Sunday, September 25, 2016

A Twist on Poor Man / Rich Man

I was listening to Bishop Robert Barron's podcast on this weekend's Gospel, and he certainly gave me a lot to think about.  

This Gospel is one we all know well - about Lazarus, a poor man, and an unnamed rich man.  

First things first, I have always considered all of us the "rich man" in this reading.  After all, if you can read this blog, and type a response, you are richer than most of the world.  

Bishop Barron comments that being "wealthy" (remember, it is a relative term, and not just material) is not a bad thing.  Perhaps, he states, God has given us this wealth so that it gets to the people that need it most.    

What an inspirational comment!  Rather than feeling guilty that we have three meals a day (plus dessert!), can read and write, can afford a roof over our heads and a computer to blog ... we can act as stewards of God's treasures and be his "distribution arm" on earth.  

However, just when I had absorbed that thought, Bishop Barron turned that idea on its head.  He reflected that, perhaps, the rich are not just here to help the poor ... what if God also put the poor here to help the rich get to heaven?  What if all those beggars in the street, letters asking for donations, and volunteer emails are opportunities for us to take a step towards our Eternal Home?  

Either way, the guidance is clear.  Love one another, share your gifts, and care for those in need.  

God Bless you!

Monday, September 5, 2016

I reflected this weekend on the Gospel (where Jesus reminds us that the Father comes before anything else) and the Sainthood of Mother Teresa.  

I started thinking about St. Teresa, and all she did to help the poor and needy.  Of all the people she came in contact with - all the people God sent her way  - I wondered what percentage of them she helped.  Because she gave up so many worldly things so early, she probably helped a good percentage of them.  

I contrasted that with what my percentage would be.  I wondered how many opportunities I missed because I was preoccupied with other things.  I imagine I have missed as many as St. Teresa helped.  

As I began to despair over that fact, I came across this quote from her :

"Never worry about the numbers.  Help one person at a time, and always start with the person nearest you."

What an inspiring quote from our newest Saint.  

God Bless you.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Overheard at Mass: Humility

This week's Gospel was all about humility.  In the passage from Luke, Jesus talks about sitting at the lowest place at the table instead of the seat of honor.  

At Mass, we were reminded of an excellent quote by C.S. Lewis:

True humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less.

In that quote, lies an important distinction for us Catholics.  

God created us in His image - and gave us the gifts and tools we need to carry out His mission for us.  Therefore it is probably not a great idea to think less of what God created!  Besides that, sometimes this version of "humility" is forced and not genuine.  

Rather, true humility is spending more time thinking about God, and others, than ourselves. This will lead us to more appropriate actions, like generosity of talent and means, as well as servitude.     

God Bless you.

Monday, August 1, 2016

There's an "I" in "Rich Man"

In yesterday's Gospel, we heard about the Parable of the Rich Fool.  As I listened to it, I realized how many times the word "I" was repeated.

Then he told them a parable. “There was a rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest. He asked himself, ‘What shall I do, for I do not have space to store my harvest?’ And he said, ‘This is what I shall do: I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones. There I shall store all my grain and other goods and I shall say to myself, “Now as for you, you have so many good things stored up for many years, rest, eat, drink, be merry!”’
Likely not a coincidence, of course.  Jesus is telling us that when we focus too much on ourselves, and not enough on others, we run the risk of being spiritually foolish.  

But, He is also telling us that this man thought and acted alone.  He did not seem to consult others (which was common back in those days).  He did not pray for guidance, or ask the religious leaders.  Any of those could have reminded him to share some of his wealth.

But this man, in his richness, has seemingly isolated himself.  

True, there is no "I" in team ... but there is one in "Rich Man".

God Bless you. 

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Are we Really The Good Samaritan?

I was quite moved this week after hearing the first reading about Abraham's servitude again.

I know times were different back then, but could you imagine someone jumping to such generosity today?  I mean, Abraham did not even have a conversation with the three men standing near his tent before requesting that they stay and let him serve them.  

Today, sadly, most of us would probably keep our heads down or continue about our business, hoping we were not interrupted by someone we did not know.  

Abraham's actions also rekindled a thought that was burning inside me since last week's Gospel.  I've heard the famous Good Samaritan reading many times in my life, but as I read it last week, I realized  that I generally see myself - and most Christians - as the Good Samaritan.  

I reflected on that a lot this week.  

I kept asking myself ... in that story, am I really most like the Good Samaritan?  I came to the conclusion that most of the time, I am not.  Instead, on average, I am more like the man on the side of the road.  

Jesus is the Good Samaritan, and I need Him to come carry me.

He is, after all, the one that has paid our tab for eternity!

God Bless you.     

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Weighed Down

In today's Gospel, Jesus tells the 72 to go out to the surrounding towns - but to carry nothing.  

No money bag, no sandals, no sack, no food.  

I've heard two explanations for why Jesus might have done this.

The first, and more obvious, is that these possessions might weigh down the disciples.  Literally and figuratively.  Yes, they would be quicker afoot if they weren't carrying lots of stuff.  But their minds would also be lighter without having to worry about it as well.

(Mental note: how weighed-down are we with all the possessions and worries we have?)

The second, and less obvious, is that perhaps Jesus knew that if the disciples had to ask for everything, it would force interactions with people.  Instead of camping out and eating amongst themselves, they would be forced to dine with people from the town.  

(Mental note:  how many new people do we interact with every day, that might be open to the words of Christ?)

I hope you all have a blessed week!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Reflection on the Times

I visited a local parish for mass last weekend, and the priest was reflecting on the fact that at Easter, they had to have two simultaneous masses because of the crowds - one in the church, and one in the auditorium next door.  

He wondered, however - as he looked at a half full church last week - where all the crowds went.

Just when I thought that was the low point for his homily, he told us that they surveyed the people at that Easter Mass.  And only 36% of them could correctly identify what we were celebrating at Easter.  

This troubled me greatly. 

Ironically, I read bible readings and reflections each day through the Laudate app, and a recent reflection read:

In our times, some Christians claim they are the "moral majority," yet a few people have been able to defeat millions of Christians in legalizing abortion, promoting euthanasia, removing prayer from public schools, promoting homosexual acts, etc. Masses of Christians are being defeated by a few non-Christians because we have lost our first love (Rv 2:4). We "are caught up and overcome in" the pollution of the world once more (2 Pt 2:20). Possibly a parent, pastor, or Christian friend has helped us fix our eyes on Jesus. Now that is no longer the case. So we have fallen away, backslid, and have been defeated by even the weakest enemies.

Again, this was very troubling to me.  However, I took some solace in a second reflection from that same app:

The queen mother, Athaliah, killed off the whole royal family, with the exception of one infant, Joash (2 Kgs 11:1-2). Seven years later, Joash and the priest, Jehoiada, were the central figures in overturning the wicked, idolatrous reign of Athaliah.
This pattern is often repeated throughout God's plan of salvation. An evil system dominates society and destroys so many people that only a few believers survive. Eventually, though, this remnant, by God's power, overturns the forces of evil.
Right now, new Athaliahs are killing off God's royal family. In the USA, one out of three babies in the womb are slaughtered before birth. Many who escape the womb are emotionally and spiritually destroyed by abuse and neglect. Many more become "spiritually brain-dead" after carelessly exposing themselves to the brainwashing from our secular society. They lose their minds, hearts, freedom, and objectivity. Nonetheless, a few Joashes make it through the mine-field of abortion, abuse, neglect, secularization, and brainwashing. The Lord will raise up these people to bring down the strongholds of the evil one (see 2 Cor 10:4) and lead the world to Christ.

I don't know God's plan, of course.  And I likely wouldn't fully comprehend it if I did.  But I trust in Him.  And pray that more people come back to His loving grace.

God Bless you.