Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Rediscover Jesus: Four

(en español)
"Who do you say that I am?"

What a powerful question Jesus asks us! I like that Kelly points out that our answer may be based on where we are in life right now. We may have several biases that influence our answer to that all important question. He says that fitting Jesus into our preconceived notions is a way of avoiding the question. The only way we can really answer that question is to really consider who Jesus is. I find myself asking that question back to him. Who do you want me to see? I see a teacher, a healer, a ruler, a savior. I am constantly coming back to one image of Jesus, the one we see in the beginning of the Gospel of John. "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the word was God." (Italics are my own.) I've been seeing Jesus in the person of the Son of the Trinity. He has always been. He always will be. I think before I really asked the question, I thought of Jesus as the person in the Gospels, as someone that existed in the historical sense. The person of Jesus was limited to a historical person, who lived for 33 years on this earth, who spoke to us through the words recorded in the gospels. What I'm coming to realize is that Jesus is ever-present. He exists now, just as real as he was two thousand years ago. It is that same Jesus that is speaking directly to my heart. It is that same Jesus that wants to have a personal relationship with me. He is constantly pointing back to the Father and inspires us through the Holy Spirit.

So this is the challenge. We are called to see Jesus in all of his aspects. Jesus is speaking to us through many avenues: through the Bible, through our Catholic traditions, through the sacraments, through the Holy Spirit, and through his real presence in the Eucharist. Once we are asked that question, "Who do you say that I am?" we cannot ignore it. We can choose to answer or to not. But we can't ignore it. The question is always there. He is our creator. The essential question of our being lies deeply within the mystery of who Christ is.

I hope she doesn't mind, but I'd like to mention our first brave commenter on this blog. She just illustrates so well, what can happen when we ask the question honestly. She is changing her opinion she previously held on a current event. This is the exciting place we can find ourselves when we are honest with ourselves. When we attempt to answer who Jesus is, we don't change him. He changes us. We open ourselves up to a transformation of understanding. We realize who Christ really is and not who we've pretended he is. May God bless you with new and wonderful insights as you continually ask, "Who is Jesus, and what does that say about me?"

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Rediscover Jesus: Three

en español
If you're still reading, congratulations. I find that this is usually the point where I decide if I'm going to commit to reading a book or giving up on it. I think Mr. Kelly knows that most people drop out around the 25th page or so. I'm pretty sure that's why he waits until now to offer us the invitation to go forward.

I think all good processes begin with that. We get a chance for discernment. A chance to pause and think, "Am I ready for this?"

















I hope you are ready for this. I hope you come to know Jesus better through this book. I'm not going to spend a lot of time on this particular entry, because what I say doesn't matter here. It's for you to decide whether you want to proceed and find the person you'll become on the other side.


Monday, December 28, 2015

Rediscover Jesus: Two

(en español)
I wrote down everything I know about Jesus:

1. Born in Bethlehem
2. Son of God
3. Lived in Nazareth
4. He had a beard
5. Died for my sins
6. Crucified by Pontius Pilate
7. Son of Mary and Joseph
8. Was a carpenter before his ministry
9. Died at 33
10. Rose from the dead
11. Will return how he left on the Ascension
12. He will open the seven seals at the apocalypse


How did you do with the same activity? One of the things I realized while I was doing this exercise was that I know about Jesus, but I didn't really know Jesus. I looked at the Gospels with a new eye. I was now looking at the kind of person Jesus was, the way he related to people, the way people responded to him.

From that I saw that he had a wonderful sense of humor. I could picture him with a small smirk when he watched Peter climb out of the boat to walk to him, or while waiting for the Pharisees to create their little logic traps.

He was eternally patient.

Even though he was drawn to people and wanted heal them, he often retreated from the crowds to be alone to pray.

He was surprising approachable for such a powerful public figure.

He must have been an amazing person to be around. I thought of the most charismatic person I could imagine, and multiplied that by 100% and that was what I figure it must have been like to hear Jesus speak.

When I pray now, I try to think of that Jesus to help me better relate to him as my God, the person whom I am speaking; and more importantly, to whom I am listening.

Prayer: Jesus, open my heart and my mind so that I can get to know you as you really are.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Rediscover Jesus: One

(en español)
It is often said that God never tires of forgiving us, we tire of asking for forgiveness. The "point to ponder" expresses this so simply, yet so poignantly: It is never too late for a fresh start.

You have this book in your hand, you are reading these words, right now for a reason. God is trying to tell you something. There's somewhere in your life that you need to let go of, grow more in, or better understand. I don't know what that is. You might not know what that is at the moment. God knows, though. If you didn't need to read this book, God wouldn't have given it to you. The hardest part of our faith is understanding that nothing happens by accident. It says in the Bible that God has numbered every hair on our heads, and that he knew us before we were formed in the womb. This is the same God that "counts the numbers of the stars and gives names to them". He knows what you need. He knows how you're feeling. He knows where you need healing. He' speaking to you right now. All anyone needs to do is listen.

This leads us right into the "question to consider": In what area of your life is God inviting you to experience a new beginning?

This question is sometimes hard, not because we don't know what the area is, but because we're afraid of the answer. To become closer to God calls us to change. A fresh start means letting go of the things that exist behind the starting line, letting go of who we were, letting go of the things we convinced ourselves made us happy. Remember, to fill the God-shaped hole with God, we need to first clear out all of the stuff we piled on top of it. We took a lot of time and effort collecting that stuff. It's understandable that we became attached to a lot of it. We begin to believe that we can't live without it.

Jesus, help me to believe that a new beginning is possible.


Rediscover Jesus: Prologue

(en español)
Oh man. I've read this book a couple of times now and that prologue always hits me right between the eyes. Paul, in the story, gets hit pretty hard, too, when the fruit seller asked him if he's Jesus. I feel for Paul. That's a hard question to ask, when one looks in the mirror. I think I feel worse for the others in the story though; those people with blinders on, only focused on the immediate, on themselves. At least Paul still had that tweak of conscience that allowed God to speak to him in that moment. I feel like this book is our moment. A lot of people may never even hear of this title. A lot of people that received this book may put it on the shelf and add it to the rest of the books that could have changed their lives. We have been blessed though. We, like Paul, are turning the page. When we choose to turn the page, to keep reading, to ask ourselves the hard questions, we are changing. Paul's question to wrestle with was: When was the last time someone confused him for Jesus?

Matthew Kelly asks us a similarly hard question: How much is the sheer busyness of your life preventing you from living the life God is calling you to live?

When I ask myself this question, I discover that I'm living between buts. "I've always wanted to hike the Appalachian Trail, but I can't take 2 months off from work." "I've always wanted to learn to play the guitar, but the lawn needs to be mowed." "I want to be healthier and fitter, but I'm just too tired to exercise." All of these buts. All of these things that I put between myself and what I really want.

God built us to want to love Him, to yearn for him. I'm reminded of the title of a book written by Tiffanie DeBartolo, The God-shaped Hole. I love that image. Inside of us, there is an emptiness that can only be filled by God. We will spend our whole lives unsuccessfully trying to fit other things into that hole, but it is designed to be filled with only one thing. The best part is that Jesus showed us exactly how to do that. It's up to us to make the decision to clear out the stuff with which we've been trying to fill the hole.

I hope all of us have a "Paul moment". Where something shakes us up or catches us off guard, and allows us to see where we've had our blinders on.

Jesus, give me the courage to let down my guard!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Welcome


(en español)
Welcome to the Faith Formation blog for Queen of the Universe Parish! The next few weeks we will be concentrating on Matthew Kelly's Rediscover JesusIf you did not receive a copy at Christmas mass, please message me so we can get you a copy and help you get started on this wonderful journey.
If you did receive a copy and are here because of the insert, I am so glad you have decided to go on this wonderful journey. I truly believe this book has a transforming effect on all its readers, even if he or she has doubts or serious reservations about his or her own faith life. I encourage you to read it with an open heart and mind, really trying to listen to what Jesus is telling you personally. As you'll come to find, the chapters are written in very short segments and can allow for deep, insightful reading.


Take your time to really ponder the questions Kelly is posing, and allow them to reflect on your own life and experiences. I find this process is best done if you begin each chapter with a moment of quiet and a short prayer to focus your thoughts and better absorb the message. Matthew Kelly suggests that having a "sacred space", somewhere without distractions, is the best place to pray. I think that holds true for deep reading too. Pamper yourself with a time and a place where you can be alone without TV or cell phone or computer. This book was a gift for you. Don't let anything or anyone diminish it.



So dig in! Let's start with chapter 1 and tomorrow we'll begin discussing and looking more deeply into the reflection points, readings, and prayers at the end of the chapter. I absolutely cannot wait!

Your in Christ, Bobby