On The Road – Good News for September 16

16 09 2010

Luke 8:1-3

Jesus journeyed from one town and village to another, preaching and proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of God. Accompanying him were the Twelve and some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, Susanna, and many others who provided for them out of their resources.

The Daily Path: Like Jesus’ band of followers, we are all on the road. Some recognize this, others don’t. I’ve been blessed to have fellowship on my spiritual journey. God has brought people into my life with whom I can share the road home. I truly enjoy their company on a deeper level than with most. I’m genuinely happy when I see them out and about, or have the chance to spend time in their presence. It’s comforting to know we are on the same journey.

This fellowship also provides for one another when the road becomes difficult. The resources we share may be a simple smile, a kind word, or a virtual hug, but the value often exceeds gold and provides sustenance for another day.

A credit card ad campaign asks the question “What’s in your wallet?” as if credit will provide all the resources you need. But I would ask, “Who walks alongside you in the true fellowship?”

Lighten the Load – Good News for June 13

13 06 2010

Luke 7:36- 8:3

A Pharisee invited Jesus to dine with him, and he entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at table. Now there was a sinful woman in the city who learned that he was at table in the house of the Pharisee. Bringing an alabaster flask of ointment, she stood behind him at his feet weeping and began to bathe his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them, and anointed them with the ointment.

When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, that she is a sinner.”

Jesus said to him in reply, “Simon, I have something to say to you.”

“Tell me, teacher, ” he said.

“Two people were in debt to a certain creditor; one owed five hundred days’ wages and the other owed fifty. Since they were unable to repay the debt, he forgave it for both. Which of them will love him more?”

Simon said in reply, “The one, I suppose, whose larger debt was forgiven.”

He said to him, “You have judged rightly.”

Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? When I entered your house, you did not give me water for my feet, but she has bathed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but she has not ceased kissing my feet since the time I entered. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she anointed my feet with ointment. So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven because she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.”

He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

The others at table said to themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”

But he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

Afterward he journeyed from one town and village to another, preaching and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. Accompanying him were the Twelve and some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities,Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, Susanna, and many others who provided for them out of their resources.

The Daily Path: This morning I woke up from a troubling dream. In the dream I had lashed out at someone. My heart was heavy from the experience and as I sit down to write today’s GNTG, I can still feel the hurt that generated the sequence of events. However, once again my practice of reading the Gospel to start my day has helped get my mind and heart back in alignment.

Yes, the circumstances of my dream may have basis in real life, but rather than continuing to harbor anger, Jesus has demonstrated that true path. Forgiveness.

Today is Sunday. Where will you lighten the load you carry in your heart?

Proclaiming – Good News for April 10

10 04 2010

Mark 16:9-15

When Jesus had risen, early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons. She went and told his companions who were mourning and weeping. When they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe.

After this he appeared in another form to two of them walking along on their way to the country. They returned and told the others; but they did not believe them either.

But later, as the Eleven were at table, he appeared to them and rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart because they had not believed those who saw him after he had been raised. He said to them, “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.”

The Daily Path: Today is my mother’s 80th birthday. I find that hard to believe because only yesterday she was holding me on her lap as I drank warm milk from my bottle. And it couldn’t be well over four decades since she took my hand on the way to my first day of Kindergarten. The years have gone by so quickly, yet through it all my perspective of her hasn’t changed. To me, she’s still a young mother, full of the energy handed down from her own mother – who nearly hit the century mark before leaving us for her place in heaven.

Mom’s great gift is her compassion. She’s been mother to many more individuals than me. I’ve always said that the wealth Mom and Dad possess is not in material things. Instead they are rich in friendships and faith. Friends and acquaintances seek Mom when they are in need. When crisis hits their life she is one of the first they contact. In many cases, Mom is the one reaching out as she has the uncanny ability to sense need. Mom is the shoulder that tears fall on. She’s the ear that listens. If appropriate she may offer advice, and sometimes it’s stern counsel to wake someone up to reality. But always she offers genuine love.

If you’ve ever seen the film “The Green Mile” you may recall the condemned man who has the ability to draw illness out of other people by absorbing it into his own body. In some ways that is what my Mom does. She shares the burden others are carrying. She listens and gives a little piece of herself to those who need her.

You may ask what this has to do with today’s Gospel, the primary purpose of GNTG. Well my friends, I think it has a lot to do with it because in so many ways Mom has always done what Jesus asks: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.”

Mom is not out there reciting chapter and verse. Her way is to live the teachings of the Gospel. She’s refuge to those in trouble. A friend to the stranger. She’s the devoted wife who cares for her husband. She’s the loving mother who witnesses the pain experienced by her son. She may not like all that has come her way in 80 years, but she accepts it as part of God’s plan, and in doing so proclaims volumes to everyone she touches.

With God’s permission, I’d like to do a little proclaiming of my own: “Happy Birthday, Mom. I love you and am very proud to be your son! Can we do another 52 together?”

Weepers – Good News for April 6

6 04 2010

John 20:11-18

Mary Magdalene stayed outside the tomb weeping. And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb and saw two angels in white sitting there, one at the head and one at the feet where the Body of Jesus had been. And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?”

She said to them, “They have taken my Lord, and I don’t know where they laid him.”

When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there, but did not know it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?”

She thought it was the gardener and said to him, “Sir, if you carried him away, tell me where you laid him, and I will take him.”

Jesus said to her, “Mary!”

She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni,” which means Teacher.

Jesus said to her, “Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

Mary went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and then reported what he had told her.

The Daily Path: Mary is so wrapped up in her loss that she doesn’t recognize the fact that Jesus is standing right there in her presence. It’s good that she is grieving. So often we don’t fully grieve a loss in our life. Sometimes we hold on to that special friend or family member without ever saying goodbye and moving on. The same is true with other life changes, such as aging, job loss or status. Of course, we want to cherish the memories, but we can’t be bound by them, lest we become overwhelmed and lose sight of our journey.

I have experienced this in my own life. In fact, I’m still grieving a life change that has had deep impacts on me and my family. I’ve sat outside my tomb, or perhaps within it, weeping over my loss and the comforts/prestige I had come to know. The good news is that I’m finally letting go. And it is indeed the good news. Do you know how this return to life is coming about? I think you may be able to guess…

I’m handing my troubles (loss) over to God.

Just as Jesus was standing with Mary in her grief, He also stands here with me. Like Mary, I couldn’t recognize this. I was only wrapped up in the pain, blinded by my tears. There is still some pain, and the tendency to try and wrestle back control of my life. But gradually I learn to trust more each day. To let go, look up, and see the way.

As Christ asked of Mary, I move on to share what I have experienced… and continue on the journey God has planned for me. He is both gardener and a God of HOPE.

Full House – Good News for April 5

5 04 2010

Matthew 28:8-15

Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went away quickly from the tomb, fearful yet overjoyed, and ran to announce the news to his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them on their way and greeted them. They approached, embraced his feet, and did him homage.

Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”

While they were going, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had happened. The chief priests assembled with the elders and took counsel; then they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him while we were asleep.’ And if this gets to the ears of the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” The soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed.

And this story has circulated among the Jews to the present day.

The Daily Path: Two things leap off the virtual page for me today…

First, we find Mary and Mary hurrying back to town with the good news. They are both excited and afraid. But who meets them along the way? Jesus.

AND, once again, Jesus shares one of His key messages: “Do not be afraid.”

This has been my experience, too. So often Jesus meets me as I scurry about on this road called living. Sometimes it’s when I’m excited and feeling joyful. Other times He finds me when I’m feeling low and fearful. And in both circumstances He offers the same words. “Do not be afraid.”

In Joyful moments it’s: Don’t be afraid to proclaim Me.

In Fearful times it’s: Don’t be afraid, you’ll get through this because I’m at your side.

Yesterday, I was stunned at how many people were in attendance at the 9:00 am Easter Sunday Mass here in my parish. I’m well aware that many Christians only go to church on Christmas and Easter. Even with that understanding, I was stunned to find EVERY nook and cranny filled with people. It was standing room only. Even the infant room was jammed full.

Not only was St. Monica’s packed, there was a noticeable sense of joy in the air. Smiles were on the faces of strangers and friends alike. Even some people who are ordinarily a little rigid had a warm glow about them. As I took this phenomenon in, I couldn’t help but think of what it would be like if our faith community came together in these numbers more often, perhaps even most Sundays.

Why are so many still afraid to open their minds and hearts?

I know Jesus met many along the road yesterday. For some it was the first time. I hope the spark of excitement they experienced will remain with them today. I’m also hopeful that their fears will be overcome by God’s love so they can take up with us on the journey home.

“Do not be afraid.”

Run – Good News for April 3

3 04 2010

Luke 24:1-12

At daybreak on the first day of the week the women who had come from Galilee with Jesus took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb; but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.

While they were puzzling over this, behold, two men in dazzling garments appeared to them. They were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground. They said to them, “Why do you seek the living one among the dead? He is not here, but he has been raised. Remember what he said to you while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners and be crucified, and rise on the third day.” And they remembered his words.

Then they returned from the tomb and announced all these things to the eleven and to all the others. The women were Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James; the others who accompanied them also told this to the apostles, but their story seemed like nonsense and they did not believe them. But Peter got up and ran to the tomb, bent down, and saw the burial cloths alone; then he went home amazed at what had happened.

The Daily Path: I love Peter. He’s always Mr. First Responder. He jumps out of the boat and attempts to walk on water toward Jesus. When the temple guards come to take Jesus away, he draws his sword to take them all on and protect his friend. Now we learn that he runs to find his beloved Master who the day before died on the cross and is now missing from the tomb.

In so many ways, Peter is the poster boy for our human shortcomings. Yes, there were times when Jesus would call out Simon Peter and scold him, but you know in his heart Jesus loved Peter’s fervor and willingness to follow. Peter was so genuine in his love for Jesus. He didn’t just walk to the Christ, he RAN!

Room to Chat: Father, open our hearts so that we may begin to roll back the stone of our own tombs, and, like Peter, run to your Son.

Mary or the Iscariot? – Good News for March 29

29 03 2010

John 12:1-11

Six days before Passover Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. They gave a dinner for him there, and Martha served, while Lazarus was one of those reclining at table with him. Mary took a liter of costly perfumed oil made from genuine aromatic nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and dried them with her hair; the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.

Then Judas the Iscariot, one of his disciples, and the one who would betray him, said,
“Why was this oil not sold for three hundred days’ wages and given to the poor?” He said this not because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief and held the money bag and used to steal the contributions.

So Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Let her keep this for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”

The large crowd of the Jews found out that he was there and came, not only because of him, but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. And the chief priests plotted to kill Lazarus too, because many of the Jews were turning away and believing in Jesus because of him.

The Daily Path: Who will we choose to emulate today? Mary or Judas?

Church by Jonathan Burstein