Sunday, July 9, 2017

The Weight: 14th OT 2017

My friend Chris went to Lourdes with a pilgrimage group. Being a man of notable and apparent strength, Chris naturally ended up as the go-to pusher of a wheelchair for another pilgrim, a nun. He served happily, but Sister was a hefty woman and Lourdes is a hilly place. The moment came when she was pointing
up at a church waaaaaay up a huge steep hill, and he was thinking, “there’s no way.” So he grabbed a few even younger guys, like high-school age, and had a little conference. He asked them, “I don’t want to make Sister feel self-conscious, but I’m really going to need some help getting her up there. You guys look like you’re in shape?” They said, yeah, they lift weights and spot each other all the time. He said, “great, we’ll do it like that. When I give you the signal, just help me out, just like in the gym.” So up the hill they started. He did pretty well. Got most of the way. Then, starting to give out, he silently mouthed to the guys, “help!” And they nodded enthusiastically, and got on each side of him, and started shouting into his ears: “Come on! Push! You can do it! You’ve got this!” All the way up the hill.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Ascension 2017

The Gospel of Luke and Acts of the Apostles, also by Luke, are sort of a two-volume story. Luke’s Gospel tells the story of Jesus from his birth to his Resurrection. Then Acts of the Apostles takes over and tells the story of what happened next.

The Church happened next. After Jesus ascended into heaven, Luke tells all about the coming of the Holy Spirit and everything that followed. The preaching of the Apostles and the spread of their message throughout the world. The debates and conflicts that had to be worked through right from the beginning. The appointment of more leaders in the role of the Apostles, like Matthias and Paul, continuing the Apostolic ministry. And the coming of Jews and Gentiles to believe in the name of Jesus, ready to serve Him by life or by death.

Trinity Sunday 2017

There are moments - when you’re making a friend, or maybe in the early stages of a relationship - there are these moments when you share something that’s really important to you. Because you want to be known. You’ll never feel close to anyone if you don’t feel like they really know you. Maybe you're sharing something profound and huge, like a trauma from the past or a secret you carry. Or maybe it's something really simple, like playing a song a movie that’s really important to you, that you feel really expresses something about who you are.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Easter 2017

Life is beautiful. It speaks of God in every sunrise and every raindrop and every breeze. Life is good. Love is good. God’s fingerprints are all over it.

And yet, with Good Friday still seared in our minds, we can’t deny… it hurts so much. To begin with, there’s the baseline brokenness; we want things we can’t have, and sometimes we get what we thought we wanted and we still aren’t satisfied. Sometimes we don’t even know what we want. We just know it’s… more.

And that’s just the background noise, the everyday brokenness of the human heart. Punctuating it are the true sorrows: the truly crushing losses and disappointments. And the end and ultimate of these is death. It’s the ultimate affront to us because it’s the ultimate affront to love. Our hearts were made for forever. We use the word all the time when we talk about love, despite the obvious glaring fact that we don’t get forever… at least not here.

Holy Thursday 2017

Before a word was written by Mark, or Luke, or Matthew, or John, or even Paul, before Peter set foot in Rome for the first time, before anyone had counted up seven Sacraments or fourteen Stations, before even the word “Christian” had been invented, they did this. Long before it was called the Mass. Before the prayers were honed and perfected, before the hymnody was grown. They did it because He had told them to. If your beloved friend - not to mention Lord and God - tells you with almost His last words to “do this in memory of me,” you’re going to do it.

Acts 2:42: They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

It was one of the pillars of their life together. Looking to the other Scriptures (John 6, Luke 24, 1 Corinthians 11), we can say it was the pillar of the life of Christians, before they were even called Christians. They obeyed His command. They did it in memory of Him. And like those disciples on the road to Emmaus, they recognized Him in the breaking of the bread.
Rembrandt, Supper at Emmaus

Sunday, April 9, 2017

For Glory: 5th Sunday Lent 2017

Yesterday we had a confirmation retreat over in Eldorado. The retreat team were a young crew of college age, and several of them had opportunities to share their own witness about God’s power in their lives. Now, I’ve known some of these kids for awhile, and I know that they could have told some impressive stories. Athletic and academic success, some modeling in one case, they’re the kind of kids who seem to have everything going for them. But in every single case, when they stood up to talk about God’s power in their lives, they talked about their lowest times. They didn’t talk about their strengths and successes and the best days of their lives. They talked about the hardest, most painful, worst times in their lives. And that’s no surprise.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Lucky you: 4th Sunday OT 2017

Let's ease into this, easy question. Maybe the easiest question you've ever been asked: Do you want to be happy? Assumptions are dangerous, but I’m going to go ahead and assume I know the answer to that one.

Can you tell me how?

It’s a big business.  Go to the bookstore and find the self-help section.  It’ll be a big section.  There will be dozens of books explaining how to be happy.  Some of the advice is achingly obvious.  Some of it is very, very strange.  There’s a long line of people ready to tell us their secret... read my book, follow my advice, and you’ll be happy!  

If it’s so easy, then why are there so many unhappy people around?

A priest friend up in Chicago posted a question on social media just today: “Complete this sentence: ‘I will be happy when…’” It was a really interesting exercise! The first response was “I will be happy when our parochial school stays open.” One woman said “I will be happy when I retire.” Another, “I will be happy when I’m with God.” More than one said “I will be happy when the world is at peace.” Only two answers out of nineteen said they were currently happy. Of those two, one said their happiness came from knowing the Lord.