Friday, August 26, 2011

Peripheral Vision

Thus have I gazed toward you in the sanctuary to see your power and your glory.
- Psalm 63:3
I am fascinated by peripheral vision. Sometimes we just can't see something if we look directly at it. An object you can see out of the corner of your eye disappears when you look right at it. This is especially true in dim light. This is because the cells at the edges of our eyes are more sensitive to light than those at the center. So if you try and look directly at something in the dark, your eyes are not sensitive enough to see anything. But shift your gaze a little to the left or the right, and the object appears.

I think we have the same problem with Jesus sometimes. When we try and look straight at Him, we don't see anything. But if we allow our eyes to focus on our surroundings instead, He will appear in our peripheral vision. Look at the beggar on the street. Do you see Jesus asking for help? Look at a rose. Do you see the creator of all things?

When it gets dark, it can be even harder to see Jesus. When we're struggling, often we look for Him, and it seems He is not there. Again, we need to shift our focus. If you are sick, look at your doctor. Do you see The Healer? If you are out of work, look at a father. Do you see the One who will take care of all your needs? If you are lonely, look all around you at church. Do you see your brothers and sisters?

Peripheral vision is sometimes stronger than normal vision, more sensitive. When you look directly at Jesus, you may not see Him, Look away, and He will appear.

Monday, August 15, 2011

We Are Pegs

I will fix him like a peg in a sure spot, to be a place of honor for his family.
- Isaiah 22:23
We have many pegs in our lives. Our parents, spouses, teachers, priests, even close friends. These people are all people we can rely on, pegs fixed firmly in our lives. They are trustworthy, they are there when we need them for help, advice or comfort. They nourish and support us.

We too are pegs. Elderly parents may rely on us to meet their needs. Our children certainly do. Our spouse relies on us to be a partner in our marriage, supporting them in times of need, giving freely of our love. A good employee will be a strong peg in their company, building up the business, getting the work done. Those in any kind of teaching profession must be especially strong pegs as their students look to them for knowledge and guidance. Ministers in the parish (e.g. lectors, bible study leaders, musicians) work to deepen and strengthen the faith and spirituality of the parishioners. Friends come to us for companionship and understanding.

With so many roles to live up to, there is only one place to get everything we need to be good pegs. God. He put us where we are, and He will give us what we need to do the work He has assigned us. Look to God for wisdom, strength, courage, patience and enthusiasm, and you will be the peg He has created you to be.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Jealous Evangelizing

Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I glory in my ministry in order to make my race jealous and thus save some of them.
- Romans 11:13-14
Many of the Jews had rejected Jesus. So Paul went to preach to the Gentiles, knowing that this would make the Jews jealous and willing to accept the teaching of Christ.

We are also called to evangelize to others, and like St Paul, we can use a form of jealousy to do it. When we live a truly faith-filled life, we can't help but let our joy shine through. There is always something to be grateful for. There are always blessings to count. When trouble comes our way, we can face it with confidence, knowing God is there to help us. Our souls are at peace, knowing there are wonderful things to come.

When others see how our lives are filled with joy, peace and confidence, they will want to know where it comes from. And they will want it too. They will long to have what we have, and that is the first step on a journey to faith.

I know this method works, because it was part of the reason I myself was converted. So live a faith-filled life, and be prepared to make someone jealous today.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Power of Prayer

My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.
- Isaiah 56:7
Prayer is powerful. It can save lives, both physically and spiritually. St Augustine's mother, Monica, prayed for years that her son would be converted. And he was. People on the brink of death have recovered following intense prayer by their family and friends. But there is an even more powerful aspect of prayer. It allows us to talk to God.

Think about that for a moment. The God who created the entire universe has given us a way to speak directly to Him. And it gets better still. Through prayer, that same, powerful Creator speaks back to us. Yes, our God doesn't shut Himself off from us. He is not too important for us. We are His children. He is our Father. And what loving father would cut off all communication with his beloved children?

God wants us to talk to Him. He wants to hear our problems and struggles. He also wants to hear about our joys and successes. He doesn't require that we pray eloquently, and he doesn't want to hear recitations of written prayers. God wants us to simply tell Him what is in our hearts. The good, the bad, and the ugly.

When we learn to give everything to God, we will experience a powerful release. When you have a problem, doesn't it help to talk to someone about it? When you have good news, aren't you bursting to share it with someone? Make that someone God. He is always there, always ready to listen. You don't have to wait until He gets home. You don't have to wait until you get home. Whenever you need to talk, just start talking.

When you share a problem with a friend, do you expect to get some advice? Do you listen to that advice? Do the same with God. He wants to help you with your problems. Learn to listen to His advice and guidance, in prayer.

Maybe the best thing about prayer though, is that it is available to anyone. You don't have to belong to a certain church. You don't have to belong to a church at all. You don't have to be baptized or ordained, or receive any special sacrament. Anyone can pray, anywhere, any time. God is always listening.