Sunday, February 10, 2019

Cast Out Into the Deep


UNCLEAN

"Woe is me, I am doomed! For I am a man of unclean lips," states the writer of Isaiah in today's first reading.  We soon find that even though the writer does not feel worthy of being in God's presence, God is ready to send him out after his has been forgiven.  Oh how I identify with him and with Peter in today's Gospel. I feel so unworthy of being in God's presence or even accepting God's love at times.

PETER AND I

I can't help but to identify with Peter in his wanting Jesus to depart from him after questioning his ability to judge where the fish might be. I found that this passage provoked a spiritual examination of myself as I read it.  How I want to question the direction God is taking me. How I want to depart from what I know is right and go my own way. How I don't want to cast the net of faith in depths of my hardened heart to find what treasure God has in store for me because it might just interfere with my plans for myself or others.

So many times throughout my life I have asked to cast the net and so many times it is a surprise catch, bountiful beyond my imagination.  Yet I still balk. Do I want to be a fisher of men? Do I want to leave everything behind knowing that there will be suffering involved? Most of the time the answer is no. It is here where I find comfort in Peter's humanity. I consider myself strong-willed and also a questioning type.  Jesus said "Do not be afraid."

It is here where I need to cast out my doubts and plunge into the deep. This is a leap of faith for anyone who goes to depths of their heart to find themselves and to ultimately find God. It can be dark as one uncovers their sinfulness, but when they surface they will be in the eternal light.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Look Around





Look Around

You pass me by on the street 
my soiled clothes and bare feet
You step over me on your walk
not taking the time to even talk.
You see me on tube with my beckoning eyes
yet you are not moved even with the silent cries
You ask John, "What should we do?"
My answer is, "Look around you."
Open your eyes we are the destitute, the homeless,
the sick, the poor.
We search for the true living Christ nothing more.
We don't ask to go into your homes and disturb your night.
We just ask that to be treated without spite.
A hello, are you alright?
Makes my day so light.
The voice cries out in the wilderness, "make way."
Will you be like Christ today?

© Christian Miraglia 2018

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Waiting






WAITING

Waiting is what Advent is all about and waiting is what we spend doing during our daily journey through life. So let's take a waiting journey.

THE DAILY WAIT

As soon as one arises in the morning, there may be a wait to enter the bathroom to ready ourselves during the day. Or as many do the the first action upon waking is to look at their phone, tablet, or computer. Surprise you may have to wait until the wifi signal is at full strength before checking out the latest in news, e-mail, etc.

One turns on the shower water and finds that they must wait 30 seconds to a minute before it is heated up enough to step in.
Next venture to the kitchen. The water for your coffee or tea needs to be put in the microwave for a minute or two. Then once ready, you must wait a minute before you can actually drink it. Now we haven't even left the house yet if you are working. For those who are parents usually you have to awaken your children and wait for them to get ready for school. More waiting. When you do arrive at school, there is of course the long line of parents' vehicles that are waiting to drop off their children.

THE COMMUTE

Back to those who are off to work. You get in your vehicle and realize that you must fill up the tank so you head to Costco and find a line of cars six deep also on the same mission. Once you have filled up your vehicle you head off on your commute.Wait a minute. You didn't get your coffee at Starbucks. Off to the drive-thru for a five minute wait.  For those of you that don't have a long drive to work, God has blessed you. For those of you like myself who live in a urban area, you know that you will spend a good amount of time at traffic signals and once on the freeway waiting for traffic to move beyond 25 mph. It isn't even 7:00 am yet and it seems like you have done a lot ot waiting.

IT ISN"T EVEN NOON YET

So far your first hours are full of waiting. The rest of the day will be somewhat of same. Waiting in line at the grocery store or local eatery. One cannot forget the doctor's office where you were scheduled for a 3:00 pm appointment and it is already 3:45. Then there is the classic wait, the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Waiting for a loved one to get ready to go out. Waiting for work to end. Waiting for the game to end so we can celebrate a victory. Waiting in line to cross the border.

Yes we do a lot of waiting during our life. We wait for our sports teams to win which if you are a Cub's or Red Sox fan you know what I am talking about. We wait for good news and bad news. We wait for news about a child who applied to a college. We wait for medical news or news about loved ones who are sick. We wait and wait.



THE PERENNIAL WAITER

Yet while we are waiting all this time do we think about the One who is patiently waiting for us?  Perhaps as we wait impatiently in line at the store or at Costco to put gas in our car we can spend a moment to acknowledge the One who created us. Or for someone like myself who spends what seems like too much time in Southern California traffic, I can thank God for the vehicle that I am able to drive to work as well as for the drivers who are plodding along with me to their destination. In this I am surrendering to the One who created me. As the day ends I can spend time in quiet solitude looking over what Jesus is waiting for me to do. As always there is unfinished business, an amends that needs to be made, some part of my life that I refuse to give up control over, and the list goes on. Yet he patiently waits.

Happy Advent.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Who is my King?



WHO IS MY KING?

After listening to the daily meditation Pray as You Go this morning which prompted me to take a look at the question. "Do I take Jesus for granted?" I found that not only do I take Jesus for granted on occasions, but I also take those around me for granted as well. Who exactly is my king? Is it work, is it those parts of me that I don't reveal to others, is it my pride?

THE KINGS OF THIS WORLD

We heard the word king used in a variety of contexts. For those familiar with the commercial from Paul's TV in which the owner states at the end "I am the king," we may reflect on that very product. Is TV our king. Do we bow to its every appeal? Are we caught in the endless spiral of binge watching programs for hours on in? Do we spend more time watching the endless stream of programs instead of reading spiritual books going to Mass, and spending silent time with our Savior.

Then we have the basketball player LeBron James who is commonly referred as the King.  LeBron is an idol to many young children and adults as well. The question then becomes do we make a person a king obsessing about their every move, buying their products, becoming a slave to the world of materialism?

On the note of materialism I can't help but lament the craziness of Black Friday. It truly is a dark spot on the spiritual calendar as people obsessed with getting the best deal. In contrast the Gospel reading on Friday has Jesus clearing out the temple of those that were hawking their items. Jesus makes it clear that the temple is a sacred space. Not only is he talking about the physical building, but for us as well. Do I have a time for sacred space during this holiday season?


Of course we cannot forget Burger King which brings the uncomfortable conversation of food right
after many of us of indulged in more than we have liked to on this Thanksgiving weekend. I have issues with food. It becomes a source of comfort when I am angry, feeling down, or bored. I can easily allow the thought of food and comfort become a focus instead of fasting. I personally do not like fasting because I feel that I am giving up something that I need in order to survive throughout the day.

ALL OR NOTHING

Bishop Robert Barron in his homily podcast for today Christ the King reminds us if we are truly giving ourselves to Christ, we give our all to Him not just those things that are easily surrendered. Giving up the desire to control our family members, our co-workers, and those close to us is challenging. The phrase, "I am the king of my own domain" very much conflicts with the Gospel message. Taking the time to acknowledge that Christ is my king in every aspect of my life is start. However holding on to those areas which I want to control is not easy, such as my health, my work, and the world beyond me.  Thus, I must trust that through faith Jesus Christ will do for me what I cannot do for myself.



Sunday, November 18, 2018

Am I Ready?


TOUGH QUESTION

I was recently asked by my adult son if I am ready to meet Jesus. I thought about this for a moment and replied, "No, I still need to work on myself more." Can anyone be ready to meet Jesus? I have had friends who were sick and completely at peace when they passed. They seemed quite ready, at peace with themselves, and with their families and friends. And there are the people who are suddenly taken from us in tragic circumstances. One never knows when our time is.

When the author of Daniel speaks of the time of unsurpassed distress (DN 12:1), I cannot help but think of the state of our nation and world. Over the past two weeks in California where I live there have been wildfires that have been epic in proportions of deaths, there was another tragic shooting,  contentious political elections, and a myriad of personal tragedies.




Then one cannot help but look at the world scene. Peoples moving in large numbers trying to escape violent environments in Asia,Africa, the Middle East, Central and South America. Many of the people face even more violence as they arrive in the areas which they sought refuge or are met with hostility from the various hate groups that have increased in response to keep their borders secure.

FORMING AN IMAGE OF GOD

This brings me to the old religious comic books which I read as child which left an indelible mark on my understanding of God. I don't remember the titles other than "The Cross and Switchblade" featuring Pastor David Wilkerson and one book of Revelation and the end times. In very comic book style detail it laid out how the world would end with wars, famine, suffering and disease. I remember on one page it spoke of fires and oceans being polluted. On another page it spoke of the wars with nation versus nation. I trembled in my interior as these images became permanently embedded in my psyche.  Never mind the end pages which spoke of people being gathered up due to their faith. On one page it featured countless people robed in white approaching a figure in white as part of the final judgement. My image of God was formed. He was a God that inflicted pain and suffering on people. He moved people around as chess pieces and wasn't concerned about their well-being.

THE HERE AND NOW

I still find what goes on today and question why God allows such suffering and evil. There isn't much to say other than with faith I understand that God has a plan and I who want to control the outcome of those things within my environs am not privy to it.

I am part of a men's group at my parish and we have been viewing Bishop Robert Barron's Catholicism collection of DVDs. This past week we watched the The Ineffable Spirit of God. In it one of the titles is "The Problem of Evil." Fr. Barron is walking through the Auschwitz concentration camp as he talks about the topic.  The scenes are quite uncomfortable, but the conclude with teaching that from all the evil that took place there is a bigger plan from the Author of Life.  After watching the men in the group discussed the content. We came to the conclusion that evil does exist, but that is different from suffering.  Moreover it was agreed that despite the evil that exists we don't really know the big plan. 





Since I am a controlling person I took this to heart. I like to think that I have control over my family, those that I work with, over my students, even over my own future. None of this could be farther from the truth and this takes me back to question "am I ready?" Jesus says "But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." MK 13:24-32 . Not knowing when my time is up is quite scary, but there is not despair. If truly live out my life, putting my faith in God first, taking time for self-examination (that can take up a considerable amount of time), loving those around me and spending time in prayer, I guess I am ready. 

Sunday, October 28, 2018

A Nation Going Spiritually Blind





THERE IS ALWAYS AND ANSWER

Although full of political opinions and a student of history, I don't usually provide commentary on current events. However, the recent events this week have brought me to do so, but in a non-political manner. I am thoroughly disgusted at the vitriol that has ravaged our nation and I truly think that we as a people have lost our moral compass. Immigrants, people of color, and religious beliefs are under attack and vilified daily. What is the answer?  For me it can be found in today's Gospel.

I as a person have many spiritual blind spots. Fortunately, through the trials and errors of life and the infinite grace of God I can ask much like Bartimaeus, "Jesus, son of David have pity on me."  I cannot imagine being blind, but having recently been diagnosed with a cataract I have a sense as what it is like as my vision is clouded.  It is so with sin, and hate. It begins with something relatively small, maybe some offhand comment or action. It doesn't seem like much and so it is repeated.

I find that this pattern continues on a daily basis from many people in the public light. What concerns me is that we as a nation have not come to realize our blindness. How can a nation call itself Christian when such vitriol is become common place and normalized? The followers have quashed the voice that says, "repent, reconcile yourself to God, admit your sins and become new again."

IT BEGINS WITH ME

So I begin today by answering Jesus question, "What do you want me to do for you?" "Jesus give me the strength so see my own prejudices, hatred and sin.  Help me love and pray for those who continue to spread hate, divisiveness, and violence against all of your people. Let there be peace in the world and let it begin with me."

I also will begin praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet daily for those I dislike and find hard to love. Addicted the newsfeed on my phone, I will take time instead to pray for those who spread the vitriol across our nation and world.  One prayer at a time, one person at a time.

O blessed Virgin Mary pray for us!




Sunday, October 21, 2018

Rambling a Bit: Writer's Block and the Holy Spirit



NEEDING INSPIRATION

I don't always get up on Sundays inspired to write. I like many hit a wall, have writers block, run out of ideas, and sometimes don't even want to think about writing. Consumed by the crazy schedule of one adult child's Sunday soccer games, a recent visit by another child with a one month old baby, and the life of a working adult, writing seems like a chore, but there is something that always inspires me from fellow writers and from what I see as the Holy Spirit moving me to sit down and write. Today was one of those days. I had no intention to write until I read the Mass readings in the Magnificat along with the meditation that accompanied it. The passage was from the bestselling author Vann Voskamp who is a frequent contributor and focused on a conversation about cancer. Paraphrasing the main idea' "cancer cells are known as the cells that only benefit themselves," or as Ann Voskamp states in the final lines, "Cancer is what refuses to die to itself." How beautifully stated.

I then can see that James and John in their worldly aspirations have been infected by this cancer. More importantly I can see that this is also my principal problem as I trudge the road of attempting to live out a Christian life. Being a very driven person and wanting to prove myself to anyone and everyone I don't like the idea of surrendering my ambitions to God. But after hitting so many walls in my drive, I have come to believe that I that very cancer that Ann Voskamp alludes to alive and kicking in me. 

JAMES AND JOHN

My desires and longings are brought to God every morning much like James and John. The conversation goes like this, "God you know that I desire _________ and I have been patient about waiting. How much longer will I have to wait? I know that you know what is best for me and that I don't want to carry the cross of impatience or even the answer no." Then I catch myself. The cancer is spreading again. This all about me. I am not surrendering to the will of God, but putting demands on God. I am not dying to self nor am I acting as if I'm willing to serve.

SERVING OTHERS

Becoming a servant to others is such a foreign concept in our society. I see how people demand service and entitlement. As for myself I can honestly say that taking this attitude has only brought me resentment and anger as I affix unhealthy expectations on people and institutions for things that best serve me.

Conversely I have found greater joy in serving others. There is something about helping those in need. Perhaps it is that the cancer is being treated by the Holy Spirit and there is no longer that self-obsession. The eyes are opened to the needs of others or as Jesus says "the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve (MK 10:35-39)