“Great opportunities to please God are infrequent,”
But turning little actions into great acts can happen all the time...
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...
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...
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...
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?
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 too!
Need to Be patient. Remember even if you feel nothing is happening–Jesus is working. Jesus likes our company. And because He is there, something is always happening when we pray.
Make prayer be from your heart; not your head. What does Jesus look like looking at you? When you see His face, tell Him of your gratitude and continued need. Stay there as long as you need.
Let God speak from the experiences in your life. What did He say about how you did yesterday or didn’t do yesterday?
Prayer tells us not “about God,” but “who God is.“ Pope Francis continues to remind us that our God is merciful and Jesus came to share that mercy –which should be and is a big helps to us in knowing who God is.
Be Still, Wait and Listen. God always has something to say to us-always. Believe the Spirit is present too. What do you hear?
Prayer is learning “a little” each time. We never have it all together, but each prayer moment gives us a piece –as one spiritual writer says: “getting out of the way gives the Spirit the room It needs.”
Make daily life the stuff of prayer. What’s going on? What’s not going on? And wait. Face the Lord just as you are and right where we are!
Need To End prayer the same every day. “And Lord, thanks for everything.” And if it is not finished –“Lord, we’ll continue this tomorrow.”
By this very simple means, a glorious and astonishing God can emerge from our hearts. And become our friend for life… His Life!Read More