Saturday, November 30, 2019

Thoughts on discipleship


MATTHEW 4:18-22

Friends, today’s Gospel reports the Lord’s calling of his first disciples. What is it about this scene that is so peaceful and right? Somehow it gets at the very heart of Jesus’ life and work, revealing what he is about. He comes into the world as the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, a representative from the community that is God—and thus his basic purpose is to draw the world into community around him.

"He said to them, ‘Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.’" There is so much packed into that simple line. Notice the way that God acts. He is direct, in your face; he does the choosing. Jesus is not offering a doctrine, a theology, or a set of beliefs. He is offering himself: become my disciple, apprentice to me.

"And I will make you fishers of men." This is one of the best one-liners in Scripture. God is the Creator, the one who makes us from nothing. And what he makes us is always a reflection of himself: a fisher of men.
Bishop Robert Barron 

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Thoughts on silence

Holy Silence
At first silence might only frighten us. In silence we start hearing voices of darkness: our jealousy and anger, our resentment and desire for revenge, our lust and greed, and our pain over losses, abuses, and rejections. These voices are often noisy and boisterous. They may even deafen us. Our most spontaneous reaction is to run away from them and return to our entertainment.

But if we have the discipline to stay put and not let these dark voices intimidate us, they will gradually lose their strength and recede into the background, creating space for the softer, gentler voices of the light.

These voices speak of peace, kindness, gentleness, goodness, joy, hope, forgiveness, and most of all, love. They might at first seem small and insignificant, and we may have a hard time trusting them. However, they are very persistent and they will be stronger if we keep listening. They come from a very deep place and from very far. They have been speaking to us since before we were born, and they reveal to us that there is no darkness in the One who sent us into the world, only light. They are part of God’s voice calling us from all eternity: “My beloved child, my favorite one, my joy.”
Henri Nouwen

Friday, November 22, 2019

Thoughts on politics

In a time of extreme polarization in this country over politics and the hot-button issues that can turn any discussion into a battleground with opposing sides quickly turning into ugly shouting matches and even worse, it might be good for everyone to borrow a page from (the sports world) about how to hold differing views with civility, respect and good humor. One of the true values of sports is that it gives us an acceptable emotional outlet and a perspective on life from a different angle, and we certainly could all use a lesson in good sportsmanship when it comes to civil discourse in our current society.
John Fischer

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Thoughts on prayer

Why Pray?
Why should I spend an hour in prayer when I do nothing during that time but think about people I am angry with, people who are angry with me, books I should read, and books I should write, and thousands of other silly things that happen to grab my mind for a moment?

The answer is: because God is greater than my mind and my heart and what is really happening in the house of prayer is not measurable in terms of human success and failure.

What I must do first of all is to be faithful. If I believe that the first commandment is to love God with my whole heart, mind, and soul, then I should at least be able to spend one hour a day with nobody else but God. The question as to whether it is helpful, useful, practical, or fruitful is completely irrelevant, since the only reason to love is love itself. Everything else is secondary.

The remarkable thing, however, is that sitting in the presence of God for one hour each morning—day after day, week after week, month after month—in total confusion and with myriad distractions radically changes my life. God, who loves me so much that he sent his only son not to condemn me but to save me, does not leave me waiting in the dark too long. I might think that each hour is useless, but after thirty or sixty or ninety such useless hours, I gradually realize that I was not as alone as I thought; a very small, gentle voice has been speaking to me far beyond my noisy place.

So, be confident and trust in the Lord.
Henri Nouwen

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Thoughts on the mystical life

Acting in God’s Name
The first questions are not “How much do we do?” or “How many people do we help out?” but “Are we interiorly at peace?” . . . Jesus’ actions flowed from his interior communion with God. His presence was healing, and it changed the world. In a sense he didn’t do anything! “Everyone who touched him was healed” (Mark 6:56). . . .

When we love God with all our heart, mind, strength, and soul, we cannot do other than love our neighbor, and our very selves. It is in being fully rooted in the heart of God that we are creatively connected with our neighbor as well as with our deepest self. In the heart of God we can see that the other human beings who live on this earth with us are also God’s sons and daughters, and belong to the same family we do. There, too, I can recognize and claim my own belovedness, and celebrate with my neighbors.

Our society thinks economically: “How much love do I give to God, how much to my neighbor, and how much to myself?” But God says, “Give all your love to me, and I will give to you, your neighbor, and yourself.”

We are not talking here about moral obligations or ethical imperatives. We are talking about the mystical life. It is the intimate communion with God that reveals to us how to live in the world and act in God’s Name.
Henri Nouwen

Friday, November 15, 2019

Thoughts on crisis

Jesus occasionally has to remind us that the things we find most stabilizing in this world will have to be broken down, and only reassembled insofar as they point to God. The Temple of his time, so huge and sturdy, would be destroyed within 40 years, as he promised...unthinkable for believers of his time.

Jesus goes on to promise that families will experience tumult. Many children will leave the right path, even confronting fellow siblings or parents in the spirit of the age. For them. the unholy spirit of "offense" will proceed that of "rebellion." The foundation stones of family stability will indeed be uprooted. In this time of crisis Christ will be our only rock; indeed our families will find their solidity only insofar as they are ever-anew built on Christ.

On the personal level, humility will be necessary to accept my own being broken down. Everything in my life must be rebuilt on Christ. Even those natural gifts which have brought me so far till now will have to be reordered only to the building up of the Body of Christ. Am I ready to surrender these to such a purpose?

Jesus is tough sometimes, and he's not afraid to allow the edifices of our family and individual persons to be razed so as to build them back up on more solid foundations. One day we will be incredibly grateful  In the meantime it is both scary and painful.
-Fr. Anthony Wieck, SJ

Monday, November 11, 2019

Thoughts on peacefulness

Persuasive Peace

saint francis of assisiPeacefulness is its own persuasion. That is the best option for those committed to living the Gospel. The Franciscan response to sin and division is to forgive myself and my neighbor, thereby becoming peaceful in my own center, and then to reach out to others and “work mercy” with them, even with those whom I find it difficult to love, who repel me in any way. We work together toward the good, or we perish as individuals, as societies and as civilizations. Saint Francis began a new evangelization in his own time, not by trying to be social reformer. He simply loved Christ and lived the Gospel, and he and his brothers became thereby catalysts for social change. They became “Holy Fools” who turned the world upside down by simply living the truth of the Gospel of Christ. Like Francis and his brothers, we all can learn to love again, even in the midst of division and war. And the map Francis gave us for learning to love is the Gospel and his own life of following in the footsteps of Christ. This map has been summed up beautifully in his Peace Prayer, a prayer he did not write but certainly is the way he prayed and lived and taught by example. It is a prayer that outlines everything that made Francis the peacemaker that he was and the model for peace that he is for us today. It is a prayer that shows us how to find the truth again, if we’ve lost it, or to continue living in the truth we’ve already found and are trying to live.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Thoughts on gratefulness

Gratefulness strengthens a sense of belonging. There is no closer bond than the one which gratefulness celebrates, the bond between giver and thanks-giver. Everything is gift. Grateful living is a celebration of the universal give-and-take of life, a limitless “yes” to belonging.

Sunday, November 3, 2019