The Way to High Places

A couple of years ago I went hiking the high places of Summit County, Colorado. Tramping and hiking the old-fashioned way – with USGS topo map and compass.  On one of the days we headed out for Eccles Pass at the summit of the Meadow Creek trail, about 13,500 feet.  Once we got above 11,000 feet the trail and the markers were mostly covered in an early October snow.  Easy to lose your way.

It was at that point we ran into some other folks.  While we were headed to the Pass, they were looking for Lilly Pad Lake.  We had been there the day before and knew that it was about 2,500 feet lower in elevation and about 4 miles or so East.  They were hiking the new-fangled way with a hand-held GPS device.  And they showed us the dots on the screen and assured us the lake was nearby. Continue reading

A Promise big enough to save

 “The days are coming…[when] Judah will be made safe and Jerusalem shall dwell secure.” Such was the promise of the prophet Jeremiah to the beleaguered people of the City of David under the ominous cloud of war and death – the power of the Egyptian King Neco to the south and the armies of the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar to the north and east.  That was then. Where are the prophets now when Jerusalem is a divided city and the missiles of enemies have the City of David within their reach. Are the prophets now replaced by the anti-missile technology? Those system promise to protect Israel, but it cannot promise to save Israel, to make Jerusalem safe and secure.

There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on earth nations will be in dismay, perplexed by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will die of fright in anticipation of what is coming upon the world.” Continue reading

Choosing your world

 “Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom does not belong to this world. If my kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not here.’” (John 18:36)

I suspect that for most of my life, I have understood Jesus’ words as saying, my kingdom is not in this world, but is in the next; not a matter of earthly concerns, but of heavenly ones. In other words, all this will pass away, and, in the end, there will only be heaven. But then Scripture promises a new heaven and new earth… Turns out the Greek word used, kosmos, include our traditional understanding of heaven and earth …. hmmm. What to make of “does not belong to this world?” Continue reading

How much longer?

How much longer? It is easy to understand how it would be the question for people “In those days after that tribulation [when] the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from the sky, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.”  It is not a stretch to imagine how in the midst of such terrible days, even the faithful people will lament, “How much longer?”

It’s certainly not a new question. In fact, it’s one that has lingered in the minds of people throughout all history. Adam and Eve…. how much longer do we live in shame? Noah…. till I find dry land and a new start? Abraham and Sarah…. till we have a family to call our own? Moses and Aaron…. till we reach the promised land? The question is repeated throughout salvation history. “How much longer” is a question belonging to anyone who simply longs to be redeemed. It’s for anyone who wants a complete life in an incomplete world. Continue reading

Unnoticed

Our gospel is known as the story of the Widow’s Mite. As you just heard, a widow donates two small coins, while wealthy people donate much more. A common explanation of the story is that Jesus praises the poor widow and holds her up as an example to us all because she gave “her whole livelihood.” So even though the rich people gave more, it was just for show and only from their chump change. Not the widow, she is “all in” in what she gives to God. The moral of the story is that small sacrifices of the poor mean more to God than the extravagant donations of the rich. And so, I could have a seat at this point, leave you to think about your weekly offering, your APA pledge… are you giving chump change, or are your contributing your whole livelihood? I could but there is more here than meets the eye. Continue reading

Living the Great Commandments

As part of our morning prayer as a community of Friars, we read the names aloud for the friars who passed away on the given day. This weekend marks the 6th anniversary of the passing of one of the true characters and legends of our Franciscan province. Brother Juniper Capece was a friar for 60 years, was our provincial tailor, and was the keeper of many of the stories of the friars – you know, the ones that never get written down, but bring everyone to tears because we are laughing so hard. Continue reading

Why do we stay?

Finding-the-NileAre you smarter than a 5th grader? OK, what is the longest river in the world? Gotta’ be the Nile River, right? It flows 1,700 miles from Khartoum, Sudan to the Mediterranean Sea – and that is just where the White and Blue Niles meet. You can follow the White Nile south to Lake Victoria bordering Uganda… and then the arguments begin on what is the source of any river. Clearly rivers, streams, and the like flow into Lake Victoria – do you get to keep following the water flow? Even as recently as 2006 the geographers and cartographers were seeking the “headwaters of the Nile River.” The most recent claim is a muddy hole in Nyungwe Forest in southwest Rwanda. The forest area is spectacular, the muddy hole not so much. Personally, I would have taken Lake Victoria as the headwater. Think about it: a great lake giving greatness to the greatest river. Continue reading

Seeing God

Somewhere along the way of life, we adults lost a thing or two. Perhaps, it is part of maturation. But then again, maybe we simply lost something valuable. For the second time Jesus has announced to the disciples that he will suffer, die, and rise again after three days. What follows is either a remarkable calm, a stunned silence, an amazing lack of curiosity, a moment of “what did he just say” as a cover for lack of understanding, or maybe it is just fear.  I always wonder that if a child had been there, curiosity would have piqued interest, especially that whole “rise again after three days.” I easily imagine a child saying, “You’re gonna’ rise from the dead? Cool! How’s that?” Continue reading

Live into the answer

There are lots of things about our Faith that I heard/inherited/was taught. The classic from the Baltimore Catechism was (Q.) Why did God make you? (A.) God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in heaven.  I have known the answer to that question for more than 60 years. It is a great question and Sr. Mary Lawrence assured me it was the perfect answer. Continue reading