My Writings. My Thoughts.
Strength when we most need it can sometimes be elusive. We have seen how great athletes overcome great adversity by holding in their hearts a reward that goes beyond any accolade or gold medal. Common to them and to us this Lent is an opportunity to offer our efforts for a greater good, to sacrifice something we prefer for someone else. Through prayer, fasting and alms giving, we have an opportunity to draw closer to God. The result is the renewal of our strength and vitality. The champion David, in his fight against Goliath, shows us the way to do this.
In considering how some athletes go beyond many people’s expectations, we can discover a motivation greater than personal recognition or even a gold medal. Fr. Greg Haake and I discuss how these special athletes and their incredible results are often lifted by a higher good. In this lies the key. We discuss how to perform at our best under pressure, whether an athlete or worker or as one friend to another. We consider a reference in Scripture and many other practical examples to show that in selflessness lies the power to perform with greatness.
When we see athletes compete at the Olympic games, we can be amazed by the height of their achievement. But, we also know that not every athlete achieves the heights they are capable of. Furthermore, it is not simply the outcome of every sporting contest that matters, where there are winners and losers. It is a question of whether the athletes, and also you and I, bring forward all the talent that is within us, independent of our walk in life. C. S. Lewis proposes a source for greater strength and courage. We see this exhibited in the story of David’s remarkable contest with Goliath. Listeners are invited to consider the source of their talents and to solicit God’s aid for their “contests” and life.
The idea that strain and ruptures within families come from sin is helpful. It gives each of us opportunity to examine in our consciences. But how can we overcome these ruptures? Better still, how can we avoid it in the first place? In very protracted family difficulties, we find Joseph. Amazingly, it is his forgiveness, as suggested in previous programs, and his choice to remain close to God, that sustains him and allows him to prevail. For us, however, forgiving those who have wronged us may be quite challenging. To begin at all, it is helpful to consider the Father’s extraordinary love for each of us. We see this in Jacob’s love for his children. However, we must also guard our hearts through prayer to avoid strain and rupture. “Prayers,” as St. John Chrysostom says, “are what the walls are for the city, the sword for the soldier, the port among the storm, or the staff for those who may trip.”
Let us not underestimate the power of the Holy Spirit. In 1 Samuel 16, we see that “the Spirit of the Lord came upon David”. We also know that David, in this “Spirit of God” and without armor, defeats a mighty warrior who is heavily armed. Is this not remarkable? In 2 Timothy 1, the Spirit is given to Timothy by the “laying on of hands”. Afterward, Timothy receives the spirit of power and love and self-control. With the same Holy Spirit, three guests on this program discuss how they have each chosen to defend life. They also share their experiences from the 41st. March for Life in Washington DC and founding of the Walk for Life in San Francisco. These champions began with modest goals, and by God’s grace and the help of other believers, have done much for the cause of life!
Joseph, as we know, is hated by his brothers. Their hatred is intense and they plot to kill him. For us, if our death has never been plotted by a brother or sister, do we not sometimes suffer the most from those closest to us? In the story of Joseph and his brothers, God gives us an opportunity to see some of our own experiences. Envy. Pride. Hatred. Violence. As well as courage, purity, faithfulness and forgiveness. Yet, just as God, through Joseph, brought these tragedies to an incredible conclusion, will he not do the same for us? This story in Sacred Scripture exists for our good, to teach us and to heal us. Listeners are invited to consider how envy and other sins give rise to the rupture of the family. Yet, we also see the remedy. Read Genesis 37 – 47.
Joseph’s brothers, the sons of Jacob, were the source of great hardship in Joseph’s life. Their hatred gave rise to plans for an ultimate betrayal, including his possible murder. We see, however, that God had a greater plan in mind. Through Joseph and his decision to remain faithful, God orchestrated the salvation from famine of “all the world” (Gen 41: 57). Joseph’s story is not only a foreshadowing of the coming Messiah, but his experiences also give us great hope in difficulties we may experience at the hands of friends and family members, those closest to us. The story of Joseph is recapped here. Subsequent talks will look at the role of prayer and other attainable graces that provide opportunities to recover precious love lost through challenging periods of our life.
Prophets are a familiar character in the stories of the Old Testament. However, since Jesus Christ, has God changed his mind about these special souls who intercede for our good? Mary has appeared over the centuries with singular purpose: to encourage us to “do whatever he tells us”. In a particularly unique way, Mary came to 16th century Mexico, a scene of much conflict and few new children for Our Lord, and changed the lives of millions of people. One aspect of these apparitions, an artifact that continues amazing our technological investigations today, is the image of Our Lady left by her on the tilma of Juan Diego. For the Aztecs, who had no written words, symbols told the story. This still astounds us to this day and even proclaims the Mother of God.
For those of us familiar with the stories of Our Lord’s birth, are we ever tempted to consider this event as something ordinary? Had we been alive at the time of Jesus’ birth, how would we know that it was indeed He, that He had come? By God’s providence, the Jews had been prepared to recognize the Christ. The earliest foretelling of a Redeemer was hinted when Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden. Then, continuing down the through the centuries, for over 2000 years, many prophets foretold many facts about the Messiah. For example, the Jewish people were told that He would be born of a woman and be a descendant of Abraham and David; Our Lord was prophesied to be born in Bethlehem, to have come out of Egypt, and to be born of a virgin. These are some of the wonderful signs given by God in Sacred Scripture to help all people be ready for his glorious coming.