Lifeboat – Good News for January 31

31 01 2009

Mark 4:35-31

On that day, as evening drew on, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us cross to the other side.” Leaving the crowd, they took Jesus with them in the boat just as he was. And other boats were with him.

A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat, so that it was already filling up. Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion. They woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”

He woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Quiet!  Be still!” The wind ceased and there was great calm. Then he asked them, “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?” 

They were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?”

The Daily Path: Today’s Gospel from St. Mark is not only timely for many of us, but it also mirrors recent events in my life. Very few remain untouched by the stormy global economy. Deep cost cuts are the focus of every business. Consumer confidence is dropping and jobs are vanishing. The bottomline is this: like the Apostles in today’s Gospel, people are afraid. 

I was afraid, too. I would lay awake at night wondering how to feed my family and keep a roof over their head. I prayed and prayed. Many other people were praying for me. And as I prayed I kept trying to work out a way to regain control over the situation and emerge from the serious financial trouble I was in. But the downward spiral continued. My boat was sinking fast.

As the months progressed I was encouraged to “turn these worries over to God.” This theme began to appear in more and more places in my life. God was actively using His marketing team to get through to me. Some of the most remarkable people I’ve ever met provided great counsel. Each in their own way put some of the weight I was carrying onto their own shoulders. Each of them told me that no matter how smart I was or how hard I threw myself at the problem, I was not in control and never would be. Like Jesus in the boat, each of them pointed to the only thing that could help… absolute faith that “God will take care of me and my family.” I had to hand my worry over to God with complete faith that He would provide.

Guess what? The message sunk in. Old Mr. Stubborn finally gave up. One Sunday at Mass I said to God: “I can’t do this anymore. I’m putting my burden up there on the altar. I’m leaving it behind. When I walk out the door… it’s yours.”

That’s when things began to change. A sense of peace replaced the  growing despair. I finally got some sleep at night. Other things began to happen. Encouraging signs here and there. Little positives that began to build into greater things. Friends and strangers rallying behind me. I was suddenly finding abundance where before I could only see an empty hole. Removed from the outcome I was growing strong again. God was taking control. 

I’m not completely out of the squall, but I’m no longer afraid. I now know that God is at the helm of my little boat. Not only is He steering a safe course home, He’s given me a blanket to keep out the cold. 

My friends, give your worries to God. Have complete faith that He will wrap you up and keep you safe. No matter how violent your own storm may be at the moment… turn it over and God will provide. I know this to be true.

Room to Chat: God, Thank you sending your advance marketing team my way. You really know how to get superior message retention, don’t you?

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Running A Marathon – Good News for January 30

30 01 2009

Hebrews 10:36-39

You need endurance to do the will of God and receive what he has promised.

For, after just a brief moment, he who is to come shall come; he shall not delay. But my just one shall live by faith, and if he draws back I take no pleasure in him. 

We are not among those who draw back and perish, but among those who have faith and will possess life.

The Daily Path: I ran out of gas at the 18-mile mark. Dropped right down on the track and took a nap. When I woke up I was at the 50-mile pylon with a 32-mile wide canyon behind me. Hmmm. Guess I won’t get credit for those lost miles when I reach the finish line. 

Did you poop out along the way, too? Need some Vita-Meta-Vegamin for the soul? Head over to the trainer’s table. He’s got some soul food that won’t clog your arteries.

Room to Chat: Ever just pop into a chapel and sit quietly for a short time?





Get Aroused – Good News for January 29

29 01 2009

Mark 4:21-25

Jesus said to his disciples, “Is a lamp brought in to be placed under a bushel basket or under a bed, and not to be placed on a lampstand? For there is nothing hidden except to be made visible;  nothing is secret except to come to light. Anyone who has ears to hear ought to hear.”

He also told them, “Take care what you hear. The measure with which you measure will be measured out to you, and still more will be given to you. To the one who has, more will be given; from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.

The Daily Path: I want to use today’s reflection to share a cut from St. Paul’s letter to the Hebrews 10:24-25. Call it my Two-for-Thursday Special

“We must consider how to rouse one another to love and good works. We should not stay away from our assembly, as is the custom of some, but encourage one another, and this all the more as you see the day drawing near.”

As you reflect on these “rousing” words from St. Paul, I’m retreating into a very “me” focused line of thought. Although they seem selfish, I will share my thoughts because that’s what I do in The Daily Path

These days I often think of what I want to do with the rest of MY life. MY outlook has changed significantly over the past few years. There’s a lot of fire in MY engine that wants to be applied to “love and good works.” And that is the challenge. How do I meet MY obligations, give my family what they want and need, and still find greater capacity for the good (God) works? Self-absorbed “me” wants to have it all in one bundle: a passionate career of good works that fulfills me and provides for my family.

God, I’m turning this one over to you.





Mr. Seed Takes A Trip – Good News for January 28

28 01 2009

Mark 4:1-20

On another occasion, Jesus began to teach by the sea. A very large crowd gathered around him so that he got into a boat on the sea and sat down. And the whole crowd was beside the sea on land. And he taught them at length in parables, and in the course of his instruction he said to them, “Hear this!  A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Other seed fell on rocky ground where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep. And when the sun rose, it was scorched and it withered for lack of roots. Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it  and it produced no grain. And some seed fell on rich soil and produced fruit. It came up and grew and yielded thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.”
He added, “Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear.”

And when he was alone, those present along with the Twelve questioned him about the parables. He answered them, “The mystery of the Kingdom of God has been granted to you. But to those outside everything comes in parables, so that they may look and see but not perceive, and hear and listen but not understand, in order that they may not be converted and be forgiven.”

Jesus said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? Then how will you understand any of the parables? The sower sows the word. These are the ones on the path where the word is sown. As soon as they hear, Satan comes at once and takes away the word sown in them. And these are the ones sown on rocky ground who, when they hear the word, receive it at once with joy. But they have no roots; they last only for a time. Then when tribulation or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. Those sown among thorns are another sort. They are the people who hear the word, but worldly anxiety, the lure of riches, and the craving for other things intrude and choke the word, and it bears no fruit. But those sown on rich soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.”

The Daily Path: As I look back on my life so far, I think Mr. Seed sprouted legs and moved about from soil to soil.

In my case, Mr. Seed originally landed on good soil near the edge of the garden. He did hear God, but was caught on the sole of a passerby’s shoe and was whisked away.

At some point, Mr. Seed was dislodged from that shoe and flew off into Thorn City and its allure of bright lights, frequent temptations, success, and other false promises. There he stayed for a long time until an earthquake popped him up into the air where he was caught in a wind that blew Mr. Seed out of the thorns to some new soil.

Suddenly Mr. Seed could hear God and feel The Lord around him. Mr. Seed quickly sprouted new growth. Up, up, up towards the sun (Son) he went. At the same time his roots spread out seeking water and nutrition. Sometimes the roots hit one of those old rocks from where Mr. Seed used to live. But healthy roots move around a rock as if they weren’t there. Sometimes they persevere and go right through the rocks driven onward toward the best soil. 

I know that I am driven to find the best soil this life has to offer so that I can continue to grow upward toward God and down deep into the soil that will sustain both myself and the fruit that now grows with me, my family.

I’ve found God’s MiracleGrow and allowed it into my life to help me draw ever closer to Our Lord. But Mr. Seed’s journey is not over. Please keep me in your prayers and ask God to continually strengthen my roots and yours. 

Room to Chat: Today as you walk about, look for some vegetation around you. Think about your own Mr. or Ms. Seed. Ask God to take you to the good soil.





My Story – Good News for January 27

27 01 2009

Psalms 40:2

I have waited, waited for the LORD, and he stooped toward me. Drew me out of the pit of destruction, out of the mud of the swamp. Set my feet upon rock, steadied my steps. And he put a new song into my mouth, a hymn to our God. Happy those whose trust is the Lord.

Sacrifice or oblation you wished not, but ears open to obedience you gave me. 

I announced your justice in the vast assembly; I did not restrain my lips, as you, O LORD, know. Your justice I kept not hid within my heart; your faithfulness and your salvation I have spoken of; I have made no secret of your kindness and your truth in the vast assembly.

Here am I Lord; I come to do your will.

The Daily Path: Wow! This IS my story… and I’m sticking to it.

Here’s the best part: It can be your story, too. When God stoops down to pick you up, allow yourself to be held. 

Room to Chat: If you have children find more opportunities to just sit back and watch them from a distance. Take off your parent lenses and just watch these amazing little gifts from God.





Touchdown Jesus – Good News for January 26

26 01 2009

St. Paul’s Letter to Timothy 1: 7

For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control. So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord, nor of me, a prisoner for his sake; but bear your share of hardship for the Gospel with the strength that comes from God.

The Daily Path: How often do “the guys” sit around and talk about God in their lives?  It’s easy to talk about a defensive lineman crushing a quarterback. Not so easy to share how God has made a difference in you. When was the last time someone shook your hand in a sports bar and said “Nice to meet you. I’m Catholic. How about you?”

Maybe they do at Notre Dame. “Remember Zacchaeus? Yeah, he was a little dude, but man, that cat could run. 4.3 at the Galilee Scouting Combine.” 

Room to Chat: As you do the laundry this week, ask Jesus if it was easier running around with no socks.





My Road to Damascus – Good News for January 25

25 01 2009

Acts 22:3-16

Paul addressed the people in these words, “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city. At the feet of Gamaliel I was educated strictly in our ancestral law and was zealous for God, just as all of you are today. I persecuted this way to death, binding both men and women and delivering them to prison. Even the high priest and the whole council of elders can testify on my behalf. For from them I even received letters to the brothers and set out for Damascus to bring back to Jerusalem in chains for punishment those there as well.

“On that journey as I drew near to Damascus, about noon a great light from the sky suddenly shone  around me. I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ I replied, ‘Who are you, sir?’ And he said to me, ‘I am Jesus the Nazorean whom you are persecuting.’ My companions saw the light but did not hear the voice of the one who spoke to me. I asked, ‘What shall I do, sir?’ The Lord answered me, ‘Get up and go into Damascus, and there you will be told about everything appointed for you to do.’ Since I could see nothing because of the brightness of that light, I was led by hand by my companions and entered Damascus.

“A certain Ananias, a devout observer of the law, and highly spoken of by all the Jews who lived there, came to me and stood there and said, ‘Saul, my brother, regain your sight.’ And at that very moment I regained my sight and saw him.

Then he said, ‘The God of our ancestors designated you to know his will, to see the Righteous One, and to hear the sound of his voice; for you will be his witness before all to what you have seen and heard. Now, why delay? Get up and have yourself baptized and your sins washed away, calling upon his name.'”

The Daily Path: Three years ago today, God called my name in a loud voice to get my undivided attention. On Saturday, January 25, 2006. I told my wife “You’d better drive me to the Emergency Room. I think I’m having a heart attack.” My life changed forever over the next 24 hours. One minute I’m doing the workaholic thing, the next I’m receiving the Sacrament of the Sick and Dying. In the weeks and months to follow, my health was restored… as was my Faith. I used to joke that I was a “recovering Catholic.” Suddenly I was in God’s recovery mission for my generation of lost Catholics.

What I hadn’t realized until today is that January 25 is the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. I knew there were similarities between Saul and myself in the fact that God acted in dramatic fashion so we would hear Him above all else. I wasn’t thrown off a horse, but I was knocked off the path I’d been following for so long. This serious medical intervention was God’s first action to call me home (the second is detailed in About: Good News To-Go!) Please don’t misinterpret this. I’m no saint and I certainly don’t pretend to have been called to the same place as St. Paul. I’m just another guy trying to keep God close. 

There is one other small thing we have in common: I took the name of Paul for my Confirmation. At the time I thought it was just because I liked the name Paul. Perhaps there was more to that selection than I realized. While Saul got an instant jolt from the Holy Spirit, mine took 36 years after Confirmation to kick in. Better late than never. Thank you, God!

My friends, as you travel your own road to Damascus, listen and look for God at work. He’s calling you home. I just hope your call won’t be as scary as mine was three years ago.