The Good Word for June 28th

note-4For the complete Sunday readings click here.

Have you ever been asked, “If there was one thing you could change about yourself what would it be?” Every now and again, I get thinking about this question. The funny thing about it is that 90% of the time the thing I would change is totally changeable if I was willing to do the work. It’s like if I just made a plan and then followed through on those action items, I wouldn’t procrastinate writing this blog each week (but I digress).

In the gospel this weekend we hear about two people that want to make a change in their life. However, they are powerless to fix their own problem. Jarius’ beloved daughter is sick and is near death. The woman with the hemorrhage has seen many doctors, and yet continues to be plagued by bleeding.

In their desperation they make a plan to turn to Jesus for his healing. They follow through on this plan; Jarius by confronting and begging Jesus, and the woman by secretly touching the hem of his cloak. In both cases Jesus says the same thing, it is the faith of those seeking to be healed that will save them. Jesus heals both Jarius’ daughter and the woman because they put their total trust in him.

When was the last time you really prayed for something and trusted God with it? If you are anything like me, it can be easy to think that God has bigger fish to fry than my stress or my struggle. But the reality is that God wants to be fully present in you life. God wants your complete trust and faith in him and his healing power. God wants to save you. The Greek words used to describe the “healing” that Jarius’ daughter and the woman received is the same word early Christians use to describe being saved from death and resurrected with Jesus to life eternal!

Whatever your cares and stresses are this week, even if they seem small and insignificant in the big picture, offer them up to Jesus. Give Jesus your worries. Trust that our God wants to heal you and give you a new life in him.

Live It:
Take a post-it note and write your stress, illness, or struggle on it. Then leave that post it not somewhere for Jesus to find. Say this quick prayer, “Jesus I trust you to heal me. I give you _________. Help me.”

Feel free to bring your post-it note to HNOJ and leave it somewhere here! If we find it, we will pray for you.

The Good Word for June 21st

For the complete Sunday readings click here. tumblr_static_summer_storm_no2

Have you ever gotten caught in a really bad thunderstorm? I’ll never forget the storm I drove through in Iowa one summer when I was just out of college. I was driving from Minnesota back to my parent’s house in St. Louis, Missouri with my future wife Liz and my sister Kate. We got a little later start than we had hoped and ended up driving late into the night.

That night was pitch black because of the thick cloud cover. The rain was falling so heavily that the windshield wipers couldn’t keep up. The national weather service kept interrupting the regular radio programming to warn of tornados, high winds, and hail. No one was talking in the car; it was all I could do to keep the car between the white lines.

At one point a huge truck passed us and in trying to turn up the already maxed out windshield wipers, I accidently turned them off! In my panic, I couldn’t figure out how to get them back on and just kept yelling, “THEY’RE NOT RESPONDING!” My sister and wife like to laugh about it now, but at the time it was more scary than funny. We just wanted the storm to pass and to make it home.

In the gospel this weekend we hear the familiar story of the disciples’ stormy boat voyage. In a panic the disciples wake Jesus who quickly calms the storm. Jesus then says, “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?”
Honestly, I’ve always been bothered by this moment in scripture. Of course they were terrified! The disciples were exposed on an open fishing boat in the middle of a large body of water with lightning and thunder, high winds and driving rain. Waves of water were crashing over the side of the boat and threatening to capsize or sink the small boat with all the disciples in it. The risk of being hit by lightning or drowned in the sea would certainly make any sane person fearful. Yet, Jesus rebukes the disciples for their lack of faith. Why?

Jesus was with them.

In our lives we are going to encounter many storms. Some storms are small, only lasting a moment or a day. Others seem like they will never end. We are going to encounter serious illness, financial difficulties, job loss, struggling children, betrayal, heartbreak, car accidents, loss of freedom, marriage stress, parents in crisis, and other causes of stormy life. Even without a direct cause, our life might feel like a storm if it is filled with anxiety about just meeting the demands of the modern world. For some of us, our day to day is one big anxiety fueled storm.

The key to this gospel, and why it is good news, is that no matter what, Jesus is with us. Jesus doesn’t abandon the disciples. Jesus rides out the storm with them. And with just three words, Jesus calms the storm. God is powerful and God is good. No matter what our storm is, God will be there with us. Even when the storm seems like it will never stop, Jesus remains faithful.

Maybe you or someone you love is in the midst of an overwhelming storm. Maybe you feel powerless in this terrifying moment. This gospel story asks us, “Will you trust God in the midst of the storm? Will you give Jesus your fear when high winds push waves into your boat? Will you let yourself believe God is more powerful than any struggle you encounter in life?”

Live it:
Pray this simple prayer, “Jesus I trust in you.”

The Good Word for June 7th

FullSizeRender For the complete Sunday readings click here.

Kids are funny. One of my favorite kid things happens only when they are toddlers. My kids would fall down and then look up to me to see if they are okay or if they should cry. I learned quickly that if I just said, “You’re okay! Dust it off!” and smile, then my kids would be fine.

Until, of course, there is blood. If they fall and are bleeding, they know it is serious and tears are most certainly called for. How do they know? Did I accidently teach them that blood means a more serious injury? Or do they just kind of know?

With our modern medical discoveries, we know how important blood is. Blood carries oxygen and nutrients to our cells. Blood protects us from bacteria and viruses. Lose too much blood and you die. Blood is life.

Even without our medical knowledge, the Hebrew people understood the importance of blood. For them blood was sacred because it meant life and death. When Moses wanted to signify a covenant between God and the Hebrew people, he used blood because this relationship between God and his people is a life and death relationship. Moses knew that without God, his people would die.

No different for us. Without God, we die. But instead of bull’s blood, we have God’s own blood given to us by Jesus Christ. When we go to Mass, we actually consume Jesus’ body and blood in the Eucharist. We no longer sacrifice animals because Jesus has given himself as the sacrifice. That sacrifice was made on the Cross 2000 years ago, and we participate in it every time we go to Mass.

The Mass isn’t just music and words. At Mass we remember, reinforce, reestablish, renew, and recommit to our deeply intimate and profoundly powerful relationship with God. And we recommit to that covenant with God by receiving Jesus’ body and blood. It is this relationship that will save our life. Jesus shed his blood, gave his very life, so that we may have life with God forever.

Live it:
Go to Mass. Pray for a deeper desire to be close to God.