Dinner With Strangers

Posted on April 25, 2017 by - The Main Thing

This post was written by Main Thing contributor Chuck Frost.

My wife and I had a late work day last week, so I decided to swing by a drive-thru and grab a sandwich for dinner. In front of me was a car with roughly 20 bumper stickers on the back. Some of the stickers didn’t make sense to me, but most of them were related to video games that I am familiar with.

The young man in the car was a little unkempt and I imagined he probably spent a good amount of time behind the computer with headphones on. Admittedly my mind went to gamer stereotypes, which are mostly untrue, but still embedded in pop culture. (more…)

Believing the Unbelievable

Posted on April 21, 2017 by - The Main Thing

An Everyday Stewardship Reflection for 2nd Sunday of Easter / Divine Mercy Sunday

St. Thomas and JesusDue to the constant unchecked flow of data and information through the internet, it can be hard to know when a story is real news or rubbish. It never ceases to amaze me when someone I know has bought into some crazy fake news story.

Sometimes the story is just so unbelievable: celebrities who gained 200 pounds in a month, women having babies who were never pregnant, or people actually being seen who are dead! Like Elvis!

The apostle Thomas found the news that Jesus was alive just too far-fetched to believe. But he didn’t first hear the news on the Internet or read it standing in the grocery store checkout line. His friends told him. His fellow apostles told him they had actually seen the Lord with their own eyes.

But their testimony was not enough. Thomas needed proof.

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You Can’t Give What You Don’t Have

Posted on April 20, 2017 by - The Main Thing

Post By Steve Botsford

Personal CommunionIt’s true with just about everything. Money. Love. Education. Personal Communion.

Wait…personal communion?

During this Easter Season, we have an opportunity to dig deeper into the meaning of faith. We begin with the reflection on The Road to Emmaus. In a recent post, I mentioned the term “companion” and it’s Latin meaning, “with bread.” Jesus is our companion. He is always with us as the Bread of Life.

One of the highlights of my adult life was my confirmation into the Catholic Church during the Easter Vigil in 1992. As I reflect on all those who came into the Church Saturday night, I recall my life during that time. It was my adult decision to enter into the fullness of faith as a Catholic. My entry to God’s family happened several years earlier when I was baptized and that decision was confirmed that night.

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We Are an Easter People

Posted on April 16, 2017 by - The Main Thing

Easter PeopleAt Easter, we celebrate that Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, conquered death, rose from the dead, and remains very much alive. To the world of non-believers: WHAT!?! It is quite a big reality to swallow. But for the believer, it is a reality that inspires us to the point where we find ourselves constantly sharing the Gospel with everyone we meet! Right?

So what does Easter mean to you? The question is not what do you believe. The question is what impact does Easter have on you? How do your actions demonstrate the power of Easter? What does it mean we you hear that we, the Church, are an Easter People?

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The Truth Will Set You Free

Posted on April 5, 2017 by - The Main Thing

Post by Steve Botsford

“If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples,
and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free,” John 8:31-32

The Truth Will Set You FreeIn today’s Gospel reading Jesus tells the Jews who believe in him a simple formula for success. It is so simple, however, that it can almost seem impossible to completely understand. How is a good steward to interpret this statement?

Literally

The word “if” could almost be taken as a threat, for “if” one does not remain in his word one will not be set free.

The word “remain” could mean that one could be set free unless they do not “remain” in his word.

The word “word” could mean the scriptures as we sometimes refer to scripture or the bible, yet, the “word” might refer to Jesus himself, as we understand Jesus as the “word” of God.

“Truly” could mean that one might possibly could be a disciple but not “truly.”

And so on. Imaginably, we could be overthinking it!

In Context

Ironically, the Jews listened but didn’t hear. They listened to Jesus literally and missed the point entirely! Jesus wasn’t talking about literal slavery or earthen fathers. He was talking about doing the RIGHT THING! He was saying to follow him as the way, the truth and the life, and they would be free from the slavery of sin.

The Good News

We can also interpret today’s gospel within the context of the Good News. When we read The Appearance on the Road to Emmaus in Luke 24:13-35, we see Jesus as a companion on our faith Journey. The Latin meaning for companion is derived from two words: com meaning “with” and panis meaning “bread.”

With bread. As we recall in the Bread of Life Discourse, “Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.” John 6:35.

As we continue our faith journey this Lent, perhaps we should consider our companion for the journey. We are never alone as long as we are receiving, and walking with, the Bread of Life.

Lord, in my effort to become a better disciple, a mature steward, and your hands and feet, let me remain in you today trusting that to be with you is to become truly free from the slavery of sin.

Steve Botsford is a husband, father, catechist, educational consultant, blogger,  and game designer.

Do You Need a Sign?

Posted on March 31, 2017 by - The Main Thing

An Everyday Stewardship Reflection for the 5th Sunday of Lent

God billboardWhen I am driving throughout the United States, I enjoy seeing the billboards that dot the highways speaking for God. A couple of my favorites: “Life is short. Eternity is not. – God;” and “Let’s meet at my house this Sunday, before the game. – God.”

God must have a pretty big advertising budget because He has billboards in pretty much every state!

One billboard I saw read, “You asked God for a sign, and here it is!” After a chuckle, I realized that we are always looking for a sign. We say we believe, but sometimes, we act like we just want to be sure.

LazarusIn the Gospels, Jesus performs miracles and healings so that people would believe. The healing of Lazarus was surely a profound moment for all who were there. Jesus was able to show that He has power over even death itself, a foreshadowing to his Resurrection that will occur in the not too distant future.

For all who doubt, be assured that Jesus is the giver of life. He has given living water to the woman at the well, sight to the blind, and now has raised a man from the grave.

As Easter draws ever closer, how many more signs do you need? What else can Jesus do to convince you that His call on your life comes from the source of all life?

As the US Bishops’ pastoral letter on stewardship lays this out, we have been challenged, we are asked to choose, and then our lives will be transformed. May all the signs of God around us, even billboards on the side of the road, move us to choose a path of giving of ourselves like Jesus.

New Eyes

Posted on March 24, 2017 by - The Main Thing

Jesus Heals the Blind ManTalking about discipleship and truly being a disciple are two very different things. It is easier to know what we should do than to carry out.

Many saints from our tradition have had much to say about this struggle to do what they know they must do, and not do that which they know they shouldn’t. It is part of being human.

Without God, we have no chance to overcome this predicament. Without God, our actions can ring hollow, or often we are immobilized to act at all. Without God, we suffer with blindness to the truth of what is important and eternal.

The story in John 9 of Jesus healing the blind man is about more than a physical healing and just one man. It is about how each of us can find healing of our blindness by turning to Jesus Christ.

Are you someone that has been saying, “I don’t understand all this talk of discipleship and stewardship. What’s the big deal?” We all have a blindness that needs to be healed, and the Body of Christ needs you so that God’s presence in our world can be seen in a more profound manner.

The reality is that God heals the blindness of those you seek him, so that in turn, they may be vehicles by which others may see as well.

This Lent, you are invited to bring your blindness to Jesus. All the written reflections in the world will not give you new eyes. Those eyes can only be found in Jesus

Put Down That Water Jar!

Posted on March 17, 2017 by - The Main Thing

An Everyday Stewardship Reflection for the 3rd Sunday of Lent

Woman at the WellWhen I think about the story of the Samaritan woman at the well, I think of my father. This Gospel reading that we use every year for the First Scrutiny of the RCIA was always my favorite to discuss with those who be baptized in just a few weeks at the Easter Vigil.

Not that many years ago, my father was one of those Elect. That year, the story was more powerful than ever.

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Sin and Compromise

Posted on March 17, 2017 by - The Main Thing

Post by Chuck Frost

“Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one—the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.” – C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

Sin and CompromiseWe’ve heard of the drug dealer cliché, “The first hit is free.” You have to take the first hit to begin the slow decline toward full blown addiction, and if vulnerability is detected the dealer may gladly get us started free of charge. Not too many people think that one little indulgence will end up that way.

We go through life making small moral compromises here and there. Maybe it’s something that seems too insignificant to get all worked up about. Things that we think don’t rise to the level of serious sin.  Things we may joke about or shrug off.

And though I think it’s possible to become scrupulous to an unhealthy degree, it is important that we take account of those small compromises for they can be the devil’s delight.

The DevilThere is a great episode from the nineties television show Northern Exposure called “The Robe”. Shelly, the wife of a local bar owner, despises her husband’s old bathrobe. It looks hideous on him, but he adores it.

So the devil comes to her as an engaging traveling salesman and tempts her to burn the robe while her husband is away. She almost does it, but then turns back at the last minute.  When the devil angrily scolds her for not following through, Shelly replies: “Why did you go after me? I’m nobody.” So he says:

“You’re my bread and butter, Shelly. Look, say I get some corporate raider to suck up some company, turn 3,000 employees out on the street. Where’s the victory there? But if I can get somebody like you, pure of heart, to let her bumper stray over that white line just a little bit…You know that expression, ‘God is in the details’? Well, it’s a little bit like that for me.”

Is it really a big deal if I eat from that tree?  I mean, it’s just a piece of fruit

Chuck Frost is Pastoral Associate at St. Andrew’s Catholic Church in Roanoke, Virginia

Secret Ambition

Posted on March 15, 2017 by - The Main Thing

Post by Steve Botsford

Godly AmbitionIn the summer of 1980 I went to stay with my grandparents for six weeks. They had a ten-unit apartment building on the Intracoastal in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, a very prominent area of town.

My plan was to work for my grandfather doing painting, yard work, and basic upkeep. I had calculated the amount of money I would make by working forty hours a week for the entire time and it would give me just enough to purchase a new synthesizer. I was a budding musician and it was an ambitious endeavor to say the least.

My grandparent’s plan was to have an extended visit and help me with some spending cash by paying me to do some chores a few hours a day for the duration. Needless to say, I couldn’t afford the purchase when I returned but left with memories that remain with me today – a much greater reward in hindsight.

I went on after high school to work for my father hanging wallpaper and eventually started my own wallpaper business. When he lost a battle to lung cancer a few years later I was left with a profitable trade-and an appreciation for the gift of music and the time we shared doing both. I was ambitious and successfully remained in that business for nearly ten years until I had an epiphany.

Through a series of events I had a spiritual awakening in my late twenties. Interestingly, I lost my ambition to seek fame and fortune but found a new ambition, sharing the Gospel. You see, my value system was altered and my new ambition was driven by the Holy Spirit.

I remained in youth ministry for ten years, went on to Catholic publishing for eleven years and have just embarked on a journey as a parish DRE. The fruits of my youth ministry can be seen today in many of the youth who became productive citizens driven by Gospel values. A few have become youth ministers or teachers and many are parents raising their children as faithful Catholics while maintaining productive value-driven jobs.

In the Gospel today, we hear of the mother of two of the disciples who also had an ambition. She asked Jesus to seat them at his right and left and he said she didn’t know what she was asking. Is it possible we have ambition without really knowing what we’re after?

The thing is, there are two kinds of ambition, the worldly and the otherworldly. One seeks prominence and the other servitude.

Jesus had a secret ambition. He was to be the King the Jewish people had been waiting for, only they couldn’t easily grasp what that meant. He was to usher in a new Kingdom of love, service and sacrifice.

In spite of two thousand years of faith and tradition, we still struggle today with ambition. As we continue our journey through the season of Lent, let us pause to ponder what is truly meant and implied by our Lord’s secret ambition.

Steve Botsford is the Director of Religious Education at St. Ann Catholic Church in Marietta, GA. He holds an MBA from the University of Phoenix and a Master of Religious Education from Loyola University, New Orleans. Steve is married with three children and is the creator of FeastDay, the Liturgical Year Board Game.