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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Jealous Prophets

"Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the people of the LORD were prophets! Would that the LORD might bestow his spirit on them all!" Num 11:29

How possessive the followers of Moses were about their rights as prophets. Because Eldad and Medad were not in the tent when God took some of the Spirit he had bestowed on Moses and gave it to the seventy elders, they protested. Could it me that everyone was called to prophecy?

Moses provides a simple, but  important answer. Rituals like God's action in the tent help us understand that God wants us to speak his word, but they are not the only way God acts. Because God intended that Eldad and Medad would be anointed, it did not matter if they were actually in the tent when God acted. That they knew and acted upon their knowledge of God's intent was all that mattered.

Prophecy is simple but dangerous. When we speak God's word with clarity and remind others by word and example that God calls us to work together for unity among ourselves and justice for all, there will always be push back. Some will argue that others don't deserve the joy of unity since their behavior has excluded them from the church. Others will suggest that justice is something we must earn through hard work, but prophets know different and risk their lives to say it.

Today, live like a prophet. Be transparent in your commitment to unity and justice for all.

What do you think it means to be a prophet?

Friday, September 28, 2012

Saint Michael, Saint Gabriel and Saint Raphael, archangels

Although it is easy to forget it in our information saturated culture, messengers are important. In many parts of the world, there are women and men who write letters for those in their families or villages who are illiterate, and many of them try not just to communicate a message in a literal way, but seek to put tone and feeling into their writing. In more recent times, messengers carry important letters from business to business to make sure the letter arrives safely and without delay.

In the ancient world, angels were messengers. Their primary task was to speak on behalf of God to people God wanted to address directly. Gabriel comes to Mary asking her to be the mother of God's son and Michael reminds the church that God will always guard us, and Raphael assures us that God will be our guide.

All of us are called to be angels to one another. Not only are we challenged to speak the Good News to others, we must be the Good News, and this happens every time we let the word of God live in and through us. While this is always simple, it is never easy, but everything is possible when we trust in God.

Today, be an angel to someone starving for a word of comfort.

Who has been an angel of God to you?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Suffering

"The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised." Lk 9:22

Rejection is always painful whether it comes from a superior, a coworker or a family member. Usually we become defensive and angry even if we saw the rejection coming for a long time. We also struggle to understand it and put it in a category that protects us from further harm. But rejection comes to everyone in life and unless we learn to accept it for what it is, we will struggle with it more than necessary.

The Apostles and disciples find it almost impossible to understand much less accept what Jesus is saying. The Lord has been a successful preacher. People follow him from place to place and his promise to set them free reminds them of God's promise through Moses to the Jews in Egypt. While they might not have thought of Jesus as the new Moses, neither did they expect him to suffer greatly and be rejected. No doubt they resisted his message for fear that they too would undergo the same trials.

Although the call to discipleship involves suffering, we do not have to be afraid. The Lord promises to accompany his disciples until the end of time. As long as we stay close to the Lord through prayer, service and worship, there is nothing to fear.

Today, listen without fear even to difficult messages.

What has been your best response to suffering




Wednesday, September 26, 2012

St. Vincent de Paul

"Who then is this about whom I hear such things?" Lk 9:9

Curiosity comes in many forms. Sometimes we are curious about a new neighbor, a new candidate for local office, a new priest in the parish, a new boyfriend for a daughter, and in each case, our curiosity is very different. At times we want to know everything about others for all the wrong reasons. We are defensive about their backgrounds, cultures, race or sexual orientation, none of which should matter much in God's eyes, but at other times we want to know them for themselves in order to build a relationship with them that can be mutually beneficial.

Herod is curious about Jesus and we wonder why. Did he want to see him in order to build a relationship with him? Was he hopeful about entering his faith more deeply? Did he feel threatened by Jesus popularity?

Power, as we know, is something that comes and goes in most people's lives. It is not difficult to imagine that Herod was anxious not to have anyone disturb his peace or his plans, but perhaps we judge Herod too quickly. Jesus never dismisses people out of hand and makes choices in the gospel that always surprise us. He chooses fishermen and tax collectors to be apostles and evangelists because he sees and reads hearts not just appearances. He can do the same for us if we let him work in us.

Today, take a second look at someone you have dismissed.

Have you ever been surprised by someone you were tempted to dismiss?






Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Hedging on Faith

"Give me neither poverty nor riches; provide me only with the food I need; Lest, being full, I deny you, saying, "Who is the LORD?" Or, being in want, I steal, and profane the name of my God." Prov 30:9

How much is enough? It is important to ask this question of ourselves regularly. How much money, property, and security do we need? The book of proverbs offers us a clear and simple answer, though we may not like it. The writer asks God only for that which will help him live a balanced life, nothing more. There is a great wisdom in the writer's stance.

Concerned that we might not be able to have control over our lives, we lose focus and try too hard to be successful, and while most of us might not be tempted to steal, we all consider cutting corners in order to feel secure. Some of us look for tax breaks we don't deserve. Others charge more for their services than their work warrants. Whatever we do to give ourselves a false sense of security never works for long. Fear and a lack of faith can never be dismissed without regular prayer.

Today, ask God for what you need. Nothing more.

What are your biggest temptations in seeking a false security?

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Cry of the Poor

"He who shuts his ear to the cry of the poor will himself also call and not be heard." Prov 21:13

Widows, orphans and aliens have always been important in the scriptures. God demands that his chosen people care for the most vulnerable so that the poor can take their proper place in the society. God is not asking us to create what some contemporary writers call a welfare society, but a church and world in which all people, especially those who can easily be forgotten, have a voice in determining their own future. The American Bishops say it this way:
The primary purpose of this special commitment to the poor is to enable them to become active participants in the life of society. It is to enable all persons to share in and contribute to the common good. The "option for the poor," therefore, is not an adversarial slogan that pits one group or class against another. Rather it states that the deprivation and powerlessness of the poor wounds the whole community. (Economic Justice)
Not much has changed in today's world, and the church is especially concerned with the more than 200 million migrants around the world. A few years ago Cardinal Roger Mahoney of Los Angeles, told his priests to ignore any law that would make it illegal to assist undocumented people in the United States, and the American bishops have consistently urged our government to seek a just immigration reform. We can never ignore the voice of the poor.

Today, pray for migrants everywhere.

What do you think our church should do to aid immigrants around the world?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Mission Drift

"No one who lights a lamp conceals it with a vessel or sets it under a bed; rather, he places it on a lampstand so that those who enter may see the light." Lk 8:16

In recent years, churches, not for profit movements and companies have been begun to reflect on what is called "mission drift," a concept that helps them focus first on their foundational goals and only secondarily on the monies needed to accomplish that purpose. When a organizations recognize mission drift and address it, they become more more to oversee their expenses more intently and keep moving forward towards their goals.

Though it is always dangerous to disagree with Jesus, experience teaches us that there are people and organizations who forget to put their lights on lampstands so that everyone can benefit. Worse, some of them hoard their resources. Not only do they light lamps that only benefit them, they cling to money and resources far beyond their need because they can and convince themselves that they have earned whatever they have and it belongs to them. This attitude impoverishes everyone, including theose "rich" those rich churches and people who Jesus reminds us will have a very hard time entering the Kingdom of God.

Thank God, however, most people do put lamps on lampstands so that everyone in the house or world can see. Because they take time to honestly ask themselves whether they are drifting from their mission, they are able to remember that everything they have is a gift to be shared with those who have little, and that gratitude is the mark of every believer.

Today, asking yourself is your faith is "drifting."

What are the best tools you know for avoiding "mission drift?"