What’s new?

The Good Word for Sunday January 31st ~ for the complete readings click here.

When was the last time you learned something new about your best friend? If you are married, what was the last thing you discovered about your spouse? How would you react if someone you knew well, revealed something new about themselves to you?

What if we never learned anything new about our closest friends? Imagine if we treated our best friend like they were the exact person they were when we first met them. Granted people’s personality and general dispositions maybe don’t change all that much over time. But I am willing to bet that the life situation and worldview of your longtime best friend is different now then when you first met them.

Let me give you an example of what I am trying to explain. We had some college friends over the other day and in the middle of general catching up, one of our friends revealed a small thing about them that no one in the room knew about. One of my friends then remarked, “Wow. We’ve known each other 25 years and we are still finding out new things about each other!”

The crowds in the gospel weren’t willing to find out anything new about Jesus. Jesus was Joseph’s son. Jesus was a local boy grown up, and not much more. So when Jesus stood, read the Messianic prophesy from Isaiah, and told them that he had come to fulfill the words of the prophet, well, Jesus’ hometown wasn’t ready to hear it.

Not only was Jesus’ hometown not ready to see and understand Jesus in a new way, they weren’t ready to understand what Jesus was saying about God’s mercy and love. Jesus was explaining that God would reveal himself, not just to the chosen ones of Israel, but to the gentiles as well. The crowds became livid because their understanding of God was rigid. They couldn’t think of Jesus as anything more than Joseph’s son and couldn’t imagine God loving anyone other than the chosen people.

Sometimes we get this way about Jesus and God too. People of faith have an experience of God and then that is the only way we think we can know or experience God. We meet Jesus Christ face to face, but then we think we are done searching.

The reality is that if our Catholic faith is a relationship with Jesus (and it is), then we must continue to grow in knowing Jesus. We can never settle.

When was the last time you discovered something new about Jesus? When was the last time you let God pour his mercy and love into a new part of your life?

Live It:
Read one chapter from a gospel. Doesn’t matter which one. Matthew 11, Luke 9, John 20, Mark 6 – Whatever. It should take less than 10 minutes. Then sit in silence for 2 minutes and let Jesus be with you.

Ask Anyway.

The Good Word for January 17 ~ for the complete Sunday readings click here.

What’s the best advice you have ever received? I’ve received lots of advice and wisdom over the years. All of it was well intentioned; some of it was actually helpful. Statements like, “Never play cards for money with a man who has the same first name as a city,” seems to be helpful, but only for specific situations.

Other advice seems to apply more broadly. One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever been told is, “Go ahead and ask; let them say no. Don’t answer for anyone else. Ask anyway.” In other words, sometimes we don’t even ask for something we want or need because we believe the answer will be no. The answer could still be no, but ask. Following this advice is how I got my first girlfriend and probably why I often eat two cookies when the sign says, “take one.” So results may vary, I guess.

In the gospel, Mary asks Jesus to help with a very delicate situation. The wine has run out at this wedding feast. Wedding celebrations could last multiple days in ancient Israel; to run out of wine meant the party was over and was a major embarrassment. She went to Jesus, explained the problem, and he told her no. But then he helped.

A friend of mine asked the question, “Did Mary know that Jesus would make more wine? Did she know he could change water into wine? Did she know that he could do this miracle?” This got me thinking. I don’t think Jesus just regularly was doing miracles at home. He probably wasn’t transforming stuff around the house. “Look mom, I dusted by turning all the dust bunnies into real bunnies!” No. Mary didn’t know how Jesus would help. But she trusted that Jesus would help.

Mary asked.

Sometimes we answer for God. We say, “God’s too busy for my little problem,” or, “God doesn’t actually do things just because he is asked.” Sometimes we use past experiences of not getting exactly what we want to stop us from asking now.

But what if we ask like Mary asked? What if we prayed, “God I don’t know how you are going to help this situation, but I put it in your hands. Tell me what to do and I’ll do it.”

So let’s ask God. Let’s not keep any thing from Him. Let’s give him our good stuff, and our problems. Let’s ask for God’s help. And let’s do whatever he tells us to do.

Live It:
Ask something of God. Don’t wait. Right now stop, ask God for something spectacular (or small if that is what you need).

First or Nothing.

The Good Word for Sunday January 10th ~ for the complete readings click here. RickyBobby

“If you ain’t first, you’re last.” – Ricky Bobby

Engrained in our culture is the idea that we all must strive to be first. If we aren’t working towards becoming #1, then we are doing our “best.” College football coach Henry Russell Sanders is famous for saying, “Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing!”

Like most of you, I deny buying into this worldview, but a simple review of my driving habits would demonstrate how easily I default to seeking to be #1. Maybe you’re different than me, but I bet, if you took a couple minutes, you could find some aspect of your life where you can’t help but desire to be better than everyone else.

John the Baptist speaks in stark contrast to our culture’s push for first place. Think about it. In our gospel this weekend we hear, “The people were filled with expectation, and all were asking in their hearts whether John might be the Christ.”

People thought John was the Messiah. John could have assumed the role of anointed one, savior. He could have used people’s loyalty to serve himself. But he didn’t.

John chose second place. John witnessed to the fact that no matter how important, no matter how many good things he did, he wasn’t the best. John put Jesus first.

Sometimes we even complete to be best at being good. We make church a competitive sport. If you’ve ever felt like you weren’t good enough or thought someone else wasn’t good enough to come to God, then you’ve experienced pious competitiveness.

If we want to follow Jesus more perfectly, then we need to take a page from John the Baptist and choose second place. Jesus first; everything else second.

Live It:
Give up your pew this week. Whether you normally sit in the front or in the back (or normally don’t come at all), make a conscious choice to sit somewhere different, so that someone else can take your normal spot.