Great opportunities to please God are infrequent,

But turning little actions into great acts can happen all the time...

Alex’s Journey: Finding His Narrow Gate

Posted by on Apr 17, 2015 in Previous Posts | 0 comments

Alex’s Journey: Finding His Narrow Gate

In Matthew 17:13 Jesus says:

 Enter through the narrow gate: for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.

As a student Alex was the personification of “bright eyed and bushy tailed.” He loved school. He was punctual, assignment on time, and homework done to perfection. Good marks came easily for Alex. He told me privately that by forty years of age he would be a top official of the corporation he chose as a career. From his daily productivity, I didn’t doubt this for one moment.

Alex graduated, was a speaker at his commencement, and after university joined BP petroleum and rose very quickly to a senor vice president. He was 38 years of age. He also had a lovely wife Ellen and three children, two daughters and a son. Alex worked to make their lives comfortable and happy.

However this meant he was away a good bit of time, traveling to meetings, delivering papers, solving problems and making a name for himself in the company. Of course this took Alex away from his daughters’ ballet performances, and his son’s vigorous soccer triumphs.

Alex justified these absences by reminding himself that what he was doing was for the children. One day they would appreciate him for it. Each time he had to tell his disappointed children why he had to miss their events, he consoled himself with this excuse. It was for them.

Until one day while at a meeting he received an urgent call from Ellen. Brian, their son now fourteen, was in intensive care at St. Mary’s hospital. He had attempted suicide and left a note simply reading, “because no one cared.”

Alex was crushed. “How could Brian think this? Doesn’t he know I love him more than life itself? I did all I did because I love him ” These were his thoughts as he dashed to St. Mary’s. Yet Brian only wanted his father to be at games or sport’s banquets. He wanted his father to be pleased. Brian exceled to show his father he loved him. And his father was never there. Like two ships in darkness, they passed each other without seeing the other.

Alex had chosen a way to love his family that was comfortable for him. Believing this was the way to go, Alex never checked in with those he loved. If he had he would discover Brian’s feelings of loneliness and isolation. In his mind and heart Brian felt his father just didn’t care.

Luckily Brian survived and Alex and Brian talked this through. Alex changed his ways and became a “present” father solicitous not only for Brian, but his wife Ellen and his two daughters. They soon became a together family; work no longer replaced his family. His family became the real treasures of his life. The treasure he sought from that moment on.

Jesus said in Matthew 7:12-14 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction: and those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few.”

 At first Alex was one of the many Jesus speaks of who choose the wide gate with the broad road leading through it. It is an easy drive, but the ending is not the reward or the happiness we seek. It is destruction without joy and without smiles.

Alex almost lost Brian because he wanted to give him a false treasure. Brian’s note helped Alex see another gate. This gate is narrow and the road through it tough to navigate, but it leads to the path of true living.

Brian wanted this “life” i.e. his father’s attention and love. Alex entered changing directions, putting his career on hold and giving himself solely not to BP but to Brian. While this new gate was somewhat constrictive in contrast to that wider gate, it led Alex and Brian to a deeper and longer lasting happiness.

This is Christ’s lesson in this parable about the narrow gate. This gate is snug so that we have to let go of what we don’t need to carry. It is a squeeze and to pass through we may have to reshape and change. Yet passing through it is better for the narrow gate leads to the very riches we seek and desire all along. Just ask Alex and Brian.

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We all like Happy Endings

Posted by on Apr 10, 2015 in Previous Posts | 0 comments

We all like Happy Endings

We all know the wonderful story of the Wizard of Oz. Every spring it reappears on television to delight audiences young and old. What if this Easter season we wrote a different ending?

Instead of Kansas, Dorothy could click her heels three times and land in Iowa? And what if she became rich, selling corn and wheat while raising cattle. And Dorothy lived happily ever after raising a wonderful family. Wouldn’t this be a different ending to a popular story?

However, the Easter story of Jesus’ Resurrection is not about what if’s, but what is! For just as Dorothy did go back to Kansas, Jesus did appear to His disciples time and time again. Yes indeed, and this is why Easter is a great celebration of Christ’s great hour of glory.

And we, disciples, live Christ’s glory in ourselves. We answer God’s call. 
We decide to marry or not. We choose to raise a family or not. We live our lives searching for answers in our joyous times and in our disappointing moments too. Foe as believers, we never forget that Jesus Christ has risen from the dead, and because He has, we will too.

Francis de Sales agrees when he writes:

“The rule for a happy death is to lead a good life, placing our trust in the merits of the passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, without whom everyday would be a fearful and unhappy event.”

We find in Psalm 31:5-60 these comforting words:

“You will free me from the snare they set for me, for you are my refuge. 
Into your hands I commend my spirit: 
You will redeem me, O Lord, O faithful God.”

Realizing that faith is about what is and not what ifs, we say: “Yes, I believe,” when we experience Christ’s passion and resurrection. And every time we do, our journey becomes a tribute to Christ’s glory all over again. It’s the way the leads to a “good life.”

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Jesus is always Our Light in this World!

Posted by on Apr 1, 2015 in Previous Posts | 0 comments

Jesus is always Our Light in this World!

At last, it’s spring and the days of brilliant and welcome sunlight are among it’s greatest gifts. Light always helps everyone see better. In fact, light reveals the potholes in our roads as well as life’s pitfalls. Yes indeed, light truly helps every one of us avoid stumbling.

Jesus, who calls Himself the Light of the World, helps those around Him to see things they may not necessarily notice. He not only points out hatred and indifference, but also points us in the direction of needed change and lasting hope. Jesus’ light is indeed more brilliant than any spring sunshine.

Every Easter season supplies us with opportunities to see “more clearly and walk more nearly” in the light of Jesus. Jesus rose from the tomb’s shadows to keep the darkness away.

Now, He asks us to challenge any darkness that holds us back from caring for others. During this spring, leave darkness behind and bask in the dazzling courage that Jesus’ amazing grace provides.

As we move into the warmth of spring, we pray that the friendship of the Savior steady our steps and that these words of St. Francis de Sales mold our confidence:

One cannot do anything with a heart that is vain and full of itself. It is of no use, either to itself or others.”

And further, as John notes in his Gospel: For everyone who does wicked things, hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed. But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God. (John 3:20-21)

Instead, let Easter fill our hearts with the hope and joy of Christ’s presence, so that His light may always shine on the beauty in our everyday lives, no matter what the season. Happy Easter! For the Lord is Risen still!

 

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