Sunday, February 26, 2012

Wondering about Wandering

"At once the Spirit drove Him out into the desert, and He remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan.  He was among the wild beasts, and the angels ministered to Him."

I wonder what it was like in that desert.   By Himself.

Which one of these hills was He in?  

I wonder how hot it got.  How dry it was.  

How did He decide where to walk?  Which hill to climb?  Where to sleep? Did he entertain Himself with stories?  Jokes?  Did He talk to His father the entire time?

I wonder if he saw this tree. 

Did He lean on it out of exhaustion?  Did He sit under it for shade?  Did He kneel under it to pray?

I wonder how many wild animals crossed His path?  

Were they peaceful in His presence?  Did they startle Him in the night?  Were they His companions in a sea of nothingness?

I wonder how He handled the temptations.

Did He shrug them off as child's play?  Did He work harder than He ever had to stay focused on the goal?   Did He stare off that mountain, and instead of wishing He ruled over the land, prayed for its forgiveness?

I wonder if He came out stronger.  Exhausted?  More focused?  Sadder?

I wonder if those forty days felt like forty years.

I wonder why He did that for us.

God Bless you.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Friendship Ratings Through the Roof!

I've heard today's Gospel about Jesus healing the paralytic plenty of times.  

And I've always focused on the fact that Jesus told this guy his sins were forgiven before he physically healed him.  When I was younger, I was as baffled by that as the scribes were.  I've learned much since then (cough cough), but I still focused on that line because it always reminded me how much more important our spiritual health is vs our physical one.

However, today I saw this reading in a different light.

Today I saw great friendship.

The four gentleman who carried the paralytic are pretty much an afterthought as the focus of this story shifts from the sick man, to Jesus, to the scribes. 

They are nameless, but what they did is pretty remarkable!

First, the fact that they even associated with the paralytic says a lot.  Paralytics were looked down upon, and their sickness was viewed as a symptom of sin and punishment.

Second, instead of rushing to try and hear Jesus before the crowd got too big, they went and fetched their friend.  That probably took real discipline.  In addition, while we don't know how far they were from the house Jesus was at, carrying the man to it couldn't have been a walk in the park.

Third, when they got to the house and realized there was no chance of walking in through the door, they did not give up.  

Fourth, while Mark mentions that these four men lowered their friend through the roof, he glosses over the chore that must have been!  Assuming this was a typical Jewish house with an upper room and flat roof, there were probably stairs or a ladder already attached to the house.  I'm not sure how you carry a paralyzed man up a ladder - or steps - even with help.  But I'm guessing it wasn't easy.

Fifth, while the typical house probably had a door to enter and exit the roof area, its hard to tell from Mark (or Luke) if they had to make the hole larger by digging (if mud and thatch) or removing tiles.  And even if Jesus was preaching from an upper room, lowering the paralytic down from the roof was yet another physical feat.

I wonder what their reaction was like after their friend was healed.  I imagine it was a mix of great awe that they witnessed a miracle and great happiness that their friend was healed. 

Did they hang around to listen to Jesus?  Did they become followers?  Spread the news?  Or just go back to their normal lives, thanking the Lord for that day?

We'll never know.  

But I do know that I need to find friends like them!

God Bless. 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Daily Examen

I've been reading The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything by one of my favorite authors, Fr. James Martin.

He spends part of the book explaining the Daily Examen - a technique developed by St. Ignatius Loyola to help us see God in our daily lives.

St. Ignatius required the Jesuits to pray the Examen twice a day, but as Fr. Martin notes, even praying it once at the end of the day can have a very powerful effect on your spiritual outlook and the way you approach life.

There are many variations of the Examen - I wanted to share one of them with you here.

Step 1:  Recognize you are in the presence of God.
How often we forget that we are always in the presence of God as we get caught up in the minutia and craziness of our day to day lives!

Step 2:  Review your day, moment by moment.
Our days go by in a flash as we run from one task to another.  The goal here is to take the time and review each day and reflect upon the events (and notice those things you hurried past, or completely missed).  This step will help you with #3 and #4.

Step 3:  Give thanks.
Thank the Lord for all the graces and good things you received throughout the day - large and small.  (The first time I did this I could not believe how many times I overlooked God's presence in my day, or how many little things I should have been thankful for but almost missed.)

Step 4:  Realize where you failed.
Where did you sin?  Where did you miss an opportunity to do God's work?  What drew you away from Him?

Step 5:  Ask for forgiveness and resolve.
Tell God you are sorry for those times you let Him down, and ask for His grace to do better tomorrow.

This can be done at whatever pace you feel comfortable (Fr. Martin says even 15 min of quiet time can be enough), but the key is to give it your full attention and to do it every day.

It is a beautiful, but powerful, way to grow closer to God.

God Bless you.