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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Which way?

EDIT Yo Soy El CaminoRecently I listened to a podcast from The Commonwealth Club that truly captivated my mind and spirit. In this particular episode, Krista Tippett, the host of On Being was interviewed by Rev. Alan Jones. It was spectacular, so much so that I am on my second listen.

There are so many things that I am pondering about this episode, but the entire undercurrent for me is questioning who we are and where we are headed as a people. This has been on my mind already because I have been so deeply unhappy about our political situation at large. The program got me thinking further about which way I think we are headed.

One of the topics addressed by Tippett was the development of inner and outer lives, and how material wealth and poverty drive those lives – or don’t drive them. Of course, the cultivation of inner lives is not something truly valued in our American culture. I suppose that is why we value Continue reading

Curiosity and contempt

Camino Edith Wharton QuoteIt has been a little while since I have blogged. I’ve been either too tired, too busy, or too uninspired.  Anyway, I was reminded of this quotation from Edith Wharton today, always a favorite one of mine, so I made a meme out of it.  That got me thinking about how often my own desire and willingness to live as Wharton’s words suggest.

With the reminder that when I write, I’m talking to myself allow me to begin. Right up front we are reminded that being unafraid of change is step one.  Change?! Unafraid of change?! Oh sure, many of us will say we are fine with it… that’s generally the case as long as it is a change of our own choosing. Any change that chooses us? Not quite so easy to like that kind of change. That goes for change that comes forth as challenge in both large ways and small, as well as the less obvious invitations to grow. You know, like the promptings of the Holy Spirit? Those kinds of changes… are they so welcomed? Not always.

Having said all of that, I have long believed the words of a little wallet card that came into my possession in the mid-90’s. It read said, “Change always comes bearing gifts.” The moment I read those words, I immediately hated them. Yet, something in them caught my attention, the slightest little tug Continue reading

Yes or no? The Good Friday edition.

EDITmoab (1).jpgMy friend Kevin Ahern, who is a theologian and ethicist said this on Twitter on Holy Thursday. I found the photo and added the text to it as a reminder of what forms crucifixion comes in. Systematic violence is inherently challenging because it is systematic. We “need” to do this, what are the “alternatives” if we do not do this, we will “get” the bad guys, and so forth.

As Jesus Christ hung on a cross he was flanked by a cross on each side. Crucified next to him were two thieves, and to one, the one who asked for help, Christ promised heaven.

There is no reconciling or rationalizing violence and death. Even when it is done to us, did we not receive the greatest lesson in not retaliating? I get the desire to retaliate, but what about the consequences? What will we choose this Triduum? To follow the Prince of Peace, the great reconciler and restorer of order and good? Or will we follow the path of crucifixion and death? The choice is ours, even if we wait until the last minute. Yes or no? To crucify or to be crucified? Yes or no? What will we choose?

Yes or no? The Holy Thursday edition.

siegerkoder-washing-of-feetOn this Holy Thursday, let us remember that where there is charity and love, God is there. God is always present, but in charity and love, the presence of God is made real. To love others, to serve others, to walk courageously with Christ, no matter what we face… this is our way of life.

However, we all fall asleep, get distracted, we can’t face the hardest truths, we do not always love as we have been loved. Yet, all it takes is one moment in which our avoidance, our fear, our absence all turns towards the One. A single yes uttered in a sea littered with the refuse of a lifetime of no no no can change everything. It does not have to happen in church, it might be a hello to a stranger, coffee for a homeless person, opening the door for that annoying neighbor and inviting them in instead of pretending not to be home. The charity and love of the word yes, typically a yes uttered in the face of resistance is the inbreaking of the divine.

The simple repeated chant of this Ubi caritas from Taize is a prayer for all of us. Where will charity and love be present today? The answer lies with each of us. Love one another, serve one another. May the blessings of Holy Thursday and the Triduum be with you all, may the eternal love of Christ guide us today and always.

Ubi caritas et amor,
ubi caritas,
Deus ibi est.
(Where there is charity and love,
God is there.)

Bread line, Lent 1 short

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Seen in Spain, during Camino.

“I gotta put bread on the table!” How often has that line, or something like it been used to justify doing things? Doing things that go against what we know is right. Whether it is not honoring the Sabbath, completing a work assignment that has moral implications, missing time spent with family or loved one… you fill in the blank. We’ve all done it. We all do it.

Today’s Gospel is from Matthew show us Jesus is in the desert being tempted. It has to be hot, challenging, and lonely. He must be exhausted, hungry and thirsty. It would be easy to give in, it would be reasonable even. Right?

But is anything about a life of faith, a life following Christ, ever reasonable in the material sense? Think about that and you have your answer. This does not mean some intense over-scrupulosity that turns self-induced sacrifice into some kind of holy-making exercise. Instead, we are asked to keep God first in our sights and choose accordingly. It means trusting God when the last shred is about to tear away. It is that simple, which indeed that difficult. And it does not always work out in the way we wish for. There’s the rub.

How often do we do what we should not? What else can we do…  we don’t want to end up on the breadline, do we?

(I’m off of social media for Lent. What I am doing is posting a photo a day on Instagram, with a short reflection. Each one posts to Facebook automatically. If you are on Instagram, check it out.)

Can we follow?

gandhiimagesOn this day in 1948, the man who did more to show the world the power of non-violent resistance and peace was assassinated. That man was Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi used Jesus Christ as his inspiration and example, although he did not subscribe to the dogma of faith. He was a lifelong Hindu. His peace civil disobedience movement brought forth the freedom of India, once a colony of England.

He offers us an example to follow today. He followed Jesus more effectively than most of us. Can we follow now?

This scene from the 1981 film “Gandhi” is a powerful one indeed. Will we have the peaceful reserve that these people had? It was their fortitude as people of peace, not their weapons, that brought forth change. Can we follow this example? I hope so, because I think we are going to need it.