Do The Math – Good News for February 14

14 02 2009

Mark 8:1-10

In those days when there again was a great crowd without anything to eat, Jesus summoned the disciples and said, “My heart is moved with pity for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them away hungry to their homes, they will collapse on the way, and some of them have come a great distance.”

His disciples answered him, “Where can anyone get enough bread to satisfy them here in this deserted place?” Still he asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” They replied, “Seven.”

He ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground. Then, taking the seven loaves he gave thanks, broke them,and gave them to his disciples to distribute, and they distributed them to the crowd. They also had a few fish.
He said the blessing over them and ordered them distributed also.

They ate and were satisfied. They picked up the fragments left over—seven baskets. There were about four thousand people. He dismissed the crowd and got into the boat with his disciples  and came to the region of Dalmanutha.

The Daily Path – Seven loaves and a few fish to feed four thousand. The math doesn’t add up. But Jesus wasn’t teaching his followers any mathematic principles of this world.

In these challenging times so many of us feel as though we are down to our last few loaves with many days of hunger still ahead. But as the disciples and many thousands discovered that day, Jesus takes care of those who follow Him. This was a lesson for the ages.

No matter how bad your current situation, trust that God will satisfy your needs. The  “math” won’t add up. Don’t even bother trying. But do believe with all your heart that God will care for you. He will hear your prayer. He will feed you. He will bring abundance and joy into your life. He has done it for me and will also deliver for you. 

Room to Chat: Right now, before you do another thing, ask God to take care of you and your family.

Ephphatha! – Good News for February 13

13 02 2009

Mark 7:31-37

Jesus left the district of Tyre and went by way of Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, into the district of the Decapolis.  And people brought to him a deaf man who had a speech impediment and begged him to lay his hand on him. He took him off by himself away from the crowd. He put his finger into the man’s ears and, spitting, touched his tongue; then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him, “Ephphatha!” (that is, “Be opened!”) And immediately the man’s ears were opened, his speech impediment was removed, and he spoke plainly.  He ordered them not to tell anyone. But the more he ordered them not to, the more they proclaimed it. They were exceedingly astonished and they said,
“He has done all things well. He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

The Daily Path: I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating. For many years I was deaf to God’s messages to me. Apparently He grew tired of this after being petitioned for so long by my parents and others. So one day He said “Enough is enough.” and stuck His finger in my ear. I remain astonished how suddenly I could hear again. Now I’m proclaiming He can do all things… and does.

Room to Chat: With a long weekend of activity ahead I hope you will still find time to spend with Christ. I’m sure He likes to have fun, too.

At The Feet Of Jesus – Good News for February 12

12 02 2009

Mark 7:24-30

Jesus went to the district of Tyre. He entered a house and wanted no one to know about it, but he could not escape notice. Soon a woman whose daughter had an unclean spirit heard about him. She came and fell at his feet. The woman was a Greek, a Syrophoenician by birth, and she begged him to drive the demon out of her daughter.

He said to her, “Let the children be fed first. For it is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” She replied and said to him, “Lord, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s scraps.” Then he said to her, “For saying this, you may go. The demon has gone out of your daughter.”

When the woman went home, she found the child lying in bed and the demon gone.

The Daily Path: Mark’s gospel offers me two things. First, that I need a daily reminder to throw myself at the feet of Jesus in complete surrender. I must learn to humble myself and stop reaching out to wrestle back control of my situation. 

Second, it’s a reminder that I am not first. Who around me is worse off? Who can I help? These are desperate times for so many. Where is the abundance in my life that I can share?

Lord help me to see where I am needed most. Show me the way.

Room to Chat: I find that the more time I share with God the better my day is.

Hungry Man – Good News for February 11

11 02 2009

Mark 7:14-23

Jesus summoned the crowd again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand. Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person; but the things that come out from within are what defile.”

When he got home away from the crowd his disciples questioned him about the parable. He said to them, “Are even you likewise without understanding? Do you not realize that everything that goes into a person from outside cannot defile, since it enters not the heart but the stomach and passes out into the latrine?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.)

“But what comes out of the man, that is what defiles him. From within the man, from his heart, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly. All these evils come from within and they defile.”

The Daily Chat: I find myself growing increasingly hungry for a deeper understanding of the spiritual journey. The more I talk with God the hungrier I get. What once seemed so simple is gradually becoming more complex to me. Perhaps this is the weakness in me trying to once again take control of the situation. Maybe it’s normal for someone who has experienced a deep conversion. I don’t know.

One thing I clearly understand: how Jesus’ disciples felt. “Give us a break. We’re trying to understand as best we can.”

Room to Chat: Another hunger exists within me. The desire for more time to reflect. We move at hyper-speed in this country. I feel like a traveler on a Japanese bullet train trying to enjoy a glimpse of beauty just beyond my window. However, the train is traveling so fast it’s difficult to catch any detail of the surroundings. As long periods for contemplation are near impossible to find, the need for the mini-retreat becomes increasingly important to me. Moments of sanctuary to focus on God.

Quiet – Good News for February 10

10 02 2009

Mark 7:1-13

When the Pharisees with some scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus, they observed that some of his disciples ate their meals with unclean, that is, unwashed, hands. (For the Pharisees and, in fact, all Jews, do not eat without carefully washing their hands, keeping the tradition of the elders. And on coming from the marketplace they do not eat without purifying themselves. And there are many other things that they have traditionally observed, the purification of cups and jugs and kettles and beds.)

So the Pharisees and scribes questioned him, “Why do your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders but instead eat a meal with unclean hands?” He responded, “Well did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites, as it is written:

This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines human precepts.

You disregard God’s commandment but cling to human tradition.” He went on to say, “How well you have set aside the commandment of God in order to uphold your tradition! For Moses said,

Honor your father and your mother, and Whoever curses father or mother shall die.

Yet you say, ‘If someone says to father or mother, “Any support you might have had from me is qorban”‘
(meaning, dedicated to God), you allow him to do nothing more for his father or mother. You nullify the word of God in favor of your tradition that you have handed on. And you do many such things.”

The Daily Path: Today I offer you the gift of contemplation. Quiet your mind and hear Him.

The Mad Matter – Good News for February 9

9 02 2009

Mark 6:53-56

After making the crossing to the other side of the sea, Jesus and his disciples came to land at Gennesaret and tied up there. As they were leaving the boat, people immediately recognized him. They scurried about the surrounding country and began to bring in the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. Whatever villages or towns or countryside he entered, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and begged him that they might touch only the tassel on his cloak; and as many as touched it were healed.

The Daily Path: There are so many days when I wish someone would load me onto a mat and haul my old carcass down to the healer. Oh, for just a tiny thread on Jesus’ tassel.

Yesterday was one of those days when I needed healing. Lots of it. It was my day to feel the pain. The ironic thing is that Sunday started out so good. Went to Mass and was feeling great. From there it was all downhill. I let someone get under my skin and just couldn’t recover. I wish I could say that I handled it better than I did. FLUNKED THE EXAM.

But I did ask God repeatedly throughout the day for help dealing with the anger (and hurt) that was festering inside me. “Let it go. Let it go. God, help me let it go.” At least I got that part right.

Maybe I should buy one of those woven beach mats. When I get mad like yesterday, I’ll spread the mat out on the floor, lay down on it and shout: “I’m mad as hell and need the tassle! Take me to the tassle!”

Room to Chat: Buy a mat.

Renewable Energy – Good News for February 8

8 02 2009

Mark 1:29-39

On leaving the synagogue Jesus entered the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John. Simon’s mother-in-law lay sick with a fever. They immediately told him about her. He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up. Then the fever left her and she waited on them.

When it was evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons. The whole town was gathered at the door. He cured many who were sick with various diseases, and he drove out many demons, not permitting them to speak because they knew him.

Rising very early before dawn, he left  and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed. Simon and those who were with him pursued him and on finding him said, “Everyone is looking for you.”

He told them, “Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose have I come.” So he went into their synagogues, preaching and driving out demons throughout the whole of Galilee.

The Daily Path: Have you ever tried to evangelize a market on your new product? Have you spent most of the day preparing a delicious new meal for your family and then have to convince them to try it? What about changing a process that has been part of the workflow for many years. You know this will make things better but because no one else has experienced it you have to convince everyone involved… over and over.

If you’ve done any of these you know it’s not easy. It takes a lot of patience and tremendous energy. Often times it requires more determination than we have. Sometimes we’re just worn out and too tired to keep it up. Over the past couple of weeks the Gospel has been filled with examples of Jesus tirelessly teaching and healing. Crowds pursuing Him day after day. Over and over he demonstrates God’s love and absolute power. Demons of every kind lining up to do battle and ultimately being driven out as Christ heals so many.

The accounts indicate Jesus only stopped when He would go to off alone and pray to His Father. My tiny brain can only assume that in his prayer Jesus was asking for patience and energy… a renewal to carry on with these weak humans.

I’ve learned that I must constantly ask God for strength. Going to God was a new workflow for me that I had no experience with. At first I resisted. I had to be convinced. Our life on earth is hard. There’s no such thing as Easy Street for any of us. Like Jesus and the Apostles in Galilee, we have to face daily demands. For years I faced the challenges on one tank of gas. Eventually the fuel ran out and there was no gas station in sight. Fortunately God was driving by and stopped to fill me up. I’ve learned that in God I have a renewable source of energy wherever and whenever I need it. That doesn’t mean that my engine always operates at peak efficiency. Years of running with no maintenance has left me with a clunker. Regardless, I have experienced that through prayer (asking God for strength) He won’t leave me stranded.

This is why I want to share my witness with you. I want you to see what God has done in my life. I want to encourage you to try something you may not have any experience with. Perhaps if I tell you about my failures and challenges you’ll see some similarities and be willing to try something new. Maybe you’ll take a chance and ask God to fill your gas tank. And maybe you will be amazed when He does… just as I was.  

Room to Chat: Talk to God today.