Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Another Kind of Stimulus...

May the Lord give you His peace!

If you haven’t been paying attention to the news, let me fill you in. This week, President Obama will sign an economic stimulus package into law equaling over 800 billion dollars. Now, if you want insight on whether or not it is going to work, you are reading the wrong column. But, trying to understand the whole concept of “stimulus” might be worth our time.

The goal of this stimulus package is to try and jump start the economy - basically to put a whole lot of money into the hands of businesses and people so the broken economy and money market will begin to heal and recover. Make sense? Well, it is clear we need something to jump start the economy, but how about a stimulus package for our culture? For a culture that is guided by MTV and Hollywood and one that finds itself lost, bored, and self-medicated, I don’t think it’s a bad idea. We need to make a jump start in our own lives in order to make a difference in the culture that is desperately needed at this time. How can we do this?

All of us have things to give. But the real question is, what are you giving? If we simply give ourselves, no transformation of culture will take place. We must give Christ and let Him be the center of the renewal that needs to happen in our time. Prayer leads us to encounter Jesus in a real way so we can share him with our world. Encountering the living God is central to stimulating our culture!

How our culture would change if we truly cared for one another. Often times we find ourselves keeping score or never really thinking about how we can help others. Helping those who are near to us and those who are strangers will have a tremendous affect on life as we know it. Charity given generously impacts so many people - but how often do we do it? Hearts giving generously and not counting the cost is greatly needed.

Our culture could use a little joy don’t you think? I am not talking about a happiness that is fake or one that comes from the world. I am talking about the joy that enters our hearts and lives when we know we are loved by God - a joy that comes from being truly free and able to experience the joys and sorrows of life with a perspective of hope and faith. You can’t stop joy, it brings light into a world that can be so dark at times.

It is safe to say that many people and things are fake these days. Our culture needs a sense of what is real. We must be the ones who no longer settle for the cheap imitations we have been given, and discover what it means to be a young person and reveal to the world the truth - the truth of who we really are as sons and daughters of a loving God, and the truth of what it takes to be happy: a relationship with Him and His Church.

My friends, if today we make a commitment to be more prayerful, generous, joyful and authentic in our lives, there is no question we will see a jump start in our families, schools, communities and culture. So often, we leave making changes and improving the world to being someone else’s responsibility. But today, let’s make it ours.

This week the economy is going to receive a stimulus. Let’s give our culture one too. Today, pray a little more and let the Lord work in your life. Be generous to those around you. Carry joy in your heart, bring a smile to other people face, and be an authentic son or daughter of God. That ought to get things going!

God Bless You,


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Our Problem, Not His...

“And they took offense at Him. Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in His native place and among his own kin and in His own house.” So He was not able to perform any mighty deed there, a part from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith”
-John 6: 4-6

May the Lord give you His peace!

Last Wednesday night, due to a break from classes at the Seminary, I was able to attend Mass at my college alma mater in Iowa. During the homily, the priest challenged us to reflect on the above passage from John and how it was both “surprising and scandalous.” After a long day of driving, the best I could come up with was the notion of how Jesus was not accepted in His hometown - of all places! Well I wasn’t entirely correct, but I guess I could have made a case. What about you? Any guesses?

“So He was not able to perform any mighty deed there…”

Does this line make anyone else surprised or confused? This statement should make us very uncomfortable! Our Lord in this situation was not able to perform any mighty deeds like He had been doing all over the region. A subtle line like this in the Gospel is easy to skip over if don’t take time to think about the implications of what is said. Jesus was not able… Was He losing power? Did He not want to? Was He truly God?

While all those are good questions, we can take a deep breath and breathe a sigh of relief because the answer to the problem was not found in our Lord. It was found in the people. In this gathering, the people of the town were questioning Him and took offense at Him. And over the course of their time with Him, they shut themselves off to the Lord and everything He wanted to give them. The people were not able to receive what the Lord wanted to give them. It is not that Jesus was incapable of giving, it was that the people were incapable in receiving. Their hearts were closed and bitter. They were uncomfortable with the presence and invitation of Jesus to a better life. They shut Him out and closed themselves off from becoming fully who they were called to be.

My friends, how often we render Jesus powerless in our lives because we choose not to be ready to receive what he wants to give us! We, like the people in Jesus’ hometown, choose to close ourselves off to what the Lord and His Church want to do in our lives. Jesus came to bless us in abundance! He came to heal, forgive, transform, and unite. He came to inspire, love, teach, and bring peace. But, how often we find ourselves in a place in our culture and personal lives where we are not ready to receive what Jesus promised. Oh how He longs to give us everything we need, and how His heart aches when we cannot receive it!

So how can be ready or prepared to receive what the Lord wants to give? We must humble ourselves, and realize our own ways are not always right or what’s best for us. We must be open to conversion in our lives and turn away from the sin that keeps us from the grace of our Lord. We must stay close to the sacraments, especially Confession and the Eucharist. And finally, we must realize that what Jesus has to offer us is a better way for our lives. Our openness to receive from Jesus will change our lives instantly.

This week prepare your heart to receive from Jesus. Let us form a community and culture where Jesus can work and transform our lives. Are you ready?

God Bless You!

In Jesus and Mary,