Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Do Whatever He Says

This weekend's Gospel is the Wedding at Cana.  I have to admit, it is one of my favorites.  There are is so much going on in the story  and I simply love how Mary handles the whole affair.

It is suggested that since Mary, Jesus and Jesus' friends were invited to the wedding, that it most likely was for a relative.  And running out of wine for a wedding feast that goes for a week long would be terribly embarrassing for the Bride and the Groom.  Which is why Mary has taken notice of the lack of wine.  Not wanting her relatives to be embarrassed, she takes charge of the situation.

She calls her son over and explains what is going on.  Jesus makes a comment of why does this matter to me and it's not my hour.  Mary, a mother who has full confidence in her son's ability to handle the situation, does not accept Jesus' reasons.  I could almost see Mary roll her eyes (as mothers do sometimes when our children is trying to explain to us why they cannot do something we ask of them) and simple turns to the servants and tells them to do whatever Jesus says.  And then here is the best part - she leaves Jesus to handle it.

I am sure this either frustrated Jesus or amused him - the Gospels do not tell us.  We do know he was a dutiful son, who after being put on the spot, did his mother's bidding and handled the issue of the wine.

We don't know how Mary expected it to be handled, but she knew Jesus was resourceful enough to handle it and ensure that their relatives' wedding feast would continue without incident.   Jesus does handle it - and asks the servants to fill 6 large watering jugs which had been previously filled with water and was used to wash the guests' feet.  it is estimated that these jars each held 20 - 30 gallons.  The servants do as Jesus asks and then without another word, he simply tells them to draw some out and take it to the head waiter.  I'm sure they thought Jesus was crazy here - they had just filled these jugs with water and he wants them to take some to the head waiter?  But they did do just as he said, and the head waiter was amazed - not only was it now wine, but better wine than what was first served.  There are only a few witnesses to what has happened here - Jesus' friends, the servants and Mary.  We are told that his disciples began to believe in him.

As mothers we can see what our children are capable of doing - whether they believe they can or not.  And sometimes we need to do a little pushing to get them started.  Mary has done the same here.  She believed in Jesus and knew he could easily handle what needed to be done. 

Sometimes don't we all need a pushy mother in our life? 

When we feel we are being asked by the Father for something that may be a stretch to us, or we fear to do for whatever reason.  We can come up with hundreds of reasons of why we should not do it - not the right time, I'm too busy at work, I don't have enough money...etc.  But we need that mother who just listens to us and then puts us on the spot.  Mary is that for us just as she was for Jesus.  A mother who loves us, and who knows what we can do; she is fully aware of our gifts and abilities; and she know what we are capable of doing.  And she turns to us and say "do whatever he says."  There even may be a little eye rolling on her part when we protest.  But as good, faithful children - we do as our mother has requested and do whatever her son has asked of us.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

A Year Acceptable to the Lord

I use to be someone who always made New Years Resolutions, and like most, I usually have broken them by mid January.  Then I went a few years with not doing anything, and now I much rather set goals.  My Spiritual Director asked me last week, where did I want myself and my faith to be at the end of 2019.  I thought about it and then said “I would like to be a published author and I would like to be bolder in my faith.”

I currently have 2 projects in the works - a children’s book and a devotional/advent calendar combo for the next Advent season.   More info on the both to come.  But what I wanted to look at is my goal at being bolder in my faith.

I had not really thought about it, but the words came tumbling out of my mouth when I answered Sister’s question.  This leads me to think, that the goal was not necessarily my goal,  but the Lord’s goal for me.

I have always been very open with my Catholic faith, but not one who really shared my deepest faith with but a few friends.  Not that I want to be in anyone’s face, but perhaps I should take the opportunity when presented to share my deep love of the Lord with others.

So, with that in mind, last week I had seen someone I am acquainted with on social media share a link about an article of nuns being sexually abused and her commentary on how the Catholic Church should close their doors and we Catholic should “wake up.” I rolled my eyes and moved on, then stopped and went back to the post.  I set it down for a little while, then decided I needed to respond.  My response was “I refuse to allow the sins of some, keep me away from the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist.”  I didn’t see any instant replies to my comment and let it go.  A few days later I went back to see if anyone added any comments to find this “friend” had un-friended me.  Honestly, it made me laugh.  Perhaps a few years ago this may have discouraged me, but not anymore.  For me it was a sign, yes, this is the direction the Lord wants me to go, and I am following it.  For I have learned when I have been on the Lord’s path, evil has tried to shut me down.  I only feel bad that evil used this person to try to move me away from my Lord.

What goals do you have for your faith? What would be a year acceptable to the Lord in your life look like? Pray on it, ask the Holy Spirit to show you where the Lord wants you to grow. And join me on an adventure this year as we travel the Lord’s path.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Calling in the Desert

As a mother and wife I can tell you that there have been many times when I feel that everything I say falls on deaf ears.  I only want good for my family - so suggesting that my son pick up his dirty clothes or put the dish into the dishwasher versus on the counter is for his good - teaches him discipline.  But I believe there are times my family simply tunes me out.  One, perhaps because they know what I am asking them to do may require effort; or two, may require them to change something in their behaviors as in putting the dirty clothes down the laundry shoot instead of on his bedroom floor; or perhaps it is a concern that it could be a little of both.

And, I believe - make that "I know" at times I do the same with God.  I can see what he is asking of me will require me to do something/to change something.  So, I act like I didn't hear it.  Honestly, who am I kidding?  Just as I know what my child is doing, so too does the Lord know what I am doing.

It can be scary to change - it may require us stepping out of our comfort zone.  There are times when it is much easier to stay here in sin than to change.  It also just as scary when we can see the path the Lord is moving us to - and it's big and long and hard.

This is when faith must step in.  This is when we need to release our fears, and to be truthful, it is when we need to stop thinking about ourselves and our fears and just do what the Lord is asking.

Fear of what to come is a very human reaction.  We can put too much thought into it - so much so - the fear locks our feet to the ground.  What we see in the fear becomes our reality; even if it is absolutely a lie.

So, how do we release the fear?  Lots of books have been written on it, many I've read.  But it all boils down to our Faith.  Faith in the Father - faith that his love for us is greater than any fear our mind can conjure up - faith that his never ending mercy is there to help us to reject sin and pick us up each time we stumble - and faith that he is walking beside us with each and every step we take.

Today is a good day - hear the voice crying in the desert - do not tune it out or turn away.  Do not think of our own self, do not allow fear to keep us from the goodness of the Lord.  Just as Peter had to face his fear when he stepped out of the boat - the Lord is asking/calling us to do the same.

Let's turn our attention to the Lord, open our ears and do a little "water walking" today; let us step away from our fear and answer the Lord's call.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Why Shepherds?

"Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields and keeping the night 
watch over their flock." Luke 2:8

I've been decorating my home for Christmas and yesterday, I put up my nativity - cradling the statues of Mary and Joseph and the manger with Jesus (sorry Father - yes my manger already has baby Jesus in it - for it is all one piece - and I know, if I put it somewhere safe till Christmas morning - I will either one forget to put it in the nativity or two - and most likely - forget where that safe place was.)  And then there were the shepherds and this had me thinking....have you ever asked yourself - "why in the world would there be shepherds in the Christmas story?"

Let's be honest - shepherds were not the most desirable members of society.  They were dirty and stinky - remember, they spend their life with sheep.  I'm sure they were not as educated as others.  So why would something so pure as Angels and the birth of the Christ Child have these dirty stinky shepherds being the first to hear the good news?

The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, 
and they were struck with great fear.  The angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, 
I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people." Luke 2:9-10

Just imagine - here it is the dead of night and a light suddenly shone so brightly - I bet it would look as if a boom went off - no wonder they were afraid.  I think if an angel lite up my night - I would be afraid too.  Again I ask, "why shepherds?"  Why not appear to a more desirable group of people - they could have still kept it lowly and appeared to blacksmiths, shop keepers, owners of Inns.  I have my suspicions it all has to do with "hope" for the angels tells the shepherd the savior is for them.

For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you 
who is Messiah and Lord.  Luke 2:11

If the Messiah is for the lowly shepherds, then the Messiah is for all people.  It is hope and acceptance.  The Messiah is not there for just the rich and powerful - not if the shepherds are the first to hear to news from the angels.  For it would have been custom that when a child was born - the head of the household would have been told (that is still true today - for the Queen of England it told first of a royal baby's birth before anyone else in the family.)  And yet - the angels first came to shepherds.

When the angels went away from them to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, 
"Let us go, then, to Bethlehem to see this thing that has taken place, 
which the Lord has made known to us."  Luke 2:15

Now here is where it get's interesting -- we've already established that the shepherds were dirty and stinky -- I did not hear them say "Let's go clean up and then go to Bethlehem."  Did you?  No, they left their sheep (which would have been a big "no no" back then) and headed straight away to Bethlehem.  Jesus does not tell us - go get your life in order - and then come to me.  No - he just says "come, come with your brokenness for I can make you whole."

So they went in haste and found Mary and Joseph, 
and the infant lying in the manger.  Luke 2:16

I ask you, what new mother would want someone who is dirty and stinky there with their newborn child?  Today, we have to thoroughly wash our hands and use hand sanitizer when we visit the hospital to see a new baby. And still new moms are nerves.  So, think of Mary - did she fear these dirty stinky shepherds surrounding her just born baby son?  The Gospels tells us just the opposite.

All who heard it were amazed by what had been told them 
by the shepherds.  And Mary kept all these thinks, 
reflecting on them in her heart.  Luke 2:18-19

No, Mary realized what was happening and reflected on God's goodness.  Mary and Joseph welcomed the shepherds as a foretelling of how this little infant would welcome the sinner.  Welcoming them as they were, who they were - people of God who were filled with great joy.

This Advent - welcome the stranger in your midst - the lowly, the poor, the dirty and stinky.  For they are just like us - looking for the hope that the Christ Child brings into the world.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Mirror of the Cross

I've been a little melancholy (ok to be honest - a lot) of late and have found my prayer life a struggle at times.  And so, as I was in my weekly adoration and was not surprised to find I didn't have anything really to say or pray.  So, I followed the advise of my favorite Psalm (Psalm 46) I was still and sat knowing that He was God and simply gazed upon the Blessed Sacrament.

As I looked at the Blessed Sacrament, it struck me that it sat upon the Altar and directly in front of the cross.  As if to say to me through this holy food, you receive graces from the sacrifice of the cross.

Hmmm...  So as it does, my mind began to wonder and I landed on the book of St. Clare that I had read recently and her Mirror of the Cross.  St. Clare said when we gaze upon the cross, it should be a mirror reflecting back to ourselves.  I have found this concept very interesting since I read it.  So, I began to think about just what do I see in the cross --- obedience for sure - we know from the Garden, Jesus asked for this cup to pass by him, but he would be obedient to the Father's will; I see mercy - Jesus asked from the cross for the Father to forgive us; I see love - He made sure that his mother was taken care of; and a giving of oneself to another without conditions or expectation of repayment.

The last item took my breath away - for I know it is one that I personally struggle with - giving to others without conditions.  I believe it is one of the messages society is giving us today -- "what's in it for me."  Only give of our time, talent or treasure if there is something in it for us.  Only loving others if they love us back or live up to what we expect.  Only forgiving others after they have shown to us repeatedly they are sorry.

This realization came to me as I sat before the cross and it made me very sad - for I know I have fallen into this trap many times.

So, now that I know this - what am I going to do with it?  For one, I need to get back to my regular prayer routines - even if at times I don't feel that the Father is listen (I know in my heart He is listening - I think I'm just not accepting the answer.)  I need to also get back to my regular devotion to the Rosary.  And I believe it would be good if would sit and look upon the cross a few minutes each day looking into the mirror to determine if I see Christ looking back at me or only my own will.  But most of all I need to work on my attitude of approaching each day not with expectations of what I can get - but of what can I give to another person.

Advent is here, it is a wonderful time to prepare our hearts for the coming of the Christ Child.  It's a time to evaluate our lives and look upon the cross and most of all - know that we are loved by God.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

You Have Loved Me First

When my son was young and I would tell him "no" about something he wanted or wanted to do - he would throw himself into a chair - announcing how much I did not love him and how I was the meanest mommy in the world.  I would respond one of two ways - either clap dramatically claiming I expected an Oscar out of him some day -- or if he used the meanest mommy line - I would exclaim - "Oh Good!  They are presenting the award soon - and I am so hoping to win!"  This usually made him laugh and diffused the situation so we could talk about why I had said no.

So, this morning I was reading my Magnificat and the last line from the morning hymn was "You, O Lord, have loved me first."  This got me thinking about a parent's love.  And I thought with a smile of when my son was young.  All the times we had to say no because what he wanted or wanted to do would not be good for him and how he would react.  And this made me think of all the prayers I have prayed and did not receive the answer I wanted - the Father had told me "no" - not because he was trying to be mean and didn't love me - but because he does love me.

We become so caught up with the here and now, we forget that the Father loved us long before we were ever born.  That he has called us each by our name - he knows how many hairs are on our head and freckles on our nose.

As much as I love my son, it no way compares to how much the Father loves me.  And, he has that vast love for each of us - even when we are throwing a temper tantrum and dramatically throwing ourselves into a chair - he LOVES us.

Knowing this, we should move boldly through the world - we should not be afraid to do the "right thing."  To speak-up for those who do not have a voice - to care for those who are unloved by society - and to love those children who's parents need help.  We can be so quick to judge - love does not judge - love is there no matter the situation.  And, love is there all the time - not just when it's convenient, not just when it can be squeezed into our calendar, not just on a holiday when it makes us feel good to do something for another person during that time of the year.

Advent is coming - it is a time for all of us to share the Father's love with one another - build habits of loving others that will carry forth long after the holiday ends.

I encourage you as we move into a new Liturgical Year - to make your life - a life of love - to find new ways you can love others - someone you may not know - someone who may be totally different from yourself.  For truly they are not different and unknown - they are loved by the Father the same as us - they, as we, are all part of the same family.

Commit to a year of loving others the same as your are loved by the Father. I believe by this time next year - your life will be completely different and so enriched with love you will wonder why it took you so long to do it.

Do Whatever He Says

This weekend's Gospel is the Wedding at Cana.  I have to admit, it is one of my favorites.  There are is so much going on in the story  ...