Sunday, March 2, 2014

Mom! Don't Forget Me!


Zion said, “The LORD has forsaken me;
my LORD has forgotten me.”
Can a mother forget her infant,
be without tenderness for the child of her womb?
Even should she forget,
I will never forget you.

-Isaiah 49:14-15

The love of a parent for a child is such a powerful force. It can change and transform a child into a beautiful and wonderful person. That love can help a child grow, overcome adversity, heal a wound, accept a reality, cause a child to keep fighting and most importantly can cause a child to become  an adult. The knowledge that becomes passed down will hopefully enlighten and inspire. The love that is passed down will hopefully change and transform for the better.

I think of my own mom and dad who have caused me to grow. Dad challenges me to strive for better, to not settle and to think of the future. Mom challenges me to be present to the person who needs my love the most, to consider others in my life first and to learn how to run a home. I am an intelligent person and I wonder how much of that is attributed to my mother who never doubted for a second that I was anything but that.

Now I think of that love of a parent and the Lord tells us through Isaiah that your parent will forget you before I will... wow that is powerful. Imagine a love even greater, a love that seeks to protect you, envelope you and develop you. A love that accepts you as well as pushes you to become more than what you currently are. A love that says, "Be not afraid!' Another way to say that is "do not limit yourself! Be limitless! Do not hold yourself back by fear and live with the pain of regret. Seek to live life to the fullest and make everyone else's life better in the process. Share my love with everyone!" Love is so powerful that it is the very fabric of the universe itself.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Stop Complaining!


Do not complain, brothers and sisters, about one another, that you may not be judged. 
Behold, the Judge is standing.
-James 5:9

I used to really love to complain. It gave some sort of superiority to whatever I was talking about. Whether it was about how things are done at a job, other people, politics, food, TV shows just about anything really. I would sit as if I was a great and experienced chef as I would say my Chicken Nuggets are not as tender as they were last week. Or I would watch a movie as if I was a famous a critic and complain about the main actor driving a motorcycle into a helicopter. Or I would even complain about people not doing what I think is best for them but what is what is best for me.

At this point in my life I have a rule. I will allow someone to complain about something once, they get free venting at no charge; then after that if they complain to me again about something I say, "well what have you done to change this. " If the response is I can't or no I haven't then I say then I don't want to hear it. I find it very helpful to do this especially for myself. When I get into one of my complaining modes I say, What have you done to change this? Then stop complaining about it. Unless you are willing to do something about it then it really doesn't bother you that much. Come back when you are willing to do something different than just complain.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Those Greedy Pigs


Why is this so disturbing?

Behold, the wages you withheld from the workers who harvested your fields are crying aloud, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts.

-James 5:4

When I first read the reading this morning it really ... bothered me. I am not sure what it was that got to me. Maybe it was the anti-rich comments that did not seem to be qualified. Is St. James talking about a specific kind of rich person? All rich people? Maybe he was anti-capitalist but capitalism did not exist yet. So I was not really too sure. And then I thought that I could either read this Scripture and point to other people who I feel need to hear this or I could look and see how I need to change; since The Lord taught me better I chose the latter and not the former. 

There is always a learning point for your growth in the Scriptures.

I thought about what passage stood out for me when I read this and the one under the picture stood out for me. I read it and thought about from whom do I withhold. Do I give people all my attention? Do I put my best effort forward for people or task that I am given? Do I show people I love them and not just say it? There are so many ways I can be withholding. I end up becoming that greedy pig who is scared to lose what he had amassed. I do not want to a greedy person. I want to be a life giving person. Someone who is guided by the Love that is shown to me in Jesus. I don't want to be the swine but rather be the One who can share his life with all.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Let Love Take Over


Then he sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them,
“If anyone wishes to be first,
he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.”
Taking a child, he placed it in their midst,
and putting his arms around it, he said to them,
“Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me;
and whoever receives me,
receives not me but the One who sent me.”

-Mark 9:35-37

The other day I saw a child running to their mother. The Little girl had such a look of joy like she didn't care at all what anyone thought. She had a look of complete focus on her mother and was blinded by the joy she was experiencing. All I thought was, when was the last time I felt like that. When was the last time I ran up to someone and just gave them a huge hug with my whole person. When was the last time I let myself be that vulnerable and let love take over me completely...

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Offer is Still on the Table


Then Jesus questioned the boy's father,
“How long has this been happening to him?” 
The father replied, “Since childhood.
It has often thrown him into fire and into water to kill him.
But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”
Jesus said to him,
“‘If you can!’ Everything is possible to one who has faith.”
Then the boy’s father cried out, “I do believe, help my unbelief!”
Jesus, on seeing a crowd rapidly gathering,
rebuked the unclean spirit and said to it,
“Mute and deaf spirit, I command you:
come out of him and never enter him again!”
Shouting and throwing the boy into convulsions, it came out.
He became like a corpse, which caused many to say, “He is dead!”
But Jesus took him by the hand, raised him, and he stood up.

-Mark 9:21-27

Could you imagine Jesus wants to do this to you? I don't know, I hear a lot about these "miracles" in the "Gospels" and I just "start" to needlessly use "air quotes" and it creates doubt in your mind. Seriously though the Gospels are filled miracles and let's say if you or I really believed in the miracles. I mean like really believed. Not in exaggerations or dumbing them down but just took them as face value. That this powerful human being Jesus, who healed and raised the dead, is offering us the same exact relationship to those healed back then. It is a scary thought.  It takes a while to grasp that because we have to think of the consequences of such a belief.

What does it mean for me to healed? What does it mean that Jesus wants to heal a part of you like your wounded self-esteem, or your self-destructive tendency? And even more importantly he wants to tell that part of you, "I command you: come out of him and never enter him again." That is a powerful person who if offering you something really incredible! And why don't we accept this again?

Monday, February 24, 2014

God Pulls No Punches


You shall not bear hatred for your brother or sister in your heart.
Though you may have to reprove your fellow citizen,
do not incur sin because of him.
Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against any of your people.
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
I am the LORD.
-Leviticus 19:17-18

This is from the book of Leviticus and gets deepened by Jesus in the Gospel. I always find it weird when people say that Jesus in the New Testament is kinder and more loving that the God of the Old Testament. I do not think that is true at all. They are both echoing the same message it just sounds different when they are saying it. The same God of the Old and New calls us to the same honesty, to the same love and to the same discipline. The main difference is that when Jesus does it, He tells us to go deeper. And so people see Jesus and the God of the Old Testament as being but we have to remember this one important fact which everyone seems to forget:


If we put on a some kind of front when reading the Scriptures or in prayer, by pretending to be someone we are not then what is the point? The challenges we encounter in the Scriptures, when read honestly, challenge us to reconcile with our brothers and sisters. So if I read parts of the Old Testament and faced some of the challenges that were presented to me, then I should be different. If I was honest enough...

When being honest about how I treat people there is always room for improvement. Our God loves us enough to want us to grow. He shows us the truth in a very simple way: Love your neighbor as yourself.

His message is very simple and pure. When we hear it though it is like getting a punch to the faith/face because you have to ask yourself, "do I even love my neighbor? Do I even know who my neighbor is? Is this how I love myself? Do I even know who I am?" If our outer world is a reflection of our inner world then there has to be a connection with how we treat others, how we treat ourselves and ultimately how we relate to God. Be grateful we have a God who pulls no punches.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Be the Example


Do not lord it over those assigned to you,
but be examples to the flock.

-1 Peter 5:3

I was really hooked on Breaking Bad. The directing, cinematography, acting, writing, plot twist were all excellent. Every part of that show was great. What I truly loved about the show was the plot. It felt like a villain origin story. Here was a man dealt a bad hand and made the worst of it. Basically the show was the systematic breakdown of a decent person to very disturbing person. No one's life was better because they knew him. It was a unique story that is not told much any more.

Does not glorify evil.

In the current American culture we can easily point to the glorification of drugs and drug dealers. The popularization of characters like Scarface shows this. It is as if our culture says, "Want to make fast money? Then become a drug dealer." It reminds me of Romeo and Juliet. We use them as an example of love but many forget that they died three days after knowing each other. We need better role models.  It seems like the culture is brainwashing people to only focus on the NOW, on this next immediate pleasure that can be received. The words of St. Peter are very powerful today. Be the example to others. Do not be the drug dealer, but become someone who can help others grow and be transformed by your own growth and transformation. I think what I enjoyed most about Breaking Bad is that it gave me a very vivid image of what not to do with my life.

Friday, February 21, 2014

This One is Simple


However, if you fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture,
You shall love your neighbor as yourself, you are doing well.
-James 2:8

What is there to explain?

Thursday, February 20, 2014

I'm Religious not Spiritual?


Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: 
to care for orphans and widows in their affliction 
to keep oneself unstained by the world.
-James 1:26-27

"Religion is the problem." I never enjoy it when when people bash religion. This statement makes me cringe. "I am spiritual not religious." How come a person cannot be both? I don't see them as either-or, but as two in the same. I am not sure how those terms are defined. I guess religious is defined in terms of following an organized religion, and spiritual is when a person is not part of any organized religion, but prays to a higher power or deeper consciousness. I guess I don't see how you can be religious and not spiritual and vice-versa. It is just counter productive to follow a set of rules for no reason whatsoever. On the other hand to say you connect to something deeper without some way to check and balance your beliefs just seems incomplete. Believing more in oneself rather than in something bigger than oneself does not seem like the ideal way to live.

I think to be a religious person requires a mind that seeks to know the meaning of your actions. You, ideally, would commit actions deliberately and with sincerity. You have trained yourself to realize that the intent behind every moment is significant. You have developed an understanding that your actions have effects in the physical realm as well as the spiritual. And it is in committing actions with powerful intentions that one is able to transcend from the moment.

A spiritual person can breathe in the Divine at every moment, hopefully. It is about being able to see deeper connections, feel more empathy, love more deeply because we have realized just how close we are to everything. I think many can read about spiritual experiences and try to mimic another's experience, but to sustain it requires rituals. I do not think that one can sustain this kind of spiritual intensity without religion. I mean let's face it, there are just as many phony spiritual people as there are phony religious. Wearing linen does not a spiritual person make. When you are able to connect with God through rituals and sharing your love with others, it seems that you are on the road to becoming a complete and unified person.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

I'm Slipping!


When I say, “My foot is slipping,”
your mercy, O LORD, sustains me;
When cares abound within me,
your comfort gladdens my soul. 
-Psalm 94:18-19

I am so glad that I can make mistakes and learn from them. Slipping is not a sin yet we feel self-conscious about it because it is these mistakes that reminds us that we are not perfect. It takes a lot of hard work to realize to uproot the idea of being perfect. When Jesus calls us to be perfect like our Heavenly Father, I believe He is calling us to live an authentic life. He calls us to live a life where we do not have duplicity. It is not an error free life but a life where one truly lives by their principles.
Acceptance and Help.

There is something very comforting in acceptance. To be able to let go of how we think something should be and to live with it the way it actually is a grace. It is something that comes from a wound that needs healing. It comes from a person who realizes that self-medication has not worked, is no longer working and will work no longer. To accept the healing from a higher power or something bigger than us is the most basic step of having faith. To accept that I need help and to have the courage to ask for help is a very beautiful thing. I believe these are two huge steps a person needs to take if they want to take the spiritual life seriously. The third step would be gratitude.

Monday, February 17, 2014

People who are that powerful do not serve others.


The Pharisees came forward and began to argue with Jesus,
seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him.
He sighed from the depth of his spirit and said,
“Why does this generation seek a sign?
Amen, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.”
Then he left them, got into the boat again,
and went off to the other shore.
Mark 8:11-13

This is a very unsettling image. This image of Jesus walking away from you because you do not want His help at all. When we set up our belief on a conditional system then we cannot be upset when the outcome backfire. "If you will do this for me God then I will believe in you." The "test" of the Pharisees did not seem that it was about personal transformation for the them or about a deeper awareness of the mystery of God. This was about seeing if Jesus would fit into their understanding of who God is. A different way to say that would be, "my God does this and acts this way and if he does not do this or that, then I will not believe in Him." Their God is in a tiny box in their life and Jesus tends to break all barriers and categories. That is why so many people try to label him differently. Some say he was just a prophet, others say a good person, some say he was  revolutionary, or some say he was an angel! What makes him so difficult to categorize is that out understanding of what it means to be human and our understanding of who God is, is so limiting. Here is an example:

Jesus did this:

Raising the dead.

And Jesus did this:

Washing the feet of Peter

Jesus has the power over life and death. He can bring people back from the dead. He is a very, very,very, powerful man. He also washes the feet of his disciples; a task of the lowest servant. How can this exist in one man. So he would seem like a god because he raises the dead but what kind of God washes peoples's feet? These two concepts are in contradiction to each other for this reason: 

People who are that powerful do not serve others. 

Everything that the world teaches us is that people who have power very rarely ever serve. When we see it now in our culture such as politicians it is usually a political stunt for recognition, or something that happens on a special holiday. Most people who have power might serve by being on a board to help advise or make a huge donation of money, but nothing on the level of what Jesus did to Peter. He was the main that Peter left everything for to follow and here is that man doing the lowest possible task any human could do at that time. Here is another way to look at it: What did Jesus gain from doing this? What benefit could this have given Jesus?  I still do not know.

With all that in mind, go back to the first picture of this post and imagine Jesus walking away from you. And all because you did not want to change your belief that God might be more than what you think.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Whichever He Chooses Shall Be Given HIm.


Before man are life and death, good and evil,
whichever he chooses shall be given him.
-Sirach 15:17

Sometimes I feel paralyzed by all the choices that are available. How can you decided which path to take? What path to follow? What job to accept? What kind of toothpaste to buy? I think it is something deeper. I think it is the consequences of those actions that can be scary. Saying yes to one thing and no to so many other choices. I have heard people say that this is the "Tyranny of Choice." So if I can't see what the best option is should I just sit still until the choice is made for me? I feel like that is something that I used to do and I no longer want to live like that.

The other way to look at it could be you have been given a tremendous gift. You have a choice of how to live your life and the person you want to become. You have a choice to bring Love to everyone's life. I think about this when I meet people who are just hurtful by their actions and presence. I think about whether I will be another person who adds to the pain this person is feeling in their life. It is a very easy reaction to have when someone seem like they are baiting you. The question, for me, becomes simply, will I choose to share the life of God or will I take a small piece of life from someone? Whatever we choose will happen. I think what makes choice so terrifying is all the power in choice to create the reality we choose to experience.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

This Miracle Didn't Happen


He ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground.
Then, taking the seven loaves he gave thanks, broke them,
and gave them to his disciples to distribute,
and they distributed them to the crowd.
They also had a few fish.
He said the blessing over them
and ordered them distributed also.
They ate and were satisfied.
They picked up the fragments left over–seven baskets.
There were about four thousand people.
- Mark 6-9

"You know this miracle didn't really happen right?" Someone told me this one day about this miracle. 
"What do you mean?" I said.
"Well Jesus didn't really multiply the food. He just broke what he was given, handled it out and every was inspired to share their food! Everyone already had their own food with them and they all shared their food with each other! The real miracle was that he taught people to share!" Now I am not sure what happened next. The next thing I remember was waking up in the hospital and the doctor told me that I was knocked unconscious because my eyes rolled so far back in my head that they almost caused brain damage. I keep thinking of Ralph Wiggim from the Simpsons. "The real miracle is sharing!"

Would you like to share my paste? Its a miracle!

I just remember thinking that God was a kindergarten teacher or something. I just thought, no, my God is bigger than that. Why couldn't Jesus do this? He is so in tune with the physical and spiritual laws that govern the universe because he is sinless  AND God, why couldn't He do this? Why couldn't Jesus tap into spiritual dimension and reshape and form the same matter that baker used to make the food? Jesus just did it differently. We are talking about one of the highest spiritually realized individuals who have ever graced the planet and we do not think he could do something as simple as make more food? So Jesus can become incarnate, take our sins upon Himself, suffer, die, open the gates of heaven and RESURRECT, but he can't make more food; that's crazy!!!! St. Augustine has a great quote about miracle: 

Miracles do not happen in contradiction with nature, 
but in contradiction with what we know about nature. 
-St. Augustine

Friday, February 14, 2014

Just Tell Someone You Love Them


Just Tell Someone You Love Them!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Like is Father Before Him...


When Solomon was old his wives had turned his heart to strange gods,
and his heart was not entirely with the LORD, his God,
as the heart of his father David had been.
-1 Kings 11:4

(Totally misread the reading this morning and the misreading is what I meditated on. The passage sounds like it could mean either David's heart was not entirely with the Lord or David's heart was entirely with the Lord. Irregardless! I'm keeping it!)  

Everyday I see how I am becoming more like my father. It is a bittersweet. I have his strengths like his humor, blunt nature, and his ingenuity but I have some of his negatives as well. I have similar mannerism, inflections in speech, and expressions he uses. It is not the positive that concerns me but the negative, obviously. I believe that the unresolved issues of the parent are inherited by their children. These issues keep playing out and can cause some self-destructive behavior in the child; we call this original sin. No one is born into a vacuum and since everything effects everything else, the child needs to resolve this or it will repeated again. We have the example of children whose parents have a drug addiction and the child is born with the very same drug addiction.

Many people will say, "How could this happen? Why would God let this happen? Why do the innocent suffer?" These question, though asked with the best intentions, do not really apply to this situation because the problem is sin. The problem is self-destruction. I think people do not want to believe that sin is THAT powerful; that sin has no real effect on us. In talking to people I hear a kind very scary philosophy:

Here is the good version of the philosophy, 
"Things are not well right now but everything will work themselves out in the end." 

Here is the very scary version of that philosophy,
"Since everything will work out in the end, I can do whatever I want."

Two VERY different approaches. The second one does not care about consequences and/or who they hurt. The second philosophy is lived out by people and everyone has to deal with these consequences. Everyone has the chance to change or as Jesus would say, repentance. We can end cycles of abuse, addiction, and self destruction, it is not easy, but it is very, very, possible. Jesus invites us to live a life-giving life by breaking all that binds us; by making a choice to change.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014



“But what comes out of the man, that is what defiles him. From within the man, from his heart, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly. All these evils come from within and they defile.”

-Mark 7: 20-23

Jesus seems to be telling us that it is not the circumstances that forces us to take certain actions but it is our own choices to do these actions. It is much harder for me to admit that something is my fault than to be honest about something. I don't think you can know God without being honest. You just end up believing in a "god" that never challenges you, just reinforces and enables you. It ends up becoming a "god" that is made in your image and likeness and not the other way around. Jesus does not do those actions he says are evil. We do not need to think that Jesus supports EVERYTHING we do, but instead supports us when we are honest and  want to be life-giving people.  He supports us in when we seek to remove sin, and self-destruction and he supports us when we show mercy and are honest. He loves us enough not to help us in continuing to believe the lies we tell ourselves. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A Day in Your Courts


My soul yearns and pines 
for the courts of the LORD.
My heart and my flesh
cry out for the living God. 
I had rather one day in your courts
than a thousand elsewhere;
I had rather lie at the threshold of the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
-Psalm 84: 3, 11

The language is very different from the Biblical Times to now. How does one begin to translate this for today's ears? The idea of a royal court in today's post-post- modern setting is something that is out of the experience for most people. I know if I compared it to the White House that I would definitely not want to spend a 1,000 days there. If I had to translate this for me I think my court would consist of a series of my favorite restaurants all lined up. Each one had window seating available and some amazing friends that I can enjoy my life with. Living the best with the best! My heart and soul cry out for the Living God and for those who live his message out in their life. To spend time with people who love God and do not have a myopic view of life. To be able to be with different people and see how God woke them up from their life. To hear beautiful stories of how the Lord worked in their life WITH good food! That sounds like heaven to me! I never sit to think of what heaven will be like. Maybe it is something everyone could spend some time reflecting on. I do hope it does not mean court like a basketball court because I am not very good at basketball :/

Monday, February 10, 2014

Bring Your Stuff


They scurried about the surrounding country,
and began to bring the sick on mats
to wherever they heard he was.
- Mark 6: 55

One of the themes today is bring something to the Lord. In the First Reading the ark of the covenant is brought to God and in the Second reading the sick are brought to the Lord. If the Lord takes priority in our life then we will bring to him something or someone who is very important. I think about this especially when I go to mass. How am I contributing to the Liturgy or to this Church? Do come expecting to give  or to receive? When I speak to the Lord in prayer do I come with open arms or with a shopping list? I think these are tough questions, but when you want to be transformed by your faith you tend to ask deeper questions.

Our faith is about being transformed by love. It is about the process of bringing something to God and He changes it to become something much greater than can ever be imagined. Some people bring their family members, some bring their dreams, some bring their needs and wants; but you are not some. Those are not bad things to bring but the Lord also wants to change you. If original sin or self-destruction is something that the Lord wants to uproot in our hearts then let him. It is not something selfish but is something beautiful. You are called to the same healing that the sick ones on the mat received. Don't let someone else bring you for the healing, bring yourself! Make your wellness a priority that way you bring even more people to the Lord! Be the person who can help people meet the true God because the true God is someone you know personally. Remember, in our faith, it is not what you know but Who you know.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Live Your Life as Honestly as You Can


I came to you in weakness and fear and much trembling, and my message and my proclamation were not with persuasive words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of Spirit and power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God.
1 Cor 2:3-5

I have come to see how right St. Paul is because of experiences of my life. I have come to learn that your faith must rest on the power of God and not on pretty words and arguments. Looking back on my life I can see how I came to the faith in stages. I learned many different key concepts that made my understanding of God take shape. I will expand on it more over time, but for now here is the short version. It started when I came back to believing in God after being atheist for a number of years. Studying philosophy and theology made me make an intellectual choice. I came to know the role of a, Christian, or a follower of Jesus, through reading the book The Wounded Healer. I came to know the suffering Christ in my depression. I came to know the healing power of God through the healing of my depression and the healing of my relationship with my father. It was living in the monastery that taught me to accept others as they are which in turn taught me to accept myself as I am. The deeper connections always happened when I saw the faith being lived out. So I guess my message today is really simple. Practice your faith because you never know who it will inspire on any part of their journey. Live you life as honestly as you can. Always be a witness to the power of God in your life. 

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Keep your pity, unless...


When Jesus disembarked and saw the crowd,
His heart was moved with pity for them,
for they were like a sheep without a shepherd,
and he began to teach them many things.
-Mark 6:34

KEEP YOUR PITY!!!! Wait, whose pity is it? Oh its from Jesus! Yeah I will take that pity! NO PROBLEM!!! Aww yeah!

If it was 14 years ago, then I would have agreed with this poster. I would think, I am not weak! You're weak! I would always look at weakness as something to crush and get rid of from your life. 14 years later I am weak in some different areas and some of the same areas. Weakness I can work with and in weakness the Lord meets me there. Weakness becomes strength when one can say, I need help here. This is different than a self-imposed limitation which says that nothing can be done about a situation. In limitations one chooses to believe that no other outcome is possible. Weakness say, "I can do something, it will take me a longer time, and it can be done."

God loves your weakness.

God can work with weakness. In fact God loves to work with weakness because when you are weak, you know you need to draw from a different source for strength. The Lord is that strength and these are usually the key moments when we realize that we need God. God loves to work with weakness because it is one of the few times we are honest enough to admit that we need help. Ego is dispensed for a moment and God is let in. When Jesus sees the people like a sheep without a shepherd, it is that moment when he knows they are ready to receive Him. The sheep knows it needs help and it is scared because there is no one to protect it and guide it. It is that moment of realization that is need for a real encounter with God. It is always better to be honest than positive.

 It is always better to be honest than positive. 

And whatever you do, do not be like this sheep!

Friday, February 7, 2014

The Decision to Share Life


"But as for the seed that fell on rich soil, they are the one, who when they heard the word, embrace it with generous and good heart, and bear fruit through perseverance."
-Luke 8:15

In the parable of the sower the seed that fell on rich soil was the one that produced the greatest harvest. The conditions had to be just right for this to occur. The sun couldn't be too hot, just enough water, the soil was ready and most importantly, someone had to sow the seed, the Gospel had to be preached. I believe the conditions for this to occur are different for everyone. I do not think this happens when everything is going great. When you are feeling fulfilled, got tons of money, amazing family and friends, growing continually on every level or whatever way we may define happiness. All of that stuff, that is end game stuff. I am talking about that moment that was perfect for growth, for us to really hear the Gospel and to embrace it. To have a generous and good heart is a decision a person makes. It is a heart that has been broken and beat up and has made a conscious decision to still follow God no matter what. During these moments when it would be easier to yell at someone for not doing what we ask, or bad mouthing a person for something they cannot change, or being able to say, I am not going to abuse myself today through unhealthy habits, it is a heart that is generous and good that wins out because it is a heart that knows Love. The heart that perseveres in following the Lord is alive in the person who knows they are loved. Those moments when we are at our worst, we always remember those who treated us the best; those that showed us great love. Those people who come along when the soil of our life is upturned, when we feel we have nothing left, that share their source of life with us and that changes everything. We see everything differently and we remember that moment of kindness. The heart holds onto that moment and says no matter what I will not return evil for good, one of the ultimate signs of a true disciple of Jesus.

Once you embrace the Gospel 
it becomes written in your heart. 
At that point you are sharing your life with everyone, 
sharing who you are with all you meet 
regardless of who they are.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Drop them Bills, Playa!


"He instructed them to take nothing for the journey except a walking stick,
-no food, no snack, no money in the belt
They were however to wear sandals but not a second tunic."
-Mark 6:8-9

He would send his disciples out to two by two to preach to the neighboring towns. This was their checklist as the were taking notes on what to bring. Short list, huh? They would go, preach repentance, healing all who wanted healing and bring people to God. This is a whole new person who left for the journey, a whole new life, a whole new lifestyle. They do not work, they are not amassing a fortune, they are not leaving a legacy for their name, they are not taking care of children, and their life will not be any easier for it. In essence all their goals are different than EVERYONE else. You cannot expect to live a new life with the same old lifestyle.

You cannot expect to live a new life with the same old mentality.

Now I know this is not what everyone is supposed to be doing. This is not something you do for a day or two, then go back to your old life. That is why Jesus would tell people to give EVERYTHING away so you would not be tempted to return to your old ways and negate your growth.

Leaving the house with no money is a terrifying idea for me. Leaving with no cell phone and money is unimaginable at this point in my life. Interestingly enough I was not born with it.

I did not come out of the womb this way nor can I take it with me. I think Jesus is teaching us about re-prioritizing our life and trusting in God. Whether the food is your earplugs, your snack is an Apple Product and your money is your debit card, can I venture out knowing I do not need that? Can I test this theory out by going around the block without my wallet (just an ID) with no money, debit card, phone, headphones? Can I try two blocks?

What is the best thing that could happen?

We live in a world where we ask, what is the worst that could happen, but I am asking you to ask, what is the best thing that could happen. If our initial thought is that nothing good will happen then maybe it is time for a big change. If I do not think I can live my life without these things or I cannot be happy or I might miss something better that comes along because I need to be aware of everything that is happening, then maybe Jesus is right, and we need a readjustment in our life...

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Jesus Offended Them


When the sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue,
and many who heard him were astonished.
They said, "Where did this man get all this?
What kind of wisdom has been given to him?
What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands!
Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary,
the brother of James and Joseph and Judas and Simon?
And are not his sisters here with us?"
And they took offense at him.
-Mark 6:2-3

As I was reading Breathing Underwater, by Richard Rohr, I came across an interesting insight. The book is about combing the 12 Step program with the Gospels and he succeeds beautifully. He said that most of his assume that our thought process is logical and correct. That all the thoughts and ideas we connect are correct. We never question if there is a flaw in the process. It is an incredible insight which I want to point out here in the Gospel.

Jesus shared his amazing insights into the mystery of God, into His very mystery, to stress the point, GOD IS TEACHING YOU ABOUT GOD DIRECTLY! So not only does he do this with his words but all with his actions. And if you read the response of the people their reaction is very "off." It went from: 

WOW can you believe what He is saying and doing?!?!?
Wait, who is He?!?!?
Who the HELL does He think He is?!?!?

There is a flaw in the thought process here. They had no problem with what he actually said but were offended because HE said it. I think human beings are very funny. We are more affected by the source than by the actually words. For example if I put:

Love thy neighbor as thyself.
- The Buddha

Love they neighbor as thyself.

Love they neighbor as thyself.
-Charles Manson

Each one affects differently. Does that mean the message is not true? There was a moment when we read the words, then see the source and no matter what was said subconsciously we reject or accept the words as true or false. When you find yourself having a very negative reaction, question your thought pattern. You may be wrong or you may not be but if you miss out on Truth then you miss out on Love.

If you miss out on Truth then you miss out on Love.

If God is Truth and Love and Oneness and Life then all those things come from God no matter where we find them. Truth is truth no matter who says it! Here is a beautiful quote:

When you hear truth, accept it.
When you see love, rejoice in it.
When you are in love, breath in your Beloved.
When your love is returned, realize how close you really are with God.
And be grateful.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

I wanted to punch Jesus


"Do not be afraid, just have faith."
-Mark 5:36

Sometimes I read the Gospel and Jesus amazes me. I know I should be amazed by the healing of the woman with the hemorrhage or even the girl that Jesus raises from the dead!!! But I was more amazed at Jesus telling a father whose daughter just died, "Do not be afraid, just have faith." If that was me I probably would have punched Jesus. I would have cursed at him, told him to get away from me and all I know is that I would have been very, very angry.  I can imagine that father doing everything he could have for his daughter when she was sick. Taking her to different doctors or visiting "healers," bargaining with God, anything to help his daughter. He was a synagogue official so the guy had money. I imagine he went to Jesus as a last resort just because he heard stories of what Jesus did. What was that journey like? What thoughts must have ran though his mind? "MY daughter is dying!!! My daughter is going to die and this Jesus is my LAST hope! Oh G-d please let this work!"

Seeing him he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, saying,
“My daughter is at the point of death.
Please, come lay your hands on her
that she may get well and live.”

Here is a man of power, well respected, and someone who "has it together." He is at the end of his rope with no where to turn. He comes to, Jesus, a HOMELESS Preacher and throws himself at Jesus' feet. What was everyone in the crowd thinking at this point? I just imagine a silence that came over everyone there. No one in the crowd in their whole life has probably ever seen that before; of seeing a person of power throwing himself at the feet of a homeless person. And then he says this prayer to Jesus which I am sure many parents of the sick, or whose children are on drugs, have said:

“My daughter is at the point of death.
Please, come lay your hands on her
that she may get well and live.”

This is a story about trust and vulnerability and deep, deep, faith.  To hear that your daughter has just died and for Jesus to say, "Do not be afraid, just have faith," this Jairus had real faith. And maybe I read this and get angry because I do not have the faith Jairus yet. I do not have the faith of father who just wants to saves his dying child and will do whatever it takes to save her. Lord I want a deeper faith so I can really see You for who You are! I know this is selfish Lord and I ask that you come lay your hands on me so that I may get well and live!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Mmmhhhhhmmmm Bacon!


“Go home to your family and announce to them

all that the Lord in his pity has done for you.”
-Mark 5:19

I came to the realization recently that to bring people to God is not something you do by beating them up over the head with logic. You do not help people to know God by making them feel bad about life choices or the circumstances they are in. Since no one is superior to another, you do not use your discipleship of Jesus and lord it over them, pun intended. This is not what mercy is about and I do not believe that this is what faith sharing is either. 

I do believe though that in this passage is the heart of evangelism, or in sharing your relationship with God with others. In the parable of the man with many demons, here is a man whom others feared, that no one could subdue, that was self-destructive, was prone to hurting himself and Jesus healed him the same way he would heal anyone else. He did not discriminate against anyone who needed a healing. He took the man's many demons and put them into swine which then in turn ran off a cliff to their sudden demise. 

If that was me and I found all those pigs at the bottom of the cliff I would have thought, 
"Aww Yeah!! Bacon, Baby!

The man then wants to follow Jesus and Jesus tells him to “Go home to your family and announce to them all that the Lord in his pity has done for you.” Now many people would think this is bad because of the whole pity thing but I think that is just an ego trip and an ego trip never got anyone anywhere. Another way I hear this passage is:

"GO HOME and tell everyone 

all the WONDERFUL things that


My faith is always strengthened more when I hear of someone who is in  a situation that no could help them and the Lord came and changed everything. Listening to how they are a different person and sharing that with others is an incredible thing to witness. And the gears start turning and I start to think, what if I gave the Lord a little more of myself today, what could he do with that...

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Test me! I dare you!


Because he himself was tested through what he suffered, 
he is able to help those who are being tested. 
- Hebrews 2:18

I believe experience is one of the best teachers. Maybe it is just how I learn best, but I learn from doing. I need to get my hands dirty and pull something apart and memorize how it feels and then I can begin to integrate it and write run on sentences. I enjoy tests. I feel a sense of accomplishment when someone who knows better than I can challenge me and then agree I have truly learned. I feel like now at this point in life I can began to share more and more what I am learning with others. 

I teach CCD and the kids I have are really wonderful. I gave them their midterm today and the lowest grade was an 85%, then 95% and the rest were 100%. The bonus question on the test was: What is the point of our faith? 

I have suffered for my faith. Whether it had been ideas that I had to learn or beliefs I had to give up and exchange for new ones. I believe all the suffering he helped in growing in my faith. I don't think you can have growth without suffering. Or as my friend Arnold says, 

"If it burns it grows."

I always think of the book The Wounded Healer by Henri Nouwen, it has been the one book which has transformed how I see life the most. I have to go into my wound and pains to bring people to God. God is waiting for me in my pain and suffering to heal me. As St. Anthony of the Desert says, "He who runs from suffering, runs from God."

He who runs from suffering, runs from God.

Take the test and enter into the suffering. I was inspired by my kids to write and to grow more. I gave them the question: What is the point of our faith? And then answer is "To know Jesus." One of my kids, who today was my Christ-bearer, said, "Mr. Louis, when are we going to learn about Jesus? I want to know Jesus." Wow I got some amazing kids! Little guy broke my heart in a good way! I guess that is why my heart looks like this:

"For the minister is called to recognize the suffering of his time in his own heart 
and make that recognition the starting point of his service.
-Henri Nouwen, The Wounded Healer