Learning from Raul – Good News for July 20

20 07 2010

Matthew 12:46-50

While Jesus was speaking to the crowds, his mother and his brothers appeared outside, wishing to speak with him. Someone told him, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, asking to speak with you.” But he said in reply to the one who told him, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?”

And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother.”

The Daily Path: The past week has been a difficult one. As shared previously, a good friend died recently in a tragic car accident. The past few days have been focused on his memorials, Rosary and Mass. Over the next couple of days I’d like to share what I consider to be the profound lessons learned during this period.

Lesson One: While Christ asks us to live his teaching in all we do, it’s often in the small, simplest of ways that we can best accomplish this.

As we listened to many of Raul’s friends and family talk about his legacy, it became evident to all that Raul lived to make the lives of those around him better. That was his calling. That was how he lived Jesus’ example. While Raul did make some BIG efforts to live as Jesus taught, things like mentoring troubled youth thru Big Brothers Big Sisters, it was the seemingly small but consistent actions of genuine concern for others that spoke loudest of all.

His family described him as the glue that held them all together. He was the calm mediator for family, friends, and strangers alike. In thinking back on our countless adventures together, I can clearly see how he looked at situations and his automatic internal response was not “What’s in it for me?” but rather “How can I make this better for all involved?” And that was the course of action he took, again and again,

It was the little things.

He never went “ballistic” in responding to transgressions against his person, image or property. He calmly dealt with the matter. Raul was no patsy, but his machismo was not in threats or aggression… it was in peace. I was reminded of another one of Raul’s favorite expressions… “Perhaps.” He would sometimes use this in response to a foolish suggestion that was offered. It was as if he wanted to allow the source of the suggestion enough time to rethink the folly or error in what was put forth. Raul’s response was never “You idiot. What a stupid idea!

It was the little things.

His three sisters all spoke of how he was so patient with them, even when pushed to the point where most men would implode. Raul saw the bigger picture, understood what they needed in that moment, and patiently complied.

It was the little things.

I could go on and one, but will leave you with this…

As the pastor of All Hallows Catholic Church vigorously reminded all in attendance at Mass yesterday, Raul’s time on earth provided us with countless examples that were a profound call to follow the basic teachings Christ as our friend did. Love one another. Strive to make life better for those around us. Do this in little ways, quietly and consistently.

Modern Magi – Good News for December 18

18 12 2009

Matthew 1:18-25

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.”

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means “God is with us.”

When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home. He had no relations with her until she bore a son, and he named him Jesus.

The Daily Path: I’d like to share an excerpt from the closing paragraph of O. Henry’s classic short story, The Gift of the Magi…

The magi, as you know, were wise men–wonderfully wise men–who brought gifts to the Babe in the manger. They invented the art of giving Christmas presents. But in a last word to the wise of these days let it be said that of all who give gifts these were the wisest. O all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the magi.

Over the past week, the three magi visited me. They came unannounced and completely unexpected. Each arrived at a different time. Each bearing gifts and acts of unbelievable kindness towards me. Two of these magi were made known to me. The third arrived mysteriously, as if in the night, keeping their identity hidden from sight. Just as the original wise men were inspired by God to visit, so too were these modern magi.

I cannot describe these gifts to you, for any attempt to do so couldn’t begin to illuminate their true value. Let me just repeat that I’ve been given the amazing gift of God’s abundance. He continues to provide what is needed when all human logic would point me towards despair. I feel like Jimmy Stewart’s character, Harry Bailey, from the Frank Capra film It’s A Wonderful Life. Like Harry, I’ve been taken down a rocky path. But through these times I’ve been given a great gift to see things now that I could never fully appreciate before. There is a God who loves me and, no matter how often I stumble, is always there to pick me up. I have a family that provides endless joy. And, I have friends, many friends, who, when I need them most… well… they are wisest… they are the magi.

Wherever you are, and in one case whoever you are… thank you.

Room to Chat: For he shall rescue the poor when he cries out, and the afflicted when he has no one to help him. He shall have pity for the lowly and the poor; the lives of the poor he shall save. Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who alone does wondrous deeds. Wondrous deeds, indeed! Friends, do not be afraid.