Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Reflection for January 5, 2016

"All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one."(Matthew 5:37)

Has anyone ever said to you, "it's just a simple yes or no answer?". Perhaps your own thinking is it isn't that simple.  You'd like some time to think about it.  Perhaps you believe there are factors that could alter the answer. 

I will readily admit that I tend to be a "yes" person.  I'm often persuaded more by a desire to please than an actual desire to do.  This is probably why I need to take this passage more to heart.  The "yes" that is followed by a not doing or a doing so grudgingly does come from the evil one.  A "no" just to avoid doing something or out of spite also comes from the evil one.

I'd like to spend more time saying yes, with no strings attach and be able to say no because I really can't.  My sense is that Jesus is more interested in an honest commitment than one that was meant to avoid or to get people off my back.


Monday, January 4, 2016

Reflection for January 4, 2016

"The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them"

Communication is often the key to getting something done.  If we understand each other, we have a better chance of knowing what is expected of us and what the plan might be.  When I have know idea what you are talking about I may lose interest in the conversation or just dismiss it out of my confusion.

Sometimes when something is very familiar to us and we try to explain we might get asked to put it in terms everyone can understand.  Even with many people being multi-lingual and with translators often accessible when people from different languages are trying to communicate, there are things that still get lost in the translation.  Even when speaking English there are phrases that don't mean the same thing from one country to another.

While the Tower of Babel story is just as much about human pride as anything it is telling how God knows that if we take the time to listen, communicate and understand each other, there's nothing we can't do.  Sadly we often find the effort not worth it.


Sunday, January 3, 2016

Reflection for January 3, 2016

" Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life."(Genesis 9:14-15)

With the level of business that most of us have, reminders can be important.  We get them in all sorts of ways, we have our datebooks, calendars on our phones that beep at us.  It used to be that some might tie a string on their finger, of course you had to remember why you did that for it to be useful.

There are signs to remind us to do things, or to be careful of hazards ahead.  Whenever someone tells me something orally I tell them to remind me of what was said by emailing me or texting me.

Today's passage is the familiar story of the rainbow.  All of us have seen a rainbow after a storm, but we don't see them as reminders necessarily.  Most of us even know the science of why a rainbow occurs.  They are still inspiring to see.

The best part is the rainbow in Genesis is a reminder for God, not for us.  When God sees it he will remember.  There is a comfort to me that even God needs reminders, and if it is something as beautiful as a rainbow all the better.


Saturday, January 2, 2016

Reflection for January 2, 2016

"And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route."(Matthew 2:12)

When I take a trip these days I use an app on my phone called Waze.  It is a GPS type app, but it also utilizes information provided by other drivers.  I find it interesting that it has from time to time taken back to a familiar place by a route I would not have chosen.  That I have driven the same way to some places for many years can be a little disorienting when you have to go a different way.

Any journey through life including faith often takes turns we don't expect and sometimes we have to get to our destinations through ways that are not always familiar.  The most important thing is of course that we arrive where we had hoped.  How we get there is what seems to change.  And sometimes the change is the very thing we need to reach our goal.


Reflection for January 1, 2016

"Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness, was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters."(Genesis 1:2)

It has been quite some time since I've written one of my reflections.  I had big changes in my life and in the adjustment to that change I fell out of habit.  One resolution that I've made is to be consistent with this blog.  So I'm starting the Bible Challenge again and will reflect on some verse out of the readings for that day. 

How appropriate to begin a new year with the first Chapter of Genesis.  Each new year brings with it the potential for something to happen. While some may have an idea what the new year has in store for them, most of us don't.  We may have hopes, but rarely certainties.  But no matter what the Spirit of God seems to be hovering.

While it is always best to take it one day at a time, I know that I am looking forward to a year that perhaps is a little more settled than last year.  But I also know that my hope is that at the end of most if not all days is that I can look back before shutting my eyes and say "it was good."


Monday, July 20, 2015

Reflection for July 20, 2015

"However, so that we do not give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook; take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a coin; take that and give it to them for you and me."(Matthew 17:27)

Yesterday I went to a Phillies' game.  And like most baseball games it started with the National Anthem and I stood removed my hat etc.  During the 7th inning stretch they for some reason played God Bless America.  This has been going on since the 9/11 attacks and frankly I don't care for it.  During the 7th inning stretch I want to sing Take me out to the ballgame.  But I stood anyway, because I'm not interested in making a spectacle of myself.  I won't sing along however.

I think there are many things we do in life so as not to give offense to others.  I think there are times when we have to take stands that might be offensive to some.  But I'd like to use those moments for something really important.

I sense that was what Jesus meant with this.  The temple tax not something he was interested in getting into an argument about.  If people were going to be mad at him, it was going to be for something that was important to him.

How do you know when the something is worth standing up for and risking offending some people? When is it better just to play along?


Saturday, July 18, 2015

Reflection for July 18, 2015

" He said to them, 'But who do you say that I am?'”  (Matthew 16:15)

I am a member of the Committee on the Priesthood here in the Diocese of New Jersey.  The purpose of this group is to help people who feel called to the priesthood, to discern whether there is a call or not.  One of my favorite questions to asks these folks is "who do you say Jesus is?"  I ask it so much that it has become known as the Zelley question.

I don't think it is an unfair question, though I will say that it often takes people by surprise.  The fear of course is that I have an answer and if I don't like your answer or if it isn't my answer I might vote no.  The reality is that I just want an answer.  I'd prefer one that avoids pious platitudes and other jargon.  I'd like to hear how that answer has been experienced or lived out.

I suppose it would be only fair for me to give my answer.  So here we go.  Jesus for me has been a constant companion on my journey through life.  Sometimes he's in front of me saying follow me.  Sometimes he's behind me pushing me along.  But most often he's walking side by side with me, talking with me, listening to me whine, and I'm sure wondering if I'm listening to him.

I'm glad for this relationship it has sustained me since I was born.  And it has ebbed and flowed but never ceased.  So who do you say he is?