Monday, February 23, 2015

Wilderness Moments


Can you imagine spending 40 days in the wilderness?  Can you imagine spending 40 days being tired, hungry and uncomfortable plus facing temptation by Satan? The 40 days in the wilderness couldn’t have been much fun. It would have been easy for Jesus to get discouraged, scared, or feel run down by the experience. However, you might be quick to think, no way. This is God’s Son and we learn that with the help of the Holy Spirit and with the assistance of the angels, Jesus not only survives, but he emerges from the wilderness energized to proclaim the good news of God’s kingdom to the world.

I’m sure most of you think that you are in a wilderness surviving this brutal  winter. It’s minus 2 degrees at this moment in Bethany. On Sunday, I received a phone call from a senior neighbor who reported that her heat will run out sometime this week because she was told by social services that there are no more funds to subsidize her heating bills.

When you face a wilderness moment, you feel alone and unsure about what to do next.  For this sweet lady, her wilderness was about freezing to death. Your wilderness might be a family member or issue at work. Your wilderness might be the result of a poor decision or an illness. Wilderness moments can pop up in an instant and, in some cases, it can feel like you will never find your way out.  I have called the ministry of “last resort” in Genesee County to see if the agency can provide a voucher for my neighbor’s fuel bill.

When we find ourselves in the wilderness, we can find hope in the good news that Jesus has gone to the wilderness before us and overcome the temptation and confusion that wilderness can bring. When we find ourselves in the wilderness, we can find comfort in the knowledge that God will be with us, just as God, through the angels, was with Jesus. Just like Jesus, when we face and overcome difficult times, we can emerge stronger, more confident and more connected to God.

God watches over us as we pray: “For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.” (Psalm 91:11).

Lord I pray for all my Sonshine Friends who are going though a wilderness moment. Help them to surrender their fear and contact those people who really care about them for they are your humble angels he

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Invitation to Lent


This morning each child came up to the altar, picked up “Pickles” from their chair and they were greeted with a smile. In front of the altar, their artwork was displayed in the shape of a heart with a message. They wrote prayers that expressed confidence that Jesus loves them very much and promised to help them live in their hearts.

I heard no spitballs stories, but our young ones knew ways they could be better by being more helpful to their mom or taking time to play with their baby sister. What a joy to see in their eyes, no fear, but a desire to follow Jesus more closely. 

After their act of contrition, they receive the grace of absolution. More important, they were invited to show their gratitude to God by a promise to gently comb their kitties and doggies that would make their pets feel loved and healthy.

Later, at Mass their parents heard the gospel story about how a leper took the risk and asked Jesus for a healing. More important, this leper heard that Jesus cares about those no one else cares about. He heard that Jesus includes the excluded, and who was more excluded than himself?     

Sadly, the leper was suspected of some grave sin and this disease was punishment.  But Jesus was there for him as he was for so many outcasts. He reached out and touched the leper; In place of isolation he gave companionship. In place of rejection he gave acceptance. In place of disgust he gave compassion. That must have been far better for the man than any physical cure could possible mean.

Yes, the real power of the gospel is not that a sick person was made healthy, but that a person universally held to be repulsive, unlovable, even evil, is in fact loved, is the object of God’s mercy and compassion. The leper brought the dark and frightening side of his nature and laid it out before Christ and was touched. Is there anyone here who would do the same?

 In prayer, in quiet, see yourself presenting your dark side to Jesus who embraces what others reject and touches what others shun, who ignore the labels, slurs and categories others construct. “Come to me all of you who labor and are burdened by hurt and isolation and carry the world of being cut off and I will refresh you.”

Lord, I pray for all my Sonshine Friends who have been rejected by family and friends. In this Season of Lent, may we like the children “bare our souls” knowing that you desire to make our hearts like yours.