Spiritual Thought for Today Archive Week #10


The Smallness of Faith

"Jesus said therefore, 'What is the Kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? It is like a grain of mustard seed which a man took and sowed in his garden; and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.'" The Kingdom of God is one of those mysterious subjects that permeate the message of Jesus. It is both here and yet to come. It is within you and not of this world. It is immense and yet very small.

All of this seems to match my experience of God's reign both in my life and in the world. Sometimes I experience as overwhelming and other times I wonder where God has gone.

Jesus' use of the image of a small mustard seed planted in the ground is helpful. The seed planted requires faith. The gardener may return day after day to see whether anything has sprouted yet.

There is faith that something is there and that something is going to happen.

Which strikes me as a very apt symbol of faith and the Kingdom of God.

I believe that God is there and that God will act...

#2

Release from Burdens

"Jesus called her and said to her, 'Woman, you are freed from your infirmity.' And He laid His hands upon her, and immediately she was made straight, and she praised God."

The image of the woman bent over with an infirmity might suggest some form of arthritis, but it also suggests a person bent over with the burdens of life. Too often are ability to see clearly and down the road of life is hampered by the burdens of the past that we carry with us.

Jesus frees the woman from her infirmity and she stands up straight to praise God!

Jesus remove whatever weighs us down, help us to let go of the negativity, the hate, remorse that infirms us.

Free us Lord!

#3

Like the Rest

"`God, I thank Thee that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I get.' But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to Heaven, but beat his breast, saying, `God, be merciful to me a sinner!' "

This has been my favorite image in the gospels for many years. When I was in school, I remember kneeling behind a friend in chapel and giving voice to the prayer of the Pharisee, "Lord I thank you that I am not like other men!"

It strikes me that the root of all sinful behavior comes from the belief that somehow we are different than the rest of humanity. Either we think we are better or we believe that we are worst, when the fact is we are all sinners and fall short.

Those who think they are different and better excuse their excesses in life on their exalted need. Those who think they are worst squander their talents, somehow using the excuse that "no one cares" about them.

"God be merciful to us all, sinners! Give us the strength to rise above our self-pity and liberate us from an excuse driven existence."

#4

Our End

"There were some present at that very time who told him of the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, 'Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered thus? I tell you, No; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. 0r those eighteen upon whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, No; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.'"

Jesus' comments about two current events of his day stand out in the Scripture as the only account we have of how Jesus interpreted both wrongful and accidental death. It is interesting to note two things; he does not say the acts happened because they were God's will and they did not happen because these people were worst than anyone else.

God does not will the death of anyone. Death entered the world because of sin and Jesus (God incarnate) came to take away both sin and death. Also it is pretty clear from scripture that we judge ourselves in the light of God, God isn't in heaven throwing sinners into the path of deadly accidents.

But about us, what will be our end? Will we repent and believe in God?

No matter how death meets us, will it be our end? Only if we refuse to believe that God has loved us and desires our salvation.

#5

Saints and Holy Days

I associate Saints and Holy Days with events in my life. For example I remember receiving news of that Ave Maria Press would publish a small book that I co-wrote on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, a good sign I figured. Yesterday I turned in a screenplay that I'm co-writing on the feast of the North American Jesuit Martyrs another sign at least for me.

It was a retreat that I made a number of years ago at the Shrine of the North American Jesuit Martyrs that has brought me to where I am today. It was a 30 day Ignatian Retreat, the result of which was that I felt that I understood God's love better at the end.

There are no accidents in life, although I have fallen into the lazy trap a hundred times of blaming things on fate, it is clear that there is a purpose.

The feasts of saints and holy days are signs along the way to remind us of that....

#6

St. Isaac Jogues

"But God said to him, `Fool! This night your soul is required of you; and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?' So is he who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God."

Today is the feast of St. Isaac Jogues and the North American Jesuit Martyrs, Frenchmen who all left their homeland in hope of bringing salvation to the indigenous people of the New World.

Jogues came from a wealthy family and easy life, but left all of that behind because to him doing the will of God promised a greater treasure.

The account of what awaited Jogues is not for the faint of heart. Captured by a warring tribe on his first missionary journey he lost one of his ears, which was severed with a sharp clamshell, several fingers, and considerable torture. Afterwards he was made a slave of one of the tribe's families. He escaped with the help of the Dutch and finally was able to return to France where a comfortable life and retirement might have awaited him.

But Jogues had not finished the work that he had set out to do. He returned to the New World, and after a short time was killed by the very tribe he had escaped from.

A few years after his death, the first indigenous saint was born from that tribe St. Kateri Teckawitha.

Wealth is relative, true wealth is not.