Eagle Eye – Good News for March 14

14 03 2009

He saw me when I was still a long way off…

Luke 15:1-3, 11-32

Tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus, but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” So to them Jesus addressed this parable.

“A man had two sons, and the younger son said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of your estate that should come to me.’ So the father divided the property between them. After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings and set off to a distant country where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation. When he had freely spent everything, a severe famine struck that country, and he found himself in dire need. So he hired himself out to one of the local citizens who sent him to his farm to tend the swine. And he longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed, but nobody gave him any.

Coming to his senses he thought, ‘How many of my father’s hired workers have more than enough food to eat, but here am I, dying from hunger. I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.'” So he got up and went back to his father.

While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him. His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I no longer deserve to be called your son.’ But his father ordered his servants, ‘Quickly, bring the finest robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Take the fattened calf and slaughter it. Then let us celebrate with a feast, because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and has been found.’ Then the celebration began.

Now the older son had been out in the field and, on his way back, as he neared the house, he heard the sound of music and dancing. He called one of the servants and asked what this might mean. The servant said to him, ‘Your brother has returned
and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’ He became angry, and when he refused to enter the house, his father came out and pleaded with him. He said to his father in reply, ‘Look, all these years I served you and not once did I disobey your orders; yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends. But when your son returns who swallowed up your property with prostitutes, for him you slaughter the fattened calf.’ He said to him, ‘My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours. But now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.'”

The Daily Path: I find it interesting that the parable of the Prodigal Son always resonated with me ever since hearing it for the first time as a young boy. Back then I didn’t know that it would become such a central theme in my later life. As I re-read the tale this morning, this passage stands out:

While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion.

About five years ago, I was still a very long way away from returning fully to God. But something was stirring inside me. I didn’t realize it at the time but I was searching for God. I can recall an important milestone on this quest. I was channel surfing and stopped on KQED, my local PBS television station. Dr. Wayne Dyer was giving one of his televised lectures on spirituality. This one focused on connecting to “source” (God). For some reason I couldn’t turn away. What started as a quick stop turned into perhaps the most important three-hours of my life. In those moments, God used Dr. Dyer to begin reconnecting with me. 

As I look back it’s now clear to me that this was the beginning of my active spiritual journey. Like the father in Jesus’ parable, God saw me way off in the distance. Knowing that at long last I wanted to return home, HE ran down the road to meet me. There is no question in my mind that all God needed was an opening in my heart, the smallest reason despite all that I had squandered, and He was off to begin escorting me home. 

Room to Chat: Are you heading home, too? Take a moment and reflect on the milestones of your own journey. Sometimes we don’t see them for what they are. You may have found this blog by random chance… or was it? God has an eagle eye and sees us when we can’t even see ourselves.

Fasting Backwards – Good News for February 27

27 02 2009

Mark 9:14-15

The disciples of John approached Jesus and said, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast much, but your disciples do not fast?”

Jesus answered them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.”

The Daily Path: I fasted almost non-stop for many years. While outwardly I never looked like Ghandi, on the  inside I was a wraith. I ingested everything that gave me pleasure. Fun, food, booze, drugs, sex, ego, greed, decadence. I was the original “Joy Boy” who couldn’t get enough.

You’re probably wondering what that life of endless indulgence has to do with my fasting. Let me tell you: The one thing I abstained from was God.

Oh, I knew He was there. I’d pay a brief visit now and again to “borrow the car” just like the son from Harry Chapin’s song “Cat’s in the Cradle.” Somehow God didn’t cut me off. He allowed me to attend the wedding reception and enjoy the party without going to the ceremony or meeting the bridegroom. Then, when He saw me stumbling down on the ground from too much life, God brought the bridegroom over to meet me. His Son reached down and picked me up. He hugged me and said “You’ve fasted enough. Now it’s time to eat at my table. Come on, I’ve been saving a special seat just for you.”

Room to Chat: Do the dishes. (“What’s the koo-koo suggesting now?” Stan Doubtsall) I don’t like to do the dishes. I can’t think of anyone who looks forward to the chore. What if you use that same time for something you do enjoy? Do you like to talk to God? Go grab your sponge and the pan with two-day old spaghetti sauce welded on. You can do a lot of talking while you scrub that mess. (Secret: It will seem like you got the dishes done in no time)

Pick Up Your Mat – Good News for February 22

22 02 2009

Isaiah 43:18-19; 25

Remember not the events of the past, the things of long ago consider not; see, I am doing something new! Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?… It is I, I, who wipe out, for my own sake, your offenses; your sins I remember no more.

Mark 2:1-12

When Jesus returned to Capernaum after some days, it became known that he was at home. Many gathered together so that there was no longer room for them, not even around the door, and he preached the word to them. They came bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men.

Unable to get near Jesus because of the crowd, they opened up the roof above him. After they had broken through, they let down the mat on which the paralytic was lying. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Child, your sins are forgiven.”

Now some of the scribes were sitting there asking themselves, “Why does this man speak that way?  He is blaspheming. Who but God alone can forgive sins?”

Jesus immediately knew in his mind what they were thinking to themselves,  so he said, “Why are you thinking such things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, pick up your mat and walk?’ But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins on earth” —he said to the paralytic, “I say to you, rise, pick up your mat, and go home.”

He rose, picked up his mat at once, and went away in the sight of everyone. They were all astounded and glorified God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this.”

The Daily Path: Not that long ago, I was deeply troubled by some things that had occurred in my past. In my younger days I had committed some terrible sins. The memory of these acts were painful and had grown to haunt me no end. Finally, I decided to seek the Sacrament of Reconciliation, which is another story in and of itself. 

During the course of my confession, Father said some things that struck home and have stayed with me since that day. He told me: “Jesus knows what is in your heart.” He also went on to suggest that “I had to forgive myself.”

These words came to mind as I reflect on today’s readings. In Isaiah we hear that we have to let go of the past because God forgives us and then forgets our sin. He’s moved on so it’s time for us to do the same.

In Mark’s Gospel, he writes that Jesus knew what was in the hearts of the Pharisees when the paralytic was brought before Him. Jesus knows what is in our own hearts, too.  

While I will always regret the transgressions of my past, I no longer carry them around like the heavy chains of Jacob Marley. Jesus knew I was truly sorry. Understanding that was enough to allow me to let the healing begin.

Room to Chat: Find a moment to examine your heart and let God heal your wounds.