The Fierceness of Love

05/19/2015

Yet I consider life of no importance to me

  –  the beginning of verse 24, chapter 20, Acts of the Apostles

Why had life become so unimportant to St. Paul? Warned repeatedly by the Holy Spirit about imprisonment and hardships, Paul still dutifully sails back to Jerusalem to face those who wish to kill him.

On the road to Damascus, his life changed forever. He pursued the disciples who were spreading the news and message of Jesus of Nazareth, to persecute them, to imprison them, even to see them put to death.

Little did he know that he was the one being pursued.

Jesus caught up with Paul on the road to Damascus. Jesus struck him down, blinded and disabled him, and with a love as fierce as the fury of Paul’s persecution, persuaded Paul that Jesus was the Way.

And Paul was transformed. He proclaimed the Word and spread God’s Love with the same fierceness.

It was not a fierce fury, but a fierce Love. A boldness that transcended human courage.

And Paul continued to receive visions and messages from Jesus via the Holy Spirit, assuring him of safe passage and cautioning him that hardships awaited.

How receptive are you to the murmurs of the Holy Spirit in your life? Do you hear them? Are you listening?

How willing are you to Love fiercely?

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Thanks for taking some of your precious time today to read my thoughts. My intention, beginning Friday, April 17, 2015, is to post a brief, daily meditation based on the readings from the day’s Catholic liturgy. I would appreciate your help and encouragement. This is something I’ve been called to do for some time. I’m finally embracing it. Father, forgive me for procrastinating.

 

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“What is Truth?”

05/02/2015

I knew what I was hearing wasn’t true. It couldn’t possibly be true. His truck, pulling a trailer with a heavy, old Russian manufactured motorcycle, struck my car with such force that it spun me sideways and knocked the frame halfway to the junk yard. My client files, moments ago carefully organized on the back seat, splattered up against the back of the front passenger seat and scattered into a heap across the floor on both sides of the back seat.

Yet he insisted that he made a full stop at the intersection and was just accelerating from that dead stop when I tried to race past him through the intersection.

Baloney.

No way could he have generated that kind of force from a dead stop.

It was up to the insurance companies to battle it out, but eventually, his insurance company agreed that the accident was completely his fault.

It was one man’s version of the truth versus my version.

Luckily, the facts clearly supported my version.

That time.

There’s one source of ultimate truth. God. And God in the person of Jesus. One in the same being. One Truth.

Today’s Alleluia verse before the Gospel (John 8:31b-32) says

If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, says the Lord.

Do you want to know the truth?

Remain in God’s word.

Jesus tells the disciples

“If you know me, then you will also know my Father.” – John 14:7a

Do you want to know the truth?

Know Jesus.

How do we know Jesus?

Remain in God’s word. Read Holy Scripture. Read the bible. Study the readings from the Daily Mass.

Pilate asks Jesus on Good Friday

“What is truth?”

… after Jesus tells him that He was born and came into the world to testify to the truth, and

“Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” – John, chapter 18, end of verse 37.

Pilate, surrounded by wealth and luxury, protected by a powerful army, could not be certain of the truth. What lesson does that hold for us?

The Apostles and chosen disciples, including Paul, were inspired to spread the truth by the Holy Spirit. They brought the truth to as many nations and regions as they could. They brought the truth to Jews and Gentiles alike.

Yet the Chosen People rejected the truth and persecuted the disciples (today’s First Reading, Acts 13:44-52). So the disciples, inspired by the command of the Lord, established a church separate from the synagogue.

How many times are we presented with the truth and we choose to ignore it or at least want to ignore it because it doesn’t fit with our desires? Or our version of events?

What’s our response?

Do we remain in God’s word?

Or do we make up our own words? Do we manufacture our own truth?

I wish that I only battled that temptation every day. But instead, I find myself manufacturing truth countless times, every hour, every single day.

How about you?

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Thanks for taking some of your precious time today to read my thoughts. My intention, beginning Friday, April 17, 2015, is to post a brief, daily meditation based on the readings from the day’s Catholic liturgy. I would appreciate your help and encouragement. This is something I’ve been called to do for some time. I’m finally embracing it. Father, forgive me for procrastinating.

 

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Déjà vu All Over Again

05/01/2015

Interesting juxtaposition in today’s Daily Mass readings. In the First Reading, from the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 13:13-25), Paul recounts the royal lineage of the Hebrews and leads all the way up to John the Baptist foretelling the coming of Jesus.

Historically, that would be just prior to Jesus commencing his public ministry.

The Gospel (John 13:16-20) jumps forward to Holy Thursday, the very end of Jesus’ public ministry. Jesus is washing the disciples’ feet.

We have a symbolic cleansing in the Jordan by John. Not a true baptism, of course, because this is before Jesus had instituted the sacrament. And we have symbolic cleansing by sacrificial death in the Gospel.

We’re halfway through the Easter season and we’re already again recalling the death of Christ?

Folks, we do that every single day.

Or at least, we should be.

You never cease to gather a people to Yourself, so that from the rising of the sun to its setting a pure sacrifice may be offered to Your name. – from Eucharistic Prayer No. 3, Third Edition of the Roman Missal

Every single day.

So many times, each day, “from east to west,” a priest hoists a piece of bread heavenward, invokes the words of Jesus Christ at the Last Supper, and Jesus Christ Himself transubstantiates the earthly nourishment into the Divine.

What was that?

He changes the bread into His body.

Likewise, he changes the wine into His blood.

Déjà vu. All over again.

This is what makes the celebration of the Mass so beautiful, so powerful, so vital.

For the last two thousand years, we have recalled the death of our Lord, Jesus Christ. And we continue to

Do this in memory of me.

 

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Thanks for taking some of your precious time today to read my thoughts. My intention, beginning Friday, April 17, 2015, is to post a brief, daily meditation based on the readings from the day’s Catholic liturgy. I would appreciate your help and encouragement. This is something I’ve been called to do for some time. I’m finally embracing it. Father, forgive me for procrastinating.

 

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Are You Ready to Get Smacked Around?

04/24/2015

Why is Christianity true?

Without any doubt?

Not debatable?

Why, that’s simple! The Acts of the Apostles!

Have you ever known a coward? Someone who is all blather and no substance? Someone who enjoys riding another person’s coattails, enjoys the limelight, the spotlight, the spoils, but does none of the dirty work? Just gets in the way of the celebration?

Kind of like a wedding crasher.

Also kind of like the twelve disciples.

They each had their reasons. Many of which, no doubt, were well intentioned.

Today’s Easter weekday reading from the Acts of the Apostles retells the conversion of St. Paul (Acts 9:1-20). What further proof do you need?

More you say? Okay. How about Pentecost? Those timid hangers-on, afraid of their own shadow especially after Jesus is crucified, suddenly emerge from their cave and won’t shut up! They suddenly have no fear of being persecuted, tortured, even killed.

And that’s life here on Earth.

We can “go for the gusto.” (Gosh. Remember the old Schlitz commercial?) Live this earthly life with abandon. Be the person who accumulates the most toys before getting planted. Live for the moment. Cross stuff off the bucket list, no matter how…

adventurous…

Or we can live for eternal life.

A heckuvalot more challenging than it sounds.

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Today is also the feast day of St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen, a Franciscan Capuchin priest who was martyred for his unfailing Counter-Reformation preaching.

EWTN’s Mass included alternate readings for the day. The first reading was from St. Paul’s second letter to Timothy. That reading concludes:

Anyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus can expect to be persecuted. – 2 Timothy 3:12

So… that’s simple! Want to get to heaven? Live a godly life. Imitate Christ. But expect to be persecuted.

Did you know that St. Francis of Assisi preached to the Muslims? He attempted to convert them. “Love your enemies and do good to those who hate you,” Francis said.

Are you ready? You may not just get smacked around. It could cost more.

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Thanks for taking some of your precious time today to read my thoughts. My intention, beginning Friday, April 17, 2015, is to post a brief, daily meditation based on the readings from the day’s Catholic liturgy. I would appreciate your help and encouragement. This is something I’ve been called to do for some time. I’m finally embracing it. Father, forgive me for procrastinating.


What Have You Got to Lose?

04/22/2015

(I finished yesterday’s post on the way to the United Center in Chicago for the Blackhawks Stanley Cup playoff game against Nashville. Traffic was awful. I had plenty of red lights and stopped traffic to get it done.

I almost finished before I had to leave the house. But one thought needed to be clarified and I still had to “edit.”

I clarified the thought and tried to edit, but it was nigh impossible on the phone browser, so I made the executive decision to hit Publish. Someone much smarter than I once said “done is better than perfect.”

It’s a good thing I did. The game was intense and didn’t end until 1:20 AM. That minor detail presented its own set of issues today.)

Anyway, that’s besides the point. But it sure was fun. Go Hawks!

Now for today’s thought.

What have you got to lose?

St. Stephen (yesterday’s 3rd week of Easter reading) was stoned to death for calling out the shortcomings and failings of his Jewish brethren. Today’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 8:1b-8) follows Stephen’s death. After his friends bury him, the Apostles boldly preach about Jesus and have enough faith to heal people in His name.

Stephen’s loss — his earthly existence — was the gain of many. The number of believers was growing exponentially.

Today is a feast day for the Jesuits (Feast of Our Lady, Mother of the Society). EWTN’s Gospel was from John, the wedding feast at Cana.

Mary tells Jesus the hosts have run out of wine. Jesus tells her “my time has not yet come.” Mary simply trusts and tells the servants to listen to whatever Jesus tells them.

What does she have to lose?

In today’s Easter weekday Gospel (John 6:35-40), Jesus tells the crowds He is the Bread of Life. He tells them that whoever believes in Him will never thirst. Everyone who believes in Him will have eternal life.

Do you believe?

Why not?

What have you got to lose?

What if I’m completely wrong? What if eternal life is bullhooey? What if we die and we turn to dust and that’s it? Do you get to take any of the spoils of this life with you?

Well, you could… but would it matter when you crumpled to dust?

Even if you go to heaven (better stated, when you go to heaven), you don’t get to take any of your ‘stuff’ with you there, either.

What if I’m right and there is a heaven? What have you got to lose by believing?

Jesus promises you He won’t reject you if you come to Him. He says that He cannot lose anything (or anyone) given to Him.

What have you got to gain?

I’ll let you contemplate and answer.

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Thanks for taking some of your precious time today to read my thoughts. My intention, beginning Friday, April 17, 2015, is to post a brief, daily meditation based on the readings from the day’s Catholic liturgy. I would appreciate your help and encouragement. This is something I’ve been called to do for some time. I’m finally embracing it. Father, forgive me for procrastinating.


What the heck happened?

04/17/2015

If your life was threatened because you were the constant companion of a popular “somebody” who suddenly became a despised “nobody,” what would you do?

If you were afraid of a mob that turned on your friend, beat him bloody, and killed him, where would you go? Where would you hide?

What would you do, then, still hiding and afraid of being attacked, if somebody came running up to you, all excited and wild-eyed, and said “He’s alive!” You know, the guy who you watched get beaten, nearly to death, then hung up on a tree, then you watched him get carried down and buried… that guy…

Would you suddenly say, “Oh, no problem! Everything’s gonna be fine now!”

Would you be confused? Would you have a question or two? Or maybe want a stiff drink? Or just to sleep all day, hoping it would all go away?

Then let’s say your dead friend showed up. He told you not to be afraid.

“Oh, sure! Thanks. Yeah, all’s good now!!”

Would you maybe doubt your senses, too? Would you be more ready for that adult beverage?

Well, gang, that’s probably purty dang close to what happened to the Apostles who followed Jesus around for three years, watched his popularity explode, then witnessed the whole thing implode in a matter of days.

What happened to these guys? Timid, ordinary dudes who rode the coattails of this amazing, inspiring teacher. You know the guy. He attracted crowds wherever He went. But when He got in trouble with the authorities, all the coattail-riders took off in the other direction.

In a matter of days, inspiring teacher guy goes from most popular to most hated. Before you know it, he’s dead! The adoring mob becomes a lynch mob. Coattail-riders are scared to death. Will the mob come after them, too?

Today’s Daily Mass Reading from the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 5:34-42) recounts how the Jewish authorities, having detained the Apostles, decide to release them from custody.

“But hang on boys, before you go? Here’s a parting gift.”

The authorities flog the Apostles, then send them on their merry way. “Hey, but don’t mention this Jesus guy any more, okay?”

What do the Apostles do?

They can’t shut up! Everywhere they go, in public, even in the temple,

“they did not stop teaching and proclaiming the Christ, Jesus.”

Something happened to these men. Something transformed them from shy, timid, afraid of their own shadow, locked away for fear of retribution…

and fearless to the point of not caring if they were killed themselves.

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Thanks for taking some of your precious time today to read my thoughts. My intention, beginning today, Friday, April 17, 2015, is to post a brief, daily meditation based on the readings from the day’s Catholic liturgy. I would appreciate your help and encouragement. This is something I’ve been called to do for some time. I’m finally embracing it.


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