Follow Br Jack by Email

Saturday, May 18, 2019

The Tenderness of God

"Behold, God's dwelling is with the human race. He will dwell with them and they will be his people
and God himself will always be with them as their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, for the old order has passed away." Rev 21:4

Do we give people a reason to love God by our lives of tender service, especially to those most in need? This is a fundamentally important question for anyone wanting to follow Jesus and love Jesus. When people encounter others who are tender to everyone, it often changes them. Almost everyone understands being tender with children, the elderly and the diabled, but when we are tender towards prisoners and bullies, we witness to the power of the Gospel in challenging and compassionate ways.

The Easter season is all about deepening our convictions about the tenderness of God who allowed his son to suffer and die for our sake. When believers model their lives on the life of Jesus, especially in his willingness to live totally for others without regard for their social standing or importance in the society, we proclaim God's goodness in ways that everyone can see and understand.

Today, be tender to someone who lives a totally self centered life.

Who taught you the value of tenderness in your life? 

Friday, May 17, 2019

Trusting God to Hear Us

"Whatever you ask the Father in my name, he will give you." Jn 15:13

Who or what is your refuge? As children, most of us sought protection in our parents and teachers. Realizing our vulnerability, our elders watched out for and over us, making sure that we did not place ourselves at undue risk. While these safeguards are necessary and helpful, at some point, as we enter adulthood, we are forced to find our own places of refuge.

Some find solace and safety in nature. No matter what happens to upset us, they can go outdoors, dig in a garden or take a walk on the beach and find peace. Others seek out friends for a conversation when they are troubled, but in the end, as believers in Jesus Christ, our only lasting peace is in God who assures us that whatever we ask in his name will be given to us.

Listening to Pope Francis over the last few years, I am struck by his insistence that we "confess" Jesus Christ if we want to be authentically Christian. While we honor and celebrate all people who seek the good of others through Non governmental organizations (NGO's,) foundations and other charitable agencies, Christians must be rooted in Christ as disciples if we want to proclaim the fullness of the Good News.

Today, take some to rest in Christ as our ultimate refuge and hope.

What does it mean to you to confess Jesus Christ?

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Facing our Fears

"Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.'" Jn 14:27

When we read about the life of Jesus' first disciples we realize that following Jesus was no cheap grace. The price of discipleship was high. Many would lose their lives through martyrdom, and many others turned away from Jesus because of their fear.

Fear can be a very difficult emotion with which to deal. Sometimes paralyzing, and always uncomfortable, we often choose to ignore or deny it rather than realize that fear in the face of danger is necessary, and for the Christian, a means of transformation.

Jesus acknowledges and addresses the fear in his followers and promises them they will have his peace as a companion. The peace of Jesus is the ground upon which we build our faith, but it is often tested, and does not guarantee that we will be free of a fear that can paralyze us. Jesus will experience his own fear during the terrible night of his scourging and on the cross, but gives his life to his Father freely and powerfully. When we stay close to him, he assures us we will have the same strength to face our fears as he had during his agony.

Today, be with your fears and do not turn away from the trials of faith.

What about faith has helped you live with your fears and anxieties?

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Walking in the Dark

"I came into the world as light." Jn 12:45

It is always good to stop from time to time to remember those who were lights for us on our faith journies. It may have been a teaching sister in your catholic school. It might have been a grandparent whose understanding and insight pointed you towards a path of hope. It might have been a young friend who assured you that God was a constant companion and you had nothing to fear.

We are also called to be lights for others, not so much by what we say, but how we live. When others realize that we are there for them, not as instructors in the particulars of faith, but as companions on the journey, they are much more likely to trust us and ask for help. What a great gift we can to friends and companions along the way and how grateful we need to be for those who continue to lead us by example.

Today, take a moment to thank someone who has helped you through dark times.

What is your reponsibility to those who walk in darkness?

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Discerning God's Will

"I did not come to condemn the world, but to save the world." Jn 12:47

Jesus must have been terribly confusing to the leaders of the Jews. Forever insisting that he wants only to live the Law and fulfill it, at the same time, he seems to break the law regularly. What were the Pharisees to do? If they did not challenge and condemn him, they would lose their own authority. If they did reject his teachings, they would lose the power they had over ordinary people. Their quandary, like ours, led them into impossible situations. More concerned with their own position in the community than with their role of instructing the people of God, they don't listen deeply to the Lord. Neither do we!

A life of faith is not something we put on or off at will. Neither can it be reduced to obeying legitimate authorities. Faith demands reflection, prayer and conversation with others seeking to know and follow God's law, all of which takes time away from other necessary duties in life. Too often, hoping for a simple and quick solution to complex questions, we avoid the hard work of following the Lord, and either put our foot in our mouth or kick ourselves in the shins.

It is important to remember the lesson of the Pharisees. While we can, and sometimes must, criticize church and state, it is only through reflection, prayer and honest conversation that God's will emerges.

Today, pray for the prophets in our world who remind us to live the Gospel fully.

How do you discern God's will in your life?

Monday, May 13, 2019

St Matthias

"And the lot fell upon Matthias." Acts 1:26

St Matthias seems a good choice as patron saint for all of us. Chosen by lot to be an apostle, he disappears. We hear almost nothing more of him except that he was martyred around the year 63 CE. Most of us have similar lives in faith. Chosen and called by name to follow the Lord, our lives, though largely unremarkable, are important, not because we have become famous or well known, but because we have remained faithful.

Upon reflection, most of us would admit that the people whose example we follow and remain as pillars of faith for us are not the great saints about whom everyone knows. They are the husbands and wives, the mothers and fathers, the grandparents, mentors and soul friends who are the "underground cellars" of our lives. Though few will remember their names or deeds, they form the foundation of the church that, despite power struggles and doctrinal battles among the elite, remain our hope for the future.

Today, ask St Matthias to help you be quietly faithful to the gospel.

Who are the people that continue to shape your faith life?

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Jesus the Gate

"I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture." Jn 10:9

Gates are important for shepherds, ranchers and dairy farmers. Not only do they protect live stock from predators, they also provide a safe haven for the animals themselves. Jesus calls himself a gate because he wants to protect us and give us a sense of security in his Father's love. He also wants us not to be afraid to offer others a safe place in God's house, and this becomes the task of every person committed to the Gospel.

When we realize how much God wants to protect and guide us, we are humbled. Looking past our faults and sins, God keeps giving us examples of faith to assure us that we, too, can strive to live the Gospel fully. The two Popes canonized last week illustrate this. John XXIII told us to "see everything, overlook a great deal, and correct a little." John Paul II reminded to be in solidarity with the poor despite the cost, and to help create a peaceful world rooted in justice. Both men were gates whose lives encourage us to do the same in our generation.

Today, protect someone's reputation because it is the right thing to do.

Who has been a gate of faith for you?