Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Sunday: Marinating in God’s Love

“He saw and believed.” – Jn 20:8
“We are witnesses…” – Act 10:39

I live with Fr. Greg Boyle who works with LA gangs for the past 25 years. In his moving book, “Tattoos on the Heart,” he tells the following story about Willie, a homie who was “a charmer, a con man who can coax money out of your ATM if you let him.”

One night, probably on the run, Willie hit up Fr. Greg for $20. So Fr. Greg went to the Food 4 Less ATM on Fourth & Soto. While waiting Willie was especially nervous and fidgety, Fr. Greg told him to put his hands together and pray. When Fr. Greg came back with the $20, Willie was quiet and reflective. There was a “palpable sense of peace” in the car. When asked if he prayed, Willie said “Yeah, I did.” “What did God say to you,” Fr. Greg asked him. “Well at first He said, ‘Shut up and listen.’ So Willie did just that.

When he noticed something different about Willie, Fr. Greg asked: “How do you see God?” “God? That’s my dog right there.” ("Dog" meaning best buddy). When pressed further, Willie with heart overflowing, a tear falling down his cheeks, said: “God … thinks … I’m firme.” (To the homies, firme means “could not be one bit better.”)

I know what Willie means. A few years ago I experienced something incredibly freeing. For most of my life, I live full of fears and worries. I suffer from being a perfectionist, always having to be perfect to earn love, to be worthy of love. It was like being in an empty tomb. I kept wanting to change, people around me said I needed to change; I pressured myself to change; always needing to be measured up for God to love me. At the advice of my spiritual director, I asked God in prayer if God had a problem with my perfectionism many people do, including myself. I listened. To my utter surprise, God said: “I’m fine with you … You’re my Beloved … as you are! … To me, you’re firme …”

This has changed everything about me … it’s changing my story …

Fr. Greg recommends that we should all let this truth of God’s love marinate deep within, like meat in marinating juice for days. Marinate in this intimate, tender, love God has for each of us

An experience like this changes how we interpret the events in our life …

In today’s Gospel, Peter went inside the empty tomb and saw the cloths, he didn’t see anything except the missing body of Jesus. When the disciple whom Jesus loved went in, he saw and believed. Because he had embraced love, he believed and saw things differently. When we love deeply, we see our beloved everywhere, we interpret everything through that relationship.

We all have a story to tell. Not so much with words, but by how we live. How we live is how we tell our story. Will it be a story of tragedy or one of hope? The difference lies with believing in the Resurrection, which gives us lens of hope to interpret the events of our lives. To one who believes all things are possible; to one who doubts, everything is difficult.

We are called to proclaim the story of God’s love with our lives. To let our story speak and draw people into the drama of God’s love. This is what it means to witness, to make known, to testify to our love story with God.

It’s good that the Easter Season lasts 50 days. We have longer than Lent for this truth to marinate in our minds and in our hearts. To be Tattooed on the Heart. To be a good contagion for people around us.

“Risen One, deepen your love in me that I can be a witness to others …”

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Holy Saturday: The Resurrection Was Hidden

"We have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life." Romans 6:4

The resurrection of Jesus was a hidden event. Jesus didn't rise from the grave to baffle his opponents, to make a victory statement, or to prove to those who crucified him that he was right after all. Jesus rose as a sign to those who loved him and followed him that God's divine love is stronger than death. To the women and men who committed themselves to him, he revealed that his mission had been fulfilled. To those who shared in his ministry, he gave the sacred task to call all people into the new life with him. God lifted up Jesus to give us the radical hope that forgiveness is victorious over vengeance, that love conquers hate, that goodness transforms evil. Hidden in the crucible of sin and death is redemption and new life.

The world didn't take notice. Only those whom he called by name, with whom he broke bread, and to whom he spoke words of peace were aware of what happened. Still, it was this hidden event that freed humanity from the shackles of death. It is still hidden today; yet in faith, we catch glimpses.

"O God, help me to know and appreciate the awesome mysteries of redemption that are largely hidden from our view."

inspired by Henri Nouwen

Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday: Are We Willing To Accept Our Cross?

"Into your hands I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God." – Psalm 31:5

Jesus says, "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me." He does not say, "Make a cross" or "Look for a cross." Each of us has a cross to carry. There is no need to make one or look for one. Living every moment of our life and fully embracing our humanity inevitably brings us to our crosses.

My brother and I often joke that following Jesus is a synch, if only we can choose the cross – the suffering – we want. Yet, paradoxically the cross is precisely the manner of suffering that we least prefer. Jesus’ call to discipleship remains: “Are we willing to take it up, to accept it as our cross, in the following of him?”

Maybe we struggle to focus or to study; maybe we have some handicapped in some way; maybe we suffer from depression, from poor self-regard, from a serious disease; maybe we experience conflict in our families; maybe we are victims of violence or abuse. We didn't choose any of it, but these things are our crosses. We can ignore them, reject them, refuse them or hate them. But we can also take up these crosses and follow Jesus with them – follow the one who has transformed all crosses into glory. Then perhaps can we confront or even eliminate the conditions of injustice or abuse rooted in certain suffering.

"We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you, because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world!"

inspired by Henri Nouwen

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Holy Thursday: Remembering is Becoming Like Jesus

“Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and, after he had given thanks, broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” - 1 Corinthians 11:23-24.
"If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.” – Jn 13:14-15

People who know they are about to die take special leave of their loved ones. Their last words and actions sum up their greatest hopes and desires for those they love. At the Last Supper, Jesus left his disciples two acts of remembrance. First, Jesus took the bread, blessed, broke, and gave it to his disciples. Second, he washed their feet.

When Jesus took bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to his disciples, he summarized in these gestures his own life. He is chosen to reveal God’s limitless love, blessed at his baptism in the Jordan River, broken on the cross, and given as bread to the world. Being chosen, blessed, broken, and given is the sacred journey of the Son of God, Jesus the Christ.

It is also our journey. We remember Jesus by recalling what he did. Moreover, we remember him when we live as people chosen, blessed, broken, and given as food for the world. We become the very body of Christ that is taken, blessed, broken, and given. Likewise, we remember him when we wash one another’s feet with the same self-giving love that he loved. The Eucharist and feet washing are integral acts remembrance. By remembering in these ways, we become more like Christ.

"Thank you, Jesus, for the gift of the Eucharist. Help us to remember in becoming more like you.”

Inspired by Henri Nouwen

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Wednesday, Holy Week: Faithful Witness Doesn't Always Yield Results

"Insults have broken my heart, so that I am in despair. I looked for pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none." - Psalm 69:20

We belong to an age that wants quick results. We want visible productivity, to see with our own eyes what we have made. Instant gratification often creeps itself into our spiritual life. But that is not the way of God's Kingdom. Often our witness for God does not lead to tangible results. Jesus himself died as a failure on the cross, betrayed by friends, handed over by a follower. In his earthly life, Jesus did not see much “success.” Still, the fruitfulness of Jesus’ life is beyond any human measure. As faithful witnesses of Jesus, we have to trust that our lives too will bear fruits, even though we cannot yet see them.

What is important is how well we have tried to love. God will make our love fruitful, whether we see that fruitfulness or not. Just as God raised Jesus from the dead, God will give fruition to our sacrifices.

“Lord, help me to trust in your sanctifying power and not to expect ‘successes in all that I do”

inspired by Henri Nouwen

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tuesday, Holy Week: We All ‘Hand Others Over To Suffering’

“Jesus was troubled in spirit, and testified, ‘Amen, amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.’ The disciples looked at one another, at a loss as to whom he meant” - John 13:21-22

In Greek, to “betray” means to hand the other over to suffering. Judas’ betrayal handed Jesus over to suffering. Peter’s denial leaves Jesus to suffer alone. In different ways, Judas and Peter are sources of sorrow for Jesus.

The truth is that each of us hands others over to suffering, especially those close to us. Intentionally or unknowingly we betray as Judas or deny as Peter. We overprotect, cling too tightly, or hold unrealistic expectations of people we profess to love. Judas handed Jesus over to suffering partially because he wanted to force Jesus to become a political Messiah; Peter denied knowing Jesus because the cost of such discipleship would be too much for him.

When we are willing to confess that we often hand those we love over to suffering, even against our best intentions, we can experience God’s forgiving love. In turn, we will be more ready to forgive those who, often against their will, are the causes of our pain.

“Lord, help me to understand the ways I may be causing others to suffer.”

inspired by Henri Nouwen

Monday, April 18, 2011

Monday, Holy Week: An Extravagant and Humbled Love

“Mary took a liter of costly perfumed oil made from genuine aromatic nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and dried them with her hair; the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.” – John 12:3

Mary demonstrated a love toward Jesus that is uninhibited and breaks social conventions. According to Judas, she used expensive oil costing more than a year’s wage. To him, her dramatic expression is rather wasteful.

Yet, her extravagant act is coupled with a profound humility. She went down on her knees and dried Jesus’ feet with her hair … tenderly. Her unabashed expression of love must have puzzled some people in the room, and made others uncomfortable.

However, Jesus defends her, “Leave her alone. Let her keep this for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me” (verses 7-8). He accepted her love, humbly and extravagantly shown.

This Holy Week invites us to enter more deeply the love of God which Mary foreshadows. The readings reveal Jesus who embraces denials and betrayals by his closest friends (tomorrow and Wednesdays); Jesus who humbles himself to wash our feet – the dirtiest part of ourselves (Holy Thursday); Jesus who sacrifices his life on the cross – entering our greatest darkness – to save us (Good Friday); Jesus who calls people to baptism and deeper faith (Holy Saturday); Jesus whose Resurrection brings us to greater hope and trust (Easter Sunday).

It is not easy for many of us to accept a love so lavished and seemingly wasteful. Going to Mass several times this week (especially Thursday–Saturday), praying the Rosary, showing love in quiet and sacrificial ways will help us enter the drama of God’s extravagant and humbled love in Jesus.

“Jesus, help me to embrace your passion and your love more fully this week.”

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Passion Sunday: Jesus reveals God-with-us-in-suffering

“My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” – Mark 15:34

Immense suffering is often intensified by a deep sense of loneliness. At times, we feel utterly alone in the pain, sadness, or anguish. What has been meaningful and life-giving gives way to a void and desolation. Goodness is eclipsed; God seems absent. Our cry echoes Jesus’ lament. On the cross, Jesus is stripped of the foundation of his life – the intimate relationship with God whom he calls Abba.

As Jesus undergoes the depth and breadth of human suffering, the power of God’s compassionate love enters the pain of the world to transform it from within. In sharing the loneliness of those who suffer, Jesus brings about new meaning: “I am here; you are not alone; I am for you, I am laboring to bring forth new life.” We are called to recognize and manifest such presence: Jesus, God-with-us-in-suffering.

"Lord Jesus, help me this week to be united with you in my suffering and in solidarity with those who suffer.”

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Saturday, 5th Week: God’s Everlasting Covenant Rests On Unconditional Love

"I will make with them a covenant of peace; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them” – Ez 37:26

When God makes a covenant with us, God says, “I will love you with an everlasting love. I will be faithful to you, even when you run away from me, reject me, or betray me.” In our society we don't speak much about covenants; we speak about contracts. When we make a contract with a person, we say, “I will fulfill my part as long as you fulfill yours. When you don't live up to your promises, I no longer have to live up to mine.” Contracts are often broken because the partners are unwilling or unable to be faithful to their terms.

God did not make a contract with us; God forged a covenant with us, one that is rooted in God’s faithfulness more than ours. Regardless of our infidelity, God keeps God’s promise of everlasting love. And God wants our relationships with one another to reflect that covenant. That is why marriage, friendship, and life in community are all ways to manifest God's faithfulness in our lives together.

O Faithful One, help me to be faithful to all my commitments.

inspired by Henri Nouwen

Friday, April 15, 2011

Friday, 5th Week: Our Calling to Give and Receive Consolation

"In my distress I called upon the Lord; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears." - Psalm 18:6

Consolation is a beautiful word. It means "to be" (con-) "with the lonely one" (solus). To offer consolation is one of the most important ways to care, to love. In silence, God is with Jesus, lonely and forsaken on the cross. The Risen Jesus offers consolation to followers who grieve his death.

Life is so full of pain, sadness, and loneliness that we often wonder what we can do to alleviate the immense suffering we see. We can and must offer consolation. We can and must console the young adult who is confused and depressed, the mother who lost her child, the person with AIDS, the family devastated by tsunamis, earthquakes or lost jobs, the soldier who is wounded, the teenager who contemplates suicide, the old man who wonders why he should stay alive.

To console does not mean to take away the pain but rather to be there and say, “You are not alone, I am with you. Together we can carry the burden. Don't be afraid. I am here.” It is to trust that God is present and will give hope somehow, despite uncertainties. That is consolation. We all need to give it as well as to receive it. That is God’s great gift in Jesus, who is God-with-us-in-suffering. That is our calling, especially as we enter Holy Week.

Lord, who do you call me to console today?

inspired by Henri Nouwen

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Thursday, 5th Week: Promises Of Love In An Everlasting Covenant

"I will maintain my covenant with you and your descendants after you throughout the ages as an everlasting pact, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you.”-- Genesis 17:7

When God makes a covenant with us, God says, "I will love you with an everlasting love. I will be faithful to you, even when you run away from me, reject me, or betray me." In our society we don't speak much about covenants; we speak about contracts. When we make a contract with a person, we say, "I will fulfill my part as long as you fulfill yours. When you don't live up to your promises, I no longer have to live up to mine." Contracts are often broken because the partners are unwilling or unable to be faithful to their terms.

But God did not make a contract with us; God forged a covenant with us, and God wants our relationships with one another to reflect that covenant. The deep mystery of this covenantal love is rooted in God’s faithfulness more than ours. Regardless of our infidelity, God keeps God’s promise of everlasting love. That is why marriage, friendship, and life in community are all ways to give visibility to God's faithfulness in our lives together.

"O Faithful One, help me to be faithful to all my commitments."

adapted from Henri Nouwen

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Wednesday, 5th Week: Return Often to God's Word

“If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” – John 8:31-32

True freedom is the freedom of the children of God. To reach that freedom requires a lifelong discipline since so much in our world militates against it. The political, economic, social, and even religious powers surrounding us all want to keep us in bondage so that we will obey their commands and be dependent on their rewards. This is not their overt message; but in subtle and gradual ways, we are seduced into this bondage.

But the spiritual truth that leads to freedom is the truth that we belong not to the world but to God, whose beloved children we are. By living lives in which we keep returning to that truth in word and deed, we will gradually grow into our true freedom. By getting in touch with this bedrock experience of who we are before God, we take another step towards true freedom.

What shows that you belong to God, not to the world? Get in touch with this foundational experience…

adapted from Henri Nouwen

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Tuesday, 5th Week: Waiting through Patient Listening

“The people complained against God and Moses, ‘Why have you brought us up from Egypt to die in this desert, where there is no food or water? We are disgusted with this wretched food’ - Numbers 21:4-5

Patient waiting is a difficult discipline. Our contemporary culture places little value on waiting. Anything that does not seem efficient or productive is considered a waste of time for us. We turn to our cell phones, iPods, gamepads, etc… while waiting for a flight, for the rain to stop, for a friend’s arrival, for the end of a workday, for a meeting or class to end. We distract ourselves with activity to pass the time away. Yet, patient waiting is not just passivity until something else happens. It involves living more fully the present moment to make space for God to work, for hidden gifts to unfold, for seeds of grace to grow. It does involve some suffering, for the word “patience comes from the Latin verb patior, which means to “suffer.” Such suffering may take the form of a dying to one’s preferences, wants, agenda, timeline; it may take the form of letting go, of paying attention to what is happening here and now, especially feelings of discomfort and dis-ease.

As we learn to wait this way, we grow in trust that God is present and actively working through these moments of seemingly un-productivity and waste of time. We can also develop a deeper attitude and capacity to listen – to ask: “Lord, how are you present and communicating to me at this time, in my present circumstances?”

Spend 10-15 minutes to engage in a most counter-cultural yet life-giving activity: patient listen through prayer.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Monday, 5th Week: Loving Beyond Judgment

“Jesus said, ‘Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her … Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin any more.’” – John 8:7,11

We are prone to cast stones at another’s weakness. We are quick to condemn and punish in others those weaknesses and failings we dimly see in ourselves. The quicker we judge and convict, the less we are likely to be honest with ourselves and the more likely we are trying to cover our guilt. In groups especially, we give-in to the mob mentality to mask our guilt.

Jesus knows well this dark side of our humanity. Yet, he takes us on as we are. He who is without sin does not judge us as we deserve: “As far as the east is from the west, so far have our sins been removed from us” (Psalm 103:12). He does not downplay the sin. Yet, he sees past it, calling us to greater fidelity, self-acceptance, and love one another in our frailties. If he does not condemn us, then why do we judge? If he is willing to forgive, can we rely on his strength to do likewise?

What aspects of my life am I in need of forgiveness this day? Ask God for this gift. Consider partaking in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sunday, 5th Week: God, in Jesus, Keeps Promises

“I will put my spirit in you that you may live, and I will settle you upon your land; thus you shall know that I am the LORD. I have promised, and I will do it, says the LORD” - Ezekiel 37:14
“And Jesus wept. So the Jews said, ‘See how he loved him.’” – John 11:35-36

The shortest line in the New Testament, “And Jesus wept,” reveals the humanity and depth of Jesus’ love for his friend Lazarus. He comes “late” to console and to save. “Late” because God’s timing and manner of acting in the world is not determined by our schedule. God’s ways are not our ways. But Jesus keeps his promise. In God’s mysterious time and fashion, Jesus acts decisively. He suffers with and consoles Mary & Martha. He raises Lazarus to new life.

It is not just for Lazarus whom Jesus weeps, he weeps for us. He grieves with us who grieves and shed tears with us who cry. Yet, in solidarity with those who suffer, Jesus acts. The loneliness that comes from being alone is met; the loss of meaning from suffering bears new insight and purpose; new hope arises mysteriously from despair. God in Jesus suffers for us and with us. God keeps promises.

For what do you mourn and weep? Invite Jesus to walk with you.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Saturday, 4th Week: Living Without Prejudices Is Challenging

Nicodemus ... asked, "Our law does not judge people without first giving them a hearing to find out what they are doing, does it?" - John 7:51

One of the hardest spiritual tasks is to live without prejudices. Sometimes we aren’t even aware how deeply rooted our prejudices are. We may think that we relate to people who are different than we are in color, religion, sexual orientation, or lifestyle as equals, but in concrete circumstances our spontaneous thought, uncensored words, and knee-jerk reactions often reveal that our prejudices are still there.

Strangers, people different from us, stir up fear, discomfort, suspicion, and hostility. They make us lose our sense of security just by being “other.” Only when we fully claim that God loves us in an unconditional way and look at “those other persons” as likewise loved can we begin to discover that the great variety in humanity is an expression of the immense richness of God's heart. Then the need to prejudge people can gradually disappear; or at least its hold on us will lessen. Moreover, we can ask God for the grace to see and love as Jesus sees and loves. Consequently, being aware of our prejudices and asking to “borrow” Jesus’s eyes and heart will help us grow in compassion.

"Lord, make known to me my prejudices and help me to overcome them."

adapted from Henri Nouwen

Friday, April 8, 2011

Friday, 4th Week: Accepting Our Brokenness - And Living It

"The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord rescues them from them all. He keeps all their bones; not one of them will be broken." - Psalm 34:18-20

Jesus was broken on the cross. He endured his suffering and death not as an evil to avoid at all costs but as a mission to embrace. We too are broken. We live with broken bodies, broken hearts, broken minds, or broken spirits. We suffer from broken relationships. Countries suffer from broken relations.

How can we live our brokenness? Jesus invited us to embrace our brokenness as he embraced the cross and live it as part of our mission. He asks us not to reject our brokenness as a curse from God that reminds us of our sinfulness but to accept it and put it under God's blessing for our purification and sanctification. Rather, we are invited to a deeper intimacy with Jesus on the Cross who suffers with and for us. In his wounds, our are healed. Our brokenness can become a gateway to new life.

"What helps you accept your condition as sinful and broken -- yet redeemed and called to contribute in your own special way?"

adapted from Henri Nouwen

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Wednesday, 4th Week: Our Security Is Rooted In God's Love

"But Zion said, "The Lord has forsaken me, my Lord has forgotten me." Can a woman forget her nursing child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you." - Isaiah 49:14-15

We all long for security. Often, we look for a firm security in success, money, friends, ideas, property, popularity, family, connections, insurance, our own strength or resourcefulness and so on. We may like to think that none of these forms the basis of our security, but our actions or feelings may tell us otherwise. When we begin to lose our money, our friends, or our popularity, our anxiety often reveals how deeply our sense of security is rooted in these things.

Ignatian spirituality envisions a life of the spirit in which our security is based not in any created things, good as they may be, but in God, who is love everlasting. Such things are helps in our praise, reverence and service of God, in so far as we do not make them the center of our lives. We probably will never be completely free from belonging to such temporal things, but if we want to live in the world in a truly free way, then we are called to let go of such inordinate attachments. Lent is an invitation for a greater “no” to such things and more whole-hearted “yes” to God’s unspeakable love – our true security.

"What did the most recent crisis in your life reveal about the basis for your security? Listen and speak to God about it.”

inspired by Henri Nouwen

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Tuesday, 4th Week: Enough Light To Take The Next Step

"Along both banks of the river, fruit trees of every kind shall grow; their leaves shall not fade, nor their fruit fail. Every month they shall bear fresh fruit, for they shall be watered by the flow from the sanctuary.” – Ez 49:12

Often we want to be able to see into the future. We say, "How will next year be for me? Where will be five or ten years from now?" There are no answers to these questions, because all we see is the present. The past is the present remembering. The future is the present anticipating. We only experience the present moment. By experiencing fully each moment, we are living into the unknown future.

Often pain and hardships overshadow the present and its anticipated future. Yet, we are gifted in the present with just enough light to see the next step: what we have to do in the coming hour or the following day. The art of living is to enjoy what we can see and not to get anxious about what remains in the dark. When we are able to take the next step with the trust, that we will have enough light for the step that follows, we can walk through life with joy and be surprised at how far we go. Let us rejoice in the little light we carry and not demand the great beam that would take all shadows away. The spiritual life is taking one step at a time with Jesus - the Light of the World.

"Lord, help me to embrace the gift of the present, give thanks for what I have, and take that next step with You.”

inspired by Henri Nouwen

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Saturday, 3rd Week: Grounded and Rooted In Love

“‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’ … for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” – Lk 18:13-14

The word “humility” comes from its Latin root “humus” which means “ground” or “dirt.” Whatever humility may mean, it includes the sense of being firmly grounded, of being securely rooted in God’s Love. Saint Teresa of Avila sees humility as accepting the truth about oneself. Accepting the truth about ourselves can lead us to two realizations. First, that we are bound by sinful tendencies: we do not do the things we want to do that leads to life; rather, we do the opposite that leads to death. We are profoundly conflicted and divided within. Second, in crying out to God for mercy and unconditional acceptance, we realize our dignity as beloved sons and daughters, as those redeemed by Love which embraces and transforms us beyond our sins, inner conflicts, and tendencies toward death. We grow in deeper awareness that while we are broken, we are continually loved, forgiven, and called into being.

Rooted in Love, we can resist the temptation to let others or our performance determine who we are. We will be affected less by the praise and adulation of others or of our own sense of accomplishment. Deeply rooted in Love, we can enjoy human praise without being attached to it. We can accept the truth about ourselves with gratitude.

“O Lord, help me to come to a deeper awareness of myself as a sinner, redeemed and beloved.”

Friday, April 1, 2011

Friday, 3rd Week: Being Alone With God

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” - Mark 12:30

Hiddenness is an essential quality of the spiritual life. Solitude, silence, ordinary tasks, simply being with people, sleeping, eating, working, playing are facets of life that Jesus lived and invites us to live. It is in hiddenness that we can find a true intimacy with God and a true love for people. Even during his active ministry, Jesus continued to return to hidden places to be alone with God. If we don't have a hidden life with God, our public life for God cannot bear fruit, just as a fruit tree cannot bear fruits unless its roots are grounded in the earth through hiddenness. Like much of in nature which grows in hiddenness and silence, the human spirit grows in hiddenness and silence.

Solitude allows us to be alone with God. There we experience that we belong not to people, not even to those who love us and care for us, but to God and God alone.

“My soul is at rest in God alone, my salvation comes from God.” (Psalm 62:2)

"Resolve to spend some time today alone with God."

adapted from Henri Nouwen