Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The key to a man (Noah Benshea)

   Either the key to a man’s wallet is in his heart, or the key to a man’s heart is in his wallet.   Unless you express your charity, you are locked inside your greed.

--Noah Benshea, Jacob the Baker:
Gentle Wisdom for a Complicated World

Monday, February 27, 2017

Dis-ease and the human heart (Omid Safi)

   This disease of being busy (and let’s call it what it is, the dis-ease of being busy, when we are never at ease) is spiritually destructive to our health and well-being.  It saps our ability to be fully present with those we love the most in our families, and keeps us from forming the kind of community that we all so desperately crave… 

   In many Muslim cultures, when you want to ask them how they’re doing, you ask:  in Arabic, Kayf haal-ik? or, in Persian, Haal-e shomaa chetoreh?  How is your haal?  What is this haal that you inquire about?  It is the transient state of one’s heart.  In reality, we ask, How is your heart doing at this very moment, at this breath?  When I ask, How are you?, that is really what I want to know. 

   I am not asking how many items are on your to-do list nor asking how many items are in your inbox.  I want to know how your heart is doing, at this very moment.  Tell me.  Tell me your heart is joyous, tell me your heart is aching, tell me your heart is sad, tell me your heart craves a human touch.  Examine your own heart, explore your soul, and then tell me something about your heart and your soul. 

   Tell me you remember you are still a human being, not just a human doing.  Tell me you’re more than just a machine, checking off items from your to-do list.  Have that conversation, that glance, that touch.  Be a healing conversation, one filled with grace and presence.

To read Omid Safi’s complete article, 

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Only in God (Psalm 62, John Michael Talbot)

Only in God is my soul at rest 
In Him comes my salvation 
He only is my Rock 
My strength and my salvation 
My stronghold, my Savior 
I shall not be afraid at all 
My stronghold, my Savior 
I shall not be moved 
Only in God is my soul at rest 
In Him comes my salvation 
Only in God is found safety 
When my enemy pursues me 
Only in God is found glory 
When I am found meek and found lowly 


To listen to this psalm sung by John Michael Talbot, 
click on the video below:

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginings... (St. Francis de Sales)

     Do not look forward to what may happen tomorrow; the same Everlasting Father who cares for you today will take care of you tomorrow and every day.  Either God will shield you from suffering, or will give you unfailing strength to bear it.  Be at peace, then, and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginings. 
 --St. Francis de Sales 

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Sunday Gospel Reflection, February 26, 2017: Stewards of the mysteries of God...

Do you have confidence in the gifts has God entrusted to you? 

   It is easy to lose sight of God’s action in our lives, and of the gifts God has entrusted to us.  The Lord has forsaken me; my Lord has forgotten me, the people of Israel say to Isaiah.  But the prophet reminds them that God has first and foremost given them the divine gift of life; they can look where they may, yet the only true meaning of human existence resides with the maternal God who created them, who birthed them into this world.  Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb?, the prophet asks.  If, in Isaiah, Israel doubts God’s concern, the psalmist offers a clear solution:  Rest in God alone, my soul.  Psalm 62 resonates with the confidence instilled by the gift of God’s presence, and calls us to trust in him at all times, confident that he will never forget us, aware of God’s ongoing devotion to the people he has created.

   In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus also encourages his disciples to take stock of the gifts God has entrusted and will continue to entrust to them.  Yet caution is in order.  So often, our efforts to control our existence keep us from engaging meaningfully in our lives; at times, when our priorities are particularly misplaced, we forget God’s gifts and trust mammon instead.  Are the disciples overly attached to wealth and prosperity?  Are they worried or anxious about their day-to-day lives?  If so, then they need to step back and learn to cultivate absolute trust in the God who created them, the Lord who will provide for their every need:  Look at the birds in the sky:  they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are not you more important than they? Jesus exhorts his disciples to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness; if they do so, all that they need will be given to them in due course.  For, as Paul reminds the Corinthians, we are stewards of the mysteries of God.  As such, we must embrace all of the gifts God has entrusted to us, making every effort to serve the Lord, impervious to the judgment of others.  Do not worry about your life, Jesus says, for God has given us all the gifts we will ever need to thrive.  We have only to trust, to have confidence in the God who will never forget us.

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

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

To be like You (Hillsong)

 Humble King 
Holy One 
Friend of sinners 
God’s own Son 
God in flesh 
Among men 
You walked my road 
You understand 
Servant King 
Friend to me 
You saved my soul 
Washed my feet 
Here I’ll bow 
Give all to You 
Lord I want 
To be like You 
All I want 
All I need 
More of You 
Less of me 
Take this life 
Lord, it’s Yours 
Have my heart 
Have it all 
I will walk 
In Your ways 
Love Your Word 
Seek Your face 
My reward 
My sole pursuit 
To know You more 
To be like You 
Jesus, Jesus 
All I want is to be like You 

To hear this song performed by Hillsong, click on the video below:

Video source:  Hillsong, Glorious Ruins

Monday, February 20, 2017

Love your enemies (Martin Luther King Jr.)

   Now there is a final reason I think that Jesus says, Love your enemies.  It is this:  that love has within it a redemptive power.  And there is a power that eventually transforms individuals.  Just keep being friendly to that person.  Just keep loving them, and they can’t stand it too long.  Oh, they react in many ways in the beginning.  They react with guilt feelings, and sometimes they’ll hate you a little more at that transition period, but just keep loving them.  And by the power of your love they will break down under the load.  That’s love, you see.  It is redemptive, and this is why Jesus says love.  There’s something about love that builds up and is creative.  There is something about hate that tears down and is destructive.  So love your enemies.
--Martin Luther King Jr., A Knock at Midnight

Saturday, February 18, 2017

How much love... (St. Mother Teresa)

   I am not sure exactly what heaven will be like, but I do know that when we die and it comes time for God to judge, he will not ask, How many good things have you done in your life?, rather, he will ask, how much love did you put into what you did? 

 --St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta 

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Sunday Gospel Reflection, February 19, 2017: The temple of God, which you are, is holy...

What does it mean to be holy? 

   In the Book of Leviticus, several chapters are devoted to the Holiness Code, a set of rules meant to help humankind live in the context of God’s holiness.  Be holy, for I, the Lord, your God, am holy is the message Moses is to convey to the Israelite community.  But what does it mean to be holy?  God explains to Moses that holiness will be found in their relationship with others in their community:  they must not bear hatred in their hearts for one another, but rather, must love their neighbor as themselves.  Every interaction should be patterned after God’s mercy and love; every gesture should bring the identity of God, who is love, to bear on civilization.  The Holiness Code enumerates the many ways that God is manifested through humankind; as we strive to live it, we call others to that same relationship, with God and with one another.  As in Psalm 108, every time we bless God’s holy name, we are increasing our awareness of God’s presence, claiming that presence, that love, as essential to our lives, bringing that love to bear upon our relationship with God and with all.  We are, in other words, striving for holiness.

   Jesus revisits the Holiness Code in Matthew’s Gospel when he exhorts his listeners to Be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.  To reach for perfection is to embrace a process, to strive for the holiness of God by manifesting that holiness in what we live, challenging others to holiness in the process, giving to the one who asks of us, ever generous in our relationships with others.  This also means we must love – not just our family, not just our neighbors or our fellow countrymen, but, Jesus tells us, our enemies themselves.  There is no holiness in hatred; we must love all as God loves all God’s children, allowing God’s love for us to dictate our love for other.  As Paul tells the Corinthians, we are the temple of God, and that temple is holy for the Spirit of God dwells in us.  God was thus meant to be revealed through us as we work for community, giving witness to the power of God’s love in our lives. 

   This is what Paul means when he tells each to become a fool, so as to become wise:  we are to embrace that kingdom of inversion in which the only true power is God’s power, the power of love.  If we do so, subjecting ourselves to all so that God can be present through us, then we will indeed be holy, a revelation of God’s love and mercy in the world.

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

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Two roads diverged... (Robert Frost)

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, 
And sorry I could not travel both 
And be one traveler, long I stood 
And looked down one as far as I could 
To where it bent in the undergrowth; 
Then took the other, as just as fair, 
And having perhaps the better claim, 
Because it was grassy and wanted wear; 
Though as for that the passing there 
Had worn them really about the same. 
And both that morning equally lay 
In leaves no step had trodden black. 
Oh, I kept the first for another day! 
Yet knowing how way leads on to way, 
I doubted if I should ever come back. 
I shall be telling this with a sigh 
Somewhere ages and ages hence: 
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – 
I took the one less traveled by, 
And that has made all the difference. 

--Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken, 
from Mountain Interval (1920)

Monday, February 13, 2017

Freely united to Him and to each other (C. S. Lewis)

   God created things which had free will. That means creatures which can go wrong or right.  Some people think they can imagine a creature which was free but had no possibility of going wrong, but I can’t.  If a thing is free to be good it’s also free to be bad.  And free will is what had made evil possible.  Why, then, did God give them free will?  Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having.  A world of automata – of creatures that worked like machines – would hardly be worth creating.  The happiness which God designs for His higher creatures is the happiness of being freely, voluntarily united to Him and to each other in an ecstasy of love and delight compared with which the most rapturous love between a man and a woman on this earth is mere milk and water.  And for that they’ve got to be free.

--C. S. Lewis, The Case for Christianity

Image source:  Adam and Eve, St. John’s Bible