Tag Archives: Jesus

Choosing blindness. Choosing sight.

The Gospel at Mass John 9:1-41, was a (long) version of the blind man who was healed by Jesus–with the clay, on the eyes, the washing in Siloam and BOOM.  Eyesight.  Followed by a grilling by the Pharisees and their indignation at Jesus actually having THE NERVE to heal on the Sabbath and therefore could not be of God.  Because, the Sabbath.  Rules.  Regulations.  All that.  The no-longer-blind man’s bottom line:  listen, all I know is I was blind, and now I see; Jesus healed me.  Which had me focusing on the fact that Jesus can heal me.  And you.  and you.  and you.  The only kicker is we have to be present to Him and follow His instructions, even when they are simple.  Which is tricky because we want everything to be so complicated and sometimes, it’s just not.

Fast forward to the seriously STRONG homily by one of our Deacons in which he flipped it onto us, the Church.  When we come to Mass on Sunday, we listen, we go through the motions and then people EN MASSE routinely exit the church after receiving the Precious Body and Blood.  They just keep on truckin’ out the door.  (I don’t know if this occurs regularly in your church but it is a regularly HUGE occurrence in ours, to the tune of a 100 or so people performing this ritual each Mass)  So, why do they come?  Habit?  Ritual?  Obligation?  To receive an eternal “insurance policy”?   Because it doesn’t work that way;  our deacon reminded us in the Scripture, Luke 13-26:27

26 “Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’

27 “But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’

Do we choose blindness in spite of the gifts Christ has for us?  He awaits us every hour of every day, open arms, judgement free, love overflowing and yet……sometimes we are blind.  Blind to the fact that it is not about putting in face time, we have to work at our relationship with Christ.  We work at our marriage.  We work at our friendships.  We work on our parenting skills.  Being Facebook friends with someone and not acknowledging their presence in real life doesn’t cultivate a relationship anymore than warming a pew on Sunday only to bolt after Mass to get the prime table for coffee and donuts afterward.  Jesus wants a relationship with us and it takes effort.  If we but follow His lead, we too, can see.  And live.  Not just trudge through.  Because once upon a time, He led me through the darkness to the light, He held my hand in Mass as I wrangled 4 children to teach them the Faith and show them that even in the darkest of the dark He will never leave you.  And I am living proof of that.

The Deacon invited all who didn’t have  a legitimate reason to leave immediately following Holy Communion to go ahead and leave.  Now.  A woman behind us exited the pew…..but returned shortly (probably needed a tissue)…..aside from that I didn’t see anyone leave and it was a lot more crowded than usual after the final blessing than usual.  It was a long overdue reminder and one I took to apply personally as well.  If we can’t be present, 100% present in our intentions–because let’s be real, we all have distractions during Mass–but if our intentions aren’t 100% genuine, we need to reflect on WHAT we are doing.  WHAT kind of relationship do we expect with Jesus if we treat him so casually? None of us is perfect and I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve had mind wander during Mass for a zillion and one reasons over my lifetime, but my intentions are genuine.  He has held my hand.  He has carried me through a haze of confusion and desperation and He washed clean my eyes and scrubbed my heart.  He has shown me a life so vivid and full of hope that to live in any other way than to cultivate a relationship with Christ would be choosing blindness after seeing the light.

You see, once I was blind and now I see; that has made every difference in my life.

 

 

 

Saint Nick was Olive

snatched the image from HERE

snatched the image from HERE

There’s a big debate on a newscaster who said that Santa Claus is white….yes, you can merely imagine the uproar over that one, because I’m suuuuuuuuure she had no idea that making a statement like that would start ANY racist discussions at all.  I’m certain.  Right?  Besides, she said she was making a joke and people should lighten up, however…..the comment sure lit up the interwebz.

I am about to make a statement, however, that IS most likely true:  Saint Nicholas was most probably olive, not so white.  Born in the region of the southern coast of Turkey, he would most likely be olive-skinned.  Logistically and realistically speaking.  You can read more about him HERE.  Since Santa Claus’ origin is often tied to St.Nick, it’s odd he’d be “white”, however….SC=fictional, St. Nicholas=real, feel free to make your own judgement.

Also, here’s another newsbreaker:  Jesus Christ was of Middle Eastern descent, which would make him mocha/brown.  Gasp.  All we have to do is  look at  people born in the Middle East, typically they aren’t Nordic looking.  Ammiright?  Again, another odd idea that he’d be the only white man in a sea of not so white people.

While we are on the subject, let’s explore a few other  characters:

Easter Bunny:  unknown color of fur, would it change the basket of chocolate if we knew?

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Tooth Fairy:  unknown color of wings/outfit/hair, etc, does it change the reward per tooth if we had a color scheme?

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Great Pumpkin:  we can only assume orange, but in light of all these odd suggestions, I just don’t know.

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In summary, does color REALLY matter?  It shouldn’t.  If it does, maybe we are focused on the wrong things.  As for me,  when I pray, I’m praying to the PERSON, not to the color.   His promises surpass race, shouldn’t our responses to Him do likewise?

As for all the fictional folk everyone’s worried about, let’s remember; they aren’t real.  This fighting over skin color of someone who is fictional?  Well, that’s just weird.

Jeremiah 29:11  “For I know the plans I have for you”,  says the Lord, “They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

The hole in the roof

Photo credit

This is a repost from my former blog (no longer available…thanks to apple’s “re-do” and nixing their blog template…whatever.  It is from 2 years ago and this gospel is truly one of my favorites.  I’ve been blessed with tremendous friends (and family) and though distance separates me from my besties, I am fortunate to have a few where I am now.  However, the friends you raise your babies with, the friends who hold your hand and let you soak their shoulders with your tears during your darkest days, the friends who speak the truth when it’s the last thing you want to hear, the friends who watch your children, feed you, clean your house and drive with you through a most difficult season in your life……those friends have a forever place in your heart.  Today’s gospel reading makes me think that the paralytic’s friends hold a forever place in his heart.

This morning’s Gospel Reading is from the book of Mark, Chapter 2.  The story of the paralytic who is lowered through the roof by his friends in order that he could be healed by Jesus.  I’ve heard the story many times and today I am struck by so many details.

The crowd was so big the friends could not get close to Jesus.  So, I wonder, “How did they get on the roof?”  If the crowd was so large, did they go to a nearby house and “roof hop” until they were on the right one?  Many of the houses of that time would have been close together.  Was it right next door or 4 houses down?

And their friend, who was paralyzed.  They bring him along the entire way, on a mat.  What is that mat like?  An oversize sling?  A makeshift stretcher with poles to help carry?  Is he holding on for dear life or resting in the anticipation that he just KNOWS these friends are doing him the favor of a lifetime?  Because if he eventually comes DOWN through a roof, he clearly has gone UP on a ladder or stairset and that can’t be easy on anyone, much less a paralytic on a mat.

And the hole itself.  The above image is how I imagine the roof to be.  Now is that roof really strong enough for FOUR men AND their paralyzed friend to stand on while they MAKE A HOLE THROUGH IT?!?!?!?  I mean it is basically sticks thatched together for crying out loud!   And then……..the lowering of the friend!  OH MY!!!  The mess that clearly made.  Was Jesus right under it while straw and roof bits were sprinkling down on him, in his hair or eyes?  Did He calmly continue along with his healing and then just greet the paralyzed man or did He stop and watch the situation play out silently cheering them on in their plan?

How about the people around Jesus waiting for healing of their own?  Clearly there were many, because the men could not get through.  Were they put out?  Thinking, “Hey! We were here first!”  Grumbling amongst themselves?  Or were they in awe of such a crazy plan and kicking themselves that they had not come up with it themselves?

It’s just an amazing story.  And I think of all my friends who have led me through impossible situations, making a hole where there seemed to be no way in and showing me Jesus.  So patiently waiting.  So ready to heal.  And I am overwhelmed with gratitude and tears at the lengths they have gone through to get me here.  And I am up from my own mat, in sight of all the people and we can all praise God, “We have never seen anything like this.” Mark 2:12b

Because sometimes we have to make the extraordinary effort to reach Him.  The One who heals.  The One who patiently waits.  The One who applauds the hole in the roof, mess and all.  And sometimes we get there with the extraordinary measures of those special friends He brings into our lives.  The ones who have carried you through the crowds.  Up the ladder.  Cleared a path, and lowered you through the roof, right to the feet of Jesus.  WOW.

What a way to start the day.  Praise God for His patience.  Praise God for His Love!  Praise God for the friends He brings to our lives.  Praise God for every day we have the opportunity to live out our lives glorifying Him.

Focus on the prize

Thanksgiving week here in the U.S.  Thursday we will give thanks for our many blessings and watch football, spend time with family and friends, and nap after a ridiculously huge and delicious meal.  The next day many will head out and shop ’til they drop, thus signifying the start of a month-long season of eating, drinking and generally living in gluttonous excess in celebration of the birth of Our Saviour.  Weird, huh?

The average weight gain during “the holidays” is reported to be about 7 pounds per American, other studies show its more realistically about a pound…..for my, it’s about 4. Average spending per American is about $700 during the holidays.  No wonder we are all stressed.  I was thinking about all of this the other day and decided THIS year I am approaching the holidays differently.  Much differently.

I enlisted my girlfriend who I work with and another girlfriend who I know does EVERYTHING for EVERYONE all year-long and can use some de-stressing as well.

It’s simple, really.

One day at a time.

  • Focus on regular exercise throughout the remainder of the year.  Shooting for a minimum of 20 minutes a day.  That is NOTHING!!!!!  Just plan it.  A quick 20 minute walk before your day gets going.  20 minutes while dinner is in the over.  20 minutes after dinner.  Whatever.  The time is there.  Just do it.
  • Healthy eating choices.  Log food or plan it out.  Be AWARE of what is going in.  So much temptation.  Ask yourself, “is it worth it”?

This season is about Jesus.  Let us focus on Him.  Let us treat our bodies as the Temples they are.  If we don’t take care of ourselves, how in the WORLD can we love and take care of those around us???  The airlines don’t tell us to put our own oxygen on first and then the kids for nothing…

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

19 Or do you not know that your body is a [a]temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from [b]God, and that you are not your own? 20 For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.

I plan on blogging throughout the month-ish and re-blogging encouraging and inspirational blogs as well to cheer us on.  Be blessed.  Don’t stress.

To encourage you….this morning I did 20 minutes of P90X Cardio X.  20 minutes.  It’s what I had time for.  Bring it!

The piano recital that wasn’t…

Yesterday afternoon my oldest daughter and I went to support her BFF at her first piano recital (we thought).  It was at a local church and her piano teacher is the music director at the church (I think).  As it turned out, the recital was actually a fund raiser for the church with a variety of musical talent performing.    (my friend–mom of daughter’s BFF–was unaware as well).  Either way, after the 2nd act I realized this was a) going to be longer than the 1 hour I told Hubby and b) he was going to have to make pizza for dinner.  Getting all the dinner texting out of the way, my daughter and I settled in to the most wonderful treat of an afternoon.

In addition to her BFF playing piano, only 8 months in and did a lovely job, we were also blessed by the following acts:

A group of 8 women singing in harmony first to a traditional hymn and then led by one of the women singing an African-American gospel “Down in my Soul” that gave me goosebumps to my bones and hands that began clapping on their own.  This youtube video is a good idea of the song, you have to get past the first 2 minutes or so of talking…..

A Rock Band playing LOUD.  playing WELL.  and glorifying God in every note.  The kicker was “I can only imagine”, by MercyMe.  UGH.  That song slays me!!!  My daughter thought it was pretty cool that there were likely some kids that were able to say their grandpas were in a band—since they were about grandpa’s age.

A 93-year old Baritone singing in a lovely and heart stirring DEEP voice in memory of his late wife, supported by his two daughters and wife’s childhood friend.  I felt a tear…

After some technical difficulties and delaying his act a few times, a young man, choreographed and danced to He wants it all.  Not only was the song fantastic, but the young man’s strength, grace and God-glorifying routine was heart stirring.  He had to leave for another performance immediately after his spot, so I was unable to praise him personally (I’ll do it here).  WOW!

A singer/actor, Harry Burney, performed a song he wrote “Changed my Name” hearkening back to Christian slaves and what it means to be Christian.  Not an easy road.  But one taken trusting that Jesus will guide each step of the way.  Spectacular.  Riveting.

A trumpeting missionary, in which I had to actually get up to make sure it was truly a trumpet, it was played so softly and gently, accompanied by the piano, I swear I could hear it sing!

A legally blind pianist playing first classical, “Rhapsody in Blue” and followed up by “I love being here with you” joined in by the band….in B flat, the bridge in D.  She was a hoot!!

A mime.  At this point, my daughter moved from our seats in the last row to join her friend in the front row because her friend was a afraid of clowns.  Please.  She knew what she was doing.  Front and center.  And that guy was mind-blowing.  I thanked him after the show, to which his reply, “To God be the glory”.  And yes.  It was!  Who knew?!?!?

A group jam to “Shackles” finished up the afternoon and I felt like not only did I start my day with the Lord at Mass, I finished it up with an eclectic group of people sharing in their gifts and talents to further worshipping and glorifying God in spite of this world, it’s trials and tribulations.  His goodness and mercy reign.

I can’t think of a better way to end the day with my sweet girl.

Motivation. Encouragement. Give and take circle.

This weekend we watched a fantastic sermon by an Evangelical preacher, Nick Vujicic.  If you’ve not heard of him, or his book Life without Limbs,  do yourself a favor and check him out.  We were introduced to him two-fold: 1)My son’s AMAZING 5th grade teacher gifted him with Nick’s book and 2) at a similar time my husband watched a video of a sermon of his.  The message was simple and true:  the “things” we think that will fill the hole in our lives to bring happiness will NEVER fill the “GOD-shaped” hole in our hearts.  One of the many examples was Nick praying repeatedly in his life for arms and legs.  “If I only had arms and legs, God, THEN I would be happy.”  And then he asked the audience, “YOU have arms and legs.  Are YOU happy?”  The grass is always greener on the other side, isn’t it?

And so, we discussed with the kids the message.  The examples.  The Truth that Christ brings into our lives and the fulfillment we receive when we live out our lives stepping out in faith that the One who brought us out of the darkness WILL bring us to an everlasting joy.  Our time here is fleeting and what awaits us is so far beyond our wildest hopes and dreams.  While we are trekking through this life though, motivating each other to take one more step, encouraging each other on through hardships and difficulty, we spread Christ’s message through our actions, examples and words.  It starts at home and we are to be content in what we are given and to use those gifts to their maximum.  Life comes full circle.  When we are in need, we receive and when we encounter misfortune we do what we can to provide comfort and aid.  If the man with no arms and no legs can overcome depression and live his life for the glory of God, surfing, getting married and bringing 500,000 people to know Jesus, can we not look within and live our own lives maximizing the gifts we have been given?

For me, my own excuses the last few days in response to whatever tasks lie in front of me, have sounded hollow, empty and weak.  Because, He has far more in mind for me than excuses.

Hebrews 3:13

But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

**all photos pulled from the web, from Nick’s website and general Google search!

Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday.  Onset of lots of extra people in church.  (JK, but true!)  Beginning of Holy Week.

Jesus enters Jerusalem lauded and anticipated as the possible Messiah with welcoming adoration of  “Hosanna”.  Before the week’s end the same crowd will call for His death, “Crucify him!  Crucify him!”. We are fickle people.  Repeating the same steps, day in, day out.  2000 years later.  Joyful anticipation of Easter, Resurrection Sunday.  Deaf to how He calls us to live our life.  To walk the Talk.  Living out our faith beyond the pew.  Accepting our differences.  Forgiving our faults.  Encouraging those mustard seeds to take root and offer rest and shade to all who are weary as that seed blooms to the giant tree.  Before we celebrate the empty tomb, the Risen Lord, we must experience the betrayal, the condemnation, the pain and suffering and the Death of Jesus.  On a Cross.  Obedient unto death.  So that we may live.  So that we may receive the strength, courage, grace and hope to make it through this life with the hope of Heaven when these days are over.   It’s a tough week.  It’s a powerful ending.

Many blessings as we enter into this holiest of weeks.  And, as the Pope said in his Palm Sunday message,May Palm Sunday be a day of decision for you, the decision to say yes to the Lord and to follow him all the way, the decision to make his Passover, his death and resurrection, the very focus of your Christian lives. ”