Sunday, August 30, 2015

That is a lot of sins

I have been reading this book called The Power of the Cross, and in it, the author gives some perspective about our sins.

He asks how much sin it would be if Jesus took on all of our sin from the past hour onto the cross with Him. That would, of course, be a bunch of sins.  (Hopefully not too many, though!)

What if he took on all of our sin for the past day?  That would be even more sin.

Now consider our sins for our entire lives.  And what about our town's sins?  Our major city's sins? Our state's sins?   Hard to imagine how many sins that is.

What if He took on our entire country's lifetime of sins onto that cross with Him?  That is certainly an immense burden.  Hard for us to even imagine.  

Now take every single person that is alive today ... and go back all the way to Adam.  Could Jesus possible carry all of those sins with Him to the cross?

It is unimaginable.  And yet He did.  For us.

Thank you, Jesus. 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Is There Baseball in Heaven?

Two best friends, Bob and Mark, were two of the biggest baseball fans on the planet.

Their entire adult lives, Bob and Mark discussed baseball history and pored over every box score during the season. They went to as many games a year as they could afford. They even agreed that whoever died first would try to come back and tell the other if there was baseball in heaven.

One summer night, Bob passed away in his sleep after watching his favorite team win earlier in the evening. A few nights later, his buddy Mark awoke to the sound of Bob's voice from beyond.

"Bob, Is that you?" Mark asked.

"Yes, it's me," Bob replied.

"I can't believe it!" Mark exclaimed. "So tell me, is there baseball in heaven?"

"Well, I have some good news and some bad news. Which do you want to hear first?"

"Tell me the good news first."

"Well, the good news is that, yes, there is baseball in heaven, Mark.”

"Oh, that is fantastic! So what's the bad news then?"

"You're pitching Wednesday night."


God Bless you.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Nourishment for the Week Ahead

I had a subtle change of perspective after this weekends first reading about Elijah.

On the surface, it feels like Elijah had to eat the hearth cake and drink the jug of water.  After all, the angel of the Lord does not ask him if he wants to eat or drink, he tells Elijah to eat and drink.  Twice.  

Sometimes, I must admit, I subconsciously receive Communion each Sunday because Jesus told me to.  And quite frankly, that is a good enough reason!  But there is more to it than that. 

As I thought more about Elijah, I realized that, yes, while the angel did command Elijah to eat and drink, he did so so that Elijah would be nourished for the road ahead.  

Likewise, we need to receive the Eucharist each week (or day) so that we are nourished for the week (or day) ahead.  

I must admit, I don't often focus on the Eucharist as nourishment for my week ahead.  Yes, I use the word nourishment, etc when explaining the Eucharist, but I don't usually think about it as I do the hearth cake and water that Elijah needed for his journey.  

Now that I have this slightly new perspective, I have another beautiful image to think about when I receive Jesus each week.

God bless you.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Four Hundred and Thirty

If you are like me, you might be wondering how long it will take for society to reverse its course and return to God.  After all, it certainly feels like we are headed in the opposite direction.  Have been for years, right?  Maybe decades?  

For better or worse, one of the readings from Saturday gave me some perspective.  In the first reading, Exodus 12:37-42, we are reminded that the Israelites spent four hundred and thirty years in Egypt before God led them out of their slavery.  

Four hundred and thirty years.  

Four hundred and thirty years ago today, the U.S. wasn't even a country.  The Anglo-Spanish war had just begun, and we were in the early stages of the Elizabethan era in England.  

In other words, it was a long time ago.  

When you read about the Israelite's slavery in the context of thousands of years, it feels like a blink.  But can you imagine being an Israelite 30 years into that period, wondering how long it would last?  Not realizing there were another four hundred years to go?  

What does that mean for us today?  The optimist in me says that perhaps this generation will help shift society back to God.  But reading passages like Exodus makes me wonder if we are simply in the middle of a much longer "slavery".  

Each of us can make a difference, of course, with our actions and our prayers. But sometimes it is hard to tell which chapter of the story we are in - or even how long that chapter is!

God bless you, and our world.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Pairs

"Jesus summoned the twelve and began to send them out two by two." 

"If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.  But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up."  Ecc 4:10

Pairs.

They show up quite a bit in the Bible.  

In today's reading, Jesus sends the apostles out in pairs.  He knows that they will be witnesses together and strengthen each other.   In Mt 8:10, Jesus tells us that he will be there where two come together, and in 10:2, Matthew even lists the apostles in pairs.  Important events such as preparing the Upper Room, and securing the donkey for Palm Sunday also involved pairs.   

What I find interesting, is that today, we seemed to have moved to either side of that number.  At one end, we have less intimate, large gatherings that number in the hundreds or thousands.  At the other end, we have many people doing things (including praying) by themselves, without the support of another.  Both, of course, have their places.  But I can't help but wonder if we are missing some wonderful opportunities by not working in twos more often.  

God Bless you.
 
 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Are We Contagious?

This weekend's Gospel included the story of a woman afflicted with hemorrhages. 

In the spirit of "every-time-I-hear-a-Gospel-reading-I-see-it-in-a-new-way", I noticed "contagiousness" from a different angle.

In Jesus' day, people believed touching a person who was hemorrhaging would make them unclean.  There was a belief that such diseases were contagious.  (Obviously some were in the physical sense, but more importantly, they believed they were contagious in a spiritual sense as well.) 

The woman, however, knew that Jesus was also "contagious" ... that if she could just touch him she would "catch" his holiness and be cured.  

She, of course, was right. 

This reflection made me think about which kind of 'contagious" we are.  How often do we think about contagiousness in a good way?  Or role model it?  When people come in contact with us, do they leave more holy?  On the flip side, do we try and surround ourselves with holy people so that we "catch" more goodness? 

Or are we contagious in a bad way?  There are many events that have taken place these past weeks that are examples of this bucket.  Groups and individuals have made decisions and spread teachings that are contaminating followers in ways that are not in line with God's teaching.  And because many of these followers do not surround themselves with Jesus or other holy people, they are getting spiritually sicker. 

I pray this week for all those who are spiritually sick.  May they find a way to "catch" Jesus and may the Holy Spirit strengthen us to help them find Him.  

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Barnabas

This week we celebrated the Feast Day of St. Barnabas.  

As such, I took a little bit of time to reflect on what a important player Barnabas was in our Faith.

Surprisingly, it is not clear when Barnabas converted.  Some think he was in Jerusalem when Jesus was crucified, and one of the 70 Disciples.  Others believe he was converted sometime after Pentecost.   He first appears to us in Acts, where he sells his land and gives the proceeds to the community.  

What is very clear, however, is the courage and conviction he had.  For example, he stood as sponsor for Paul after his conversion.   This was no small task, considering that the Apostles must have been terrified of Saul, the man that passionately persecuted them.  We all know what Paul and Barnabas went on to do for Christianity, but the brave task of believing in the converted Saul often gets overlooked.  

Barnabas also had the courage, and forgiveness, to give John Mark a second chance.  John Mark had left Paul and Barnabas during one of their journeys, and such actions must have upset Paul.  But Barnabas was open to giving John Mark a reprieve - despite it leading to he and Paul going their separate ways.  (Later, Paul spoke highly of John Mark, the man who is believed to have written one of our four Gospels.)

Of course, both of these acts are overshadowed by the courage Barnabas showed by preaching the Word in hostile and foreign environments.  

Barnabas is believed to be martyred while preaching the Gospel, but remains a shining example for all Christians. 

God Bless you.