Nepal, Baltimore, Man’s Insignificance, and the Good Shepherd

04/28/2015

Nepal.

Baltimore.

Deadly tornadoes in Fairdale and Rochelle, Illinois and Sand Spring, Oklahoma.

Christians beheaded. Jews targeted.

Truth and polite honesty assailed as hate.

Loved ones taking ill. Beloved friends and family suddenly ripped from our lives.IMAG0345

Even pets. How many of us have lost a beloved furry baby… dogs, cats, horses, livestock?

And this list merely scratches the surface.

This is how the first four months of 2015 begins…

… can you believe we are already four months into 2015? Twenty fifteen?? …

… this is how it is every day in our fallen world.

It’s no different today than it was two thousand years ago.

IMAG0202 NaturalIMAG0177 disasters continue to rip apart our tranquility. Such is the world we live in. Hateful human beings destroy without regard for others. Sometimes without regard for themselves.

Such is the world we live in.IMAG0206

Such is the world we have always lived in.

And nature relentlessly takes its course. None of us live forever, no matter how hard we try to prolong our existence, in spite of the zealous attempts of the safety nazis (sorry) to shield us from every risk. Our sweet pets are taken from us before we want to let go.

The clock ticks. Our mortal bodies decay.

This is our existence.

Why?

What good is it?

My sister, Stephanie, sent me a 3 minute, 29 second video about how insignificant our world is in relation to the vastness of the universe. Part of the title suggests that the video will make you question your entire existence.

I dunno… for me, it affirms and strengthens my faith.

Consider, for a moment, the vastness of the universe. Consider, as the video demonstrates, how small is our planet compared to the size of the other planets that orbit our sun, how small Earth is in relation to our sun, how small our sun is in relation to other stars, how vast our galaxy in relation to our solar system, how small our galaxy is in relation to other galaxies.

How enormous is the universe in which we live?

Yet the God of that Universe, His creation, begot His Son through a mere mortal human being, the Virgin Mary, the lifespan of His existence less than a blink of an eye in the grand time span in the life of the ever-expanding Universe.

To save us.

Why?

Who knows?

But He did! And for more than 2,000 years — again, no more than a blink of an eye in the grand time span in the life of the ever-expanding Universe — Jesus Christ has been attracting believers who know that He showed up here.

For us.

I watch that video and I think of the vastness of the universe, too. I ponder the likelihood of the existence of life elsewhere.

And I know that if life exists on another planet elsewhere in God’s ever-expanding Universe, He has appeared there in the form of His own image, to save them as well.

How can I make such a bold statement?

Because the God of the Universe is Love. Because the God of the Universe is Mercy. Because the God of the Universe is Truth.

By definition.

I watch that video and I think of the vastness of the universe. I compare the safety of our atmosphere-controlled world to that of a mother’s womb. Temperature regulated. Just perfect for the lifespan of our time there… or here. Not without dangers. Not without natural disasters.

But meant to surround us in a cocoon of protection and relative safety.

Until it’s time to move on.

The feast of the Dedication was taking place in Jerusalem. It was winter.
And Jesus walked about in the temple area on the Portico of Solomon.
So the Jews gathered around him and said to him,
“How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”

Jesus answered them, “I told you and you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify to me. But you do not believe, because you are not among my sheep.

My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand.

My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.” – John 10:22-30

The God of the Universe sent His only begotten Son to be our Good Shepherd. To get us from here to there.Kit Kat

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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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Speeding and Sinning

04/19/2015

We live in a unique area here at the northeast tip of Lake County, Illinois. Drive due south along picturesque Sheridan Road and it’s a 50-mile city and suburban drive to Chicago and parts south of the city. Drive due north along Sheridan Road and it’s a city and suburban drive 50 miles north to Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Can’t drive east. Lake Michigan gets in the way.

But drive five miles due west and you’re in the middle of pasture, horses, and farmland.

This morning, I needed the wide open spaces.

We were late for church. We’re Kwiecinskis. We’re late for almost everything, much to my wife’s chagrin (poor Kathy; she obviously was not born a Kwiecinski). St. Patrick’s is south and west of us.

To make matters worse, Martha and I were scheduled to read. Mass was going to start in 20 minutes. It’s a 9-mile drive if we stroll through the country, only 8 miles if we head south on Sheridan. But the shorter route is the city route. Lots of traffic lights. Slower speed limits. More traffic.

The choice was obvious. Head for the wide open spaces and pray for no squad cars.

As we’re careening southward on Kilbourne Road, I’m thinking about the second reading. The reading I was going to be reading.

My children, I am writing this to you
so that you may not commit sin.
But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father,
Jesus Christ the righteous one.
He is expiation for our sins,
and not for our sins only but for those of the whole world.
The way we may be sure that we know him is to keep
his commandments.
Those who say, “I know him,” but do not keep his commandments
are liars, and the truth is not in them.
But whoever keeps his word,
the love of God is truly perfected in him. – 1 John 2:1-5a

“What happens if I get tagged for speeding? We’re two minutes from church. One of us needs to be there in two minutes. If a cop starts following us, he can arrest me at church.”

Yes, I’m actually thinking this on the way to church.

So we don’t get stopped, we get to church (in two minutes), plenty of time to prepare before Mass begins, all good.

Was speeding to church sinful? Was I being a hypocrite?

Are we all liars who do not carry the truth inside us?

Or does God already understand that about us?

(And as I’m putting the finishing touches on this, watching the Blackhawks vs. Nashville playoff game, you can only imagine the sins spewing outta my mouth…)

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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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