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.

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.