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Saturday, January 21, 2017

Healing Divisions

"I urge you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and in the same purpose."

Though  I rarely comment on politics in this blog, the text today certainly seems to apply to our nation and church. Like most Americans, I am befuddled by the sniping that seems in full swing among President elect Trump, the media and the newly elected Congress, and I am angry. What happens to us as a people and a church when we fail to look at issues and concerns from the other side of wherever we stand, and more important, what happens when we only think about protecting our own assets?

Jesus faced this in his life and warned his sisters and brothers in the Jewish community against being so divided that they collapse. Surely, he would say the same to us in our country and church. How is it possible not to work for a deeper unity when so many people are in need? Unless we find a way to speak with one another about critical issues like hunger, housing, health care and immigration reform, we will be clanging symbols that the rest of the world rightly ignores.

Today, be silent. Say nothing for a while and see what happens when you listen.

What do you think most divides us as a country and a church?

Friday, January 20, 2017

St Agnes

"He is out of his mind." Mk 3:21

When people do really good things for no apparent reason it is sometimes easier to question their motives than to enjoy their kindness. That is what seems to have happened to Jesus. Rather than celebrate his honesty, integrity and healing power, people suggested that he was "out of his mind." How awful, but how common.

I had the privilege of working with many people who, though labelled "crazy," changed my life. Their kindness, compassion and insight about life and faith forced me to reevaluate my tendency to judge or dismiss them. In retrospect, I think it was my own fear of mental illness that got in the way of my seeing the person behind or inside the illness.

Today, think of someone who others dismiss as "out of his mind" with the eyes and ears of God.

Has a mentally ill person every touched your life?

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Called to Serve

"He appointed Twelve, whom he also named Apostles, that they might be with him and he might send them forth to preach." Mk 3:14

What does it mean to be with someone? We can be together in the same subway car, in the same business, in the same town or city, but this is not what Mark's gospel means when it says that Jesus appointed twelve apostles to be with him. Though the apostles themselves did not fully understand what Jesus was doing when he called them to follow him, they did know he wanted them to preach and drive out demons in his name. That their call would irrevocably change the world was not immediately evident to them. Like us, they were challenged to follow the Lord by faith not by sight. (2 Cor 5:7)

When I was in the seminary, our canon law professor often repeated a Latin phrase, Nemo judex in causa sua. No one is a judge in his own case. Because we are called to ministry in a community of believers, we don't decide how to serve and evangelize others, but trust the community of faith to call us to use our gifts for the good of all.

It is good to reflect upon our vocations regularly.  How are we "with the Lord?"  Are we living committed lives of service and evangelization. Are we anxious to discern what else the Lord might want from us?  Do others recognize in us a power that comes, not from our own efforts and study, but as a gift from God?

Today, ask God to call you again and send you as his disciple into the world.

Have you experienced God's call to live a Gospel life and serve others?

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Cost of Following Jesus

"Hearing what he was doing, a large number of people came to Jesus also from Jerusalem, from Idumea, from beyond the Jordan, and from the neighborhood of Tyre and Sidon." Mk 3: 8-9

Jesus continually surprises his disciples. Just as they get comfortable with the direction he is taking, he turns a corner and turns their world upside down. When people from all over follow him, Jesus reminds them that he has no place to lay his head.

In claiming his identity as a pilgrim and an itinerant preacher, Jesus promises his disciples that like the God of the Hebrew scriptures he will always love them, but will also makes huge and important demands on them. They must live like him, without family or wealth, but also be full of hope and compassion. God will guide them and care for them, he insists, but they have to trust.

The emptiness of having nothing in Christ is a fullness beyond compare. Clinging to nothing, we have everything. The faith to believe this is the test we all face.

Today, empty yourself of everything that gets in the way of loving God and neighbor.

Have you known the glory of feeling rich even when you have nothing?