Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Can We Start Over?

This past weekend I was at a youth conference in Denver called "Steubenville of the Rockies". What a great time we had listening to great music, wonderful speakers and powerful liturgies. The host, Chris Padgett, told a great story about one of his children that I would like t share with you here.

This is the way the drama played out between Chris (the Dad) and his 4-yr old:

Chris: Son, you had better finish your dinner.
4-yr old: No response - just lots of fiddling around

5-minutes later:
Chris: Son, You NEED to finish what's on your plate. You haven't even touched it and the rest of us are done!
4-yr old: More fiddling around

5-minutes later:
Chris: Son, I mean it! Your mother put a lot of time and effort into preparing this meal, you had better have your plate completely cleaned off in two minutes!
4-yr old: Spinning in chair, fiddling around.

2-minutes later:
Chris: That's it! You are going to bed right now. You will not be joining the family in prayer time and you will not get dessert. March yourself upstairs to your room right now!
4-yr old: Crying and screaming and going to bed

A few minutes later:
4-yr old (through tears): Daddy, daddy...
Chris: WHAT!!!!!
4-yr old: Daddy, can we start over?
Chris (through tears): Yes son, we can.

What a great illustration this is of our relationship with God. It doesn't matter how many times we goof up, we can always "start over" in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. If it's been a while since you have taken advantage of this sacrament of love and healing, please do so. All you have to is ask God "Can we start over?". God's response will be "Yes, my beloved child, we can".

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Your True Self

If you read the St  Michael Parish bulletin this past weekend this is the same article.
Your True Character...
Most of us would agree that it is easy to be gracious and benevolent when all is going well in life. Those are the times when we are quick to smile and glad to lend a hand to almost anyone. Wouldn’t it be nice if that was the way life was all of the time? But that’s not the way it goes for most of us. Stuff happens all of the time. We might get ill, experience mistreatment, or just have a genuinely bad day. How are we in those circumstances? Still quick to smile? Still ready to help? Probably not.
In the Mass readings for last Tuesday, Tobit has that type of an experience. He is a righteous man doing his best to fulfill all of the Jewish laws even though he has been exiled to a foreign country and many of those practices are illegal. When one evening, through a strange experience he goes blind, Tobit changes dramatically. Suddenly, he is irritable, angry and hard to live with. Finally, his wife says to him “Where are your charitable deeds now? Where are your virtuous acts? See! Your true character is finally showing itself!” (Tobit 2:14)
As you may know, Jean Stapleton of “All in the Family” fame, died recently. She tells the story of when she was passed over for an acting job early in her career that she really wanted and didn’t get. Instead she was given a smaller, insignificant role. Prior to being passed over, she had had great respect for the director of the play. When he chose someone else for the part she wanted, Jean became angry and hateful. She had horrible thoughts about the man and hoped that God would get him back for the horrible injustice that he had perpetrated against her.
But then she picked up her Bible. She wanted to look up verses with the word “justice” in them so that she could prove to herself how God was on her side. In her concordance, the word “judge” was just in front of “justice” and she felt compelled to read about that first. This verse from Isaiah’s prophecy was the first listed: “For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our Lawgiver, the Lord is our king, he will save us” (Is: 33:22). When she completed her reading, she felt cut to the heart. She realized that her “true character” had come out and she was ashamed. She knew that she had reacted badly and she needed to pray to God and ask forgiveness. She says “The anger immediately disappeared. The next day at rehearsal I was no longer driven by the ambition to play the larger role.”  The irony of the story is that the woman who had been picked for the big part didn’t work out and Jean got it anyway. But she knows she wouldn’t have been considered if she had remained angry and sullen.
What about you and me? How do we react when things suddenly don’t go our way? Maybe someone is promoted to a job that we wanted, maybe we get into a “fender bender” or someone cuts us off in traffic or cuts in front of us at the grocery store checkout line. What will our “true character” look like when it comes out? Will it be one of anger and vengeance? Or will we let the Lord be the judge and lawgiver and thereby free ourselves to react in peace and charity? I pray that all of us can respond  in accord with the grace of Jesus Christ and pass on a blessing instead of a curse.