If you’ve ever worked in any kind of organization, for-profit or not-for-profit, I’m sure you have attended a conference or two. Whatever our expectations going in, I usually find these conferences expose me to communication and problem-solving styles that are different from my own, nudging me into a little unexpected self-discovery.
From the love of God flows the grace to tackle any challenge, including the biggest challenge of all: loving each other well. Christ knows what a big request this is. He was human, too. He came and lived among us. He knew intimately what it was to love people in the chaos of their own flaws.
Sheep get an awfully bad rap, linguistically. If you look at the phraseology associated with sheep, it’s no wonder that nobody wants to be one. Sheep are innocent. Sheep can’t protect themselves. They’re vulnerable and easily misled. We want to see ourselves as the opposite of all that.
Have you ever opened a gift and wondered what the giver was thinking? I think we have all been the confused recipient of a sweater that wasn’t our size or a gift card to a store where we don’t shop. But we smiled all the same and said how much it meant to us, because we know that when it comes to gifts, it’s all about the gesture.
“Christ has no body now but yours,” goes the famous quote attributed to St. Teresa of Avila. What she’s saying is that we have become the means through which God chooses to accomplish His will in the world. Us, the broken. Us, the weary. Us, the imperfect. If a person is going to come to believe in Jesus Christ in this day and age, it will be because of something we Christians do or say.
Today, on the most important day of the liturgical year, the Apostle Paul is calling us out. “I see you hiding in that tomb,” he says. “I see you baking with that old, stale yeast, thinking no one will notice.” If you want to be raised with Christ, you’d better be ready to step out of the shadows. Seek what is above — not what is on earth.
We’ve never known the Jesus of the Gospels to doubt the will of God. We’ve never known him to be a defeatist or to give into feelings of despair. He’s the hero who walks on water, the Savior who is welcomed to Jerusalem with a pathway of palms. And he knows full well that his Father has absolutely not abandoned him.
What’s your comfort zone: emotionally, professionally, personally? As much as we may not want to admit it, even (and especially) as people of God, we get deeply attached to our own personal comfort zones — and we tend to view those outside with distrust. But what if God had a comfort zone?
We are the face on the front of His promotional brochure. If we call ourselves Christians, that means that people will meet Christ through us. That’s what being an Everyday Steward is — a steward, everyday; someone who conducts his Master’s business when the Master is not seen.
Hangriness is when you’re so hungry you get angry. You turn into a real piece of work. You can’t get anything done and you’re probably not a joy to be around, at least until you grab a snack. Everybody gets this way sometimes. We can be this way in our souls, too.
Many of us will participate in the time-honored tradition of doing penance, or “giving something up” for Lent. When we do this, we are mimicking the Israelites who filled their baskets with the first fruits of their harvest, “and having set them before the Lord, your God, (bowing) down in his presence” (Deuteronomy 26:10). What are we going to bring before the Lord this Lent?