Sunday, September 27, 2015

The Most Frustrating Thing about the Pope's Visit to the U.S.

I, like most Catholics here in the U.S., am excited that the Pope has personally brought his message to our country.  You can feel the excitement and the hope.  Even TV stations that normally spend time covering the issues the Church has, are devoting hours and hours of coverage.  

(By the way, my favorite part of the Pope's visit was when he chose to have a simple dinner with homeless people instead of lavish dinner with Congress.  If that doesn't inspire people, I don't know what will.)

In any case, the most frustrating thing for me about the Pope's visit is the frequent comment that people are still upset with him that the Church has not moved far enough to accommodate various groups.  

There is no better example of society forgetting why we are here, or Who we are here to serve.  

We are not here to change God's laws. We are here to follow them.  

God does not adapt to our needs.  We need to adapt to His.  

We are not here to indulge in our needs.  We are here to serve God's. 

There are too many people that have forgotten that, and the importance of attending Mass every week.  

Please join me in praying for all of them.

God Bless you.  

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Two Things about Mark's Gospel Today

Two things struck me this weekend when I read Mark's Gospel.  

The first, was that when Jesus tells his apostles that He will be killed and then rise from the dead, the apostles were "afraid to question Him".

One word popped in my head.  Ask.  I wonder what would have been different had the apostles just asked Jesus what He meant.  Would they have greater clarity?  Would any events transpired any differently?  Would anything have changed in our Gospel stories?  We'll never know.  But there is a great lesson there for all of us.  Ask.  Our society today is just as afraid to ask questions about our faith.  And as a result, we either remain ignorant, or worse, spread misinformation.  

The second thing that I realized (or, more accurately, learned after reading it) relates to Jesus showing the apostles a child after hearing that they argued over which of them was greatest.  Unlike today, where we honor children, children were very low on the totem pole back in Jesus' time.  They were basically servants.  Rather, it was the elderly were at the top.  But Jesus, as always, flips society on its head.  To counter the apostles selfish arguing about who is greatest, Jesus showed them the "least important".  Serving these children meant total humility.  It meant the opposite of what they were just arguing about.

Actually, there was a third thing that came to mind at the end of today's Gospel.  And that was the burning truth that things are exactly the same today.   Jesus is with us, reminding us of the crucifixion and resurrection, and, more often than not, we are talking to each other about the wrong things!

God Bless you.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Poor News Sources

"Who do people say that I am?"   Mk 8:27

At Mass this weekend, our priest made an interesting comparison.  He compared today's media and news sources to Mark's Gospel.  

Jesus asked His disciples who people said He was.  The disciples replied with numerous, less-than-correct, answers.   Why?  Because "people" got their information from other people who did not know, and who made their own assumptions.  

But Peter, as we well know, got the answer correct. Why?  Because he got his answer from a source that knew the facts - in this instance, Divine intervention!

Fast forward to today.  The media, and sadly, some Christians, do not have all the facts when they comment on our religion, the Church, and our Pope.  (Especially when commenting on our Pope.  It is amazing how many times I have read an incorrect interpretation of what the Church stands for or what Pope Francis says.)  

And since the media, especially social media, is such a big part of our lives today, these incorrect facts spread faster - and broader - than ever.   People are getting, and sharing, "facts" from people that do not take the time to understand the truth.  Like the "people" in today's Gospel, they are getting their "facts" from the wrong sources.  

That is one reason we need to pray that many more people will come back to the Church.  To take the time to study our Faith.  And, as St. James tells us in the second reading, to demonstrate our Faith through works.  

God Bless you.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Is this what Jesus went through, too?

Photo from ABC news
For those of you that missed it, ABC broadcasted some of Pope Francis' virtual meeting with the U.S. this weekend.  (You can watch pieced of it here if you want.)   

In any case, the Pope spoke to three different cities, and to individuals who shared their sufferings with him.  To each person, he gave caring and thoughtful responses.  He told a young girl to be courageous and not fear.  He told a single mother he was proud of her for bringing her daughters into the world.  And he thanked the sisters of religious orders, especially one in particular who helped care for immigrants.  

You could see the impact his kind words had on these people, and I, too, could feel it from my couch.  It was a very positive reminder of the community of caring that Jesus expects from us.

However, I was surprised (why, I'm not sure) to see all the negative comments online about this event.  It truly baffled me how so many people could say so many hateful things about a man doing his best to carry out God's will.   Our Pope listened carefully to the struggles of people he did not know, and offered them encouragement and kindness.  And yet, many online responded with negativity.  

Then it hit me ... I wonder if this is what Jesus went through.  The Gospels tell us there are many times where crowds of people disagreed with Jesus, argued with Him, and even tried to run him off a hill.  All for preaching love.  

I have to admit, I usually don't absorb what that must have been like.  I skim past those few sentences and move onto the miracles and teachings.  

But today the similarities hit me like a ton of bricks.  Like the Pope this weekend, Christ was simply spreading God's word.  He exuded kindness and love.  And like the Pope, Our Lord was met with anger and hatred.   Why?  How is that possible?

It is enough to break your heart, you know?

But as Jesus taught us, we must pray for all of them.  And so I do.

God bless you.

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.