The Compassion Couch – Good News for April 15

15 04 2010

Acts of the Apostles 5:27-33

When the court officers had brought the Apostles in and made them stand before the Sanhedrin, the high priest questioned them, “We gave you strict orders did we not, to stop teaching in that name. Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and want to bring this man’s blood upon us.”

But Peter and the Apostles said in reply, “We must obey God rather than men. The God of our ancestors raised Jesus, though you had him killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as leader and savior to grant Israel repentance and forgiveness of sins. We are witnesses of these things, as is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.”

When they heard this, they became infuriated and wanted to put them to death.

The Daily Path: I may get into trouble with some readers over today’s Path reflection, but I always share what is in my heart.

I’m deeply concerned about much of the dialogue going on in the United States. Conservatives are battling liberals. Christians are attacking other Christians. Those who have the blood of immigrants flowing through their veins attack refugees. People who profess belief in God hold up religion as a dividing principle. A lingering racial chasm lurks hidden just below the surface. Our God given Garden of Eden – Earth – grows sicker while industrialists fuel consumerism with inadequate regard for sustainability. Meanwhile we consume with unequal regard for those who do not have the means to achieve even the most basic human dignity.

I feel as though a modern Sanhedrin is at work in a world where the true teachings of Christ are overwhelmed by the shouts of crowds whipped into a frenzy by the high priests of our age. Where is the dialogue of compassion? Sure, you might say that it exists… but not before we get our cut. Not before our interest is met.

ME FIRST.

ME IS JOB ONE.

ME ME ME ME ME

“We must obey God rather than men. The God of our ancestors raised Jesus, though you had him killed by hanging him on a tree.”

When they heard this, they became infuriated and wanted to put them to death.

How often do we figuratively “put someone to death” because WE is in conflict with ME?

I’m a flawed human being. A poor example of a follower of Christ. (Perhaps I harbor anger at myself because in so many ways I still allow the Sanhedrin to have power over me.) In my weakness I want to shake those who don’t see the teachings as I do… just as they want to shake me. But as weak and flawed as I am, the teachings of the Son of Man have touched me in ways that nothing else has. I know I’m not alone. Why then can’t we do more to find common ground and engage in the dialogue of Jesus’ teaching?

If I had the means I would buy a sofa and a van. I would take my sofa all over the country. I would ask people involved in the great debates – and those impacted by the outcome – to sit with me on my couch. I would ask them to tell me where compassion has touched their lives. And I would ask them where compassion exists in their position in the great debate. Then I would ask them to assume for a moment the opposite position and repeat the question. (If they answered that compassion didn’t exist in the opposite position, I would encourage them to try again!) After listening to their thoughts on the first three questions, I would ask: What can we do today – as soon as we get off the couch – to realize greater compassion together?

Would it do any good towards advancing the dialogue of compassion and the commonality we share as one in the eyes of God?

If you see me sitting on my sofa will you stop and talk with me?

Am I just a nut case? Don’t answer that.

Send your donation to Kin’s Compassion Couch Tour today! 😉





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.





Make Something Better – Good News for December 15

15 12 2008

Matthew 21: 23-27

When Jesus had come into the temple area, the chief priests and the elders of the people approached him as he was teaching and said, “By what authority are you doing these things? And who gave you this authority?” 

Jesus said to them in reply, “I shall ask you one question, and if you answer it for me, then I shall tell you by what authority I do these things.  Where was John’s baptism from? Was it of heavenly or of human origin?” 

They discussed this among themselves and said, “If we say ‘Of heavenly origin,’ he will say to us, ‘Then why did you not believe him?’  But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ we fear the crowd, for they all regard John as a prophet.”  So they said to Jesus in reply, “We do not know.” 

He himself said to them, “Neither shall I tell you by what authority I do these things.”

The Daily Path: One of the common scenarios we read about in the Gospel finds the Pharisees and church elders attempting to trap Jesus and make things difficult for Him. We’d be hearing a different sequence of events had they set out to help Jesus and make His path a little better.

I think of the times when I’m acting like one of those Pharisees by making life difficult for someone. Wouldn’t it be great if instead my outlook was to always try to help enrich someone or make something better? 

Frank Sinatra would sing of making someone’s experience better…

Make someone happy,
Make just one someone happy…

One smile that cheers you,
One face that lights when it nears you.

Fame, if you win it,
Comes and goes in a minute.
Where’s the real stuff in life to cling to?
Love is the answer…





Witness to the Light – Good News for December 14

14 12 2008

John 1:6-8, 19-28

A man named John was sent from God. He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to testify to the light. And this is the testimony of John.

When the Jews from Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to him to ask him, “Who are you?” He admitted and did not deny it, but admitted, “I am not the Christ.”

So they asked him, “What are you then? Are you Elijah?” And he said, “I am not.”
“Are you the Prophet?” He answered, “No.”

So they said to him, “Who are you, so we can give an answer to those who sent us? What do you have to say for yourself?” He said: “I am the voice of one crying out in the desert, ‘make straight the way of the Lord,’” as Isaiah the prophet said.”

Some Pharisees were also sent.  They asked him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ or Elijah or the Prophet?” John answered them, “I baptize with water; but there is one among you whom you do not recognize, the one who is coming after me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie.” This happened in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

The Daily Path: This morning as I emerged from that blissful REM state just before waking up, the following words were etched in my mind, 

“Be careful with what God wants you to do with your life.”

I don’t know what my neurons were up to in the early hours and have no recollection of a related dream, but these words are food for thought.





A Warm Welcome – Good News for December 13

13 12 2008

Sirach 48:1-3, 10-11

In those days, like a fire there appeared the prophet Elijah whose words were as a flaming furnace. Their staff of bread he shattered, in his zeal he reduced them to straits; By the Lord’s word he shut up the heavens and three times brought down fire… 

You were destined, it is written, in time to come to put an end to wrath before the day of the LORD, To turn back the hearts of fathers toward their sons, and to re-establish the tribes of Jacob. Blessed is he who shall have seen you and who falls asleep in your friendship.

Matthew 17:9-13

As they were coming down from the mountain, the disciples asked Jesus, “Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?”

He said in reply, “Elijah will indeed come and restore all things; but I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him but did to him whatever they pleased.  So also will the Son of Man suffer at their hands.”

Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist. 

The Daily Path: Since it’s Saturday, you get a double feature reading. When I was a kid, back in the Neolithic Period, going to the movie meant seeing a double feature and cartoons… all for fifty cents! 

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to chat with an old friend and former colleague. We discussed our respective Christian communities and how we felt a church should offer a warm sense of “Welcome” to all who cross its threshold. My friend grew up Catholic and attended Catholic school. But the Catholic Church was not where he would ultimately find God’s warm embrace. 

I find it exciting when people of various faiths have the opportunity to share their journey with each other. It’s uplifting when we reach across theological boundaries and religious tradition to find our common denominator… the peace, love and mercy of God. I wish there more interfaith opportunities to come together, not to convert, but to celebrate what we have in common. 

Perhaps you will have an opportunity today to extend God’s “Welcome” mat.