Fear, Hope, and Being Sent

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” (John 20:19)

It is Sunday evening, the third day after Jesus died. The disciples are gathered together in fear and confusion. Unsure of their next step. The one they thought Messiah, dead and buried – executed like a common criminal and lying in a tomb. Their leader gone and what remained was an overwhelming sense of shame because they knew they had deserted Jesus in his hour of need. And now they lived in fear. Fear of the next knock on the door. Fear of having left everything to follow Jesus…now what? A fear that seeps into the deepest regions of their being, hardening hearts and stiffening limbs; locking doors. Continue reading

The burden of forgiveness

Forgiveness is one of those fundamental lessons we try to teach our kids from an early age: when siblings bicker or hurt each other, or if friends break a toy. And at the same time, we should ever be aware that we have not exactly mastered the art of forgiveness. The ability to forgive is a learning experience that often takes a lifetime. It’s not easy, but perhaps it’s not meant to be easy. Showing compassion and understanding in a world through which we cautiously pass takes an open heart instead of the guarded one we often carry. Continue reading

The entire room

Last week I wrote that if Lent was about making “room for God” — and that is a good start — then the Easter season and beyond should be about coming to realize that God is the entire room! “God should be not merely the reference point but the whole context out of which we operate. God is not merely the source of our existence, he is the substance of our existence, the very life we have, and without God we would be lifeless, even if we are alive. Put another way, if Jesus is not Lord of all, he is not Lord at all.” Continue reading

Thinking about Mercy

jesus-divine-mercyPope Francis has declared a Jubilee Year of Mercy to begin on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception this December 8th . In Judaism and Christianity, the Jubilee is a special year of remission of sins, forgiving debts, and reconciling broken relationships. It is a year in which the people of God are asked to especially make manifest the mercy of God. So maybe, here at the beginning, it is a good time to think about the meaning of “mercy.”

Merriam-Webster offers that mercy is the “forbearance shown especially to an offender or to one subject to one’s power.” Sadly, that is the limit of how many understand God: the grim judge who is holding back power and punishment even though we deserve it. Such an understanding never gives any insight into the nature of God or his divine motivation or desire. But we do know about God’s desire – He desires that all be saved (1 Tim 2:4). And so the people of God have been reflecting on such things for a while. Continue reading

The Divine Prom

christ-dancing-christianLast week I wrote that if Lent was about making “room for God” – and that is a good start – then the Easter season and beyond should be about coming to realize that God is the entire room! “God should be not merely the reference point but the whole context out of which we operate. God is not merely the source of our existence, he is the substance of our existence, the very life we have, and without God we would be lifeless, even if we are alive. Put another way, if Jesus is not Lord of all, he is not Lord at all.” Continue reading

Lord of All

Last week I wrote that if Lent was about making “room for God” – and that is a good start – then the Easter season and beyond should be about coming to realize that God is the entire room! “God should be not merely the reference point but the whole context out of which we operate. God is not merely the source of our existence, he is the substance of our existence, the very life we have, and without God we would be lifeless, even if we are alive. Put another way, if Jesus is not Lord of all, he is not Lord at all.”

I think St. Francis understood that God is not just the philosophical construct as the “ground of being,” but the One who gives us life every day, is the reason we get up in the morning, and is the focus of our praise. God is both our creator and our redeemer. Both our raison d’etre and the reason why we do what we do. God is both the source of love and the sort of love we should have and express. God is the overwhelming, awesome, all-loving being that can sweep our lives into wholeness, completeness, and rest. He is Lord of all. Continue reading