"Geste of the Great King" is a reference to a prayer book that St. Francis of Assisi composed. In this prayer book, Francis contemplated the journey of Christ's paschal mystery. Christ is the hero, and St. Francis is the geste who through these prayers becomes a witness and closely connected to Christ mysterious death on the cross. Inspired by Christ and St. Francis, this blog is affectionately named after St. Francis' prayer book.
Building New Relationships by Giving Up Stuff
Stop being a hoarder! Guess what I am giving for lent. Yes, we are all in that time of year where people give up things they love for lent. A practice to create a spirit of penance, and focus on God, you know the things that matter. In recent years, people will give up on the exercise of fasting, and giving up their beloved items for lent because often it makes them unbearable human beings which in turn can be anti-gospel. Years I ago I decided to give up on "giving up" for lent.
Yet, this year I decided to take up the practice again. Why? As you can guess, working in the inner city I see my share of people who need the stuff I don't use. So my wife and I realized that over the past year we have been collecting, and collecting stuff given to us. In fact, we don't know what to do with it. It becomes a contentious debate sometimes and this stuff often becomes a distraction from our daily focus of prayer, life, and family.
So for the forty days of fasting, penance and focusing on God's Word, we have decided to give up the things we don't need and give them to people who do need them.
Obviously, there is probably about two hundred things I could give up for lent, but this made sense to me because this act brings the wider community into the picture of my penance. After all, penance is based on relationship building. So by giving someone I don't know an extra coat I have not worn for three seasons and having a conversation with them about their story is just that--relationship building. I do dare put this challenge out to others, it just may help you focus on the Gospel news more and to help build the kingdom by giving help to someone in need.
In Genesis, we hear about Noah’s Ark. One of the most popular biblical stories filled with the images of the great flood, the building of ark, animals and a rainbow. Overcome with the more Hollywood image of this tale, we often forget that this is a story about God making a change in His own behavior. God promises to never use divine anger as a means of punishing his divine art piece, creation, and his reflected divine image, humanity.
The God of Israel, is moved with remorseful compassion. In other words, the very thing God set out to do was to create life, not destroy it. How do we know that God was moved by this event? God created the rainbow to be a reminder to God’s self to not give into anger and destroy his creation again—the rainbow is not for us to remember, but for God to remember his side of the contract.
The first temptation we need to resist, then, is believing that God is involved in any horrific acts of violence, and terror within the world in order to p…
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of our Lenten journey of fasting, praying, and almsgiving. These acts of penance, are ways in which we can open our hearts to receive God in a more abundant way. In these acts, we experience what God gave up so that we could gain a fulfilling life both in the present day and in eternal life. In today’s gospel, however, we are sternly reminded to practice these acts of penance with humility.
Jesus warns his disciples not to by like the hypocrites. These pretenders of the faith preformed acts of fasting, prayer and alms giving as a way to gain or to exploit something. Their repayment was getting praise and glorification from others in the community—in essence, they were about using their faith to gain great publicity.
The God in Jesus is quite the opposite. Jesus does not charge us a price for our redemption. He becomes impoverished for our sake taking on the form of a human. He knows our sufferings, pain, illnesses, and he now hungers…
My sisters and brothers in Christ, today’s gospel paints an unfriendly picture of Jesus. It is disturbing, and quite frankly contrasts the hippy folk hero that we often attribute to Christ. It is a gospel that is found in all four books of the New Testament and it signals the seriousness of Jesus’ mission. Jesus’ consuming zeal was a statement about the faith and about the religion. This a story about how Jesus begins his mission to reform a religion that was exploiting the common people who were seeking to find God.
John makes a clever connection with Jesus coming to the temple for Passover. Jesus becomes the new Moses, who will lead the people to a new Passover, from death to life, to be truly redeemed. He must first purify the temple which was selling goods that were plundered and resold for sacrifice. It was stolen goods and clearly unworthy for an offering to God because it broke the Mosaic law, put the consumers into sin and, thus, these shady money changers did not bel…