Archive for January, 2018

The First Disciples of Jesus 1-21-2018

Friday, January 19th, 2018

The time was now. Jesus decided he was ready to choose his
twelve apostles. Just advertising in the newspapers didn’t seem
thorough enough. So Jesus decided to hold an Olympics from which the
twelve would be chosen. The people came from all over. The
competition was fierce. Jesus had to judge all the events.
First came the prayer event. People had practiced and it showed in
the speed with which they could recite the words. Some articulated the
words with utmost precision. Some used big impressive words. Still
others expressed lofty ideas. But when it came time for a winner to be
selected, Jesus chose none. There didn’t seem to be any heart in their
prayers. They were just words.
Second came the worship event. These contestants, too, had done
their homework. Some wore beautiful garments. Some used lots of
incense. Some emphasized music. Others incorporated gestures. But
again, when it was selection time, there was no winner. There didn’t
seem to be any heart in worship. It was too showy.
Third came the teaching event. This was a prepared group. Some
came with elaborate posters. Some came with long, well ordered talks.
Some came with DVD players. Others came with their small groups to
demonstrate process. Again, no winners. There was no heart in
teaching. The methods seemed more important.
So, the Olympics ended. No winners, no apostles. Exhausted after
his long exasperating ordeal, Jesus went down to the lake to cool off and
relax. Then the miracle happened. He saw people fishing. Now there
were some people who put their hearts into what they were about. So he
chose them!
Remember… the first disciples of Jesus were ordinary people.
They weren’t great public speakers, scholars, kings or saints. They
weren’t presidents, theologians or ordained ministers. They were
fishermen. A tax collector. Common field workers. Who, by God’s
power, and their openness, made great things happen! What about us –
Could great things happen through us? Yes — By God’s Power and Our
Openness!

I am Joseph your brother 1-7-2018

Friday, January 5th, 2018

Some years ago the Catholic community of Chicago lost one of its
greatest leaders and ministers in Cardinal Joseph Bernardin.
Cardinal Bernardin will always be remembered for his great gifts
as a reconciler. In some of the Church’s most controversial and divisive
moments, he was able, in his humble, sensitive and compassionate way,
to earn the trust of liberal and conservative alike, to bring all sides
together, to keep everyone focused on the common call to be disciples of
Christ. A leader among America’s bishops, he steered the bishops’
conference through debates ranging from the Vietnam War to birth
control. When he was wrongly accused of sexual assault by a former
seminarian who later took back his story, Cardinal Bernardin did not
react with anger at the pain and humiliation he endured, but reached out
to his young accuser, forgiving him and praying for and with him. To
everyone in Chicago—Catholic and non-Catholic, believer and
nonbeliever—he would introduce himself simply as “I am Joseph, your
brother” Within 48 hours of learning he was dying of liver cancer, Cardinal
Bernardin shared his ordeal with the people of his archdiocese. He spent
much of the last year of his life personally ministering to people with
cancer—his “parish” of cancer patients and their families numbered over
700 people.
“Yes, I’m sacred,” he said, “but I’m a man of faith. I can look at
death in two ways: as an enemy or a friend. I choose to view it as a
friend. I know that there will be tears, but I am at peace…I have come
to believe in a new way that the Lord would walk with me through this
journey of illness.”
In his life, ministry and final days, Cardinal Bernardin approached
life as a journey to God and with God; reconciliation, compassion and
justice—the very things of God—were the “stars” that guided him.
Cardinal Bernardin, like the magi in today’s Gospel, is a model for us in
our own search for God. On this special Feast of Epiphany I believe we
are all challenged to slow down and check our own bearings on our life’s
journey. Are we headed in the right direction? What stars are guiding
us? I pray that we all will be guided by the stars that guided Joseph