You’re Glowing.

August 6th Sunday Readings.

1505CNS-popemarried-couplesWEB2“You’re glowing.” Have you ever heard this phrase used? I’ve heard people say this to grooms and brides on their wedding day. I’ve heard people say this to pregnant women. Something about moments of incredible joy that seem to have us radiating light.

A friend of mine once told me that in Mexico the traditional way to ask a pregnant woman when she is due is, “Cuado vas a dar luz?” or “When will you bring forth the light?” The birth is a moment of brightness, of light.

In the gospel and first reading this weekend, we read about God in his glory shinning brightly. Daniel describes The Ancient one as bright white as snow sitting on a flaming throne. In the familiar story of the transfiguration, Jesus’ face “shone like the sun,” and his clothes become “white as light.” In another moment from scripture, Moses encounters God on Sinai, comes down the mountain, and the skin of his face became radiant.

A couple years ago, an acquaintance of mine heard a talk about the Eucharist and went to Eucharistic Adoration and for the first time in her life, she believed that the Eucharist really is Jesus. She walked out of the church and the first person who saw her, before they even spoke, remarked, “Wow. You’re glowing.”

I think when we encounter God in an intimate and profound way, there is a fundamental The Annunciation by Henry Ossawa Tanner 1896change within us. That change can manifest itself in a noticeable way. People can literally see the change in us. We radiate. That light is a manifestation of receiving and giving unconditional love. That is why the newly married couple glow. That is why the mother grown a human, with a soul, within her radiates light. That is why when we encounter this God of love who would do anything to be near us, we radiate his love into the world. Let your light shine.

LIVE IT: Take sometime this week to light a candle and sit in silence. You could do this at the Adoration Chapel or in your home. Let God speak to you in the silence.

Fear or Love.

June 27th Sunday Readings.

What motivates you? How often are you able to stop and ask “Why?” If you are anything like me, you don’t get the chance often enough to stop and truly evaluation your motivations. The busyness of life makes it difficult to stop and think about why we are doing what we are doing. Yet, if we want to grow as people, examining our motivations is essential.

At our best, we act out of love. Sometimes that love wells up from within us for someone else. Sometimes that love looks a lot like duty or obedience. When we sacrifice for another person, so that they have what they need, we are acting out of love. But we don’t always act out of love.

janet-leigh-psycho-fear

Sometimes, we act out of fear. If I’m honest, this motivates me more than I’d like to
admit. I’m not talking about fear of heights or spiders or clowns. More often the catchphrase of fear is, “What will they think?” If you’ve had that thought go through your head sometime this week (or this morning), you may have had a moment motivated by fear.

Yet in our gospel this Sunday Jesus says, “Fear no one.”

Why? Jesus is teaching us that we can’t be the best version of ourselves when we fear what others will think about us. How radical is this call to fear no one? Jesus tells us not to fear even those who can do us harm or kill us.

What is the benefit of fearing no one? Freedom.

When we choose to not fear others, we are choosing to be free to live a life of purpose. Only when we are free from fear of others, we are free to choose to live motivated by love.

When we are free from fear, we are free to love and that includes loving and being loved by God. Fear no one, love well.

LIVE IT: Choose a day this week to have a “Why? Day”. During the day at various times, ask yourself, “Why did I do what I just did?” Why did I wear what I wore today? Why did I eat that for lunch? Why am I working hard (or hardly working)? Ask God for the grace to choose love.

Run like you’re being chased.

April 16th Easter Sunday Readings.

“Run like you’re being chased!” was a common mantra barked out by my high school baseball coaches. We used to run conditioning laps during the beginning of the season. When shaming us for running “like we had a piano on our backs” didn’t Runningmotivate us sufficiently, our coaches would try to move us with this phrase.

A couple summers ago, I ran my first 5k. I wasn’t being chased. I wasn’t running from anything. Actually I think I was running for something. I wouldn’t say I was running for fun, but maybe for the experience or for my wife because she wanted us to run together. I believe most of my friends who are big runners run for something as opposed to running from something.

In our Gospel, this Easter Sunday, we read the first moments when the disciples discovered that Jesus wasn’t in his tomb. In John’s gospel, Mary of Magdala, when she saw that the tomb was empty and the stone had been rolled away, ran to tell Peter and the beloved disciple. Then Peter and the beloved disciple both ran to the tomb. Mary, Peter and the beloved disciple all ran towards something. Why? What would motivate someone to run to somewhere or someone.

I think it was love. I think they loved Jesus Christ (though imperfectly like us), and they were loved by Jesus Christ (perfectly). I think we run toward the people or things we love.

I don’t know about you, but I want to run towards Jesus Christ. I want to run towards resurrection. I want to run towards ever lasting joy and perfect bliss in the arms of a God who loves me unconditionally. But sometimes, I run away.

This Easter can’t be just an end to Lent. This Easter isn’t just the relief of getting to do the things we gave up or stopping the things we began this Lent. This Easter, I want to continue to run towards Jesus, to the empty tomb, to a soul saved. Where are you running?

LIVE IT:
Running always starts with a decision. Decide now that this Easter is going to be different. Decided now that it won’t be a return to life before Lent, but a new celebration of Joy and Gratitude in the resurrection of Easter.

Pain Tolerance Zero.

April 9th Sunday Readings.

How do you react to pain? I don’t react well. Whether it is a splinter or a stubbed toe or 3e5b23ef9b8d9bbbdfeffd8615959c62an upset stomach, I tend to make a big deal out of any little bit of pain. Honestly, when I experience pain, I am usually at my most selfish. Nothing makes me put myself above all others than being in pain.

Unfortunately my pain-leads-to-selfishness extends to emotional pain as well. When I’m hurt by what someone else has done or said, I usually turn inward and protect myself. How about you? What do you when you are hurt and in pain?

This Sunday we will hear the story of Jesus’ suffering and death. It is difficult to get our minds around the physical pain he endured on the cross. But I think it must have been even more emotionally painful for Jesus. His mission in life was to save the lives of the very people who were crucifying him. Imagine being denied, betrayed, and abandoned by those people you were sent to help.

Yet, when faced with this overwhelming physical and emotional pain, Jesus didn’t turn inward. Instead, while dying on the cross, Jesus continued to forgive, heal, help, inspire, give, and love. When we say, “God loves you,” this is what we mean. When we have done everything to turn away from God, when we layer hurt and insult upon hurt and insult, when we literally try and kill God, Jesus still turns to us in love. In the midst of our rebellion, Jesus comes to save us.

LIVE IT:

Read the gospel before Mass this weekend – Matthew 26:14 – 27:66
. It’s a long one and it is easy to tune it out during Mass.

How many times…

March 5th Sunday Readings.

“How many times do I have to ask you bring your clothes basket upstairs?” I uttered in is-that-not-brilliant-i-think-it-s-brilliant-hv4hw7-clipartfrustration. It finally happened. I realized I was becoming my mother.

Which honestly isn’t a bad thing, my mom is great. As my kids have gotten older, I feel like I understand my parents better and better. It’s like I understand why they said what they said. More than that, I understand something I really didn’t understand as a young person –

Obedience is a form of Love.

In the second reading, Paul outlines this way of thinking about Jesus as the one who, when Adam was disobedient, was totally obedient to the Father. If Adam disobeys God, it is Jesus who redeems through total obedience. If Adam’s disobedience caused a separation between man and God, then Jesus’ obedience repaired that rift. If Adam’s act brought death, Jesus’ obedience brings life.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t usually value obedience. Maybe it is that us Americans seem to enjoy a rebel. Maybe it’s just that I rather like being in control and obeying someone else means that I have to give up that control. Whatever the case, I rarely have thought well of simple obedience.

Yet Jesus shows us that one way to love, and to love well, is to obey the virtuous request of those who love us. Obviously, I’m not suggesting we just do whatever someone else tells us. But when asked, by someone with total care and love for us, obedience is a way to love.

How can I love my spouse? How can I love my parents? How can we love God? Obedience.

Live It:
How do we know what God is telling us? Read scripture. Try reading this Sunday’s readings by clicking here.
or if your my kids, take your baskets upstairs. 😉

Actually…

February 19th Sunday Readings.

I have a friend who owns the word “actually.”  Well, she doesn’t actually own it, but she actuallyuses it so much she might as well buy it for herself. In conversation, someone will say some inaccuracy and she will respond with, “Well, actually…” and then proceed to correct the person. She has become aware that correcting people by leading with the word “actually” can be obnoxious and tries her best to avoid it. (Especially since her daughter started actually-ing her.)

While she is an “actually” person, others are “supposed to” people. A “suppose to” person is someone who is burdened with what they are “supposed to” do. Sometimes that means that they make sure everyone else knows what they are “supposed to” do. Full disclosure, I can be a “supposed to” person. If I’m honest most of the time I feel the urge to “suppose to” something, it really is just a “supposed to” that I personally find important.

In the gospel Jesus twice says, “You have heard it was said…” and then he goes on to give a “suppose to” statement. It is as if Jesus is saying, “The way things are, we are all supposed to…” Then Jesus explains further and contradicts those “supposed to” statements, but not in the way we might expect. Instead of basically letting us off the hook and telling us that these “supposed to” statements are too hard to do, Jesus tells us we need to take them even further.

If we are supposed to make things equal for everyone, Jesus says we are supposed to sacrifice even if it isn’t fair. If we are supposed to love the people who support us and hate those trying to take us down, Jesus says we are supposed to love our enemies. Jesus isn’t just ratcheting up the commitment here, he is turning “supposed to” on it’s head, and in the process, he is explaining something beautiful about who God is and who we are.

Too often, we make God in our image. We give God our attributes and inclinations. We also can give him our shortcomings, problems, shortsightedness, and pettiness. This gospel reminds us that we are made in God’s image. God is perfect. God is holy. Everyday, we have the choice to go beyond our own “supposed to” to love like God loves.

LIVE IT:
Pray for your enemies. Who do you consider an enemy? Take 2 minutes to pray for them right now.

“Where do babies come from?” The Good Word for Oct 4th.

For the complete Sunday readings click here.

“Daddy, where do babies come from?” Yikes. All parents of young children have been faced with this question. For some of us, it was a scary moment. Others probably handled it better than I did. What is the right answer?

If I had a do-over on that one, I think I would answer like this, “Babies come from LOVE.” Maybe it’s not the whole answer, but it’s not wrong. God is love (1 John 4:8). And my babies came from the love my wife and I have for each other. This kind of love isn’t just affection or even friendship (or romantic attraction), but from a deep, intimate, self-sacrificing love that God gave us for each other.

Out of this kind of love, God gave us the ability to make children. I remember the first time it really struck me that God gifted my wife and I the ability to co-create another human. This little baby my wife is holding has a soul. This human is made in the image and likeness of God, just like Adam and Eve. This is such a powerful and amazing reality. God gives us the ability to co-create a human with a soul – a human that God wants to live with forever in heaven. Wow.

In the gospel this weekend, Jesus talks about marriage and children. He does so because both of these pieces of the human experience are so incredibility powerful and important. Marriage is good. Children are good. Both cost us something personally, but that is good too.
The thing is that we live in this broken world. Divorce rates are high, marriages are in trouble, infidelity seems commonplace, spouses barely talk to each other because they are so busy, and even solid marriages struggle with everyday issues.

We’ve all been touched by the pain of broken marriages and hurt spouses. The reason broken relationships and struggling marriages hurt so much is because marriages are so good.

Jesus’ teaching about remarriage and adultery is hard to hear, and for some it is particularly painful. Does it mean Jesus has abandoned some of us?

If this scripture was the only thing Jesus says about marriage and brokenness, then the struggle we have to live up to this high standard for marriage might cause us to be tempted to lose heart. But Jesus said he came, not to condemn the world, but to save it. Jesus promises to be with us always. Jesus promises to struggle alongside us. Jesus doesn’t just promise us, he shows his unconditional love for us when he dies on the cross.

When does God love? When we need it the most. God doesn’t just love us when we are doing our best, but God loves us when are far short of perfect.

So when your marriage is a source of life and joy, thank God! When everything falls apart and you are hurt and broken and the very foundation of your life seems over, seek Jesus Christ. If you feel like the Church or Jesus is telling you “stay away” because of your sin, they are not! God calls all of us sinners close to him.

Live It:
Thank God for love. Whether that is children, spouse, friendship or community offer up a prayer of thanks for the love in your life.

PS – Have you heard any of the homilies from HNOJ’s homily series “God: Who does he think he is?” Find them here.