Not Even the Bare Minimum.

Readings for Sunday Oct. 6th, 2019.


I sleep pretty well. But every once in a while, when my head will hit the pillow and I am just about to drift off, my brain brings up some huge mistake from my past and I am wide awake again with worthless, unnecessary worry. No sleep for me.

One of those burdensome worries comes from my time in grad school over ten years ago. I had an experiential learning assignment at an elder care facility. My final assignment was to gather a list of potential actives and field trip opportunities for the residents. I started the process but never finished. I told my field supervisor that if he signed my form, I would complete the assignment after the semester was over. I never did. 

Oh man, even writing about this makes my skin crawl. Most of us aren’t the kind of people who dodge assignments or fail to complete at least what we are told. 

In the gospel Jesus gives an example of real faith is. servants who do the bare minimum, and just do what was commanded do get special rewards or extra thanks. No they did was they were supposed to and that is good, but it isn’t extraordinary. 

The reality is when it comes to our faith lives, we rarely even accomplish the bare minimum. When it comes to following Jesus, we so infrequently do even the simple things Jesus asks of us. Most of the times we aren’t even unprofitable servants, we a servants who fall short of the bare minimum. And that is why we need mercy. We have a God who is love and who loves us so much that even when we fail to do only what was commanded of us, Jesus completes the rest, forgives us, and still invites us to dine with him. Will you receive God’s mercy?

Live it: Go to confession. I know, this is the “Live it:” like, at least 4 times a year. That’s how important God’s mercy is. So just go. What is keeping you from God’s mercy?

I failed Lent.

March 12th Sunday Readings

I failed in one of my Lenten commitments on the Thursday after Ash Wednesday. Yes, Fgradeliterally, on the 2nd day of Lent, I didn’t do one of the things I had committed to do. Part of me was, “Wow, that’s terrible.” This first born doesn’t like falling short.

As I was reflecting more on my failure, I started to feel a sense of relief. No longer was I bound by my desire to “pull off” a good Lent. No longer was it about my “perfect attendance” for my Lenten promises. I was free from having to do a good job, and could just see my Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving for what they were, a means to a end.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I mistake my means for my end. I think this is especially true when it comes to my spiritual practices. It’s as if I celebrate what is getting me to the thing I should celebrate.

In our gospel this Sunday, Peter makes the same mistake. Jesus is transfigured before him. Scripture says Jesus’ clothes turned dazzling white and his face shone like the sun. Peter got a taste of what Jesus resurrected looked like. Experiencing this moment, Peter asks if they can just stay on the mountain.

But Jesus eventually leads them back down to head into Jerusalem and ministry. The transfiguration wasn’t the end, it was the way in which God showed Jesus’ true identity and directly told the key leaders of Jesus’ followers that they should listen to Jesus.

Silhouette of Jesus with Cross over sunset concept for religion,The end was nothing less than Jesus’ death and resurrection and our salvation.

What if Peter had settled for the mountain top?

God used that moment to serve the bigger purpose. In the first reading, God tells Abram that he is going to make Abram’s family a great nation, but that is just a means in order to bless the whole world.

What is the greater purpose for your day to day actions? What are you working and living for?

Take 1 day or just 1 hour and every time you make a decision or do something, ask yourself, “Why?” Keep asking “Why?” until you think you’ve reached the end.

Try, Try Again.

The Good Word for Sunday February 7th ~ For the complete readings click here.

Have you ever completely failed at something? In 7th grade I tried out for my school’s basketball team. I hadn’t played organized basketball since 3rd grade. I wore a velcro-wristwatch to tryouts. I was relatively short and slow compared to most basketballs players. It didn’t go well. Needless to say I was cut pretty quickly. I tried out again in 8th grade. Same result.

I can’t imagine what it must have been like for Simon, James, and John. Fishing was their profession and source of income. Fishing was how they fed their families. Working hard all night and then catching nothing must have been a terrible disappointment. For them fishing was literally life or death.

When this stranger, not a local fisherman, tells them to try again, they probably thought he was crazy. Then it happened. They caught so many fish that their nets were ripping – from nothing to great abundance. This advice to persevere and go deeper brought them success.

When they fished without the guidance or presence of Jesus, they failed. When they followed his direction and went into deeper waters, they caught an overabundance. For truly overwhelming results, all they had to do was being willing to listen to Jesus and try again.

The same is true with us and Lent. I don’t know about you, but I’ve had some pretty tepid Lenten results. Okay, if I’m honest, I’ve failed at Lent. I don’t mean to say I didn’t keep my Lenten promise, but that my Lenten promise was lame, didn’t really mean anything to me, and didn’t help me grow spiritually. Nothing was different on day 40 of Lent from day 1.

If 2016 is going to be the best Lent we’ve ever had, we need to be like Simon, James, and John. Here’s how we do it:

  1. It’s about Jesus – No matter what we do, we need to make Jesus the most important thing. If giving up chocolate doesn’t really have anything to do with Jesus, then forget it. What thing are we going to do this Lent that helps us focus on Jesus? What can you do that will help you say Jesus’ name every day? What do you need to give up to make room for Jesus? Focus on Jesus.
  2. Try, try again – Had a bad Lent in the past? Never had a good Lent, like ever? Be willing to try again. Say like Simon, “I haven’t caught anything yet, but at your command Jesus, I will try again.” This time we need to fish in deeper waters. Maybe that means making a big Lenten promise this year that deepens our faith. Whatever we do, we need to try again this year.
  3. Look in a mirror – After the big catch, Simon figures out that there is something special about this Jesus. Simon knows he is a sinner and says so. Jesus forgives him and calls Simon to follow him. We do this by receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We think about the ways we have failed to do good and avoid evil, we own up to it, God forgives us, and then we can more full say yes to Jesus. Lent is the perfect time to do this. (check the HNOJ Lenten Guide for increased Reconciliation times).

Live It:
Sign up for a daily Lenten email. We recommend the “Best Lent Ever” emails from Dynamic Catholic. Every day you’ll get something to think about or do that will help you focus on Jesus, try again, and look in a mirror. Sign up here.