Lifeboat – Good News for January 31

31 01 2009

Mark 4:35-31

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: Today’s Gospel from St. Mark is not only timely for many of us, but it also mirrors recent events in my life. Very few remain untouched by the stormy global economy. Deep cost cuts are the focus of every business. Consumer confidence is dropping and jobs are vanishing. The bottomline is this: like the Apostles in today’s Gospel, people are afraid. 

I was afraid, too. I would lay awake at night wondering how to feed my family and keep a roof over their head. I prayed and prayed. Many other people were praying for me. And as I prayed I kept trying to work out a way to regain control over the situation and emerge from the serious financial trouble I was in. But the downward spiral continued. My boat was sinking fast.

As the months progressed I was encouraged to “turn these worries over to God.” This theme began to appear in more and more places in my life. God was actively using His marketing team to get through to me. Some of the most remarkable people I’ve ever met provided great counsel. Each in their own way put some of the weight I was carrying onto their own shoulders. Each of them told me that no matter how smart I was or how hard I threw myself at the problem, I was not in control and never would be. Like Jesus in the boat, each of them pointed to the only thing that could help… absolute faith that “God will take care of me and my family.” I had to hand my worry over to God with complete faith that He would provide.

Guess what? The message sunk in. Old Mr. Stubborn finally gave up. One Sunday at Mass I said to God: “I can’t do this anymore. I’m putting my burden up there on the altar. I’m leaving it behind. When I walk out the door… it’s yours.”

That’s when things began to change. A sense of peace replaced the  growing despair. I finally got some sleep at night. Other things began to happen. Encouraging signs here and there. Little positives that began to build into greater things. Friends and strangers rallying behind me. I was suddenly finding abundance where before I could only see an empty hole. Removed from the outcome I was growing strong again. God was taking control. 

I’m not completely out of the squall, but I’m no longer afraid. I now know that God is at the helm of my little boat. Not only is He steering a safe course home, He’s given me a blanket to keep out the cold. 

My friends, give your worries to God. Have complete faith that He will wrap you up and keep you safe. No matter how violent your own storm may be at the moment… turn it over and God will provide. I know this to be true.

Room to Chat: God, Thank you sending your advance marketing team my way. You really know how to get superior message retention, don’t you?

Come After Me – Good News for January 12

12 01 2009

Mark 1:14-20

After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the Gospel of God: “This is the time of fulfillment. The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel.”

As he passed by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea; they were fishermen. Jesus said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Then they left their nets and followed him.

He walked along a little farther and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They too were in a boat mending their nets. Then he called them. So they left their father Zebedee in the boat along with the hired men and followed him.

The Daily Path: Today, I’m reflecting on some of the defining moments in my spiritual journey. Have you taken time to think of your own milestone events? When did God reach out and ask you to “Come after me?”

Room to Chat: It may not be formal prayer as we think of it, but isn’t a conversation between two people about their faith a form of prayer? I like the opportunity to have a quick chat with my fellow parishioners following Mass. Sometimes we discuss the sermon or parish activity. Other times the topic is family or our own well being. Either way, it’s a conversation between two people who God has brought together on this earth. Sounds like a prayer to me.

Blubbering Man – Good News for January 2

2 01 2009

Psalms 98:3

All the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God.

The Daily Path: Anyone who has read Good News To-Go! over the past months will understand that I have come to find great comfort in God. I’ve experienced some wonderful moments in prayer and have been especially touched at Mass. While I never stopped having conversations with God, I viewed going to Mass as an obligation that I did not necessarily  enjoy fulfilling. Yesterday’s Mass demonstrated how much my perspective has changed.  

Almost from the moment I knelt down in the pew to prepare my mind and open my heart before the start of Mass, I was moved with great emotion. I suddenly felt Christ’s love all around me. Something that I can only describe as an incredible swell of joy overcame me. To someone who has not experienced this before, you might think that I’m just a whack-o. I assure you I’m not. As I fought back the tears people around me may have wondered what was the matter. I think I was wondering myself. 

During his sermon, our pastor shared something that I found to be quite profound. It really applies to me and what I was experiencing yesterday and throughout my renewal. His point was this, Mary didn’t fully understand everything that was happening in the time surrounding the conception and birth of Jesus. The gospel of Luke 2:19 reads: “And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.” Like Mary, I don’t fully understand how and why God is working in me. But I accept that He is and trust in Him. I know that my conversations with God and Mass make me joyful and I believe that joy is a true sign of God’s presence… the saving presence that we are all called to witness.

The next time you see the blubbering man in church, don’t be alarmed. He may just be feeling the joy.

Room to Chat: If you still read a morning newspaper in print, why not say an Our Father as you walk outside on your way to pick it up?

Working in the Vineyard – Good News for December 16

16 12 2008

Matthew 21: 28-32

Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people, “What is your opinion? 

A man had two sons. He came to the first and said, ‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’ The son said in reply, ‘I will not,’ but afterwards he changed his mind and went. The man came to the other son and gave the same order.  He said in reply, ‘Yes, sir,’ but did not go.  Which of the two did his father’s will?” 

They answered, “The first.”  Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the Kingdom of God before you.  When John came to you in the way of righteousness, you did not believe him; but tax collectors and prostitutes did.  Yet even when you saw that, you did not later change your minds and believe him.” 

The Daily Path: Last night over dinner a friend told me how his early exposure to the Catholic Church was not an optional endeavor. His father demanded that he and his siblings go to Mass every Sunday and no pretext could excuse them from dad’s weekly  edict. I’m sure he wasn’t the only kid in the neighborhood to experience this. I know that when I hit my teens, going to church was about the last thing I wanted to do on any morning.

Later as I reflected on this, I realized what an important part of my life God and His church have become. My relationship with God has done a 180. Like the man’s first son in Matthew’s gospel, when God initially called me to work in His vineyard I didn’t want to go. Today, I honestly look forward to Sunday Mass and try to get to church during the week if my schedule permits. I enjoy my conversations with God (although He may find them a little dull) and the time I spend reflecting on His word and promise. If I’m not able to spend this time with God, I feel a gap. A real emptiness.

Wow! What a difference. 

I hope that my kids know God earlier in life so they aren’t telling stories about how their dad dragged them off to church every week. I’ll bet my friend does, too.