Tag Archives: Respect

Presentation of the Lord – He understands, because He’s been through it

helping hand

Study:  Recall a moment when someone really understood you.  You felt safe, relaxed, and at peace knowing that you were loved completely and sincerely.

Pray:  Take a moment to open your heart to Jesus.  You might want to read/pray the readings today (especially the 2nd reading from Hebrews) and gaze at the Cross.

Serve: Is there someone in your life you can reach out to?  Is there someone with whom you might be able to be present without judgment or bias – but simply meet them where they are in kindness, respect, and love?

Presentation of the Lord Readings

During my study as a seminarian I served as a chaplain at a hospital.  I had the opportunity to work with a rich diversity of people from a variety of skills and backgrounds.  Through this time I learned much about my strengths and weaknesses as a minister.

One day I was assigned to visit a man who had a heart attack.  He was unhappy, sullen, and angry at me (and everyone else who came in).  He kept claiming that he was “as healthy as an ox” and had “never been sick a day,” but we could all see that his life was in a fragile state.

In my visit I tried to speak about some of the topics that the doctors and nurses had been urging:  physical exercise, diet, use of alcohol, stress, and other related issues.  He refused to speak.  He shouted, insulted, complained, and denied the fact that he even needed to be in the hospital!

I (being very inexperienced at the time) thought I could wear him down by simply being more stubborn – sitting there and listening until he just ran out of air.  Suddenly, a middle-aged man walked in the room and asked me if he could visit with the patient alone for a few minutes.

I stepped outside, visited a few patients, and after about an hour I saw the man come out of the room with a big smile.  He went over to the nurse on duty and informed her that the patient was willing to listen to any medical advice and act on it!

When I asked him what happened, he said, “You see, I was once like him – in the hospital bed, denying everything, angry at everyone, and blaming every person – except the only one who could make a change…ME!  I showed him my scars, told him about the procedures, the medications, and the fact that I feel better now then I ever have.”

He then looked at me and continued, “I guess he just needed to hear it from someone who knows what it’s like.  Someone who understands because he’s been through it.”

We see a similar connection in the book of Hebrews today.  Jesus became like us – he suffered, died, and rose from the dead that sin and death might no longer have power.  He knows what it’s like to face the challenges and burdens of life, and because he understands, he is able to help us, guide us, and strengthen us in our moments of need.

Perhaps now is the time to recognize that the Lord knows us.  He knows what it’s like to face the challenges of life, and we can rejoice that the Master of the Universe comprehends our hearts – better then we do!  Maybe today is our chance to stop and turn to the Lord and allow him to love us.  Perhaps all we really have to do is stop “doing” for a moment and “be” present to Jesus.

It’s good to have a friend who knows exactly what we are going through and helps us on the way!


21st Sunday of the Year – Gathered Together

Pope Francis WYD

Study:  When in life have I encountered a diverse group of people?  How did the experience change me?

Pray: What in my life needs to be touched by the Lord so I can relate with others as a disciple of Christ?

Serve:  Are there divisions in my life right now?  If so, how can I help bring unity and peace to the people in my life?

21st Sunday Readings

Watching Pope Francis during World Youth Day in Rio brought back memories of my own twenty years ago.  It was 1993 when I traveled to Denver, Colorado to see Pope John Paul II.  I was about to begin graduate theology in the seminary, and I thought that the experience would “be good” for me as I prepared for the priesthood.

I was right.

During that amazing week I treasured many rich and wonderful experiences, but one that will forever remain in my mind was the final mass.  I was leading a group of students who had hiked into the park site the day before, and as the evening passed we visited with people from around the world.

Everywhere you looked there were nations represented by young adults singing, dancing, playing music, and talking.  Walking among the groups I picked out many languages – Spanish, Italian, French, Polish, Swahili, Greek, Chinese – and others I did not recognize.

People were friendly!  If you stayed with a group they would get you to sing or dance with them, or else they would try to communicate – even when a language barrier was present.  On that night we knew in our hearts that despite our differences, we were united together as one family.

Isaiah today proclaims in the first reading that distance, language, and race will not keep God away from the nations of the world.  The Lord will set a sign among the peoples, inviting them to gather and stand united in the midst of God’s glory as one family and one community.

This proclamation reminds us that we, too, are invited to be open to one another, regardless of the differences that may appear.  For just as the Lord calls all together, so too do we recognize the unity we share as children created in the image and likeness of God.

We have many opportunities to express this unity everyday.  Do we show warmth and hospitality to strangers and guests?  Do we welcome others who speak or look differently from us?  Do we cultivate attitudes that respect others, despite our differences?

When we are open to other people, we begin to see as God sees.  We recognize that as the Lord’s children, there is much more that unites us than what divides.  We discover that God’s family is truly blessed by the differences that make us unique.