Thursday, October 27, 2016

Sunday Gospel Reflection, October 30, 2016: Today I must stay at your house!

 God is pursuing you!  Are you prepared to invite him in? 

   From time immemorial, God is a God of covenant, characterized as gracious and merciful and kind, compassionate and faithful and holy, according to Psalm 145.  In our moments of failure, God offers support and encouragement; in our times of sin, the Book of Wisdom assures us, God has mercy on all and overlooks people’s sins that they may repent.  Why?  Because God seeks relationship with humankind; having created all, loving all things, God does all God can to help us past our sinfulness through the grace of repentance so that we might live with him always.

   The tax collector Zacchaeus certainly knows what it means to move past his sinfulness and into right relationship with Jesus.  In Luke's Gospel, Zacchaeus is drawn to Jesus; he even climbs a tree so he can see Jesus as he passes by.  But Jesus, to his surprise, seeks relationship with him; Jesus overlooks Zacchaeus’ past, pursuing him so that salvation can come to Zacchaeus’ house.  And Zacchaeus, for his part, is thrilled that Jesus is pursuing him; he is prepared to invite Jesus in and offer him every hospitality:  he receives Jesus with joy!

   God is pursuing us… but to what end?  Paul’s Second Letter toTimothy suggests that, from a position of right relationship with God, we show that we are worthy of his calling, ready to respond, to make every effort of faith, that God might be glorified.  God is unfolding God’s plan before our very eyes, pursuing a relationship with us, looking past our sin, loving us beyond all telling.  Are we prepared to respond and invite him in?

This post is based on Fr. Pat’s Scripture class.
Image source:  Wordle

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

No end to God's forgiveness (Jonathan Helser)

 In the beginning, You were singing 
In the end, You’ll still be singing over me 
In this moment, You’re right beside me 
You’re everywhere, You’re in the air that I breath 
You are an endless ocean 
A bottomless sea  
In my sin, You kept loving 
There’s no end to Your forgiveness and mercy 
Every morning You keep coming 
Waves of Your affection keep washing over me 


All those angels, they are swimming 
In this ocean and they still can find no shore 
Day and night, night and day 
They keep seeing new sides of Your face 

There’s no end to the affection You have for me… 

To hear this song performed by Jonathan David Helser,
click on the video below:
Image source
Video source

Monday, October 24, 2016

The God that rescues (Shannon Alder)

     My Christ says, Your job is to get off your self-righteous butt and start reaching out to difficult people, because my ministry wasn’t about a bunch of nice people getting together once a week to sing hymns and get a feel good message, that you may or may not apply, depending on your depth of anger for someone.  It is about caring for and helping the broken-hearted, the difficult, the hurt, the misunderstood, the repulsive, the wicked, and the liars.  It is about turning the other cheek when someone hurts you.  It is about loving one another and making amends.  It is allowing people as many chances as they need because God gives them endless chances. When you do this, then you will know me and you will know true happiness and peace.  Until then, you will never know who I really am.  You will always be just a fan or a Sunday-only warrior.  You will continue to represent who you are to the world, but not me.  I am the God that rescues.

--Shannon L. Alder
Image source
Quote source:  Goodreads

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Far from light (St. Augustine)

  Remember this.  When people choose to withdraw far from a fire, the fire continues to give warmth, but they grow cold.  When people choose to withdraw far from light, the light continues to be bright in itself but they are in darkness.  This is also the case when people withdraw from God.

  --St. Augustine  

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Sunday Gospel Reflection, October 23, 2016: When the just cry out, the Lord hears them...

   It’s so easy to be like the Pharisee in Luke’s Gospel, who thanks God because he, the Pharisee, is not like the rest of humanity --  he is not greedy, dishonest, adulterous…  It’s so easy to be caught up in our own self-righteousness, in our own self-centeredness; it’s so easy to point out the bad in others and, in so doing, to separate ourselves from God, as if we were superior to sin.  But as Jesus points out to those who were convinced of their own righteousness, it is the tax collector, the man who recognizes his own brokenness, his own sin – O God, be merciful to me, a sinner – who knows his own need for mercy; it is the man who is open to God, to God’s mercy and compassion in his life, who can then be compassionate and merciful to others.   

   Jesus’ message to the self-righteous is grounded in traditional Hebrew Scripture.  In the Book of Sirach, the Lord is a God of justice:  God identifies real need, and hears the cry of the oppressed, as well as the prayers of the one who serves God willingly. Psalm 34 is clear:  The Lord hears the cry of the poor, and is particularly attentive to those who own their own sin, who know their own need for salvation:  the Lord is close to the brokenhearted and those who are crushed in spirit.  In his Second Letter to Timothy, Paul, writing from prison, likewise knows that, although everyone deserted him, the Lord stood by him and gave him strength. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, Jesus says, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.

   We are all in need of God because we all know sin.  We are human; we are broken.  Yet, if we own our own brokenness, we too can open to the power of God’s mercy and compassion to transform us, to redeem our lives, to be our refuge.  Is God listening?  Certainly, so long as we are listening as well, open to the transformative compassion and mercy of God in our lives.

This post is based on Fr. Pat's Scripture class.
Image source:  Wordle

Monday, October 17, 2016

When we turn our thoughts into conversation (Henri Nouwen)

   To pray, I think, does not mean to think about God in contrast to thinking about other things, or to spend time with God instead of spending time with other people.  Rather, it means to think and live in the presence of God.  As soon as we being to divide our thoughts into thoughts about God and thoughts about people and events, we remove God from our daily life and put him in a pious little niche where we can think pious thoughts and experience pious feelings.  Although it is important and even indispensable for the spiritual life to set apart time for God and God alone, prayer can only become unceasing prayer when all our thoughts – beautiful or ugly, high or low, proud or shameful, sorrowful or joyful – can be thought in the presence of God.  Thus, converting our unceasing thinking into unceasing prayer moves us from a self-centered monologue to a God-centered dialogue.  This requires that we turn all our thoughts into conversation.  The main question, therefore, is not so much what we think, but to whom we present our thoughts.
--Henri Nouwen, Clowning in Rome