Light

Light from pastIn today’s Gospel Jesus tells us – yes, us – that we are the light of the world.

“Just so, your light must shine before others,
that they may see your good deeds
and glorify your heavenly Father.”

The photo at the top is one that I took in Amsterdam this past December. At he time this light display of words both intrigued and bothered me.  It was part of a citywide light show done each December, and this particular display was meant to explain the physics of light.

True enough, light from the past is indeed solid science, but the thought of light being from the past also gave me a sense of hopelessness. What about now, right now? Were is the light? It can be hard to see.

Today it hit me, light from the past illuminates the present. If we – yes, we – are not light today, who will illuminate tomorrow? We are indeed the light of the world and our good deeds brighten the present and light the way ahead. The words from Psalm 119:105 spring to mind, “your words are a lamp unto my feet, a light for my path.”  As the Word illumines our way, our deeds a a light for others.

The light is everywhere, it is from the past. The will be in the present and future, will you be there for it?

Love all things that are

2501-f4f1eToday’s Gospel is one of my favorites. Luke tells us the story of Zacchaeus. Most of us know by now that Zacchaeus has seemingly sold his tax-collector soul the Romans, and was much hated by his neighbors in Jericho.  He knows Jesus is passing through town and for whatever reason – to hide from him, or to see him, Zacchaeus gets up in those branches. I always imagine Danny DeVito playing the role if a movie were ever made! Can’t you just see it?

Jesus, being Jesus obviously spots Zacchaeus. Instead of castigating him as an outcast and sinner, instead of ignoring him or denying him, he does the typically unthinkable Jesus thing and says:

“Zacchaeus, come down quickly,
for today I must stay at your house.”

Continue reading

Bawana yu Nawe

Bro Mickey Swahili Mary

Reprinted with permission of the artist, Bro. Mickey O’Neill McGrath, OSFS

“Bawana yu Nawe” is Swahili for ” the Lord is with you.” If we believe in God, if we follow Christ, do we believe that the Lord is with us, but not with others?

Today on Sunday, January 14, 2018, Pope Francis presided at mass for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees. Among other things, he said this:

I wish to reaffirm that “our shared response may be articulated by four verbs: to welcome, to protect, to promote and to integrate.”

How are we called to do those things in our own lives? The first thing might just be to pray, especially if we feel fearful or challenged, and to ask God to open the door to our hearts. As that door opens, the first migrant enters – it is Christ himself.

That is what is meant by the words “the Lord is with you.” With YOU. With ME. With EVERYONE. That literally means every single person, every single human born unto this earth. Everyone, without exception. What we do with that migrant Christ who presses in need upon the door of our heart is up to us.

The Lord is indeed with us all, but it is up to us to let God in. What will we do? Block the way, or fling wide the gate? Will we cite laws and resources? Will we claim fear of the “other?” Or will we, as Pope Francis asks us to, “welcome, protect, promote, and integrate?” These are all verbs, requiring action. We can sit and fret, or we can get up and do what the apostles did in today’s Gospel – get up and go, follow Christ. To do that means to bring down the barriers of fear, and to spring into movement. It does not mean we will not be afraid as we go, it means that we know the Lord is leading the way, so we will follow. Remember –“Bawana yu Nawe.”

Other lands – an Independence Day reflection

160512_WeThePeopleHappy 4th of July – Independence Day. Today I am thinking about freedom. And yes, I am one of those people who vehemently dislikes patriotic songs at church. *shudders* The Star Spangled Banner, God Bless America, and the Battle Hymn of the Republic – absolute no. America the Beautiful – maybe.  If there is to be singing on or around a national holiday, I will always go with Finlandia, also known as (among other things) “This is My Song.”

Ironically, the song was written in a burst of Finnish nationalism by composer Jean Sebelius in the late 1800’s in response to the encroachment of the Russians. Here we are in 2017, with our bursts of nationalism somehow fused with the encroachment of the Russians, but I digress, and that’s another post for another day.

In any case, the words sung to Continue reading

Personal desert

EDIT Somewhere between Logrono and Najera Sep 2016I’m enjoying being off of Facebook for Lent, and spending my time on Instagram with one post per day; a photo and a mini-reflection. You will have to head over to my Instagram feed, or to my Facebook page (where my Instagram auto posts) to read my reflection for today. Essentially, I am thinking about Jesus instructing us to love our enemies.

Hardest. Thing. Ever.

I’ll gladly take a long walk with a heavy cross on my back than to do this. Yet, I try to constantly push myself to do so. I suck at it, by the way. Big time.

It occurs to me that part of the problem is my own lack of willingness to look at the enemy within. Of course I am well aware of that enemy, but my inner looking often results in things like my own defensiveness about myself, my shame, and my superhuman strength at avoiding and denial. I’m great at that stuff. Big time.

All of this is an invitation to me, a good deal of which is more clear this Lent because I am spending less time “talking” via Facebook. Painful is my awareness this Lent that the driest and most arid desert is often found deep within my own heart. Thus, the gifts of death and new life are made clear, but only if I am willing to keep going.

What does your inner search Please be assured of my prayers as we ply our way through deserts of our own making. God offers us so much more, but even for those of us who say we will follow, do we really?

Fear? Or faith?

popefrancis-fear-tyrannyOn Saturday I walked to church and listened to a podcast. The thing in the podcast that struck me the most was just how powerful a motivator fear can be. Having already read the mass readings, which address fear and other things, and I began to think about fear in our time. It is not all that different than fear in any other time; it just seems worse because we are bombarded with so much information.

So what are we afraid of? Continue reading

Soy un perdedor

soy-un-perdedor-im-a-loser-baby-so-y-dont-u-kill-meChrist was crucified, a death that the Roman occupiers saved for the very worst of the worst. It was truly a scandal. On either side of him, hung a criminal. He was the ultimate loser.

220px-The_Crucifixion_Christ_on_the_Cross_between_two_thieves_(f._80)_CroppedJesus came in peace, tending to the ones at the margins. His focus was on the wounded and the weak, the poor and the powerless, any who were rejected. Power was available to him, the worldly kind of power that puts one in charge with a very strong sense of authority. A certain less savory one tried to tempt him with this; it did not work. Offered all the worldly power and he rejects it? What kind of loser?

BlochJesusTemptedChrist washed the feet of the disciples, something they originally protested. He was pretty clear about what he was doing and why, so the washing ensued. Creepy – he bends down to wash his followers feet? Weird. Loser.Jesus-washing-feet-03

We are called to lives of humility and service. The power given to us in Christ is the power of servant leadership. We are not called to go backward in time, to restore what we might believe was good or great. The pilgrim path of Jesus invites us ever forward, ultimately from life into death. Who would do that? Loser.

Jesus could have smashed everyone and everything in his path to make his point as he lived his public ministry. Yet, he never went that way, did he? Yeah- he turned the tables over in the temple, and he seemed pretty ticked off. Um, it was the money lenders (read: moneymakers) that he lost it with. He did not side with the money people. He must be some kind of loser.

I have been accused, out loud and certainly silently, of being very preachy. Guilty as charged. I’m just a person with a blog, typing out a few words, and expressing what Christ is as far as I am concerned. Yeah – I am a loser.

I know, I am sounding all preachy again. For the record, I am largely speaking directly to myself. My own Christian life is a series of lather, rinse, repeat moments because I don’t have it quite right. Yeah yeah yeah – and I’m still doing it wrong, like a real… loser.

So here we go, step by step, forward on the road to Calvary. It will suck, be assured of that, but it is the only way, and what follows? Who would walk to their certain death, giving it all away? A loser I guess.

Below you will find one of my favorite songs, expressed in video with lyrics. You may not think one can find God in there, but I do – Christ in all things. You may not see it, but what can I tell you? I’m a loser, soy un perdador.