Matthew 6:16

"When you fast, do not look gloomy..."

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Prayer as a Relationship

Last night I had some trouble sleeping, so I decided to get up and read. What I read was the first article on prayer in The Catechism of the Catholic Church.

This article used examples from the Old Testament to show that prayer is not just a conversation with God, but an awareness of living in His presence.  It was a marvelous revelation to me!  I have so often chastised myself for spending ten minutes in conversation with Him, as if that was the limit of our relationship.   But prayer is when I tell Him I can't sleep and He sends me to read.  Prayer is when I reflect on what He would have me understand.  Prayer is sharing that with an awareness that He is right here with me, not off in some distance doing important God things, but hanging out here with His daughter, doing Father things like helping me draw to Him so I can rest.
Which seems to me to mean that prayer isn't something I do,  but a continued relationship with the Father.  

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Jesus now sits near the right hand of God.  He has won.

I know, during lent, we concentrate on His suffering, not His victory.  We need to remember that His victory wasn't easily won, and that we are called to follow after Him.  But it must never leave the back of our minds that He has won.

It seems I was a bit over zealous and read ahead enough so that I am finishing reading the Gospels a week earlier than I intended.    I'm glad I decided to read the Gospels for Lent.  I feel like I have come to love Jesus more than ever.  I am enamored with the strength with which He spoke and lived the truth.  Where as before, I still held on to the notion that He could have cajoled the Pharisees, I see clearly now that cajoling would have made Him less than He is, and He can not do that.  I have come to love Him for that.  It's not that I didn't love Him before, but I have come to love something about Him that I once didn't count as lovable, may God forgive me.

After Easter I intend to go back to reading scripture, starting with Acts and continuing through the New Testament.  I think that now I can deal better with the dates in my Chronological bible not following the date on the calendar now that I have been using it for Lent rather than beginning at New Year.  I'm not worried about "falling behind" and feeling to paralyzed to start.

However, since Holy Week is beginning, I think I need to focus on the cost of salvation to Christ, and not on the early Church, which is why I will be focusing this coming week on the Scriptural Stations of the Cross as prayed by the late Pope John Paul II, and reading about prayer in the Catechism of the Catholic Church in order to use this time of Lent to draw nearer to Christ.  I will continue to write on my reflections of either or both during the coming week.

Thank you, those who are reading my blog, for "keeping me honest".


Friday, April 15, 2011

Proof of the Truth

The Resurrection of Jesus is a physical reality.  He broke bread and ate with Emmaus and his friend.   He ate with the disciples.   He let Thomas touch His wounds.   Jesus proved Himself to have been telling the truth:   He is God.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Compassion, Truth, and Dying

Again, Jesus shows His great compassion.  There He is, dying for the sins of the world, and he promises paradise to a repentant thief, provides for His mother's care by telling a disciple to care for her as his own mother, and asks God to forgive those who are harming Him bodily, and mocking Him cruelly, because they don't know what they are doing.  
I find it hard to be compassionate when I'm feeling under the weather.   Jesus was compassionate as He was dying on the cross.
He Who is truth had to listen to the lies being shouted at Him while He was suffering and dying.  (First, He never said He'd destroy the temple.   They added that themselves.  And indeed, would they believe in Him if He had saved Himself?  Did they belief after His Resurrection?)   Yet, enduring all that, instead of becoming indignant, He acted with compassion.
Praise be to Jesus Christ, now and forever!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

What is Truth?

Liars mock and spit at the truth. 
 It used to bother me that when Pontius Pilate asked "What is truth?"  Jesus didn't answer.   I remember preparing for Confirmation, and the priest who came to check on us asked us "What is truth?"   No one answered.  I made Fr. K spit out his Schweppes ginger ale when I raised my hand and said even Jesus couldn't answer that.   Fr. K then told us to read John, and find out.  He'd go over it with us the next week.  I kept looking at the trial scene rather than at chapter 14 to find out, and I was lost.   Unfortunately I was sick for the next class and missed that session.   Even though  I later read John 14:6, I was very much bothered that Jesus didn't defend Himself.
But now I read it and I see that He must've understood that no one was interested in the truth.  Lies were told to convict Him.  Pontius knew that, and still He cared nothing for the truth, and appeased the crowd.   Jesus said in Matthew 7:6 “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces. "  They had made up their minds to  trample the truth.  What more was there to say?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Truth Vs. Truthiness

Even at His trial, Jesus boldly tells the truth.  I remember reading this when I was younger and wondering why He didn't just plead the fifth.  Why say anything, since it will incriminate Him in their eyes?   Because He Who is the truth will not hide the truth.
I tend to be cagey when confronted.  I won't tell an out and out lie, but I'll only tell the portion of the truth I am willing to be let known, which sometimes seems to be the same as a lie (also known as "truthiness".  I'm talking about times it benefits me, not just when it keeps from hurting someone else.  I still think there is nothing wrong with telling a woman that you like her old hairstyle better, rather than coming out and saying she is to old for a faux hawk.   I mean when I say I didn't call back because I've been "busy with Church stuff", rather than saying that I've just ben neglectful and putting other things ahead of friendship or family.
But Jesus IS truth, and any rejection of the truth is in the long run a rejection of Him (faux hawks not withstanding).
Juxtaposed in the scripture I read today is Peter's total deny of even knowing Jesus.  
We will find later that Peter is forgiven by Jesus.   He who is truth forgives Peter, which makes him truly forgiven.  The truth is stronger than the lie.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


Jesus prayed before His passion began.   He prayed hard, and still the trials, torture, and eventually death came.  He asked in prayer that it not happen, but submitted His will to the Father's.  He was not spared.

Sometimes when things go wrong, I think I didn't pray hard enough, or for the right things.   That is not necessarily so.  No one ever prayed harder than Jesus.   Yet the Father willed for Him to go through the worst kind of suffering.  Jesus trusted the Father.  He didn't want to suffer, but He trusted the Father in all things.  I need to learn to let go, and trust.

Saturday, April 9, 2011


Here Jesus prays for His disciples. I can hear his pleading voice in my head as I read His prayer that all will be one, as He and the Father are One.  How much anguish do we cause Him when we don't recognize each other as brother and sister?
He loves us so much!   The Father loves Him so much, that He loves us because we love Jesus!  No wonder Jesus's two greatest commandments were to love God and to love others!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Puzzling Questions

I've been puzzled by the story of the ten virgins for many years.  I could not see for anything how the behavior of the wise virgins was anything to be praised.   They failed to share, right?   But today I got to thinking, Jesus was not so much focusing on the wise virgins' virtues as he was the foolish virgins' lack of preparation.  Jesus was making a point, and trying to figure out the wise virgins in this story is missing that point.   If anyone out there sees it differently, feel free to enlighten me in my comment box.

I have to admit, while I admire the go getting attitude of the servant with ten talents and the servant with five, I always felt sorry for the servant with one.  He was afraid.   Although it is possible I miss the point again.  For a man that is afraid, he seems to be okay with insulting his boss.  "Reap where you do not sow"?  Maybe the point isn't that he was afraid, but that he was presumptuous.  Perhaps "I was afraid of losing your money.  I didn't know what to do with it, so I tried to keep it safe"  would have received a different response.

The story of the sheep and the goats is always disconcerting.   I can think of times I tried to feed, clothe, or otherwise help someone.  I can also think of times I went about my own business, too selfish to even notice the needs of others.   How would I react to Lazarus at my gate?   I don't know.  Most likely I'd give him the change in my pocket and hope he moves on.  I know that sounds harsh.  Maybe on a good day I'd offer him a moist towelette and a sandwich.   That still doesn't sound like how I'd want to be treating Jesus, does it?

(Enjoy Shaun the sheep.  I know I did!)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Our Redemption at Hand....

"And then they shall see the Son of man coming in a cloud, with great power and majesty. But when these things begin to come to pass, look up, and lift up your heads, because your redemption is at hand. "  Luke 21: 27-28
Maybe I'm guilty of focusing only on what I want to hear, but with the stuff going on today,  many people seem to be concerned that "the end is near".   People have said that for quite some time, but Tsunamis and Nuclear Power issues seem to have reached the thoughts of many, to the point that even those without faith are worried about the end of the world.   I don't want to worry.  I want to focus on "the end of the world"  meaning the day my redemption will be at hand.   Don't get me wrong:  I don't wish to speed things up.   I trust God's timing, and I pray for those who are being affected by the radiation.   I'm not okay with what is happening.  I'm just not afraid that it means the end of the world.
Remember when the movie 2012 came out?   My CCD students were buzzing about "the end of the world."   I told them that at the end of the world Jesus comes back.  I asked them if they love Jesus.   God bless them, their answer was "of COURSE we do", and not just "yes".   I told them that if they love Jesus, then meeting him when he comes back in power and glory will not be a scary thing, but exciting. (I do believe the Holy  Spirit helped me with that answer, because I don't think I ever spoke about the end of the world to a class in a prepared lesson, since I've always taught the young ones).
So anyways, I cling to knowing that the final outcome of the end of the world is my redemption.

Does anyone mind if I end this serious post with a joke?   If you do, then discontinue reading please, because I have been waiting to share this in cyber space for a while!

Ole is the pastor of the local Norwegian Lutheran Church, and Pastor Sven is the minister of the Swedish Covenant Church, which is just across the road.
One day they join forces and are seen pounding a sign into the ground, which says:
As a car speeds past them, the driver leans out his window and yells, "Leave people alone, you Skandihoovian religious nuts!"
From the curve they heard screeching tires and a big splash.
Shakin' his head, Rev. Ole says "Dat's da terd one dis mornin'."Bridge Out - Funny Sign
"Yaa," Pastor Sven agrees, then asks, "Do ya tink maybe da sign should yust say, 'Bridge Out?'" 

Monday, April 4, 2011

White Washed Tombs

Tomb of Suphayalat, courtesy of Photobucket.
White washed tombs.  Wow.  There's an image!  And speaking of images, the photo above is of the tomb of the last queen of Burma.  It was recently whitewashed because before that it was covered in fungi.   That wouldn't do for a monument to a queen, would it?  No, I'm not being sarcastic.  I don't think Jesus was talking about grave decorations at all, but of the grave state of our souls if we only worry about how we appear to others, and not how we actually are.
Yesterday at Mass, we read the story about Jesus healing the blind man.   The priest pointed out that sometimes we are the blind ones, and we think that if we don't look to him, then he can't see us.   He even played a game with the children where he had them stand in the aisles with their hands over their eyes trying to walk according to his directions.   The point was that it was dark and scary and they didn't know where they were going, but did they think that those of us who could see couldn't see them because their eyes were closed.  The kids seemed to get the point.  Or at least I did, and that's saying a lot!  (Really, I mean to pay attention, but sometimes the priest makes such a great point in his homily that I end up thinking about it during the rest of the homily.  Yep.  I spend the last fifteen minutes thinking about the first five minutes.  I doubt that God minds, since I'm thinking about the sermon anyway, and not how I wish we were going out to lunch instead of having bacon, eggs, and toast at home..)
Where am I going with this?   I guess where I'm going is that God doesn't just see the outside of us, the veneer we want shown, but the true us, inside and out.  I hope he doesn't find me dead inside, but alive with his Spirit.  I truly do.  I do love Jesus.  I suppose I can only say that honestly because of the Holy Spirit, right?
Come Holy Spirit, fill us (me!) with the fire of your love!  (I don't want to be a white washed tomb!)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Will I Still Be Hanging Out With Bob When I'm in Heaven?

Courtesy of Photobucket

Jesus tells the Pharisees via a parable that he knows what they are planning against him, and that it will be their undoing.  How do they respond?   Will first of all, they ask him a question publicly that will seemingly get him into trouble no matter how he answers.   They even state that they know him to be truthful!   They want to  use his bold truthfulness against him with either the people or with the authorities.   Jesus's response is to puts his testers in their place!
Then some others come to him who do not believe in the Resurrection, and ask him who would be the true husband of  a widow married many times over when they are in heaven.   Jesus states that people aren't married in heaven, but like the angels (in that they are neither male nor female).  I know people who have trouble with this passage, because they cannot imagine not having a special bond with their spouse.
I can't imagine that I wouldn't love Bob when I'm in heaven.  But then, in heaven, won't I love perfectly?  Won't I actually love Bob more fully?   Won't I love all more completely?  The real question here is if my love for Bob would be in any way set apart from my love for my other  fellow saints (everyone in heaven is a saint, so yes, I will be a saint one day).
I don't spend a lot of time thinking about it.   Bob will be in heaven.  I'll be in heaven.   I leave it to God to work out the details.

Saturday, April 2, 2011


The fig tree that bore no fruit because it wasn't in season....   I don't get why it should be cursed when it wasn't in season.   I do get that Jesus expects his followers to "bear fruit".   I do hope he finds me fruitful.  I just don't understand what that poor fig tree did that warranted being cursed.  Maybe the whole point was just to use the fig tree as a lesson in the importance of bearing fruit.   Maybe it was just an object used for a lesson, and I am identifying with a plant a little to closely...

The pharisees asked Jesus by what authority he acted on.    Jesus gave them a question about John the Baptist and where his baptism was from, God or men.   The gist of it is that the pharisees really didn't want to know.   If they didn't really want to know where John's baptism came from, they didn't want to know where Jesus's authority came from all the more.

Friday, April 1, 2011

I Wonder...

(I share this video because I was reminded of it when Jesus said to walk while we have the light and to not let the darkness overtake us)
I wonder what Mary was thinking when she anointed the feet of Jesus.  Was she frightened of being criticized, or did she think those there might and say to herself "what. EVer." ?   Maybe it didn't even occur to her that it would cause a fuss.  Perhaps she imagined that others would join her and offer gifts to the Lord, and all there was needed was for someone to go first, like with applause.  (Have you ever noticed that if one person claps, usually at least a few others will join in?)  Either way, she was brave and generous.

I also wonder where I would have stood in the crowd when Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.   Would I have been waving a palm and hailing him, or would I have been shock like the Pharisees.   It's easy to say now, after he is risen, that I would have worshipped him.   But would I?

Thursday, March 31, 2011

The First Shall be Last and the Last Shall be First

Courtesy of photobucket
The first shall be last and the last shall be first.  I suppose that I feel differently about this story depending on who I see myself as...  If I see myself as one laboring since dawn, it seems unfair that someone who started a couple of hours ago gets the same wage.  If I see myself as one who is undeserving, I am overwhelmed by the generosity of the vineyard owner.  How do I see myself?  A little of this, a little of that ;-)

Jesus keeps telling his disciples about his future death and Resurrection.   They don't get it.  I can not blame them.   He spoke so often in parables (which he DID explain to the disciples), they must be sure this is a parable as well.  One they don't get.  Yet.  Because it's not a parable.   Once they see he was speaking literally (and they won't until it happens), it will all make sense.

What's up with people rebuking the blind man from calling out to Jesus?     I would think compassion would dictate calling along side him and pointing him out to Jesus (so he can't miss him).  But then, maybe I'm supposed to be seeing myself in the rebukers, just as I ought to see myself in the latecomers to the vineyard.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

How Then, Shall I Be Saved?

Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.   That is the prayer I ought to say, yet how many times have I caught myself instead with "There but for the grace of God go I...."   It seems like such an innocent thing to say.   It's so "Look at me!  I'm nonjudgmental!", when in fact, the it's the act of looking outward rather than inward and upward.   I'm to compare ourselves to no one but God (who alone is good), and find myself to fall very short indeed.   (And then, of course, to remember that he loves me anyway, because he is my Father, and he loves me because he loves his son, who died for me)

It's hard not to compare myself to others, though.  I read how St. Peter says "Behold, we have left all things, and have followed thee." and I see that I have left nothing for his sake.   I stayed with my mother, I have a wonderful husband.   I have a home that is warm in winter, and cool in summer (at least when compared to the outdoors.)  I'm the rich man!  (who happens to be female...).   How then can I be saved?

"And Jesus looking on them, saith: With men it is impossible; but not with God: for all things are possible with God."

Thanks be to God!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Why Be Afraid?

Jesus has shown power over death before, what with the raising of the widow's son and the ruler's daughter. But here, finally, the Pharisees can't take it any more, and they seek Jesus's death in earnest.  Why now?   The pharisees are afraid that the Romans are going to harm them when all have believed.  I guess I don't get it.  Jesus has power over DEATH, and the pharisees are afraid of the Romans?  They have witnesses miracle after miracle, and are afraid?  That doesn't make sense, but I suppose my fears don't make sense either.
 2 Timothy 1:7  For God hath not given us the spirit of fear: but of power, and of love, and of sobriety.

It seems the pharisees aren't the only ones who need to check their motivations. (Ever heard the saying every time I point my finger, I have three more pointing back at me?  Yep. )

BTW, I heard this song on the radio today for the first time, and I really like it!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Jesus the Good Shepherd

Courtesy of Photbucket

A few months ago, I was at a Catechetical workshop where we ended up discussing the parable of the lost sheep.   Everyone in the workshop was a teacher, and one teacher commented on how unwise it was to leave the ninety nine alone.  She said she'd never leave the whole class if one got lost on a field trip.   I disagreed with her and said that is what chaperones are for:   you line the kids up against a wall, tell the chaperones no one leaves unless they hear a fire alarm and report back anyone who so much as twitches, then search out the lost child, because that child knows you, and will come to you, while even the best intentioned child might be too frightened to respond to a chaperone he or she doesn't know (and a mischievous child will try to get away with more from the chaperone than the teacher.)   Plus, I feel the loss more acutely, and am likely to go to places where I don't belong to make sure the child isn't being harmed (read "Men's Room"...I just walk in calling out "LOST CHILD:  PANICKY TEACHER:  ZIP UP!"   I know.  I should work on not being so shy and retiring).   I agreed that I couldn't search the child out without the chaperones, but the shepherd isn't alone either, there are hired hands.

That provoked an interesting discussion.  Some people didn't get that from the text.  I felt the text said he was the good shepherd, not a hired hand, which implied there were hired hands to help out.   Then something REALLY cool happened.  A young man who had been a shepherd in Poland (?!) said it was common practice to have more than one young man tending the sheep for the protection of the livestock and each other.    How cool is that?   In the middle of about fifty people in a workshop in CHICAGO, there was a former shepherd to give us input into something we are personally clueless about and can only glean information from the text (but, of course, this was as everyday to the people of Israel back then as using  a toaster is to us now!)

My point is that once we are back in the fold, and part of the ninety nine at some point, we aren't left abandoned.

I was more affected today, however, by the verse "And Jesus wept."  That same Jesus who has stood toe to toe with his adversaries, not backing down one inch nor worrying about ruffling their feathers, wept when he saw Mary and Martha's grief.  His compassion is so great, he feels our deepest sorrows.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

His Sheep Know His Voice

Enter the narrow gate. Choose the humblest place. Invite those who can't reciprocate. Jesus is challenging the Pharisees more and more, and me as well.  It's not like I mean to behave like that, it just sort of slips out.   Jesus also talks about his sheep knowing his voice.    Sometimes when I pray, I find it hard to discern whether some thoughts are mine or from him.   I remind myself all good things come from God, so if it is a clearly good thought, it's his, and if it's questionable, it's mine.   Still,  "my sheep know my voice" makes me a bit nervous sometimes, as I wonder if I DO know his voice, and if I don't, well, that doesn't bode well for me.
I suppose I have to just remember that God is my Father, and that like my earthly father, sometimes he will embrace me, other times spank me, but the final word from him is always that he loves me.   If that's the final word in my heart, it's him, and if it's not, it's me.
I'm so glad that Jesus taught us to refer to God as "Our Father".  So very glad.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Blind Man Healed

One important reminder I see in what I read today is that bad things don't happen because someone deserves it, or as a punishment of some kind, but so that the power of Jesus can be seen by all.  I was also struck by the compassion Jesus showed for the man who was once blind even after healing him.   This man was kicked out of the synagogue for suggesting that Jesus must be of God, because sinners couldn't work the miracles he did.   Jesus then revealed himself to be the Messiah to the man, and he worshipped Jesus.   How wonderful and loving of Jesus to comfort that man and let him know that he was not rejected from the synagogue in vain!

Friday, March 25, 2011


Have you ever felt like God answered your prayer in a way you didn't mean because you weren't specific enough? I have. Sometimes it feels like a "gotcha", but that is not how God works.  He is our loving Father, and he does not play "GOTCHA!".   Not only is God our loving Father, but his Son is one with Him, and so entirely defines truth, that He would not play those kind of games with us.   Look at how entirely truthful he is with the Pharisees.  He knows that every word out of his mouth only makes them want to kill him more.    But does he hold back?  No.   He defines truth.  He cannot.
Sometimes I read the section where Jesus said that whoever sins against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, and a fear seizes me. What if I have, and I don't know it, and can never be forgiven?  I don't remember who, but someone once told me that if you have in your heart the desire not to sin against the Spirit, or to have done so, then you haven't.   I hope that's true.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Harsh or Not Entirely Understood?

Today some of what Jesus said comes across as a little harsh.  A scribe wants to follow him, and Jesus essentially tells him he has nowhere to rest.   Another man wants to follow him, but  after his dad is gone, and Jesus says to let the dead bury the dead.   I suppose I need to trust that Jesus was reading their hearts, and responding to what was there rather than what was said.  After all, the commandments do say to honor one's mother and father, so one can't exactly leave them without care, right?    Then again, James and John left Zebedee alone with the nets.   I suppose that now that my mother is gone, it isn't such a concern for me any more, but there is something buried in this word that I'm just not getting, I'm sure of that.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Perfect Forgiveness

Courtesy of Photobucket

Today I read about the Transfiguration of Jesus.  How glorious and fearsome it must have been to be under the presence of the cloud and hear the voice of the almighty say "This is my beloved Son; hear him."

I was also moved by the story of the unforgiving servant.  While I know that God has forgiven me many things, and I ought to be forgiving (perfectly  forgiving if I understand the seventy times seven statement Jesus made to Peter),  I get wrapped up in my own anger.   Even when I try to push it aside when dredged up, it comes out rather cruelly, such as "Well if she was foolish enough not to think before she spoke, I'd be more of a full to think on and react to what she said!  Why should I give more thought to what she says than she does!"  Not quite forgiving, much less perfectly forgiving.  

Lord, help me to become perfectly forgiving, for I most certainly do not want to face the consequences Jesus describes!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Jesus is in Control

Why are the Pharisees asking for a sign from heaven, when Jesus has been healing and raising the dead all this time already? What more are they hoping for?   I honestly don't get it, although the words "tempting him" rather than "testing him" is used in this translation.   It makes me think of the enemy tempting Jesus in the desert to use his power for his own glory rather than that of the Father.  Throughout his ministry, Jesus is moved by compassion.   Even after the last group of people he fed tried to kidnap him to force him to be their king, he feeds four thousand more because they haven't eaten in three days and he doesn't want them to faint on the way home.   Even now, by NOT giving them a sign, he indicates to the Pharisees that he is not afraid of them.   Jesus is in control.  He leads!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Astounding Strength and Boldness

This picture courtesy of Photobucket

Today I read how Jesus told off the Pharisees when they tried to get nit picky about the disciples not washing their hands before eating in compliance with rabbinic law.  The gist of what he said was along the lines of "You should talk!  You have a loophole for people not honoring the COMMANDMENT to honor one's mother and father!  THAT'S what I call messed up!"  (Obviously I'm just paraphrasing...)

I have been struck lately by the manliness (strength, courage, boldness)  of Jesus.   I read these pages where the authorities keep challenging him, and instead of backing down, or teaching secretly, Christ is out there in the open, ready to stand toe to toe with his adversaries.   I think I always understood that he was no wimp, getting scourged, carrying his cross, being nailed to the cross, and never once calling down the angels to get him out of this...  But the consistency of his boldness astounds me!  

I do remember as a teenager being horrified by that boldness, as if he could have avoided the cross by being just a bit gentler with his opponents.   But now I see that would have made him less honest.   He who IS truth could be no less!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Compassion and Patience

The first thing that struck me today was the role of Herodias's daughter in the death of John the Baptist.  I know that my first reaction the story is supposed to be how evil she was, but instead, I find myself surprised she could actually accept the head of a man on a dish and then walk it over to her mother.  I'm a grown woman who watches CSI, CSI Miami, CSI NY, NCIS, NCIS LA, Criminal Minds, and that new Criminal Minds show.  I watch the shows, but I have to turn away when the gory parts come on.   How was this young woman able to accept a severed head?   Was she freaked out, but feared her mom so much that a severed head seemed like nothing compared to what she'd face if she displeased her mother.   Or was she truly cold hearted just like Herodias?  Did she repent later, or become blood thirsty herself?

Also striking is how Jesus feels such compassion for people, even during his time mourning for his cousin. I'm sure he did mourn at least the manner of John the Baptist's death.   Still, people searched him out and didn't give him any quiet time, and Jesus felt sorry for them and served them, first by teaching them, and then by providing food for them so they could stay and learn more.  Only when they were hatching a plan to kidnap him and force him to be king did he leave them.   (Walking on water!  How cool is that?)

Then, after all that, he goes and continues to heal people, knowing that they will give him no rest, and will continually misunderstand.   His compassion and patience is astounding!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Loving the Giver More than the Gift

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The first thing that struck me in my reading today is that Jesus told the blind man he healed not to tell anyone. I wonder why.

I always worried about the verse where Jesus said that whoever loves his father or mother more than him isn't worthy of him.   I really loved Momma and Daddy a lot.   I'm not sure I could honestly say I love God more.   I know that is terrible, but it's true.  I realize that they were both gifts from God, and I shouldn't love the gift more than the giver.  I try to remind myself that all the wonderful things I loved about them are true of God multiplied by infinity.   I have sort of come to a sense that I cannot take out a measuring stick and compare the amount of love I have for my parents, but I can remind myself that every good thing comes from God, and thank Him for them.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Mustard Seed

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Matthew 13: 31-32 31Another parable he proposed unto them, saying: The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field.
    32Which is the least indeed of all seeds; but when it is grown up, it is greater than all herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come, and dwell in the branches thereof.

I remember Jesus comparing faith to a mustard seed, indicating that a little goes a long way.   I do not remember the kingdom of heaven being compared to a mustard seed.  I'm supposing right now that the point is that the world holds it in low esteem because it's not of much material worth here, but that in the future, it will be awesome.
 It's hard not to get shook up when things start feeling shaky.  It's tough to say "Hey, it's okay, God is in control, and we'll be okay."   I notice, though, that Jesus did not refuse to calm the winds just because Peter and the other disciples were lacking in faith.   He loves them, and he responded anyway.

  I also read about Jesus sending the evil spirits of of a man and into two thousand swine.  TWO THOUSAND SWINE!   That poor man was tormented by as many spirits as would fill two thousand swine!   And the people of that town asked Jesus to leave?   I realize that that herd belonged to someone, and they lost property, but what about the joy of seeing a man no longer tormented?   How very sad that they only saw the loss of property, and not what they gained.

And they weren't the only cold people!   Mark 5:35  35While he was yet speaking, some come from the ruler of the synagogue's house, saying: Thy daughter is dead: why dost thou trouble the master any further?

Um... WHAT???   THAT'S how they break the news to a man that his beloved child is dead?  

I supposed shocked as I am by such coldness, I have to ask of myself if my heart has been more open and kind to those around me.   I don't know, but I do hope it WILL be...

Thursday, March 17, 2011


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Today I read about how a house divided against itself cannot stand, and then the Parable of the Sower.

Today I pray, Lord, create within me good ground, and protect me, my family, and friends, from the enemy.  I ask this in the name of Jesus Christ, my Lord, Amen.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Beautiful Promises from Our Beautiful Savior

The first part that I read today put the following song in my head. I really love this song, especially the chorus.

Seek Ye First 

 Seek ye first the kingdom of God 
And His righteousness 
And all these things shall be added unto you 
Allelu, alleluia 

 Man does not live by bread alone 
But by every word 
That proceeds from the mouth of God 
Allelu, alleluia 

 Ask and it shall be given unto you 
Seek and ye shall find 
Knock and the door shall be opened unto you 
Allelu, alleluia

In the next part of what I read, Jesus continues to heal, and calls the people in the towns where he healed to repent. He then forgives the sins of a notorious woman at the home of a Pharisee named Simon.

He is not slowed down even in the slightest by the criticism of the Pharisees. He knows what he came for, and he moves on ahead to bring it about.  He loves his people so much!  He is fearless!  

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Click here for the location of the picture above.

Today, I was struck by the fact that the word "he" when referring to Jesus is not capitalized in the Douay Rheims version of scripture.   I looked it up, and neither does the New American Bible, or the New International Version capitalize pronouns when referring to Jesus.  The same is true for the English Standard Version, and the King James version of the Bible.  So if the Bible itself doesn't capitalize the pronoun "he" when referring to Jesus unless the word begins the sentence, why do I?   Is it my own stubbornness?  Pride?   Do I think I somehow have more respect for Jesus than the translator's of scripture? Or is it an honest mistake?  I guess the answer lies in how hard it will be for me to change my grammatical habits.
The main gist of the passages I read today was to not flirt with evil, and to be so good as to be far far away from it.  "Be perfect as also thy heavenly Father is perfect."  That IS a tall order!  It also helps put in perspective whether something seemingly mundane, such as watching Family Guy (yes, I watch this show a couple times a week, even though I know that many of my fellow Christians find it offensive, and honestly, so do I sometimes...) , is a sin.   While I can't see how it is disobedient to the ten commandments, I can see how it strays far away from being perfect.
Jesus describes many situations were he states that he expects his followers to go above and beyond.   He wants more from us than a debate over how close we can get to sin before we actually sin.  He wants us to be so far away from it that we are perfect.
I'm not suggesting it is possible for us to be perfect.   I am suggesting that Jesus wants us as far from sin as possible, and not skirting the line.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Bewildered World

My friend Jason at Connecting to Impact is hosting a Warrior Poetry Circle. Today they are focusing on the word "Lonely"   I thought I'd try my hand at it this week.   I found myself wondering if Jesus was ever lonely.   My poem never actually answered that question, merely pondered it.  Even that pondering only went as far as what I have read so far in the Gospel this Lent.

Bewildered World

Disciples eating
A paralytic lifting
both on the Sabbath

Pharisees pointing
judgement filling their hearts instead
a sense of relief

When did it first start
Jesus, our deliverer
perplexing the world

The Word creating
all good things in existence
knowing we would sin?

The announcement of
a Virgin conceiving Him
through Holy Spirit?

Perhaps the stable
a King in the feeding trough
worshipped by gentiles.

Maybe the temple
when He was the wisest one
a boy among men.

The feast at Cana
the very best of the wine
saved until the last?

Did He feel alone
As a man not fully known
by His companions?


Today I have been reading about Jesus healing many on the Sabbath.  It seems so sad that instead of be glad for those who were healed, the Pharisees were upset about work being done on the Sabbath.  Their definition of work was so strict!   The healed man who lifted his mat was chastised.  The hungry disciples who grabbed an ear of corn were chastised.   Jesus Himself was chastised for doing the work of healing.   I wonder if the man who could carry his own mat for the first time thought of it as work or joy.   I doubt the disciples thought picking an ear of corn was work when they were hungry.  I wonder if Jesus thought of His healing others as work.   Yes, all of these things require effort, but so does getting out of bed on a Sunday morning.
I can see where the Pharisees were coming from, though.   It's easier to declare any lifting of the finger as work and unlawful than it is to differentiate between heavy labor and joy filled effort.  It feels like splitting hairs to say one thing is okay, and the other is not.   One could split a hair wrongly.   I imagine that without a Savior, making such a mistake is a fearful thing.  So sad that they did not recognize the Savior.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Healing: Heart and Soul

Today I read passages about many people whom Jesus healed.  Jesus went beyond the healing of just the body, and went on to heal the soul of those who came to Him by forgiving them their sins.   He didn't want to just send them on their way and move on to whoever was next, but longed to reconcile with them in spirit.  I'm sure He knew that this would cause grumbling among the scribes and pharisees, yet it was important enough not to be dismissed.  He forgave sins, and was chastised by the scribes and pharisees.  He hung out with those who needed to be reconciled with God, and was chastised by the pharisees.   He celebrated by eating with those same people, and was chastised by the pharisees for not fasting.  He could have saved Himself a whole lot of trouble by stopping at the healing of people's physical ailments, but that was not enough.  He came to heal us heart and soul.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Receiving Healing with Gratitude

Today I read about the Jesus calling the fishermen to become His disciples, His preaching in His village, the healing of a ruler's daughter, Jesus commanding the fever to leave Simon's MIL, and His preaching to the multitudes.  I found the story about Jesus healing Simon's wife's mother particularly moving.   She had just been sick, but after Jesus heals her, she is so well that she is able to serve lunch to all those men!  Now that's what I call fully healed!   Seriously, her healing was so thorough, and she showed her appreciation not just by saying thank you and doing what she felt like, but by serving Jesus, her son-in-law, and all of the friends they brought in with them!  Now that's a woman I'd like to emulate!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Random Reflections on Serving and Light

Today I read about Jesus being tempted in the desert, and the wedding at Cana.  I also read where Jesus spoke to Nicodemus and the woman at the well.
I found it interesting that both Nathaniel and the woman at the well believed in Jesus when they realized He knew them so well.   I wonder if they knew themselves before Jesus's arrival, and telling them about themselves.  
I also found it interesting that it was only the disciples, Mary, and the servants who knew about the miracle at Cana.  Then later John the Baptist is saying that Jesus is more important than he, describing himself as a friend of the bridegroom.  This reminds me of where Mary said in the magnificat how the humble will be exalted.
Jesus described His coming to Nicodemus as the light coming into the world, and how people prefer darkness because of their own evil deeds.  Reading that made one of my favorite Church songs pop into my head!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Sacred Moments

Today I read about Jesus as a boy teaching in the temple, and Him becoming a man who at His baptism, heard the words of God the Father proclaiming Himself pleased with Jesus.

How glorious that must have been, to behold Jesus and the Holy Spirit, and hear the voice of the Father!  How wonderful for Jesus to hear His Father proclaim Himself pleased with Him!   I wonder what the people around were thinking and feeling at that moment.  Did they notice?   Or did the moment pass them by because they were wondering if the water was cold, or about the people around them?  Would I have noticed, or would I be worried about stubbing my toes on stones in the river?
I pray to be aware of the sacred moments I encounter.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Communion of Saints found at

Well, I'm washed, dressed, and finished reading from scripture.   It only took me one hour to get dressed.   Yippee.   No, I don't look all that great for one hour's work.   My husband's friend's ex-girlfriend once told me during a difficult period she was having that whatever one has to do can be stretched into an entire day, no matter how small the task.  I didn't get it then, but I do now.  

The passages I read from the Gospel today can be found by clicking on this sentence.  Then you can click on this sentence if you like. :-)

I found it interesting that Matthew counts Jesus's genealogy up, while Luke counts down.  I don't know why that is, but it is interesting.
I find it hopeful that Elizabeth bore a son even though she was old.  I'm sure that it was no accident that it took so long....
I love John 1:12-13.  I always have.
12But as many as received him, he gave them power to be made the sons of God, to them that believe in his name.
    13Who are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

I see it sort of as my own spiritual genealogy.   A genealogy I share with Mary, Elizabeth, Joseph, Zachary, Simeon and all the saints.  We are siblings spiritually, not of the flesh.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Lent and Discipline

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, and I have come to a fuller understanding of how the next six weeks can be a kind of retreat bringing me closer to God.   Lent is a time of disciplined reflection and penance.   By penance, I don't mean to imply that we in any way make up for our own sins.   Let's stay with the loving child / parent analogy I have been using.  When a child yells at a parent and essentially says "I don't CARE what you want", and is later repentant, the parent loves the child unconditionally, correct?  But if that child is truly repentant, he or she wants to show it.   He or she wants to do little things to please the parent whom she or he hurt.   That is how I see penance.   It's not a requirement for my relationship with the Father, but helps me draw closer.
Anyway, I haven't been very disciplined lately.   My schedule has become non existent.   I feel like I have no purpose any longer, so why bother.  After my mother passed away, I stopped being disciplined about eating breakfast at 7:30, lunch at 11:30 and so on, and just wait until I'm hungry.   I get dressed when I feel motivated to get dressed, go to bed when I finally feel exhausted enough to sleep, and get up when I'm tired of sleeping.   I didn't start out so badly at first, but let's just say I've devolved...  Am I depressed?  Perhaps.  I'm not as emotional as I once was, but I'm not as motivated as I once was either.  Perhaps I've grown lazy.
Whatever the reasons, Lent provides me with the motivation to change and do better.   This isn't about my purpose.   I read a post not long ago about how time is a gift from God, and we don't know how much of it we are given.  Robin Arnold uses the analogy of if time were money...
I realized that if time were money, I'd budget it!   Upon reflection, I decided time is precious enough to do exactly that.   My Lenten promise is going to be to live according to a schedule.   I used to do it.  In fact, when I was teaching, I was very disciplined about budgeting class time so that every subject was accorded the state mandated number of minutes per week, and sticking to it.   If we had something particularly special to work on like a class play, I saw to it that somehow subject matter overlapped so that it was kind of a buy one get one free!  So I CAN do this!
How rigid is this time budget going to be?  No more so than when I was teaching.   There is room for "specials".  There just isn't going to be time for doing nothing but sitting at the computer, or watching t.v., or whatever.  Just like school started at 8:00 a.m punctually and ended at 2:30 on the dot, my day is going to start at 7:00 am and end at 10:30 pm.   I am going to get dressed immediately, then read from the Gospels as I mentioned in an earlier post.   After I am finished reading, I will reflect and pray, and then post something about my reflections on this blog.  I will then spend no more than two hours on the internet.   Calling friends and family can be done between then and lunch.   After lunch I can clean house and organize the room of the month.   Then I can start dinner, greet my husband, have dinner, and spend time either watching television, reading, or listening to music with Bob.   At ten I will plan the next day, start getting ready for bed, and will be down by 10:30, leaving the television off.
I know.  It doesn't seem rigorous at all.   Obviously my day will look different on days I volunteer at Church, visit relatives, etc.   On those days, blogging, t.v.  and/ or cleaning time will be condensed.
How can scheduling bring me closer to the Father?   Hopefully I will not only be more appreciative of the gift of time, but will develop a habit of using this gift wisely, and to His purpose.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Music in My Mind

On Wednesday of this week, Lent begins.  Yes.  Two days from now, we begin a time of penitential retreat.   We focus on God's great love for us, and at some points,  we will have to face our own faults, imperfections, and sins.   We will be be actually sacrificing something in order to draw ourselves closer to Him, and further away from things that hold us back from Him.   Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are days Catholics abstain from meat, and limit ourselves to one meal and two snacks in order to focus on Him and less on us.
I have tried to explain here how we can focus more on Him and less on us by giving up things other than food for Lent.   (It's not that I don't need to be less attached to food, but that I don't want to limit myself to treating Lent like some sort of Catholic Diet Plan.  There are other things besides the occasion Bavarian Cream that affect my relationship with God )  Those of you that are familiar with my other blog know that I love to listen to music.   I am very attached to music, and find myself humming along and even moving along to music sometimes when I hear it at the grocery store, mall, car,  street corner, etc.
Years ago, I was driving my car and repeating the beginning mononlogue from Prince's song "Let's Go Crazy" by heart.   These are the words;

Dearly beloved
We are gathered here today
2 get through this thing called life

Electric word life
It means forever and that's a mighty long time
But I'm here 2 tell u
There's something else
The afterworld

A world of never ending happiness
U can always see the sun, day or night

So when u call up that shrink in Beverly Hills
U know the one - Dr Everything'll Be Alright
Instead of asking him how much of your time is left
Ask him how much of your mind, baby

'Cuz in this life
Things are much harder than in the afterworld
In this life
You're on your own

I never realized what I was singing.   I never thought about it.  I just went along with it, saying the words because I like the beat of the music that follows.   Maybe I even thought the words "In this life, you're on your own" were cool.   But I realized that I don't actually believe that.   I never did.  A few minutes later, the song "Relax" by Frankie Goes to Hollywood (I will NOT be providing you to the lyrics of THAT song.....  I assume you know it.) was playing and I actually understood what I was singing for the first time!  When I was an inexperienced teen ager, I thought the song was about being calm and stress free.   As a woman who was already married about five years,  I suddenly knew better!
I saw in my heart that I wasn't deliberate about the music that was going into my mind or coming out of my mouth.   Does that mean that I don't think there is a place for music with sensual lyrics in the Christian life?  No, not really.  My issue was mainly that I didn't think about it at all.  Perhaps the words and music are fine for singing and dancing to in my living room (but not my kitchen), while singing along at the grocery store or mall is totally inappropriate.
I made up my mind that year that I'd give up secular music for Lent.   God was helping me out, in that a brand new Christian station started up the same week as Lent did, and even advertised itself as being commercial free for forty days.  (No, I did not hear about it until after I'd made my mind up to give up secular music for Lent.)
Did it work out perfectly?  No, not quite.   I couldn't exactly give up grocery shopping, could I?   Bob was helpful in going sometimes, but it really isn't the true spirit of Lent to use it to get out of a chore!  I wasn't able to train my mind to not pay any attention to the music coming over the speakers.   I kind of think that worked out okay, though.   I was able to use it to focus on how perfect Christ's great sacrifice is, and that my small ones could never be perfect, but that His love is great enough to look upon them with love anyhow, even though He had been through so much for me.

Happy Lent!