“I was sick, and you visited Me”

Tip of the Day:

Visit a friend in the hospital, nursing home or homebound.  At least call him or her.

Verse of the Day:

           

Bible Readings for Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Lent

 

Reflection of the Day:

Our words are not as powerful and miraculous as Jesus telling a man to pick up his mat and walk, but let’s not underestimate the healing power of solidarity with someone who is ill and suffering. Emotional or psychological isolation and separation are added burdens to many who are struggling with serious illnesses.

 

Love Your Neighbor As Yourself

Tip of the Day:     

Think of somebody in a difficult situation – maybe a neighbor, maybe a relative, maybe a stranger whom you pass on the sidewalk or by the side of the road. Don’t just walk by today or put off reaching out until tomorrow.  Reach out as you would like to be helped if you were in that difficulty situation. 

 

Verse of the Day:   

 

Bible Readings for Friday of the Third Week of Lent

 

Reflection of the Day:    

We religious people, many times, make religion too complicated.  It’s good that God bursts through and calls us back to basics: Love God a whole lot and love each other as we want to be loved. Sometimes, I don’t exactly know what it means to love God.  I’m not sure if I should buy Jesus a birthday present on Christmas.  Should I send God a Valentine’s Day card? So I’m still figuring that out.  I do know what it means to love others, so I’ll concentrate on that.  Because even though I know what it means – most of the time, it still isn’t easy and I don’t always get it right.  But as I keep trying, I realize again this is part of the way that I actually keep the first commandment of loving God. God doesn’t expect a Christmas birthday present, but does expect us to love one another. We can do this year round, but Lent is a great time to get this on the right track.

Focus on God and NOT on You

Tip of the day:

Take 15 minutes to read the Bible today.  In the first 5 minutes read both Jeremiah 7:23-28 and Luke 11:14-23. In the next 5 minutes pick one verse that strikes you and think about it the last 5 minutes to figure out one concrete way you will follow up on that verse.

 

Verse of the day:

         

 Bible Readings for Thursday of the Third Week of Lent

 

Reflection of the day:

Thanks to the printing press the Bible became the all-time bestseller. I haven’t yet seen the comps on the e-version or social media fronts. It’s o.k. that the Bible doesn’t top Beyonce’s prego announcement breaking the one-day Instagram record.  I’m betting on the Bible’s staying power long after Bey’s kids are grown. (No offense meant to Bey or her kids.) Despite its popularity, getting at the Bible’s meaning takes effort. You can’t put it under your pillow and get the message through osmosis. You need to open the book, or download the file and READ or LISTEN to it. There is no other way. Sorry. And because it was written a long time ago some of it is hard to decipher – and not to mention it’s a long book.  O.k. all this is true, but the Bible is life-giving, so it’s worth the discipline of reading and listening to it. What I don’t get, I’ll let God fill in the blanks.  It’s worth the discipline.

 

Can We Truly Forgive and Forget?

 

 Tell someone who has hurt you that forgive them and are no longer angry.

 Click here for today’s readings.

Who is there like you, the God who removes guilt
and pardons sin for the remnant of his inheritance;
Who does not persist in anger forever,
but delights rather in clemency

I often have discussions about the difference between “forgiving” and “forgetting.”  I am pretty strong in my perspective on this.  I am never going to forget what Dick Fisher did to me in 6th grade.  He pushed me over in the playground and then got a group of his friends to threaten to beat me up.  Fortunately, it did not amount to much.  But I won’t forget it.  However, within a month I forgave him.  I could give scores of example, some much more significant than that , but I just want to make my point.  We can forgive without forgetting. Let me go a little further with a concept that is murkier – letting go. Sometimes we can spiritually or intellectually forgive, without emotionally letting go. I do believe that spiritual forgiveness can sometimes be an important step toward letting go emotionally. It’s not the whole journey but sometimes a liberating first step.  While I am not a counselor or therapist, I professionally interact with enough people to know how valuable they are in helping people to let go. Sometimes we can only let go with the help of another.  Sometimes that is a friend or family member but other times it is a professional counselor. Don’t be afraid to ask for help of give the help when  you notice someone needs it. Maybe Lent can be a time to take that step if needed.  I will probably come back to more on this later in Lent.     

 

Why Do We Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day

Much celebrating for many today.  Do ONE less “celebratory act” to remind ourselves of the sacrifice Jesus made for us on Good Friday.

Click here for today’s reading.

 

The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
by the Lord has this been done,
and it is wonderful in our eyes?

 

is a big deal in New York, Boston, Chicago and Savannah (Go figure that one out!).  Did you know that the first Irish Associations in the Unites States founded in Boston and New York had among their original missions: “to help the needy?”  Throughout the past century and to this day most major charitable events – Non-Catholic and Catholic alike – count Irish-Americans among the list of major donors.  This year, the New York St. Patrick’s Day Parade is dedicated to The Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York as it celebrates its Centennial.  This is so fitting because one son of Irish immigrants, Cardinal Hayes, earned the title, Cardinal of Charity, for his attention to growing Catholic Charities in the early part of the 20th century.  The story of charity in New York can only be accurately told by paying tribute to the work of women religious, many of whom were the daughters of Irish immigrants.  None of this can be accomplished without the discipline of self-sacrifice for the sake of helping others, either through direct personal service or through generous philanthropy.

Listen and Trust in God

Take ten minutes take and just quietly tell God how much you are counting on him. Listen to him tell you he’ll be there for you.

 Click here for today’s reading.

Blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose hope is the LORD.

 It’s not exacerbating to say we have crises with many of our major institutions. This post is not the place for a major expose, but let me just mention a few to make my point. 

Business:  Enron and the sub-prime mortgage debacle;  Media: MSNBC, FOXNews, HuffPost & Daily Caller (Yes, now all sides can be upset, but in my opinion neither of those sources can be relied for anything close to accuracy.);  Politicians:  I don’t even have to mention names; Religion: clergy scandals and inter-religious violence; Education: Poorly educating public school and skyrocketing higher education costs. 

I think my point is made.  But the response it tricky – it is not to become an ostrich or total naysayer.  It is to continue to slog through these and make our parts of them decent AND every step of the way to turn to God’s abiding presence in even the darkest of situations.  God walks with us, but sometimes we are too pre-occupied with trying to solve the problems on our own and are narcissistically self-absorbed to notice and listen and take comfort in God’s nearness.  

Hard Work & Sacrifice

At work, school, family there’s always a pecking order.  Pick somebody down the food chain from each of us. Today do something to help that person..

 Click here for today’s reading.

Whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant;

whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.

Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve

and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Being great servants makes a nice holy card, but not in real life.  There are the C-suites, seats in Church sanctuaries, inner circle tables at banquets, private banking floors, platinum memberships for early plane boarding, etc.  These are what we strive for.  We were taught by our families to work hard and get ahead.  Our schools drive competition to be at the top of class.  Thank God – but more precisely thank Jesus. He decided that being on top meant climbing to the top of Calvary’s hill and hanging on a cross so that He could save the world and all in it.  He accepted a different way for our sake.  Too bad it didn’t end there.  He has insisted that His disciples – you and me – need to follow his example.  These 40 days are the time to give this a more serious attempt.

Try to Make a Change

Think of your most long-standing and hard to change behavior.  Try to figure out how not to do it for one day only – today.

Click here for today’s reading. 

Wash yourselves clean!

Put away your misdeeds…

cease doing evil; learn to do good.

Make justice your aim.

I am not sure that the adage, “the path to hell is paved with good intentions” is accurate.  God’s pretty good at reading our hearts, and if they are in the right place, I think we are in good shape with God. Having said that – good intentions need to be reflected in good actions that put those intentions into practice. This requires the discipline to do so; to not get distracted by whatever our excuse is this time. Lent is the perfect opportunity to undertake some sacrifices that get us out of our own way to get us more in tune with God and others.

Learning to Forgive

Take 10 minutes to quietly pray and while praying think of one person who has wronged you.  Ask God to help you to let go and forgive.

Click here for today’s reading. 

“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful…
For the measure with which you measure
will in return be measured out to you.”

So many “religious” roads lead to the same answer:  love your neighbor as yourself, do unto others as you would have them do unto you; measure out to others as you want to be measured; forgive us our trespasses as we forgive others.  I think you get it.  But yet, on the highway, I am kind of happy when the other guy who sped pass me gets a ticket and at the same time I want mercy for me when I get pulled over by the highway police.  I do think this is harder for some of us than others and I think for many of us we can do it in some areas and not so much in others.  Lent is the time for each of us to examine those areas in which have a hard time treating others the way we want to be treated?  And for those of us who generally find this hard, we need to pick at least one area, or person, and focus on doing it God’s way toward that person, or in that area.

Discipline Takes Practice. Keep Going.

Let’s think about our most vexing fault and today – with God’s help – avoid it.  And then, try it again tomorrow too.

Click here for today’s reading:

 

Ezekiel 18:21-28

 Thus says the Lord GOD:
If the wicked man turns away from all the sins he committed, 
if he keeps all my statutes and does what is right and just,
he shall surely live, he shall not die. 

God really does want to save us. He knows that we can be bad. Some of us more than others.  Maybe a few (hopefully) deserve to actually be called “wicked.” I’ll leave that designation to God, but God even wants those designated as wicked to turn and he’ll forgive them.  I’m sure he will forgive my sins – if I turn and ask, but sometimes I’m stubborn and don’t want to admit I need God’s mercy.  Lent is a good time to discipline myself and remember.