Tag Archives: God

what does God want?

2000 years ago the Roman philosopher, Seneca, said, “What’s the point of having countless books and libraries whose titles the owner could scarcely read through in a lifetime?”

Oh, Seneca, what would you think of Google?

We live in the golden age of answers,  but what do we really know? Do you have answers to the deepest questions of your life, the ones you can’t find on Google?

Questions like this one: What does God want?

People get mired in this question. “If only I knew God’s will,” they say, “then I’d know what to do with my life.”

But what in the world does God want? A big check?  A guilty conscience? Prayer? Love? Obedience? Sacrifice? What?

Run the question backward. If God asked about your will, what would you say? What do you want?

I don’t know what you want, but I know something about it. It’s not one thing.

We want health and safety and intimacy and adventure and success. Our wills are complex and varied. And I think God’s is too. But that doesn’t mean we can’t say something about it.

In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus enters the home of a woman named Martha who leaps into action, putting the house in order for him. But Martha’s sister, Mary, doesn’t. Instead, she sits down at the feet of Jesus and listens.

Martha carries on, filling drink orders, working the room. But not Mary. She just listens.

Preachers like to praise Mary and beat the hell out of Martha.

But I like Martha. I like workers.

She pokes her head out of the kitchen and yells at Jesus (which is kind of awesome),  “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her to get up.”

“Martha,” Jesus replies, “Martha, you’re anxious and troubled about many things; one thing is needful. Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken from her.”

One thing is needful.

Notice Jesus doesn’t rebuke Martha’s work. He doesn’t say get out of the kitchen and come sit down. He says, “You’re so anxious. You’re so distracted that you’re missing the one thing you actually need. Me.”

Are you distracted and anxious in the golden age of answers? Are you drowning in the never-ending river of information?

How often do you listen for answers instead of search for them?

I think that’s what God wants.

He wants us to listen. 

It was’t Martha’s work that was wrong. It was that she had stopped listening because of it.

But would it be like to listen for Jesus’ voice in your customers this week? What if you saw His face in that co-worker you can’t stand to be around? What if you asked Jesus to be present with you during your sales pitch?

Work can be work. Or it can be something entirely God infused.

I think Mary knew that. That’s why she listened before she worked. She wanted to know what God wanted so she could then know how to work.

Be honest. When was the last time you sat still and did nothing? When did you last pray and wait for God to speak first? When did you last listen — really listen?

I know it’s awesome that we have Google to answer our every query.

But I’m drowning in information, desperate for that one needful thing, and missing it.

I want to know God’s will, but I hardly listen.

In Kindergarten, I made a pledge with a kid named Cameron to be best friends. We shook on it.

Over the years we have shared a lot. He sees me for who I am. He knows my good and my very bad. Today we’re 33 and still the best of friends. How?

I’ll tell you.

He listens to me. He always has. Because of that, he knows me. He knows my hopes, my fears, my dreams. That kind of knowing produces a deep, deep bond.

It’s been said that we have to know someone before we can love them. I say we have to listen before we can know.

Do you want to know what God wants for your life?

My advice:

we never dance alone

“Jazz class,” she said to me. “Intermediate Dance. It’ll be fun.”

She was my college sweetheart, and the jazz class she spoke of represented the final credits I needed to graduate.

“I don’t know,” I said. “Will there be actual dancing involved?”

“It’s a dance class.”

“Right.”

I should have shut it down. I didn’t need this headache. I needed one class. But you know how love works. She batted her eyes.

“Well,” I said, “maybe we should sign up for Beginner’s Jazz. Intermediate sounds serious.”

“Are you calling me a bad dancer?”

“No,” I said. “I’m calling me a bad dancer.”

Her eyes stopped batting.

“I thought it’d be special to take this class together. But if you feel differently, that’s fine.”

A week later I found myself in Intermediate Jazz.

The professor handed out the syllabus. I read my execution orders. FINAL EXAM: EACH STUDENT WILL CHOREOGRAPH AND PERFORM A SOLO DANCE.

My very first panic attack.

I tried to walk out, but you know what happened. Those eyes started up again. So I stayed, hid in the back row, and tried not to think about stepping out from the group and dancing on my own.

In the Gospel, Jesus constantly asked people to step out from the group.”Follow me,” he said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” In other words, “Come with me and I’ll teach you the ways of God.”

And people did. And they changed the world.

What I love is that it was never supposed to happen.

Jewish Rabbis didn’t go looking for students. Students went looking for a Rabbi. And only the best were allowed to follow. A Rabbi recruiting random students was ridiculous.

It’d be like Harvard Law admitting the first 50 people who liked their Facebook page. It’s not how these things work.

But it’s how Jesus worked. And it’s how he works today. He calls everyone and accepts anyone who’s interested.

The great Irish theologian, Bono, said, “It used to shock me that the Scriptures are brim full of hustlers, murderers, cowards, and adulterers. But now it’s a source of great comfort.”

Me too, Bono. We should hang out.

What a relief that the Bible isn’t about perfect little angels who do everything right. If it was, I couldn’t read it.

Thank God it’s about people—damaged, guilty, scared—whom God sweeps into His arms, heals, and uses to change the world.

Jesus wasn’t turned off by the rap sheets of his first disciples, and he isn’t turned off by yours either. One of the more destructive lies we tell ourselves is that we don’t deserve to be used by God, that something in our past disqualifies us.

No. We serve a God of second chances, a God who uses broken things to make the world whole.

I was talking to a young girl who’d been called some ugly things. I tried to tell her about the good I saw in her, but she stopped me and said, “If you knew the things I did, you wouldn’t like me.”

It hit me: that’s how we feel about God. We believe He loves us, but we don’t believe He likes us. At least not enough to use us. He has priests and missionaries for that, people who aren’t quite so broken.

But it’s not true. Jesus used regular, flawed people to set the world on fire with love.

God doesn’t just love you. He likes you. He chose you. And He’ll use you. The only question is whether you’ll let Him.

Following Jesus doesn’t mean abandoning your life and moving to Calcutta. It can be done right where you are.

“But I don’t know how,” you might say.

Me neither. That’s why Jesus said, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” That’s the good news. We don’t do it on our own. We can’t, which is why we follow.

Which brings me back to love, because when you love someone you’ll follow them anywhere.

Which brings me back to Intermediate Jazz and my final exam.

I’ve never been a shy person but that day I wanted to find a rock and die under it. But I couldn’t, because I needed to graduate.

So I stepped out from the group and danced alone. And for a minute or two, it was OK. But then it happened. My ears stopped working. I couldn’t hear the music. I froze and felt so stupid.

But then someone started clapping to the music. And she kept clapping until I found the beat and finished my dance.

That may seem trivial to you, but it isn’t to me. She rescued me and I’ll never forget it.

Following Jesus will take us into uncomfortable territory. We will be stretched.

But here’s what I know. The God who calls us, goes ahead of us. And when we lose the music, and can’t find the beat, a pair of hands will appear.

And they will clap.

And they will clap.

Until we all finish our dance.

finishing what he starts

When I was 13 I reported to the weight room for my first workout. Sixth grade was over and I had the summer to prepare for junior high football. The first order of business was to “max out” so the coaches could determine an appropriate weight-training program for me.

There were a plethora of humiliations that day. Here was the worst. The coach tells me to lie down on the bench press and get warmed up by pumping the bar a few times. “Don’t put any weight on it,” he says. “Just the bar. Something easy to get you loose.”

“Right, no problem.”

I lie back on the bench, grip the bar, and lift it off the rack. Shaking, I lower it down to my chest and heave. Nothing happens.

I try again.
Nope.

By the time the coach rescues me from death, all eyes are on the kid who can’t lift 45 pounds.

I wanted so badly to be strong.
And I wasn’t.

Have you ever longed for a strength you didn’t have?

In the Bible, St. Paul says that the God who began a good work in us will see that it’s completed.

Which means we are all a work in progress. We are all still becoming.

Have you ever looked in the mirror and thought, “I’m not the person I imagined I would be?”

I have. It feels awful. If you feel that way today, know this: God’s not done with you. There are days to become what He has called you to be.

Some guy said me, “It’s only a matter of time until the world blows itself up. Watch the news! People keep getting worse. There’s no saving us.”

“I’m not so sure about that,” I said.

“Why not?”

“Because,” I said, “God finishes what He starts. And when He created us, He said we were good. And when we got off track, He came to redeem us and give us a second chance.”

But this takes time. Faith isn’t a steady climb toward perfection; there are valleys and deserts along the way.

The key is to walk on through them.

After that first day in the gym I never wanted to go back.
But I did.

Because I couldn’t lift the bar the coach had me take one of the circular weight plates, which weighed less than 45 pounds, and use it for my exercises.

It was humiliating.

A popular kid named Jack walked in, saw what I was doing, and said, “No, Ryan, you’re supposed to take the weights and put them on the end of the bar. Here let me show you.”

“I know but coach told me to do it like this.”

“Why?”

“Because,” I whispered, “I can’t lift the bar. This is all I can do.”

Jack eyed me a long moment, glanced at the other boys, and said, “Yeah, of course.” He slapped me on the back. “Keep it up then. You’re doing fine.”

Keep it up. You’re doing fine.

If you keep moving toward God in the valley, either in sprint or in crawl, you will make it.
I promise.

How do I know?

Because.
God finishes what He starts.

God of the Dark

What are you afraid of? We’re all afraid of something. Illness? Unemployment? Mental math? There are certain existential fears we all share: death, abandonment, the college football rankings. Some fears are universal but many aren’t. Talk to ten people about fear and you’ll hear ten different stories.

We’re all wired differently, which means our fears are too. When I was a kid I had one particularly haunting fear: small spaces. More than once my mother had to reassure strangers that she wasn’t actually kidnapping me, it was just necessary to drag me onto the elevator. Oh, how I hated those chambers of death. Small spaces—dark rooms with no escape—these were the contours of my nightmares.

Years ago I fainted in the middle of the night and awoke on my bathroom floor in total darkness. I couldn’t see and, for a moment, I couldn’t move. I wigged out. My wife remembers. We were dating then and I called her and said, “Get over here, I’m dying!” She came, took care of me, and then told me to stop being dramatic. She tells me that about once a week.

Darkness can be scary. And in a way that is unique to it darkness unnerves even the bravest among us. To enter a dark house, to walk through a dark wood, to wade into dark water, requires infinitely more courage than it does under the safety of light.

But darkness is where the Christian New Year begins in December, that month when our days get short and our nights very long. Advent is the time we prepare for the coming of a baby whose life will burn so bright it’ll light the whole world. But Advent begins—where we all begin—in the dark.

Consider this Advent reading from the gospel of Mark: “But in those days, after that suffering, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. Then you will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.”

Most of us, myself included, spend Advent drinking eggnog and buying stuff we don’t need. But Advent offers darkened moons and falling stars and shaken heavens. Why? Because Advent knows that our lives, like the month of December, will get darker before they see light.

One of the people I love most in this world has had a hard year. She said to me, “Ryan, I want to pull the covers over my head and wake up on December 26th.” “Yeah,” I said. “I know that feeling.”

I think Jesus knew it too. Which is why he spoke of darkness. We’re like servants, Jesus says, tending our master’s house while he’s gone. And he might come home at any moment. So we wait and we watch. And there will be days when we do pull the covers over our heads.

And that’s OK. But here’s what we don’t do. We don’t stop believing. We don’t stop hoping. We don’t stop watching for the light. Rob Bell was asked why Advent still matters and he said, “Because cynicism is the new religion of our world.” Which means we better not get our hopes up because it’s never going to get any better.

It’s easy to feel that way when we see the violence in Ferguson and are reminded of how far we still must go if we’re ever going to love one another as brothers and sisters. Sometimes what I fear most is that the darkness will never end.

But then I remember what Jesus said about the sky falling and the heavens shaking and how it would be then that the Son of Man would come in great power and glory. The whole earth may crumble, Jesus says, but the One whose hands fashioned that world, will do no such thing.

I think that’s the heart of Advent. Yes, it’s dark. Yes, it’s easy to believe we’ll be let down in the end and there’s nothing worth waiting for. But Jesus says, “Hold on. Wait. Watch. Because I am coming and I am worth the wait.”

I don’t know what lurks in your darkness. But I know something about it. It’s scary. I also know it might not go away soon. Advent reminds us of that. But Advent says something else. This: God may be light, but He comes in the dark.

There is no dark water He won’t wade into; no dark night He won’t spend at our side. We may be afraid of the dark, but He isn’t. He made the dark and it He moves.

As a teenager I was still frightened of small, dark places. So my dad decided he and I were going to learn to scuba dive. Because if there’s one thing a claustrophobic kid wants to do it’s breathe air out of a tiny hose a hundred feet under water. But we did it.

To pass the course we had to dive in a cold lake with visibility often no more than a few inches in front of our faces. Near the end of the dive, our instructor led us to a tunnel and pointed at it. It was pitch black and I couldn’t see where it ended.

I knew what I had to do. I swam toward it and entered the darkness. And kicked like crazy until I came out the other side. My dad has always praised my courage that day. He was so proud that I went for it. But I’ll tell you the truth. I was scared out of my mind.

The only reason I swam into that tunnel of death was because my father was behind me. I knew that whatever happened, I wouldn’t be alone. I couldn’t see him but I felt him. He was there and I knew he’d be there until we reached the other side.

Christmas is coming. The Christ Child is on His way, coming to bring light to our weary and darkened world. But today is Advent.

So may we experience the season, trusting that our Father in Heaven does not wait to meet us on the side of light, but walks with us now, this day, in the dark.

Bottling God

I remember being in church once and really sensing the presence of God. You know that feeling? Your singing a song, or saying a prayer, and you know in your bones—God is here. I felt that and thought, “If I could just bottle this, and take it with me, I’d be a much better Christian.”

Because the reality is that most of life isn’t mountaintop moments. It’s waiting in line at the grocery store, it’s being told I don’t have a job, that my blood work doesn’t look right, that my expenses are exceeding my income.

And what I’ve found is that if God isn’t with me in those moments, the church stuff doesn’t really matter. Pump me up on Sunday, but if I can’t find God come Thursday, I’m in trouble.

What I’ve been learning is that I didn’t need to bottle up God in church so I could take Him into the world. What I needed to do was open my eyes and see that He was already there.

sorry.

I heard of a woman who received a nice settlement from a lawsuit. Afterward, she was still furious. Her lawyer asked, “What’s wrong? What you got was more than fair.”

“What I wanted,” she said, “was for somebody to look me in the eye and say, ‘I’m sorry this happened.’”

We all know this.  But saying sorry is hard, isn’t it?

In a book called Being Wrong, author Kathryn Schulz writes: “As a culture, we haven’t mastered the basic skill of saying ‘I was wrong.’”

Think about that. We fly robots to Mars. We cure disease. We’re the most advanced people in the history of humanity.

But we can’t say sorry.

Why? Maybe it’s because our culture is upside down on the issue. There’s a famous line from the movie, Love Story – remember it? “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”

Uh, what?

Love means having to say you’re sorry all the time. Preferably every fifteen minutes.

There’s a thousand answers that could be given for why we don’t do it, so let me focus on one: pride.

Pride trivializes God’s mercy in our lives.Pride makes it hard to appreciate what God has done.

We’re like the young rich man who can’t follow Jesus because his heart is consumed by wealth. He’s spiritually blind to his need for Christ. Why follow Jesus when you already have what you need?

Dorothy Day said the closer she grew to God the more she could acknowledge her sinfulness because she saw that God never abandoned her to sin but repeatedly extended his mercy.

That’s the secret. Drawing closer to God allows us to see ourselves for who we are: fragile creatures in need of grace.

It’s tough to say sorry when we’re doing life on our own. Easier when resting in God’s mercy.

It comes down to pride. We don’t apologize because we see it as weakness. But it’s not.

A recent study on leadership found that admitting fault and apologizing creates solidarity, innovation, and openness to change.

So, saying sorry literally makes us more creative and successful. Sorry isn’t weakness; it’s power.

When we need to say sorry, who keeps us from doing it? Nobody.

We hold all the power. And that’s the problem, because our tendency is to address our weaknesses and struggle with them. But there is often little moral effort where we are strong.

But in scripture sin resides not so much in our weaknesses but in our strengths. Because God doesn’t kick us when we’re down. He lifts us up.

Think about Jesus with the adulteress, refusing to condemn her, daring others to throw the first stone. He whispers something hidden in her ear, then says, “Go and sin no more.”

Scripture is filled with a God who grieves with us in our weakness and offers grace to help us overcome.

It’s when we sin in our strength that God drops the metaphorical hammer. When we simply don’t bother to do what we can.

The rich man could have followed Jesus and given his money to the poor, but he doesn’t. In the parable of the Good Samaritan, the priest and the Levite could have cared for the wounded man, but they don’t. In the last judgment scene of Matthew’s gospel, those who are condemned are told their fault lies in their unwillingness to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, and clothe the naked.

The story of sin, like the call to repentance, concerns those areas of our lives where we could have tried harder, precisely because we were able to do so. Christ judges not the weak heart that struggles, but rather the strong heart that does not bother.

We hold enormous power over one another. We can withhold an apology and wreak havoc. Or, we can trust God’s mercy, lay down our pride, and offer this little word of healing.

The choice is ours.

 

 

Homily on John 9:1-38

“For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of the light.” Amen.

 

My mother has been a flight attendant for nearly 23 years.

 I remember the day she went for the interview. She wore a red dress and was afraid to fly. But she needed the job. So fly she did. Pretty cool woman.

A week ago a passenger approached her to report that another passenger had threatened him.

“He threatened you?” mom asked. “How?”

“He said if I leaned my seat back again, he was going to beat the something out of me.” That’s the PG version of what he said.

Mom raised an eyebrow. “Was he was joking?”

The man shook his head. “No, not joking.”

“OK,” mom said, “I’ll ring the cockpit and let the captain know. We can have law enforcement board the plane when we land.”

“No, no, I don’t want to cause a scene,” he said. “I just wanted you to know in case something happens to me.”

“Well, at the very least, let’s move you to another seat.”

“Great,” he said.

Later, mom was taking drink orders when she arrived at the row where the alleged villain sat. She checked him out and said he was well dressed and by all accounts appeared normal and content.

The passengers around him, however, looked stressed. The tension that had surfaced earlier was still very much alive. Mom said the man sitting next to the villain had his face pressed against the window, trying to put as much distance between them as possible. He also ordered a double scotch.

The villain ordered a ginger ale.

Mom left to get the drinks but when she returned she realized she had forgotten the villain’s ginger ale.

Uh-Oh.

 

She apologized and said she’d be right back with his drink.

The passengers winced. The man by the window threw back his scotch. Just kidding.

The villain said, “You know what? Make it a club soda. I forgot; I gave up ginger ale for Lent.”

Mom’s jaw hit the floor.

 

 Ginger ale? What about threatening people? That might have been a good one for Lent.

 

I’m not looking to throw stones but sometimes we Christians give Christianity a bad rap, don’t we? I know I do.

It was Gandhi who said, “I like Christ, just not Christians. They’re so unlike Christ.”

 Ouch.

I’ve tried to let that quote challenge me and not offend me. Because the reality is that when people want to know if what they read about Jesus is true, they often look to the lives of those who profess Him as Lord.

I think about that.

As a kid someone once told me I needed to behave because I might be the only Jesus someone ever sees. To which I thought, “That’s too bad.”

But seriously, when we—the religious—turn people off from Jesus, that’s a problem.

A popular mantra of my generation is that we’re spiritual but not religious. Which is another way to say we’re open to God, but suspect of his people.

A sentiment I imagine would ring true with the beggar from our gospel reading. Blind since birth, he encounters Jesus, who takes dirt, spits in it, and uses it to anoint the man’s face. And for the first time in his life, he moves from dark to light.

But then he runs into a bunch of religious folks and things run sideways.

Before he’s even healed, the disciples point at him and say, “Teacher, whose fault is that? Who sinned? He or his parents?”

It was a commonly held belief in the ancient world that illness and disability were the direct result of sin.  But Jesus will hear nothing of it.

“Nobody sinned,” He says. “Come on. This man is who he is as you are who you are. He’s a person, fully formed, in whom the work of God will be made manifest.”

On a recent evening I was running at the track when I saw a severely disabled teenager using a walker in the lane next to me. His father was a few paces ahead, keeping an eye on him. As I ran by, I became hyper aware of my able body, and I felt bad for running while he fought for every step. I felt pity for him.

But the next lap I got a better look at his face. It was painted in joy. He was smiling, radiant, happy to be walking in the cool of the evening with his father. And I thought, “How dare I marginalize that boy? How dare I presume to know anything about him?”

Two thousand years ago Jesus looked at the disabled and declared them full people, in every sense of the word.

The disciples’ question had to do with exclusion. They wanted to know who was responsible for keeping the blind beggar shut out from society.

Jesus said, “Wrong question. No one is excluded. I’m the light of the world, and my light shines on all people.” All people.

After the beggar’s encounter with Jesus, his neighbors drag him before the Pharisees to give an account for his healing.  And like our pal on the plane who gave up ginger ale for Lent, they make a mess of religion.

They simply don’t believe the story.

They badger him and question his integrity. They haul his parents in to testify whether or not he was actually even blind. They call Jesus a sinner and say the man is nothing more than a disciple of a sinner. But they are disciples of Moses, a true prophet.

The beggar fights back, saying, “Look, I don’t know who he is; haven’t a clue if he’s a sinner. But if he were not from God, how could he open my eyes? I was blind, but now I see.”

That does it. The Pharisees eject him from the synagogue, saying, “You were born into utter sin. How dare you teach us?”

With those words we reach the heart of the story: blindness, but not of the eyes, of the spirit. Physical blindness, challenging as it may be, only has so much power. Our physical condition speaks not of our true identity.

As we heard in our reading from Samuel, God does not see as mortals do, who look on outward appearances, for God looks upon the heart.

Far more challenging is spiritual blindness. Because when our spirits are blind, we no longer see the works of God, not even when they’re brought before us.

The Pharisees are certain they know how God works and how He doesn’t. So when Jesus heals this man on the Sabbath, it can’t be from God, because God doesn’t work that way.

You know, the Pharisees take it on the chin a lot, but they were just trying to be faithful. But in this instance their religious beliefs, the conviction they could see, blinded them.

Which is kind of terrifying for us. How can we know if we see by the light?

Dan Clendenin says, “One of the most dangerous spiritual places we can live is in the deluded notion that we are a fully sighted person.”

There’s something to that. This past week the Westboro Baptist Church—which in no meaningful way is Baptist or a church— was again in the news because it founder, Rev. Fred Phelps, passed away. Phelps made the church famous for protesting the funerals of American soldiers, and making hateful statements about all kinds of people. I’ve often wondered what drives a person to such extremes? Probably a lot of factors, but at least one is a deep-rooted belief that you see the world rightly. You don’t treat people as worthless unless you believe they are.

It’s easy to get into trouble when we think we’ve got it all figured out. We may not spout hate speech but we have our plans, our ambition; why consult God in prayer? We know who to vote for; why listen to another perspective? We know what’s right and wrong; why bother reading scripture?

We know. We know. We know.

I wish I read this story and identified with the blind beggar, who knew he was blind and could thus recognize the light.

And maybe some days I do. But more often I’m the Pharisee, believing I can see, when in reality I cannot.

But, you know what I’ve found? The healthiest people don’t just admit their blindness; they embrace it. The wise readily admit, “I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know.”

Long ago a newspaper posed the question, “What’s Wrong with the World?” The great writer, G.K. Chesterton wrote back, “Dear Sirs: I am.”

Pretty good.

If we hope to see by the light, we must acknowledge we’re in the dark. The first step in any recovery is admitting there’s a problem.

Jesus said he didn’t come for the healthy but the sick. A healthy person doesn’t need a doctor. A sick person does.

The righteous can keep on being righteous, but sinners? Well, we need a savior.

If we’re honest, I think that’s tougher to admit than we like to think. We like Jesus as teacher, and healer, and preacher… but savior?

Who needs that when we know, we know, we know?

During the past year the most visible Christian in the world has garnered unprecedented attention. Pope Francis has been called a rock-star pope; a title he said offended him. Which I thought was awesome.

This is a man who’s spent his entire career living with and serving the poor. A man who admitted he didn’t want to be pope. A man with tremendous wealth at his disposal and drives a Ford escort, which the guys from NPR’s Click and Clack say proves he is a man of prayer.

Pope Francis hasn’t changed any doctrine. Hasn’t overwhelmed anyone with electric preaching. He’s not youthful or particularly handsome.  He’s not even considered a great theologian.

And yet, he’s set the world on fire with talk of God. I have atheist friends who despise religion, but they like this pope.

What’s up with that?

Might be because he recently admitted that while burying the priest who had been his confessor years ago, he stole a rosary from his casket. Pope Francis said it took a little work to pry it from his cold fingers, but he got the job done, and then asked the priest to forgive him one last time.

 I think it has something to do with the answer he gave to a reporter when asked, “Who are you?”

The pope sat in silence and then said, “I am a sinner. A sinner whom the Lord has looked upon.”

Humility is a warm light that draws all people toward it. The Proverbs declare that fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.

If we hope to see we must first know we are blind. This isn’t bad news. It’s good because in our blindness we are not left to stumble in the dark, for the light of Christ shines on all people—on popes and beggars, on saints and sinners, on your and on me.

 How do we know if we see by the light? “I don’t know,” the beggar said to the Pharisees. “I don’t have all the answers. But one thing I know: Jesus touched my eyes. And where once I was blind, now I see.”

Words and Mouths

Preaching is a great privilege. To stand in a sacred space and speak creatively about God and life is one of the weightier things I do. That being said, I count it sheer joy to stand up and talk in front of people. Anyway, if you like that kind of thing, below is a link to recent homilies I’ve given.

Hope everyone is having a peaceful Sunday. Peace and Love.

Sermons

P.S. Football starts really soon. My predictions: The Cowboys will win the Super Bowl and the USC Trojans will go undefeated, once again proving that Southern California really is God’s favorite college.