Thursday, September 24, 2015

What gets in your way?

It is so hard to respond to Sundays' Gospel with the usual words: Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ!
Praise?? For chopped off hands, feet and missing eyes? Gross! Yuck. Ewwww. That really can't be what Jesus is talking about here.

Going deeper into the absolute mystery of this passage these are the things that catch me:
That 'cup of water' and the 'little ones'.

Living in NYC, it's almost a daily event to see a person in need asking for some help. Money, food, a own personal favorite story was the day I lost my last job, I was approached by someone looking for money to get on the train to go to a job interview...and I simply told him I had just lost my job...and he wished me good can't make this stuff up!!

In any case, I am often reminded of the need to be respectful and compassionate, even if I can't be financially helpful...I can always offer what I think of that biblical cup of water...sometimes on a hot day, it may be an actual cup of water, other times it may be just treating a less fortunate brother or sister as a human being.

And the little do we not think of the tenderness our Pope is showing to all, especially the youngest ones in the crowds that are greeting him on his U.S. trip? Pope Francis certainly seems to embody this gospel he embraces and blesses our children.

But then I'm back to the chopping off hands and feet...we had a discussion here last night at our monthly LGBTQS group in the Parish and we all found our way to the idea that maybe what Jesus was trying to tell us was: If there is something or someone in your life that prevents you from drawing closer to God, to following Gods' will for you in your life, then maybe we need to separate ourselves from that obstacle. It's easy to see how money, power, fame, and even some relationships may lead us down a path away from all that is good and holy and of God. It's not comfortable to look at that, and not simple to make the change that might be needed. But in our quiet moments, if we are thoughtful people, we know what brings us closer to God, what makes us our best selves, and what gets in our way...

So, with the image of Pope Frank everywhere this week...let's take a few minutes in prayer to ponder how we too, like the Pope, can be a good example of living out the Gospel message in our world.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Christianity isn't for the faint hearted

I was going to say, Christianity isn't for wimps...but do we even use that word anymore? I was speaking with a young couple who are interested in beginning the RCIA process this week and we were talking about the benefit of discovering the desire for a faith life when one is old enough to take the commitment seriously. Christianity is certainly something we hope to grow in throughout our lives, because it is certainly not meant to be easy. Look at what Jesus says in the Gospel...that whole "take up your cross, deny your self' riff...who in their right mind would be attracted to that?

Yet, we know, as adult believers, there is no other way to Jesus but through the cross. Not that we need to go creating some of our own making! No, life has a way of knocking us down, without us needing to go looking for any more suffering or difficulty. The mark of a Christian, perhaps, is how we live through the pain and suffering, the hardship and the disappointments, and still manage to be joyful witnesses to Gods' love for all. I think the secret to that is found in the second reading which speaks so well to the need to be of service to one another. We  can not truly be happy in this life if we are thinking only of ourselves. If we think of and work for the good of others, it is there that our hearts swell and we find joy. Think about it's true isn't it? When you do something for another is when you find your self most happy.

As we in NYC prepare for the arrival of Pope Francis, my prayer is that we will put aside our 'NY attitude' and be open to what he would like to say to us. We may be called to consider moving outside our comfort level and be of service to others. May the Spirit give us ears to hear!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Be Strong! Fear Not!

What words could be more suitable as students and teachers and parents everywhere prepare to enter into the mystery of a new academic year? From Isaiah: "Be strong! Fear not!"

When I paused at my desk this afternoon, surrounded by class lists, calendars, text book orders and the like, I thought, with only a few minutes to spare all I really want to say this week is "I'm praying for you all". Those students beginning in new schools, or going back to continue in your 'old' school; teachers, new and old, getting ready to face new classes; parents struggling to let little ones go for the first time, or, exhausted from summer, ready to send big ones back into the care of the new teachers.

It's another letting go. It's another beginning. It's another change. For most of us change whether its good or bad, fun or hard, our choice or another's --we find change hard. That's OK, I think. Once we acknowledge it's difficult, then we just have to live through it until the new and uncomfortable becomes something we're used to again. That's just the way life is, isn't it?

So, looking at the Gospel story this week where Jesus heals the deaf man, I pray for each of us, but especially those going back to school, or anyone starting something brand new...that we have ears that are open to hear all that God wants us to learn in the year ahead. Most of all, every morning, may we hear how very much God loves us.