I was proud of those who marched Friday in the 45th annual 2017 March for Life, and proud of those who had the courage to speak out against abortion. In Sunday’s Gospel reading in mass from Matthew Chapter 5, Jesus gives us the beatitudes in his Sermon on the Mount. “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.” I truly believe that those who march for life and against abortion are hungering and thirsting for righteousness. Later in this same chapter, Jesus goes on to speak about the law, anger, divorce, adultery, swearing, retaliation and love of enemies – and on each topic, He “raises the bar” on all of these, giving the Jews at the time a more strict definition of what it means to obey God’s commands. I wonder what Jesus would have said on the Right to Life issue if He was with us today? I’m thinking that He would have been one of the crowd marching, or maybe even one of the speakers! Later in Matthew’s Gospel, there is a story of the King (Jesus) sitting on the throne, separating the sheep (those who obey God’s laws) from the goats (those who do not) to pass final judgement. To the sheep, “the King will reply, ‘truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ And to the goats He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” (Matt 25: 40-46) Certainly the unborn who cannot speak for themselves can be considered among the “least” I would think. Lord, I pray today that we all help and support, even if only in prayer, the mothers, fathers and families struggling with bringing a child into this world, that You help them know they are loved.
Monthly Archives: January 2017
Are you pro-Trump or anti-Trump? Are you pro-life or pro-choice? Are you unsure about which side you’re on, or sure but afraid to speak out for fear of being unpopular? Today more than ever before with the recent inauguration of our new US President and the protests that have followed, people seem to be speaking out on how they feel on religion and politics…or holding back on how they feel out of fear they might be harassed or bullied for voicing their opinions. This past election has divided families and friends in America almost like the Civil War. And yet, even after that war, where brother fought brother over their strong convictions, people did eventually come together again as believers in God and His Word. I hope they will again soon. It’s obviously important to have convictions. I consider myself first a child of God and a Christian; I am also a woman but I believe in pro-life because that’s what the Bible – God’s Word – tells us that’s what God is about. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.” (Jer 1:5) And I can’t justify my rights as a woman to choose if they conflict with my beliefs as a Christian. I hesitated on speaking out on this subject at a recent gathering of friends because there were a few vocal women talking against the new president. I knew if I debated them it would cause more harm than good just to get across my convictions or beliefs on religion and politics. I’m glad the March for Women’s Rights was peaceful this past weekend. But I’m also disappointed that, although the march focused on being “for” various issues, many protesters were “anti” Trump more than anything else. This week in the Catholic Church is dedicated as the “Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.” It couldn’t come at a better time, in the world at large, but especially in America. I believe we should focus on our common faith and spiritual beliefs, not our different religious or political views, we should move forward from this election supporting each other and our country instead of trying to keep tearing them down, we should promote peace instead of protest, especially in these fractious times, and we should work together for the common good. Just as Jesus embraced the Gentiles with the Jews and encouraged them to love each other, we need to be tolerant, accepting, even loving toward those who disagree with us, in our words and actions. As St. Paul says, “I urge you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and in the same purpose.” Amen.
So…Christmas is over, the anticipation of looking forward to the New Year is already waning, it’s the dead of winter in many parts of the world (including where I live in Maryland), and perhaps the road ahead, continuing to take the steps needed to achieving the goals you set and reaching your finish line, seems very long. Perhaps even the winter blahs or even a mild case of depression is starting to sink in, especially if (like me) you don’t have any warm, tropical destination plans for the future. So…what’s next? How do we stay excited at this time of year? Maybe it’s time to call in the “big guns” and ask the Holy Spirit for a little help remaining spiritually motivated! Yesterday the Gospel reading in Mass was about John the Baptist seeing Jesus coming toward him and saying this was the Messiah of Whom he had prophesied. Imagine John’s excitement! Then, “the next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God!’ When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, ‘What do you want?’ They said, ‘Rabbi’ (which means “Teacher”), ‘where are you staying?’ ‘Come,’ he replied, ‘and you will see’. So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him.” (John 1:35-39). Imagine Andrew and his brother Simon (Peter)’s excitement! Imagine our excitement if Jesus, the Messiah, was to walk up to us today! Would we see Him? Recognize Him? And yet, we are called to follow Him every day just like the disciples did. But again, what’s next, and how do we get and stay excited? I think we need to be just like the disciples in this story. First, I think we need to be open to seeking Him in others, and within ourselves, every day. Second, I think we need to answer Jesus’ question, “What do you want?” If we can answer that question in our hearts and simply ask where He’s staying (where can we find Him today?) and have faith that if we but come and follow, we will “see” as He promises, I think we have a good chance in staying spiritually motivated. And since He’s not here physically like He was for the disciples back then but sent His Holy Spirit to us, I believe calling on the Spirit’s power, grace, strength and guidance will help us stay on the course. Every day I think we are called to wake up with spiritual goals. For me, it’s not too much of a stretch as I am called to write Modern Day Bible Stories, contemporary novels that re-imagine God’s Word in the Old Testaments stories to inspire readers today. But even I get stuck a lot, which is why I need to follow my own advice and call on the Holy Spirit to help me write, and continue to give me faith that this calling will eventually pay the bills! In addition, my spiritual goals include finishing reading the Old Testament from start to finish (a page or two a day…I am getting close to being finished after nearly three years!); and being of service (following Jesus) when opportunities present themselves, whether that means doing something nice for someone, showing grace or forgiveness, or just paying a compliment or encouraging someone. As I write this, I feel re-energized and excited to face the day, one step at a time, and not look too far down the road because I know, Jesus promises us in fact (in the Book of Revelation), that I will win the race!
This past Sunday was the feast of the Epiphany, one of my favorites in the liturgical year, celebrating when the three kings, or wise men, traversed from afar, following the star to visit the baby Jesus in Bethlehem. Christians believe that the Epiphany means the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles as represented by the Magi (Matthew 2:1–12). In the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the word “epiphany” means: (1) a usually sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something; (2) an intuitive grasp of reality through something (as an event) usually simple and striking; (3) an illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure or a revealing scene or moment. I love this feast for several reasons: First, because it prolongs the Christmas season if only for another few days, keeping the spirit alive in our hearts before ordinary time kicks in; second, because I love everything about the word epiphany and what it stands for (I believe that if we listen to God’s still small voice, we can have epiphanies, or “light bulb moments” every single day that awaken our hearts, minds and spirits out of the numbness that daily routines and winter blahs can bring); and third, because it’s such a rich story with such an important lesson for us today: that we need to follow the star in our world today, the light of God shining down on us, guiding us to what’s important, to Christ in our lives. All of the Bible stories ring true for us today if we only reflect on what God is saying. But sadly people forget that I think. One look at the daily political headlines reveals how little belief people have that there are any wise men (or women) today, especially in our leaders. But what about the rest of us? Are we wise enough to look to the heavens, to see the light, to follow it, to make the journey, to be open to epiphanies, to seek and find Christ? I believe we can be the wise men and women of today if only we believe we can be, if we can remain open to everyday wonder, awe, joy and love, and if we are willing to take action based on what we find each day by worshiping Him and giving our very best gifts back to Him…gifts that we already possess. “When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.” (Matt 2:10-11). Lord, help us to realize that you planted the seed of wisdom in each of us, and that we all can be wise men and women today if we only believe in ourselves and in You. Help us to continue to walk on this journey of life seeking Your Light, and to worship You with our finest gifts.
As an eternal optimist, I have always loved New Year’s Day…(and still love New Year’s Eve, even though I celebrate it sober today.) A whole new year ahead, full of promise. A clean slate to look forward to filling with new dreams, goals and adventures. Yet, in mass yesterday, I heard the priest talking about the uncertainties of the year ahead in this world of ours, and how Mary and Joseph faced a lot of confusion and uncertainty both before and after Jesus was born. And it gave me pause to reflect on my path and how I, like all of us I guess, face the future with uncertainty, and sometimes a bit of fear. This past year, a pretty good one in fact, I quit my day job to pursue my lifelong dream of becoming a full-time author. I had found a new, bigger publisher in New York, I was launching a third new novel, The Runaway Prophet, and I was hoping it would become a New York Times bestseller. While that last part hasn’t happened (yet!), I see that at least I made great progress in book sales, spoke at more conferences nationwide, and grew my book coaching business to help other writers become authors. I do look forward to 2017, and even have big dreams for the year ahead, but I must admit, just like Mary and Joseph did, I also feel a lot of uncertainty and a little trepidation regarding financial security in the year ahead. But more and more, as I work hard to grow in my spirituality and relationship with God, I am starting to replace the fears that creep in with faith that God did not bring me this far to let me fail, did not put these dreams on my heart without a plan for me to fully realize them, and as long as I keep doing my best to follow His will, the belief that He will guide and help me in my mission. God says over 100 times in the Bible, to people over thousands of years including Mary and Joseph, to fear not for He is with us. “…the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people.” (Luke 2:10) I know His message is still true for all of us today, which is the reason why I continue to write Modern Day Bible Stories, contemporary suspense-filled novels that re-imagine stories in the Old Testament for today’s readers. Lord, help me to remember to “be not afraid,” and to have faith in your plan for me as I journey each day through this new year. Happy New Year!