The journey

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photo Tom Kiefer

Today’s Gospel reminded me of the now well documented photographs of objects confiscated from those who have been apprehended at the border, El sueño americano by Tom Kiefer. For those with any doubt, this has been verified. The rosaries received a lot of attention, but all of the items truly struck me, including the copies of El Nuevo Testamento that was so important to have. There were also the other items, the everyday things like combs, toothpaste, and so forth, as well as items from children.

As if it were not enough that we took away rosaries and New Testaments, now we take their children too. I can’t help but wonder what God thinks of all of this. Ultimately what we have really stolen from people is what little hope and dignity they had left after fleeing lives of extraordinary poverty, extreme and violence, lives with no future. If we stole their dignity and their hope, then I think we are really in trouble.

Right now I am thinking of the martyred apostles sent forth by Christ, unwelcome, considered unwanted and dangerous. To this day, many are killed bringing the light of Christ to others in dangerous places. We all know we cannot take anything on that final journey home to God whether we are an apostle or a beggar, a prophet or a king. In the Kingdom we arrive with only ourselves. Our hope for the Kingdom is for our dignity and integrity to be fully restored in the presence of God. Don’t you think that kind of reconciliation and restoration, at least to some extent, is what God asks of us here? This is our journey in Christ, to go out into the world as beacons of hope and light in his name, disciples always bearing the light of that same Jesus Christ who welcomed, healed, and saved all.

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But he was silent

 

But he was silent and answered nothing.Mark 14:61

Jesus gave him no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed.Mark 15:5

PalmsToday is Palm Sunday and we hear once again the Passion proclaimed in our churches. These two sentences struck me as I listened and prayed with the Gospel at mass on Saturday night.

Jesus’ silence says more than his words at these moments. And of course silence is probably one of the Continue reading

Prepare to be surprised

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A few thoughts for the Second Sunday of Advent…

We have expectations, which is pretty normal and human, of who or what Jesus Christ is or will be. Therefore we may miss many of the cues that he is right before us or within us. An example of this is found in today’s Gospel when we hear about John the Baptist preparing the way. In addition to our expectations of Jesus, we have them about John. He is speaking to us always and we are pretty just not seeing or hearing him, or ignoring him if we do notice. Maybe it is time to prepare the way of the Lord by preparing to be surprised, delighted, astonished, challenged, and comforted.

We hate waiting and we hate to change. These are two of the biggest things that are asked of us by God. Most of us respond with resistance. Sometimes waiting is the best thing we can do, no matter how hard. At other times, when those of us who have power tell those of us who do not have power to just be patient and wait, it becomes an abuse of power. It is pretty sick and cruel, but we do it all the time, it becomes second nature. I am reminded of Rigoberta Menchú who received the Nobel Peace Prize on this day in 1992. She once said, “My people are hungry. Don’t speak to us of buildings and police forces, we need food and respect.” (I have this on a Pax Christi daily calendar, but I must say, I cannot find the quote elsewhere, but I’m going with it.) If you are hungry, cold, sick, naked, or subject to injustice, imposed waiting can be a weapon. And if change comes, whether we seek it or resist it, when it does come, it impacts all of us. Everyone needs to prepare for that because sometimes the change we seek, that meaning the justice and mercy of Christ, might not look or feel exactly how we imagined it. Surprise!

We love to make things complicated. The “no pain, no gain” model of life has taken root in many forms. We know that the way to the Cross involves Continue reading

What should we do?

He said to them in reply, “Give them some food yourselves.” But they said to him, “Are we to buy two hundred days’ wages worth of food and give it to them to eat?” -Mark 6:37

Why doesn’t God take care of…. go ahead, fill in the blank – there are many questions. We all have them – at least if we’re honest we acknowledge that we do. Maybe we pretend we don’t wonder why God is not taking care of something that seems obvious to us. Already the flaws in THAT kind of interpretation are very clear. Even those who were closest to Jesus had questions. In today’s Gospel from Mark  Jesus clearly Continue reading

Ping

Alexandr_Ivanov_015This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.” These words travel from the mouth of God and are meant for Peter, James, and John after they experience the transfigured Christ in today’s Gospel from Mark. The heart of the Word of God expresses the command to listen – but like our disciple friends, we are not always so good at it. We love to say “yes, of course, yes” to God, and then carry on with our own ideas and plans, just like the disciples. They were ready to build a shrine or monument to what they had just witnessed, seemingly without having truly appropriated what had happened. Maybe that is why God cleared God’s throat and spoke very plainly. “AHEM! Guys! Yo, listen up. Which part of listen to him did you not understand?Continue reading

The question of hard hearts

HardHeart“They had not understood the incident of the loaves.
On the contrary, their hearts were hardened.”

These are the last two lines of today’s Gospel from Mark. For whatever reason, I don’t feel as if I have ever read them before. In fact, I felt shock when I read them earlier today.

“They had not understood the incident of the loaves.
On the contrary, their hearts were hardened.”

This makes me think about how we live in the midst of grace and miracles all the time, but we frequently do not understand, and our hearts are hardened as well.

What makes us so quick to judge?

If the Church does this or that, if the Pope says this or that, if a popular Catholic writer or blogger says this or that, if our priest, bishop, or someone else we know from church says this or that, many of us tend to want to circle around that person in admiration. Of course, just as often, we want to circle around that person to deride, judge, or attack.

How do we allow Jesus to thaw our hearts? Are we even interested in such a thing? Do we want to be justified? Or transformed?

Today I hope to see the miracles and grace that are all around me. Today I pray to not react with a hard heart, but to respond with the openness of grace that allows me to see God in all things.