Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Be Alert

Jesus said, "For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me."   (Mt. 25:35-36)

I have a confession.  I was not feeling the whole Lent thing this year.  We are already into the first week of Lent, and I still had no clear idea of what I would do.   I am trying to follow the three practices of praying, fasting, and almsgiving, but something was missing.  I knew I could and wanted to do more to grow in my relationship with God this Lenten season. 

The lightbulb came on as I contemplated yesterday's reading from Matthew's gospel.  Service.  That is what this reading said to my heart.  That is what I will 'do' for Lent.  Service to others is how I will grow in my relationship with the Lord during these 40 days leading up to Easter.

I will fast seeking my own selfish desires before tending to the needs of the people God places in my path.

I will pray for those who experience poverty in all forms. 

I will give the gift of service to the hungry, imprisoned, naked, and strangers.

Fr. John Firpo, our parish pastor, spoke in his pre-lenten homily about the need for us to be on alert this lent.  He spoke of opening our eyes to the needs of those people around us.  I have been thinking about that, and how I need to be more alert to the many forms of poverty that exist in our midst, and how I can serve there.

There are so many people.....
     who hunger and thirst...  
     They need to be listened to.  They need to have a role to play in
     society, to feel important, valued, and affirmed.  They need to   
     know that they make a difference.
     who are imprisoned...
     They are imprisoned by their past, their reputation.  They are 
     imprisoned by addiction.  They are imprisoned by poor self
     who are naked...
     They are vulnerable and hurt.
     who are strangers.
     They are alone, and fearful.  They long for human touch and    

"Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me."
(Mt. 25:40)  

Jesus calls us to service.  Our baptism calls us to service.  By our baptism, we are called to imitate Jesus.  

The least are, indeed, in our midst.  We are compelled to serve them because of our baptism.  Because it is the right thing to do.  Because Jesus clearly calls us to serve.  And because through our service to those around us, we grow.

Be blessed,


Monday, February 1, 2016

Be Prepared To Give An Answer


"But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord.  Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.  But do this with gentleness and respect."         1st Peter 3:15

I came head-on with this verse when I was asked to speak at a Lenten retreat.  The topic was What My Faith Means To Me.  As I worked on my talk,  the word that kept coming to my mind was grace.    "Twas grace that brought me safe thus far, and grace will bring me home".......words that we hear so often when we sing the beloved song, Amazing Grace.

I grew up in a loving Catholic family.  Though not wealthy, we certainly did not go without.  We had food to eat, and a warm, safe home.  I learned about love by my parent's example, and was taught respect, humility, and responsibility.   I always had a deep respect and reverence for "church."  

As a young adult, my faith took a back burner to the busy-ness of career building and the other distractions of life. I stopped attending church, and gave little thought to my prayer life.  I still believed in God, but felt no real connection to my faith.   

It was when I married and moved hours away from the security of my family and home that God's grace touched my life and brought me back to him.  My husband and I began going to church, and over time became involved in our faith community.  We faced the pain of infertility and the struggles of adoption.  I lost both parents and only brother within a few short years of each other.  In his grace, Jesus was there through it all, comforting, supporting, giving me hope.  My faith became very important to me.  God was, and still is, my hope and salvation.

When I was a child, my faith was simple.  Things were black and white, concrete.  God was God, sin was sin.   As a mature Christian, my faith sometimes seems murky.  I struggle to reconcile issues with church politics and question some doctrine.  My opinions and my faith do not always coexist peacefully inside me.  Yet, in spite of my questioning, I still yearn to be close to God.  I still cling to the hope he has planted in my heart.  Simply put, I choose to believe.

My childhood faith, with its simple acceptance, has been planted firmly within me.  When my adult faith feels complicated by my frustrations, I go to the Father in prayer.  His grace reassures me, and in my heart and soul I know that God loves me, in spite of myself.

So, I make a choice.  Every day, regardless of my questions, I choose to keep my faith.    I choose to accept the joy and peace that my faith brings.  

At the end of the day, it is quite simple, really.  God's greatest commandment is to love him, and love our neighbor.  All the rest falls into place when I just rest in his love for me.  In his amazing grace, he sent his son to bear my sins, my doubts and frustrations.  He loves me that much.    By the grace that Jesus came to give me, I am assured that his Holy Spirit is with me always.

I love him because he first loved me. That's the bottom line.  Period. 

There is a lot to think about in this short verse from 1 Peter.   Have you ever wondered what you would say if someone asked you why you are a believer? 



In today's Zentangle I used Lazy Eights (Denielle Noe), Meringue (Kelley Kelly), Poke Leaf (Maria Thomas, W2 (Rick Rogers & Marie Thomas), and Squid (Rick Rogers & Marie Thomas).