Wednesday, October 28, 2009
MARK 10: 46-52 OCTOBER 25, 2009
This is a wonderful homily for a baby baptism mass. When the baby cries, the parents have to put everything else aside and attend to the baby. Babies cannot talk and tell you what they want or need. What if a parent said, "Don't bother me, I'm busy." You would think the parent rather callous and self-centered. If I were to ask someone for assistance and they were to ignore me, or say, "Don't bother me," I would be upset and hurt.
Yet, the disciples of Jesus are just that, hard and callous. They have a plan and a schedule. They are on their way somewhere. Maybe they see themselves protecting Jesus from annoyances. But what if Jesus came to save "annoyances." I bother God every day with my annoyances, my requests for attention and agenda. If God is not going to pay attention to annoying people like me, then I am indeed in dire straits.
I wonder if the blind man, Bartimaeus, thought that the disciples were annoyances? They were trying to shut him up, to snuff out his response to faith in Jesus. These disciples were to be the first bishops, the first evangelizers. They started out doing a pretty poor job of it. That annoys me.
But wait! Jesus might be asking us to be open and non-judgmental of people that seem to be annoying. Jesus accepts Bartimaeus as is. Jesus accepts the disciples as they are, for now. Jesus gives Bartimaeus sight so that Batimaeus can chose which is the "way" for him. We are called to be helpful to the helpless. If someone asks for help or cries for help, ours is not to judge. Ours is to respond. If they can speak, ask them, "What do you want?" There may be times or situations in which we cannot be of help, but we can be kind. We won't know unless we ask, "What do you want?"
Monday, October 19, 2009
MARK 10: 35-45; OCTOBER 18, 2009
Running is a good metaphor for the spiritual life. Right now, I run at the back of the pack, way back. But sometimes I say to my coach that I want to run right next to him, at the head of the pack. He looks at me and says, "Are you insane?" He knows that I cannot suddenly begin to run with all the others, much less be in front. So he might gently say to me, "If you are willing to do the workouts that I do and suffer the pain that I suffer, then you will improve and become all that you can be as a runner." I cannot get better without putting in the workouts over a long period of time. There is a light at the end of the tunnel but as my coach says, "It is a long journey." As to running next to him some day, that is not for him to say. Each of us has a talent level. I can become all that my body will allow, but that does not mean I will run at the head of the pack or next to the coach.
Now turn to the Gospel. The two disciples, James and John, want to bask in Jesus' glory, and be right beside him. They want it now. They don't want to put in the work necessary to reach their goal. Jesus does not say they are insane. He says, "You don't know what you are asking." Then he challenges them to drink the cup from which he drinks, that is do what he does and go through the pain he goes through. It is like my coach saying that I need to drink the cup of workouts he does each day, and suffer the pain of some of these efforts, and then I will reach my "glory."
The disciples make a pact with Jesus to do as he says. Jesus cannot guarantee that they will end up beside him because each of us has our own level of holiness. I will never be as holy as Teresa of Avila or Therese of Lisieux. They seem to have a lot more spiritual DNA than I do. But the disciples will become all that God made them to be if they put in the daily spiritual practices. The Church has given us plenty of spiritual workouts: mass, bible lectio, meditation and such.
The disciples are attracted to Jesus. This is as far as their effort goes. If I read a book on marathon running, I might be attracted to running a marathon, but it is just an attraction. I will not run the marathon just by reading a book. I need to put in the daily effort over a long period of time to be able to run the marathon to my particular talent level. If I read a book of prayer, I might be attracted to praying and drawing closer to God in interior union, but it is only an attraction. I must have a daily practice if I am going to move toward my goal. Yes, God is at work, but I must show up each day and make some effort to discipline myself and make choices to pray rather than do something else.
EBay, garage sales and second hand stores are filled with stuff originally bought but never used by people who were attracted to something because they read a book, saw a movie, or heard a talk. In the Bible Book of Isaiah 53:10 it says that God "was pleased to crush him in infirmity." Isn't God supposed to be loving, kind and compassionate? Yes, but do you want to grow from attraction to become all who God made you to be? To know and believe that God loves me is the beginning of the relationship. That is the attraction part. I know that my coach cares for me, but at times he will give me a workout that seems to crush me! He seems to know when I need to make a greater effort to extend my muscles and discipline myself at some deeper level, so that I will improve. It is the same with God. The daily practice of spiritual effort is not always easy. Sometimes we get sick, or infirm. Sometimes we lose interest or focus or just get lazy. Sometimes there are a lot of distractions. When times are tough like this, God may be trying to toughen us up so that we can bear some cross that is still down the road of a long journey to spiritual transformation. God is a light even in the tunnel of darkness.
I have to go now and do my workout!
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Habits defy adjustments. I have the habit of running early in the morning, usually during the coldest temperature of the day. But some mornings my schedule allows me to adjust and run later in the morning after the Boulder sun has warmed up the day. Would this not be more fun? I resist. I have my habits. Am I addicted?
Let's move on to the issue of prayer. Do you have a habit of praying? Like exercise, this seems like a good thing. But is your habit of prayer set in a certain formula? What if God wanted you to put down your meditation book and sit in silence, or pick up your bible and do lectio instead of sit in silence? Would you be able to hear the still small voice inviting you to change your formula of prayer? Are you hungry for God? Or are you addicted to your method? Methods are not God's will. They are simply methods. It is midmorning. The sun has warmed the day. I will go for a run now!
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
We will explore the importance of humility in practicing the spiritual life and how to achieve it through letting go of thoughts of our former way of life, thoughts of God, and thoughts of self. The presentation will be based on the book Humility Matters by Mary Margaret Funk.
Father Terry Ryan, CSP
St. Thomas Aquinas Church Hall
14th Street and Aurora Avenue (on the Hill), Boulder
Saturday, October 10, 2009
9:30 a.m. to Noon
(Coffee and treats begin at 9:00 a.m.)
The morning will include Centering Prayer, but no experience necessary.
Everyone is welcome. Suggested donation is $10.
For more information and pre-registration, please call
Barbara Hayden (303) 494-2845 or Rosalie Gansecki (303) 494-1742
Sponsored by Contemplative Outreach of Boulder
and St. Thomas Aquinas University Parish