scripture

On the Inside; On the Outside


 

Unrecognized Identity

Posted by | Everyday Life | No Comments

Has this ever happened to you? You are in a grocery store, the mall, maybe even taking your dog for a walk, and someone comes up to you all smiles and beaming eyes. They say “Hey! How have you been? It’s been such a long time. You look great.” You look deep in their eyes and you think for a second and the truth begins to sink in….you have no idea who this person is. This is truly embarrassing to say the least. Unfortunately, this happens to me more times than I care to admit. I have met so many people through the church and sometimes the face looks familiar but the name escapes me. I think we’ve all had a case of an unrecognized identity at one time or another in our lives. Read More

Off the Rails

Posted by | Discipleship | No Comments

In 1980, Ozzy Osbourne released a song called “Crazy Train.” In this song, Ozzy asks when we can all learn to love in a world gone mad:

Crazy, but that’s how it goes
Millions of people living as foes.
Maybe it’s not too late
To learn how to love, and forget how to hate.

Mental wounds not healing,
Life’s a bitter shame;
I’m goin’ off the rails on a crazy train.
I’m goin’ off the rails on a crazy train.

What the apostles were doing in today’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 5:27-33) must have seemed a little crazy to much of the surrounding world. The Pharisees and leaders certainly seem to think this. Drawing attention to the public proclamation of Jesus as Lord was indeed crazy.

The apostles preach the gospel, encounter imprisonment, are miraculously released, and immediately get back to preaching the gospel – in the exact same place their message seemed to fail the first time! Crazy, right?

How often are we eager to shake the dust off our feet when opposition to our faithfulness arises? There is a time for counting our losses and moving on, but our scripture encourages us to return to those hard places, to keep at the work of faithfulness, and to proclaim the good news again regardless of the results we see. Twice the apostles preached in the temple. Twice they were arrested. Once they were flogged. And yet, Acts 5 concludes with the apostles rejoicing in their sufferings and preaching in the temple every single day.

Too often, discouragement and indifference creep in, and we cease to proclaim and live the gospel. When we find the strength to obey God’s commands and respond to the promptings of the Spirit, God becomes more present in our lives.

Let us get off of our crazy train and persevere in our faith. If we strive to become witnesses and partakers in God’s joy, we will never go off the rails.

The Cocoon of Self-Absorption

Posted by | Emotions/Feelings | No Comments

One of the many wonders of nature is a cocoon. A caterpillar encloses itself in a type of tomb and then emerges transformed and flies through the air in the form of a beautiful butterfly. We view this as a type of death and resurrection.

An image for the Gospel today is that of a cocoon. Rather than a transformation into beauty, we witness a deformation into misery. The Gospel never says that this rich man committed any crime, but it seems that he is just so overly focused on himself that he cannot see beyond his clothes, his meals and his own doorstep. His wealth is something that he spends on himself and not something he shares with others. He is so tightly woven into his cocoon that he cannot seem to break out.

This disturbing parable tells us to not be absorbed with ourselves, to pay attention, and to wake up. We need to remember that our possessions are not owned by us, but loaned to us. They are entrusted to us; not only that we can meet our basic needs, but also so that we can help others. St. Augustine described sin as being caved in on oneself. Sin closes us in on ourselves and charity draws us out of ourselves and that is where we find joy.

We’re instructed to pay attention to Moses and the prophets; that is, to pay attention to God’s word given to us in the Scriptures and by Jesus.

And we need to wake up because most of us at times can be like the rich man. And the five brothers – they represent us too. We are not to expect some sort of personalized message, but should instinctively live out our faith by loving God and our neighbor. Actions have consequences, and so do our inactions. We can sin by what we do but we can also sin by what we fail to do.

This Lent, let us pray that we receive the grace to not be imprisoned in the cocoon of self-absorption. Rather, let us strive to live generous and joyful lives not selfishly but selflessly.

Do You Understand What You Are Reading?

Posted by | Everyday Life | No Comments

Have you ever noticed on the back of a hotel door, they post information about your hotel rate as well as instructions of what to do in case of a fire? Ever since I was a member of the fire evacuation team at my former job, this is something that I always check out when I stay at a hotel. I want to share an actual description from one such hotel: Read More

In God We Doubt?

Posted by | Everyday Life | No Comments

Have you ever accidentally missed a big moment? It feels terrible! You got distracted right before your child scored a goal. You missed the winning touchdown because your cellphone rang. You were driving to the hospital to witness the birth of a grandchild, and the baby arrived before you did. Maybe you missed the two Popes being canonized this morning because you overslept. It’s a terrible feeling, and this is exactly how Thomas feels in today’s Gospel (John 20:19-31). Read More

Listening to God’s Voice

Posted by | Prayer | No Comments

Have you ever wondered what God is saying to us? Are we even listening? Many of us feel as if we can’t hear God, and as a listen222result we walk around aimless, clueless, and lost. What we need to do is to ask if the words of Jeremiah apply to us (Jeremiah 7:23-28). How carefully do we listen? How well do we carry out the will of God in our lives? How clearly can we discern the presence of God in our daily lives?

To help answer these questions, here are five steps that we need to follow to help us walk in God’s ways: Read More

Recognizing Jesus

Posted by | Everyday Life | No Comments

Have you ever noticed that when you attend your class reunion that we do not always recognize a former classmate? It happens to the best of us. There could be a number of reasons why this happens: perhaps the person added some pounds over the years, has a new hairstyle (or even lack of hair), or maybe even that they had a little plastic surgery done. But then you hear a familiar laugh or see a gesture that tips you off to his or her identity. It is that “aha” moment that makes everything clear. Read More

Shortest Sermon Ever!!!

Posted by | Prayer | No Comments

Sunday’s Gospel reading from Luke (Luke 4:14-21) is a hard text to get your head around from preaching. There is no dramatic story for me to break down, no wise and confusing parable for me to explain, nor is there a dramatic miracle that takes place that I can talk about. This is a simple short story about Christ’s first sermon. Read More

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