Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Day After Christmas, Then vs Now

In this day and age, December 26th is a bit of a letdown for most people.  

The presents, the feasts, the music ... all of it has been replaced with a dose of reality.  Some call it a Christmas Hangover, others the Christmas Slump.  

But I wonder what the day after Christ's birth was like for those in Bethlehem.  Sure, Mary and Joseph had to deal with a newborn - which was life-changing in its own right. 

(We interrupt this blog post for a tangent.  Did you ever think about life for the Holy Family those first few days?  How long was it until they found a better living situation?  How many visitors did they have the day after?  What were people in Bethlehem saying?  How many residents of the city even knew what happened?  What did Mary and Joseph talk about?  Did Joseph find any relatives?  How often did the baby Jesus cry?

In any case, I'm guessing there was no hangover for them at all.  Or the shepherds.  Or any of those that witnessed the Miracle in their midst.  

I bet they felt hope.  Yes, it might have been coupled with some wonder and questions.  But I bet it was quite different than what society feels today.

The reason is obvious, of course.

Their Christmas was truly focused on Our Savior.  

Today's Christmas seems to be focused on anything but.

I hope you and your families are having a blessed Christmas season.  God Bless you.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Monday, December 15, 2014

Why We Don't Applaud at Mass

This weekend, our Pastor took a few moments to teach the confirmation candidates a few things about the Mass.

I enjoy these lectures, mainly because I can learn all the stuff I should already know under the guise of it being "for the children."

In any case, one of the kids asked him why we don't applaud at Mass.  Like after the choir sings, or a reader is finished.  (Or, as our Pastor added, "when the homily is over".)

His answer was quite simple.  Those "performances" are not for us.  We tend to forget that everything we do at Mass is to worship God.  He is the audience.  

And as our Pastor remarked ... "If God wants to applaud, He is more than welcome to!"

I'm really glad he reminds us the children of things like that because we they tend to forget.

God Bless you (and praying that God applauds our performances this week!).

Sunday, December 7, 2014

A Week of Mary

It's funny how God works.  

Mary was everywhere I turned this week leading up to the Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception.

Last week there was a 30 page booklet at our church about Fatima.  I picked it up, read it cover to cover, and was enlightened and inspired by the words of Our Lady of Fatima.  

I had one of those TV music channels on while I read the booklet - set to classic Christmas music - and Ave Maria came on.  Ave Maria is one of my favorite songs, and I have never heard it come on during that, or any other, Christmas playlist. 

Then, during the week, I was at a study group where we watched Fr. Robert Barron's video on ... who else?  Mary.  

During that video, he touched on many things related to our Blessed Mother.  One of the more difficult topics he covered was around the many apparitions associated with her.  He explained the reasons some are accepted by the Church, and others are not.  Our class spent a good deal of time focused on one of the criteria - whether people's lives were changed with increased devotion or spiritual benefit.  

During that discussion I developed a new appreciation for Our Lady of Guadalupe.  (For those that are not familiar with this event, you can read more here.)  I never realized the impact that she had on the world.  Millions of Aztecs converted to Catholicism in a very short period of time - so much so that Mexico very quickly became a Catholic nation.  Today, 82% of the country is still Catholic, and its 92+ million Catholics rank only behind Brazil.  

Finally, I watched a movie on EWTN called Mary of Nazareth.  While many scenes in the movie were not directly from the Gospels, they certainly made me think about all the interactions between Mary and Jesus that were never recorded - and the love and pain that went along with that.  

In any case, I hope you are as inspired on this Feast Day as I am.  And I pray that Our Mother continues to intercede for us.

God Bless you.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

What the Servant with Two Talents Shows Us

Jesus gives us many lessons through the Parable of Talents.

He teaches us about servitude, expectations, judgement and hard work.  

But it dawned on me this weekend that we normally spend most of our reflections thinking about the superstar servant that delivered 10 talents back to his master, and the poor sap that only returned the one he was given.  

We never talk about the middle servant.

But he teaches us an important lesson about God.  

The middle servant only delivers his master 2 talents, versus 5 for his counterpart.  On a value basis, that is much less. 

But on a percentage basis it is exactly the same 100% return!  And if you notice, the master gives the exact same praise to him as he does the servant that returns 5 talents.   

The master did not give them all the same amount of talents (money) just as God does not give us all the same amount of talent (ability, skills, strengths, etc).  

But just like the master in the parable, God does not expect us to return the same total value to Him.  He does, however, expect us to deliver the most that we can based on what we were given.  

As a society, however, we tend to gauge how we are doing by comparing ourselves to others.  Are we going to church more than others?  Do we do more volunteer work than others?  Have we given as much as others?

But the middle servant reminds us that we should instead be determining if we are giving God a 100% return on what He has given us.

God Bless you.

Sunday, November 9, 2014


I've mentioned on this blog before that I believe one of the greatest threats to our faith is not other religions.  It is not naysayers. 

It is indifference.

Indifference is one of the saddest things I see happening around us today.  There is no passion for our Lord.  No fervent belief and evangelization.  No prioritization of God's will over our own.

The world is simply going about on its own earthly way.

Take, for example, this very sad article I came across the other day.

It was entitled Atheist scientist claims religion will be gone in a generation.

The article quotes a scientist who said "Change is always a generation away.  So if we can plant the seeds of doubt in our children, religion will go away in our generation... And that is what I think we have an obligation to do."

I must admit, I cringed when I read the word "obligation".  What a horrible thought.  But that was not the part that scared me, especially after the article mentions that countries have tried in the past to eradicate religion ... only to watch it come back stronger. 

The part that scared me most was the statistic that 25 years ago, only 5 percent of the U.S. population identified themselves as non-religious.  Today, that number is up to 20 percent.  However, if you isolate people between the ages of 18-25, that number jumps to 30 percent.

Thirty percent. 

That number isn't because someone mandated an end to religion. It is not because someone felt an obligation.

In my opinion, it is because society is becoming indifferent.

And not enough people are trying to change that.

God Bless you, and please pray for the conversion of many.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Instead of Reading A Post From Me...

... please consider taking the next 2 minutes and join me in saying a Decade of the Rosary for those souls who have no one to pray for them.

Thank you and God Bless.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

My Church Pet Peeves and What God Would Say

This weekend we had Baptismal Masses at our Church.

Masses like these, where we have many visitors, often challenge the patience God wills me to have.  Especially when I saw my "church pet peeves" all around me.

For example ... there were many people present who did not respect the Mass.  They talked during it, looked at their phones, and seemed to have no idea what was going on. 

What I said to myself:  It bothers me to no end that these people do not appreciate that they are in God's house and the miracle that takes place here.
What God would probably say to me:  At least they came to Mass, which is the first step.  Maybe they will be inspired by what they see ... perhaps your patience or helpfulness ... and come back.  What are you doing to make sure that happens?  Anything?

Then there was the gentleman that arrived during the Liturgy of the Eucharist (!) and wanted all of us to slide over so he could have a seat.

What I said to myself:  Sir, it might help to invest in a watch.
What God would probably say to me:  He would most likely remind me that there was a time when I would show up for Mass whenever I felt like it (although never that late).  Perhaps he would open one of the Missals to Matthew 20 and remind me of the Parable of the Workers.  

At this particular Mass, there were two adorable babies being Baptized.  As the two sets of parents and Godparents stood on the Altar, only one of them was smiling.  The other seven looked like they were thinking about a million other things.

What I said to myself:  What a beautiful occasion this is and look at these folks!  They look miserable.  Did they not read my last blog post?
What God would probably say to me:  Here is a mirror.  Try using it.  And while you're at it read John 8:7.

And of course, what pet peeve list would be complete without the crying baby.  We had one at this Mass, and she was crying so loud I could barely hear the Homily.

What I said to myself:  How hard is it to go to the crying room?  It is the one with the big glass window and all the babies in it. 
What God would probably say to me:  Open your Bible to Matthew 19:14.  My Son did not mind when children interrupted Him ... neither should you.  And besides ... that baby crying is the one you are supposedly welcoming into the Church today!

(I pray our forgiving Lord has more patience with me than I do with others!)

God Bless you.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Overheard at Mass

We had a visiting priest this weekend and to kick off his homily he threw this one at us:

"Here is my question for all of you here today.  If we are celebrating the Mass  ... and what Jesus did for us ... and are supposed to light up the world as his disciples ... then why does everyone look so miserable right now?"

(A quick glance around the Church was all I needed to realize the accuracy of what he had just said.)  

God Bless you - and may you light up the world better than we did on Sunday!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

3 Things About The Parable of The Two Sons

This weekend's Gospel includes the Parable of the Two Sons. 

Three things hit me as I reflected on it:

1)  One downside to hearing the Gospels in pieces like we do week to week (versus reading them straight through), is that I often lose sight of context.  It didn't dawn on me until later that, if you read Matthew's Gospel as chronological, Jesus is probably days away from His death when He tells this parable.  

2)  Similarly, it is easy to miss the connection between this passage, and one earlier in Matthew's Gospel where Jesus tells us "Not everyone who says to me 'Lord! Lord!' will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but only the one that does the will of my Father who is in Heaven."

3)  Every time I hear this reading my first reaction is to assume I am the son that does the right thing, even if he initially says the wrong thing.  In reality, I am probably more often like the son that says he will do the right thing, but then does not.  How many promises do I make to God that I don't follow up on? 

God Bless you.

P.S.  For those of you that missed it, our fellow blogger friend Victor has published a new book called The Priest and the Prostitute.  You can see the trailer (yes, there's a trailer!) for it here.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

First, Last, and the iPhone 6

"Thus the last will be first, and the first will be last."
                         - Today's Gospel Mt 20:16

Unless you have been on media lockdown the past few days, you probably know that the iPhone 6 debuted, with long lines of people clamoring to be one of the first to get their hands on one.  This has been a normal occurrence when the latest i-gadget comes out.

I caught a soundbite from one of the late night talk show hosts, and while I cannot remember which one it was, the message certainly stuck with me.  

The host basically commented on what it must be like for a homeless person to see the lines of people sleeping outside for these gadgets.  The homeless people long to get off the streets, for a roof over their heads. The i-folks voluntarily leave their comfortable homes to sleep on the street to be one of the first ... and then fork over enough money for their gadget to pay for a months worth of food for the homeless person.

I am not one of those people that got an iPhone 6, but surely am guilty of similar decisions.  

God Bless you.

P.S.  For a more positive spin, check out how a charity in the UK used the iPhone 6 lines to raise money for the homeless.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Let The Bells Ring

Last Sunday I was in Switzerland, and was having breakfast at a streetside cafe.  

At about 10 minutes before 9, I heard one of my favorite sounds ... church bells.  In my opinion, this sound is one of the best things about Europe.  Since many towns there were built around churches, you hear them almost everywhere you go - many times not only at the hour but half hour as well.  

But these bells were different.  They rang, and rang, and rang.  (Or is it tolled and tolled and tolled?)   About five minutes into the ringing, I looked at my watch and realized it was not the top of the hour, but merely five minutes of.  I was confused.  

As the bells continued their melodious song, I overheard a fellow tourist ask the waitress what the bells were for.  She replied "They let everyone know that Mass is going to start soon.  This way residents know they need to get going, and visitors know where to find the Church. They just need to follow the bells!"  

What a beautiful thought!  Imagine if all our Churches adopted this policy.  Rather than the 30 seconds of bells that signify Mass is starting in most of the U.S., what if they rang for a full 10 minutes, summoning everyone within earshot?  

Maybe more people would be on time for mass.  Or maybe, just maybe, a lost soul will find there way there for the first time ...

God Bless you.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Highs and Lows for Simon Peter

I'm going to keep to my Simon Peter theme for another week. 

Just last week, Matthew told us that Jesus glorified Peter as His Rock - the foundation He would build his Church on.  

As far as praise goes, that is about as good as it gets!  Peter must have been on top of the world hearing those words from our Savior.

But we know it was not all rainbows and sunny skies for Peter.  In this week's Gospel we hear the exact opposite.  

Our Lord lays one of the harshest insults possible on His Rock.  

He calls Him Satan. 

I'm sure once Peter figured out why he was getting yelled at, he felt the sting of that one. And such was life for Simon Peter.  A few steps forward, and then a few steps back.

Kind of reminds me of someone I know.  


As Shirley commented on my post last week, God did not choose a perfect man to lead His church.  He chose one with human weakness that was frequently on display.  One who stumbles often, but is given the strength to do better next time.  

It sure is inspirational, isn't it?  

I pray that our Lord blesses us with even half the strength that He gave Peter!

God Bless you.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

A Few Random Things about Simon Peter

In today's Gospel, Jesus refers to Peter as son of Jonah.  

Which got me thinking ... I know nothing about Jonah.  Well, I know about the Jonah of whale fame, but nothing about Jonah, (known as Jonas or John) the man that was the father of Simon Peter.  

I looked all over the internet for some information about this man, and the best I could find was that he was basically not the other Jonah.  

But I did come across some interesting information about St. Peter I thought I would share with you.  

  • For example, the house that he lived in is believed to still be standing today!  It is covered by a church but you can still see parts of it.
  • We know that Peter was from Bethsaida, of course, but I didn't realize how much Greek influence there probably was in that area at that time.  
  • Peter was, of course, a fisherman.  Fisherman back in Jesus' time often fished at night with torches.  They sometimes used dragnets - nets that were as long as 300 feet.  Two boats would go out to sea, each with an end of the dragnet, and then paddle in opposite directions to circle the fish and close up the net.  Alternatively they used cast nets - nets that had to be skillfully thrown so they landed open on the water.  This way, when they sunk down, they captured as many fish as possible.  (It is this method that Peter and the apostles were using on a few occasions in the Gospels)
  • It is possible that Peter, like his bother Andrew, was a disciple of John the Baptist.
  • Peter's name is mentioned in the new testament more than any other apostle - over 190 times.  That didn't surprise me, but the fact that that number is almost 4 times more than the next closest apostle (John) did.
  • Finally, Peter's name is almost always listed first when he is mentioned with anyone other than Jesus.  In fact, there is only one time it is not.  Galatians 2:9.

God bless.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Musings on the feeding of the five thousand

Last Sunday we heard Matthew's version of the feeding of the five thousand.  

As I listened to the story for what must have been the five thousandth time (although one can never hear it enough!), I decided to capture some of my thoughts:

  • I reminded myself that this is the only miracle to appear in all four Gospels, highlighting what an amazing event this must have been
  • Matthew starts by telling us that Jesus was upset about John the Baptist's death and thus withdraws to be by himself, an no doubt, to mourn.  Yet, he selflessly puts that on hold when he sees an opportunity to preach and potentially save the lives of others.  
  • Jesus does not feed the masses by himself.  Notice that he tells his Apostles to.  The same thing applies to us today I suppose.  He could snap his fingers and feed all the hungry in all the world, but he is asking us to.  
  • God does not give exactly the right amount of food.  There are twelve wicker baskets- full left over.  A reminder that He is so generous ... He gives us more than we will ever need.
  • I remember reading once how people would use various elevations or wind direction to ensure there voice would travel far enough for all to hear.  But still, speaking so 5,000 people can hear you can't be that easy.
  • By the way, we always refer to five thousand.  But note that Matthew states that that does not include women and children.  I wonder what that number really was.  
 God Bless you.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Some Little Known Biblical Facts

I've been keeping a list of Biblical Facts that have surprised me over the past few months, and decided they would be fun to share in a post with all of you.  I hope you enjoy!

  1. Did you know that the Body and Blood at the Last Supper is not mentioned at all in the Gospel of John? How could this be? Many believe it is because John's Gospel was written much later than the other 3 synoptic Gospels.  As such, they believe John knew the Body and Blood was already an accepted.  
  2. Did you know there is only one book in the Bible that does have the word God?  Esther.
  3. Ironically, that same book has the longest verse in the Bible.  Esther 8:9.
  4. The shortest prayer in the Bible is from Peter. "Lord, save me!"  
  5. A recent survey by the Barna Group found that nearly 9 out of 10 people own a Bible!

God Bless you.  

Monday, July 7, 2014

A Very Short Story About Burdens

I came across a very short story this weekend about burdens and yokes that made me smile - and gave me great perspective.

The story goes like this:

A man once met a boy carrying a crippled lad on his back.  
"That's a heavy load you are carrying there," said the man.  
"He's not heavy," replied the boy, "he's my brother!"

The moral, of course, is that no burden is ever too heavy when it is received and carried in love.  

God Bless.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Overheard on Trinity Sunday

Overheard at Mass on Trinity Sunday:

"Only God can give us an equation, where 
One plus 
One plus 
One equals ... 

God Bless you.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Shortest Passage? It Depends.

Last week I posed the question:

What is the shortest passage in the New Testament?

Victor and Jade both took the time to answer (thank you!) and they were both right.

Kind of.

You see, there are different answers to this question depending on what Bible you are using.

In the King James Version of the Bible, John 11:35, Jesus wept, is indeed the shortest phrase.  

However, we all know the Bible was originally written in Greek.  And in Greek, John 11:35 is actually three words and 16 characters.  Luke 20:30, And the second, is actually the shortest passage in Greek, coming in at only 12 letters 

In fact, there is even a second phrase that is shorter than John 11:35 in Greek. First Thessalonians 5:16, Be joyful always, is only 14 characters in Greek. 

Ironic how that phrase plays off of the King James line of Jesus weeping, isn't it?

By the way, the image of Jesus weeping is, in my mind, one of the saddest in all the Bible.  We often imagine God loving, caring, kind ... even angry.  But weeping?  It breaks your heart doesn't it?

God Bless you, and thank you for playing along with me.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Pop Quiz: Short phrases

It has been a while since I threw a pop quiz out there, so here it goes:

What is the shortest passage in the New Testament?

Please post your guess in the comments. The answer, and accompanying post, comes your way next week.

God Bless you.


Sunday, May 18, 2014

You are his body

"Christ has no body now but yours.
No hands, no feet on earth but yours.
Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world.
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good.
Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours."
                                    - St. Theresa of Avila 

In today's Gospel, Jesus tells us He is the Way.  
This statement made such an impact on His followers, that after His death, they called themselves "Followers of the Way".  But they were more than that. 

And so are we. 

In Christ's physical absence, it was their job - and now ours - to show others the Way.

But St. Theresa's quote made me see this from another perspective. Aren't we also "the way" Christ shows His love to the world today?

A wonderful reminder, lest we forget what our first priority is here on Earth.

God Bless you.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Why The Thomas Story Makes Me Sad

I used to love the Doubting Thomas story. 

To me, it was always a microcosm of us.  We're all followers of Christ who go through periods of varying degrees of understanding - who eventually become passionate believers through the Resurrection.

Then one day I saw something in that story that made me very sad.

First, Jesus shows the eleven "his hands and sides".  Then, later, when Thomas arrives, he says "Put your finger here and see my hands".

This, of course, is meant to convince them that He was the same One who was nailed to the cross just days ago.  

But can't we look at that same image, and imagine God saying "Look at what you did. I came down from Heaven to live among you, and you pierced me"?  I mean, wouldn't the storybook version of the resurrected God have Him look pristine and whole?  

Think about that.    

God came here to live with us - which is unfathomable in its own right - and we thanked Him by putting nails into His hands.  

Who does that???  

Answer:  we do.

And by the way, how sad is it that it is these holes that finally help the Apostles (and us) believe.  Not some glorious piece of evidence, mind you, but icons of the suffering we put Him through.  

Yes, Christ showed us his scars so that the twelve, and eventually all of us, all may believe.  But for me it is also a very sad reminder of what our sins did to Him.  

God Bless you.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

What do Aspirin and the Eucharist have in Common?

What do aspirin and the Eucharist have in common?   

Unfortunately, most of the time, not much.

You see, we take aspirin consciously thinking about the effect it will have on us.  We have great confidence that it will change something within us.  Ease pain.  Reduce fever.  Etc. Etc.

But how often do we think about the Eucharist with that same confidence and expectation?

How often do we truly think about how it will cleanse our soul, strengthen our spirit, and fill us with Christ?

God Bless you.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Post-Easter Smile

Post-Easter let down?

Here is a quick joke to put a smile on your face:

A friend of Joseph of Arimathea asked him why he gave his new tomb to that man called Jesus.

Joseph replied "Oh it wasn't an problem ... He only needed it for the weekend."

God Bless you.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter Light

At our Easter Vigil Mass, we have a tradition where the Church is kept dark to start.  

The new Paschal Candle is lit outside, and brought into the Church.  The priest lights his candle from that, and then lights the deacon's.  The deacon lights the alter servers' candles, and they in turn light the candles of the folks in the first pews.  Those folks light the candles near them, and so forth and so on.  One by one you can see the light being passed from one parishoner to the next.  Within five minutes, the previously dark church is aglow in beautiful light.  

It is a powerful symbol of the joy of Easter.

Much like the earliest disciples (Mary Magdalene included) learned of Jesus' resurrection and passed it on, we too are called to do the same.  

In fact, it is an important reminder that Easter is just the beginning of our year-long calling to spread God's word.

I wish you and your families a very Blessed Easter!  Please pray for the conversion of many today.

God Bless you.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Two words in the Passion that say quite a bit

There are two specific words in the Matthew's Passion that speak volumes.

The first is Rabbi.

Matthew tells us in one of his earlier gospels (Mt 23:7-8) that Jesus is not a fan of the term Rabbi.  And yet, Judas calls Christ this twice in today's reading.  

First, Jesus tells his Disciples that one of them will betray Him.  Matthew tells us that they all begin to ask "Surely it is not I, Lord?"   Only Judas asks Christ, "Surely it is not I, Rabbi?"  Perhaps the weight of what he was about to do was so great, that he could not bring himself to use the term Lord. Or perhaps it was his way of showing that, in the moment, he was no longer a believer. 

The other time Judas uses this term is later that night, in the garden. Just before he betrays our Lord with the kiss, he proclaims "Hail, Rabbi!"

And here is where the second specific word is used.

In response to this, Jesus says something unbelievable. 

He says, "Friend, do what you have come for."

Jesus was just betrayed by Judas - to the point of a horrific death.  And He still greeted him with the word friend.  Not Judas.  Not traitor.  Not a word unfit for this blog. 


It is a word we glance over as we read the pivotal pieces of the Passion.  But it speaks volumes to the love and forgiveness of our Savior.

I hope you have a very Blessed Holy Week.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

God's Time ≠ Our Time

There was one sentence in John's Gospel about Lazarus that stood out at me today.

Mary and Martha find Jesus and tell Him that Lazarus is very ill.  Yet, despite the fact that Jesus' friend - one He loves - is about to die, John tells us that Christ "remained for two days in the place He was".  

Another reminder for us that God will work His miracles, and reveal His story, on His timeline.  Not our human one.    

I hope you are having a Blessed Lent. 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Lenten Musings: Blindness, Recognition and the Light of the World

There was so much going through my head during today's reading from John (about Jesus healing a blind man) that I decided to do another bullet-point-format post today. 

  • The people in Jesus' time thought worldly problems were a result of sin.  Jesus tells them those problems are so that "the works of God might be made visible".  I wonder if the same holds true today. We pout about all of our worldly problems.  Instead of looking at them as punishment, perhaps we should look at them as an opportunity for God to show His love in our lives. 
  • "I am the light of the world" is one of my favorite lines from Jesus.  It conjures up such beautiful imagery.  It also reminds me of the hymn called "We are the light of the world" and how inspiring that is to sing.  I wish we all remembered that fact more often.
  • When the blind man returned to his neighbors, many did not recognize him.  It dawned on me that after people have a spiritual encounter with the Lord, they become a different person.  Perhaps unrecognizable to those that knew them before.
  • You did catch his response, by the way, when they ask him if he was the same beggar they think he is.  His Jesus-inspired answer was "I am."
  • It is a small storyline in this passage, but it always bothered me how the parents of the blind man did not support him out of fear.  Another example of how earthly rules made everyone blind to God's real intentions.
  • The blind man gets frustrated when the crowd asks him a second time how he regained his sight.  How frustrated God should be with all of us, that He has to tell us the same thing over and over ... and yet, His patience is incomprehensible!
  • The Jews said "We know that God spoke to Moses but we do not know where this one is from." These kind of statements often baffle me.  The ancient Jews certainly had their periods of disbelief with Moses, but eventually decided he was one of God's chosen ones.  Yet, Jesus is right there in front of them working miracles, and the leaders never give Him a chance. He is a threat from day one. It is this blindness, in retrospect, that is so hard to understand.  (Of course, I say that knowing full well someone could look at my life and comment about how blind I have been.)
I hope you are all having a blessed Lent.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Musings on the Transfiguration

The Transfiguration is such a complex event, that I always have random thoughts going through my head while I read it.  Some are serious, some less so.  Rather than try to weave them into one coherent post, I thought I'd just jot a few of them down in short form.
  • One question I always ask myself ... how did Peter, James and John know what Moses and Elijah looked like?  (Nametags? Did Jesus tell them afterwards?  Did they have divine inspiration?) 
  • Someone once pointed out to me the contrasts between this event and the Crucifixion. They are eery.  Transfiguration: Jesus is up on a mountain, bathed in light, with His apostles around Him, and the voice of God praising Him.  Crucifixion:  Jesus is without clothes, nailed to a cross, with Peter and James nowhere to be found, two thiefs next to Him, and silence from God.
  • We all lovingly smile at Peter's comment during this scene, but what often gets overlooked is that God cuts him off.  Matthew tells us that "while he was still speaking" God speaks. 
  • Scholars argue whether the Transfiguration occured on Mt. Tabor or Mt. Hernon.  This might not matter to the casual reader, but to the apostles it would have.  Mt. Tabor is 1,886 feet high, while Mt. Hernon is almost 5x higher at 9,232 feet high!  
  • Matthew does not mention this, but Luke does - the apostles were sleeping during part of this, and awoke to see the splendor.  It is a lovely thought with much symbolism ... the beauty we can see when God awakens us.
  • Jesus asks Peter, James and John not to say anything to anyone until after He is risen.  How hard must that have been for them!  
I hope you are all having a Blessed Lent! 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Time: A perspective

When we read through the Bible, years and months feel like seconds, don't they?

Take today's Gospel, for example.  

Matthew tells us that Jesus spent 40 days in the desert.   Forty days!!  We skim past that as we read about the various temptations Jesus faced.  But do we really appreciate how long that is?  If you are reading this on March 9, 40 days ago was January 28th.  Imagine being in the desert since then, facing the blistering sun during the day, and cold at night. All while fasting.  I don't know about you, but a day of fasting feels like a week to me - and that is while I sit in my comfortable, climate controlled environment.  

This got me thinking of other time spans that I gloss over in the Bible.

For example, Jesus is crucified, and dies in a few short paragraphs.  But I constantly forget he spent six long, grueling hours on the cross.  When I get a splinter in my finger, I rush to get it out as quickly as possible so the pain will stop.  Jesus had nails driven through his hands and feet ... and they stayed there right along his bruises for 360 long minutes.

I never realized, until this year, how long John the Baptist spent in prison.  Never even thought about it since we go from him being arrested to beheaded in a few words.  But scholars think he spend almost two years in prison.  And I'm pretty sure it wasn't the kind Martha Stewart served in.

Mary and Joseph depart Nazareth and arrive in Bethlehem in a few sentences.  But that journey probably took five to seven days.  Walking all day.  And Mary was pregnant! 

The Israelites spent a few pages suffering in Egypt.  But in reality, it was almost 400 years.  To put that in perspective, if you started counting today, your great-great-great grandchildren would still be in Egypt. 

There are many, many more.  But hopefully you get the point of this post.  The ironic thing is that we have no idea what time feels like for God.  Does a second feel like a year?  Or a year like a second?  

God Bless.