Follow Br Jack by Email

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Zaccheus

"Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house." Lk 19:5

Why should Zaccheus come down quickly to join Jesus? Were others vying for the Lord's attention? Were Jesus' disciples urging him to meet with new followers in order to further instruct and form them? Whatever the reason, Zaccheus listens and responds to the Lord and becomes a model for us.

Often enough we are not exactly sure what we are do to help build God's reign, but at others times we know exactly what it is the Lord is saying and we resist. Like those invited to a wedding feast, we make up excuses for not living the Gospel. We don't like how God seems to be acting in our life. We wonder if we are making everything up about life in the Spirit, or we fight God's call because it demands that we let go unconditionally, and we are the kind of persons who want clear explanations before we act.

The Lord call us and wants to stay in our house today. What is so difficult about this? Perhaps because we have other things planned or wanted some time alone, we resist, forgetting that God is never a bother if only we let God be God and live in God's presence with peace. The things we have planned can be moved to another time. The few moments of quiet will keep. God wants to eat with us. We need to learn to drop everything and respond.

Today, ask not what you are supposed to do today, but what God wants you to do.

What are your biggest resistances to God??

Friday, October 28, 2016

Take the Lower Place

"Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted." Lk 14:11

When Jesus told the guests of the Pharisees to take the lowest place at a banquet in order not to be embarrassed if a more important guest arrives, he is not only offering them a strategy, but a challenge with a deeper spiritual meaning.

Authentic humility, rooted in God's power, demands that Christians see themselves as part of something much greater than their accomplishments. As part of Christ's body we have a dignity beyond our imagination, but only when we accept the role designated for us and do not pretend to be someone we are not, or that we are in control of life.

This message, like so many others that Jesus offers us, is counter intuitive. While most people bow to humility as a value, few wear the clothes of humility, especially in the United States. Citizens of our nation are trained from an early age to excel, and to accept both the accolades and privileges associated with "winning."

While wealth and power are by products of a successful life in the United States, this is not the goal of those who profess to live a Gospel life. Gospel success is measured, not in what it produces, but in the seeds of hope that it plants. Never far from the realization that all life is a gift, and all worldly success is temporary, Christians believe that our "success" is an integrated and other centered life, and this is no easy task.

Today, don't say something you are thinking. Listen first to others.

Have you had an experience of humility that changed your life?

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Sts Simon and Jude

"You are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God." Eph 2:20

It is always difficult to write about the apostles. In Luke's gospel, Jesus gathers his disciples and, seemingly in a random manner, chooses 12 of them as apostles. Though we know nothing of Jesus' criteria when selecting his closest associates, we can assume, since all of them died tragically and violently, that he saw something in these men that suggested they would be faithful and straightforward, which is always the bottom line in the Christian life. 

No matter what rank or office we hold in the church, life in Christ always comes back to Baptism. When the church lays hands on our heads, anoints us as priest, prophet and king, plunges us into the waters to die so as to live in Christ, and challenges us to be a light in the world, we receive the same gifts and difficult tasks the apostles received directly from Jesus, and like them our only responsibility is to share our new power and hope with those to whom we are sent.

Today, be an apostle. Announce the Good News with simple gestures.

What keeps you from accepting your important role as proclaimers of the Good News?

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Jesus Gathers Us

"I yearned to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were unwilling!

God's faithfulness is the bedrock of our faith.  God will not, cannot, revoke his Covenant with us.  It is unilateral.  Unlike other contracts or covenants which are bilateral or mutual, God's covenant with us is gratuitous. God's covenant does not need to be confirmed by our willingness to accept it or live within it.  It is pure gift.

At the same time, when we remember the nature and power of God's covenants with us, especially the New Covenant in Jesus, we realize again that we are made in God's image and must strive to love others, even our enemies, as God loves us.  We love others in faith not because they appreciate, celebrate or return our love. We love others in faith to be like God. 

Today, go to church, read a passage from scripture, and ask God to help you love others as God loves you.

Who has gathered you, like a hen, so that you never forget who you are and how much God loves you/  


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Asking for Help

"Lord, open the door for us." Lk 13:25

Most of us are too proud to ask others for help, except in the simplest matters. Determined to hold onto our independence for as long as possible, we miss some of the great delights of life. When we allow others to help us, everything changes. We realize that it is o.k. not to know certain things, not to be in charge, to be in charge.

More important, we often empower others when we ask for their insight or help. This is especially true with our children. I remember well when my parents asked me to help them with their finances. Although I had not had much experience in financial matters, there were plenty of friends who were more than capable, and they were only too happy to help me and my parents.

The Gospel today is reminding us to ask for help, to acknowledge our weakness and dependence, asserting all the while that God is waiting for our request and anxious to come to our aid, and while we might not always receive exactly what we think we need or want, the Lord will always be present to us as guide and companion. The 13th century Persian poet, Rumi, says it this way: "The door we are knocking on opens from the inside."

Today, knock of God's door just to tell him you are near.

What makes it difficult for you to ask for help?

Monday, October 24, 2016

Faith like a Mustard Seed

"Jesus said, 'What is the Kingdom of God like? To what can I compare it? It is like a mustard seed that a man took and planted in the garden. When it was fully grown, it became a large bush and the birds of the sky dwelt in its branches.'” Lk 13: 18-19

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, telling them that God's reign is like a mustard seed. When someone from the crowd, exultant and full of himself, proclaims that he will follow Jesus anywhere, Jesus reminds him that he has no place to lay his head. Is the fellow from the crowd willing to become a nomad and follow Jesus into  the wilderness? Challenge after challenge faces the Apostles and disciples.

In claiming his identity as a pilgrim and an itinerant preacher, Jesus promises us that like the God of the Hebrew scriptures he will follow his flock anywhere and everywhere. Though he makes few demands, he is always imploring us to live like him, without family or wealth, but full of hope and compassion. God will guide us and care for us, he insists, but we 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?

Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Bent Over Woman

“And a woman was there who for eighteen years had been crippled by a spirit; she was bent over, completely incapable of standing erect.” Lk 13:11

Every time I read this passage, I think of my mother. In the last years of her life mom had dozens of spinal fractures, all of which caused her pain and difficulty in standing erect. A back brace helped, but often she would have to sit or lie down to get any relief. At the same time, her spinal osteoporosis did not slow her down. Mom was too interested in life to let something as simple as back pain stop her.

The woman in today’s passage from the gospel of Luke seems much like mom. Despite being bent over, she is in the synagogue listening, learning, and hoping. No doubt some judged her and thought she was possessed by an evil spirit, but she was not deterred. Like so many others who had heard about Jesus she wanted to be near him, and perhaps even be healed. Imagine her joy when the Lord said to her, “Woman, you are set free of your infirmity.” Lk 13:12 I can imagine her walking out of the synagogue after 18 years standing very tall, looking all in the eye and asking everyone she saw what they thought of her now.

The lesson for us is clear. Stand erect. Look around you at the glory of God. Reach out for those who are broken. Feed the hungry. Clothe the naked. Do whatever it takes to save lives for the sake of the Gospel.

Today, ask to see clearly whatever or whomever is in front of you. And pray not to look away from the needy, but to help those bent over by poverty, sin or despair.

How do you think Christians ought to respond to people with disabilities?