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?