It is as if I am being pursued by them, so constant is my pace when it comes to them. What am I talking about? A few topics that have been an obsession for me for most of my life, even during my earliest days.
One of those topics is the Holocaust. When I was young I was aware that my father had grown up in a Jewish family, but that he no longer practiced that faith. My mother was Catholic, and after visiting many churches in the years before I was 5 or 6, we ended up Catholic too. (I was baptized in a Catholic church about 5 months after I was born. Honestly, I’m not sure how that happened in the 50’s given the irregular status of my parents marriage and general lack of church attendance at the time, but somehow it did.)
That said, my obsessive curiosity about Judaism started at an early age. And while I cannot tell you how old I was when I first became aware of the Holocaust, I can tell you that the tumble down the rabbit hole of interest came quickly and with intensity. Perhaps it began with Anne Frank’s diary? Who knows? Whatever it was, I was hooked for life.
The horrific massacre in Christchurch, New Zealand continues to dominate the news. Somehow this one may have touched a new nerve. Locally, the Islamic Center of the Capital District hosted an interfaith prayer service on Sunday, and I was blessed to attend this event. That’s a big part of why today’s Gospel truly hit home. This is how we are meant to live with one another, full stop Continue reading →
(This is a copy of today’s version of my daily Instagram posts of Lent. I’m enjoying doing this, and I’m grateful for the good feedback that I have received. Today please be merciful to someone you would prefer not to show mercy to. This is what is asked from us, and it is so challenging to respond to God in this way.)
Hi! Worst blogger ever has returned for a brief moment. Time is not on my side when it comes to writing right now. In fact, I should be outside right now, but here I am in the non-walking position, and that means I am writing!
Five weeks from today I will – well, God willing as we say around here – will head north to Montreal. From there, Sue and I will get on a plane and fly to Paris. Camino Santiago, here we come! Yet, five weeks seems both an incredibly long time, and an incredibly short time. Long in the sense that I have a lot of training in front of me, and short in the sense that I have so much to do before I leave. Every day I am faced with the need to walk the walk. Talk is cheap, walk – not so much. I simply have to keep on walking.
There are many things I would love to write about, like the mass readings. In today’s Gospel we hear for the zillionth time that we need to be forgiving. Talk really is cheap, isn’t it? Last night I dreamed of an old friend, a person that I find it nearly impossible to forgive. Old childhood wounds and disappointments remain tender, more recent challenges burn white hot at times, erupting and taking me by surprise. Last night she crossed my mind as I was cleaning up after dinner, and she turns up in my dream. Wow God you are persistent, aren’t you?
In the dream we were both tentative and amicable, until Hillary Clinton showed up. Was she with us? Or on TV or a device? Oh wispy dreams, I cannot grasp your tendrils and remember. Anyway, there she was and before anything could erupt, my old friend said that we could not discuss politics. I felt total relief, instead of my typical urge to pick at the wound of disagreement. Then I awakened! Poof, dream over. Five minutes later I am drowsy and reading the Gospel about forgiveness. Talk is so cheap, ridiculously so and yest even at that price I can’t even talk theoretical forgiveness with this friend. What about walking? Can I walk forgiveness? It seems hardly possible.
Jesus tells us we must forgive in this way:
“I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.”
And I can barely keep count of reps when I exercise, or even laps around my neighborhood – how do I do this?
In today’s first reading we hear the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and their visit to the fiery furnace. This tale has a powerful message for all of us, just like all Scripture does, if we simply stop and listen, holding the words in our hearts.
What would you do if faced with serving another god and making homage to an idolatrous statue and by doing so, reject God? And let’s up the ante… the punishment for not doing this would be a horrifying death in the fiery furnace?
If you are like me, perhaps you will say that you would never reject God. Well, that may be the case for you, but if I even think about this for a minute, I can see just where and how I reject God all day long. Perhaps it is even worse, because I do it so mindlessly, God forgive me.
We are at a critical point in our Lenten journey with Jesus. Jerusalem is calling to us; not a fiery furnace, but the cross awaits us, just as it awaits Jesus. Certain death. Suddenly this whole Christian thing is looking very uncomfortable. Very, very uncomfortable.
Most likely, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, could have rationalized their way out of this. I know that I could! “Le’s see, I think. I ‘pretend’ to follow King Nebuchadnezzar’s god, and when I get out, I will make good on what I have done wrong! Phew! No fiery furnace for me!”
Now as our new Pope Francis recently reminded us that “the Lord never tires of forgiving,” true enough. However, do we ever tire of making the wrong choices? I know that I feel like I tire of making them, but somehow, I… keep… making… them… *sigh*
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are a reminder, forerunners of Christ, of what happens when we make the correct choice. Often we lose it all – or seemingly so. Do we really lose it? Or do we gain? If our life is solely grounded in the material, then forget it. If we are solely grounded in how many hours we spend in church or in prayer, looking up at God, we might want to forget that, also. Once again, we find ourselves in the great both/and of life. We have certain obligations and responsibilities to our material life, true enough. And wouldn’t we want time in church and in prayer?
How do we hold the tension between heaven and earth and make the correct choices? Sometimes we have to choose the most difficult thing. Jesus lived that for us, he died for us. There were many before him who foreshadow what was to come, from Moses to Abraham to – I could go on and on – and including, our three friends in the hot spot.
This Sunday we will hear the Passion, and then we enter Holy Week. What awaits us? The same things that awaited Jesus. Choices between life and death, with the counter-intuitive choice of death bringing new life.
The fiery furnace and the Cross attract me, but do I really choose them? Luckily for us, our tireless God forgives us, but ultimately our choice will have to be made.
What will we do?
I can’t help but think of this song, so I leave you with this video…
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