Monday, October 30, 2006
Friday, October 27, 2006
Thursday, October 26, 2006
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
I wouldn't be in this mess
But because of my More
I can't fit through the Door!
In the gospel of Mark, we find the story of the "rich young man." I would guess that most of us know it pretty well. A man comes to Jesus, a good man, and he is searching for more than just being Mr. Nice Guy. He has a burning desire to get beyond the mere following of the rules. He has a thirst for something (or perhaps Someone) that the Law simply cannot fully satisfy, so he turns to this new Master.
People say Jesus is... qodesh, different. And He is different. The Hebrew word also means holy. He travels with the poor, He owns nothing, He expects nothing, and yet thousands follow Him. His very glance, they say, can heal. He speaks with authority, and deep joy streams from Him like rivers. They say "We have never seen anything like this before."
Jesus listens to the rich young man's plea, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" Haven't we all asked this question, in some way, shape or form?
Mark's gospel says "And looking at him, he loved him..." What a powerful image in itself! The God of the universe, listening and looking at me! And I looking back at Him! St. Theresa of Avila says that's the essence of real prayer. "Watch Him watching you. Look at Him looking at you."
And Jesus said to him...
(OK here it comes! The answer to my heart's deepest longing! Yes, I'm ready. Bring it on!)
"You are lacking in one thing..."
(One thing, that's it? OK, what is it? I can do this!)
"Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me."
Sell what I have? But I thought these were the blessings You gave me? I thought the land and the crops and the comforts were all Your gifts. If I do good then the blessings come, right?
Let them go. They are not Me. They are only reflections of Me. Only a foretaste of the Kingdom to Come. The first glimmers of a sunrise but not yet the Son.
"At that statement his face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions."
We don't know what came of this young man. But his searching for truth and his most moving of questions has afforded the millions of us after him with the teaching of what we must do to be perfect. Let them go. Don't let your possessions possess you.
Listen to the words of Jesus, words that seem tinged with sorrow, whispered as this young man walked away: "How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!" The disciples were amazed at his words. So Jesus again said to them in reply, "Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God." They were exceedingly astonished and said among themselves, "Then who can be saved?" Jesus looked at them and said, "For human beings it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God."
When I was young, I remember a priest telling us that in the Temple in Jerusalem there was a certain gate called the Needle's Eye. For a camel to pass through it, the travellers had to unpack its heavy load, taking away all of the luggage that could hinder it's entrance, and the camel had to stoop to get in. But it could be done. True or not, I like the image.
Heaven has a Cross-shaped Door. For us to enter in, we must open wide our arms. We must let go of the things we hold so precious here below. Even the slightest grasping of a gift other than the one before us will hinder our entrance into Love. So even now, can we let go? Can we unpack our hearts of all the useless baggage, the clutter, the sins of the past that have been forgiven? Can we move forward in the shape of the Cross, on the radical path, the Way of Total Self-Giving, through the eye of the needle, letting all the excesses of our lives be knocked away?
This is the challenge of the Gospel, this is the freedom we are made for. Searching our hearts, so long deceived by the lies of materialism, we know it's true. Can possessions really fill the void? No, only a person can. For we are made for relationship and communion. And not just communion with persons here below, for they too are signs and sacraments of the Person of Jesus, the One Who alone can satisfy us!
Sunday, October 22, 2006
This Mass was celebrated by Pope John Paul II. As a remembrance of the first missionaries, the Twelve Apostles, twelve men and women were chosen to receive a simple mission cross from the Pope and commissioned "to bring Jesus back to your country." I was given the amazing and unexpected grace to be selected as one of those twelve souls, representing the United States of America!
That moment of kneeling before Pope John Paul II, a man I consider a spiritual father, and hearing the prayers and songs of over 80,000 people in St. Peter's Square will never fade from my memory. It was there at the feet of Peter that I believe the seed was planted for the Mission Moment ministry. My goal (and every Christian's goal) should simply be to bring Jesus to the world, one word, one step, one moment at a time.... to open eyes to the wonder of faith, and the beauty of grace that comes streaming down from the Cross. Witness to the reality that we are loved. Deeply and unconditionally loved.
This can translate itself into your life in a million different ways. It does not have to be some elaborate program, this sharing of the gospel, but a simple daily "yes" to Grace.
I think of Pope John Paul II, and of how he lived the mission. It was so much deeper than mere words for him, more than meetings and encyclicals, and apostolic letters. What do people say who had the chance to meet him? "He looked me in the eyes, and I felt peace." Is there any other way to live the gospel? Is there any other action that says "Jesus" than this look of love?
Life is complex, but living is utterly simple.
Look with love. Listen with love. Open up to receive Love. Empty yourself now to give that Love away. This is the essence of mission. It's the movement of Love. And each of us is given so many mission moments in our life. Tomorrow is a Monday morning (for some it's a Tuesday ;) When and where will we be given a moment of grace? May we have the same grace to recognize and respond!
Thursday, October 19, 2006
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Monday, October 16, 2006
Sunday, October 15, 2006
Thursday, October 12, 2006
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Saturday, October 07, 2006
One of the last letters our beloved Pope John Paul II wrote before he left us was devoted to this favorite prayer of his. Here are a few choice quotes from it:
"The Rosary, though clearly Marian in character, is at heart a Christocentric prayer. In the sobriety of its elements, it has all the depth of the Gospel message in its entirety, of which it can be said to be a compendium.
It is an echo of the prayer of Mary, her perennial Magnificat for the work of the redemptive Incarnation which began in her virginal womb. With the Rosary, the Christian people sits at the school of Mary and is led to contemplate the beauty on the face of Christ and to experience the depths of his love."
Wow. What a powerful hymn to the power of the rosary. A compendium of the Gospel? That's quite a tribute. And the point of the rosary is to focus our gaze onto the Face of Christ. The Pope said we can follow and learn from Mary's gaze by praying the rosary:
"Thereafter Mary's gaze, ever filled with adoration and wonder, would never leave him. At times it would be a questioning look, as in the episode of the finding in the Temple: "Son, why have you treated us so?" (Lk 2:48); it would always be a penetrating gaze, one capable of deeply understanding Jesus, even to the point of perceiving his hidden feelings and anticipating his decisions, as at Cana (cf. Jn 2:5). At other times it would be a look of sorrow, especially beneath the Cross, where her vision would still be that of a mother giving birth, for Mary not only shared the passion and death of her Son, she also received the new son given to her in the beloved disciple (cf. Jn 19:26-27). On the morning of Easter hers would be a gaze radiant with the joy of the Resurrection, and finally, on the day of Pentecost, a gaze afire with the outpouring of the Spirit (cf. Acts 1:14)."
The rosary is a repetitive prayer, and this can be difficult for many to enter into. Others may feel it focuses too much on Mary, the Mother of Jesus. But here we should allow ourselves a moment to rest, to let go, and to listen to the rhythm of the saints. If we let ourselves feel the great heartbeat of the Church, catching its warmth, we find the words are meant to be like music, a soundtrack behind the drama of the gospel scenes. They offer us a rhythm, a beat, and if we step in time to that beat, we enter into the mysteries, the Great Dance. And through Mary's sweet heart, and the mysteries of her life, we see not a stumbling block but a stained glass window. And streaming through this heart like light is the Face of Jesus, Son of Mary and Light of our Days!
Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary, pray for us!
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