Light Friday – Good News for November 28

28 11 2008

Luke 21: 29-33

Jesus told his disciples a parable. “Consider the fig tree and all the other trees. When their buds burst open, you see for yourselves and know that summer is now near; in the same way, when you see these things happening, know that the Kingdom of God is near.

Amen, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away,  but my words will not pass away.”

The Daily Path: It’s been my experience that the spiritual journey is like the bud on a fig tree. You start out as a tiny little bump on the branch. Growth happens ever so slowly. Almost undetectable change from day to day. Then all of a sudden… KA-BOOM! You blossom! Out go your petals toward the sun and the next thing you know you’re a piece of fruit. “Now available on isle 5, baskets of Golden Delicious Faithfuls shipped fresh from God’s Garden©.”

Light Friday – As I craft today’s blog, millions of Americans are already hitting the stores for what is known as Black Friday… the day Holiday shopping begins in earnest. Here in the U.S., stores drop prices and open their doors at 4 a.m. to harvest the fortunes that will be spent on gifts.

This isn’t a commentary on the orgy of thoughtless spending that begins today. It is, however, a reminder of the good works that organizations like Toys-for-TotsCatholic CharitiesSalvation Army, and local food banks do at this time of year.

As you struggle with figuring out what useless gift you feel obligated to buy for Uncle Wally, please remember the families who will need help this year just to put food on the table. Or think about the motel rooms across the country where families will have a “Christmas branch” sporting a single ornament made from an aluminum can, that will serve as their Christmas tree. A “tree” under which no presents will reside.

Perhaps the best gift you can give Uncle Wally is a note telling him that instead of buying him the “Amazing Home Barber Shop,” the combo razor, shaving cream and cologne dispenser on sale for $19.99, you chose to give that money, in his name, to a relief organization. Perhaps old Wally will get a huge smile on his face, the same kind of smile those three children in a dingy motel room haven’t known since their father lost his job at the plant two years ago.  

How can we turn Black Friday into Light Friday? As we shop this year, please remember Matthew 25: 35-39.

Like the fig tree in spring, we can blossom in December!

Kill the Turkey, Not ME! – Good News for November 26

26 11 2008

Luke 21: 12-19

Jesus said to the crowd, “They will seize and persecute you, they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons, and they will have you led before kings and governors because of my name. It will lead to your giving testimony.

Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand, for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute.

You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends, and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name, but not a hair on your head will be destroyed. By your perseverance you will secure your lives.” 

The Daily Path: Wow! The first 104 words of today’s Gospel are enough to make you turn tail and run away. It paints a grim picture of what you get as a follower of Christ. Seems much safer to open a box of Cracker Jacks to get your prize.

But in dying Jesus restored life. And we can do the same to gain Christ’s promise of eternal life after death. I’m not talking about becoming a Christian martyr, although that continues to happen, even today. I’m referring to allowing our ego (ME) to die so that we can really live as God wants us to. Remember our Thanksgiving Week theme? Matthew 25: 35-39 To pass the Final Exam requires a very small “me” and a huge WE. I don’t know about you, but I’m not very good at this dying thing. ME doesn’t like it.

Thanksgiving Eve

Tomorrow will likely be a busy day for you. Traveling. Preparing a meal. Playing in the annual Turkey Bowl (ouch!). Because you won’t have much time tomorrow, will you join me today in spending a few minutes crafting The Gratitude List for 2008? 

Who and what are your grateful for this year?

It can be a short list of one or a long list of many. Hand written or a simple reflection in your mind and heart. Do it right now. Beat the rush!

Final Exams – Good News for November 25

25 11 2008

Luke 25: 5-11 

While some people were speaking about how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings, Jesus said, “All that you see here – the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.”

Then they asked him, “Teacher, when will this happen? And what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen?” 

He answered, “See that you not be deceived, for many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he,’ and ‘The time has come.’  Do not follow them!  When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for such things must happen first, but it will not immediately be the end.” 

Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.  There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues from place to place; and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky.” 

The Daily Path: None of us know when the end of our earthly life will come. Lately I’ve heard repeated messages in the Gospel and from the pulpit that essentially boil down to this: Don’t procrastinate! Live life as if you know the end will come in a few months. 

This past Sunday our pastor focused on the Gospel of Matthew 25: 35-39 in reminding us that Jesus gave us the answers to the questions we’ll be asked when we stand before Him on Judgement Day:

“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’

As I continue this week of Thanksgiving, I’ll try to do more homework for God’s final exam. If I’m scheduled to take it tomorrow, I have a lot of cramming to do. 

Remember, my friends… YOUR test is coming, too. Will you join me in study hall this week?