Sunday, February 25, 2018

Overheard about the Transfiguration

Our priest had three interesting things to share about the Transfiguration this weekend.

  1.  Mt Tabor, one of the possible sites that this event occurred, is not a small hill.  It sits almost 2,000 ft high.  (Mt Hermon, another possible site, is over 9,000 ft high!)  It would have taken Jesus and the Apostles some time to reach the top.  It was apparently not something you do on a whim one afternoon.  Sometimes we overlook these things as the Gospels move around so quickly.
  2. In those days, Jewish law said that you needed 2 or 3 witnesses to prove something in a court of law.  During the Transfiguration, there were not only three living witnesses (James, John and Peter), but two "spiritual" ones as well in Moses and Elijah.  
  3. The view from the mountain is breathtaking as you can see all the land.  When combined with the Transfiguration, and God's acknowledgement that He is pleased with His Son, the event must have been quite inspirational (albeit a bit frightening as well).  Did God want to make sure Peter, James, and John saw this side of the journey to "balance out" the upcoming Crucifixion?  That is likely beyond our understanding, but interesting to think about.
 I hope you are having a spiritual Lenten season.  God Bless you!

Sunday, February 18, 2018

An Image to Reflect on to Start Lent

Many of you know that I am a huge fan of Bishop Robert Barron.  Well, he is posting a reflection each day during Lent on this site.  

While I love his commentary, it was actually this image that I found quite moving:


I have never seen this painting of our Savior before.  He looks like ... well .... He looks like he has been fasting in the desert for 40 days.

I don't know about you, but every time I hear this weekend's Gospel from Mark, I envision Jesus triumphantly beating temptation in the desert in all His glorious Holiness.   Which is a nice visual, of course, but I think it minimizes what He went through to prepare for His Ministry for us.

Rarely, do I picture Him as this image does ... as Someone who is also fully human and showing the signs of 40 days of fasting in harsh surroundings.

I hope you are as moved by this image as I am.

A Blessed and Holy Lent to all of you!

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Men with Sole, Net Results

If you couldn't tell from my titles Victor-like puns, the past two weekends really got me curious about fisherman in Jesus' time.  

Here are some interesting thoughts I came across as I researched what life was really like for people like Andrew, James, John and Peter before the Lord called them to follow Him.

  • Contrary to what I have heard over and over again, fishing was not a "poor" profession during that time.  In fact, there are indications that the industry was successful - including the "business" that Peter likely ran.  
  • It is likely that these Apostles had others working for them, as boats often had multiple rowers and net casters.   (Perhaps that is one of the reasons why they did not hesitate to follow Jesus?)
  • The boats they used were around 25-30' long and about 7' wide, and made of wood.
  • Again, contrary to the image of "not intelligent fishermen", these gentlemen had to come up with clever ways to catch fish.  One of the more effective is assumed to be a method where two boats work together with a shared net, and encircle the fish by rowing in opposite directions.  
  • If you are like me, you envision these folks as dedicated, patient, and hard-working, and from all indications, that would be correct.  Fishermen would often go out at night, make numerous runs, and sometimes had to deal with little to no reward on a bad day.  In addition, they had to continuously mend, dry and washing their nets. 

All that being said, one thing really stuck with me this week.  In today's day in age, we often think about a singular fisherman ... casting his line out to sea and catching one fish at a time.  But Jesus called these fishermen ... who worked in teams ... to pull in large amounts of fish at a time.  

I don't know about you, but I am ecstatic if I feel that I inspired one person, let alone a group.  And yet, after reflecting on this passage, I can't help but feel our Lord wants much more - but is reminding us we cannot do it alone, and we must have patience and dedication.

God Bless you.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Overheard at Christmas Mass

"For those of you that are disappointed that you didn't get a present you really wanted ... don't worry about it ... IT ISN'T YOUR BIRTHDAY!"

I hope you all had a very Blessed Christmas!  Sending you my prayers for a very Holy, Peaceful 2018!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Running Towards Him and Taking it Slow

Hi Everyone ... my apologies for not posting for a bit.  Thank you all for your well wishes during this time.  

I witnessed two different actions at Mass this month that really made me think.

The first action happened right before the Readings.  The church I was at has a practice of calling up all the kids in attendance before the first Reading.  The priest gives one of the children a big book of readings, and that child leads the procession out of the church and to the classrooms where they learn the Gospel in their own terms.  Now, normally, the children are reluctant to be the "book carrier".  For one, it calls attention to them, and they are usually quite shy.  Second, the book is rather large for them and, I imagine, not the easiest thing to carry a decent distance.

But on this day, a lad who looked to be all of 5 years old, came sprinting to the priest to grab the book ... and then proudly held it high over his head as he attempted to proceed back down the aisle.  (He didn't make it far before he had to get some assistance carrying it, but it was definitely an A for effort!)

That action had an immediate impact on me.  What if we all "raced to God's word" as quickly as that little boy did??

The second action that gave me pause was at a different church the following week.  I don't know about churches near you, but when most of our priests perform the Consecration, they hold the body and blood up in the air for about three to five seconds.   Ten at the most. The priest that was residing over this particular Mass held each in the air for a full sixty seconds!

I must admit, relative to the normal actions, those sixty seconds felt like ten minutes.  And what felt a bit awkward at first, turned into something quite beautiful.  

I wondered to myself ... shouldn't we always take an extra minute or two to fully reflect on that most beautiful part of Mass?

God Bless all of you. 


Monday, July 24, 2017

Overheard: Wheat, Weeds ... and Cookies?

This week's Gospel reading included the Parable about the Wheat and Weeds.

At the end of the parable, of course, the harvesters collect the weeds and tie them together to be burned, and the wheat is put into the barn.  

The distinction is quite obvious to the harvesters. But note that the slaves are instructed not to try and pull the weeds out themselves.

Perhaps there is a message in there that we are not try and determine who is "good" and who is "evil".  God is the only one that can, and He allows them to remain until He comes again.  

As I reflected on that, I realized that we constantly try and label people as "good" or "evil" ... "right" or "wrong".  But how often do we really know?  How often do people change?  How often should we be holding up a mirror instead?

It reminded me of the Cookie Thief Poem, attributed to Valerie Cox:

A woman was waiting at an airport one night,
With several long hours before her flight.
She hunted for a book in the airport shop,
Bought a bag of cookies and found a place to drop.
She was engrossed in her book, but happened to see,
That the man beside her, as bold as could be,
Grabbed a cookie or two from the bag between,
Which she tried to ignore, to avoid a scene.
She read, munched cookies, and watched the clock,
As the gutsy “cookie thief” diminished her stock.
She was getting more irritated as the minutes ticked by,
Thinking, “If I wasn’t so nice, I’d blacken his eye!”
With each cookie she took, he took one too.
When only one was left, she wondered what he’d do.
With a smile on his face and a nervous laugh,
He took the last cookie and broke it in half.
He offered her half, as he ate the other.
She snatched it from him and thought, “Oh brother,
This guy has some nerve, and he’s also rude,
Why, he didn’t even show any gratitude!”
She had never known when she had been so galled,
And sighed with relief when her flight was called.
She gathered her belongings and headed for the gate,
Refusing to look back at the “thieving ingrate.”
She boarded the plane and sank in her seat,
Then sought her book, which was almost complete.
As she reached in her baggage, she gasped with surprise.
There was her bag of cookies in front of her eyes!
“If mine are here,” she moaned with despair,
“Then the others were his and he tried to share!”
Too late to apologize, she realized with grief,
That she was the rude one, the ingrate, the thief!

Hmmm ... all of a sudden I am hungry for some cookies.  

(Remember, no judging me!)

God Bless you.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

It's All Greek to Me, Part II

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever.       - John 14:16

I learned something new recently about this encouraging statement by our Savior.  

When I have read this passage before, I have always interpreted it as God was going to send us a different Entity.  Meaning, Jesus was there at that moment He was speaking to the disciples, and then God was going to send the Holy Spirit .... Someone very different than Jesus.  Why else would he say "another"?

That interpretation was in conflict with my belief in the Trinity, of course, and so there was a bit of an irreconcilable difference in my head.  

Until I learned a little Greek, that is! 

The English language has multiple definitions for another.  For example, a restaurant might tell you "Sorry, we are booked this evening ... please come back another day."  In that scenario another means a completely different day.  In contrast, one might say "That was delicious, I'll have another piece of that cake, please!"  In that scenario, another means more of the same.

Well, the Greek language uses two different words.  Allos, meaning the same kind, and heteros, meaning a different kind.  

The Greek word used in John's passage above is allos.  Thus, Jesus is telling his disciples the Lord is sending another Helper just like him. The Third Person in the Trinity!

God Bless you, and prayers that the Holy Spirit continues to strengthen us.