#WorthRevisit: Do We Really Want to Change?

It’s not today’s Gospel, but it’s definitely one worth considering during Lent, when we are doing our best to change our hearts. Today’s “Worth Revisit” looks back at 2009.

Gospel: Jn 5:1-16

There was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
Now there is in Jerusalem at the Sheep Gate
a pool called in Hebrew Bethesda, with five porticoes.
In these lay a large number of ill, blind, lame, and crippled.
One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years.
When Jesus saw him lying there
and knew that he had been ill for a long time, he said to him,
“Do you want to be well?”
The sick man answered him,
“Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool
when the water is stirred up;
while I am on my way, someone else gets down there before me.”
Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your mat, and walk.”
Immediately the man became well, took up his mat, and walked.

Now that day was a sabbath.
So the Jews said to the man who was cured,
“It is the sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to carry your mat.”
He answered them, “The man who made me well told me,
‘Take up your mat and walk.’”
They asked him,
“Who is the man who told you, ‘Take it up and walk’?”
The man who was healed did not know who it was,
for Jesus had slipped away, since there was a crowd there.
After this Jesus found him in the temple area and said to him,
“Look, you are well; do not sin any more,
so that nothing worse may happen to you.”
The man went and told the Jews
that Jesus was the one who had made him well.
Therefore, the Jews began to persecute Jesus
because he did this on a sabbath.

Be Reconciled to God

Father’s homily today centered not on the fact that Jesus healed someone on the Sabbath, but on the fact that He healed someone who didn’t necessarily consider himself ready to be healed.

Do we want to be changed? Certainly it is easier to keep things the same–even if things aren’t great, at least they are familiar. That man in the Gospel who was ill for 38 years and then healed would now have to find a way to earn a living and find himself food and shelter. In some ways, it might have been easier for him to stay the way he was.

Lent is a time of healing. In my college chapel each Lent, banners were hung with the words: “Be reconciled to God through prayer, fasting and almsgiving.” (I’m not much of a “banner” person but that reminder has stuck with me even after 22 years.)

Our Lenten actions of sacrifice and prayer are meant to heal us, to bring us closer to God, to change us.

So is giving up Milky Ways and designer coffee really going to help me to change? Will it bring me closer to God? Only if I let it. Only if I let those very small sacrifices remind me that it’s not all about me. It’s about letting go of something in favor of a greater good. It’s about turning that sacrifice into an opportunity for almsgiving (that’s what those little cardboard “rice bowls” are all about). It’s about remembering that giving up a candy bar is really small in comparison to what Christ was willing to give up, and allowing that realization to lead me to a greater generosity of spirit.

worth revisit

I’m linking up with Reconciled to You and Theology is a Verb for #WorthRevisit Wednesday, a place where you can come and bring a past & treasured post to share, and link up with fellow bloggers!

#WorthRevisit: A Wise Choice

For Worth Revisit Wednesday, I’m thinking about Mass. TheKid is attending theatre camp, so I can’t easily make it back here on time for daily Mass. There are two closer churches that I can attend, and while they’re not “home,” a Mass at some other parish is better than no Mass at all.

On Friday, I attended the Church Where Everybody Knows Your Name. Or at least Father does. At the end of his homily he asked mine. A woman in front of me turned around and said that Father likes to know everyone’s name. Then, during the prayer of the faithful, he named every single person in that building (at least 50 people!) I was amazed.

Father H

Let’s look back at a one-liner today, from 2007. I miss Father H’s homilies!

Father H, in his mini-nugget of wisdom that passes for a homily at daily Mass, told us that “Every time we hear the Gospel at Mass we are left with a choice.” (chew on THAT for a while–he’s right!)

worth revisit

I’m linking up with Reconciled to You and Theology is a Verb for #WorthRevisit Wednesday, a place where you can come and bring a past & treasured post to share, and link up with fellow bloggers!

Scholastica, Benedict, Mary, Martha and Me

On this feast of St. Scholastica, Father M. read the Gospel story of Martha and Mary, then began his homily with the familiar story about St. Scholastica’s prayer to prolong her brother’s visit–which was answered with a storm so severe that St. Benedict was unable to depart. benedict and scholasticaFather mentioned that Benedict was concerned about following the rules–under the Rule he himself had written–and wanted to end the visit in time to return to the monastery by nightfall. Scholastica, on the other hand, wanted to savor the time of prayer and conversation with her brother, and wanted him to stay. When he refused, she took the matter straight to the top. Benedict realized that the storm was no coincidence, and when he called her on it, she replied, “I asked a favor of you, and you refused. I asked a favor of God, and he granted it.”

BOOM.

Father went on to preach about the Gospel. It’s one of my favorite passages–even more so after what was said today. First, he said that it’s not a bad thing, in and of itself, to be concerned about serving a meal. That’s a great comfort to me, as I’m all about serving meals. But here’s the best part:  Jesus wasn’t chiding Martha because she was working on serving a meal to her guests. He was chiding her because she didn’t take into account Whom she was serving.

Guilty as charged. Every single time.

I guess that’s why I have a soft spot for Martha.

St. Benedict, in his efforts to stay true to his Rule, forgot whom he was serving during his visit with his sister. It took her prayer and God’s answer in the form of a thunderstorm to show him that his sister, like Mary of Bethany, had “chosen the better part.”

Sts. Benedict & Scholastica image source: Wikimedia.