Friday, June 14, 2024

Living a Simple Life

 "Then Elisha, filled with the twofold portion of his spirit, wrought many marvels by his mere word." Sir 48:12

Being seen is often important for celebrities. Living in the New York area, there are always reports about actors, business people and athletes at this or that event, with photographers recording their every move and word. Although many claim not to enjoy this part of celebrity, I am not so sure. Without all the photos, radio and TV appearances, their name and image would slip from public consciousness and their fame, which is already fleeting, might disappear completely. Celebrities need a kind of notoriety to get work and demand high salaries.

This is not the way Jesus envisions the lives of his disciples. In fact, he is clear: Do not let your right hand know what your left is doing. Don't prance about in public in order to be noticed. Do the right thing for the right reason, not to be seen but to promote God's reign.

Elisha remembered to wear the mantle of Elijah because it was Elijah's spirit that empowered him. When we remember that we are to wear the mantle of Jesus Christ, we will not worry about how we appear. Rather, we will live the gospel transparently, not for personal gain or even our salvation, but so that all might see in us the power of Jesus Christ. 

Today, avoid the spotlight.

Whose life of simple, transparent faith most moves you to live the Gospel without concern for personal gain?

Thursday, June 13, 2024

Slow Down, Listen

 “Go outside and stand on the mountain before the LORD; the LORD will be passing by.” 1 Kgs 19:11

Finding God is everywhere is possible, even easy at times, as long as we are willing to let God lead us, but most North Americans are so busy that they often fail to hear, much less, accept God's invitation. Worried, like Martha in the Gospel of of Luke (10:38-42) about too many details, we miss the forest for the trees.

We need to learn to slow down everyday and notice God's finger everywhere. When we fail to breathe the morning air deeply, stretch and look around at what nature is presenting each day, we miss the God hidden in all of creation. When we keep walking when a family member, colleague or friend has a question for us, we tell them without words that we are not prepared to listen deeply to them. When people become objects that we manipulate for our own pleasure or power, we fail to notice God within them and in our relationships.

The prophet Elijah teaches us this lesson powerfully. When God told Elijah to go outside and wait for God who would be passing by, the prophet obeyed and discovered God, not in a fierce wind, an earthquake or a fire, but in the tiny whispering sound. Unless we are willing to let God speak to us in God's voice, we will rush past the God who is everywhere beckoning us, often in a whisper, to come closer.

Today, slow down for ten minutes and see what God says.

Where are the most ordinary places you hear God's voice?

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

St Anthony of Padua

 "Keep me safe O God, you are my hope." Ps 16

For most of our best known saints there is a moment that defines their lives. St Anthony had two. The first happened when he witnessed the funeral procession of the first Franciscan martyrs. Because he had served them as guest master for the Augustinians as they prepared to leave Portugal for Africa, he was convinced their death was a sign from God to leave the Augustinians and join the Franciscans in order to take up their mission in converting the Moors. When his health would not allow him this privilege, he accepted his limitations and moved to Italy where he committed himself to a life of prayer, study, and simple living, a lifestyle that led him to his second defining moment.

Called to be a substitute preacher at an ordination when no one else was prepared to speak, he was expected by everyone to stumble and stammer, but his eloquence and learning stunned his hearers. His life as a renowned preacher had begun and it would lead him to be the first theology teacher in the Franciscan reform, a remarkable turnabout for a community that so deeply distrusted theology. It was Anthony's great sanctity that convinced  St Francis that Anthony could both teach theology and holiness at the same time.

Today, let God lead you in a path of God's choosing.

What moments in your faith life have been life defining?

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Our Relationship with the Jewish Community

    “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill." Mt 5:17

We need to be careful reading this text. Sometimes we are tempted to disregard Judaism, asserting that if Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law, we no longer have to study or obey it.  Jesus is not rejecting the Old Law and his Jewish heritage. After all, he insists that “not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place.” (Mt 5:18) Rather, Jesus is announcing that he is the hesed of God, the fullness of God’s conditional love for all; God’s loving kindness and mercy. And more to the point of this reflection, Jesus does not want us to be trapped in our understanding of him either.

The old is good, we say, sometimes about our understanding of the Lord, our church, our catholic teaching. While all of this might be true, we have also to ready ourselves for new insights, new interpretations and a new richness that comes like a gift to those who open themselves to the unconditional love of God. Every interpretation, every insight has one purpose, to put God at the center of our consciousness. As Jesus continually reminds us, his purpose on earth is to reveal his Father’s love for all. If that means he must die, so be it.  Death is a small price to pay for the salvation of the world.  While we don’t want to glorify suffering for suffering’s sake, sometimes suffering is the direct result of telling the truth.

If you have the opportunity, have a conversation with a Jew.

How do you understand the relationship between the Old and New Testaments?