Saturday, March 2, 2024

The Foolishness of God

 "For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength." 1 Cor 1:25

St. Paul knows what it means to write to the churches he helped found in a manner that focuses on them and not on him. He thanks God for them, for their faith, their faithfulness and the good works they do on behalf of the gospel.

What a powerful lesson there is for us. When we learn to begin each day with gratitude and hold our thanks before us like a light, we provide hope for those living in darkness and are reminded that a life of faith is simple. We need always to walk in the light of Christ who will show us the path to hope and thanksgiving because, as Paul further reminds us, "The foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength."

Paul learned that his weakness, which often haunted him, was a gift which God could use to teach and form new disciples. When we accept this basic truth, our own faith lives become both easier and more intelligible. God will and does use our weaknesses to help others trust and let go into his hands.

Today, thank God for the gift of faith.

Have you experienced your weakness as a gift?

Friday, March 1, 2024

The Forgiving Father

 “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.”  Lk 15:17-18

The story of the prodigal son or the forgiving father is one of the most remarkable in all of scripture. In order to demonstrate God's desire to forgive us, Luke's Jesus suggests that even if someone returns to God for less than pure motives, God will welcome her. More, God embraces and empowers anyone who seeks reconciliation.

When faced with this same kind of situation, most of us would try to discern the motives of the person seeking reconciliation, but God, the Forgiving Father, does not. Satisfied that his son or daughter is home, God reaches out and celebrates, apparently believing the power of his graciousness will convince his son or daughter that he must change his or her life.

We often spend too much time trying to figure life out when we would be better off entering its mystery and discerning more carefully what few issues deserve our response. Otherwise, we will waste our lives in fruitless obsession when we ought to be doing good. The Forgiving Father teaches us always to be looking for the good in the world, not bemoaning our losses.

Today, forgive someone unconditionally.

Is there anything that troubles you about the Forgiving Father?

Thursday, February 29, 2024

Jealousy

 "When Joseph's brothers saw that their father loved him best of all his sons, they hated him so much that they would not even greet him." Gen 37:4

The story of Joseph and his brothers offers us a picture of jealousy that is vile and ugly. Hated by his brothers because their father loves him so deeply, Joseph becomes an easy target when his father sends him to his brothers at Shechem where they are grazing their sheep. Seeing him coming, Joseph's brothers first determine to kill him, but then, when an opportunity to sell him as a slave presents itself, they strike a deal with some Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver and think they are rid of him forever. Little did they know that they would meet him again many years later when famine came to their land, and they had to go to Egypt to buy food. Joseph's willingness to welcome and reconcile with his brothers rather than punish them for their past jealousy, heartens us even today. Jealousy can be overcome if only we ask God for the strength to forgive and begin again.

Today, make an examination of conscience about your jealousies.

Have you known heroic people like Joseph who put aside their hurt for the good of family and community?


Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Facing Difficult questions

 "And lying at his door was a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps that fell from the rich man's table. Dogs even used to come and lick his sores." (Lk 16:20-21)


It is so difficult to read the passage about Lazarus and the rich man. How is it possible to have someone lying at your feet and not see him? Couldn't the rich man at least have swept the crumbs off his table so that Lazarus could have something to eat? How could he let his dogs lick Lazarus' wounds? These seem natural but unanswerable questions, but they demand reflection from us.

Who is it that we don't see? Are there people so unimportant that we ignore them? Too often the answer is yes. Sometimes it is people of color or those who are culturally different than us. At other times, it is people who are generational recipients of welfare. More often we turn away, almost unconsciously, from the homeless and mentally ill because they frighten us, but we can and ought to try to change this.

The act of seeing whatever and whoever is directly in front of us is a discipline and practice we can learn, but it takes prayer and silence. Those who take time each day to sit quietly, to breathe deeply and pay attention to all creation, after a while, find it impossible not to see those in need, and while we might not be able to do anything immediately, at least we have honored those who need to be seen and recognized as people just like us.

Today, spend five minutes in quiet and reflection in preparation for seeing that which is directly in front of you.

What situations and people are most difficult for you to face?