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Saturday, May 30, 2015

Holy Trinity

"You did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear." Rom 8:14

Fear follows all of us, whether it is onto an airplane or into a marriage. Even if we are sure we are doing God's will, the spirit of slavery, that is isolation, sometimes drives us back into fear, a fear we must renounce and put aside.

The feast of the Holy Trinity tells us God that is "a free communion of persons without domination or deprivation,"(1) into which we are called. There is no isolation in God. God is one and three, so too must we be.  Our identity is in community. Alone we are isolated and left to our own devices to survive and prosper. Together, we hold hands and hearts in hope.

We are never alone. We are always in the God who is a communion of persons, and in and with one another in the Body of Christ.  Woven into one body by the love of God, we celebrate the unity that is ours as God's gift. Each of us by ourselves can be a shining light of God, but together we become a community of hope and life. None of can be the body of Christ by ourselves. It is only the free gift of God's grace that makes us into a tapestry of love.

Today, remember into whom you have been woven as a wonderful sign of God's enduring love.

How would you explain the Trinity to a nonbeliever? 

Friday, May 29, 2015

Authentic Authority

“By what authority are you doing these things? Or who gave you this authority to do them?” Mk 11:28

When someone's life or message make us uncomfortable or angry, it is easy to challenge their authority. The assumption, of course, is that they have none and we do not have to listen to them. President Jimmy Carter, who by most accounts was an unsuccessful president, often makes Americans uncomfortable with his insistence that we need to learn to listen to everyone, if we want a lasting peace. His only authority for doing this, since he is no longer president, is the integrity of his personal life and faith.

Jesus is like this in the gospel. When challenged about who has given him authority to speak, he traps his opponents by asking them a question about John the Baptist's authority. If the Pharisees acknowledge that John was a messenger of God they would have to listen to him even though his he is demanding that they reform their lives. If they say John is not from God, they will anger the people who accept John's message. Because the leaders of the Jews are concerned only with losing their own authority, they fall silent and withdraw to plan more attacks upon Jesus. Jesus' invitation to the Pharisees to understand their faith differently falls on deaf ears.

Today think about what tactics you use not to listen to others who hurt or agitate you?

Whose authority do you trust most and why?

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Asking Until it Hurts

“'Take courage; get up, Jesus is calling you.' He threw aside his cloak, sprang up, and came to Jesus.
Jesus said to him in reply, 'What do you want me to do for you?' The blind man replied to him, 'Master, I want to see.'"

From the time we are children we learn that the measure of faith is the courage to keep trying. No matter how often we fail to live our faith fully, sin or turn away from God, the Christian learns to dust him or herself off and start walking faith's path again. Because God is always there to help us up, this terrible and terrifying challenge, though difficult, is possible. This simple lesson is important even for the experienced believer.

The blind man in today's Gospel is proof of this. Despite the fact that those around him tried to keep him quiet so as not to bother Jesus, the blind man kept shouting until Jesus responded. Refusing to be reduced to his blindness, he trusted that Jesus would help him if only he kept asking.

The lesson is clear. If we allow ourselves to lose courage or faith because we think we are beyond help or only bothering others, we will never do the right thing. Whether we are asking for ourselves or others does not matter. The demand of faith is that we keep asking God for help and trusting that God is near.

Today, be grateful for anyone who extended a hand to you when you were struggling.

What practices most help you persevere in faith?

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Fear

"Those who followed were afraid." Mk 10:32

Assuming they would be faithful to Lord as he marched on Jerusalem, James and John boldly ask the Lord for a place at his right hand, and we wonder what they were thinking! Jesus is clear about the sorrowful and painful journey that awaits him, but James and John seem able to think only of his triumph. Denial, as they say, is not just a river in Egypt.

The soldier or the Christian who does feel fear is too often reckless. Committed to the idea that their cause is just, they believe the Lord will rescue them from every hazard and restore them to their rightful place among the elect. Because they judge fear to be a weakness, they lack caution and preparedness for the war that awaits them.

Living a simple gospel life that does not seek power over others can feel like war. With so many others urging us to buy and possess things that we do not really need to want, we sometimes believe that having a new Ipad or Smartphone will make us powerful and give us status in our community. More dangerously, it gets is the way of Christ's reminder to his disciples that he has come, "not to be served, but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many." Mk 10:45

Today, don't buy anything you don't need.

Whose life of service to others most impresses you with its gospel power?


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Peter's Complaint

"Peter began to say to Jesus, 'We have given up everything and followed you.'" Mk 10:28

It is natural to complain from time to time about the treatment we receive from God, and it is good to express this in prayer. Unless we learn how to speak of our disappointment to God as if to a good friend, and to search more deeply within ourselves and our relationships for a fuller understanding and acceptance of our own faults and gifts, we will never really know the depths of God's love.

More often than not, our hurts and complaints about life and our relationships are reflections of unmet expectations. We expect our friends and God to be there when we need them in ways we understand or determine, and often we want our friends and God to take away our suffering and free us from ourselves as if my magic. In truth, this is not good for us, nor is it good when we try to do it for others. Real friends accompany and support, they don't try to fix us. Neither does God, because in our struggle to pray through life with faith, we learn who we really are and hope returns.

Today's gospel finds Peter complaining to Jesus about everything he and the apostles have had to give up to follow him, and though Peter doesn't get the words out, we suspect that he is wondering what reward he and the disciples will receive for their efforts. When Jesus assures Peter that all who let go of home, friends, family, and culture, will receive a hundred times as much, Peter seems satisfied. However, it will take time for Peter (and us) to understand that the hundredfold Jesus promises is not what he expects. In letting go into the arms of God, we receive the gift of the church, Christ's body, a community of billions of people to accompany us through life. Indeed, the hundredfold is more than we could ever imagine!

Today, try not to complain. Be grateful for those who walk with you in faith.

How do you manage your unmet expectations of God?

Monday, May 25, 2015

God's Gaze

"Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him, 'You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.'" Mk 10:21

How powerful it is to hear the evangelist say that Jesus looked at the rich young man and loved him. He did not scold him or reject him. He loved him with the hope that the young man would be able to take his advice.The same is true of all of us, although we often ignore or forget this simple request. That God looks at us with love is too much to believe, but whether we believe it or not is beside the point. God believes in us and loves us day after day.

It is also true that we need to let go in order to fully appreciate God's loving gaze. Until we experience loss, emptiness and the powerlessness that comes from trying to help others without success, we will never fully understand Jesus' command to sell everything and follow him. In fact, we do not need most of what we have, and if we have the faith to let go even that which we think we need, life will be very different. God's gaze of love will sustain us in our emptiness and show us the path to a full gospel life.

Today, let God look at you with love.

Who has looked at you with unconditional love simply because it is the gospel thing to do.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

The God of Second Chances

"To the penitent God provides a way back, he encourages those who are losing hope and has chosen for them the lot of truth." Sir 17:20

Ours is a God of second chances. And third chances and on and on. Immoderately and overwhelmingly forgiving, God is always urging us to begin again, to trust and not be afraid. Jesus' greeting of peace in today's gospel is our assurance that God's patience has not worn thin, if anything it is fuller and deeper. Though his disciples abandoned him at his most vulnerable, Jesus forgives and greets them with the power of Shalom/Peace, a word that means be yourself, don't be afraid, I want you to know of my love and acceptance even in your weakness.

The days that follow Pentecost are a time to remember how God's love in Jesus did not die with his death. Rather, he has been raised up and given us the gift of his Spirit who will accompany us every day, even when we forget God's love. God is giving his disciples and us a second chance to understand and be transformed by the Spirit. Though we will fail and fall along the way, God will always be waiting to pick us up and send us on our way.

Today, be grateful for all the second chances in your life.

Have you experienced God as a God of second chances?