Spiritual Thought for Today Archive Week #12


Do Not Go After Them

"And Jesus said, "Take heed that you are not led astray; for many will come in My name, saying, `I am He!' and, `The time is at hand!' Do not go after them."

This is pretty clear cut and perhaps one of Jesus' most remarkable prophecies, yet it seems to me that his command is least heeded.

As we approach the end of this millennium people continue to work themselves into a frenzy of anticipation. Mixed in with this is the sense that the world is about to end or Jesus is soon to return. The danger in all of this is that good people are led astray by every "alleged" apparition or mystic.

Jesus warns us to take heed and not to be led astray. Many of us are like sheep without a shepherd. There is no one to guide us so we trail off to find someone who speaks with authority, unfortunately Jesus told us not to go after those who claim to speak for him.

Do you know someone who claims to have the updated news of the Second Coming?

Do not go after them!

#2

The Desert

"Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil."

I've spent the past few days driving through the desert southwest of the United States. Hour after hour I drove through the vast wasteland. The above passage came to mind.

First that Jesus was led by the Spirit. I think we all have some inclination to be led by the Spirit. There is something within us that always strives to do the good. But we all struggle with what "the good" is and who we should be doing "the good" for.

Who am I trying to impress? Who do I want to like me? These are all questions that we can ask ourselves to answer who we are doing the good for. Hint: God is the only right answer.

Which leads to the second part of the above passage. Jesus was tempted by the devil in the desert. We all are tempted and the temptation always involves the good. The good tilted this way or that can easily become the bad.

We all are traveling through an endless desert and hopefully we all will find God at the end of it.

#3

Unworthy Servants

"We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty."

The above passage which is Jesus' suggested mantra that should be on his disciples lips is seldom quoted.

Too bad!

It is a good reminder as is the rest of the passage that God is a great giver. Everything that God gives us is undeserved. We are merely servants!

Too often people treat their spiritual life as "their" work. What they are working on is some ego trip. Spirituality is about surrender, it's putting up the white flag and allowing God to invite us at table for the meal.

When Jesus ate with the sinners (including such guests as prostitutes)the people of his time were scandalized. We would be today too!

We act as though the only people God can like are the "good" ones.

"We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty," pass it on.

#4

Church

"Take these things away; you shall not make my Father's house a house of trade."

I thought about entitling this thought, "What is Church for?"

Today is a feast of the dedication of St. John Lateran, a church in Rome. Why do we build churches?

I know all the liturgically correct answers, but what is the real purpose of a church?

I know people that go to church to meet people or touch base with friends. Others go because it is a good place to find an audience for a cause that they want to promote. Some go several times a year out of convention.

As a Catholic sometimes I go just to sit and be alone in a space that has been set aside as sacred to pray. That has become almost a novel thing to do, but very satisfying and one that today's gospel supports.

#5

The God of the Living

"He is not God of the dead, but of the living; for all live to Him."

I get a little upset at times when I hear people say that it was God's will that someone died. It strikes me that the above passage from Luke's Gospel is such a fundamental truth that I just don't understand how anyone could miss it.

God is for life!

Death enters our reality because of sin, rejection of God. Jesus was raised from the dead because he trusted in God! The Egyptians who refused to do what God wanted them to, namely release the Israelites were visited by the Angel of Death (an evil being to say the least). Those who trusted in God were passed over, hence Passover.

I heard this truth conveyed beautifully once by Francis McNutt, "Death has taken your child, but God will take your child from death."

God is our savior from the evil that is death. Putting God in his rightful place in our lives is very important if we are to worship a God who loves and wishes to save us. Without God, nothing can save us.

#6

The Heart

No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon."

The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all this, and they scoffed at Him. But He said to them, "You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts; for what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God."

The Gospel writers were experts in irony. No sooner does Jesus finish saying that "You cannot serve God and mammon," than the Pharisees reject him, the Son of God.

But what we miss is that the Pharisees were the people who others thought were religious. They were the ones who were going to heaven. They were the righteous ones. In the sight of the people around them they were the justified and on their way to heaven.

But God does not see us in the same way that others do. This is such a fundamental reality and so liberating. God sees our heart. It may very well be that our heart and all that it symbolizes is the very image of God.

There is a lesson here. Do not worry about what others think about you. Are you following your inner desires? Are you serving God?

Serving God doesn't mean anything less than being true to yourself.

#7

In Praise of the Unjust Manager

" The master commended the dishonest steward for his prudence; for the sons of this world are wiser in their own generation that the sons of light."

This strange parable of Jesus where the dishonest steward faced with being released from his job decides to lower everyone's bills so that he will have friends when he leaves used to puzzle me. How could Jesus hold up something as immoral and invite his disciples to learn from the lesson?

This morning it struck me we should imitate at the very least the motive of the dishonest steward and forgive out of our own self-interest. Holding on to hate, grudges and spite only hurt us.

The dishonest steward canceled some of the debt incurred by his master's debtors out of self-interest; Jesus invites the sons of light to do the same.

Is there anyone you hate? If you were told that your time on earth was about to come to an end would you want to take that hate with you?

We do not know when our time will end, but we can learn from the parable of the unjust steward and let go of what really does not belong to us anyway.