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.

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. 😉

Who are these older people?

Oct. 23rd Sunday Readings.

The other day I was online and saw a picture of a group of people posted by one of my

compare

Funny, cuz I pick the Chocolate Chip Cookie every time.

Facebook friends. I didn’t recognize the name of the person or anyone else in the picture and when I looked at the people’s faces I thought, “Who are these older people and how do I know them?” Turned out they were all people I graduated college with who are basically my same age. How did these classmates of mine age so much, while I have stayed the same?

Comparing ourselves to others is dangerous and not in a good way. When we use comparing ourselves to others to build ourselves up or comfort ourselves, we can actually become addicted to the practice. Needless to say, when we compare ourselves to others with more or better or prettier or funner, it’s hard to feel good, to be grateful for our life. Sometimes we compare ourselves to how we used to be, and we can take pride in that, but it can also lull us into a false sense of accomplishment or perfection.

In the gospel this weekend, Jesus tells a parable of two different people who went to the temple to pray. The pharisee extols his good deeds and thanks God that he isn’t like the sinners of the world. Meanwhile, the tax collector bows his head as he humbly asks for mercy. One man spends his prayer comparing himself to others, while the other focused solely on his own need for God.

Here’s the funny twist – the pharisee is doing all the right things. He is exceptional at following the law. He gives alms, prays well, and even fasts more than the law requires. Compared to others he is “better” at following the law. The twist in this parable is that our relationship with God isn’t dependent on how good we are at pulling it off; it is dependent upon how much we are willing to rely on God.

The pharisee is comparing himself to other sinners and consequently felt pretty good about himself. However, if we compare ourselves to perfection, we all fall short. Both the pharisee and the tax collector aren’t good enough to be justified with God. Neither are perfect. As good as the tax collector is; he isn’t perfect. Thus both are in need of mercy. If our measuring stick isn’t other broken people, but in fact perfect holiness; we all need mercy.

Are you perfect? No? Then our prayer is this, “Oh God, be merciful to me a sinner.”

LIVE IT
Take 1 day to try and stop comparing. Here is a method: Whenever you find yourself comparing to another (good or bad), thank God for this person. Instead of comparing ourselves to them, thank God for them. When in doubt, start and end your day with the prayer, “Oh God, be merciful to me a sinner.”

Hiding.

The Good Word for Sunday December 6th ~ For the complete readings click here. 

Goodwill-Retail-Center-Colorado-Springs-South-Circle-8-300x168Have you ever lost a child in a store? I did for about 43 seconds and it was the longest 43 seconds of my life. I was in JC Penny’s with my wife and two daughters. I was assigned to stay near the kids, when all of a sudden I couldn’t find the younger one. She was just gone.

Eventually we found her hiding in the middle of one of those round racks of clothes. When I asked her why she didn’t answer when I called out for her, just shrugged and laughed at me. I tried to explain that I couldn’t see her because of the clothes on the rack she plainly stated, “I know; that’s why I hid there.”

I think in our faith life we imagine that God is that child and we struggle in our search for him. As Catholic Christians we believe the exact opposite. God is actually searching for us, while we hide in the middle of a clothes rack. In other words, most religions can be described as man’s search for God, but Christianity is God’s search for man.

So why can’t God find us? He is all knowing and all-powerful, right? What’s the problem?

God is a gentleman and won’t force himself on any of us. God respects our free will. If we want nothing to do with him, that is exactly what we will get. But he also isn’t complacent and constantly and perfectly reaches out to us. And the good and amazing news is that the moment we want to grow closer to God, we can.

In the Gospel for this Sunday, John the Baptist is described as going through the whole region of the Jordan proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. How do we let God find us? Repent our sins.

The reading from Luke’s gospel goes on to quote Isaiah, the Old Testament prophet, to say that in order to get ready for God to come, we prepare the way, make paths straight, lower mountains, and fill in valleys. If we want God to find us, we need to clear a path for him to come to us. We must remove the obstacles between God and us.

How do we do that? We ask God to remove the obstacles. We ask God to clear a path. We invite God into our messy and messed up moments. We start this by simply calling out to him. We say whatever simple prayer makes sense to us. It could be, “Jesus, come help me with my mess” or “Jesus, have mercy on me” or just “Jesus, I need you.”

And if we really want to nuke the obstacles between God and us, there is no better way than the Sacrament of Reconciliation. If you want to clear a wide and perfect path to God, then the Sacrament of Reconciliation is your answer.

Live It:
For one week, make the simple prayer, “Jesus, I need you,” the first thing you say in the morning and the last thing you say at night. And/or go receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation. You’ll be glad you did.

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.

The Good Word for August 2nd

For the complete Sunday readings click here.

I have a problem with being “Hangry.” Do you know the term “Hangry?” It’s when I miss a meal or it’s getting late for a meal and my blood sugar gets a little low. Suddenly I turn into the Hulk and explode in unnecessary, silly anger at little things. I’m like the people in those creative Snicker’s advertisements that say, “You’re not yourself when you’re hungry.” That is getting hangry.

Sounds like, in our first reading, the Israelites were a little hangry. God just freed them from slavery and they start complaining about not having food. In the gospel, Jesus rightly tells the crowds following him that they are eager to search for him, not because of his miracles or teaching, but because he fed them and they are hungry again.

Being fed is such a basic need. Those in the world with little or nearly no food suffer greatly because of it. Those of us who rarely miss a meal still feel the pangs of hunger from time to time. Obviously, we need to eat to live.

In the Gospel, Jesus teaches that there is an even more profound hunger than the hunger for food. He says we need God and that which will satisfy us for eternity even more than food. Peter Kreeft says in Prayer for Beginners, “Eating keeps your body alive, and prayer keeps your soul alive.”

When the crowds ask how they are to accomplish the works of God, Jesus answers, “This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent.” If we are going to do God’s work and get eternally fed, then we have to believe and trust in Jesus Christ.

Later in the Gospel, the crowds ask for the bread that comes from God, and Jesus tells them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”

Jesus is the only thing that will satisfy the hunger in our soul. Anything less than that leaves us hungry again. How do we satisfy this hunger? As Catholics it is the Eucharist. The Eucharist is bread from heaven. The Eucharist is Jesus himself. The Eucharist is the ultimate feast and the food that satisfies our soul.

Live It:
Go to Mass. Whether it is this weekend or a weekday Mass, head to Mass and before receiving the Eucharist simply pray, “Jesus feed my soul.”

Extra Credit: I highly recommend Peter Kreeft’s book “Prayer for Beginners” which you can order from here or your favorite online retailer. First HNOJ parishioner to ask or email me about it gets a free copy.

Prayer-For-Beginners

The Good Word for July 19th

I'm too busy to tell people I'm busy.For the complete Sunday readings click here.

Have you ever told someone you were too busy for them? I wish I didn’t, but the people in my life I probably say this to the most are my kids. I never actually say those words, but what I often do is suggest they go play outside or in the playroom or go ask mom. Rarely is what I am doing so important that I shouldn’t take the time for them. Gosh, I don’t even like admitting this truth.

The thing is God is never too busy for us. He is never too busy to hear our trivial story or complaining or good news. God is never too busy to pay attention to exactly what we are saying. God is never too busy to give us exactly what we need. Certainly he doesn’t always give us what we ask for or want, but he is never too busy for us.

However, we often treat God like he is too busy, right? We say things like, “God doesn’t care about whether I am sitting in traffic, God has bigger issues in the world.” And yes it is true that there are bigger issues than Minnesota construction traffic, but that doesn’t mean he is too busy to listen to us.

God attends to us absolutely.

In our Gospel Jesus and the Disciples are exhausted. They are so busy ministering to people they, “had no opportunity even to eat.” Yet, on their way to rest and food, the crowds follow. Jesus “moved with pity” decides to forgo his rest so minister again to the people.

The same is true in our life. Jesus never tires of ministering to us. If we turn to God, God is there. If we speak, God listens. If we listen, God is powerfully present (sometimes we have trouble hearing – another blog topic altogether).

We can trust that no matter what, God won’t abandon us. God is never to busy for you.

LIVE IT:
Hearing God’s voice in the midst of our noice is tough, but he is always there. Take 5 minutes everyday this week to sit in silence. No words. No pressure. Just 5 minutes of silence.

The Good Word for July 12th

kickballFor the complete Sunday readings click here. 

At Bellerive Elementary School, I played a lot of kickball. Our field was lava-hot blacktop with yellow painted bases and base paths. If we kicked it far enough the ball would race past the hop scotch kids run all the way down a hill to the dumpsters behind the school – automatic homerun. We used to divide into two teams by naming captains and then have them pick their teams. Classic.

It was always such a relief to get picked. Sometimes I was a captain, but most of the time I was picked in about the middle of the group. Someone would call my name and I would confidently strut over to my team. Getting picked felt like someone was saying, “I choose you. I think you can help us win. I want you to be on my team.”

In our readings this Sunday, we hear about people being chosen by God. In the first reading, Amos explains that he was a shepherd, minding his own business, when God called him and sent him to prophesy to Israel. In the gospel, Jesus chooses the Twelve to go out and proclaim the good news, to call people to repent, and to heal the sick. In the 2nd reading, Paul reminds the Christians of Ephesus that they have been chosen to praise God. The thing with all these readings is that they show us that God has chosen us too.

God chose you.

And God continues to choose you. What has God chosen you to do? First, God has chosen you to be loved by Him. God chose you to be loved before you were ever born. The 2nd reading says, “He chose us in Him (Jesus), before the foundation of the world.” God chose us to be loved through Jesus Christ before creation of the world even took place. From the beginning of time to the end of time God loves and chooses you.

Second, God has chosen us to respond to his love. When someone tells us that they love us, we respond in some way, right? Same with God. God, through the scriptures, Mass, Reconciliation, our daily life, our spouse/family, and more is telling us that He loves us. How we respond matters. God showers His love down upon us, and our response is what we call “worship.” The 2nd reading says, “In him we were also chosen…so that we might exist for the praise of his glory.” If you’ve ever seen an overwhelmingly beautiful sunset and quietly said, “Oh wow God, thank you,” you’ve worshiped. Really praying the words or songs as Mass is another example of worship. Saying the simple prayer, “God you are awesome. Today was tough, but you got me through.” That is worship.

Third, God has chosen us to tell other people about our experience of God. Amos was sent to Israel. The Twelve were sent to the towns around them. You and I have been sent to our friends, our family, and Plymouth/Maple Grove/Wayzata/Medina, MN. When we have a profound experience of God’s love, we respond to God with praise, and we tell others about it. We were made for this. We have been chosen by God for this.

Live it:
Read the readings for this Sunday, July 12 by clicking here. Hear more about being chosen by God.

The Good Word for May 10th

For the complete Sunday readings click here.

IMG_7490

On Cinco de Mayo, I made a Tres Leche cake for my family. Tres Leche is a cake soaked in “3 milks.” It is super sweet and so good. One of my daughters couldn’t stop gushing about it. Finally she just said, “I love this cake.”

We use the word “love” to describe our appreciation for a number of different things. I love cake. I love my friends. I love my wife. All three statements mean different things. In other languages, they have different words that mean different things, but all of which get translated to love.

The great Christian author C.S. Lewis wrote a book called The Four Loves in which he describes four distinct ways we use the word Love.

The first love is Affection. This is the love that says, “I really like and appreciate this person.” When my kids do something that makes me proud, I love them in this way. This love is emotional and bubbles up within us as a response to the situation at hand.

The second love is Friendship. This is the love that says, “I like this person because we get along and share similar interests or goals.” We often share friendship with people just because of proximity. Being with someone can bring about friendship. A good example is the friendships you have at work or school, but don’t see those same people socially.

The third love is Eros. This is the love Continue reading

The Good Word for April 12th

For the complete Sunday readings, click here.kvefr1374s

When I was 21 years old, I went to Christmas Midnight Mass in Notre Dame Cathedral in Parish. Needless to say it was pretty amazing – beautiful liturgy in one of the grand churches in our faith. But I almost didn’t make it inside the building. While we were waiting in line, the police announced in multiple languages that the church was full and there would be no more room. Many people left. But my friends and I stuck around and sure enough in about 15 minutes they opened up the doors and we were allowed in.

“Good things come to those who wait,” is a classic piece of sage wisdom. We see this in our gospel this Sunday. Jesus appears to the disciples, but Thomas is absent. When Thomas returns he doubts his friends in a grand speech. The next line starts like this, “Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them.” If your friends started saying that they spoke to your executed and buried leader, would you stick around for a week? Would you remain with them?

Even though Thomas doubts what his fellow disciples were saying, he still sticks around. Even though he doubted their witness and questioned the resurrection, Thomas stays with the group until Jesus returns.

And how is he rewarded for staying with the other disciples and remaining in the community? He meets the resurrected Jesus Christ face to face. Thomas’ response to this encounter is to affirm that the risen Jesus is his, “Lord and God.”

What do we learn from Thomas and his story? If we are doubting or questioning our faith, if it is hard for us to believe the witness of our friends or understand the confident faith of others at church, our best response is to stick around. Even when we aren’t “getting anything out of church,” or finding it hard to believe, if we are willing to wait, God will make himself known and meet us in our unbelief. Then, after meeting the risen Lord face to face, we too can say that Jesus is our Lord and God.

Live It:
Give God 2 more minutes. Either at the end of your prayer time or after Mass this weekend, sit back down and close your eyes and pray for just 2 more minutes asking God to be with you the following week. Invite your family to do this as well; you might be surprised by Jesus.