Take a Deep Breath.

June 4th Sunday Readings.

If you are a parent, you know that the first time you heard your baby cry was a crying-newborn-baby-rexmoment of joy, relief, and gratitude. After nine months of anticipation and a bit of stress and labor at the end, the thing you are waiting to hear is that your newborn baby has taken his or her first breath. If you’ve ever had the wind knocked out of you or been caught too long underwater, you know what is like to be without air in your lungs even for a moment.

We are so used to breathing and having oxygen delivered to our bodies, that we rarely think about what it would be like to go without. Yet, we jump for joy when we hear our newborn is “breathing fine.”

In the gospel this Sunday, Jesus appears to his disciples and after they rejoice in being reunited with their Lord, it says in John’s gospel that Jesus “breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’” At first glance this is kind of a strange moment. What did it look like? Did they think it was weird? Maybe after seeing their friend raised from the dead everything else was less strange. Why did Jesus do this?

The moment reminded me of Genesis 2:7 which says, “then the LORD God formed the man out of the dust of the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” It is literally God’s breath that gives humans life. What is Jesus doing? Jesus breaths his life into the lungs of the disciples. In this moment Jesus says, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”

3475873851_2ffb9ba865_bJesus breaths his Holy Spirit into the disciples and invites them to participate in the continuation of his ministry. This piece of scripture is a snapshot of the first breath of the Church. Just as a newborn takes it’s first breath in, the Church takes it’s first breath from Jesus himself. Jesus gives life to the Church with air from his lungs.

With lungs filled with the breath of God, the disciples go out into the world to tell of the good news that God loves us so much he sent his Son to conquer death forever. The chest of the Church still rises and falls as the Holy Spirit gives us breath. Want to serve God and change the world? Take a deep breath (of the Holy Spirit).

LIVE IT:
Pray this prayer sometime this week (or every day this week, you do you). During Mass on Pentecost would be a pretty sweet spot to pray this during as well.

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth.

O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations, Through Christ Our Lord, Amen.

Wait.

May 28th Sunday Readings.

Have you ever been behind someone at a traffic light that turns green and they don’t textingmove? Of course you have. It seems that often the light turns green and nobody moves because they are looking down at their phone. I have to admit I have no patience for that moment. I don’t think many of us enjoy waiting for others to move.

Yet, if we are honest with ourselves we know that there are times we are the cause of our own delay. As frustrated as I may get with a stop-light-texter, I’ve certainly been the one to hold up the whole line of cars (Also, DON’T text and drive. Don’t do it. Whatever it is, it can wait.)

In fact, I would say that more often than not, I’m the one tapping the breaks when it comes to something that asks something of me. I don’t know about you, but when I have a decision to make, it is easier for me to say, “Let’s wait,” instead of, “Let’s go!”

In the gospel this Sunday, Jesus says “Go.” Jesus gives his disciples and each and everyone of us a command to move, to go from where we are and make disciples. He doesn’t say, “Prepare more.” He doesn’t say, “After you know enough.” He doesn’t say, “After you are good enough.” He tells us to go.

Sharing that our faith matters to us and that Jesus is important in our lives isn’t always easy. And certainly we should be prudent in how we go about sharing our good news with the world. However, if we wait too long, in the name of prudence, we may never go.

This week, wherever you go, take your faith with you. Don’t leave the name of Jesus at HNOJ or the quiet of your own room. Bring Jesus to the soccer practice, ice rink, grad party, or family dinner. Go!

LIVE IT:
I dare you say the name of “Jesus” sometime this week in a positive way, in an unexpected place, and see what happens.

Two Stones

May 14th Sunday Readings.

Do you know the difference between a Keystone and a Cornerstone? Apparently I thumbnail.aspdidn’t. A keystone is the wedge-shaped stone at the center and top of an arch. All the weight and pressure of the other stones press up and against this stone. This is why an arch is such a strong architectural design. (You’d think a guy from St. Louis, b3a4a0d8b7547ff6a28ab4c763880e4fMO would naturally understand this.)

I thought this is kind of what a cornerstone does, somehow from the ground, but that is not the job the cornerstone at all. According to the magical interwebs, a cornerstone is the first stone set in a stone building. All other stones are placed in reference to this first stone. The cornerstone establishes the position of the entire building.

cornerstone minnesota ii

Cornerstone for the Cathedral of Saint Paul, St. Paul, MNreference to this first stone. The cornerstone establishes the position of the entire building.

In our second reading, we hear Jesus referred to as the cornerstone. He’s previously rejected, but God is setting Jesus as the reference guide for all others. In this way, Jesus isn’t just our solid rock foundation. Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection sets the guideline for each and every one of us.

As Christians we seek to conform our life to Jesus’ life. We seek to live like Jesus lived. How did Jesus live? By following the Father’s will. The stone of our life lines up best with Jesus’ stone when we follow God’s will for our lives.

Through our baptism we are baptized into a death like Jesus’. Every time we lay down our own desires in order to serve the good of another, we embrace a death like Jesus’. This is what love is, laying down our lives for the good of another. When we love well, we emulate Jesus’ death on the cross and we conform our life to the cornerstone.

Jesus was the first born of the dead. He goes before us, not only in death but in life in the resurrection. St. Paul says it like this, “For if we have grown into union with him through a death like his, we shall also be united with him in the resurrection.” (Romans 6:7) Lining up with the cornerstone in our life, death, and resurrection is the good news of our faith.

LIVE IT:

Watch this video of the song Cornerstone by Hillsong United. 

Are you busy?

May 7th Sunday Readings.busy-full-calendar.jpg

Are you busy? Yeah me too. I can’t wait for summer, but on the other hand I know that with it comes soccer games and running around and kids off school and maybe a different level of personally busyness. I don’t like complaining about busyness because complaining about being busy is like complaining about having too much food at dinner – it sounds ungrateful and not self aware.

If I’m honest, though, busyness is life sucking. Being busyness leaves me exhausted. Also, no matter how busy I am in a day, I still feel like I missed out on something during the day. Busyness leaves me unsatisfied. Somehow I don’t feel like God made me to be busy.

In the gospel this Sunday, Jesus offers us something related to, but different, from busyness. In the very last line Jesus says, “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” Jesus tells us that he came to free us to have an abundant life. Jesus didn’t come so that we could have a busy life.

I’m not sure what the difference is between busyness and an abundant life, but I know how each one feels. Busyness is exhausting and life draining. A life in absence is refreshing, inspiring, and feeling a good kind of tired. Its the difference between “getting everything done” and going on a beautiful hike in the mountains.

Screen-Shot-2013-09-17-at-5.34.05-PMI also don’t feel like it’s just the difference between fun stuff and hard, boring stuff. Sometimes after a full day of work where I feel like I got something done and contributed to the mission, I know I lived abundantly. Sometimes after a day of busy vacation, I’m not any more inspired or refreshed.

I’m not sure how to move from a busy life to an abundant life (If I did, I would have already done it). But I do know this – Jesus wants us to. The God of the universe came to give us an abundant, fulfilled, joyful life. I’m not sure how to make it happen, but I know the first step is to put my busy life into Jesus’ hands.

LIVE IT:
Take out your calendar or your phone or whatever you use. Hold it in your hands, look up and pray these words, “God, I give you my busyness. Jesus I want a life of abundance. Holy Spirit transform my life.”