Faith Trilogy – Good News for October 3

3 10 2010

Habakkuk 1

How long, O Lord? I cry for help but you do not listen! I cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not intervene. Why do you let me see ruin; why must I look at misery? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and clamorous discord. Then the Lord answered me and said: Write down the vision clearly upon the tablets, so that one can read it readily. For the vision still has its time, presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint; if it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late. The rash one has no integrity; but the just one, because of his faith, shall live.

St. Paul’s Second Letter to Timothy 1:6-8, 13-14

I remind you, to stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands. 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.

Take as your norm the sound words that you heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Guard this rich trust with the help of the Holy Spirit that dwells within us.

Luke 17:5-6

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” The Lord replied, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.

The Daily Path: Today’s readings present a perfect storm of guidelines for maintaining and growing our faith. Friends, regardless of where you find yourself in the spiritual journey, or even if you have unintentionally come upon this posting, keep these passages close. In them I have found the call to greater patience, courage, and understanding of the mystery of God.

Last night, I had the pleasure to witness the grace of God at work. It was a lifetime in the making, but culminated by a group of friends after months of planning. This band of “conspirators” wanted to recognize two individuals in their community (familia) who have embodied all of the calls to faith that were described in today’s trilogy of readings. What I saw last night was a cyclical act of genuine love flowing back to two people who have strived throughout their lives to be sources of God’s great love for us all.

Many months ago I received an e-mail from the conspirators advising me that they planned to take action, and asking for my assistance. Their plan was to pursue formal recognition – in the form of the Diocesan Medal of Honor – for my parents, Herb and Claire, who have gone about the work of Christ in their faith community for some 50 years. The conspirators put together a compelling case for the honor by carefully identifying a body of work that could have filled volumes with incremental acts of selfless giving.

When the case put forth to the Diocese had been reviewed and approved, their pastor informed them of the honor that was to be bestowed on them. Mom and Dad’s immediate response was “We’re not worthy of such an honor. We did so little.” In this I beg to differ, as do the band of conspirators who represent all in the “familia” that is your faith community.

Few have weathered the storms of life with the patience told of by Habakkuk. Few have so courageously answered St. Paul’s call to embody Christ’s teachings and in turn become true teachers of His love. Few have relentlessly asked God for the grace that is faith.

My parents never had the means to write the big checks that build cathedrals or parish centers. But they used their “wealth of willingness and ability” as few have, by bringing friends together to act in love, including the stranger so that they always felt welcome, helping the troubled find forgiveness, and leading people – young, old and indifferent – to Christ. It is an impressive body of work, but to my mom and dad it was just allowing their hearts to remain open to God’s calling for them in this life.

No, Herb and Claire, we all stand behind this conspiracy. You have earned this honor… ten-fold!

Knowing my parents, it was not the gold medal or the accompanying certificate bearing the bishop’s signature that they will cherish most, instead I think it was the mere idea that anyone would want to pursue this honor for them, AND the rousing crescendo of genuine affection that rose up last night from a church full of their fellow parishioners, many of whom have been the recipients of God’s love through His servants, Herb and Claire.

We are all blessed to have them in our lives and thank them for a lifetime of love.

Our Script – Good News for March 1

1 03 2010

Luke 6:36-38

Jesus said to his disciples, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

“Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.”

The Daily Path: Having a rough Monday? Follow this great script. It’s been handed down direct to you.

Room to Chat: Father, hold your faithful servant Laura Marie Smith close this week as she prepares for open heart surgery. She’s been following the script for a long time.

Givers Win – Good News for October 19

19 10 2009

Luke 12:13-31

Someone in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me.” He replied to him, “Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator?”

Then he said to the crowd, “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.”

Then he told them a parable. “There was a rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest. He asked himself, ‘What shall I do, for I do not have space to store my harvest?’ And he said, ‘This is what I shall do: I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones. There I shall store all my grain and other goods and I shall say to myself, “Now as for you, you have so many good things stored up for many years, rest, eat, drink, be merry!”’

But God said to him, ‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’ Thus will it be for the one who stores up treasure for himself but is not rich in what matters to God.”

The Daily Path: I’m no psychologist, but I know enough to understand that we go through several stages in our life. So many of us spend our youth driven to gather possessions. For some, the youthful “gatherer” stage is extended well beyond mid-life. You may have seen a popular bumper sticker that proclaims “Whoever dies with the most toys wins the game.” While still lost in my own youthful greed I have come to see that nothing could be further from the truth. Giving, not storing makes one a winner. Why am I always a late bloomer?

Room to Chat: Our Lord has blessed my mother with His healing grace. Yesterday, she returned home from hospital and is well on the road to recovery. Thank you all for your many prayers and acts of giving! I’ve been shown “the way of a giver” through your generosity and love.


Doing Likewise – Good News for October 5

5 10 2009

Luke 10:25-37

There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test Jesus and said, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read it?”

He said in reply, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” He (Jesus) replied to him, “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.” But because he wished to justify himself, he said to Jesus,  “And who is my neighbor?”

Jesus replied,  “A man fell victim to robbers as he went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. They stripped and beat him and went off leaving him half-dead. A priest happened to be going down that road, but when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. Likewise a Levite came to the place, and when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side.

But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him was moved with compassion at the sight. He approached the victim, poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them. Then he lifted him up on his own animal, took him to an inn, and cared for him.

The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper with the instruction, ‘Take care of him. If you spend more than what I have given you, I shall repay you on my way back.’ Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?”

He answered, “The one who treated him with mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

The Daily Path: I’d like to think that if I came across someone who was seriously wounded by the side of the road that I would stop and provide assistance just as the Samaritan did. Many of us would. Where I live, the opportunity to experience this kind of occurrence is limited. There just aren’t many bloodied neighbors on the side of the road.

However, there are many wounded neighbors. People in serious need of help. They aren’t bleeding on the outside, but their spirit is hemorrhaging on the inside. Perhaps they are out of work. I know all too well the anxiety and despair this can bring. How will I provide new shoes to my children so they don’t have to wear pairs with holes big enough that their toes pop out? Will we have enough money for food after we pay all the bills? Will I have to go without my medication or dentist visit so that we can pay the property tax and keep our home?

Of course, in this society we rarely allow our wounds to show. We keep up the pretense that everything is fine… even though our world is crashing down around us. No, my friends, we can’t sit back and expect to find bodies on the side of the road in the literal sense. We won’t have many chances to bind the bloody wounds of our neighbor as a means of inheriting eternal life. But we have many opportunities to extend mercy. Simple acts of charity and kindness that seem of little value in the bigger scheme of things, but are priceless to someone in need.

That “extra” casserole you whipped up may be a week’s meal to someone else. The gift certificate you “won” in the raffle might provide shoes for a family that’s too proud to let the wounds show. “Can’t possibly use all of this” product in the Costco jumbo pack? Perhaps you can put your expertise to work helping tutor a child struggling with math who’s parents can’t afford to send them to Sylvan Learning, Score, or Kum0n for after school classes. Maybe it’s just a cup of coffee to listen and lend moral support to someone out of work. You get the idea.

The Christ who offers eternal life asks each of us to really look for our wounded neighbors and the bleeding that isn’t obvious. To make the small efforts. To open our hearts in places where a little light will make a huge difference towards ending the darkness.

Room to Chat: Father, help me to see my neighbor’s wounds. Give me the strength to act where I’m needed most.


Tranquility Base – Good News for August 29

29 08 2009

St. Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians 4:9-11

Brothers and sisters,

On the subject of fraternal charity you have no need for anyone to write you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another. Indeed, you do this for all the brothers throughout Macedonia. Nevertheless we urge you, brothers and sisters, to progress even more, and to aspire to live a tranquil life, to mind your own affairs, and to work with your own hands, as we instructed you.

The Daily Path: When Apollo 11 landed on the moon some 40 years ago, the lunar module touched down in the Sea of Tranquility. The days leading up to that landing, and especially the moments before touchdown on the lunar surface, were far from tranquil. A nation watched with great anxiety wondering if the tiny spacecraft would land safely. I’m sure that at NASA’s Houston Control Center, where every detail of the mission was being micro-managed, the stress level must have been off the charts. All in all, the event was anything but peaceful.

Yet imagine when Neil Armstrong and Buz Aldrin stepped out of the landing module to surface of the Moon and its absolute stillness. There couldn’t be a more tranquil place in the universe.

Our lives can often feel like a space mission. Danger. Anxiety. Problems. Chaos. Fear. They lurk everywhere waiting to pounce on us.

Yet, I have found the one place of tranquility that truly exists in our life on earth. That place  is with God. For me, living a tranquil life is to bring Christ into my heart and mind. It’s in those moments when I consciously reach out to Him that if feel at peace. He is my Tranquility Base.


Pursuing the Kingdom – Good News for June 11

11 06 2009

Matthew 5:17-19

Jesus said to his disciples, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the Kingdom of heaven. But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.”

The Daily Path: Just a single word today for pursuing the Kingdom… LOVE

Live it!