Feeling His Voice – Good News for April 24

24 04 2010

John 6:60-69

Many of the disciples of Jesus who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?” Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them, “Does this shock you? What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the Spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.”

Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe and the one who would betray him. And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father.”

As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer walked with him. Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?” Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe  and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”

The Daily Path: Yesterday, I had another visit from God.

“Wahoo! Martha, come quick. The blogging crackpot is going to tell us about another one of his experiences with the Almighty. This one ought to be a doozy!”

Stan, you are correct. It was a “doozy” as you put it. It’s the third time in my life when I have felt God speak directly to me. I say felt because I do not hear His voice as we hear a bird singing outside the window. Yet He used words to reach me that were just as clear, just as audible. This is what I felt Him say to me…

“Tell my stories.”

This event occurred during Mass at Christ the Light Cathedral in Oakland. I find this interesting because the building has been much maligned for several reasons, including the high cost of construction at a time when many felt the money could be used elsewhere. I won’t enter into that debate here. I only share the venue because God chose a place to talk with me that – up until then – had seemed cold, uninviting and anything but about His light.

My response to God was “Okay. I’ll tell your stories, but you have to take care of my family.”

“Martha! You’re missing the good stuff. Now he’s making demands on God!”

Imagine that, Stan. God asks me to do something and I’m putting conditions on it. Well, not really conditions. You see, I’ll do what God asks and put my faith in Him that we will be provided for.

Once again, Saul’s journey to Damascus has come to life for me. Was it mere coincidence that yesterday’s reading was Acts 9:1-20? I don’t think so. There is no “Coincidence” page in God’s playbook. Seems more likely that I was being reminded of the second time I felt His words – the time I felt God call me by name and ask, “Why are you ignoring me?”

Friends, I share my experiences so that you might find hope along the journey. If God can pick out a flawed mess of a man like me from the crowd – pick me me up, dust me off, and set me back on the way home – imagine what He can do for you.

Keep me in your prayers as I reflect on God’s conversation with me. I think I know what He wants. Now I must open my eyes and ears fully to be aware of what unfolds before me. This is how I will come to understand the steps I am to take in doing what has been asked of me. I feel the next part of my journey is about to begin.

“Master, I go to you. You are the words of eternal life. I have come to believe  and am convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”

Room to Chat: Father, today my oldest daughter will join the banquet with your Son as she receives her First Communion. Please keep her close so that the light of Christ will always guide her way. May her heart be open to your voice within as she walks along the path.

Searching For Mr. Jesus – Good News for April 4

4 04 2009

They looked for Jesus…

John 11:45-56

Many of the Jews who had come to Mary and seen what Jesus had done began to believe in him. But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. So the chief priests and the Pharisees convened the Sanhedrin and said, “What are we going to do? This man is performing many signs. If we leave him alone, all will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our land and our nation.” 

But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing, nor do you consider that it is better for you that one man should die instead of the people, so that the whole nation may not perish.” He did not say this on his own, but since he was high priest for that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation, and not only for the nation, but also to gather into one the dispersed children of God. So from that day on they planned to kill him.

So Jesus no longer walked about in public among the Jews, but he left for the region near the desert, to a town called Ephraim, and there he remained with his disciples.

Now the Passover of the Jews was near, and many went up from the country to Jerusalem before Passover to purify themselves. They looked for Jesus and said to one another as they were in the temple area, “What do you think? That he will not come to the feast?”

The Daily Path: I think there are many people looking for Jesus. They just haven’t come to recognize Him yet. I’ve come to realize that Jesus is at every feast if we open our eyes to see Him.

This morning the parishioners of St. Monica’s gathered to bring the feast to the homeless of Oakland, CA. Jesus was in the kitchen wrapping sandwiches with the adults and packing cookies with the kids. Amazing!

Room to Chat: Lord, guard Michael, as a shepherd guards his flock.

(Today’s prayer for Michael adapted from Jeremiah 31:10. See Come Out – Good News for March 29)

Nana – Good News for March 8

8 03 2009

Happy Birthday Nana. 

Mark 9:2-10

Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no fuller on earth could bleach them. Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses, and they were conversing with Jesus.

Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here! Let us make three tents: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified.

Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them; from the cloud came a voice, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.” Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone but Jesus alone with them.

As they were coming down from the mountain, he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone, except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what rising from the dead meant.

The Daily Path: Today is the birthday of my late grandmother, Florence Irene Kindlen, or as she was known to me and the rest of her grandchildren… Nana. Every March 8, Nana and I have a little birthday chat, just as we did when she was alive, because my birthday is the following day. I do the talking, but I know she hears me. Occasionally I will “feel” her response. I want to share a little bit about Nana because not only was she the best grandmother who ever set foot on this earth, she was also an example of living a Godly life.

When Nana married her beloved Irishman, Jim (James Aloysius) Kindlen, she did not share the Catholic faith of her husband. Nor was she compelled to run out and enlist. However, she raised her children as Catholics. Years later, Nana did convert to Catholicism and held a deep devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Each Sunday, and often during the week, she would attend Mass at St. Joseph’s Basilica, sitting directly in front of a statue of the Sacred Heart while faithfully praying for her family. I can assure you that there was much to pray for!

Nana always wore two things that became her trademark… a hat and a smile. That smile could melt the hardest heart. She tirelessly raised money for the parish schools and was genuinely loved by everyone who crossed her path. When her little gold donation box came out, wallets opened. Her unpretentious charm disarmed friends and strangers alike. No one could resist her.

After Grandpa died in 1957, my grandmother began to travel around the U.S. with her siblings. She loved to take trips. As a boy I would spend hours watching travel logs with her on the black & white TV. She always sent me postcards, even when her trip was just across the bay to San Francisco. I still treasure those cards to this day. Nana didn’t drive but she got about quite nicely riding the AC Transit bus system. The drivers all knew her by name. She’d take me to Oakland back in the day when it rivaled San Francisco with its major department stores and bustling downtown. Our excursions would always include a stop at the toy department and lunch room at Capwell’s Department Store. We’d sit amidst the fashionable “ladies who did lunch.” Nana would have a cup of tea and I’d have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with chocolate milk.

As the times grew more dangerous, she became a target for thieves who preyed on senior citizens. She was mugged by purse snatchers on three occasions as she waited for the bus. Although injured by these violent acts, I never saw her hardened by them. I can only assume that it was her great love and unwavering faith in Jesus that enabled her to forgive. If there was ever an example of living forgiveness, Nana was it. She just wouldn’t allow herself to harbor hatred. I think that was part of her charm. The genuine twinkle in her eyes showed love. Her smile offered shelter.

Eventually Nana stopped riding the bus, although she remained active. Her young friends (in their 60’s) would still drive “The Sunshine Chairman” about. She continued to take shorter trips with the local senior citizen groups. Florence Kindlen was 96 when she passed away after a short illness in November 1991. There is no doubt in my mind that the gates of Heaven were immediately opened as she left this earth on the Express Bus. And I know that Jesus was waiting to welcome her at the threshold because in life she listened to Him and lived what He taught. 

Happy Birthday Nana. I love you.

No Room At The Inn – Good News for December 24

24 12 2008

Luke 2:1-14

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria. So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town. And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth  to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem,  because he was of the house and family of David,  to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.

While they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields and keeping the night watch over their flock. The angel of the Lord appeared to them  and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were struck with great fear.

The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy  that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David  a savior has been born for you who is Christ and Lord. And this will be a sign for you:  you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.”

And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” 

The Daily Path: Last night my children and I were driving through Oakland heading to Alameda, the city where I grew up. We were on our way to pick up my parents and continue our decades old  family tradition of driving around town looking at the colorful lights and Christmas decorations. Freeway traffic was backed up so I took an alternate route through downtown Oakland. 

At a stop light I happened to glance over at the entrance of a city administration building near the police station. At the top of the stairs were two homeless people. One had climbed out of a wheel chair and was already in his sleeping bag. The other was preparing his own bed by wrapping himself in a blanket on this frosty night. 

“She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”

As the hustle and bustle of Christmas went on all about them, there was no room at the inn for these two souls. I wondered what set of circumstances led them to their current situation. While I was feeling great joy in anticipation of our family Christmas tradition, these two could look forward to a cold night sleeping on concrete and the slim margin of safety this public manger offered. Thousands would drive by them this night. Would anyone give them a second thought? Where would the joy of Our Lord’s coming be for them?

I’d like to think that if I was a shepherd in the hills surrounding Bethlehem some two thousand years ago, I would have harkened the angels call and gone to the manger to praise the Baby Jesus. But on this night, two of God’s children lay in the cold, yet I continued tending my own flock. 

“And this will be a sign for you:  you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.”

My friends, on this holiest of nights in the Christian tradition, make room in your heart for all of God’s children. Lord, please keep them safe in your love and mercy.