannah’s five-year Permanent Diaconate Program. Like many of the men in the program, I wondered about my calling to be a permanent deacon and where it might lead me. Specifically, I was concerned about how friends, acquaintances, and others who knew me would react if I were to receive the Sacrament of Holy Orders. Even though I was a life-long Catholic who practiced his faith regularly, I still wondered how I would be received after I was ordained in 2008.

I cannot help but think about these doubts when I read Jesus tell the people in the synagogue at Nazareth, “Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place […]”. When I think about these words, I not only think about my own calling to serve God and His Church as a permanent deacon, but I also think about how each one of us is called to serve God in our own and unique ways.

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Hear His Voice

Scripture readings for March 23

Life is full of choices. Most of us in this country are blessed to have the luxury to choose what our lives look like, who we marry, what job to have, what religion to practice. The lucky of us choose what we eat, how we spend our time and how to spend our money. But there are times when the very ability to choose may lead us astray and in these cases our holy church mercifully tells us what choice is the one Jesus would make.

For example, it demands that we choose to promote and respect human life. We are required, as Catholic Christians, to choose life.  Recently a friend of mine elected to have some routine pregnancy screenings. She was  told that her baby had a diagnosis that will require a lifetime of care and potential medical problems. She was given the choice to end her pregnancy. My friend said, “I wish I hadn’t been given the choice. I wish they just would have laid the baby on my chest and taken the choice away.” The choice to parent a special needs child has broken her. (While still grieving, she is keeping the baby.)  You and I know that in choosing life, God will put those pieces back together but the burden of even thinking she had a say in that decision will always haunt her. I do not judge her one bit for her agony. But I am thankful for a Church teaching that doesn’t offer me the choice her doctors gave her.

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Keep On Keepin’ On

Scripture readings for March 22

Today’s Gospel is the story of the Prodigal Son – one of my absolute favorites.

“This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” – Why would God lower Himself to my level? That’s the way I used to read this. Today, I read this as Jesus loves me for my failures and wants to be by my side through it all (Thank you Lord). This reading is the epitome of forgiveness.

After I changed the way I analyzed that sentence, I was able to understand better that He loves us; no if’s and’s or but’s about it. That’s the simple truth…and way and life.

I’ll be honest, though. I have always, and I mean always, struggled with today’s readings. I have been the child that strayed away because of shame and selfishness and I have also been the sibling who didn’t understand why a father (or mother) could be so forgiving of my mistakes (or my brother’s or anyone else for that matter). I have been jealous of the forgiveness I have seen others experience. Not because I am a mean person, but because I want to feel and understand that forgiveness myself.

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To Serve is to Receive

Scripture readings for March 21

So today in the first reading we see the beginning of the story of Joseph. After reading the story of Joseph being sold into slavery we can see that this could be taken as a really sad story just in itself. Joseph has a dream his brothers do not like and they want to have him killed. But if we get to the root of it they are envious that his dad loves Joseph more than all the other sons.

Now they want to kill him because his dad has taken such a liking to him. So, I have never grown to this type of anger towards a family member or a friend but I have become jealous of the good that another has received. It is easy for me to want to be the center of attention; to be the funniest, smartest, and most well-liked in a room. But what if in life, my goal was to make other people feel like the funniest, smartest, and most well- liked in the room?

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God and Money

Scripture readings for March 20

At first glance, today’s Gospel can be a little confusing. In it, Jesus tells the story of the poor man who was welcomed into heaven, to the bosom of Abraham!, while the rich man was sent to the netherworld.

For years, I thought this story was saying that having money and the things of this world were inherently wrong. Is Jesus calling me to be a pauper? That certainly seemed like what the Gospel said.

But the reality of the story, with a little further digging, is that money itself isn’t bad, but putting our faith and worth in the things of the world is. We are stewards of the money God lends us, whether that’s a little or a lot.

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Doing What I Ought

Scripture Readings for March 19

I want to look at today’s Gospel from a couple of different perspectives – Mary’s and Jesus’. Now, I am not a mother, so I have never had the experience of temporarily losing a child. I can only imagine how terrifying that would be. So let’s look at what Mary must have been going through. They’re on their way home from Jerusalem, and Mary and Joseph just assume that Jesus is somewhere among their group traveling back home. Imagine. Starting to realize Jesus is not with this relative, He’s not with that neighbor. Then, going back to Jerusalem and not being able to find Him for THREE DAYS. Going from slight nervousness, escalating quickly to worry, anxiety, and fear. And then to finally find her Son, and have Him answer her the way He did (which I want to come back to later). Imagine the humility it must have taken for Mary to hear her 12 year old Son respond to her that way, after worrying all day about where He could have been.

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White as Wool

Scripture readings for March 18

“Though your sins be like scarlet they may become white as snow.”

I remember when I was in high school and we helped a farmer clear off part of his acreage by burning it. At the end of the day we were covered in soot and mud. I am not sure my own mother recognized me. I can still remember how good that hot shower felt as I could literally see the grime washed away and coming out of the shower feeling like a new person.

In a similar way Lent is a time for cleansing. In the midst of our busy daily lives we sin and it impacts our soul. We give in to impatience, prayerlessness, gossip, lust…and in some way this impacts our soul. Perhaps if we could look at our soul right now we would see it covered in a lot of soot.

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Mercy and Forgiveness

Scripture readings for March 17

What is our Mission here on earth? We are called to grow in holiness and be more like Christ. The gospel reading today provides us clear examples of ways we can grow to be more Christlike. One of the first steps is seeking out Christ’s mercy and forgiveness.

In the first reading we are reminded of our sinfulness and that we are in need of God’s forgiveness in our lives. We all fall short but God is there ready to forgive us and pick us back up. “Look into my heart and see there the love and mercy I have for humankind, and especially for sinners. Look, and enter into My Passion” (Jesus to St. Faustina, Diary 1663). God is eagerly waiting for us to run to Him and seek out His forgiveness. He desires that reconciliation with us and others. His mercy and forgiveness never ends. He wants to wipe our heart clean from any sin and allow us to start fresh. The sacrament of reconciliation is a beautiful gift that we have to receive that forgiveness and an outpouring of His grace.

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Called to be Holy

Scripture readings for March 16

God has created all of us for Heaven. He calls each one of us by name and gives us the grace we need to follow him; to do His holy will so we can share eternal friendship with Him. What’s even more beautiful is when we are obedient to the holy will of God, He allows us to be instrumental in helping others to get to heaven.

The reading from Genesis recounts the calling of Abraham by God. Abraham is promised three things if he answers the call to leave his family and homeland in order to establish a covenant with Him: a great nation, a great name, and worldwide blessing. Because Abraham said “yes” and was obedient to God, despite the trials that came his way, we see how God not only fulfills His promises, but we are affected – the gates of heaven have been opened to us!

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Peculiar Is Hard to Say. And Harder to Be.

Scriptures for March 15

Lectors in the English-speaking world fear this day. For on this day they must read the word “peculiarly” out loud, in public, without seeming like they have a speech impediment.

“The Lord is making this agreement with you: you are to be a people peculiarly his own.” (Deut. 26:18)

The phrase “people peculiarly his own” is sometimes translated as “people who are a treasured possession.” That’s more palatable, because it makes us feel good to be treasured by God.

But honestly, I like “peculiar” better because it communicates something we in the 21st century need to hear: because we are God’s people, we need to be different—different to the point of seeming unusual, out-of-place, and out-of-step with the society around us.

That’s what Jesus is saying in today’s Gospel, the famous passage where he tells us to love our enemies, not just our friends. “If you greet your brother and sister only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same?”

Are we unusually, peculiarly Christian?

If you enjoy a semi-pornographic chick flick, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? read more…

Thankful for Our Smallness

Readings for March 14

People have a tendency to replay faults, to dwell on them, to allow them to define our personhood. But as we mature in our walk with Jesus, hopefully our self-examination is balanced and tempered with an intimate knowledge of our merciful God.  This intimacy will keep our reflection constructive and keep us safe from anxiety as we continue to learn more about ourselves, and how utterly dependent we are upon the Lord’s strength and mercy.

Today’s reading from Ezekiel reminds us that God is a God of mercy.  He hath not dealt with us after our sins, Nor rewarded us after our iniquities [Ps. 103:10].  Again, the psalmist proclaims, as far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our iniquities from us [Ps. 103:12].  God is not interested in defining us by our past, but invites us forward into a new life with Jesus.

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I Call to the Lord

Scripture readings for March 13

It’s April 2013. My 18-month-old son has a high fever and is no longer walking. He is being examined in the pediatric ER of a local hospital. My husband is 2000 miles away in Boston on business. It is nearing midnight. The pediatrician is asking me to make some testing and treatment decisions based on some concerning blood panels. The hospital is re-opening the MRI to scan his legs. The doctor admits that in one scenario Owen may need emergency surgery that night. “Lord, please help me know what decisions to make. Lord, please let my boy be okay.”

 

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Conversion. Again.

Scripture Readings for March 12

Today’s Gospel shows the Pharisees wanting a sign, a miracle. They wanted Jesus to submit himself to their criteria, and classify him in the scheme of their concept of Messiah. In the parallel Gospel of Mark (8:12) we read that Jesus in the presence of the Pharisees’ request took a deep breath, probably of disgust and sadness, in the face of such a blindness.

Jonah spent three days and three nights in the belly of the whale as well as the Son of Man spent three days in the depth of the earth before rising. The sign was just that: the resurrection of Christ, who continues to rise in many ways to those who believe in Him. Thus, the sign that converts is not to look for big miracles, but just the testimony of daily life!

And us? How many signs we have already received in our lives and how many other signs do we truly need before converting our hearts and follow the teachings of Jesus? How many times will Jesus sigh in sadness? read more…