Obedience is not a joke, it is a sacrifice. The more you love God, the more you will obey. Obedience is a cross—pick up your cross and follow him. Everyone in the world has to obey in some way or another. People are forced to obey or they will lose their jobs. But we obey out of love for Jesus.

-from Thirsting for God

**

Loving trust and total surrender made Our Lady say yes to the message of the angel, and cheerfulness made her run in haste to serve her cousin Elizabeth. So much in our lives, too, is saying yes to Jesus, and running haste to serve him in the poorest of the poor.  –Mother Theresa

-from Thirsting for God

The South African Woman in Brooke’s Picture

I am denied
those
vivid colors—
the burnt-orange,
the reds and the yellows
framing her face,
skirting
her softness. A sheet
of murky darkness
nailed, corrosive
barbed-wire planted,
between us:
is it the texture
that

separates me
from my

sister in Azania?
I feel her eyes, searching—
her
brilliant world
dimmed by a shabby
over-wash. Intensity
of the human
spirit
does not fade in the
slums of life. Shadows
conceal,
and fences only
bar. The African woman

and I
are one.
Prismatic light
displays
the undiluted spectrum.

first published in GFWoman (Nov. 1997)

Gospel Lk 4:38-44

After Jesus left the synagogue, he entered the house of Simon.
Simon’s mother-in-law was afflicted with a severe fever,
and they interceded with him about her.
He stood over her, rebuked the fever, and it left her.
She got up immediately and waited on them.

At sunset, all who had people sick with various diseases brought them to him.
He laid his hands on each of them and cured them.
And demons also came out from many, shouting, “You are the Son of God.”
But he rebuked them and did not allow them to speak
because they knew that he was the Christ.

At daybreak, Jesus left and went to a deserted place.
The crowds went looking for him, and when they came to him,
they tried to prevent him from leaving them.
But he said to them, “To the other towns also
I must proclaim the good news of the Kingdom of God,
because for this purpose I have been sent.”
And he was preaching in the synagogues of Judea.

Emphasis mine

Claiming Our God Given Selves – from Henri Nouwen’s Bread for the Journey

When we have been deeply hurt by another person, it is nearly impossible not to have hostile thoughts, feelings of anger or hatred, and even a desire to take revenge.  All of this often happens spontaneously, without much inner control.  We simply find ourselves brooding about what we are going to say or do to pay back the person who has hurt us.  To choose blessings instead of curses in such a situation asks for an enormous leap of faith.  It calls for a willingness to go beyond all our urges to get even and to choose a life-giving response.

Sometimes this seems impossible.  Still, whenever we move beyond our wounded selves and claim our God-given selves, we give life not just to ourselves but also to the ones who have offended us.

For further reflection…

“I lift up my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from?” – Psalm 121:1

My About page has been updated.

My new book, Every Tender Reed, has been accepted for publication by Main Street Rag Publishing Company, Charlotte, NC. It will be released in 2016.

In the meantime, if you don’t have my books, Facing a Lonely West and Seriously Dangerous you can purchase them here.

 

Blessed Virgin our Mother Mary Immaculate's photo.
Choosing Life – from Henri Nouwen’s Bread for the Journey

God says, “I am offering you life or death, blessing or curse.  Choose life, then, so that you and your descendants may live”   (Deuteronomy 30:19).

“Choose life.”  That’s God’s call for us, and there is not a moment in which we do not have to make that choice.  Life and death are always before us.  In our imaginations, our thoughts, our words, our gestures, our actions … even in our nonactions.  This choice for life starts in a deep interior place.  Underneath very life-affirming behaviour I can still harbour death-thoughts and death-feelings.  The most important question is not “Do I kill?” but “Do I carry a blessing in my heart or a curse?”   The bullet that kills is only the final instrument of the hatred that began being nurtured in the heart long before the gun was picked up.

For further reflection…

“Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.” – Matthew 26: 52 (NIV)

Saint of the Day

Martyrdom of John the Baptist

Lived: | Feast Day: Saturday, August 29, 2015

The drunken oath of a king with a shallow sense of honor, a seductive dance and the hateful heart of a queen combined to bring about the martyrdom of John the Baptist. The greatest of prophets suffered the fate of so many Old Testament prophets before him: rejection and martyrdom. The “voice crying in the desert” did not hesitate to accuse the guilty, did not hesitate to speak the truth. But why? What possesses a man that he would give up his very life?This great religious reformer was sent by God to prepare the people for the Messiah. His vocation was one of selfless giving. The only power that he claimed was the Spirit of Yahweh. “I am baptizing you with water, for repentance, but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I. I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matthew 3:11). Scripture tells us that many people followed John looking to him for hope, perhaps in anticipation of some great messianic power. John never allowed himself the false honor of receiving these people for his own glory. He knew his calling was one of preparation. When the time came, he led his disciples to Jesus: “The next day John was there again with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God.’ The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus” (John 1:35-37). It is John the Baptist who has pointed the way to Christ. John’s life and death were a giving over of self for God and other people. His simple style of life was one of complete detachment from earthly possessions. His heart was centered on God and the call that he heard from the Spirit of God speaking to his heart. Confident of God’s grace, he had the courage to speak words of condemnation or repentance, of salvation.
Comment:
Each of us has a calling to which we must listen. No one will ever repeat the mission of John, and yet all of us are called to that very mission. It is the role of the Christian to witness to Jesus. Whatever our position in this world, we are called to be disciples of Christ. By our words and deeds, others should realize that we live in the joy of knowing that Jesus is Lord. We do not have to depend upon our own limited resources, but can draw strength from the vastness of Christ’s saving grace.
Quote:
“So they came to John and said to him, ‘Rabbi, the one who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you testified, here he is baptizing and everyone is coming to him.’ John answered and said, ‘No one can receive anything except what has been given him from heaven. You yourselves can testify that I said [that] I am not the Messiah, but that I was sent before him. The one who has the bride is the bridegroom; the best man, who stands and listens for him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. So this joy of mine has been made complete. He must increase; I must decrease’” (John 3:26–30).

**

Once you begin to neglect obedience, one by one everything goes. Obedience is difficult but that’s where love comes from. There are so many broken families because a woman will not obey a man and a man will not obey a woman. We belong to Jesus and obedience is our strength. You must do small acts of obedience with great love.

-from Thirsting for God

September 2015
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