Not Just Coin – Good News for November 22

22 11 2010

Luke 21:1-4

When Jesus looked up he saw some wealthy people putting their offerings into the treasury and he noticed a poor widow putting in two small coins. He said, “I tell you truly, this poor widow put in more than all the rest; for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood.”

The Daily Path: We can give from our wallet or we can give of ourselves. Certainly both types of giving are needed. Jesus points to monetary giving in this example but I think the message is broader than just coin. I’ve found that “being there” for someone in a time of great need can provide incalculable value. I’ve been on the receiving side and can tell you from my own experience that when things seem darkest receiving a note from a friend, an invitation for coffee, or a friendly call, can dig you out of the depths like nothing else. This type of genuine outreach keeps you going when the weight of the world feels squarely on your shoulders.

This week, as we prepare to gather as family and give thanks, perhaps it’s time to think about making one of those calls. Who can we share our spiritual wealth with? Who’s feeling alone or bearing the great weight of worry? Who could benefit from a little joy? Friends, I think our horn of plenty comes in all shapes and sizes. See what can be shared from your pantry of love.

Seeking Praise – Good News for March 18

18 03 2010

John 5:31-47

Jesus said to the Jews, “If I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is not true. But there is another who testifies on my behalf, and I know that the testimony he gives on my behalf is true. You sent emissaries to John, and he testified to the truth. I do not accept human testimony, but I say this so that you may be saved. He was a burning and shining lamp, and for a while you were content to rejoice in his light. But I have testimony greater than John’s. The works that the Father gave me to accomplish, these works that I perform testify on my behalf that the Father has sent me. Moreover, the Father who sent me has testified on my behalf.

But you have never heard his voice nor seen his form, and you do not have his word remaining in you, because you do not believe in the one whom he has sent. You search the Scriptures, because you think you have eternal life through them; even they testify on my behalf. But you do not want to come to me to have life.

“I do not accept human praise; moreover, I know that you do not have the love of God in you. I came in the name of my Father, but you do not accept me; yet if another comes in his own name, you will accept him. How can you believe, when you accept praise from one another and do not seek the praise that comes from the only God?

Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father: the one who will accuse you is Moses, in whom you have placed your hope.
For if you had believed Moses, you would have believed me, because he wrote about me. But if you do not believe his writings,
how will you believe my words?”

The Daily Path: “How can you believe, when you accept praise from one another and do not seek the praise that comes from the only God?”

Driven. Relentless pursuit of success. Stature. Acceptance. These are a few of the things that come to mind when I read this passage from today’s Gospel. I know them because they have been a part of my being. For most of my life, going back to a very early age, I have yearned for the acceptance of others. In that pursuit I have led a very shallow life. I gladly accept praise from my brothers and sisters in an attempt to heal what Fr. Richard Rohr would call my “woundedness”, but only now do I see the false self behind this.

In recent times I have come to know the road that so many millions travel each day. Need, anxiety, and despair fill the vast majority of lives on earth, but they have never been part of my experience. In my life I have never known real worry. I have never truly held the hands that reached out to me in deepest despair. But now God has given me the chance to walk in the shoes of my brothers and sisters. And in doing so, He has begun to remove the false self that has prevented me from embracing the leper.

But why has He done this?

I can’t completely answer that. I’m still in the midst of it and have little perspective to analyze the situation – See? I’m still analyzing instead of trusting His plan! – But since I am an imperfect being, I will indulge my imperfection and offer this analysis: Perhaps God is taking me down this road to activate the radical grace within me, so that I will finally stop pursuing the acceptance of others (in all its forms) and start pursuing the only acceptance that matters… the praise of my Father in heaven.

Room to Chat: Father, you are allowing me to touch the wounds of your Son, the Christ. In doing so you have given me the ability to believe in You as never before. Continue to give me, and all who travel down this road, the courage and resolve to continue onward. Keep us in your light so that we may always see the way to You.

Squalls – Good News for June 21

21 06 2009

Mark 4:35-41

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: Happy Fathers Day to all the dads in the audience, and the mothers who’s circumstances require they do double duty as a father.

Being a father can be terrifying at times. Not that our children are the storm, although they have their moments. But being a parent has obligations. We must to take care of the family by providing a home, food, clothing, education, healthcare, life examples, discipline, and most of all love.

In these days the squall seems to be all around us growing ever worse. For so many, including myself, it’s all we can do to keep bailing out the little boat so we can stay afloat and keep our family safe. And that for a father is the terror.

It’s during these most difficult times that we feel overwhelmed and run to the stern in a panic. “Teacher wake up! We’re sinking! HELP ME!”

And what does Jesus teach us about these challenges?

To have faith in Him. Believe that God is with us in the most violent of storms.

Of course, we are going to be scared. We’re human. We’re flawed. We also want to care for our families so they don’t have to suffer. I don’t believe that God wants His children to suffer either. That’s why He sent His son, Jesus, to save us from eternal suffering.

Let’s keep today’s Gospel in mind during the days ahead. We’re not alone in this squall. Jesus is with us. And remember… with the Father, all things are possible! 

Room to Chat: Lord, you command the wind and the sea. Calm our minds in this storm and send the Holy Spirit to bring inner peace to all who need it.

Genuine Giving – Good News for June 6

6 06 2009

Mark 12:38-44

In the course of his teaching Jesus said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to go around in long robes and accept greetings in the marketplaces, seats of honor in synagogues, and places of honor at banquets. They devour the houses of widows and, as a pretext, recite lengthy prayers. They will receive a very severe condemnation.”

He sat down opposite the treasury and observed how the crowd put money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents.  Calling his disciples to himself, he said to them, “Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury. For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.”

The Daily Path: On a number of occasions I have experienced the following scenarios, perhaps you have as well…

An individual who becomes displeased over something that has occurred in an organization they belong to. This change in attitude is always related to change. It may be new leadership, a perceived slight, or loss of personal prestige. As a result of this change, the person(s) decide to leave the group. Before pulling up their “tent stakes” to depart they make it clear to anyone within earshot that not only are they leaving, they are taking ALL their financial support with them.

I’ve seen this in schools, non-profits, and especially among parish communities. In some cases it is justified to leave a group. In my experience it’s most often related to ego and largely unjustified. These people are not only hurting the community they leave, they are hurting themselves and completely missing the teaching of Jesus as repeated in Mark’s gospel. 

I struggle with ego. Most of us do. The ME likes to be praised. The ME likes to be in positions of prominence and influence. The ME also has thin skin. We move about thinking of ME and the reflections of life we see are like looking in a mirror. You can’t see the whole picture… you only see YOURSELF. 

ME gives a few bucks to the church that won’t hurt ME’s financial position in the least. And then, when ME feels ME isn’t getting the recognition that ME deserves for this surplus donation, ME leaves in a huff with those few dollars that ME believes are all important. 

This isn’t genuine giving. It’s vanity giving. It enables us to walk around in our fine robes like the Scribes of 2000 years ago. When someone spills something on our fine robe we make a loud stink and leave.

I pray that I’m granted enough vision to always see the lesson Jesus teaches here. May my contributions to the faith community always be genuine and without strings attached.

Room to Chat: In this economy it’s pretty easy to achieve the level of giving until it hurts. Maybe this coming week we can all add a little bit extra to the basket and good (God) works we support.

Living the Thanksgiving – Good News for November 24

24 11 2008

Luke 21: 1-4

When Jesus looked up he saw some wealthy people putting their offerings into the treasury and he noticed a poor widow putting in two small coins.

He said, “I tell you truly, this poor widow put in more than all the rest; for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood.” 

The Daily Path: (Note To Self: Bookmark this passage! Sixty three words that are some of the most powerful I’ll ever read or hear.)

Today, we in the United States began celebrating Thanksgiving. Although Thanksgiving Day isn’t until Thursday, most of the schools are closed for the entire week and those who can are taking extra time off from work. I wonder how much of this time will actually be spent giving thanks?

Jesus’ teaching in Luke’s gospel is a magnificent lesson to keep in mind as we start a week of Thanksgiving. Even in times of perceived crisis each of us possess abundant wealth to be shared. Let’s keep in mind that wealth isn’t just monetary. We are rich in so many other ways that can be shared.

We have Time to share. Perhaps you know someone who might be feeling very alone this week. Do you have a few minutes to stop by and say hello? Who can you spend time with that will really appreciate it?

We have Words of friendship or encouragement to shower upon those who need a little pick-me-up. Perhaps a quick note to a friend who you’ve lost touch with, yet shared an important part of your life. Have you had a falling out with a good friend? What better time to put such silliness aside. Pick up the phone.

We have Skills to share. Are you an artist? A baker? A carpenter? A professional? How can you share the benefits of your skill?

So much can be accomplished this week and EVERY week in giving thanks through our actions. We are all wealthy in so many ways regardless of the economic times. My friends, we are all very capable of giving more than surplus.