An Everyday Stewardship Reflection for 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time
My wife is on the shorter side so she has always had a great love for the story of Zacchaeus, the wealthy tax collector that was too small to see Jesus over the crowd so he climbed a tree in order to see better. For many years she was a catechist and loved telling that story to children because by their age alone they were short.
My wife and Zacchaeus are proof that good things come in small packages. But Zacchaeus’ size is not why Jesus showed him favor. It was his faith in Jesus and his eagerness to serve Him.
Climbing a tree is not always a safe way to gain a better vantage point to see. But if you were really moved to see someone very important, you might risk it. Hosting someone in your house that you admire or want desperately to please can be nerve-racking. But the chance to be near them and show them your love makes it all worth it. And it is not an easy commitment to change one’s entire life and become a new person. But if you believed that the one asking you was the source of all life, the commitment might be seen as a necessity.
We should pray everyday for the desire and excitement of Zacchaeus when it comes to our relationship with Jesus Christ.
If we are intentional disciples, we have had an encounter with the Lord much like Zacchaeus. However, our decision to live a stewardship way of life can sometimes be delayed. If we are like Zacchaeus, our sheer love of Christ will propel us to give all we have to Him and resolve to live transformed lives of generosity. No matter how small we are it is the enormity of our love for God, and His love for us, that makes all the difference.
When the recent Olympics were held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, much was made of the difficulties leading up to and continuing during the games: the Zika virus, crime, lack of funds, etc. In fact, it seemed to many that most of the talk up until the first medals were awarded had nothing to do with the crux of the event to take place: the gathering of the best athletes in the world from over two hundred countries in celebration of sportsmanship and human achievement. Also, the picture presented of Rio was so negative in nature, many wondered why such a city was chosen to host the games. But once the Olympics began, we became mesmerized by the talents of so many. And (more…)
An Everyday Stewardship Reflection for 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time
There was a movie a few years back entitled, Fever Pitch, where Jimmy Fallon played a devoted Red Sox fan. He was so loyal and consumed by the Red Sox, it was a huge obstacle to any romantic relationship he tried to start.
In the end, he found a partner in a woman, played by Drew Barrymore, who was able to deal with his devotion once he showed he was willing to give up his season tickets for her. In fact, she came to love how he cared about something so much, realizing few people care that much about anything.
Loyalty to a sports team can be tested when wins are hard to come by. But true fans never forsake their teams. They cheer them on through the good times and the bad.
The extreme loyalty of the most faithful sports fan gives us only a glimpse of the loyalty God has for us.
If everyone chooses to desert us, God remains faithful to His own. This reality should have such an impact on our lives because we never need to fear the obstacles and trials ahead.
The life of a disciple is not an easy one. People will sometimes find our faithfulness unsettling or it may make them feel uncomfortable. They may choose to walk away rather than hear about this Jesus that seems all-consuming. But the loyalty and faithfulness of God can be your strength. In Him you will find the strength to run the race and reach the finish line.
And when you cross that finish line, God will be there: your coach, your teammate, and your greatest fan. Think about what happened to the Red Sox after so many years of disappointment.
Even when it seems you have no chance to win, God knows if you stick to the game plan, the prize will be yours.
Several days ago I had the privilege of presenting a series of workshops for the diocesan congress of the Diocese of Fresno. This annual event brings together clergy and religious, professional and volunteer ministers, and young adults from around that diocese for a time of formation, catechesis, and renewal. It was a wonderful event and one that I hope more dioceses will plan in the coming years, especially because it gave the participants an opportunity to engage new ideas and develop new skills for ministry. (more…)
“The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear?” (Psalm 27)
Professional skier, Lindsey Vonn, was recently asked, “Why do you think you’re one of the best female skiers in the world?” Rather than a platitude about work ethic, she simply said, “I have no fear on the mountain.”
It’s our natural impulse be afraid in perilous situations, and in fact some fear can be healthy and keep us focused – like not texting and driving because you fear a fatal crash. But sometimes too much fear can be paralyzing or lead to bad decisions.
When Vonn gets on the skis and starts atop the mountain, she is surely taking a risk. One wrong move and she could be seriously hurt or worse. But the fullest enjoyment of her sport depends upon her not caving into fear. She skis boldly, with single-mindedness, and she wins – a lot.
In 1 John 4.18, we are told “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. ” We follow the highest example of perfect love in Jesus Christ. But it would be mistaken to say that Jesus had no fear – he sweat drops of blood on the night he was betrayed and prayed that the Father would take his sacrifice away. But Jesus did not let fear drive him away from loving perfectly. It did not paralyze him or keep him from doing the right thing.
We are fed a steady diet of bad news on the television and Internet. Fear mongering sells subscriptions and gets clicks. Signs of hope and love are almost always below the fold because the media marketers know we’ll more readily click on the bad stuff. It’s no wonder we are often on edge in our society.
The great gift of life in Christ is that we really don’t have anything to fear. St. Paul says “to live is Christ, to die is gain.” Not even death. And if we direct our lives toward perfect love, we will have little time or cause to be afraid.
Chuck Frost is Pastoral Associate at St. Andrew’s Catholic Church in Roanoke, Virginia. Chuck was received into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church in 2000 after spending 10 years as a United Methodist Pastor in Mississippi and Alaska. After becoming Catholic, Chuck served for 9 years as Diocesan Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of Savannah, GA. Chuck has a MDiv from Duke Divinity School.
Last week, I had the honor and privilege of hearing Immaculee Ilibagiza speak at a fundraising dinner for Room at the Inn of the Triad, a home for single pregnant women that have no where else to turn.
I had wanted to hear Immaculee for some time now, but my travels always seemed to take me in directions that did not cross hers. Her story and the wit with which she tells it are beyond inspirational. Her witness of faith is tremendous and an example of how God can use tragedy to bring light to the darkness.
If you have never read her story, I urge you to at least visit her website. Sometimes, people cross our path and they impact us in a way that is profound. To hear Immaculee’s witness is simply an honor.
An Everyday Stewardship Reflection for 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time
The Book of Exodus recounts the story of Moses telling Joshua to lead his men into battle against Amalek in defense of Israel. The sign that God was with them would be Moses on a hilltop with his hands raised holding the staff of God. If his hands were to fall, then Amalek would have the advantage and Israel would be defeated.
As time wore on, the arms of Moses grew strained, so Aaron and Hur provided a rock for Moses to sit on and they each supported an arm. His hands then remained steady until evening fell. Joshua defeated Amalek and Israel survived.
This story reminds me of Good Friday at my home parish, where altar servers hold candles on each side of the cross while the people come forward for veneration. It is a long time to stand there, so there are many servers that switch places so the burden is lighter. Without one’s fellow servers, it would be too much for some of the less experienced and weaker ones.
This is how it is with the Body of Christ. Without all of us playing our part and supporting one another, we are susceptible to defeat. When one of us is tired and growing weak, then our brothers and sisters in Christ need to be there to hold us up.
Too often the Church, and in particular the parish community, suffers undo pain and hardship because some members of the Body choose to withhold their gifts. But if we are to be “Christ” to the world, then we all need to play our part in the Body. Together we will serve the Lord in a way that cannot only transform us, but the world in which we live. Together we are strong, even against the greatest of all contrary forces.
“Taxation without representation”—a battle cry for justice before the Revolutionary War! But it isn’t the late 1700s! Why would that be a bumper sticker in 2016? The answer depends not on the date, but the place. We were driving in Washington, DC. After seeing that bumper sticker this summer, the discussion that followed brought up many questions. There must be some way that the voice of the people can be heard in the center city of our democratic government. There must be a mayor. There must be a city council. Are these citizens paying taxes to the federal government with no representation? Driving behind this car with its bumper sticker certainly brought our attention to their situation … at least for a few minutes. (more…)
Today is a great day! This year the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary falls on the first Friday of October, which is also World Smile Day. The two have nothing to do with one another? I think you are mistaken.
Tradition holds that in the early 13th century, Our Lady appeared to St. Dominic and presented to him the prayer of the Rosary. The devotion was to be used to fight evil, increase holiness, and help us grow closer to Her Son, Jesus.
The devotion spread throughout the world with the help of saints and Popes that saw how humanity needed such a wonderful gift.
In the early 1960’s, Harvey Ball was asked to create a campaign to boost the morale in the State Mutual Life Assurance Company of Worcester, Massachusetts. He then created the Smiley with the intention that it would bring a smile to many a face and lead to just a little bit more happiness around the office. As the years have gone by, this practice of doing just a small act of kindness to make someone smile on the first Friday of October evolved into World Smile Day. In today’s world, it seems more important than ever to try to bring joy into a cynical and angry world.
The point is that we are given instruments all the time by our God to fight the good fight, to repel that which is evil, and to bring the Light of Christ into the world. On this day, one instrument may seem more significant than another, but do not underestimate the value of both. I would never choose a Smiley face pin over the Rosary. However, both have a part to play in the way I interact with my God and His people.
Imagine if today we told five people that we wanted to pray for them tonight. It wouldn’t have to be anyone in particular. In fact, it could be five random people in your life at the office, in school, or family. You could remember one person for each decade of the rosary you would then pray this evening. I think saying you wanted to remember them in you’re praying of the Rosary might make them smile, especially if they ask, “Why me?” and you then responded, “Because you are a special person.” Wow, WSD and Our Lady of the Rosary in one day!
May you find peace and joy on this Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary and may it shine forth on your face with a SMILE!
An Everyday Stewardship Reflection for 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time
I remember when I was young my Mother would make sure I wrote thank you notes to anyone and everyone I could. I would write a thank you note for a gift at Christmas. I would write a thank you note for the gift of time to a teacher or guidance counselor.