Sabbathical – Good News for January 18

18 01 2011

Mark 2:23-28

As Jesus was passing through a field of grain on the sabbath, his disciples began to make a path while picking the heads of grain. At this the Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the sabbath?”

He said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he was in need and he and his companions were hungry? How he went into the house of God when Abiathar was high priest and ate the bread of offering that only the priests could lawfully eat, and shared it with his companions?”

Then he said to them, “The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath. That is why the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.”

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Greater Than Temple – Good News for July 16

16 07 2010

Matthew 12:1-8

Jesus was going through a field of grain on the sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick the heads of grain and eat them. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, “See, your disciples are doing what is unlawful to do on the sabbath.”

He said to the them, “Have you not read what David did when he and his companions were hungry, how he went into the house of God and ate the bread of offering, which neither he nor his companions but only the priests could lawfully eat? Or have you not read in the law that on the sabbath the priests serving in the temple violate the sabbath and are innocent?

I say to you, something greater than the temple is here. If you knew what this meant, I desire mercy, not sacrifice, you would not have condemned these innocent men. For the Son of Man is Lord of the sabbath.”

The Daily Path: Something greater than temple. Our Lord desires mercy, not sacrifice.

Mercy.

As we travel today, where will the opportunities for mercy be?





Hear Him Out – Good News for March 20

20 03 2010

John 7: 40-53

Some in the crowd who heard these words of Jesus said, “This is truly the Prophet.” Others said, “This is the Christ.”
But others said, “The Christ will not come from Galilee, will he? Does not Scripture say that the Christ will be of David’s family and come from Bethlehem, the village where David lived?” So a division occurred in the crowd because of him.
Some of them even wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him.

So the guards went to the chief priests and Pharisees, who asked them, “Why did you not bring him?” The guards answered, “Never before has anyone spoken like this man.” So the Pharisees answered them, “Have you also been deceived? Have any of the authorities or the Pharisees believed in him? But this crowd, which does not know the law, is accursed.”

Nicodemus, one of their members who had come to him earlier, said to them, “Does our law condemn a man before it first hears him and finds out what he is doing?” They answered and said to him, “You are not from Galilee also, are you? Look and see that no prophet arises from Galilee.” Then each went to his own house.

The Daily Path: This passage hit me like a 400 lb. defensive end – translation for those of you who don’t follow sports: to be run over by a freight train. The words of Nicodemus ring out with such clarity. There are many times I have judged an individual or situation before knowing the truth. Perhaps I have jumped on the bandwagon of “popular belief” without having any experience in the truth.

What is even more hard hitting to me is that Nicodemus question doesn’t just pertain to condemnation of an accused. I would say that the question applies to so much more.

The other day I wrote about the ability to touch the wounds of Christ. The desire to embrace the leper. How can we choose to stand by as so many around us suffer when we have NO TRUE CONCEPT of what it is like to walk in their shoes? Yesterday, I waited at a stop light in downtown Oakland. A homeless woman walked slowly through the intersection. There was a time in my life when I would have become very impatient with her to get out of the way so I could proceed on my way. But this time, I looked into her eyes and saw an experience I could not begin to understand at any real depth. This moment was not about judgment – it was about opening my mind and wanting to understand. I wanted to hear her out.

Is it not also true about the faith journey? Why would I condemn Islam when I know little of it? Do I chose to hate millions because of the acts of a few? Why do so many hate Catholics when they know nothing of us? Or Jews? Or Buddhists? Or the local plumbers union for that matter. I could go on and on, but the point is that Nicodemus asks us to be mindful of experiencing the truth before we rush to judgement. Oh, my… this is a question for the ages.

Hear Him out… whoever and whatever “him” might be.





Dreaming – Good News for March 19

19 03 2010

Matthew 1:16, 18-21

Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Of her was born Jesus who is called the Christ.

Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.

The Daily Path: When Joseph went to sleep on the night he was visited by the angel in a dream, I suspect his mind was full of anxiety over the discovery that his new wife was pregnant. Have you ever put your head to the pillow while worried or angry about something? I’m sure we all even. On a more positive note, have you ever framed a question clearly in your mind just before falling asleep? The latter is a technique I have often used to successfully come up with an answer or a creative solution.

I’m not a neurophysiologist, so I can’t tell you why my brain develops answers during sleep mode. In fact, I don’t care to know why for fear it will disable my little secret method. All I care about is the fact that answers often come in my sleep. The same is true for relief of anxiety. Have you ever had the experience of waking up worry free in a very peaceful state, only to have awareness of your troubles creep back into your conscious? “Damn, I was only dreaming.” Obviously some spiritual nurturing is going on before my human doubt returns. Dr. Wayne Dyer and others have suggested that the moments following sleep are when we are closest to our source (God). I would not disagree based on my own experience.

Are sleep and dreams a mechanism through which the Spirit engages with us? I don’t doubt it. In some ways that goes along with another concept I’ve read that suggests grace already exists within us and is activated at certain times. Again, I don’t want to fall into rationalizing, but I find it interesting how sleep and dreams can return me to a more peaceful state in which “true” answers become accessible. Hmm… perhaps the angels of the Lord are neurons! Oops, there I go again.





What’s The Rush? – Good News for December 17

17 12 2009

Matthew 1:1-17

Thus the total number of generations from Abraham to David is fourteen generations; from David to the Babylonian exile, fourteen generations; from the Babylonian exile to the Christ, fourteen generations.

The Daily Path: Obviously, a lot of time passed between Abraham’s trials and the arrival of the Savior. Anyone in between who felt impatient couldn’t have fared very well. “Oh, calm down, Stan! There’s another 400 years before he arrives. Go feed the goats.”

So as you’re busy rushing about this Advent season, try to slow down. Be patient with those who are “in your way”. Relax. Improve the moment. Find joy in the moment or you’ll miss everything.

Now smile and go feed the goats!






Mission Possible – Good News for March 25

25 03 2009

Nothing will be impossible for God…

Luke 1:26-38

The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”

But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his Kingdom there will be no end.”

But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” And the angel said to her in reply, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.”

Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

The Daily Path: Growing up Catholic I learned that all things were possible for God. He was the Creator, the purveyor of all things. I read of miracles performed by Jesus. I was taught to love my neighbor, show mercy and to forgive. I had no reason to doubt that these teachings were based in anything but truth. Yet as I look back, did I fully understand? Not really. Imagine how young Mary must have felt? She even asks the angel “How can these things be possible?”

Faith. 

So many times Jesus shook his head and asked why we weak humans always needed a sign. Some physical assurance before we fully believe. Even Mary got a little glimpse from the angel who told of her how Elizabeth, long considered barren, would also give birth.

I was no different. I needed a little glimmer of the possible before I could have complete faith in the Lord. As I approach the one year anniversary of my full re-birth in Christ, I’m reminded of how God works in mysterious ways that we don’t always understand. Yet if we have faith the most amazing things can and will happen in our lives. Friends, it is true. I’m so happy to be able to attest: Nothing is impossible for God!

Room to Chat: Have you considered your own return to God? Or perhaps a willingness to hold Him closer?  Today open your heart to these possibilities. Spend a few moments contemplating your own Mission Possible. “Here I am, Lord…”





No Room At The Inn – Good News for December 24

24 12 2008

Luke 2:1-14

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria. So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town. And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth  to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem,  because he was of the house and family of David,  to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.

While they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields and keeping the night watch over their flock. The angel of the Lord appeared to them  and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were struck with great fear.

The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy  that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David  a savior has been born for you who is Christ and Lord. And this will be a sign for you:  you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.”

And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” 

The Daily Path: Last night my children and I were driving through Oakland heading to Alameda, the city where I grew up. We were on our way to pick up my parents and continue our decades old  family tradition of driving around town looking at the colorful lights and Christmas decorations. Freeway traffic was backed up so I took an alternate route through downtown Oakland. 

At a stop light I happened to glance over at the entrance of a city administration building near the police station. At the top of the stairs were two homeless people. One had climbed out of a wheel chair and was already in his sleeping bag. The other was preparing his own bed by wrapping himself in a blanket on this frosty night. 

“She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”

As the hustle and bustle of Christmas went on all about them, there was no room at the inn for these two souls. I wondered what set of circumstances led them to their current situation. While I was feeling great joy in anticipation of our family Christmas tradition, these two could look forward to a cold night sleeping on concrete and the slim margin of safety this public manger offered. Thousands would drive by them this night. Would anyone give them a second thought? Where would the joy of Our Lord’s coming be for them?

I’d like to think that if I was a shepherd in the hills surrounding Bethlehem some two thousand years ago, I would have harkened the angels call and gone to the manger to praise the Baby Jesus. But on this night, two of God’s children lay in the cold, yet I continued tending my own flock. 

“And this will be a sign for you:  you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.”

My friends, on this holiest of nights in the Christian tradition, make room in your heart for all of God’s children. Lord, please keep them safe in your love and mercy.