“Great opportunities to please God are infrequent,”
But turning little actions into great acts can happen all the time...
Today, often we find ourselves a bit unsteady, as we navigate our personal life in this fragile world. These moments cause fear and make us doubt our own safety. When this happens, we want to protect ourselves. We build walls to ward off dangers, lock our possessions in safe places, and take many steps to ensure that our investments are safeguarded. While these may seem to be practical precautions to protect our future, it is not the way the Lord wants us to live our lives in His kingdom. Jesus preached another way. He insisted that we are not placed on this earth to hide riches and gains in safe places, like a nearby storage rental or in an offshore bank account. Rather, Jesus asks us to live each day by “being rich toward God, Our Father.” How does He propose we do this? Simply by being open to seeing “others” in our lives–with generous hearts and open hands. When we live this way, we are “standing in” for God, caring and loving in God’s place- right where we live–when we take the time to listen carefully and actually hear what others need or how they are handling their lives. When we give these moments of love and concern to another who needs them, our God accepts these simple acts, these riches as praise for Himself —and He is delighted to do so! For what we are saying with each act of kindness— is...
Many have asked about prayer, and if I would share my ideas and even my personal method. Where to begin–let me say at the outset that personal prayer doesn’t come smoothly for a variety of reasons. Either we don’t know what we are doing, how we should be doing it, or even why we do it? Perhaps we are too busy to pray or simply can’t find the time–a time that never comes! Over these past few years, prayer has moved to the forefront of my life. I truly enjoy starting each day with time given to “personal prayer.” Since I have made a conscious effort to want prayer in my life, prayer has become much easier. Now remember, I know we are all different and from our differences come our prayer to our God. With that truth in mind, I share the following: Need a ritual. Decide on a time and place. In this created place nothing else happens except prayer. Sit in the same chair, with the same book, and always begin the same way. For example, Thank you Lord … and then help me, help me still with …. Above all, find your own starter and make it your own. Need to Show up Every Day. Faithfulness is of prime importance. Go to your designated space and start. Some days you‘re into it, at other times distractions get in the way. The important thing is that you’re there and Jesus is...
Often, glaring TV “breaking news” or “horrendous morning headlines” overwhelm us. We don’t know how to go about fixing the problems, remedying the volatile situations, or simply making a difference that will change these situations. Then I think about how my Grandmother fixed her problems when they seemed too big to handle. Grandma humbly “shrunk her world” and made it manageable. She stretched paychecks when food became scarce, or clothes for school had to be bought and mortgage payments paid. She shrunk her world to be proactive–instead of waiting for life to happen around her. Grandmom made it work! One tender memory stands out. My grandfather was extremely ill, and the doctors decided to stop all treatment. My grandmother took over. She decided to walk barefoot in the upcoming Saints procession through our parish streets. Now this was no easy task, as it was June and the summer sun was just beginning to bake the streets of the procession’s route. Yet, Grandmom choose to do what she was able to do. Shrinking her world, she turned to faith, and her trust in God. She reduced her sad situation to a realistic size capable of her handling. She walked the two hour route in her barefeet, praying her rosary, telling God of her love for Him, and asking God for His mercy for her husband. What I admire about this story is how my Grand mom didn’t sit wringing her hands and crying “poor me.” ...
While watching the summer Olympics in Rio, we felt the excitement of the many athletics winning events and getting a prized gold, silver or bronze medal. But every once in a while, an unknown athlete spirited to the front carried by the wild, enthusiastic cheering crowds.
And suddenly we witnessed the surprised face of a flabbergasted, but happy and totally astonished unexpected winner. With TV cameras beaming in on a joyous face, we saw a hastily made sign of the cross. It’s true. It was the sign of the cross done before millions of world watchers.
Yes, it was hurried, but deliberately done. And it said to all who watched–that gratitude for this victory belonged first to God. It was the particular athlete’s way of showing humble gratitude to God for helping with the victory. Doesn’t Scripture say: “When we humble ourselves before God the more favor we get from God?”
Now we know that God didn’t actually run that race or swim in that particular lane, but this tiny, action reminds us of how God fits into the daily routine of our lives-all of our personal lives–even “athletes going for the gold.”
God made us to enjoy and God appreciates all we do. It’s God’s way of rekindling those precious Garden moments with Adam and Eve–walking closely with them in the “cool of the evening.”
Wait a minute! Surely, God loves all equally and the same–athletes and non- athletes alike. We understand His love puts everyone on this earth–and our creation is the first gift for which to be thankful. Everything else follows from that initial first gift.
The second gift is everything else we do – like swimming, cycling, playing the piano or enjoying a good novel. The purpose of this extra contribution like a beautiful singing voice–is to praise God. Now, as simple as that statement is, it isn’t always clear to us.
We like to take credit for all the good things that happen to us, and give God the “blame” for all the bad things. Yet it only takes a small action- like the sign of the cross- to tell the world “God deserves credit too.” God is not interested in a medal, a victory parade or any other fanfare. God only desires some modest respect for His love for each of us.
Like that athlete, we too can easily recall from where our successes and gifts flow. When we do, we can unassumingly utter a “Thank You” with this added plea “Lord, Help me in those times when I don’t finish first.” With these few words, God is praised and we live humbly in His favor!
Have you ever heard of Home Boy Industries Bakery? Fr. Greg Boyle, a Los Angeles Jesuit, founded this bakery to assist former L. A. gang members ridding themselves of the gang culture that held such power over them in their youth. Fr. Greg is extremely generous in his show of forgiveness to all who come to Homeboy for help. If they come, he accepts and embraces them.
Fr. Greg’s mercy is not just words, but acts of kindness and warm hearted love. He immediately gives them responsible jobs in the bakery, and encouraging words “to get on with your lives.” For Father Greg, Home Boy Baking Industries makes mercy wholesome, while baking wholesome bread!
But many ex-gang members find it difficult to forget their past. They often feel overwhelmed by the ruin and damage their past choices have caused which gives them a strong sense of guilt. And they feel unworthy to accept the peace and forgiveness Jesus offers them.
Father Greg understands, but tenderly reminds them “that God already accepts them as His own, even if they cannot accept God’s outstretched hands. God simply wants them here “found” and not out there “lost.”
What Father Greg is saying, by his actions–is that despite their guilt feelings, God’s mercy restores their future that past life wrong choices have denied them. God’s mercy, which Jesus offers, wipes away their past, leaving them with hope instead of self-pity.
When mercy arrives in our lives, we are restored as God’s beloved child. Our lives and what we now do continue to build God’s Kingdom. In fact, this is the future we all share when we open ourselves to God’s mercy.
On a daily basis, we have splendid opportunities to use the gifts God’s mercy has liberated. Now how wholesome is that? And like the workers at Homeboy Baking Industries, “we too, can now get on with our lives!”
Today, often we find ourselves a bit unsteady, as we navigate our personal life in this fragile world. These moments cause fear and make us doubt our own safety.
When this happens, we want to protect ourselves. We build walls to ward off dangers, lock our possessions in safe places, and take many steps to ensure that our investments are safeguarded. While these may seem to be practical precautions to protect our future, it is not the way the Lord wants us to live our lives in His kingdom.
Jesus preached another way. He insisted that we are not placed on this earth to hide riches and gains in safe places, like a nearby storage rental or in an offshore bank account. Rather, Jesus asks us to live each day by “being rich toward God, Our Father.” How does He propose we do this? Simply by being open to seeing “others” in our lives–with generous hearts and open hands.
When we live this way, we are “standing in” for God, caring and loving in God’s place- right where we live–when we take the time to listen carefully and actually hear what others need or how they are handling their lives. When we give these moments of love and concern to another who needs them, our God accepts these simple acts, these riches as praise for Himself —and He is delighted to do so!
For what we are saying with each act of kindness— is how much we appreciate a God who made each of us equally and the same. Through our sharing of our time and presence with another, we connect that “little piece of God” found in all of us and we embrace God Himself. It is at that point that God’s kingdom shines more brightly and God’s reign glows more gloriously all around us—especially in our dark corners. And didn’t the Lord say? “I desire mercy (translated Kindness) not sacrifice!”
Jesus often reminds us that God is not impressed with material possessions or goods. What delights God the most are our acts of love given to our needy brothers and sisters. God accepts every one of these acts as the priceless jewels, they are!
When we find ways to connect with “the piece of God” in others, instead of keeping them at a distance, we echo the words of Mother Teresa preached about following Jesus. “God does not require that we be successful only that we be faithful.
And the beauty of connecting the “pieces of God” –buried in all of us–“one piece” at a time –leaves less for the Lord to do in eternity. And we are “being rich for the Lord.” This request of the Lord is no more than He would do for us, and our reward is never-ending and freeing. Now isn’t this an offer we don’t want to refuse?