Seeking Praise – Good News for March 18

18 03 2010

John 5:31-47

Jesus said to the Jews, “If I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is not true. But there is another who testifies on my behalf, and I know that the testimony he gives on my behalf is true. You sent emissaries to John, and he testified to the truth. I do not accept human testimony, but I say this so that you may be saved. He was a burning and shining lamp, and for a while you were content to rejoice in his light. But I have testimony greater than John’s. The works that the Father gave me to accomplish, these works that I perform testify on my behalf that the Father has sent me. Moreover, the Father who sent me has testified on my behalf.

But you have never heard his voice nor seen his form, and you do not have his word remaining in you, because you do not believe in the one whom he has sent. You search the Scriptures, because you think you have eternal life through them; even they testify on my behalf. But you do not want to come to me to have life.

“I do not accept human praise; moreover, I know that you do not have the love of God in you. I came in the name of my Father, but you do not accept me; yet if another comes in his own name, you will accept him. How can you believe, when you accept praise from one another and do not seek the praise that comes from the only God?

Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father: the one who will accuse you is Moses, in whom you have placed your hope.
For if you had believed Moses, you would have believed me, because he wrote about me. But if you do not believe his writings,
how will you believe my words?”

The Daily Path: “How can you believe, when you accept praise from one another and do not seek the praise that comes from the only God?”

Driven. Relentless pursuit of success. Stature. Acceptance. These are a few of the things that come to mind when I read this passage from today’s Gospel. I know them because they have been a part of my being. For most of my life, going back to a very early age, I have yearned for the acceptance of others. In that pursuit I have led a very shallow life. I gladly accept praise from my brothers and sisters in an attempt to heal what Fr. Richard Rohr would call my “woundedness”, but only now do I see the false self behind this.

In recent times I have come to know the road that so many millions travel each day. Need, anxiety, and despair fill the vast majority of lives on earth, but they have never been part of my experience. In my life I have never known real worry. I have never truly held the hands that reached out to me in deepest despair. But now God has given me the chance to walk in the shoes of my brothers and sisters. And in doing so, He has begun to remove the false self that has prevented me from embracing the leper.

But why has He done this?

I can’t completely answer that. I’m still in the midst of it and have little perspective to analyze the situation – See? I’m still analyzing instead of trusting His plan! – But since I am an imperfect being, I will indulge my imperfection and offer this analysis: Perhaps God is taking me down this road to activate the radical grace within me, so that I will finally stop pursuing the acceptance of others (in all its forms) and start pursuing the only acceptance that matters… the praise of my Father in heaven.

Room to Chat: Father, you are allowing me to touch the wounds of your Son, the Christ. In doing so you have given me the ability to believe in You as never before. Continue to give me, and all who travel down this road, the courage and resolve to continue onward. Keep us in your light so that we may always see the way to You.

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.


Squalls – Good News for June 21

21 06 2009

Mark 4:35-41

On that day, as evening drew on, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us cross to the other side.”

Leaving the crowd, they took Jesus with them in the boat just as he was. And other boats were with him. A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat, so that it was already filling up.

Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion. They woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”

He woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Quiet!  Be still!” The wind ceased and there was great calm. Then he asked them, “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?”

They were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?”

The Daily Path: Happy Fathers Day to all the dads in the audience, and the mothers who’s circumstances require they do double duty as a father.

Being a father can be terrifying at times. Not that our children are the storm, although they have their moments. But being a parent has obligations. We must to take care of the family by providing a home, food, clothing, education, healthcare, life examples, discipline, and most of all love.

In these days the squall seems to be all around us growing ever worse. For so many, including myself, it’s all we can do to keep bailing out the little boat so we can stay afloat and keep our family safe. And that for a father is the terror.

It’s during these most difficult times that we feel overwhelmed and run to the stern in a panic. “Teacher wake up! We’re sinking! HELP ME!”

And what does Jesus teach us about these challenges?

To have faith in Him. Believe that God is with us in the most violent of storms.

Of course, we are going to be scared. We’re human. We’re flawed. We also want to care for our families so they don’t have to suffer. I don’t believe that God wants His children to suffer either. That’s why He sent His son, Jesus, to save us from eternal suffering.

Let’s keep today’s Gospel in mind during the days ahead. We’re not alone in this squall. Jesus is with us. And remember… with the Father, all things are possible! 

Room to Chat: Lord, you command the wind and the sea. Calm our minds in this storm and send the Holy Spirit to bring inner peace to all who need it.