An Opportunity for Mercy

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

IMG_2612

(A reflection on Hos 11:8 and Mt 10:7-15)

This morning I find myself back in Appalachia volunteering with Hand in Hand Ministries, preparing to serve those less fortunate than me. I will be working today to make Sam’s house more livable. But, my real job will be to mercifully bring God’s healing power of love and understanding to help set him free of his weariness and isolation.

“Lord, as I work at Sam’s house today, lead me in your merciful ways; overwhelm my heart and stir my pity; and, as you told your disciples, ‘Without cost you have received’, so, without cost let me give of myself.”

(Daily 100: An Opportunity for Mercy was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)

©2013-2018 Reflections of a Lay Catholic. Reposting and sharing of material in its full and original content is permitted, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author(s) and Reflections of a Lay Catholic.

Advertisements

Good Tree, Good Fruit

Tags

, , , ,

IMG_2435

Our hike up the Ingersol Mine trail near Keystone in the South Dakota Black Hills this morning was strewn with schist, quartzite and mica. A couple in our family party of twenty-something found some rocks studded with garnet crystals.

I thought of how my father-in-law would have been in heaven on this hike. Having grown up in Montana, he loved the outdoors, especially the mountains. And, as a geologist, he could have given us a scientific lecture on every rock we saw.

It occurred to me that today is the tenth anniversary of his passing.

As I reflected on today’s Gospel reading, Mt 7:15-20, about the good and rotten trees and the fruit they bear, I couldn’t help but think that Gene was a good tree who bore good fruit. I married his eldest daughter and I like to think that because of her, we have also borne good fruit. And that fruit even better fruit still.

“Gene, we miss you, but I have a feeling you were watching us this morning, pleased that your children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren are carrying on their love for each other at this family reunion, as well as your love for the outdoors. Thank you for the gifts of good fruit which you passed on. Rest in Peace, Papa!”

The Beam in My Eye

Tags

, , , ,

img_2406.jpg

(A reflection on Mt 7:1-5)

Looking out over the Black Hills of South Dakota on this beautiful sunshiny morning, I’m eagerly anticipating our family reunion beginning today. As much as I’m looking forward to spending the week with family, especially my six grandchildren, I know at times we won’t see eye to eye. And, I know those moments will be ripe opportunities to judge others based on my own flawed perceptions.

“Lord, help me this week to see the beauty in other’s hearts, to love them for themselves, and to recognize the beam in my own eye before I notice the splinters in theirs. Amen.”

(Daily 100: The Beam in My Eye was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)

©2013-2018 Reflections of a Lay Catholic. Reposting and sharing of material in its full and original content is permitted, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author(s) and Reflections of a Lay Catholic.

No Pressure

Tags

, , , , , ,

King Ahab was evil, more than any king of Israel before him. I’m sure that Naboth knew this when Ahab asked him to give him his vineyard (1 Kgs 21:2). Yet, Naboth steadfastly refused because the Lord forbade him to give up his ancestral heritage.

I’m reminded of the prayer before the Third Sorrowful Mystery, the Crowning with Thorns, on my Rosary CD by Fr. Rob Jack, “Let us ask the Lord to give us the courage to do what is right and just in the face of opposition from others.”

There’s no pressure when doing the Lord’s will.

(Daily 100: No Pressure was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)

©2013-2018 Reflections of a Lay Catholic. Reposting and sharing of material in its full and original content is permitted, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author(s) and Reflections of a Lay Catholic.

Father’s Day

Tags

, , , , ,

2014_0609_cnsbr4075

Father’s day is a day of thanksgiving to my dad for his sacrifices to support his family; for his forgiveness which I didn’t deserve; for teaching me right from wrong; and being the person I could trust when I needed help.

It’s also a day to thank God for the sacrifice of His Son that redeemed me of my sins; for His loving care, forgiveness and mercy which I don’t deserve; for giving me the virtues to live right and justly according to His will; and for being the One in Whom I know I can trust.

Thank you both!

(Daily 100:  Father’s Day was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)

©2013-2018 Reflections of a Lay Catholic. Reposting and sharing of material in its full and original content is permitted, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author(s) and Reflections of a Lay Catholic.

A Light Silent Sound

Tags

, , , , ,

 

IMG_0403

It can be exciting when God lets us know of his presence in those profound experiences when He deals us an “ah-ha!” moment. He certainly gets our attention. But, I’ve come to long for that “light silent sound” (1 Kgs 19:12 NAB) such as Elijah heard on Mt. Horeb in today’s scripture passage. It’s truly a special feeling to be in my place of silence and solitude, in morning prayer and meditating on His Word, and hear God speak to my heart, telling me what He desires of me that day. It’s the perfect start to a day!

(Daily 100: A Light Silent Sound was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)

©2013-2018 Reflections of a Lay Catholic. Reposting and sharing of material in its full and original content is permitted, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author(s) and Reflections of a Lay Catholic.

Forgive Us Our Trespasses

Tags

,

In the Lord’s Prayer we pray, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us…”. It’s not, “You forgive me, God, and then I’ll forgive them.” Nope, it’s the other way around. Jesus tells us as much in today’s Gospel (Mt 5:20-26) when he says, “Leave your gift at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother.”

“Lord, before I receive You in Holy Communion this morning, I resolve to spend time in prayer forgiving everyone who has hurt me. Thank You, Lord, for Your many blessings, especially for Your forgiveness. Amen.”

(Forgive Us Our Trespasses was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)

©2013-2018 Reflections of a Lay Catholic. Reposting and sharing of material in its full and original content is permitted, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author(s) and Reflections of a Lay Catholic.

Salt and Light

Tags

, , ,

saltlight1-248x3001

The suicides committed recently by celebrities gives us a glance into the state of our culture. Dozens of veterans, teens and regular people take their own lives every day. While many suffer from clinical depression, others simply lose their appetite for life and find themselves in the depths of despair, silently crying out for love and affirmation.

“In today’s Gospel (Mt 5:13-16), you remind me, O Lord, that we should be salt and light for others, adding flavor to their lives, and shining Your light of hope so that they may realize the joy in Your love. Amen”

(Salt and Light was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)

©2013-2018 Reflections of a Lay Catholic. Reposting and sharing of material in its full and original content is permitted, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author(s) and Reflections of a Lay Catholic.

Overcoming the Fear of Evangelizing

Tags

, , ,

apostles-creed31I mentioned the other day in my post, God is a Techie….and I’m Not, that I had been inspired during the Easter season to write but had trouble making the time to do so. This reflection, the product of weeks of pondering, is one of those. Better late than never.

The Gospel on Pentecost Sunday summed up the Easter season quite well with Jesus’ words, “Peace be with you , as the Father has sent Me, so I send you” (Jn 20:21 NAB). The Gospel readings throughout Easter gave us the opportunity to really get to know Jesus and understand what He expects from us – to go forth spreading the Word by loving one another as He has loved us.

And, throughout Easter, we read from the Acts of the Apostles about how the Apostles did exactly that, proclaiming Jesus as Lord, and spreading the Word of God and His love to anyone, Jews and Gentiles alike, who would listen.

Then, today, on the Feast of St. Barnabas, we hear similar words when Jesus commissions the Twelve, “As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’”  (Mt 10:7 NAB)

I don’t know about you but I can’t read the Acts of the Apostles without feeling the deep faith they professed. As I read and followed the footsteps of St. Paul, I felt the passion and enthusiasm he had for Christ. I was amazed at the courage he exhibited to bring the faith and the love of God to others in the face of persecution.

I wondered if I could have carried out Christ’s command and truly lived that apostolate? But, more importantly, I wonder if I’m fulfilling my duty (and, it is a duty) as a Christian to personally live it today?

As Catholics, we like to recite a quote, often, but probably erroneously, attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, “Preach the Gospel at all times, and, if necessary, use words.” The message is that we should be like St. Francis who lived the Gospel and that our faith should be obvious in our actions. That’s all true, but unfortunately, it gives us the false impression that we don’t need to actually talk to anyone, to verbally make the Good News known.

But, consider if the Apostles had only demonstrated their faith through their actions without verbally preaching the Gospel? Where would the Church be today? I doubt there would be a Church.

No, as brothers and sisters in Christ, it is our duty to not only live the Gospel, but also preach the Gospel with words. So then, why does it seem to have been so easy for the Apostles to convert hundreds to The Way every day, and why is it so hard for me?

First, I think they were so abundantly graced with the virtues of Love and Fortitude that fear of rejection didn’t even phase them. Their love for, and dedication to, the Lord enabled them to foster supernatural courage. They were on a mission, and fear, if they had any, wasn’t going to stop them.

I know fear is a factor in my personal apostolate. I don’t necessarily fear rejection, rather, I fear damaging relationships with loved ones. I wince at the dichotomy in that statement. If I loved them as Christ would have me love them, I wouldn’t flinch at doing whatever I could to bring them to fully realize His love for them.

This reminds me of a story which, I think, is attributed to the Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen. He spoke of two men, business partners and friends, one Christian and the other atheist. The atheist was on his death bed when his friend asked him if he’d like to be baptized before he passed away. The dying atheist replied, “No. If you care for and love me that much, why did you wait until now to invite me to know your Christ?”

Perhaps my fear is based more on misunderstanding than anything else. If a person to whom I am trying to evangelize has no concept of the eternal love Christ has for us, then they aren’t able to understand my love for them. And, if they don’t understand me, they’ll reject me.

It’s ironic that the person being evangelized may also feel misunderstood and rejected. If, in our attempt to evangelize, we try to impose our beliefs on them without taking the time or effort to meet them where they are and to understand their paradigm, we will most certainly alienate them.

Thus, rather than stand on the street corner and obnoxiously preach through a loud speaker, or go door to door beating people over the head with our faith, how do we reach out to others? I believe the secret is patiently and gently getting to know the other person so that they can hear and feel the love of Christ that is flowing through us, and see our joy of living a Christ life.

But, in today’s culture of electronic communications, it is getting more difficult to build personal relationships and get to know other people. Try as we might, face to face communication is uncomfortably difficult for many people, especially for our younger generation. How do we, then, crack the ice? I think the answer is to care about the other person with a desire to enter into empathetic conversation with the intention of getting to know and understand them. An attempt to understand breeds acceptance. With acceptance comes openness. And with openness comes an attitude of sharing, of giving and receiving.

Why do I believe this? I have seen it practiced by friends who live it intrinsically and who have brought more people closer to Christ than anyone else in our immediate faith community. I know this because they did it to me. It was their friendship, the intentional relationships they built with me when I was an unbeliever, that brought me to know Jesus Christ.

Well, now that I’ve talked my way through this, I need to go back to the idea of fear and ask myself, “Where is the source of fear in taking the simple approach of making and being a friend?”

None that I can see.

I would love to hear your thoughts and comments about any fears you have or have had with respect to evangelizing. I hope my talking myself through this helps you, too. God bless you!

“Lord Jesus, as I try to bring others closer to You, help me to remember to open my heart and let You work through me, Your instrument; and that You are in the lead and I’m following You. Lord, You have given me the grace to overcome my fear of evangelizing to others. Now, I pray that You give me the virtues of perseverance to not give up, and patience to not try to evangelize the world all at once. Amen.”

(Overcoming the Fear of Evangelizing was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)

©2013-2018 Reflections of a Lay Catholic. Reposting and sharing of material in its full and original content is permitted, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author(s) and Reflections of a Lay Catholic.

Be Like Paul

Tags

, , , , , , ,

 

a-103In today’s first reading (2 Tm 4:1-8), we see first hand St. Paul’s character. He follows sound doctrine, knows the truth, is self-possessed, evangelizes, competes well, finishes the race, and keeps the faith. He knows he’s near the end of his life but he still “sings [God’s] glory every day” (Ps 71:8) and, “speaks of the mighty works of the Lord.” (Ps 71:16).

As I try to grow in virtue I know I can never be perfect like Christ. He is God. But, with His grace, maybe I can get closer to being like Paul.

(Be Like Paul was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)

©2013-2018 Reflections of a Lay Catholic. Reposting and sharing of material in its full and original content is permitted, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author(s) and Reflections of a Lay Catholic.