Giving Up – Good News for May 25

25 05 2010

Mark 10:28-31

Peter began to say to Jesus, “We have given up everything and followed you.”

Jesus said, “Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the sake of the Gospel who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age: houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come. But many that are first will be last, and the last will be first.”

The Daily Path: I have been blessed with the company of many fellow travelers on my spiritual journey home. A good number of them are right here in my parish comprised of two spirituality groups I participate in. We gather together on a regular basis to openly share what we are experiencing along the way. Some of our discussion focuses on the challenges we all face in living the teaching of Christ and following his example.

Some of the most poignant moments in our gatherings relate to “giving up” the false self to embrace or enable the true self. We live in a fairly affluent area and are surrounded by the trappings of wealth and material success. With that comes some heavy baggage and pressure to uphold a certain image. Despite outward appearances many in this community are deeply wounded inside. Part of the fellowship the men in our spirituality groups share is based on allowing ourselves to give up the facade and expose our wounds to each other. I believe this is also part of what Jesus is explaining to us in today’s Gospel when he talks about giving up.

Yesterday, when I chose to openly share with GNTG readers the fact that I suffer from a disease, I was giving up the pretense of invulnerability. By giving up the lie – that I was in control – I was freed from a great burden. I started to feel lighter as I accepted my weakness and saw how others accepted my woundedness. I grew stronger as I received amazing signs of support throughout the day. The death of one thing brought new life to something else. My story is just one tiny example of how “giving up” the false self brings us closer to the one truth – God.

As Christians we uphold the ultimate symbol of woundedness – Jesus on the cross. After his death, when Jesus returned to his friends, did he say “Hey, look at me! I’m the almighty Son of God who can overcome everything, including death!”?

No.

The first thing Jesus did was to draw them close, open his robe and reveal his wounds.

Giving up draws us closer.

Room to Chat: Father, thank you for inspiring so many to live your commandment of love. The outpouring of genuine support I’ve experienced in the past week has been nothing short of miraculous. Though sometimes we walk in valley of the shadow, we are never alone. Truly, all things are possible through you.





Doing Likewise – Good News for October 5

5 10 2009

Luke 10:25-37

There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test Jesus and said, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read it?”

He said in reply, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” He (Jesus) replied to him, “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.” But because he wished to justify himself, he said to Jesus,  “And who is my neighbor?”

Jesus replied,  “A man fell victim to robbers as he went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. They stripped and beat him and went off leaving him half-dead. A priest happened to be going down that road, but when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. Likewise a Levite came to the place, and when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side.

But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him was moved with compassion at the sight. He approached the victim, poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them. Then he lifted him up on his own animal, took him to an inn, and cared for him.

The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper with the instruction, ‘Take care of him. If you spend more than what I have given you, I shall repay you on my way back.’ Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?”

He answered, “The one who treated him with mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

The Daily Path: I’d like to think that if I came across someone who was seriously wounded by the side of the road that I would stop and provide assistance just as the Samaritan did. Many of us would. Where I live, the opportunity to experience this kind of occurrence is limited. There just aren’t many bloodied neighbors on the side of the road.

However, there are many wounded neighbors. People in serious need of help. They aren’t bleeding on the outside, but their spirit is hemorrhaging on the inside. Perhaps they are out of work. I know all too well the anxiety and despair this can bring. How will I provide new shoes to my children so they don’t have to wear pairs with holes big enough that their toes pop out? Will we have enough money for food after we pay all the bills? Will I have to go without my medication or dentist visit so that we can pay the property tax and keep our home?

Of course, in this society we rarely allow our wounds to show. We keep up the pretense that everything is fine… even though our world is crashing down around us. No, my friends, we can’t sit back and expect to find bodies on the side of the road in the literal sense. We won’t have many chances to bind the bloody wounds of our neighbor as a means of inheriting eternal life. But we have many opportunities to extend mercy. Simple acts of charity and kindness that seem of little value in the bigger scheme of things, but are priceless to someone in need.

That “extra” casserole you whipped up may be a week’s meal to someone else. The gift certificate you “won” in the raffle might provide shoes for a family that’s too proud to let the wounds show. “Can’t possibly use all of this” product in the Costco jumbo pack? Perhaps you can put your expertise to work helping tutor a child struggling with math who’s parents can’t afford to send them to Sylvan Learning, Score, or Kum0n for after school classes. Maybe it’s just a cup of coffee to listen and lend moral support to someone out of work. You get the idea.

The Christ who offers eternal life asks each of us to really look for our wounded neighbors and the bleeding that isn’t obvious. To make the small efforts. To open our hearts in places where a little light will make a huge difference towards ending the darkness.

Room to Chat: Father, help me to see my neighbor’s wounds. Give me the strength to act where I’m needed most.

our_lady2





The Pardoner – Good News for March 6

6 03 2009

It is in the pardoning that we are pardoned…

Matthew 5:20-26

Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the Kingdom of heaven.

“You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment. But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment, and whoever says to his brother, Raqa, will be answerable to the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ will be liable to fiery Gehenna

Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court. Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge, and the judge will hand you over to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison.

Amen, I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.”

The Daily Path: Yesterday, I heard a quote from St. Francis of Assisi that inspired me to dig a little deeper into the wisdom of this most holy man. In doing so I found another quote that brought today’s gospel home to me in the simplest terms. Francis said:

“It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.”

I know it’s not easy. I really struggle with this. Some wounds are deep. Some can remain with us most of our life even though we don’t realize it. Like a physical wound, these injuries develop so much scar tissue that they eventually limit your range of motion. The only way to regain your freedom is to break free of this tissue. That’s the hard part. 

I think I’ll put pen to paper and craft a list of all my wounds. I’ll include a column of those people who I feel have hurt me. When finished I’ll carefully fold the paper. As I do so, I’ll ask Christ to help me break free from the scars listed on my paper. Then I’ll  tear the paper into little bits and dump them in the recycle bin… so they can leave me and ultimately be transformed into something good. 

I probably have a lot of pardoning to do. Our recycle company may be busy for some time!

Room to Chat: Here is a cue for today:  when you feel anger, driven by hurt, try to let it go. Just cast it out like week old garbage to be picked up by God’s big green truck and hauled away.