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Saturday, March 2, 2019

Don't Judge

"Why do you notice the splinter in your brother's eye?" Lk 6:41

Over and over, Pope Francis calls believers everywhere not only not to judge others, but to look rather at their strengths and virtues. When writing his apostolic exhortation, The Joy of the Gospel, the Holy Father further challenged us to revisit our priorities personally and communally,
I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security. I do not want a Church concerned with being at the center and then ends by being caught up in a web of obsessions and procedures.(1)
It should be clear that when the Holy Father encourages us to "hit the streets", he is also reminding us that people who are engaged in trying to help others and proclaim the Gospel have little time to judge others. They are too busy being Good News.

Today, if you are tempted to judge someone, praise them instead.

Do you know people like Pope Francis who refuse to judge others?

Friday, March 1, 2019

Like Children

“Let the children come to me; do not prevent them, for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the Kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.” Mk 10: 14-15

Today's Gospel offers us a great challenge. Like children we need to be open spirited, engaged, and contemplative. Faith is Jesus in not a set of rules we need to obey, but a new way of living that demands we be open spirited and engaged with life as it is, not as we want it to be.

Believing in a God who is always with us, something that is very natural for a child, allows us to believe that faith well lived can change the world. When people encounter Christians who have a zest for life and a commitment to all people, especially those without a voice, they listen. Some even want to know more.

Today, let your imagination, like a child playing a game, roam with delight.

What about children most speaks to you of the Gospel?

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Divorce

"Is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife?" Mk 10:2

Divorce is always difficult and painful, but sometimes it is necessary. When there is physical or emotional abuse, the spouse being abused has little choice. The Gospel never demands that a person submit to abuse for the sake of any relationship, and while many married people struggle to stay in relationships that are empty, there are times when a spouse must leave a marriage.

At the same time, Jesus wants the married to succeed, to be faithful, to forgive, forget and work through their difficulties. When marriage or religious life becomes something we can abandon or easily put aside when it hurts to take the next step, we deny God's power to heal and to shine a light on the dark path that we all must sometimes take. Learning from those who accept life as it unfolds because of their faith is a gift we should all treasure.

Today, recommit yourself to your baptismal vows, and pray for those struggling in marriage.

Whose commitment to marriage most enhanced your faith?

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Give someone a Drink of Water

"Jesus said to his disciples: "Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ, amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward." Mk 9:41

To live the Gospel and gain its benefits is simple. Give a thirsty person something to drink in the name of the Christ. But it is also simple to break the law.  Anyone who teaches an innocent person to sin, to reject the Gospel, to disparage others, to steal another's reputation, to control others for their own gain rather than announce the Good News, will reap the wrath of God.

Feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty and caring for the sick and needy is a privilege. It is how the Gospel teaches us to witness to what we have learned. Knowing that faith and all it contains is a gift helps us to remember never to think of our faith as a private possession for our own salvation but as an offering from God that we need to share with the same gracious love God shows us.

Today, offer someone a drink of water.

How would you teach the young not to take faith for granted but to share it?

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Sniping at Those with whom we Disagree

"Whoever is not against us is for us." Mk 9:40

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 remain befuddled by the sniping that seems never to end among President 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?

Isn't this what fueled the sexual abuse crisis? I have no doubt Catholic people, though horrified, would have accepted the reality of some priests abusing children and young adults, but the cover up of these sins and crimes by bishops and others has made this awaful reality much worse.

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, especially children, are in need? Unless we find a way to speak with one another about critical issues like hunger, housing, health care, the trafficking and abuse of children, and immigration reform, we will be clanging symbols that the rest of the world rightly ignores and ridicules.

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?

Monday, February 25, 2019

Silly Arguments

“'What were you arguing about on the way?' But they remained silent. They had been discussing among themselves on the way who was the greatest." Mk 9 33-34

Hearing about the silly debate Jesus' disciples were having among themselves is almost humorous. Worried, perhaps, about their place and role in Jesus' coming kingdom, Jesus' followers risked breaking the bonds they had with one another and in the process demeaned themselves and those with whom they were arguing.

Haven't we all found ourselves in similar situations? In a debate with a friend or family member that never seems to end, even though everyone listening gets bored or loses interest, we keep insisting on our position and find ourselves saying things we really don’t mean or believe.

People in twelve step recovery programs have a wonderful question about this. “How important is it?", they ask. A young friend of mine went even further. Whenever he was faced with a situation that troubled him he asked three questions. Does something need to said? Does it need to be said now? Am I the person who needs to say it? This little exercise protected him from himself and his compulsions and helped him avoid senseless arguments and upset.

Today, avoid all arguments.

When have you found yourself unable to extricate yourself from a silly debate?

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Widsom

"All wisdom comes from the Lord." Sir 1:1

Rarely do we associate wisdom with the young since wisdom usually emerges in people who have had a great deal of experiene and are willing to use that experience to discern how to exist and prosper in difficult times.

These days, however, even those we expect to be wise, like bishops, are found wanting since wisdom did not seem to impact their decisions when faced with sexual abuse among their clergy.  Rather, to their shame and ours, they protected the institutions of the church before attending to abused young people and children. Who then, if not the bishops and their advisors, do we look to for wisdom.?

The book of Sirach suggests that only God is wise and if we want to be wise at any age, we need to be close to God and God's desire for the world so clearly expressed in the Gosepl. It is not so much that God inserts wisdom into us like an injection, but that nearness to God fills us with the strength to do the right thing for the right reason.

Today, ask the Lord to draw you close, no matter your age.

Who do you most admire for their wise choices and counsel?