Why so
long?

The Lord GOD has given me a well-trained tongue, that I might know how to speak to the weary a word that will rouse them.

Father, why is he gospel so long?

Jesus was sent to earth as a man. As the Gospel of St. John tells us, the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. The Word dwelt among us. The Word lives with us. Jesus, who is God’s Word came to preach the Gospel, the Good News.

God had news for us. It is Good News and was delivered by Jesus as the prophets foretold: Jesus preached the good news of the kingdom of God (see Matthew 4:23; 9:35; Luke 4:43; Luke 8:1); or the “good news of God” (see Mark 1:14-15). Jesus was going all over Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom. The whole point of Jesus’ saving mission is in His words of life.

Today we read of the accomplishment, the completion of the Father’s work. The Good News of Jesus is that the barrier is broken. The curtain is torn. The graves have been opened. Curse and separation have ended. Reconciliation is here. What is in heaven is for us on earth. We have full access to the kingdom of God. Thanks be to God we have these words in all their fullness.

Today, we pause to hear the Good News in full. No shortcuts. Nothing – no concerns or worries about our time – getting in the way of God’s time. Like John, the faithful disciple, and the women, we walk through all the words, from Bethany to the cross and to the tomb.

We don’t look for a shortcut – like Judas did, trying to bring on the kingdom through treachery and betrayal. We stand unafraid before God’s word and accept it and Him in full. We do not walk away, denying Him like Peter did.

In my years of ministry and proclaiming the word, I have immersed myself in the Gospel. This is the good news, given for us who are weary. I, and I know you; have said, even in our weariness, this is the word that rouses us.

Again, Father, why is the gospel so long?

It is so we may wallow in it, swim in it, live in it. We are here to live in the moment. From the spectacle of Palm Sunday to the mystery of the Eucharist, to the foot of the cross, to the tomb; every nuance, every emotion, every tear is ours to own.

We are people of the word who center our lives on Jesus, the Word. There can be no compromise in that. We don’t want the watered down version. So today we stood, stood with Jesus, loyal to His word. Roused, energized, ready, we live faithful to His command: to proclaim the kingdom of God, and they went out and traveled from place to place, proclaiming the good news.

Reflection for Back to Church Sunday

I am listening.
What should I say?

“The LORD has heard my supplication; the LORD accepts my prayer.”

Did you ever wonder what the Word of God is all about? Scripture, the Bible, whatever term we use, what is its purpose, why should we read it, study it, reflect on it, or even act on it?

For many people, the bible might be something handed down from parents and grandparents, a cherished memento. For some it may have been a gift they received for their first communion, baptism, on their wedding day. Certainly, most people have access to a bible in their home, and even if they do not, it is easily accessed via the Internet, on your iPod or iPad.

It comes in handy. We tend to reach for that bible when an issue or problem confronts us, when we are not well or when someone we love is sick. We look for those words of comfort and guidance.

Some people really focus on scripture and use the bible as their guide for life. It becomes a procedure manual and a guide for everyday living. I need to go to the store – what does the bible have to say? I dropped my groceries, my car is making an odd noise, and my husband or wife isn’t talking to me — what does God have to say on the issue?

That is all well and good and has merit. Anytime someone picks up that bible God’s word goes to work in his or her life, but the Word is not really about us.

If God’s word, His revelation is not a revelation about our lives, what does it reveal?

Scripture is this – it is God’s revelation about Himself, His self-revelation. Everything in scripture points out something about God’s personality, His thoughts, His power, His mercy, His Fatherhood, and His love.

The single most important thread in God’s self-revelation is that He wants to live with us, in relationship with us. This is so important that He sent His only Son Jesus to break down the barrier of sin that separated us from God. He broke down that wall; He wiped away sin and the consequence of sin – death. He offered His life to accomplish this mission.

God wants to be in a relationship with us that much. We are that important to Him. Because of that He is with us every minute, listening to us. So when problems or issues confront us, and we reach for that bible, God opens Himself to us. He says, here I am, for you, for whatever you need, even if it is only comfort. This is who I AM. I am listening to you. Say or ask for anything because you are that important to me.

Reflection for the Second Week in Ordinary Time

Can I have my zebra? Ummmm, ooops!

“Speak, for your servant is listening.”

Moriah was two and was on a cross-country flight home. She wanted her zebra, her favorite stuffed animal and comfort. Mom and dad packed it away. It was in the cargo hold of the plane, unreachable. Moriah cried and complained. Dad explained and explained. No use, the crying got worse. Everyone was looking. Then dad listened. He couldn’t get zebra, but could offer her the next best thing — a father’s comfort. “You wish you had zebra now,” he said to her. “Yeah,” she said sadly.

Moraish’s dad was able, in the midst of all the turmoil, with all the passengers looking at his crying child, to do something very important. He stopped, took a breath, and listened to his child. Listening, he understood what she needed.

Like Samuel, like Moriah’s dad, we need to stop, take a breath, and listen to God who speaks to us daily.

For our part, we need to — as is commonly said to young people — put on our listening ears. God has been speaking to us for eons. Centuries of His word are with us. When we are fearful or confronted by difficult decisions we need to know that we are not alone. God knows us and is with us. He is not an absent, far away father. He is our Father, and He is present to us. He knows the deepest desires we carry within us, as individuals and as a parish community. All we need to do is listen.

His words give us the keys to successful Christianity: Live as a community. Love one another. Don’t be the boss; rather serve all. Welcome the stranger. Speak His word. Offer Jesus to all who seek Him.

We cannot do any of this alone. That is what the Holy Polish National Catholic Church is about. It is ultimately about building a community in each place to listen to Jesus and follow Him.