You cannot bear it now.

Sunday Readings for June 16th, 2019

ray-fragapane-1483223-unsplash.jpg“Wait, everyone, I need to know what the plan is today!” This phrase is a pretty common request in my house these days. On a busy Saturday morning as we are dressed and heading out the door, it isn’t uncommon for one of my children (or me), to request to know what all the plans are for the day. 

I don’t think this is an inappropriate request. We all like to know what is planned for our days. This seems to be especially important when we aren’t the one in charge. When someone else is in control, it makes sense we would want to know what is happening.

I think the more we trust the person making the decisions, the more are willing to let go of knowing what is happening. If the person in charge has proven their ability to lead well, we are more likely to not need to know every single detail of our day. 

In the gospel Jesus says to his disciples, “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth.” He explains that he has more to reveal to them, but they can’t hear it yet. I wonder how the disciples felt in that moment? What is like to be told they can’t handle all that Jesus wishes to tell them? 

Do you think God has told you everything you want to hear? Has God revealed perfectly his plan for your life? Have you received a detailed itinerary for the rest of your life? Yeah, me neither. 

So how do we react knowing that God isn’t telling us everything? I think the answer depends on how much we trust him. 

I think there are three general categories in which our answer can fall.

First, we trust God as much as he is willing to share his plan with us. Reflecting on my late teens and early twenties, I think I trusted God, as long as he told me what the plan was going to be. It was as if I was saying to God, “Lord, I trust you completely, now just tell me what it is I need to trust you with.” 

Second, we don’t really trust God at all. We believe we are the best judges of what is best for us and no one else, even God, should be in charge of our own life. I might not ever think this sentiment, but I certainly act like I believe it. 

Third, we trust God with control and with knowledge of the plan. In this way we might say, “God, I not only trust you with my future, but I trust that you know what is best for me and give up the desire to know what the plan is.” I think when I vowed to love my wife for the rest of our lives, I was gifted with this level of trust. 

If we want to grow in trust with God, how do we do it? Jesus clearly says that it is the Holy Spirit that helps us grow in trust and the knowledge of the truth. Lean into the Holy Spirit and ask for a spirit of trust.

LIVE IT: Trying praying this prayer from St. Augustine for 7 days straight. See what happens to your trust in God!

Breathe into me, Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy. Move in me, Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy. Attract my heart, Holy Spirit, that I may love only what is holy. Strengthen me, Holy Spirit, that I may defend all that is holy. Protect me, Holy Spirit, that I may always be holy. 

 

3 ways to find Peace.

Sunday Readings for June 9th, 2019.

Last Wednesday was a good day. I worked out in the morning, prayed morning prayer, jordan-wozniak-256456-unsplashgot a tremendous amount of work done, met a friend for lunch, spent time with my children and wife, hit golf balls, cut the lawn while listening to an inspiring podcast, and watched my St. Louis Blues win a Stanley Cup Finals game while sipping a cold beverage. It wasn’t my perfect day, but it was pretty darn awesome. And yet I woke up the next day with a lump of anxiety lodged in my gut. 

I examined careful the rest of the week, but found not a single anxiety producing plan. I examined my conscious to make sure I wasn’t carrying some hidden sin that was pricking my anxious heart. I didn’t but I made a point to plan a Confession time just in case. I even bravely asked my wife if everything was okay, just in case she knew. Nothing. Everything was good. The sun was shining, and I couldn’t find the cause of my fretting. So I went back to reading the news (oops). 

I don’t know about you, but for me, even on my very best days, I can feel pretty anxious. Some of my worries can easily be attributed to a source, and other times I can’t quite identify why I’m worried. Truth be told, when I can’t identify the source of worry, it is usually because I am reading the news or paying too much attention to social media, or am taking on other people’s concerns. It’s almost as if I find comfort in worry in some weird way.

In the gospel this weekend, Jesus offers his disciples Peace. In fact, twice Jesus says, “Peace be with you,” to his disciples. With this Peace Jesus calls them to continue his mission of preaching the gospel and trying to save the world. Then Jesus literally breaths his Spirit into them and gives them authority to do this mission. 

Jesus wants to offer you and I that same Peace. I need it. I want it. Most of the time, I live in such a way that I deny it. Rather than receive the Peace that Jesus offers me, I try to distract myself from my daily stress and, in turn, only stress myself out more. 

If we want to receive and accept the Peace Jesus offers us, what must we do? I think there are 3 steps that will help us know the Peace of Christ. 

  1. Get Quiet – Find a small period of silence in each day. Turn off the car stereo. Hide your phone in a drawer. Turn off your TV. How can we find peace when our day is filled with noise? Maybe even make a news or information fast – don’t read the news or look at social media for 3 days or a week. See if you find some peace.
  2. Receive the Holy Spirit – Jesus Christ offers us the Holy Spirit, the third member of the Trinity (like literally God) to be our guide, helper, and dynamic catalyst. The Holy Spirit will help us find peace if we ask. Invite the Holy Spirit into your life and then ask the Holy Spirit for peace. 
  3. Go on Mission – There could be loads of reasons why we don’t have peace, but one reason could be is that we aren’t doing what we are meant to be doing. Maybe we’re stuck in someway that isn’t God’s will. We are all called to help other know Jesus. Ask a friend how they are doing. Invite someone to Church with you. Start a Bible study or book club. Go on Mission and you might just find peace. 

LIVE IT: Choose one of the three steps above and give it a try. Or be bold and go for all three. Peace! 

Power.

Sunday Mass Readings for June 2nd, 2019.

vanveenjf-1167425-unsplash.jpgI wasn’t worried. I wouldn’t say panicked either, but I did have a 3+ hour flight and with less than 20% battery life, my phone wasn’t going to make it. I searched in my immediate gate area for an open plug, a source of electricity, but finding none, my pace quickened until, mercifully, I saw it – an open plug 2 gates away. I plugged in and power rushed into my device. 

My phone can’t generate power. It needs to pull power from another source to charge its battery. What happens if I don’t plug it in? The phone dies. 

In our readings this Sunday, we read about Jesus’ Ascension into heaven. In both Acts and the Gospel of Luke, Jesus says that when he leaves the disciples, he will send them power. That power comes from the Holy Spirit. In the gospel he says, “And behold I am sending the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

Jesus desires to give us power. Not just confidence or inner strength (which are good things), but true power. The Holy Spirit is the true source of power. Jesus has committed to us not just stories about his life or a set of teachings, but his very spirit so that we might live powerfully. As Catholics, we aren’t just supposed to follow the rules and be nice people – Jesus promises to give us the very power of God. We are called to act powerfully.

What exactly are we supposed to do with this power? Witness. Jesus leaves us the Holy Spirit so that we can bear witness to the truth about Jesus and about our faith. In Acts of the Apostles Jesus says it like this, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

The source of power is the Holy Spirit. The purpose is for us to be witnesses of faith. The early Christians were witnesses during a time of great Christian persecution and often witnessed by dying for their faith. How are we going to witness about our faith? How have we received power from the Holy Spirit?

(Oh, one other thing. Without receiving power from the source, the Holy Spirit, our faith tends to become like phone that hasn’t been plugged in – dead. No connection to the source – no power and thus we can’t do what we were made to do, love and witness.)

LIVE IT: Want to feel powerful? Ask for power for the Holy Spirit in prayer. Whether it is in personal prayer time or at Mass as God to send his Spirit into your life so that you can live powerfully. Then offer God to use that power to help you witness. 

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.

The Good Word for May 31

1366654673_lk_ss_26For the complete Sunday readings click here.

In the final line from the gospel for this Sunday Jesus tells us that, “I am with you always, until the end of the age.” I think a lot of us take great comfort in this promise and believe whole-heartedly this truth. But what does Jesus really mean?

I think it would be easy for me to interpret Jesus’ words to mean something like the scene in the Lion King when Simba looks up into the sky and sees the face of his father Mufasa and then Rafiki says something like, “See your father will always be with you.” I’m reasonably sure Jesus didn’t mean that.

It could be that we interpret Jesus to mean that his ideas or philosophy would always be with us. Kind of like, as long as Jesus’ good ideas are alive, Jesus is alive. But I’m pretty sure would have said that if he meant it.

No one would blame us if we interpreted Jesus to be sort of repeating an earlier line that wherever two or three are gathered, Jesus would be there. But that isn’t exactly what Jesus says here. His message is straightforward. He promises to be with us.

So what does Jesus mean?

At the end of nearly every gospel, Jesus promises to leave us an Advocate, the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit isn’t just some breeze or flame, but a full, true member of the Holy Trinity. The Holy Spirit is God. In John 14:15-31, Jesus promises to send his Holy Spirit to be with us forever. Jesus says, “I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. The Advocate, the holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name – he will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you” (Jn 14:18, 25).

When Jesus says he will be with us always, he really means it. Not in some metaphoric way, but truly, completely, and really present to us.

Do you have trouble believing this? Do you have trouble feeling like Jesus is present to you? Do you ever wonder if anyone really hears your prayer?

If so, then you are like most of the great saints of our Church. Everyone struggles to believe this truth at some point in their faith journey. The good news is that even when we struggle to believe it, Jesus is still with us. God is still close to us. The Holy Spirit is ever moving to powerfully work in our lives.

Live It:
Visit HNOJ’s Chapel. Whether or not you are having trouble knowing Jesus is present to you, I highly recommend HNOJ’s Chapel. You can sit in peace and quiet, while in the real presence of Jesus found in the Eucharist. Never been to the chapel? Not sure how to go? It’s simple: walk in, make the sign of the cross, kneel or sit, and give your attention to Jesus for as long as you like. Want to know more? Email me.