Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Being the Beloved

Being the Beloved, by Henri Nouwen

The demon tempts Jesus in the desert by saying, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread” (Mt 4:3).  The demon tempts Jesus to 'prove it', but Jesus' identity is not defined by what he does:  God has already said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

The demon then tempts Jesus by saying, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down [from the parapet…].  With their hands, [the angels] will support you” (Mt 4:6).  But Jesus' identity is not defined by whom He knows or who will act on his behalf:  God has already said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

The demon then tempts Jesus with all the kingdoms of the world, saying, “All these will I give to you, if you will prostrate yourself and worship me” (Mt 4:9).  But Jesus' identity is not defined by what he has:  God has already said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

Like Jesus, we are not defined by what we do, nor by what we have, nor by the actions of others.  Our identity comes from the God who made us as His beloved daughters and sons; this is the only identity we need. During this season of Lent we need to remind ourselves that we are God's daughters and sons and to live upright in that truth, worthy of the call we have received.

Start by checking out this powerful reflection from the late Fr. Henri Nouwen entitled, “Being the Beloved,” by clicking on the video above!  Then, for part two of the video, go to:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-AAHT4l3jVY

Monday, February 27, 2012

He was conceived of the Holy Spirit...


“The Spirit opened Jesus to a world beyond his own.  The Spirit does the same for us, if only we allow ourselves to become bigger than the limitations of a humanity in which the divinity has never been unleashed… The conception, the impulsion, the kindling of Jesus by the Spirit of the Holy calls us to become less concentrated on sin and more on grace, less concerned with the restrictions of law and more with the limitless possibilities of love, less obsessed by the limitations of being human and more in awe of its potential.  It is humanity that is the womb of the divine for us.”

Practical:  William Blake wrote, “And we are put on earth a little space / That we might learn to bear the beams of love.”  When we long for Love, we long for God, for God’s presence in our lives.  Focus for a few minutes daily on grace, which is the experience of God’s presence; open yourself to it in quiet meditation, allow the Spirit, the Love that unites Father to Son, to enter your heart, pray: ‘Come Holy Spirit’.

Quotations from Benedictine sister Joan Chittister’s book In Search of Belief, which explores the Apostles’ Creed phrase by phrase, demonstrating how the Creed is not a static set of rules or statements, but a living document that speaks to the deepest meaning of our existence and serves as a life guide, calling all of us to engage more deeply in relationship with God and with each other.  Sr. Chittister’s thoughts challenge us to live the Creed more fully as Christians; her writing is thought-provoking and inspirational.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

A FaithJustice Lent

Mike Laskey from Millennialcatholic.com shares his reflections on what Faith has to do with Justice and how our growing in our faith during Lent should lead us to action!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

February 26th, 2012: 1st Sunday of Lent, Gospel Reflection

In today’s Gospel we hear the very short story of Jesus being led into the desert by the Spirit where He remained for 40 days. This is (quite obviously) where the Church rooted the tradition of preparing for Holy Week for 40 days to imitate the life of Jesus in the desert.

Lent is a moment for retreat. We are people who are in desperate need of retreat. We are congenially overcharged, over-busy, and overstressed with all of the good ‘doings’ that make up our life. Lent is an opportunity, even a requirement, to slow down and to open oneself up to God and others through prayer, fasting, and abstinence (from meat on Fridays) to focus on our ‘being’. It is a time for us to return to the Lord and to spiritually re-align ourselves (like a spiritual chiropractor) to who God made us to be: His beloved Sons and Daughters, members of God’s covenant family.

As we are opened to God and re-align ourselves with Him we are also reconnected to our human family here on earth. Love of God and love of neighbor form one single commandment (Pope Benedict XVI). We pray for those in need. We fast to meet in solidarity the millions of people who even in 2012 still go hungry and die of hunger each day. We abstain from meat on Fridays (AND fancy meals in general…this is not a Papal invitation to have Dungenous Crab!) to take the money that we would have spent on meat (which traditionally was a luxury not a staple of a person’s diet) and donate it to those in need.

Questions for reflection and discussion
-What would be some of the challenges/negatives Jesus faced living in the desert?
-What is valuable about Jesus going out into the desert?
-Are you going to give something up this Lent? Why do we do this? What will you give up?
-Are you going to do extra service or spend extra time in prayer this Lent? What will you do and when (be concrete!)?

Friday, February 24, 2012

What are the Practices of Lent?

Check out this great video from Fr. Robert Barron on the practices of Lent...
Prayer  |  Fasting  | Almsgiving

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert...

The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert...

The people of the Old Testament thought of the desert as a place of chaos, a fearful place to enter.  When the Israelites left Egypt, they spent forty years in the desert.  The prophet Elijah also spent forty days in the desert after fleeing from the wrath of Jezebel.  The desert is a forbidding and inhospitable place, a place of wildness and isolation and exile into which few venture willingly.

Yet that is precisely what we are called to do during Lent:  to let the Spirit draw us into the desert spaces of our daily lives, so that we can explore our own emptiness, those places where we have removed ourselves from a fulfilling relationship with God.  Lent is our journey through exile, back toward God.  It is a time of purification and preparation, a time of exploration of our most intimate struggles and temptations.  It is not an easy time, but it can be a very fulfilling time, spiritually, if we are honest with ourselves and open to all of its challenges.

Most importantly, the beautiful thing about this journey is that we never make it alone:  Jesus is there every step of the way, leading us back to God through the desert, back to right relationship, back to God’s loving kindness, goodness, and compassion, so that we might be fully prepared for His Rising at Easter.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Ultimate Lent FAQ!

Check out this great Lent FAQ from Aggie Catholics' Campus Ministry Blog!

When Does Lent Start in 2012?
Lent starts on Ash Wed, Feb 22 and ends with the start of the Mass of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday, which is the beginning of the Triduum. Easter Sunday is April 8.

What is Lent?
Lent is a time when the Catholic Church collectively enters into preparation for the celebration of Easter. Lent originally developed as a forty-day retreat, preparing converts to be baptized at the Easter Vigil. It is now a part of our Church's liturgical calendar and a season of conversion for all. Conversion is the process of turning away from sin and turning to God. 

Are Sundays a part of Lent?
Sundays are always a day of celebration of Christ's passion and Resurrection, so we celebrate on these days. While still part of the season of Lent, they have a mixture of both celebration (because it is Sunday) and repentance (because it is Lent).

Does this mean I can "cheat" on Sundays?
Since Sundays are not part of the penitential season, you are not required to practice signs of penitence on these days. But, there is no reason you can't do them either. If you feel you are "cheating" then it isn't helping! Since the Church has some conflicting information (different documents state different things) I think you should do what you feel is best regarding the Lenten season and Sundays. In other words, follow your conscience. 

Why forty days and not some other number?
Because 40 is a special number in the Bible. It signifies preparation for something special - as in the 40 day flood of Noah.
  • *Moses stayed on the Mount Sinai forty days (Ex 24:18),
  •  Jonah gives the people of Ninevah forty days to repent (Jon 3:4) - (there are many other Old Testament stories)
  • *Jesus, before starting his ministry, spent 40 days in the desert in prayer and fasting (Matt 4:2).
So, as in the Bible, we spend 40 days in preparing ourselves to rejoice at the Resurrection of our Lord at Easter.

What is Ash Wednesday all about?
Ash Wednesday is so named because this first day of Lent is where we are marked with ashes to show the repentance of our sins and mourning. This is also a Biblical sign that we live today. We can see this in several verses.
  • "I turned to the Lord God, pleading in earnest prayer, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes" (Dan 9:3)
  • Other verses include: 1 Sam 4:12, Jon 3:6, Esther 4:1 and Matt 11:20-21
Today, ashes are still this same sign of repentance and mourning for our sins. They also represent our mortality. "I am nothing but dust and ashes" (Gen. 18:27). We started as nothing and our bodies will become dust and ashes after our death. Reminding ourselves that nobody escapes physical death, we look forward to eternal life.

So, why are the ashes made into a cross on the forehead?
Because it is the ancient sign of being marked by Christ in our baptism. We are no longer our own, but Jesus Christ owns us. The book of Revelation tells us that all the elect will be marked by the sign of Christ - "On Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him a hundred and forty-four thousand who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads." (Rev 14:1)

Where do we get the ashes?
They come from burning the palms from last years Palm Sunday Masses.

Who can receive ashes?
Anyone can receive ashes on Ash Wed. While we have communion only for Catholics who are in good standing with the Church, all may receive ashes.

Is Ash Wed a holy day of Obligation?
No. But all Catholics are strongly urged to attend, because it is the start of the Lenten season. 

Do we have to fast and abstain from meat on Ash Wed?
Yes. This means that all Catholics from 14 and up are required to abstain from meat and Catholics 18-60 are required to eat only one average meal and two snacks without anything else. Children, the elderly and those who are sick are not obligated to do this.

Why fast?
Again, this is because we are called to by Jesus. By denying ourselves something good, we remember what the highest good of all is - GOD. We also practice self-discipline and self-mastery, which we need in order to achieve holiness. Jesus fasted in the desert and calls us to as well.
  • "When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full." (Matt 6: 16)
  • "and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer." (Luke 2:37)
  • Fasting also helps focus us in our prayer. *Yet when they were ill, I...humbled myself with fasting.” (Psalm 35:13)
Why abstain from meat?
Because of the spiritual discipline it provides. "In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia . . . 'I, Daniel, mourned for three weeks. I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over.'" (Dan 10:1-3) We give up meat, which still today is a luxury in some parts of the world, as a good thing that we offer up in order to remember that Christ is better than food and needed more by all of us than anything else.

Why is fish not considered meat?
Because it was the food of the poor who could not afford meat, yet could catch fish to sustain themselves.

So, what are the other days of fast and abstinence?
Good Friday is a day of fasting and abstinence. All Fridays during Lent are days of abstinence from meat, this is because Christ died on a Friday.

So, why do people "give up" things during Lent?
While we are not required to “give something up” we are required to do something penitential. Lent is a great time to break a bad habit and give it to the Lord. These sins and vices we should not take back after Lent. It is also a time to give something up that is good during this season. This is why people give up something they enjoy. In doing so we can draw closer to God by our temporary sacrifice. We should find an appropriate balance of giving something up and not completely cutting ourselves off of good things. We will find our need for God if we do it correctly.

What else then IS required during Lent?
The Church asks us to increase our prayer, fasting and almsgiving. It is assumed that we are already doing these things and should merely increase them.

Got any suggestions?
First off, pray about what you are going to do for Lent. Ask for the guidance of the Holy Spirit in your spiritual practice of Lent. Then find a few things that you feel called to do. Don't do too much or too little. Stretch yourself, but don't pick things you won't stick to.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Ash Wednesday and Lent in 2 Minutes!

Brush up on Ash Wednesday and Lent in 2 Minutes!

For more great videos like this one visit BustedHalo.com

Monday, February 20, 2012

Our Lord...


“The One the Creed calls Lord is the image of a powerful God who does not impose even good.  This God lives to be poured out in creation and uses no force to have it accepted… The Creed calls us to remember the Jesus we knew before the Resurrection so that following him thereafter we might use human authority to imitate his outpouring of love, instead of trying ourselves to assume his glory before our time.”

Meditate on one of the many Gospel stories of the human Jesus and his outpouring of love on another, then work to make that behavior a part of your week as well.  You might choose one of the following, from the Gospel of Luke, for example:  Love of Enemies or The Parable of the Good Samaritan.

Quotations from Benedictine sister Joan Chittister’s book In Search of Belief, which explores the Apostles’ Creed phrase by phrase, demonstrating how the Creed is not a static set of rules or statements, but a living document that speaks to the deepest meaning of our existence and serves as a life guide, calling all of us to engage more deeply in relationship with God and with each other.  Sr. Chittister’s thoughts challenge us to live the Creed more fully as Christians; her writing is thought-provoking and inspirational.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

February 19th 2012: Sunday Gospel Reflection

Mark 2:1-12

In today’s Gospel we hear the amazing story of Jesus proclaiming the Good News of God’s love in a house that was packed and overflowing with people. Outside the house there were some friends with a paralyzed man who was lying flat on a mat. His friends were hoping to bring him to Jesus since they had heard Jesus could heal people! When they got to the home they realized that they could not make their way through the crowds. They could have gone home. They could have given up. Sometimes we have the intention to do the right thing but as soon as we are faced with any sort of hardship or difficulty we take the easy way out. Not these friends! These friends were people of virtue (having a strong habit of doing what is good even when faced with difficulty).

The friends climbed up on top of the roof (which likely had a roof made of straw) and created a hole in the roof so that they could lower their friend on the mat down through the roof to Jesus below! Jesus saw how strong their faith in Him was that they would do anything to get their friend to Him.

Jesus offered this paralyzed man healing, but curiously not physical healing at first. Jesus told the man your sins are forgiven. Many of the religious leaders got upset that this man, Jesus, was forgiving another of his sins. How could He do that? Jesus, knowing their doubt, showed his great love and authority over both the physical and spiritual wounds we have by healing the man physically, telling him rise, pick up your mat and walk! When Jesus healed the man physically he showed the crowds that He had the power to heal the man spiritually as well, that He has power to heal all of creation.

Imagine yourself in today’s Gospel as…

(a) The friends of the paralyzed man: To what lengths will we go to bring about healing and love to those who we care about? How can we bring people to the healing love of Jesus in our lives?

(b) The paralyzed man: In what ways are we in need of healing both physically and spiritually?

(c) The religious leaders who doubted: Do we really believe that Jesus has the ability to heal us and forgive us of our sins? Do we trust God enough to open ourselves up to Him through the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the Eucharist?

Photo Credit

Thursday, February 16, 2012

See, I am doing something new...

The story of the paralytic being let down through the roof to be healed by Jesus was always one of my favorite stories as a child, perhaps because I was so enthralled by the illustration of this story in my children’s Bible (photo below).  The paralyzed man’s friends will stop at nothing to bring their companion to Jesus; they refuse to acknowledge any barriers, and when one way to the Lord is blocked, they seek another, creative, out-of-the-box way to accomplish their goal.

We human beings have a tendency to set up barriers between ourselves and God, obstacles that get in the way of the loving relationship God desires to have with us.  Like the people described in Isaiah, we are often caught up in the past, walled in, failing to see that God is always doing something new in our lives.  Jesus came to forgive sins, to tear down the barriers.  Participating in the sacraments, particularly in Eucharist, is one way for us to help those barriers to come down, to open ourselves to God’s action in our lives in this very moment.  We come together as a community to celebrate God’s love for us, for all of us.  Maybe it’s not surprising that the paralytic ‘gets by with a little help from his friends’ – we all need each other to help us fight that sense of alienation that causes us to establish walls between ourselves and the world, between ourselves and our God.

(The Paralytic of Capharnaum is Lowered from the Roof,
Scenes from the Life of Christ, Byzantine School,
Sant'Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna, Italy.)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

How precious we are to you...

How precious we are to you...

Oh Lord help us to feel you;
 help us to know how precious we are to you,

 That we might become at least half so precious to ourselves.
 Move within us, according to your desire,
 Ease our hearts, melt our harsh edges
 So that we might sense how intimate you truly are.
 Guide us, God, in an ever more complete embrace of you,
 that we might bear more of your endless embrace of us,
 and thereby embrace ourselves.
 Keep alive within us, Oh Christ, your most precious gift to us
 Which is our burning, longing, wordless yearning for you.
 Grant to us the courage and the vulnerability and the dignity
 to claim our hunger for you in every moment, celebrating
 in each instant the pain and delight of our longing.

 Touch us beneath our will, opening us where we cannot
 open ourselves. Healing us where we cannot heal ourselves.
 And, in the vibrant mystery of your Spirit within us
 accept our eternal gratitude for every act of goodness that
 comes to us from another or through us for another, for every
 nourishing way that souls may touch each other,
 For every bit of love we share, and for the wonder,
 The tender laughing touching calling beautiful wonder.

A prayer by Gerald May

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Congrats to Tam High Hawk of the Week!

Congratulations to Elizabeth Archer, this week's Tamalpais High Hawk of the Week. 
This is the 5th time this year that Mount Carmel teens have earned HOW!
(s/o to Paula Venables, Isabella Amyx, Alaina Waluk, and Haley Fretes)

Name: Elizabeth Archer
Year/Sport: Sophomore, Basketball
What the Coach said: “Elizabeth Archer (affectionately known as Archie to her teammates), is one of four sophomores who return from last year’s standout Freshman class. She is an outstanding two-sport athlete who doubles as the Varsity goalie on the Soccer team and brings a level of intensity to the court that inspires anyone who has watched her play. She is literally all over the court rebounding, blocking shots, flying across the floor after loose balls, tussling with opponents for the ball, and playing help defense for her teammates. She seems to always be around the basketball and her efforts have helped to stabilize a defense that has been the hallmark of the Hawks playoff run again this year. Off the court she easy going and a pleasure to coach. She is determined to do everything she can to contribute to the success of the team and one of the most unselfish players we have ever coached. She has a bright future ahead and is truly an elite athlete more than worthy of Hawk of the Week.
–Coach Michael Evans

Have something to celebrate with the community? Let us know!

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice!" Phillipians 4:4

Monday, February 13, 2012

You Don't Know Jack: Valentine's Day!

Check out this great 4min video from BustedHalo.com on the origin and meaning of St. Valentine's Day!

God's Only Son...


“We, too, are each a unique child of God.”  The Creed is written “to call humanity to fullness.  It provides a paragon of what I myself can be.  It promises the fulfillment of what now I can only hope for in the basest part of me – that I, too, was made for glory, that I too can grow into the truest part of me, that even I can become what I was made to be out of the substance of divinity… God comes alive in us only after we learn to live in God.  Jesus, the human who proves that divinity is our calling, is the sign of our call to do that, our ability to do that… When I say, ‘I believe in Jesus Christ, the unique, the only child of God,’ I am praying to become the relationship I seek in my own heart.”

Practical:  Repeat this phrase throughout the day, echoing God’s word to Jesus, that He also speaks to us: “this is my beloved son/daughter in who I am well pleased.”

Quotations from Benedictine sister Joan Chittister’s book In Search of Belief, which explores the Apostles’ Creed phrase by phrase, demonstrating how the Creed is not a static set of rules or statements, but a living document that speaks to the deepest meaning of our existence and serves as a life guide, calling all of us to engage more deeply in relationship with God and with each other.  Sr. Chittister’s thoughts challenge us to live the Creed more fully as Christians; her writing is thought-provoking and inspirational.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

February 12th 2012: Sunday Gospel Reflection

Mark 1:40-45
"If you wish, you can make me clean." Moved with pity, [Jesus] stretched out his hand, touched him, and said to him, "I do will it. Be made clean."

The man in today’s Gospel was a leper who had sores all over his skin. Because of his leprosy the man was forced to live apart from his family and friends and community. Imagine being forced to the margins of society not able to participate in sports, church, school, work, community etc. but rather, required to live away from human contact. How would this make you feel? Would you be able to live life to the full this way?

In some way each of us can relate to the leper who is unclean, in need of healing. We carry around wounds, internal sores, like selfishness, greed, depression, pride, addiction, self-doubt, self-hate, hopelessness, etc. Notice that Jesus does not ask the man to do something before he is healed. He isn’t asked to prove it or earn it. God offers us healing love unconditionally if only we are ready and willing to accept it. Take some time to consider the image of Jesus reaching His hand out to you to lift you up and to heal you! How does that make you feel? Do you believe you are worth it? Do you believe that God could love you that much?

Today, hundreds of thousands of Americans and millions more throughout the world continue to physically live on the margins of society, cut off from family, friends and community. This is perhaps due to material wealth, unfortunate circumstance, loneliness or mental health, but regardless of the cause this is not God’s will for these people.

Jesus of Nazareth will not extend His physical hand out to heal these people as He did to the man in the Gospel, but He does offer Himself fully to us in the Eucharist so that we might be nourished and transformed into Christ so that we might be empowered to reach out to others as the hand of Christ, to offer His healing love to the world starting in our own homes, schools, work places and communities, and continuing like a ripple to the whole world. Christ has no body now but yours, no hands but yours in this world –St. Theresa of Avila

Questions of the week:
-How can we receive Jesus’ healing love in our lives? (be concrete)
-How can we share the healing love of Jesus with those in our homes, schools, and workplaces? (be concrete)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Time to Admit it: The Church has Always Been Right on Birth Control

More dignified or less dignified?

Check out this thoughtful article from a secular organization, Business Insider, asking people to look at the Church's position on sexual ethics (e.g. birth control) before discounting it as 'outdated' and to step back and consider whether or not a 'contraceptive culture' that is promoted is good for women, men, or families.

He writes: Today's injunctions against birth control were re-affirmed in a 1968 document by Pope Paul VI called Humanae Vitae. He warned of four results if the widespread use of contraceptives was accepted:
1. General lowering of moral standards
2. A rise in infidelity, and illegitimacy
3. The reduction of women to objects used to satisfy men.
4. Government coercion in reproductive matters.

Does that sound familiar? Because it sure sounds like what's been happening for the past 40 years.
Photo Credit 1 
Photo Credit 2

Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand...

Imagine what life would be like if we were never touched by another human being. 

The leper in this week’s Gospel asks to be made clean, not simply to be cured of his disease, but to be restored to relationship with the community that has ostracized him, the community that will not come near him for fear of impurity.  Jesus is moved with pity – in Greek, splanchnizesthai, a visceral reaction of compassion for the man, accompanied by a desire to help him.  Filled with love for this man made vulnerable by a disease of the flesh, Jesus touches him, incurring ritual impurity in order to restore the man to relationship, uniting with him in a gesture of complete acceptance and love.

We too are called to reach across barriers, to open ourselves in love to one another, to allow ourselves to be vulnerable, because it is our very vulnerability that makes community possible.  Loving another makes us vulnerable, yet we are called to love, to be Christ for one another in the way we love one another, to bring others out of isolation, back into community, by our love for them.

Jesus’ touch restored life.  St. Paul says, Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.  Our embrace of Other, in imitation of Jesus’ splanchnizethai, is an embrace of our essential humanity, a conscious sharing of compassion that speaks to the very essence of community and love.

Monday, February 6, 2012

I believe in Jesus Christ...


Jesus, the Creed calls us to realize, stands before us, the clearest, sharpest, most abundant picture we have of the face of God.  And how can we be sure of that?  Because Jesus is what we know in our hearts God must surely be:  compassionate, just, merciful, loving, and on the other side of every boundary.  It is Jesus with the Samaritan Woman, Jesus with the little children, Jesus with the prisoner, Jesus immersed in God that I must become if the Creator-God is ever to see divinity come to fullness of life in me as well… When I say, ‘ I believe in Jesus,’ I am saying that I believe in a way of life above and beyond what anything else challenges me to be.”

Practical:  Choose one story of Jesus that inspires you, read it again, identify and ponder its central lesson, and then live it this week.  You might choose from one of the following stories in the Gospel of Mark, for example, The Healing of the Paralytic Let Down Through the Roof or The Poor Widow's Contribution.

Quotations from Benedictine sister Joan Chittister’s book In Search of Belief, which explores the Apostles’ Creed phrase by phrase, demonstrating how the Creed is not a static set of rules or statements, but a living document that speaks to the deepest meaning of our existence and serves as a life guide, calling all of us to engage more deeply in relationship with God and with each other.  Sr. Chittister’s thoughts challenge us to live the Creed more fully as Christians; her writing is thought-provoking and inspirational.


The title story in Ragman and Other Cries of Faith, by Lutheran pastor Walter Wangerin, Jr., tells of a man who heals those around him by taking on their wounds and their brokenness.  Like Jesus, the Ragman reaches out to others, raises them up, and frees them from their limitations so that they might work to serve their fellow human beings.  The Ragman's healing of others comes at the cost of his own personal suffering.  When the day is done, the Ragman goes off to be alone, dying on a garbage heap, yet rising to begin his ministry again the next day.  May Jesus also lift us up, so that we, like the Ragman, might devote ourselves to lifting up others in our turn.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

February 5th 2012: Sunday Gospel Reflection

In today’s Gospel we read about how Jesus went to people in their brokenness and sickness and brought healing. Jesus will always reach out to meet us where we are at and offer us reconciliation and healing, no matter how far we have strayed or what we are doing.

After ministering to people’s needs he did not stay to celebrate, take a vacation or rest in contentment. Jesus went off to pray, to recharge His own connection and relationship with his Loving Father. Then, He traveled on to preach and to heal. God will not rest in seeking us out and dwelling with us, neither should we become complacent or content with our own lives. We are called to always be looking outside of ourselves to find the people and places where we are called to be God’s presence in the world. “Christ has not body know but yours, no hands but yours.” (St. Theresa of Avila)

Q: Who are people in my life who need God’s healing love this week? How can I concretely reach out to show them love this week?

Photo Credit

A Prayer for Super Bowl Sunday

This year, the Giants and Patriots square off in what will be an exciting game.  Before we watch the game, take some time to read this prayer-poem, written by Walter Brueggemann from his book Prayers for a Privileged People.  When I read through it all, it helps me keep a good perspective on the day's events. 

Saturday, February 4, 2012

February 5th 2012: Sunday Reading Reflection--Job and the Psalms

Do you or a family member have overly dramatic or sad, cynical moments?

-Step 1: Read today’s 1st Reading to really become rooted in the experience of being dramatically despondent. (Job 7:1-4, 6-7) God knows even our pain and fears! All prayer is good prayer, even despondent prayer or getting angry with God!

-Step 2: Read today’s Psalm (Psalm 147:1-6) to put our own worries and troubles into perspective, to entrust them to the God who knows us and loves us. God does not promise to get rid of all darkness or suffering but promises to stand with us through it and sometimes even to carry us through it! God is faithful. 

How do I deal with stress or cynicism? 
How does my relationship with God play a role in those experiences of my life?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

He grasped her hand, and helped her up...

When we are brought low by the difficulties of life, large or small, what does it take for us to feel the hand of Jesus, reaching out to help us up?

The prophet Job, a righteous man, suffers – his possessions are destroyed, he is smitten with boils, his children die – and yet, through it all, though he voices his pain, Job never renounces God, and, in the end, all is restored to him – family, livestock, and health.

Simon’s mother-in-law is also brought low by illness, but Jesus’ arrival restores her to health:  He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up.  Her response?  She waited on them.

Suffering is a part of life, and God’s response to our difficulties might not always be the one we pray for.  Yet God is with us throughout our trials, and we are all graced, again and again, freed from our hardships, so that we might have the opportunity to participate in the grace that is our experience of God’s presence, real and continuous.

As the psalmist reminds us, The Lord sustains the lowly.  When we need to be lifted from the difficulties of life, it is then, most importantly, that we also need to be open to God’s presence in our lives, to the hand of Jesus, stretched out to us, ready to help us up. 

(Christ Healing Peter’s Mother-in-Law, Church of St. Savior, Choram Istanbul, c.1310)