Archive for the ‘Ordinary Time’ Category

Instruments of Peace, Who Me? 7-3-2022

Thursday, June 30th, 2022

Lord, we hear today that You sent many others out before us as
instruments of Your peace, and I am told that You want all of us here to
be instruments of Your peace; I am feeling a little overwhelmed by all of
this and so I have to ask, where do we begin?
A woman was standing on a curb, waiting for the light to say
WALK so that she could cross the street. Directly across from her on the
opposite curb was a girl of about 17. She too was waiting for the light to
say WALK so that she could cross the street.
The woman couldn’t help but notice that the girl was crying. In
fact, her grief was so great that she made no effort to hide it. For a
moment their eyes met. It was only a fleeting glance, but it was enough
for the woman to see the terrible pain that filled the girl’s eyes. Then the
girl looked away.
At that moment the light changed. Each stepped off the curb into
the street and started across. As the girl approached, the woman could see that she was quite pretty, except for that terrible grief in her face.
Just as they were about to meet, the woman’s motherly instincts came
rushing to the surface. Every part of her wanted to reach out and
comfort that girl. The desire was all the more great because the girl was
about the same age as one of her own daughters.
But the woman passed her by. She didn’t even greet her. She just
passed her by. Hours later the pain-filled eyes of that girl continued to
haunt the woman. Over and over the woman said to herself, “Why
didn’t I turn, fall in step with her, and say, ‘Can I help?’ But I didn’t. I
walked on by. Sure, she might have rejected me and thought me a nosey
person. But, so what! “Only a few seconds would have been lost, but
those few seconds would have been enough to let her know that
someone cared. But, instead, I walked on by. I acted as if she didn’t
even exist.” I have been reminded many times that a person in need does not
always need a great expenditure of our energy, or our time, or our
money. What they need most is a simple and sincere sign that we care Our Scriptures this week, last week and next week, do not invite us
to go out, risk our lives, and become religious heroes or superstars; they
invite us to reach out, risk our pride, and become humans; they invite us
to ask sincerely, “Can I help?” Instruments of Your peace . . . “Can I
help?” – that is where we begin

Finding Joy in Sobriety 6-26-2012

Sunday, June 19th, 2022

How could anyone who has struggles with alcoholism stay sober
for a dozen years and suddenly go on a bender? Yet it happens again
and again. A recovering alcoholic, who has all but destroyed his or her
life once already, sets off again down the same path of self-destruction.
For a long time, the medical community could not understand how this
could happen. But after many years of study, psychiatrists discovered
how. Those who move from abstaining to the joy of sobriety seldom
return to drinking. But until they make the transition from struggling to
abstain to embracing sobriety, they are vulnerable.
We tend to think of faith as a series of passive “thou shalt not’s,” a
list of things we promise to avoid to stay on God’s good side. But true
discipleship is a matter of “thou SHALL,” actively and intentionally
embracing the justice, peace, compassion and forgiveness of the Gospel.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus calls those who would be his disciples not to
look back with regret or fear to what we leave undone but to look
forward to the possibilities we have to create and build the reign of God
in our own time and place.


Do We Need Lent? 2-27-2022

Friday, February 25th, 2022

Someone asked me in the grocery store, do we really need Lent?
A good question.
There was a time, of course, when all Christians thought they
didn’t need Lent. After all, they had been baptized; they were filled with
the Holy Spirit and lived life quite differently from the pagans. The first
real Lenten people were not Christians, but those preparing to become
Christians. But all of that changed when the old-timers in the Christian
community noticed something remarkable at the Easter baptism. They
were struck by the joy and the radiant faces of those just baptized. They
realized that they had become too ho-hum in their faith and decided to
do something about it. And so, the next year, some Christians began to
join the catechumens in their preparation for baptism at Easter. They did
this so that they could feel once again the joy of rebirth at Easter. And
that’s how Lent gradually came to the church, out of need.
The liturgy for the First Sunday of Lent focuses on a need that
Jesus had before he began to save the world. Even though he had just
been baptized and was “full of the Holy Spirit,” he felt a need to go into
the desert. In the desert Jesus realized who he was and what he was
called to do. But in the desert, Jesus learned that God cannot be bought
and that life is more than bread or fleeting moments of magic and glory.
One Ash Wednesday, a few years ago, while I was wondering how
to face another Lent, I received a phone call from a former player I
coached. He was now a struggling graduate student. The young man was
crying out for help. When I got to his apartment, I found a tortured
person, filled with self-doubt and booze. Eventually, I got him to go to
his first AA meeting. But even though he was an alcoholic, he told me
that he couldn’t go back to another AA meeting because, “I’m not like
those people.” I’ve never forgotten that line, “I’m not like those people.”
It taught me that the first temptation to avoid is to convince yourself that
somehow you are different, that you don’t share the pain of life, that you
don’t need to go into the desert. The early Christians, even though they were baptized and
convinced of their importance, they learned from the desert experience of
Lent that they too were in need of renewal and of finding out who they
were and who God was calling them to be. Jesus, just baptized by John
and “full of the Holy Spirit,” went into the desert and came out with a
gospel and a firm faith in his Father that he would take to Cavalry.
My young friend was wrong. We are like those people who share a
common struggle and a common pain. We are all driven by some
doubts. We sometimes make choices about the most important events of
our lives without reflection, without faith, without prayer, without God.
We cannot force Lent upon ourselves. Each of us must find a need for it,
a need to go into the desert and face both our gifts and our limits, a need
to face ourselves, our demons, our God. For those who ask the question,
do we need Lent? Trust me – we do! Let’s go into the desert together
and see what we find.