Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Thoughts on burnout

Aren’t you, like me, hoping that some person, thing, or event will come along to give you that final feeling of inner well-being you desire? Don’t you often hope: “May this book, idea, course, trip, job, country, or relationship fulfill my deepest desire”? But as long as you are waiting for that mysterious moment you will go on running helter-skelter, always anxious and restless, always lustful and angry, never fully satisfied. You know that this is the compulsiveness that keeps us going and busy but at the same time makes us wonder whether we are getting anywhere in the long run. This is the way to spiritual exhaustion and burnout.
Henri Nouwen

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Thoughts on enemies

Luke 6:27-38

Friends, our Gospel today is taken from Jesus’ Sermon on the Plain in Luke. It is one of more the puzzling texts in the New Testament. It speaks of loving our enemies—not tolerating them, or vaguely accepting them, but loving them. When you hate your enemy, you confirm him as your enemy. But when you love him in response to his hatred, you confuse and confound him, taking away the very energy that feeds his hatred.

There is a form of oriental martial arts called aikido. The idea of aikido is to absorb the aggressive energy of your opponent, moving with it, continually frustrating him until he comes to the point of realizing that fighting is useless.

Some have pointed out that there is a great deal of this in Jesus’ strategy of nonviolence and love of the enemy. You creatively absorb the aggression of your opponent, really using it against him, to show him the futility of violence. So when someone insults you, send back a compliment instead of an insult.

Bishop Robert Barron


Saturday, February 23, 2019

Thoughts on birthdays

Birthdays need to be celebrated. I think it is more important to celebrate a birthday than a successful exam, a promotion, or a victory. Because to celebrate a birthday means to say to someone: “Thank you for being you.” Celebrating a birthday is exalting life and being glad for it. On a birthday we do not say: “Thanks for what you did, or said, or accomplished.” No, we say: “Thank you for being born and being among us.”

On birthdays we celebrate the present. We do not complain about what happened or speculate about what will happen, but we lift someone up and let everyone say: “We love you.”
Henri Nouwen

Friday, February 22, 2019

Thoughts on human relations

In Sunday's gospel (Luke 6:27-38) Jesus offers his teaching and practice of human relations, advocating love of enemies and avoiding retaliation against those who harm us. Though this might seem to be saintly virtue, it is also good advice in the realm of human relationships, especially in contentious social and political contexts such as those many experience today.
Social scientists see the types of power we use in human relationships as corresponding to they type of involvement we can expect from others. If you try to coerce someone, you can expect that person to be alienated. If you base your relationships on reciprocity, you can expect that person to be always calculating on the basis of quid pro quo, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, a favor or advantage granted or expected in return for something: "you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours."
In today's Gospel (Lk 6:27-38) Jesus invites us to be more virtuous (and effective!) in our most important relationships, emptying ourselves into our dealings with others, beyond retaliation or an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.
What kind of power do I try to use in my relationships at home, at work, in my ministries and even in the public forum? Is it a coercive top-down type of authoritarian force, or do I invite full participation in important choices? Do I approach relationships with others on the basis of "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth" or do I try to stretch beyond coercion and retaliation to the fullness of the self-emptying love Jesus exemplifies for us all?

-Fr. Ted Arroyo, S.J.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Thoughts on intimacy

The Table is the Place of Intimacy
The table is the place of intimacy. Around the table we discover each other. It’s the place where we pray. It’s the place where we ask: “How was your day?” It’s the place where we eat and drink together and say: “Come on, take some more!” It is the place of old and new stories. It is the place of smiles and tears. The table, too, is the place where distance is most painfully felt. It is the place where the children feel the tension between the parents, where brothers and sisters express their anger and jealousies, where accusations are made, and where plates and cups become instruments of violence. Around the table, we know whether there is friendship and community or hatred and division. Precisely because the table is the place of intimacy for all the members of the household, it is also the place where the absence of that intimacy is most painfully revealed.
Henri Nouwen

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Monday, February 18, 2019

Thoughts on hospitality

Hospitality means primarily the creation of a free space where the stranger can enter and become a friend instead of an enemy. Hospitality is not to change people but to offer them space where change can take place. It is not to bring men and women over to our side, but to offer freedom not disturbed by dividing lines. . . . The paradox of hospitality is that it wants to create emptiness, not a fearful emptiness, but a friendly emptiness where strangers can enter and discover themselves as created free; free to sing their own songs, speak their own languages, dance their own dances; free also to leave and follow their own vocations. Hospitality is not a subtle invitation to adore the lifestyle of the host, but the gift of a chance for the guest to find his own.

Henri Nouwen


Saturday, February 16, 2019

Thoughts on miracles

Mark 8:1-10

Friends, today’s Gospel tells of Jesus feeding the four thousand with seven loaves and a few fish.

An awful lot of contemporary theologians and Bible commentators have tried to explain away the miracles of Jesus as spiritual symbols. Perhaps most notoriously, many preachers tried to explain the multiplication of the loaves and fishes as a “miracle” of charity, with everyone sharing the little that he had.

But I think it’s hard to deny that the first Christians were intensely interested in the miracles of Jesus, and that they didn’t see them as mere literary symbols! They saw them for what they really were: actions of God, breaking into our world.

Bishop Robert Barron


Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Thoughts on unconditional love

Make God's Unconditional Love Visible
Whenever, contrary to the world’s vindictiveness, we love our enemy, we exhibit something of the perfect love of God, whose will is to bring all human beings together as children of one Father. Whenever we forgive instead of getting angry at one another, bless instead of cursing one another, tend one another’s wounds instead of rubbing salt into them, hearten instead of discouraging one another, give hope instead of driving one another to despair, hug instead of harassing one another, welcome instead of cold-shouldering one another, thank instead of criticizing one another, praise instead of maligning one another . . . in short, whenever we opt for and not against one another, we make God’s unconditional love visible; we are diminishing violence and giving birth to a new community.
Henri Nouwen

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Thoughts on fear

The little box that fear built

by Marti Fischer

Fear, in my opinion puts us into a little box. Even though it is entirely too small for us to fit in, I think that, like a bully, fear chases after us until we jump into the little box to try and get away. The problem is, we don't fit. We try to squeeze in whatever way we can, but however hard we try, we leave an arm or a leg, or our head sticking out. 

Fear can overcome us on any ordinary day - like when we have been "had" or we feel like everything is "too big" for us, or we think we do not have what it takes to do what is called for. In the little box, fear is thrilled that an attitude of denial seeps in as we find good reasons and rationalizations for bad behavior, and justify unacceptable actions in others as well as ourselves. 

Fear deceives us; telling us we are not capable of doing more. In the little box, fear says we have no initiative, no energy, no get up and go. This is because we either cannot do the right thing right, or we have to always be 100% right, and thus, not able to show up for anything until we are perfect.  

In the little box, fear makes sure there are no perspectives except little things for little people ... like we become when in the little box.  

We left everything we need to be big on the outside. We left behind who we truly are.  You see, fear makes sure there is no room for us to be who we are in Christ. We don't even fit in the little box by ourself, much less anyone else. While in the little box, fear almost guarantees we will never be interactive and gracious.

How to escape the little box? How do we eliminate fear in our lives? 

Get out of the box and go. Step on fear - no, stamp on fear. Acton  dissipates fear. Head for the light. Be centered in Christ. Remain focused. And through the Holy Spirit, with finesse, give it your all - always willing to graciously give more from what has been given to you... Grace.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Thoughts on stress

Stress and Thanks
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
It’s not a law of physics, but it is a law of common sense: No two objects can occupy the same space at the same time. (There are some exceptions in the realm of molecular matter, but let’s stick to everyday “stuff.”) That makes perfect sense to us and we have no reason to try to prove that idea wrong. We move one thing if we want to set another thing in its place.

Strangely, we are not as convinced when it comes to spiritual things. For example, we are willing to worry about a problem and proclaim our faith in God at the same time. We don’t have a spiritual law that invalidates our effort, but our experience says it’s contradictory to worry and to praise God simultaneously. In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, the apostle Paul says there are three things we can do simultaneously since they support one another—rejoice, pray, and give thanks. The prayerful practice of joy and thanksgiving leaves no room for stress or worry.

At the first sign of stress, pray and give thanks to God for the joy that comes from trusting Him in all things. Not for all things, but in all things. 

Dr. David Jeremiah

The measure of our spirituality is the amount of praise and thanksgiving in our prayer.
D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Thoughts on your mission

What do you need for your mission? You need a keen sense of God as the absolute center of your life. In a word, you require the spiritual gifts of piety and fear of the Lord. I realize that these terms can sound fussy and puritanical, but they are actually naming something strong and essential.

You need fear of the Lord, which does not mean that you are afraid of God. It means that nothing to you is more important than God, that everything in your life centers around and is subordinate to your love for God. And your equipping needs to include piety. That means that you honor God above everything else, that you worship him alone. These spiritual gifts enable you to find true balance; they allow you to know what your life is about.

Equipped with these gifts, you are ready for mission. Having received the fire of the Holy Spirit, you are ready to set the world on fire. 

Bishop Robert Barron

Monday, February 4, 2019

Thoughts on humility

Going With the Flow
The Lord is my shepherd. . . . He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.
Psalm 23:1-2
In the Summer Olympic sport of kayaking, contestants mostly go with the current, navigating through gates. At times they are asked to reverse course, paddle against the whitewater current, go through the gate, then reverse direction back into the mainstream current. Going with the current is easier than going against the current.

The same is true in the Christian life. James 4:6 says that God gives grace to the humble but resists the proud. Humility is going with God’s “current” while pride is resisting His “current.” Think of God’s role as a shepherd of His sheep. One of a shepherd’s responsibilities is to lead his sheep. Following the shepherd is to go with the flow; going one’s own way is to risk danger. The Bible is filled with images of God as a shepherd who leads His sheep. Contented, peaceful sheep are those who follow God into places of rest and provision.

When life gets challenging, check to see if you are following God or not. Even if He leads us into a storm, as long as He is there we can be at rest (Mark 4:37-41). 

Dr. David Jeremiah

It costs to follow Jesus Christ, but costs more not to.

Friday, February 1, 2019