Prepare to be surprised


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


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.