On the Inside; On the Outside
Once upon a time there was a little boy named Johnny. Johnny was always coming home late from playing outside.
One day his mom and dad had enough of it. They said, “Listen, Johnny! You never come home in time for supper. Your supper is always getting cold. We always have to warm it up for you, and this has got to stop. The next time you come home late, we’ll give you bread and water. That’s all. No butter, no peanut butter, no jelly; just plain bread and water.”
Well, the very next day Johnny came home late for supper again. He walked into the house and sat down at the supper table. His mom and dad, who had plates with meat and potatoes and vegetables in front of them, didn’t say a thing. They quietly gave Johnny a plate with some bread and a glass of water.
Johnny was crushed. He never thought his mom and dad would do such a thing. How could they? But he was wrong.
Johnny’s father waited for the lesson to sink in. Then, silently, he took his own plate full of meat and potatoes and vegetables, and put it in front of Johnny. Then he took Johnny’s plate and put it in front of himself.
Johnny is now a man. And not long ago someone asked him, “Do you know what God is like?” Johnny said, “I’ve known it all my life. I’ve known it ever since that night when my father switched plates.”
Each of us is called to love and serve God with all of our being and direct our whole lives to God, which includes our actions and choices. As a result, we should view the rest of Jesus’ teachings as helping us to love and come closer to God. We are to show God’s unceasing love for all people, which then enables us to see more fully God’s presence in the world.
If we can love God with our whole being – heart, soul, mind, and strength – everything else in our lives will flow forth from there.
I am always telling my wife Stephanie how much I love her. I tell her that my love for her burns with a fiery passion, that she completes me and makes me a better person, and that she fills me with joy and happiness every single day. And I often tell her that my love for her is so deep that she truly doesn’t know how much that I love her.
When I read today’s reading from St. Paul (Ephesians 3:14-21), I immediately thought not only of how much I love my wife, but also how much God loves us. And the similarities are quite amazing.
- Our relationships are rooted and grounded in love. We were made in the image and likeness of God. We were made out of love to love. God created us out of love and wants us to love others the way he loves us – unconditionally. That’s the same type of love that each of us longs for in any relationship.
- We can never fully comprehend the breadth and length and height and depth of that love. God’s love for us simply surpasses all knowledge. Just like when I tell Stephanie that she doesn’t know how much I love her, we cannot grasp how much God loves us – despite all our flaws. I often think that if I love my wife as much as I do, how much more does God love me? I cannot imagine and it simply blows my mind.
- We are filled with all the fullness of God. In other words, God completes us. Every longing is satisfied when we place ourselves in His divine presence. We are filled with joy and happiness and our hearts burn with a passion when we spend time with our God who loves us so much and desires to be with us (and is with us) every minute of every day. When we spend time with God in prayer, we become whole, complete, and one with our heavenly Father. That is a fullness that can never be emptied.
It’s no coincidence that God compares the love he has for us as the love that a bridegroom has for his bride: filled to the brim and forever overflowing, abundant with joy and happiness, growing deeper with each passing day, and always rooted and grounded in unconditional love.
We live in a crazy-busy world. We struggle to find time to do the things that are required of us, yet alone do things that we would like to do. Sometimes, life simply gets in the way of living. We find ourselves so preoccupied with duties and tasks that we often forget to take time for personal prayer. And when we do take time for prayer, we tend to jump right in and quickly jump right out again. We never seem to actually prepare ourselves for prayer: to find the right place, the right presence, and perhaps even the right material. We may not always find the right words to say, but saying The Lord’s Prayer is always a great place to start. As Jesus said, “This is how you are to pray: Read More
I can remember as a child playing hide and seek with my friends; and if I recall, we played it a lot! During the summer, we would play for what seemed like hours. (Looking back now, it was probably for only about 20 minutes tops.) Read More
Maybe it’s just me, but I’m getting really tired of those prescription drug commercials on TV. Now I don’t watch a lot of TV, but it seems like when I do, there are more and more of these drug companies advertising their particular drug. And it’s not that I’m bothered by the dancing elderly people, or the guy playing with his grand-daughter and her dog, or the frisky couple sitting in two separate bath tubs overlooking a lake; what gets me is the never-ending warning labels within those commercials. Here is an example of one I recently saw: Read More
While in deacon formation, one of our final steps before ordination was to meet with the diaconate board for final approval. The board was made up of both clergy and lay people and their primary responsibility was to make sure that we were prepared for ordained service to God’s people. I guess you could compare this to a final job interview – that lasted for more than four years.
The pressure was on, and I was feeling it. As I had mentioned before, I am a worrier, so this was an extremely stressful event in my life. We had a specified time to be there, so while I was waiting with my classmates, I felt pretty good about it all. One of my classmates emerged from his interview and stated that it was not so bad. But then another came out and said that it was a brutal experience. (They had two different groups interviewing us.) My stress level shot through the roof! I was feeling sick to my stomach, and apparently I was looking quite pale. Read More
Last weekend, my wife Stephanie and I along with our pastor took a group of 11 teens to the National Catholic Youth Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana. Today, I wanted to share with you our experience of this powerful three day pilgrimage. Read More
Is God really in our midst or not? Is God really here among us right now? Sometimes, we ask these questions in moments of great distress when we have suffered some terrible tragedy or we have fallen away from God in some way. We wonder, is God really with us? Read More
Back in the 1990’s there was a TV show called, “Hercules: the Legendary Journeys!” It featured the dashing Hercules, who went from town to town protecting innocent villagers from monsters, thieves, or the whims of the gods. There was also a movie called “Hercules” that came out this past July. Now, don’t feel bad if you don’t remember the TV show or you didn’t see the movie, because my homily won’t hinge on any plot lines. You don’t need to remember Hercules and his bulging muscles and flowing hair or any of the cheesy monsters. You just need to remember this one thing: the Greek gods were portrayed as detached beings who cared very little about the men and women below. Read More