The Good Word for Sunday Nov. 29th ~ for the complete readings click here.

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope this week is bountiful and a beautiful, peaceful time for you to count blessings with friends or family. Frankly, I am looking forward to a couple days of cooking, eating, napping, and sharing stories with good people.

One line from the gospel got my attention this week. No it wasn’t “People will die of fright,” although that’s a good one too.

No the line that caught my attention was, “Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life…” Basically, Jesus is warning us that if our hearts become drowsy the second coming may catch us off guard, which, I gather from context, is bad. If we aren’t actively preparing for Jesus to enter into our lives, then we may be surprised, and not in a good way, when Jesus comes to us.

I totally get how the first two actions cause us to have drowsy hearts. Drunkenness and carousing (which I found out through a little research was basically just loud, musical drunkenness) makes sense as things that lull our hearts to sleep. If we spend our time excessively drinking and goofing off, we dull our own attentiveness to Jesus. Got it.

The third item is what surprised me. Jesus warns that we can get a drowsy heart from worrying about daily anxieties. On a list of the three things that can distract us from looking for God, Jesus lists:

  • Partying
  • Drunkenness
  • Worrying

It kind of seems like one of these things doesn’t belong. Don’t we worry in order to stay on top of things? If I’m not worried about getting some place on time, will I get there? Aren’t we supposed to worry to be a competent adult?

I think “the anxieties of daily life” are on the list for two potential reasons. First, holding onto serious anxiety about daily life is a distraction. Worrying about daily life is focusing on less important stuff. Spending energy on things that don’t matter in the long run will leave us ill prepared to receive Jesus.

Secondly, worrying isn’t actually doing anything to move towards the goal of looking expectantly for Christ. I heard about a study that suggested people worry because it actually makes us feel better because it is better than doing nothing. How silly is that? Worrying makes us feel better, but it doesn’t actually make anything better. Instead of worrying, do something!

This Advent is an opportunity to expectantly await Jesus Christ with a ready and eager heart. If we can avoid carousing and the anxieties of daily life and we can keep our eyes, and our hearts, focused on our coming King.

Live It:
When you catch yourself worrying about something this week, say this quick prayer: I trust in you, Jesus.

I cannot tell a lie.

The Good Word for Nov 22. For the complete Sunday readings click here.

When I was 10 years old a friend and I were kicking a soccer ball against a wall of the outside of my house. On accident he missed the wall, hit a storm door and shattered the glass out of the door. I went my parents and repeated the famous line from George Washington, “I cannot tell a lie.” And then quietly confessed, “Jason did it.”

It seems that honesty in leaders is important. The story of George Washington cutting down a cherry tree is known to nearly every school child (at least it was, when I was growing up.) We called Abraham Lincoln, “Honest Abe.” Nothing is more scandalous to a leader than being caught lying.

I think there is a difference between “not lying” and what the gospel says Jesus came to do, to “testify to the truth.” Avoiding stating falsehoods is avoiding evil. But Jesus just didn’t come to avoid evil; Jesus came to save the world. Jesus came to testify to the truth.

Jesus bears witness to the truth of God. In the gospel, Jesus says this is the very reason he was born. Jesus mission was to not only share the truth about God, but be the very way in which that truth is made manifest. In other words, Jesus shares the good news and is the good news.

This weekend we celebrate Christ the King Sunday. Every year we hold the truth that Jesus is king of heaven and earth and came to establish his kingdom on earth. If honesty is important to leadership, then Jesus’ kingship is built upon the foundation of the greatest truth – that God loves us and died for us so that we could be with him forever.

The last line of the gospel should challenge us to ask, “Do I listen to Jesus’ voice? Do I belong to the truth?”

Live it:
Listen to the song read the lyrics to Here is our King by David Crowder Band.

Good News?

The Good Word for Sunday November 15th ~ for the complete Sunday readings click here. 

“Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ” This Sunday at Mass we are all going to say this phrase together following this somewhat horrifying piece of scripture. In case you didn’t read the gospel before reading this reflection, Jesus says things like, “The sun will be darkened,” and “the moon will not give it’s light,” and “stars will be falling from the sky,” and “this generation will not pass away before these things have taken place.”

Yikes. People have long been afraid of the end of the world. R.E.M even had a top forty hit with the song, “It’s the End of the World (and I feel fine)” poking fun at those fearful of the end times.

So why does Jesus say these things? Believe it or not, but these words were probably comforting to the first people whoever read them. The gospel of Mark was written for a community of Christians who were being heavily persecuted by the Roman Empire. Those hearing these words would have understand that what was being said was a promise, a relief, and a call to hope in a future free of persecution.

Can you imagine living in fear that you or your family would be arrested, tortured, or killed just because you are Catholic? What if you had to attend Mass in secret, in the middle of the night? What would life be like if any day your next-door neighbor could turn you in for being a follower of Jesus? Now that is scary.

This is was the reality of life for the people who first read Mark’s gospel. For that reason, the idea that this too shall pass, that Jesus was coming again and soon was comforting. When the early Christians heard that the way the world was going to end, well, that was actually a message of hope.

Christian persecution is happening right now in 2015. Daily there are Christian martyrs, people killed, just for being Christian. Reports of whole towns being burned to the ground and men, women, and children being killed for their Christianity keep making the news.

When we hear the words of the gospel this weekend, instead of reacting in fear of the horrifying image of the last days, let us instead pray for our Catholic and Christian brothers and sisters for whom and end of the current age would be a welcome sight.

Live It:
1) Learn about Christian persecution. Start by reading this short article about Pope Francis and Christian Persecution.
2) Pray for all persecuted Christians today.

Want to learn more? Check out the CNEWA.

Bacon and Eggs

The Good Word for November 8 ~ for the complete Sunday readings click here.

I have a friend who likes to tell this riddle:

eggs_and_bacon-630x310In a bacon-and-eggs breakfast, what’s the difference between the Chicken and the Pig?
The Chicken is involved, but the Pig is committed.

In the gospel this weekend, we hear about Jesus witnessing many rich people putting large sums into the treasury of thetemple. Then Jesus watches a poor widow give two small coins. When Jesus explains what he witnessed to the disciples, he states that it was the widow who actually gave the larger amount because what she gave, cost her more.

In some ways you could say that those who gave out of their surplus where like the chicken; they were involved. The widow who gave from her poverty was committed. Jesus didn’t explain because his audience would have already known that widows were the poorest of the poor in that culture and the two coins represented a huge portion of her personal wealth. She offered to God money that she would likely have needed to live on. By donating that money she trusted God and gave to the point that she abandoned earthly safety and security, instead relying completely on God’s generosity.

In the first reading, we hear about another widow who offered to the prophet Elijah the very last of her food. God responded to that generosity and her flour and oil jars did not go empty. She was able to feed herself and her son for a year.

God is the source of all good things. God is never outdone in his generosity. He freely gives us his grace and it is by that grace that we have faith, joy, and ultimately life eternal with him.

Grace is free, but it isn’t cheap. Something so good as God’s free gift of grace costs something. It cost God the life of His son.

Live It:
Thank God for his commitment to you. Don’t wait, do it right now.