I Could Tell You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You

05/15/2015

Charlie: Excuse me, Lieutenant. Is there something wrong?

Maverick: Yes ma’am, the data on the MiG is inaccurate.

Charlie: How’s that, Lieutenant?

Maverick: Well, I just happened to see a MiG 28 do a…

Goose: We!

Maverick: Uh, sorry Goose. WE happened to see a MiG 28 do a 4g negative dive.

Charlie: Where did you see this?

Maverick: Uh, that’s classified.

Charlie: It’s what?

Maverick: It’s classified. I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you.

  –  Top Gun, 1986

Top secret information. Shrouded in secrecy. It’s a line that’s been used in movies — and even sitcoms — for a long time. I don’t know where or how it originated.

That’s not the point.

Even if it isn’t true, it’s a great line.

Jesus said to his disciples “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now.”

  –  John 16:12

Okay, so it’s not quite the same thing, but think about all that happened from the perspective of the Apostles and the other disciples.

“First this guy asks us to follow him around, drop everything we’re doing, leave our families, leave our jobs. He keeps promising us a kingdom. But the Romans aren’t going away. Their armies are so strong.

“But there’s something about him. We never go hungry. We don’t have enough money to feed ourselves, not to mention the hundreds or thousands that keep following us, no matter where we go. Yet we’re always satisfied. All of us!

“And he cures sick people! Where did he learn how to do that?

“He keeps referring to God as his father!

“Most of the leaders hate us. Why? What did we do? What did HE do? Yeah, he calls them out. But everything he does helps someone else. There’s not an unloving bone in his body…”

Then the hammer fell.

“Where is our kingdom? He says it’s ‘not of this world.’ That’s for sure! They’re going to kill him! If the rabbis don’t stone him to death, the Romans are going to kill him. Where’s our kingdom?

“What are we going to do now? We have nothing left. Nothing. No profession. No home. Will they kill us, too?”

And how would you react if a dead guy came back to talk to you? Kept talking about eating his body? And then as quickly as he appeared, he disappeared?

And within, like… a month, maybe a little longer, he goes from riding into town like the king that he says he is…

Gets beaten within an inch of his life…

Then carries his own cross…

Then dies a quick agonizing death…

You watch him die…

Then you see him — or someone who looks a lot like him — walking around, talking with you, claiming that he has risen from the dead…

And then after he hangs around with you for a while — when he feels like it — and disappears like an apparition — when he feels like it…

He floats away, like a bird, until you can’t see him any more…

“Now what do we do? Where’s our kingdom?

 

Jesus said to his disciples “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now.”

  –  John 16:12

Maybe their heads would have exploded if He told them everything right away. So it’s not that He would have to kill them, the weight of the Truth would have.

After all.

They were only human.

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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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This is Why We’re All Catholics

04/27/2015

That’s with a small ‘c,’ folks. Just not in the blog title.

‘What God has made clean, you are not to call profane.’ – Acts 11:9b

Today’s Reading is Acts 11:1-18, “The Baptism of the Gentiles Explained.”

When in college, I questioned my Roman Catholic faith. Two of my professors, Dr. Iver Yeager and Dr. David Koss, taught Religion courses. Excellent instructors.

I went to a public high school that had such a large Jewish student (and probably teacher) population, we had days off for Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. I hadn’t had a religion class since graduating 8th grade from St. Nicholas. I even met my first atheist in high school.

I went to Catholic grade schools. Hearing that my friend, Karen, did not believe in any God was shocking to me. I had never even considered such a possibility.

So when I took an Introduction to the Bible course at this non-Catholic college and seriously courted a young woman who was Christian but not Catholic, I started questioning whether I truly believed that I was a Roman Catholic. Was I a non-Catholic Christian?

This was heavy stuff that I never ever contemplated when choosing a college. And here I was, on my own, evaluating and making life decisions. A pretend grown up in a (still) adolescent brain.

I have posted previously about my Catholic faith. I don’t intend to convert any of you by reading today’s simple post. But I will tell you that my contemplation, prayer, and study over the course of many months convinced me that to be Catholic is to honor the tradition of the Apostles and the will of Jesus Christ.

Not because somebody said so. Because I saw it and believed it.

What do I believe?

I believe that Jesus Christ is truly present in the Holy Eucharist. I believe that:

(God) never cease(s) to gather a people to (Himself), so that from the rising of the sun to its setting a pure sacrifice may be offered to (His) name. – from Eucharistic Prayer No. 3, Third Edition of the Roman Missal

Think about it. Jesus instituted the celebration of the Eucharist on Holy Thursday. He commanded the disciples to “do this in memory of me.” I cannot possibly convince you in a several hundred word blog post, so I point you here instead.

I believe that the popes form an unbroken lineage of bishops that began with Jesus hand-selecting Simon Peter as the first Bishop of Rome.

I believe that Confession is a sacramental sign of forgiveness that we receive directly from Jesus Christ, through the Catholic priest as a conduit for Jesus Himself.

And I believe that today’s Reading, in which Peter, through visions, comes to understand that the Gentiles are as worthy of believing as “the circumcised believers,” confirms that the Christian church is a catholic (universal) church.

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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.


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.


(1) The Early Christian Social Experiment and (2) Reluctant Belief

04/18/2015

Two very separate thoughts about Saturday’s Easter weekday readings.

As the number of disciples continued to grow, the Hellenists complained against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. – Acts 6:1

Last weekend, we learned of the great social experiment of having “everything in common,” with all believers not claiming ownership to any possessions as their own and “distribut(ing) to each according to need.”

Today, we see why this type of social/communal arrangement works in theory only. It may work in heaven.

(I have my doubts that it ‘works’ even in heaven, but let’s leave that for another commentary.)

It appears that some of the widows were… shall we say, treated as being a little less equal than others. Depending on whose interpretation of this scripture passage you read, more work was expected of the Hellenistic Jews than the native Hebrews, or the Hellenistic Jews were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food, or perhaps more likely, a combination of both.

The Apostles dealt with it and empowered seven men to help make it work. But the greatest lesson is that, even among the community of believers, there was a problem with executing this equal distribution of goods.

Human beings have attempted — for tens of centuries — to distribute equally to each according to their need. And there’s always a problem with it. Why? What? How?

Human beings get in the way.

Human emotion. Prejudice. Discrimination. Judgment. Envy. Dishonesty.

The list is endless.

It is because we are human that this type of system cannot work. On earth and (maybe not) in heaven. (Although the rules up there would be markedly different, n’est-ce pas?)

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When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they began to be afraid. – John 6:19

Jesus had just fed the five thousand. He knew people would come to “make him king by force,” which of course was contrary to his mission. So he withdrew, away from the crowds.

Left to their own devices, what were the apostles supposed to do? They did what they knew best. They went fishing.

But they picked the wrong night. The seas were rough. The miracle worker wasn’t there to help them out of the rough waters.

Or so they thought.

Remember, at this time, Jesus had not risen from the dead. He was performing astonishing works in front of their disbelieving eyes. Just hours before, he fed thousands of people when all the apostles were able to rustle up were a few handfuls of food.

And now, caught in the middle of a storm, came this man, walking on the water!

What would you have thought?

What would your senses and human intellect have told 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. Well, I didn’t even make it through Day Two without a slip-up. The excerpts are from Saturday, April 18, 2015, and I’m backdating my post. I would appreciate your help and encouragement. This is something I’ve been called to do for some time. I’m finally embracing it. Forgive me for procrastinating, Father. On this post and on getting my thoughts out to the world.


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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