Saturday, August 15, 2015

Sharing Our Bread

"Come, eat of my food, and drink of the wine I have mixed!" Prv 9:5

Today's scriptures challenge us to re-imagine discipleship. In the book of Proverbs wisdom is a gracious hostess who creates a peaceful and welcoming environment and invites us to be ourselves in her presence, to sit at her table, to eat her food and drink her wine.

When in John's gospel Jesus becomes wisdom incarnate, the one who reminds us to feed the hungry even before eating ourselves, we realize that discipleship is more about being a host to others than preaching the Good News with words alone. We must become a people who live the Gospel in such a way that all can encounter the Christ dwelling among us through the Spirit.

While it will always be important to gather for worship every Sunday, unless the Eucharist moves us beyond prayer to action it will not have the power Jesus intends. Only when Christians spend their faith during the week doing justice for the forgotten and voiceless will people experience us as a living gospel.

Today, preach the gospel with your lives.

Who or what has helped you understand and live the life of a disciple?

Friday, August 14, 2015

The Assumption of Mary

"Blessed is the womb that carried you, and the breasts at which you nursed." Lk 11:27

Today's feast doesn't need a lot of explanation. Mary is the promise, in the flesh, of our own resurrection. Because it is so obvious that Jesus loved the one who carried him in her womb and fed him the milk of her breasts, he wants her to be with him forever in the flesh, and her reward is the promise of our own.

Not infrequently, people wonder what heaven might be like. The promise of this feast is that we will be with the Lord and all those who have gone before us in the flesh, not necessarily a flesh like we know now, but in our resurrected bodies. Just as Jesus was not limited after his resurrection by the body the apostles saw in the Upper Room, there was no doubt that it was Jesus. Neither, some day, will we have any doubt about who it is that has prepared a place for us.

To understand more deeply the substance of this feast, take a moment to think about how important it is to be with those who have loved us and whom we have loved. Not to be with and see them ever again would be a terrible burden. Today's feast promises us that God knows our yearning and will respond with the gift of a place at the eternal banquet.

Today, let those close to you know of your love.

How do you imagine heaven? What do you hope for?

Thursday, August 13, 2015

St Maximilian Mary Kolbe

"Unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven." Mt 18:3

St Maximilian Mary Kolbe is a modern hero, not so much because of his accomplishments in founding a magazine with 1 million subscribers, but because his faith was strong enough to allow him to volunteer for death. Troubled while in a Nazi concentration camp that another prisoner with a wife and family was condemned to death, he volunteered to take his place. A few days later, he was a martyr.

As children most of us, full of romantic dreams, have no doubt that if called to be a martyr, we would say yes to this supreme sacrifice. As we age, however, and become more worried about our health and success, our resolve usually wanes. Maximilian Kolbe is a saint because he remained steadfast in his willingness to give up his life for the sake of another and the gospel. A true child of God: innocent, transparent, and vulnerable, Maximilian entered the Kingdom of God singing.

Today, ask God to renew your dreams of serving God completely, despite the cost.

What holds you back from being childlike in your faith?

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

God's Patience with Us

"Be patient with me and I will pay you back in full."

God's patience is ours for the asking. Almost unbelievable to those of us with little patience, God is waiting for us to ask for help, and today's scripture is a powerful example of this. A debtor, and aren't we all debtors, asks his master to be patient with him. Moved with pity, perhaps because of his awareness that he too is a debtor, the master forgives his servant completely, asking for no payment whatsoever, but the servant does not understand the depth of his master's compassion. Rather than follow the example of his master, when the servant  who has been forgiven is asked to forgive another servant in debt to him, he refuses and puts him in prison. When the master of both servants hears of this he is outraged and punishes the unforgiving servant severely.

This entire story, we must remember, emerges from Peter's question about how deep and often he must forgive a brother who sins against him. When Peter suggests that seven times might be adequate, which after all was much more generous than the teaching of the Rabbis, the Lord pushes him beyond his own limited sense of God's mercy and tells him that forgiveness should never be withheld, even from our enemies.

This is a hard saying, especially when we have been badly hurt by a friend, a parent, a spouse or a lover. To think that we must act towards those who hurt us like God acts towards us seems impossible, but it is clearly the message of Jesus.

Today, forgive someone even if they fail to ask forgiveness.

What holds you back from forgiving others?

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Our Inheritance from God

"Lord, let us see your kindness, and grant us your salvation." Ps 85

Many older people often find themselves wondering what kinds of gifts they can leave their children. Making wills that try to distribute their resources equally among their children, they sometimes deny themselves simple pleasures because they want their children to have more than they had. Even when their children are doing well, many still want to give them more. Whether this desire to help their children is rooted in altruistic love or their need to feel needed is never clear, but it gives us pause to think about the inheritance we receive from God.

The book of Genesis tells us that God made everything that is for us because God wants us to be happy and secure in God's love. Like a good parent, God wants us to have what we need to live, but creation is not God's only or best gift. God gives us the promise of never being alone, that no matter where we go or how much we struggle, we will always be in God's presence, and this promise can and will sustain us through every difficulty if only we embrace it.

Parents and others with an inheritance to share with their children and family would do well to follow God's example. When we are able to assure those around us that they are never alone, that no matter what they do what foolish path they follow, they can always return to us and God, they will have an inheritance beyond price, and the need to keep giving the next generation more than they can ever use will dissipate. Our children need our unconditional love, not our old books and china!

Today, treasure the inheritance of God's enduring love and presence.

What gift of faith given to you by God and your mentors do you most value?

Monday, August 10, 2015

St Clare of Assisi

“Gaze upon Christ, consider Christ, contemplate Christ, as you desire to imitate Christ.” St Clare

St Clare, who calls herself the little plant of St. Francis, often speaks of gazing upon God and Christ. It is a fascinating way of entering into contemplation. One does not have to understand as much as appreciate what one is gazing upon. Gazing is an act of the heart, not unlike what a parent does watching a child sleep. 

We must be quiet and rested in order to gaze freely and without unnecessary distractions. Gazing implies a kind of recollection, very much like what we might do late on a summer day as the sun sets. Appreciating the beauty without trying to control or stop it, we sit next to a river or in a park and enjoy the wonder of creation as another day ends. 

Contemplatives like St Clare work to quiet their spirits in order to appreciate all that God is and does. They do not cling to or try to possess God. Rather, they sit in God's presence and learn to walk through life at a pace that does no harm to any creature. Like St Francis among the animals, St Clare and her sisters celebrate the beauty of God in all that is, making it possible to see with the eyes of the heart and draw others to the beauty of God's love expressed through the gift of creation.

Today, breathe deeply and gaze upon whatever is in front of you.

What helps you to quiet your spirit and gaze delightedly upon God's creation?

Sunday, August 9, 2015

St Lawrence, Deacon

"Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully." 2 Cor 9:6

There is an old saying: You can't win it unless your in it, and this is especially true when trying to live the Gospel.  Unless we are committed to live the Gospel with integrity everyday, we can never hope to know its joys. Summer in the Northeast United States teaches this lesson especially well.

Gardeners who are willing to put only one tomato plant in the ground can hope all they want for a treasure trove of tomatoes but one plant can only produce so much fruit. Only those who are willing to risk many plants and have the energy to water them everyday can hope for a large crop. The same is true for our good deeds. While one generous act a day is good, we must be willing to sow many seeds of God's love every day to announce the reign of God, especially to those without faith.

St Lawrence is most famous for a good deed that though we cannot authenticate it, continues to impress us with its power. Commanded by the Roman prefect to gather up the riches of the church in order to strengthen the Emperor's war efforts, Lawrence asks for a few days to inventory the churches treasures. During this time he gathered up the broken: the lepers, the blind, the lame and the orphaned and brought them to the Roman prefect declaring: These are the treasures of the church! Shortly after his daring declaration, he was martyred.

Today, sow good deeds without worrying about their success.

Who sowed the Good News in your life?