Advent Day 11 – Good News for December 8

8 12 2010

Luke 1:26-38

The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”

But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father,
and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his Kingdom there will be no end.”

But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” And the angel said to her in reply, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.”

Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

The Daily Path: Imagine the surprise when you arrive at the door of your fiance and she announces a pregnancy… her own! Not only that, but she also springs news of a supernatural being making an appearance to tell her of “the test results” accompanied by a heavenly request for the child to be named Cornelius. You might quickly run down a mental checklist of how this could be, coming to a screeching halt on the fact that you never had sex with the woman who, up until this moment, you believed to be a virgin. Astonishment? To say the least. Cause for a trip to the counselor’s coach? Most likely. Yet this is pretty much what happened to a young girl named Mary and her much older fiance, Joe the carpenter, some two thousand years ago.

How would you have taken this news as the mother or father to be? Would you have taken it all in stride having complete faith that nothing is impossible for God? I don’t think I would have, but there is my challenge!





Seeing – Good News for August 24

24 08 2010

John 1:45-51

Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one about whom Moses wrote in the law, and also the prophets, Jesus son of Joseph, from Nazareth.” But Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.”

Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Here is a true child of Israel. There is no duplicity in him.” Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.” Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this.”

And he said to him, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

The Daily Path: An excerpt from Fr. Richard Rohr’s Daily Reflections…

In paradoxical language, if you try to rest on one side and forget the other, you lose the truth.  The whole is always both-and.

We’ve seen some Christian cultures that are entirely centered on the Cross and they lose the resurrection.  In wealthy countries like our own we create the “prosperity gospel,” as it is called—all resurrection and almost no reference to the pain and suffering of the world.

We lose the full mystery of God, and the mystery of our own transformation, when we stand on one side and refuse to hold the creative tension that Jesus held.  It is the horizontal line of two nailed hands, between the good and the bad thief, that crucifies Jesus and that liberates us.






Gordo’s Light – Good News for March 26

26 03 2010

John 10:31-42

The Jews picked up rocks to stone Jesus. Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from my Father. For which of these are you trying to stone me?” The Jews answered him, “We are not stoning you for a good work but for blasphemy. You, a man, are making yourself God.”

Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, “You are gods”‘? If it calls them gods to whom the word of God came, and Scripture cannot be set aside, can you say that the one whom the Father has consecrated and sent into the world blasphemes because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? If I do not perform my Father’s works, do not believe me; but if I perform them, even if you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may realize and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.”

Then they tried again to arrest him; but he escaped from their power.

He went back across the Jordan to the place where John first baptized, and there he remained. Many came to him and said, “John performed no sign, but everything John said about this man was true.” And many there began to believe in him.

The Daily Path: Here is a wonderful story that a good friend shared with me yesterday…

It’s about a young man by the name of Gordon who a number of years ago was stricken with MS. For those of us who don’t know, MS – multiple sclerosis – affects the ability of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord to communicate with each other. Eventually all the motor functions shut down because the brain can no longer get messages out to the rest of the body. Sadly, there is no known cure for MS.

Gordon, is cared for in a Southern California assisted living facility. Each day members of his faith community come to spend time with him and to feed him his meals as he can no longer do this on his own. Often these are parishioners who have never met Gordon, yet wish to share some love. He struggles to communicate with family and friends as his speech has become slurred. However, “Gordo”, as he is known, has an amazing gift of communication. One that far exceeds what most humans are capable of.

Gordon an extraordinary gift of prayer. He prays in a powerful voice that enables miracles to occur in the hearts of men and woman. Gordo prays for the one thing that matters most… conversions. He asks God to open the minds and hearts of many who come into his life. And the Father is listening carefully because this young man has an amazing success rate. Over 100 people who’s names Gordon has lifted up have since embraced God into their lives!

To my mind, Gordo has been deeply blessed with the Spirit. Though his body withers, he knows God as few of us with healthy bodies will ever be able to in this life. Through physical challenges, God shined his light on Gordon. He in turn allows it to shine through him so that others will be touched by its glow.

John tells us of the signs that Jesus provided so that “many there began to believe in him.” His signs remain all around us, still at work each day. In this amazing young man named Gordo, we find yet another.

Room to Chat: Father, thank you for the sign you provide in Gordon. Help each of us to use the challenges we face on earth to draw closer to you and bask in your light. Hold Gordo tight this day so that he may continue to inspire all of us to continue on the journey home.

Church by Jonathan Burstein





Christ the Light – Good News for March 24

24 03 2010

John 8:31-42

Jesus said to those Jews who believed in him, “If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How can you say, ‘You will become free’?”

Jesus answered them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin.
A slave does not remain in a household forever, but a son always remains. So if the Son frees you, then you will truly be free. I know that you are descendants of Abraham. But you are trying to kill me,
because my word has no room among you. I tell you what I have seen in the Father’s presence; then do what you have heard from the Father.”

They answered and said to him, “Our father is Abraham.”

Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works of Abraham. But now you are trying to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God; Abraham did not do this. You are doing the works of your father!”

So they said to him, “We were not born of fornication. We have one Father, God.”

Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and am here;
I did not come on my own, but he sent me.”

The Daily Path: I believe that Jesus is a beacon of light. His light guides those who are able to see it towards the home of our Father. I also believe His church has the obligation to shine its light for that very purpose. When I say church, I don’t mean the structure. I mean the community of faith that is the true church. Each of us.

Take another look at Mr. Burstein’s painting below. Imagine for a moment that the light emitted through the opening was instead coming from the hearts of men and women. Instead of a church building, imagine many people standing behind the man we see sitting on the steps. What if this was the light of your own heart warming the darkness for someone you meet along the journey?

Now imagine our own luminance being boosted by the radiance of Christ’s light. What if we allowed that light to touch all those around us like walking lighthouses? Would anyone be left sitting outside in the dark?

Church by Jonathan Burstein





Recognizing the Son of Man – Good News for March 23

23 03 2010

John 8:21-30

Jesus said to the Pharisees, “I am going away and you will look for me, but you will die in your sin. Where I am going you cannot come.” So the Jews said, “He is not going to kill himself, is he, because he said, ‘Where I am going you cannot come’?”

He said to them, “You belong to what is below, I belong to what is above. You belong to this world, but I do not belong to this world. That is why I told you that you will die in your sins. For if you do not believe that I AM, you will die in your sins.” So they said to him, “Who are you?”

Jesus said to them, “What I told you from the beginning. I have much to say about you in condemnation. But the one who sent me is true, and what I heard from him I tell the world.” They did not realize that he was speaking to them of the Father.

So Jesus said to them, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I AM, and that I do nothing on my own, but I say only what the Father taught me. The one who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, because I always do what is pleasing to him.” Because he spoke this way, many came to believe in him.

The Daily Path:When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I AM…”

So often we learn the lesson too late. Jesus was lifted up on the cross and only then, at his death, did Longinus, the Roman centurion present at the crucifixion, recognize that truly Jesus was who he said he was… the Son of God. Again, I look at this painting and wonder how many times I have sat beside Jesus but did not recognize Him.

Church by Jonathan Burstein





Ring! Ring! – Good News for January 25

25 01 2010

Acts of the Apostles 9:1-22

Saul, still breathing murderous threats against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, that, if he should find any men or women who belonged to the Way, he might bring them back to Jerusalem in chains.

On his  journey, as he was nearing Damascus, a light from the sky suddenly flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” He said, “Who are you, sir?”

The reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. Now get up and go into the city and you will be told what you must do.”

The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, for they heard the voice but could see no one. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing; so they led him by the hand and brought him to Damascus. For three days he was unable to see, and he neither ate nor drank.

There was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias, and the Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” He answered, “Here I am, Lord.”

The Lord said to him, “Get up and go to the street called Straight and ask at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus named Saul. He is there praying, and in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him, that he may regain his sight.”

But Ananias replied, “Lord, I have heard from many sources about this man, what evil things he has done to your holy ones in Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to imprison all who call upon your name.”

But the Lord said to him, “Go, for this man is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before Gentiles, kings, and children of Israel, and I will show him what he will have to suffer for my name.”

So Ananias went and entered the house; laying his hands on him, he said, “Saul, my brother, the Lord has sent me, Jesus who appeared to you on the way by which you came, that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Immediately things like scales fell from his eyes and he regained his sight. He got up and was baptized, and when he had eaten, he recovered his strength.

He stayed some days with the disciples in Damascus, and he began at once to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God. All who heard him were astounded and said, “Is not this the man who in Jerusalem ravaged those who call upon this name, and came here expressly to take them back in chains to the chief priests?” But Saul grew all the stronger and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus, proving that this is the Christ.

The Daily Path: The story of St. Paul’s journey to Damascus always leaves me marveling about how God goes about business. Time and again we read about how the most unlikely become his dedicated servants.

Perhaps overlooked amidst the awe of this account is the courage displayed by Ananias.

“Ring. Ring.”

“Hi, God. How’s the family? Glad to hear it. What can I do for you?”

“You want me to WHAT? Saul? THE Saul? The guy who’s running around killing people like ME? Boss, are you feeling okay today?”

“Alright, alright. I hear you. Just checking. I’ll do what you ask.”

“And, uh… you’re sure he’s on board with this instrument thing? Right. Okay. Mmm, hmm. Gotcha. I’ll head down to Straight Ave. right away and take care of the matter. I’ll call you when it’s taken care of. What’s that you say? Oh yeah, I guess I don’t need to call back. You’ll already know.”

I think we all have to display a little of that Ananias courage when living our faith. We may not get hauled off in chains if we express our beliefs and spirituality, but I’ve experienced times when I have kept my faith hidden so as to avoid “persecution” of those I would call friends and associates.

“What do you mean you can’t go to the game? Church? When did you become a holy roller?”

“A blog about being Catholic? Ooooh, you gonna preach to me?”

“Why is religion suddenly so important to you? It never mattered before!”

Perhaps picking up the phone when God calls is the easy part. The next step presents the biggest challenge. That’s when accessing a little of the radical grace inside of us becomes so important. The name I took at Confirmation was “Paul”. Perhaps I should have selected Ananias.

Room to Chat: Father, help me to always accept what you ask and have the courage to comply.





Crushingly Popular – Good News for January 21

21 01 2010

Mark 3:7-12

Jesus withdrew toward the sea with his disciples. A large number of people followed from Galilee and from Judea. Hearing what he was doing, a large number of people came to him also from Jerusalem, from Idumea, from beyond the Jordan, and from the neighborhood of Tyre and Sidon. He told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, so that they would not crush him.

He had cured many and, as a result, those who had diseases were pressing upon him to touch him. And whenever unclean spirits saw him they would fall down before him and shout, “You are the Son of God.” He warned them sternly not to make him known.

The Daily Path: He told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, so that they would not crush him.

I somewhat reluctantly draw the comparison between what Jesus experienced and the mobs faced by early rock and roll stars, like Elvis and the Beatles. Reluctantly for two reasons: 1) Because there is no real comparison other than the crowds of followers that would do anything to get close; and, 2) The statement John Lennon made about the Beatles being “more popular than Jesus”.

All that aside, both Elvis and the Beatles were met with screaming fans, before after and during their performances. Apparently Jesus had a lot of screaming among his followers, too, but this was from the pharisees and all those unclean spirits being driven from the individuals whose bodies they occupied. And, like the musical celebrities, Jesus had to take precautions to escape being crushed by those who wanted a closer experience with Him.

I suppose the desire to get so near our heroes is just human nature. But what if those who craved to be close to Jesus had done so in the spirit? They could have gathered a thousand deep, with those in the back row equally close as those in the front row. No screaming needed. Only quiet of mind and heart would have been required to hear Jesus and draw close. Come to think of it… isn’t that all we need do today to be near Him?

By the way, where is Idumea? Sounds like something I once contracted as a lad.