Saturday, July 20, 2019

Peace to you!

My uncle, Fr. James Conner, O.C.S.O., a Trappist Monk at the Abbey of Gethsemani, wrote a homily recently about the words of Jesus found in the gospel of Luke.

 “If they do not accept you, go out into the streets and say: 
‘The dust of your town that clings to our feet, 
even that we shake off against you’”.  Luke 10:10-11

     "The words of Jesus," he said, "might seem quite harsh at first sight...However in the context of the whole text..., we see that it is done only as a last resort.

     Jesus is primarily sending his disciples into towns to proclaim the message of God’s love and care for all peoples. The primary word that He wants them to proclaim is: “Peace to this house!” It is a peace which only God can give, but a peace which is promised by all the prophets for the mission of the one sent by God.

     Jesus comes among us as the fulfillment of the promise of the coming of one who will be Prince of Peace. He comes to proclaim peace which comes from God’s loving care for each one of His children. Isaiah compares the peaceful person to a child on its mother’s breast. “As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you”. That child is each one to whom the Word of God is proclaimed. It is each one of us who have received this message that God will care for us as a mother cares for her infant.

     But we don’t like to consider ourselves as infants. We want to see ourselves as self-reliant and competent to take care of ourselves and our world. We all too often act as if we did not need God’s help and protection. 
     But Paul tells that “the world has been crucified to me and I to the world” (Gal 6: 14). The world that must be crucified to each one of us is the world of deceit and selfishness – a world of power and prestige. But by that very fact it is a world of lies. Jesus calls Satan the “father of lies”. The lies which Satan sows in the world and in our hearts is the lie of self-sufficiency – “I do not truly need God – I can care for myself and my world!” 

     It is such lies which lie at the root of all the evil and deceit in the world today. All too often, even leaders of nations are known more for their lies than for fostering truth. Such actions only sow dissent and division within a nation and in the hearts of those who follow him. It serves to divide the nation from other nations and even beget division within the nation itself. And Jesus said also: “A house that is divided cannot stand”. (Mark 3: 25)

     In contrast to this, Jesus sends his disciples – he sends each one of us – to spread the true message of God’s love and care for every person. We may object to world leaders sowing dissent and division, but do the very same thing in our dealings with one another in daily life.

     Each time that we encounter another person, it should embody the message: “Peace to you!”. The Christian should be a person of peace. Above all, the monk should be a man of peace – peace within himself and peace with others with whom he lives. The injunction of Jesus does not extend merely to missionaries. It extends to each one of us – whether in the monastery or in our homes and places of work. 

     That is why we express the sharing of Peace before receiving the Prince of Peace within Communion. That brief moment cannot be simply a distraction from the Eucharist – but a call to each one of us to heed the message of Jesus and truly live as men and women of peace, knowing that our names are truly written in heaven." 

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Reset the Button


Do you ever feel you need to hit the reset button on your life? You've become aware of too many distractions causing you not to stay attracted to what's most important in your life?

Resetting can be done at any time of day, but may be easier at night before you go to bed or in the morning before starting off your new day.

At nighttime, it's helpful to take time to reconsider what happened during the course of the day.

What are the things that stand out the most in your mind? Did they bring you joy or sadness? Did they uplift or bring you down? Were you responsible for what happened or did someone else cause it? Is there something you can learn from what happened?

It's important to stay aware of your emotions during the day--the joy, the sorrow, the anger, impatience, frustrations...perhaps you've experienced them all in a day--that's not uncommon.

The emotions are talking to us. What are they saying to you? Do you know? If you were angry, why? What caused the anger? Is there something you'd do differently tomorrow? 

Here's where you reset the button. Learn from the day's experience. Resolve to do something different the next day if you need to. If it was a good day full of joy, then give many thanks. The reset button is hit that way too.

If you're resolved to hit the reset button in the morning, begin with gratitude. Give thanks for your breath and a new day to start fresh. Let gratitude rule your mind--giving thanks for even the smallest things that we take for granted.

Reset. Resolve. Refresh!

   "Blessed be the Lord, for He has heard my cry..." Ps 28: 6