Saturday, February 25, 2017

Living Simply Makes Us Rich

"Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they?" Mt 6:26

Jesus continually surprises his disciples. Just as they get comfortable with the direction he is taking, he turns a corner and turns their world upside down, reminding them that he has no place to lay his head. Are the disciples willing to become  nomads and follow Jesus into  the wilderness? What a challenge?

In claiming his identity as a pilgrim and an itinerant preacher, Jesus promises us that like the God of the Hebrew scriptures he will follow his flock anywhere and everywhere. Though he makes few demands, he is always imploring us to live like him, without family or wealth, but full of hope and compassion. God will guide us and care for us, he insists, but we have to trust. The emptiness of having nothing in Christ is a fullness beyond compare. Clinging to nothing, we have everything. The faith to believe this is the test we all face.

Today, empty yourself of everything that gets in the way of loving God and neighbor.

Have you known the glory of feeling rich even when you have nothing?

Friday, February 24, 2017

Like Children

“Let the children come to me; do not prevent them, for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the Kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.” Mk 10: 14-15

Today's Gospel offers us a great challenge. Like children we need to be open spirited, engaged, and contemplative. Faith is Jesus in not a set of rules we need to obey, but a new way of living that demands we be open spirited and engaged with life as it is, not as we want it to be.

Believing in a God who is always with us, something that is very natural for a child, allows us to believe that faith well lived can change the world. When people encounter Christians who have a zest for life and a commitment to all people, especially those without a voice, they listen. Some even want to know more.

Today, let your imagination, like a child playing a game, roam with delight.

What about children most speaks to you of the Gospel?

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Faithful Friendship

"A faithful friend is beyond price, no sum can balance his worth."

When friends are not who we thought them to be, especially if they speak poorly of us, we are disappointed and disillusioned.  We might even be tempted to end our friendship, or at the very least step away from it for a while. Shock does that to us. Unsure of someone else, we also wonder how we missed something important about them. Were we so needy that we failed to realize that our relationship was not as secure or as deep as we imagined?

Discipleship, like friendship, is built not on completely understanding the other, but on trusting that the relationship is authentic and rooted in God's love and the truth of the Gospel. Because we know that God is faithful, we can trust that whatever God teaches is for our good and glory of God. Trusting God is the root of our faith and faithfulness.

Today, ask not for understanding but acceptance.

How do you manage the loss of a friendship?

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

St Polycarp

"Jesus said to his disciples: “Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ, amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward. 'Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were put around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.'" Mt 9: 41-42

To live the Gospel and gain its benefits is simple. Give a thirsty person something to drink in the name of the Christ. But it is also simple to break the law.  Anyone who teachs an innocent person to sin, to reject the Gospel, to disparage others, to steal another's reputation, to control others for their own gain rather than announce the Good News, will reap the wrath of God.

Feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty and caring for the sick and needy is a privilege. It is how the Gospel teaches us to witness to what we have learned. Knowing that faith and all it contains is a gift helps us to remember never to think of our faith as a private possession for our own salvation but as an offering from God that we need to share with the same gracious love God shows us.

Today, offer someone a drink of water.

How would you teach the young not to take faith for granted but to share it?

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Chair of St Peter

"Tend the flock of God in your midst, overseeing not by constraint but willingly, as God would have it, not for shameful profit but eagerly. Do not lord it over those assigned to you, but be examples to the flock." 1Pt 5: 2-3

Learning to be a Christian leader, especially if it is something to which you were elected or appointed, is difficult and confusing. Too often leaders think they rule by divine right, deep intelligence or superior insight. In fact, while we hope our leaders are gifted, their primary call is to be servants, people who think first about the people they are called to lead, not their own power or responsibility.

Christian leadership is also confusing because there are very few models or examples to follow, although it is clear that Pope Francis is trying to change what we expect from church leaders. Committed to building a "a church that is poor and for the poor," Francis is asking all Christians, but especially its leaders, to re-imagine their roles and goals. When leaders live more simply, as Francis is trying to do personally, they become more approachable and more compelling. We want to listen to them because of their integrity, not just their office.

More important, the personal integrity and simplicity of life of those called to leadership lays the ground for an authentic conversation between all trying to live their Baptismal promises which is not based in roles or titles but in the shared desire to announce the Good News. When our leaders our approachable, listen and are willing to seek solutions to common problems through dialogue, they not only model Gospel values, they invite others to do the same.

Today, listen to someone you might easily ignore.

What do you want our leaders to be?

Monday, February 20, 2017

Senseless Arguments

“'What were you arguing about on the way?' But they remained silent. They had been discussing among themselves on the way who was the greatest." Mk 9 33-34

Hearing about the silly debate Jesus' disciples were having among themselves is almost humorous. Worried, perhaps, about their place and role in Jesus' coming kingdom, Jesus' followers risked breaking the bonds they had with one another and in the process demeaned themselves and those with whom they were arguing.

Haven't we all found ourselves in similar situations? In a debate with a friend or family member that never seems to end, even though everyone listening gets bored or loses interest, we keep insisting on our position and find ourselves saying things we really don’t mean or believe.

People in twelve step recovery programs have a wonderful question about this. “How important is it?", they ask. A young friend of mine went even further. Whenever he was faced with a situation that troubled him he asked three questions. Does something need to said? Does it need to be said now? Am I the person who needs to say it? This little exercise protected him from himself and his compulsions and helped him avoid senseless arguments and upset.

Today, avoid all arguments.

When have you found yourself unable to extricate yourself from a silly debate?

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Faith Makes All Things Possible

"Everything is possible to one who has faith." Mk 9:23

Faith is a simple but profound gift that gives us the assurance not only that God exists but is active in our lives. Faith promises us that we are never alone and that God wants us both to be happy and full of hope, and it is the gift of faith that demands we do justice. Having received so much through faith, we are compelled to help create a world in which others know the gracious goodness and love of God in Christ directly as well as through the good works and compassion of believers.

The gift of faith is one that we too often take for granted, especially when we go about in the world without giving God any time at all except when we are struggling to understand or accept a difficult part of our journey. Faith is something about which we need to be grateful each day, a gift that is always there for us to take, live and delight in. God, like a mother loving her children unconditionally, keeps offering us growth, hope and a path to eternal life, and all of this freely and totally.

Taking some time each day to reflect upon this gift not only prepares us for the trying moments that come to us all, it roots us more deeply in the great mystery of God's love. 

Today, sit quietly for five minutes and pray in gratitude for a time in your life when faith saved you.

Who most impresses you with how they live their faith?