Never Say “I CAN’T!” The Biggest OBSTACLE To Prayer! What Seems IMPOSSIBLE to You? Finding STRENGTH During Hard Times. ARE WE STILL THE CONSUMERS? And the 100th anniversary of The Velveteen Rabbit… All that and more in this week’s inspiration!
1. Never Say “I CAN’T”: Great lesson from Matthew McConaughey.
2. The Biggest OBSTACLE To Prayer!
3. What Seems IMPOSSIBLE to You?
4. This is the 100th anniversary of the classic story, The Velveteen Rabbit! Watch the video and get your copy of the SPECIAL anniversary edition in time for Easter!
5. Finding STRENGTH During Hard Times. This Sunday’s GOSPEL Reflection.
6. Testing Our FAITH IN HUMANITY: When Life Changes in a Single Moment.
7. ARE WE STILL THE CONSUMERS? Or Are We Being CONSUMED?
“Get out of bed. Grasp the day from the first moment. Achieve that first victory. Look at it as a victory. Affirm it as a victory. Victory encourages the human spirit to soar higher. Small victories are the mentors of greater victories. The human spirit responds to victory. Victory elevates the human spirit. We must learn to find victory in everything, even in defeat.”
Reflections for THIRD WEEK OF LENT
3rd Week of Lent
Repent, says the Lord; the kingdom of heaven is at hand.Matthew 4:7On a cold morning in November, Leigh Ann Tuohy and her husband, Sean, were driving when they spotted a young man walking alone along the side of the road in only shorts and a cotton T-shirt. As they drove past, Leigh Ann said two words to Sean that would change their lives forever. She told him to “turn around,” and he did. The two invited the young man into their warm vehicle and eventually their home and family. The young man was Michael Oher, who with the love and support of the Tuohy family, went on to become a first-round NFL draft pick and Superbowl champion with the Baltimore Ravens.
Turn around …
two simple words that changed the course of several lives in one moment.
Turn around …
two simple words that call us to retrace our steps and see what we may not have seen before.
Turn around …
a call to change and conversion.
Lent’s call to repentance is a call to turn around. When we repent, much like running into our home for forgotten keys or turning around on the interstate due to mixed up directions, we seek something we’ve forgotten and reorient ourselves to get back on track.
The Greek word for repent is “metanoia.” It means “to think differently after,” and indicates a change of mind, heart or consciousness. Repentance requires the willingness and humility to recognize we have lost our way and to change. All of us have something for which we need to repent: a person we have wronged, a good we have neglected to do, a cruel or unkind word we have spoken. We have been less than lovely, less than faithful and less than gracious from time to time with others and with ourselves. And the call gently comes into the muddled space of discord, with a voice that tells us to simply turn around.
Step back into your colleagues’ office and clear up a misunderstanding. Sign up to volunteer. Recommit to your practice of prayer and meditation. Prioritize date night with your partner, family time with your children, weekly calls or visits to your aging parents. Set down old ways of being and doing that aren’t serving you, and simply turn around. Follow more faithfully the path of goodness and love, service and truth. Listen to the still, small voice in your heart and simply, without shame, turn around.
There is a promise in God’s call to conversion. Repent; turn around! For the reign of God is at hand. The reign of God is a time of fulfillment and flourishing, when there is no distinction between heaven and earth. Jesus promised us it is closer than we think; indeed, it is just around the corner. Our repentance and reconnection to God and others brings it about. For as theologian Walter Rauschenbusch reminds us, “The Kingdom of God is not a matter of getting individuals into heaven, but of transforming the life on earth into the harmony of heaven.”
What needs to be turned around in your life? What do you need to seek again?
Reflections for FOURTH WEEK OF LENT
4th Week of Lent
Sed ut perspiciatis unde omnis iste natus error sit voluptatem accusant doloremque laudantium, totam rem.
When asked, Mark Twain named Jesus Christ as the greatest storyteller of all time, and when pressed, Twain suggested that the Prodigal Son was his best work. The story is full of the elements of good fiction: family drama, bad decisions, suspense, reconciliation and ultimately, a happy ending. As in any good story, we can relate to each character and find bits of ourselves mirrored in them.
More often than we want to admit we have been the prodigal younger son. We’ve been wasteful and reckless with material goods – we spend too much and recycle too little. While money and possessions are one thing, the ways in which we are wasteful and reckless with the affections of others are more serious. Things can be replaced, but heartache and pain are not so easily overcome and must be honestly dealt with.
Lent is a time for each of us to consider what relationships we take for granted, assuming that they will remain, and also, the hurts we have inflicted on others that require forgiveness.
Just as often as we’ve been the younger brother, we have been the self-righteous older one. We’ve been diligent, sure to do what has been asked. We’ve been faithful to the letter of the law, even if we resented it. We’ve lined up our virtues and accolades and have taken credit for our own successes and salvation. We’ve judged others by our rules and values. We’ve resented second chances and mercy given to others, particularly when we aren’t able to give the same to ourselves.
Lent asks us to shed our close-mindedness as well as the structures of virtue that keep us from loving others and seeing them as children of God and true brothers and sisters.
Many believe that this story should be called the Parable of the Merciful Father. For it is the mercy of the father that provides all the plot twists, reconciliation and driving action of the story. He runs out to each of his children and is, in turn, consoling and welcoming and affirming and reassuring. The father meets their needs as a loving parent and forms the family around mercy and forgiveness. In our best moments, we emulate the love and mercy of the Father by seeing others beyond their failings or accomplishments.
Lent is long for a reason. The six weeks of Lent give us a sustained amount of time to consider our relationships with God and others.
How are you, the elder son, fixated on accomplishments and justice?
How are you the younger son, squandering both material goods and the affections of others?
How are you the merciful father?
Relections for the Fifth Week of Lent
5th Week of Lent
In a hospital’s ministry, there are entire rooms dedicated to the experience of waiting: waiting to see a doctor, waiting for test results, waiting for a loved one to come out of surgery, waiting for birth. At any given moment, in a hospital waiting room, a grandparent waits with bated breath for the arrival of their grandchild while, a few seats down, an adult child awaits the outcome of surgery being performed on their aging parent. At any given moment, in a hospital waiting room, life and death hang in delicate balance.
This week’s gospel story tells of a woman “caught in the very act of committing adultery,” and offers a similar example of how life and death hang in delicate balance. She is brought to Jesus by the scribes and Pharisees. While the law clearly requires she be stoned, they ask Jesus what to do with her. We know well his familiar response: “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone.” However, have we thought to consider how excruciating it must have been for the woman – face down in the dirt – waiting to see if stones would be thrown?
The season of Lent offers similar juxtaposition amid a period of waiting: we wait for the winter cold to dwindle and anxiously look for the spring sun to lure us out of hibernation, while, liturgically, Jesus awaits his painful journey to the Cross only to be resurrected on Easter Sunday. Indeed, we are utterly immersed in the dichotomous experience of waiting. Not only this, any of us who have even waited for anything know also how torturously long those last few moments of waiting can feel. The moment you see a door open and a doctor begin to head your way with news of your loved one; the moment the first footsteps walked away from the woman; the moment you see the first tulip bulb begin to emerge from the defrosting ground; waiting to discover the tomb empty. Waiting can feel like an eternity.
In each of these distinctive examples, though, we know also that the last few torturous moments of waiting offer a turning point — a pivotal moment of pause that somehow points to a shift, a feeling of the beginning of something new being created within us. As we watch the doctor walk toward us with news, or as we approach the tomb of Jesus, it is the moment just before we release the breath we didn’t realize we have been holding in. Indeed, it is in this very moment, that, if we’re paying attention, we feel God calling most ardently. …
How are you being called by God, even now to “return to me with your whole heart; for I am gracious and merciful.”