Where are you staying?

2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time (B)

What is the meaning of the question asked of Jesus in today’s Gospel? Were the two disciples who had just met Jesus really interested in his accommodations? Hardly. Scholars indicate the gist of their question was something like “What are you all about?” This was the disciples’  response to Jesus’ probing question “What are you looking for?”

Place yourself in the story. John the Baptist, of whom you are a follower, points Jesus out to you and proclaims, “Behold, the Lamb of God” [John 1:35-39]. Say what? So compelling is John’s statement that you depart from him  and immediately begin to follow Jesus who turns to you and asks about your heart’s desire, then invites you to come and see what he is all about. And you listen.

The scripture does not provide many details on what happens next, the conversation, or teaching, but it does indicate the time: four o’clock in the afternoon—the time of temple worship—which you spend in conversation with Jesus. Afterward, Andrew rushes off to find his brother Peter and brings him to Jesus, too.

This is how it happens. This is what it means to be an evangelizing people. Everyone who seeks Jesus needs to find out for themselves what he is all about. But when one enters into communion with Jesus they experience union with God! It’s impossible to keep something of this magnitude to oneself. It is up to us to respond to the call, give witness, and in doing so, lead others to Jesus, just like John the Baptist and Andrew did.

Today’s readings can be found here.

Be ready to follow Christ, wherever he goes


29th Sunday of Ordinary Time (A)
Excerpted from Living the Gospel without Compromise, by Catherine de Hueck Doherty

7cbf2-catherinedoherty“As we approach the call to evangelize and spread the good news we need to be extremely flexible in what we do and be attentive to new opportunities, openings, and possibilities that cut across our preconceived notions and beckon into ways and situations that we have barely assessed or perhaps never thought of. Be prepared for constant changes. We cannot be rigid in any way or undesirous of change. We seek a deeper impenetration or presentation of the Good News. It is important for us to use all modern means of communication and technology to put across the message of Christ.

Flexibility needs to be prepared for by observing, thinking, researching, and prayer. But it is important that we do all these together, as a united community. We need to beg the Holy Spirit to lead us in the right direction. If we look for the paths that God is already laying out for us, a new awareness, a new vitality, and new sense of challenge and adventure will come into our hearts. We need to be ready to follow Christ wherever he goes. For Christ has a way of going into unexpected places. He often directs us toward an end that we don’t yet perceive but that is just around the corner.”

Catherine de Hueck Doherty (1896-1985) was ” was a woman in love with God,” a pioneer of social justice, devoted wife and mother, renowned national speaker, and a prolific author of hundreds of articles and several bestsellers, Catherine dedicated herself to being “poor with the poor Christ” in the slums of Toronto and Harlem and later established the world-wide Madonna House Apostolate. Catherine Doherty’s cause for canonization as a saint is now under consideration by the Catholic Church. http://www.catherinedoherty.org/


The World is a Mess

19th Sunday of Ordinary Time (A)

I have a friend whose outlook on the state of the world has been reduced to conspiracy theories and an impending Armageddon. She shocked me the other day with words to this affect: “This city is home to a bunch of grubbers and people who are used to having everything done for them. When (the end) breaks loose and they lose everything and come knocking at my door, I won’t open it. Because I planned ahead and I’m taking care of myself.”

This is so sad. In addition to her teeny tiny unhappy world that she believes is about to implode, she has no faith and no vision. No faith in the generosity and goodness of others; no vision for a better world.

Granted, the daily hell we hear and read about and experience is unbearable. No need to spell out the escalating atrocities. People, nations, and leaders do unspeakable things to other people, nations, and leaders. It has to stop. “I beg you, stop. I ask you with all my heart,” Pope Francis said as part of his message to the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican for the Angelus noon prayer on Sunday, July 27, 2014.

Let me tell you a different story. Three students making their way to a distant city, driving (perhaps a little too fast) on an unpaved road in a rural area of a South American country experienced a blowout and found their car spinning out of control until it slammed into a cinder block home. Amidst the shattered glass and gravel, the stunned students pulled themselves out of the wreckage. The two-room house, home to a poor couple with 11 children, was rubble. Miraculously no one was in the house at the time of the impact, but the damage was severe. Also miraculous, thanks in part to seat belts and airbags the three students’ injuries were limited to whiplash, cuts and bruises.

What happened next, as told to me by one of the students, provides a context and instruction to those of us who suffer losses and face our daily rubble, especially when the damage prevents us from seeing beyond the hurt to restoration. “After a few hours passed and the sun set, the family invited us to sit with them in the house (literally on bricks that had fallen) to eat dinner with them. They brought us eggs and potatoes and put blankets over our shoulders. I can’t really think of anything more incredible than this – we destroyed their home, and they invited us to eat with them.”

Jesus says “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” Do not be afraid. What might have been a human tragedy can be re-framed as a miracle of human kindness. These are the whispers that tell us God is with us. These are the acts that renew our faith and give us courage. Jesus is here.  This is what living in right relationship with the World looks like.This is what it means to be an evangelizing people.

The World is not a mess.

Today’s readings can be found here.

O Lord, Open my lips. And my mouth will proclaim your praise.

17th Sunday of Ordinary Time (A)

The first time I learned that evangelizing was part and parcel of being a baptized Catholic my initial reaction was “Nope. Not me.”  I had one just reason to reject this teaching and it emerged from an experience I had of being confronted by an street evangelist who dogged me for two blocks demanding I tell him I was “saved.” This experience was repeated years later at a party attended by people of all faith traditions, including a few non-believers. It was a happy, social occasion that rapidly went down the tubes when one of the guests decided to share the tale of his Christian conversion, a story which included pressuring anyone within earshot to defend their own faith choices. Just like the guests at that party making a mad dash to the exit, I found myself looking for a way to distance myself from anything that even remotely resembled being an evangelist. And who could blame me?

Fast forward many (many) years. Unfortunate examples aside, I now embrace my role as an evangelizer and so should you. Because in the Catholic Church we are evangelizers, not evangelists. That job is taken. The Christian tradition already has four evangelists who gave us the Gospels. And it is on the stories and teachings of Jesus contained in those Gospels that we base our lives. In other words, we evangelize through our example of living the faith.

But what about public evangelization? True, there are settings where giving witness to our beliefs and spreading the Good News in a specific way is required. In his recent exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium” (The Joy of the Gospel) Pope Francis calls this “informal and unexpected preaching,” which means “being constantly ready to bring the love of Jesus to others … in any place, on the street, in a city square, during work, on a journey.” The key for us is remembering that evangelization is never an opportunity to “market” Catholicism. Rather, it is a time to truly listen, and if appropriate, to humbly share the message of God’s friendship.  These are times when a spiritual wisdom, such as what God granted to Solomon, is needed. Make this request for spiritual wisdom part of your daily prayer, and don’t be afraid.  Pope Francis assures us with the words of Jesus that we should not lose courage; what we say will be suggested to us by the Holy Spirit [MT 10:16-23].

Today’s readings can be found here.