Not Just Coin – Good News for November 22

22 11 2010

Luke 21:1-4

When Jesus looked up he saw some wealthy people putting their offerings into the treasury and he noticed a poor widow putting in two small coins. He said, “I tell you truly, this poor widow put in more than all the rest; for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood.”

The Daily Path: We can give from our wallet or we can give of ourselves. Certainly both types of giving are needed. Jesus points to monetary giving in this example but I think the message is broader than just coin. I’ve found that “being there” for someone in a time of great need can provide incalculable value. I’ve been on the receiving side and can tell you from my own experience that when things seem darkest receiving a note from a friend, an invitation for coffee, or a friendly call, can dig you out of the depths like nothing else. This type of genuine outreach keeps you going when the weight of the world feels squarely on your shoulders.

This week, as we prepare to gather as family and give thanks, perhaps it’s time to think about making one of those calls. Who can we share our spiritual wealth with? Who’s feeling alone or bearing the great weight of worry? Who could benefit from a little joy? Friends, I think our horn of plenty comes in all shapes and sizes. See what can be shared from your pantry of love.





The Narrow Gate – Good News for June 22

22 06 2010

Matthew 7:6 and 12-14

Jesus said to his disciples, “Do not give what is holy to dogs, or throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them underfoot, and turn and tear you to pieces.

“Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. This is the Law and the Prophets.

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few.”

The Daily Path: In recent days I have come to understand more clearly that when I chose to follow Our Lord it also meant that I was choosing the cross. Yet in bearing this cross – for what are relatively just a few moments in this life on earth – I have the promise of an eternity with the Father. I accept this.

Faith in the Promise no matter what is thrown at me. One day at a time. One foot ahead of the other… on the way to the narrow gate.





Giving Up – Good News for May 25

25 05 2010

Mark 10:28-31

Peter began to say to Jesus, “We have given up everything and followed you.”

Jesus said, “Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the sake of the Gospel who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age: houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come. But many that are first will be last, and the last will be first.”

The Daily Path: I have been blessed with the company of many fellow travelers on my spiritual journey home. A good number of them are right here in my parish comprised of two spirituality groups I participate in. We gather together on a regular basis to openly share what we are experiencing along the way. Some of our discussion focuses on the challenges we all face in living the teaching of Christ and following his example.

Some of the most poignant moments in our gatherings relate to “giving up” the false self to embrace or enable the true self. We live in a fairly affluent area and are surrounded by the trappings of wealth and material success. With that comes some heavy baggage and pressure to uphold a certain image. Despite outward appearances many in this community are deeply wounded inside. Part of the fellowship the men in our spirituality groups share is based on allowing ourselves to give up the facade and expose our wounds to each other. I believe this is also part of what Jesus is explaining to us in today’s Gospel when he talks about giving up.

Yesterday, when I chose to openly share with GNTG readers the fact that I suffer from a disease, I was giving up the pretense of invulnerability. By giving up the lie – that I was in control – I was freed from a great burden. I started to feel lighter as I accepted my weakness and saw how others accepted my woundedness. I grew stronger as I received amazing signs of support throughout the day. The death of one thing brought new life to something else. My story is just one tiny example of how “giving up” the false self brings us closer to the one truth – God.

As Christians we uphold the ultimate symbol of woundedness – Jesus on the cross. After his death, when Jesus returned to his friends, did he say “Hey, look at me! I’m the almighty Son of God who can overcome everything, including death!”?

No.

The first thing Jesus did was to draw them close, open his robe and reveal his wounds.

Giving up draws us closer.

Room to Chat: Father, thank you for inspiring so many to live your commandment of love. The outpouring of genuine support I’ve experienced in the past week has been nothing short of miraculous. Though sometimes we walk in valley of the shadow, we are never alone. Truly, all things are possible through you.





Risky Business – Good News for May 24

24 05 2010

Mark 10:17-27

As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up, knelt down before him, and asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

Jesus answered him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; you shall not defraud; honor your father and your mother.”

He replied and said to him, “Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth.”

Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him, “You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”

At that statement, his face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the Kingdom of God!”

The disciples were amazed at his words. So Jesus again said to them in reply, “Children, how hard it is to enter the Kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God.”

They were exceedingly astonished and said among themselves, “Then who can be saved?”

Jesus looked at them and said, “For men it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God.”

The Daily Path: When you assume a public voice, you also take on vulnerability. I’ve opened my spiritual journey to the world trying to share what I’m experiencing so that others may open their minds and hearts to God. This does not come without risk. By even proclaiming God in my life some will walk away. It’s not easy to accept this at first because we all desire to be loved – to gain the approval of others. Losing a friend or opening ourselves to criticism is hard. But… and this is a BIG BUT… if I truly want to follow the path home, this too, is just part of the terrain. Granted, I have not mastered the process, yet I have come to accept this. It is liberating.

Today, I am going to share another risky insight to my life. Risky because some may walk. Revealing this in public may also make the path towards what I hope to achieve more difficult. But I accept this. It’s part of God’s plan.

Friends, last week I came to understand that the “mild” depression I’ve experienced for well over a year just can’t be dealt with on my own. It’s more than mild and I need professional help.

The  dark epiphany I experienced scared me to death because I had a major shut down. I won’t go into the detail here, but will offer that going through that horrible experience enabled me to more fully understood what so many people already know… depression can be debilitating. Some of the smallest things you take for granted become a struggle. It’s as if you suddenly had parts of your brain locked up preventing you from accessing your energy, strengths, and skills. I even chose to hide from God for a bit.

As frightening as recent days have been, they have also liberated me on several levels. I can now pursue a plan that will lead me out of this “valley of shadow” and restore my complete health. As I move through treatment for my depression, I will also undertake serious exploration of how God wants me to use the skills given me. I’ve also come to realize that many of the old ways no longer work. That’s scary because some of the old ways are also what I currently depend on to care for my family. But again, I accept this because it’s not my plan.

In today’s Gospel, the man who approached Jesus learned what he must do to achieve eternal life… then he went away, sad. Sometimes the message we receive isn’t what we had hoped or expected. Sometimes we go away saddened. But I always wonder what the man did after he had a chance to think about Jesus’ message. Did he eventually do what Jesus asked?

God is asking me to do something. And, once again in His unique way, I’m being shown the direction so that I can fulfill His request. It’s not what I expected. But truly, all things are possible when we open our minds and hearts to God.

There is no real risk in what I have shared today because quite simply: I am in God’s hands and He loves me! That’s all that really matters.





Wrestling With God – Good News for July 7

7 07 2009

Genesis 32: 23-31

In the course of the night, Jacob arose, took his family, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. After he had taken them across the stream and had brought over all his possessions, Jacob was left there alone.

Then some man wrestled with him until the break of dawn. When the man saw that he could not prevail over him, he struck Jacob’s hip at its socket, so that the hip socket was wrenched as they wrestled. 

The man then said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go until you bless me.” 

The man asked, “What is your name?” He answered, “Jacob.”

Then the man said, “You shall no longer be spoken of as Jacob, but as Israel, because you have contended with divine and human beings and have prevailed.” Jacob then asked him, “Do tell me your name, please.”

He answered, “Why should you want to know my name?” With that, he bade him farewell.

Jacob named the place Peniel, “Because I have seen God face to face,” he said, “yet my life has been spared.”

The Daily Path: Another timely message that reminds me of how important it is to read Scripture as a regular part of our faith journey. If I may take the “Me” outlook, it would appear that today’s reading from Genesis is targeted square at me.

Recent weeks have provided one struggle after another. Not unlike Jacob, I feel as if I have been wrestling. What I didn’t really grasp until this moment is that God has been wrestling with me in the sense that He has placed these challenges in my life. Once again, God wants my attention. As always, there is purpose in this. 

Yesterday, I took some time to visit a chapel where I go to talk with Mother Mary. (When I was an infant, my parents “gave” me to Mary.) I usually sit before the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe with whom I have felt a special bond ever since I was very young. During my prayers I dropped to my knees and tearfully begged her to petition Jesus to show me through this difficult time. I know she was listening because when I left the chapel the great anxiety carried inside of me had calmed. 

This morning I see that a message has been sent in answer to my prayers. Yes, I am wrestling at the moment, but in the struggle is the hand of God. I will continue to fight through this. I will not be overcome. I must endure all of this to find what God has intended for me.

Today’s passage is comforting and instills greater resolve to carry on down the road ahead of me. 

Room to Chat: Lord, my challenges pale in comparison to those being faced by countless others on this earth. Yet, in your wisdom you know our limits, just as you knew Jacobs. Thank you for even taking time to provide these hurdles through which I will ultimately draw closer to You.

Thank you, Mother Mary.

our_lady2





Rocks – Good News for June 29

29 06 2009

Matthew 16:13-19

When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”

They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”

Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

Room to Chat: Last night Our Lord answered a prayer. No, that’s not quite accurate. I believe He answered MANY prayers that have originated from this most prodigal of sons and those who are keeping me in their intentions during this difficult period in my life.

A couple of weeks ago in my GNTG! posting I revealed that I’ve been suffering from depression. This is foreign to me, so I’m fortunate that my family and some good friends have been there to help me deal with it. (I’m amazed at just how many people who I previously thought were on solid bedrock are actually in the same rocky boat with me.) I’ve been praying that Our Lord will grant me peace and in doing so  “show me the way” out of this mess. 

Very early this morning, I was jolted from sleep as the anxiety of my life situation crept into consciousness. It festered there for a bit trying to take hold. When this happens, as it often does, I try to find peace by thinking of God. Shortly after doing so I began a thought process that led me to something that may be the answer to the problems I face. I felt as though this inspiration had come from God in answer to my prayers.

I can’t say for sure if this is the answer, but I do have faith that God listens to my prayers. There is certainly hope in what came to me this morning, and for that I am grateful.

I’m in your hands, Father. And with You, I know that all things are possible. Help me to find bedrock.





My Road – Good News for June 15

15 06 2009

Matthew 5:38-42

Jesus said to his disciples, “You have heard that it was said,

An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.

But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one to him as well. If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand him your cloak as well. Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go with him for two miles. Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow.”

The Daily Path: Good friends and fellow travelers, no one will be surprised to hear me say that the road we journey on is difficult. Potholes, sharp rocks, steep cliffs, and precarious footholds are constantly in our way making the trip that much tougher. Each of us carry burdens on our shoulders. Sometimes the load feels heavier than others, especially when we deal with tragedy or allow events to take hold of us. I know this to be true as I’m in the midst of it myself.

A number of weeks ago, I came to understand that I’m battling depression. I won’t go into the details, but saw enough to realize something out of the ordinary has taken hold.

Depression is not something that I’m very familiar with. The hallmark of my life has been more closely aligned with joy than despair. There is much I don’t know about the trough that I will begin to climb out of in the days ahead. This trail won’t be easy, but I know that I’m not alone. Although I’ve been given this cross to bear, God has not abandoned me. In fact, I would say that He has placed it squarely upon my shoulders so the joy that once radiated from within will grow permanently stronger and brighter for others to experience.  

Along with providing a means to stay connected to God on a daily basis, this blog is about how one man has returned to God and my witness to all this spiritual journey entails. It’s in that same spirit of truth that I share my current state with you. Please keep me in your prayers. 

Once again, Our Lord reminds me that I am not in control of the journey. Obviously, He has more lessons for me to learn.