Archive for February, 2023

Get Ready! Here Comes Lent! 2-19-2023

Friday, February 17th, 2023

Let’s Be Nosey and Eavesdrop on a Conversation….
Emily looked at the calendar and sighed “Oh, no!” she moaned.
It’s that time of year again. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, February
“Lent,” I declared optimistically, “is a marvelous opportunity, a
wonderful gift, a gracious invitation and God’s blessing of good news.”
“Bah!” Emily responded like an unrepentant Scrooge! And in rapid
order, she ticked off her objections to Lent.
“Too restricting! A down-time! Old hat! Sad, dark, depressing…”
“Ooohh,” I said to myself. “Here’s a clear case of gloom and doom
rather than an outlook of positive possibilities. I had better call the
Spiritual Medics at 911…
Rather than a forbidding fence [holding one back] the 911 spiritual
medics said, “Lent is an open door for personal growth.
 It is not a depressing down-time, but God’s gracious invitation to use
one’s time for things that really count.
 This Lent is not a “been there, done that” but a clean slate for a new

Not a sad, dark, or bothersome season, but one to move oneself
forward for a fuller friendship with God, with self, and with others.
Lent is a gift to realize who we are and where we are in God’s sight.
It is a chance to change; it is a time to recharge our spiritual energies.
It is an opportunity for new life.
 Lent is a call to make use of the time before us—it’s not so much
something we’ve “got to do” as what we “get to do.”
For Lent to come alive—this year—we need to be specific in our
intentions and actions. We cannot vaguely say, “this lent will be
different” or “I’m going to be a better Christian. Such intentions sound
good, but often they tend to evaporate like a puddle of water beneath a
hot sun.
To help us with this, I have a challenge for you—the challenge is to
remember this number: 144. In a 24-hour period there are 144 ten-
minute slots of time.
For Lent this year, take TWO 10-minute slots of time per day and
devote these two ten-minute slots to the things of God.
Let me toss out a few practical suggestions:
 Begin each day with a prayerful and thoughtful sign of the cross.
 Take time each day to be quiet in God’s presence.
 Read a paragraph from scripture. Sit with it—break it open in our
daily life.
 Get rid of put downs, especially in our family.
 Shed false images of yourself. Be honest!

Fast from prejudices, resentment, destructive gossip, unhealthy
 Give up possessiveness of things or of people.
 Stop being imprisoned by memories of past injuries.
 Stop comparing yourself to others. Be yourself!
 Communicate with a friend.
 Remember a grace received—give thanks.
 Laugh for 10 minutes a day: especially at yourself!
 Begin fresh each day.
 Appreciate your God-given gifts.
 Use your gifts to help someone each day of Lent.
 Be a caring and forgiving presence in your family.
 Practice loving concern for poor people.
 Share God’s love by random acts of kindness.
 Care for the earth—recycle!
 Turn off the TV! Talk more. (By the age of 50, most Americans
have watched over 9 years of TV!)
There are so many more concrete and practical ways to be about
the things of God this Lent. It is time to recharge our spiritual
To have an opportunity for new life—a fuller friendship with God.
A commitment to TWO 10-minute slots a day can change our lives!

Billy, Billy, Billy 2-12-2023

Friday, February 10th, 2023

Not very long ago, I was having dinner at some friend’s house, and
got a chance to sit next to….Billy. Billy is somewhere between one and
two, probably closer to two, and has strong opinions about what he likes
and what he doesn’t like. No matter if mamma is telling him in a sweet
voice how nummy-nummy the mashed peas are, no matter if dad ends
up eating half of the loathsome vegetables himself in order to show him
how mmm-mmm good they are—if he doesn’t like them, he starts
throwing. He threw the spoon, he threw the cup, he threw the bow…and
finally, in an unguarded moment, he threw the Gerber’s jar and the
peas…right at me.
Billy is young. He hasn’t had a chance to learn yet how to respect
things. He doesn’t know that when you throw things, they sometimes
get dinged or cracked or broken. He’ll learn. In fact, that is one of life’s
great accomplishments…learning respect. It’s a life-long process. I
remember comparing how my cousins and I used to do dishes, compared
to the way my grandmother did, for instance. As teenagers we tore into
those dishes as quickly as we could, they went flying. There was always
at least one fatality, quite often an old cup or plate. We were a little
better than Billy, but we had a way to go. Things still got dinged and
cracked and broken.
And then there was Grandma. Perhaps she was like most old
people. She handled the dishes slowly, with a sort of reverence. Her
wrinkled old hands took hold of each platter and glass as if it were a
special old friend. I don’t remember her ever breaking anything. She
had learned respect. She knew how easily things can get dinged and
cracked and broken. She knew how to respect food and clothes, and
pencils and pens….and people.
Because if unimportant things get dinged and cracked and broken
when they are not respected enough, so can people. If people are abused
or roughed up or overlooked and banged around often enough…they get
dinged and cracked and broken.
It isn’t enough, Jesus says, not to murder. You have to show
respect to everyone. Not harbor anger against them. Not use abusive
language against them or hold them in contempt.
It isn’t enough, Jesus says, to avoid the actual act of adultery with
someone. What is needed, is respect for someone else and their
relationship, and respect for yourself, that you don’t even entertain the
It isn’t enough, Jesus says, to avoid swearing to things that are
false. What is needed is so much respect for the people around you that
you don’t swear at all, you just say yes when its yes and no when its no.
We Americans are just now learning how important it is to respect
things instead of wasting them; respecting the environment, the rivers
and streams, the soil and air, instead of abusing them.
And we need to grow in respect for ourselves and for each other.
This means, not having to dominate every conversation. Not having our
own way. Not inflicting our moods so freely on each other. Respect is
one of the most basic types of love.
And why should we show ourselves and each other so much
respect? Because God has shown complete respect to us!
1. Do I show respect to myself?
2. Is there someone close to me that I am disrespecting?

Let Your Light Shine 2-5-2023

Wednesday, February 1st, 2023

Once upon a time there was a great biblical scholar who was also
noted for his great piety. He spent hours every day secluded in his room
studying the Scriptures, and praying and mediating. One day a holy man
visited the town in which the scholar lived. On hearing about it, the
scholar set out to look for him.
He looked first in the church, but did not find him there. Then he
looked in a local shrine, but he wasn’t there either. He looked in other
likely places, but failed to find him. Eventually he found him in the
marketplace with all the people.
The advice he got was simple and direct. Looking at him intently,
the holy man said, “It’s easy to be a sage, wise man and saint in your
room. You should go out into the marketplace, where people work,
play, laugh, cry, and try to be a saint there.”
We are not told whether or not the scholar had the courage to act
on that advice. This is exactly the advice Jesus is giving us in today’s
Gospel when he says, “You are the light in the World. No one lights a
lamp to put it under a tub; they put it on a lamp-stand where it shines for
everyone in the house. In the same way your light must shine in the
sight of people, so that seeing your good works, they may give praise to
your Father in heaven.”
It is easy to let the light shine in the comfort and safety of one’s
room. But that can be a selfish thing, because it means we are keeping
the light to ourselves. It is not so easy to let the light shine in the rough
and tumble of the marketplace. But that is where it is most needed.
Let me close with this reflection and prayer…
The most important thing about each of us
is our capacity for goodness.
We can be a source of light.
We have hands that can care,
eyes that can see,
ears that can hear,
tongues that can speak,
feet that can walk,
and above all hearts that can love.
Unfortunately, through laziness, selfishness, lack of self worthy,
and cowardice, our light can be dimmed,
so that we become shadows of the people we could be.
Lord, help us to believe in our own goodness,
and to let the light of that goodness shine.
On seeing this light others may find their way,
and you will be glorified.