Saturday, October 27, 2012

Opening Our Eyes

"What do you want me to do for you?" Mk 10:51

The question that Jesus asks the blind man amazes us. It seems so obvious that the blind man wants to see. Nevertheless, Jesus asks him what he wants, insisting that the blind man speak directly about his needs, and it is only his answer that allows Jesus to heal him.

Being unable to see is a terrible burden, but not death dealing. In the ancient world, it was viewed as a punishment for sin, but Jesus disabuses his listeners of this interpretation. Rather, he asks a deeper question. Do we really want to see what is in front of us and act accordingly, or do we want to see in order to chart our own path?

The gospel demands that we use our eyes to see and address the evil in the world. When we see poor people being abused because they are poor, or racial minorities being dismissed because they are different than the majority population, we must act. It is not enough to see the wrong; we must find a way to address it.

Today, open your eyes and see whatever is in front of you?

Who has helped see and act?

Friday, October 26, 2012

Bearing Fruit

"For three years now I have come in search of fruit on this fig tree but have found none. So cut it down. Why should it exhaust the soil?" Lk 13:7

At the time of Jesus, fig trees were often planted in grape vineyards and took three or four years to bear edible fruit. More important, to be healthy, fig trees needed large amounts of water, a resource which to this day Israel has in short supply. It made perfect sense to cut down a fig tree that was not producing good fruit after three years. Nevertheless, Jesus insisted that God was patient and would give his people more time to grow as long as they worked at bearing fruit.

The lesson remains important today in helping us understand God and God's love for us. Like the Israelites of old, God wants us to succeed, to grow, to understand, and to internalize the great truths of our faith. When that happens, we will bear fruit, and the fruit will feed the world. God is patient, but we must work and do what it takes to bring forth good fruit. We need to water, fertilize and tend to the fig tree that is our faith.

Today, do something that will help you grow in faith.

What have been the most important elements in your faith life?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Letting Nature Teach

"Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky; why do you not know how to interpret the present time?" Lk 12:56

Jesus often uses nature to help his listeners understand how plain the Gospel message is. When he hear thunder or see lightning in the sky we know to get out of the water or away from trees. The sounds and sights all around us warn us to be take shelter and avoid danger. When Jesus' enemies and disciples ignored the obvious he was hard on them, demanding that they stop fighting to be right, and seek a place where everyone could be safe.

Our spirits regularly tell us that there is something brewing is us that needs attention. When we become moody or resistive to the simple requests of friends or family, it ought to be a clue that something is wrong and needs our response, not our reaction. More important, we need to listen to our inner voice when it urges us to reach beyond our normal boundaries to help others, many of whom we will never know.

Poverty is everywhere in the world, and we have no choice as Christians but to respond to those in desperate need. Not to look at or see the world's poor, especially migrants streaming out of countries where their own leaders torture and chase them is a horror too plain to ignore.

Today, listen to or watch a report on the world's hungry.

Are you rushing too much making it impossible to hear the signs of the times?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Preach the riches of Christ

"To me, the very least of all the holy ones, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the inscrutable riches of Christ." Eph 3:8

Realizing what a privilege it is to be a disciple is an important foundational step for believers. Knowing that Christ has called as individuals and communities to follow him and proclaim his word in action is, as Paul says, a great grace. But it also daunting. When we realize how flawed we are, there can be a hesitancy in accepting the call to discipleship. We don't mind being quiet, "good catholics" who go to church each Sunday, but accepting a public role in the church is intimidating.

Nevertheless, the challenge to live the gospel in season and out is the call all the baptized have, and unless we promote it and live it, the next generation of Catholics will not have mentors or shoulders to stand on. For most of us, the only way to live our call is, like Paul, to root ourselves in "the inscrutable riches" of Christ. When we remember that we are not promoting ourselves, nor denying our own sinfulness, the call to discipleship becomes possible.

Christ will help us, even if we are the least of all believers, to put aside our reluctance and, with his grace and strength, go into the whole world with hearts overflowing with hope, joy and gratitude.  The humility to live as disciples despite our faults will be a great sign to all that Christ is the ground of our lives.

Today, rely on Christ for everything.

How do you experience the call to discipleship?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Fellow Citizens

'"So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God," Eph 2:19

For those who have always been strangers or outsiders, people without a voice in family or society, the promise of Paul that in Christ they have become "fellow citizens with the holy ones," must have been overwhelming. Poor, forgotten, and neglected, they not only have an identity, Christ treats them like royalty.

St Paul makes the same promise to us. Through baptism we have been been made one with Christ, and while some roles in his kingdom seem more important than others, Paul warns his listeners that this is not so. In Christ, everyone counts equally. "The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you,’ nor again the head to the feet, ‘I do not need you.'" (1 Cor 12:21) Paul insists that we view ourselves, not as isolated persons seeking perfection, but as members of a body dependent upon one another for life and faith. This new way of understanding our identity assures us that no one is lost and all are saved, a vision that is almost too much to absorb.

Today, look at each person you meet as a brother or sister.

What is it like to see yourselves as intimately united with others in faith?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Mercy and Forgiveness

"But God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love he had for us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, brought us to life with Christ." Eph 2 4-5

Last week I was trying to convince a group of teenagers preparing for Confirmation that because God called me to be a friar I was very rich. While I own no property or liquid assets, my life has been full of blessings and I am very grateful. In fact, the communion of saints is very real to me. I have not just met a few saints, I have been surrounded by them, lifted up by their love and been assured that I will always be loved.

My words, however, did not seem to impress the young people who are just about to launch out into the world on their own and were not anxious to hear that having little or nothing was a great blessing. Neither, it seemed, did they want to learn that the basic stance of the Christian is to serve others with compassion and joy. Perhaps, underneath it all, they don't yet feel the need for God's mercy and forgiveness, and while this might be natural, it will have to change at some point.

Life is about letting go of our transgressions and sins and allowing God to heal us and those we have sinned against, actions which are beyond our control but which God is anxious to complete in us. Because of God's unconditional love for us, God keeps offering us mercy and new life.

Today, show God's mercy to someone who has hurt you.

How have you experienced God's mercy and forgiveness?