Two-Cents Worth – Good News for June 5

5 06 2010

Mark 12:38-44

In the course of his teaching Jesus said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to go around in long robes and accept greetings in the marketplaces, seats of honor in synagogues, and places of honor at banquets. They devour the houses of widows and, as a pretext, recite lengthy prayers. They will receive a very severe condemnation.”

He sat down opposite the treasury and observed how the crowd put money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents. Calling his disciples to himself, he said to them,

“Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury. For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.”

The Daily Path: Looking for somewhere to send your two-cents?

Catholic Charities

They’ve been providing hope to ALL of God’s children for 75 years.

Spirit of Truth – Good News for May 12

12 05 2010

John 16:12-15

Jesus said to his disciples, “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth.

He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming.

He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you. Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.”

The Daily Path: I know I can’t bear all of God. Fortunately, there are moments when I feel enlightened by the Holy Spirit. Usually just enough to help me see the way.

Truly, I could use a little more. How about you?

Eucharist – Good News for April 9

9 04 2010

John 21:1-14

Jesus revealed himself again to his disciples at the Sea of Tiberias. He revealed himself in this way. Together were Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, Zebedee’s sons, and two others of his disciples.

Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We also will come with you.”

So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore; but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?” They answered him, “No.”

So he said to them, “Cast the net over the right side of the boat and you will find something.” So they cast it, and were not able to pull it in because of the number of fish. So the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.”

When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he tucked in his garment, for he was lightly clad, and jumped into the sea. The other disciples came in the boat, for they were not far from shore, only about a hundred yards, dragging the net with the fish. When they climbed out on shore, they saw a charcoal fire with fish on it and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you just caught.”

So Simon Peter went over and dragged the net ashore full of one hundred fifty-three large fish. Even though there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come, have breakfast.”

And none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they realized it was the Lord. Jesus came over and took the bread and gave it to them, and in like manner the fish. This was now the third time Jesus was revealed to his disciples after being raised from the dead.

The Daily Path: Once again I feel compelled to remind you that I am not an expert in the Eucharistic tradition, and certainly not an accredited Biblical scholar. What I share is often simplistic, but it is my experience and always presented from the heart. In today’s Good News column, John tells us how Jesus again shares bread with his friends. I believe this is the third time in a week we have been given witness to a banquet of thanksgiving.

In many ways I think Jesus provided the groundwork for time tested Madison Avenue strategies – Tell the consumer what you want them to remember (do). Tell them again. Then tell them again. Jesus is a master of this. In the Gospel we are constantly reminded of what God wants of us. And it’s clear in these inspired passages we are being asked to share bread. “Do this in memory of me.” And, as Jesus models in today’s reading, we are asked to do more than just sit around the table and receive our “daily bread”. We are also asked to do the serving.

In recent weeks I have been working on two video production projects for Catholic Charities East Bay and the Diocese of Oakland. In both projects I have been brought in direct contact with both “servers” and “receivers” of the bread. I can only speculate why God is leading me down this path – and although I’m anxious for the answer to “why?” I’m trying to just observe carefully, trusting the answer will come. However, I can share what I have been privileged to witness. Thus I can definitively state that the experiences of both “server” and “receiver” are transformational. Here is what I mean:

Individuals who have received desperately needed assistance through various social justice programs – such as programs focusing on homelessness and immigration – are so moved by the experience that they themselves take up the cause so that others, equally in need, may also be helped. Men and woman, who before the economic crisis never would have imagined being in dire need of assistance, are receiving bread through these programs that keep the banks from foreclosing on mortgages, or that provide rapid deployment housing to keep once prospering individuals off the streets and out of an escalating downward spiral. This receiver experience is often so powerful, that the same individuals who were once terrified of giving public witness, are suddenly willing to step forward and become advocates. Men put ego aside and publicly share their weakness. Mothers find a voice in themselves strong enough to stand up to Wall Street. Children willing to take a four day bus trip across country – in the company of strangers – become family along the way, then sit with Congress and the President with the courage to open their hands, not in calling for handouts, but as an extension towards dialogue and understanding. The receivers have become the servers.

Truly, Christ calls us to share in the Eucharist as both receiver and server. But it’s not a Catholic thing or a just Christian thing. This bread is meant to be shared by all of God’s children.

Light Friday – Good News for November 27

27 11 2009

Luke 21:29-33

Jesus told his disciples a parable. “Consider the fig tree and all the other trees. When their buds burst open, you see for yourselves and know that summer is now near; in the same way, when you see these things happening, know that the Kingdom of God is near.

Amen, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.”

The Daily Path: If you plan to do battle with other Christmas shoppers at the mall today, please remember the forgotten who are in real need this Advent. Perhaps some of your Black Friday savings could be sent to an organization like Catholic Charities that make day-to-day living a little easier for so many. Even just a few dollars will help. Turn this Black Friday into Light Friday for someone in need of hope. Please take a moment to see some of the amazing work they do… Catholic Charities.

Genuine Giving – Good News for June 6

6 06 2009

Mark 12:38-44

In the course of his teaching Jesus said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to go around in long robes and accept greetings in the marketplaces, seats of honor in synagogues, and places of honor at banquets. They devour the houses of widows and, as a pretext, recite lengthy prayers. They will receive a very severe condemnation.”

He sat down opposite the treasury and observed how the crowd put money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents.  Calling his disciples to himself, he said to them, “Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury. For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.”

The Daily Path: On a number of occasions I have experienced the following scenarios, perhaps you have as well…

An individual who becomes displeased over something that has occurred in an organization they belong to. This change in attitude is always related to change. It may be new leadership, a perceived slight, or loss of personal prestige. As a result of this change, the person(s) decide to leave the group. Before pulling up their “tent stakes” to depart they make it clear to anyone within earshot that not only are they leaving, they are taking ALL their financial support with them.

I’ve seen this in schools, non-profits, and especially among parish communities. In some cases it is justified to leave a group. In my experience it’s most often related to ego and largely unjustified. These people are not only hurting the community they leave, they are hurting themselves and completely missing the teaching of Jesus as repeated in Mark’s gospel. 

I struggle with ego. Most of us do. The ME likes to be praised. The ME likes to be in positions of prominence and influence. The ME also has thin skin. We move about thinking of ME and the reflections of life we see are like looking in a mirror. You can’t see the whole picture… you only see YOURSELF. 

ME gives a few bucks to the church that won’t hurt ME’s financial position in the least. And then, when ME feels ME isn’t getting the recognition that ME deserves for this surplus donation, ME leaves in a huff with those few dollars that ME believes are all important. 

This isn’t genuine giving. It’s vanity giving. It enables us to walk around in our fine robes like the Scribes of 2000 years ago. When someone spills something on our fine robe we make a loud stink and leave.

I pray that I’m granted enough vision to always see the lesson Jesus teaches here. May my contributions to the faith community always be genuine and without strings attached.

Room to Chat: In this economy it’s pretty easy to achieve the level of giving until it hurts. Maybe this coming week we can all add a little bit extra to the basket and good (God) works we support.

One Tiny Fish – Good News for April 24

24 04 2009

John 6:1-15

Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee. A large crowd followed him, because they saw the signs he was performing on the sick. Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples.  The Jewish feast of Passover was near. When Jesus raised his eyes and saw that a large crowd was coming to him, he said to Philip, “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?” He said this to test him, because he himself knew what he was going to do.

Philip answered him,”Two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little.” One of his disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?”Jesus said, “Have the people recline.” 

Now there was a great deal of grass in that place. So the men reclined, about five thousand in number. Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were reclining, and also as much of the fish as they wanted. When they had had their fill, he said to his disciples, “Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted.” So they collected them, and filled twelve wicker baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves that had been more than they could eat.

When the people saw the sign he had done, they said, “This is truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world.” Since Jesus knew that they were going to come and carry him off to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain alone.

The Daily Path: Abundance where once only scarcity existed.

Sharing is one of the miracles of keeping Christ in our daily life and the opportunity to live His teaching. Sharing what we have with someone in need, is nothing short of miraculous for those on the receiving end. Even after reading John’s gospel our inner Stan Doubtsall may ask, “How can my one tiny fish make a difference when need is so great?” You’d be amazed at how far the metaphorical loaf or fish can go when there is nothing else.

What’s in my closet that will never see the light of day, yet could provide a job seeker the professional appearance that enables them to get a job? What have I hoarded that will never be touched in the next ten years, yet in the hands of someone else will be a life changing tool? Will I even notice a dollar or two donated to Catholic Charities, Salvation Army or any number of agencies that provide shelter to people with no other place to turn, that could keep them off the street and out of harms way the night they otherwise would have been beaten will sleeping in an alley? What about my time? Can I offer just a few hours of my time and skill that could in turn impact someone’s life forever?  

If I take a good look, I’ll see the demographic of need has shifted significantly. It’s not someone who lives on the “other side of the tracks.” It’s that family I once saw at the country club. The former manager who is now selling every possession just to feed his family while he struggles to find a job… any job. That person may even be me.

Trust me friends, now is the time that we all need to take a hard look at that little fish and tiny loaf in our basket to see how we can perform miracles of our own.

Room to Chat: (Psalms 34:19-20) The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; and those who are crushed in spirit he saves. Many are the troubles of the just man, but out of them all the Lord delivers him. The Lord hears the cry of the poor… let’s open our ears today and hear.

What’s My Line? – Good News for March 2

2 03 2009

The line on the left or the line on the right? 

Matthew 25:31-46

Jesus said to his disciples, “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’

Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’

And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’

Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’

He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

The Daily Path: One thing I would like to improve during Lent is my ability to see the face of God in others around me. All too often I can only see another human form. Most of the time I’m so wrapped up in ME that I’m blind and deaf. Even so close to home as with my own wife and children. I don’t care to join that line on the left of God with all the other Me-Me-Me-Me sopranos.

Do you have five minutes today to just investigate where the line is forming to God’s right? If you believe in the God of Abraham, or even if you don’t, what harm is there in at least considering how to feed, cloth and comfort another who is desperately in need? It can be a one time only event. A mere peek at what’s going on.

Or you can say, “I’m in. I want to try this.”

The line on the right forms in countless ways. It’s next to the cardboard shanty you see everyday under an overpass. It’s as close as next to your best friend who needs a little help during a tough time. You can seek out the line forming through a formal organization like Catholic Charities or Doctors Without Borders or an inner city shelter. Or it’s with that little start-up, Me, Inc. that has been so busy investing in itself that it’s lost sight of God in the faces surrounding it. 

Will it be the line on the left or the line on the right? The choice is ours.

Room to Chat: Lord God, give me the courage to open my eyes today and see your face in the world around me. Allow me to open my heart and mind. Enable me to use my hands in the service of others.