Saturday, December 07, 2019

Bring it to Life

Bring it to Life

The Lord will give you the bread you need and the water for which you thirst. No longer will your Teacher hide himself, but with your own eyes, you shall see your Teacher. While from behind, a voice shall sound in your ears: "This is the way; walk in it," when you would turn to the right or the left. Isaiah 30:20-21

Jesus went around to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom, and curing every disease and illness. At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is abundant, but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest." Matthew 9:35

As we sit in the darkness of Advent awaiting the light, Isaiah continues to hold the lit candle of hope. Our God is a God of abundance. We get blessings we don’t deserve. We have a God of Compassion, and we see evidence of that in both readings today.

I need to hear that above the cackle of the headlines. We hear the mind-numbing news of more mass shootings. In just a few days, there was one at Pearl Harbor the week of the 78th anniversary of the attack that pulled our nation into war. Two more followed in Florida: one at the naval base in Pensacola and the other shootout in Miami that took the life of a UPS driver after he was hijacked and kidnapped doing his job.

But God does not have the market cornered on compassion. He needs us to help heal the world. “[T]he fields ripe for the harvest.”

This map is part of "All In," A Wider Circle's ( new national plan to end poverty. It’s CEO Mark Bergel has developed new income standards (AWC Income Standards) to replace the Federal Poverty Line for every county in the United States and produced an accurate count of those living in need of assistance across the country.

In February of 2020, AWC will release its new online action guide - the heart of the plan - that will provide clear and specific ways that every person and every sector can engage in the movement to end poverty. You and your company or organization can lead the way. If you want to learn more, please contact AWC and stay tuned! You can connect with the Founder and CEO via LinkedIn (

Mark is one those rare people you meet in life who truly walk the walk. Mark has dedicated his life to helping those among us most in need and he has done so with grace, dignity and humility. I feel honored to know him and to support A Wider Circle.

You can be a part of making Scripture come to life. That is what is means when Isaiah preaches that “The Lord will give you bread in adversity and water in affliction.” We are the hands and feet to make this happen. The fields are ripe for us to assist in this harvest one census tract at a time.

Christ is counting on you to be among the harvesters.

Thursday, December 05, 2019

Find Joy

Find Joy

On that day, the deaf shall hear the words of a scroll; And out of gloom and darkness, the eyes of the blind shall see. The lowly shall again find joy in the LORD; the poorest rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.  Isaiah 29:18-19

As Jesus passed by, two blind men followed him, crying out, "Son of David, have pity on us!" When he entered the house, the blind men approached him, and Jesus said to them, "Do you believe that I can do this?" "Yes, Lord," they said to him. Then he touched their eyes and said, "Let it be done for you according to your faith." Matthew 9:27-29

The darkness of a winter’s night descends earlier and earlier. The days continue to get shorter and shorter.  The sun does not come up until 7:12 tomorrow.  Yet, before most people leave work, darkness returns at 4:47. The hours of daylight will continue to get shorter for two more weeks.

But Advent Catholics are not discouraged.  As we are near the end of the First Week of Advent, our solitary purple candle continues to hold out the hope of conquering darkness. One little candle against all that darkness of space. Just like one little prayer effectively defiant against the power of evil.

In this darkness, Isaiah reminds us of what happens when God is among us.  The prophet presents the positive aspects of God’s light in terms of a series of reversals: an end to pride, ignorance, and injustice. The passage echoes the same manifesto of redemption that Jesus preached that first day in the temple (Isaiah 61:1-2).

“The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me; He has sent me to bring good news to the afflicted, to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, release to the prisoners, To announce a year of favor from the LORD and a day of vindication by our God.”

Yet it is not just idle preaching.  Our Good News shows Jesus restoring sight to the blind men and helping them find such joy that they can not keep the miracle of sight a secret. 

It is our job, as saints among us, to be the arms and hands and feet of Christ in the world of darkness. Today, liturgically speaking, also is the Feast of St. Nicholas. Yes…the jolly old man in the red suit that Clement Moore popularized. This third-century saint sold all his possessions and gave his money to the poor. Raised to be a devout Christian, St. Nicholas dedicated his whole life to serving the sick and suffering. His charity was a light shining in the darkness. 

Traditions lost in the commercialism of a “December-to-remember” include
children leaving their shoes out in the hopes of finding small gifts in the morning. The spirit of St. Nicholas Eve and day was one focused on giving over receiving, remembering those less fortunate.  However, with only 19 shopping days left until Christmas, St. Nick gets trampled by the Black Friday crowds looking for a bargain on a flat-screen TV.

In these days of preparation, remembering St. Nicholas adds a spiritual dimension to gift-giving.  Maybe the popular #GivingTuesday could be permanently moved to December 6?

Recalling the story of Nicholas as a model inspiring compassion and charity also sets the stage for us to honor the Christ Child in 19 days who selflessly gave the greatest gift of all – himself – to be with those two blind men and us. May he restore our sight this season as well. The Kingdom of God is at hand for you.

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

“Building on Rock, Day by Day” by Beth DeCristofaro

“Building on Rock, Day by Day” by Beth DeCristofaro

"A strong city have we; he sets up walls and ramparts to protect us.  Open up the gates to let in a nation that is just, one that keeps the faith. A nation of firm purpose you keep in peace; in peace, for its trust in you." (Isaiah 26:1-3)

Open to me the gates of justice;
I will enter them and give thanks to the LORD.
This gate is the LORD's;
the just shall enter it.
I will give thanks to you, for you have answered me
and have been my savior.
R. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
(Psalm 118:1 and 25-27A)

And everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who built his house on sand. The rain fell, the floods came,
and the winds blew and buffeted the house. And it collapsed and was completely ruined."
(Matthew 7:26-27)

O God, Protect me in times of storm but also in times of tedium.  May I be open to the Word-Made-Flesh, Jesus Christ, in all seasons of my life.

Most of us know the experience of being buffeted by wind and rain.  Life finds us reeling from deaths of loved ones, anxiety over job stresses or potential loss, anxiety at personal or national conflicts, disillusionment in men we trusted and the like.  And most of us know that Jesus will see us through these times whether we feel his presence at our side during the storm or recognize his grace after it has passed.

Much of life, thankfully, is not so pummeling.  For long stretches, we might find ourselves going capably from responsibility to responsibility, enjoying moments of merriment.  Are we checking in on our “building” in these settled times?  Standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon, after we have caught our breath in awe and perhaps backed away a few steps in dizziness, we can contemplate what the day to day slog of a small river has done to the mighty earth.  Erosion of soil, rock or soul can change the face of the world and us.  The corrosion of boredom (acedia) can gradually eat away at our foundation of faith.
Joan Chittister writes, “Day follows day with not much to show for any of them. Oh, yes, monastics know all about that kind of thing. In ancient monasteries, the warning of Evagrius of Pontus to ‘beware the devil of the noonday sun’ loomed large. Acedia, they called it. Spiritual sloth. The burden of the long haul. The question in every life, of course, is how to keep on going when going on seems fruitless. … The Abbas know that life is what comes from within us, not from what clings to the cloaks of our heart, demanding our attention and draining our resources.  Into this climate of spiritual ennui, of dulling sensitivities, boredom takes over. And it is boredom that smothers the soul. Bored, we lose sight of the beautiful in our midst. Bored, we overlook the world’s call for our attention. Bored, we ourselves become lethargic, out of touch, and uncaring about the needs of others. …  So, what is the cure for such shrinkage of the soul? Abba Poeman is clear. We must forever remember, each and every day of our life, to make a new beginning. It is this beginner’s mind—the stage of perpetual alertness—that keeps us in tune with the songs of the rest of the world. …   Every day, like Abba Poeman, we must begin to see again our role in the creation of the world, in the development of the human race, and the preservation of the planet.[i]

Advent focuses both on the now and the future; in the momentous past at Jesus’ birth, death, and resurrection they are tied together. We can begin each morning again to a new beginning.  We anticipate the birth of a divine baby.  We can set new stones in our own foundation which Jesus’ death set in place. We can add our own touches to the growing Kingdom which Jesus established in his Resurrection.  Are there places of ennui, complacency, or dulled coolness in our souls?  Raise these to God’s protection and enlivening in Advent practices. Prepare to come to the creche of the baby with hearts afire.

[i] “A New Beginning”, Sr. Joan Chittister, July 10, 2017, 

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

“The Feast: Future, Past, and Present” by Colleen O’Sullivan

“The Feast:  Future, Past, and Present” by Colleen O’Sullivan

On this mountain, the Lord of hosts will provide for all peoples
A feast of rich food and choice wines,
juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines.  (Isaiah 25:6)

At that time:  Jesus walked by the Sea of Galilee went up on the mountain and sat down there.  Great crowds came to him, having with them the lame, the blind, the deformed, the mute, and many others.  They placed them at his feet, and he cured them.  (Matthew 15:29-30)

The hungry heart he satisfies
Offers the poor his paradise
Now hear all heaven and earth applaud
The amazing goodness of the Lord
    from The Feast, Graham Kendrick
As I pondered the Scripture readings for today, many images flashed through my mind.  The kids all around our country who’ve been separated from their parents at our border with Mexico, hungry for reunification with their moms and dads.  Children whose only food comes in the shape of the meals they receive at school.    Families with empty cupboards, mocked by our culture of abundance, hungry for the ingredients for a meal.  Those who suffer from addiction and live for their next high.  The lonely, hungry for human companionship.  The millions of refugees around the world hungry for a place to lay their heads down and call home.  The affluent, full of what the world has to offer, but otherwise empty.

In the face of such need, in our reading from Isaiah, God promises a heavenly banquet like nothing we’ve ever experienced.  Think of the most sumptuous food and drink, and that is what God is offering.  Beyond that, the Lord says there will be no more dying.  God will wipe away all our tears.  Think in terms of abundance, and that’s what this passage is about, the abundance of God’s love for us. We look forward to this abundance.

Hunger and thirst also take on other forms – the longing to be made whole physically, emotionally, or spiritually.  In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus heals the ills of those in the crowd.  Jesus doesn’t wait for the future; he does what he can at the moment.  He takes compassion on the crowd, knowing that they must be hungry.  He takes what is available and makes it enough to feed every single person there. 

There is no hunger of the stomach or the human heart that Jesus didn’t seek to heal while here among us.  Our Scripture readings today promise us a future in God’s Kingdom, where there will be no more tears, no more needs, no more dying.

The future and the past are addressed in our Scripture readings today.  That brings us to this present moment when Jesus asks us to be his eyes, his ears, his hands and feet in the world today.  The Lord asks us to be compassionate and merciful to our brothers and sisters.  Take a few minutes today to make an Advent contribution to an organization of your choice, which seeks to alleviate hunger.  Some suggestions:

SOME (So Others Might Eat) -

Food for the Poor -

Monday, December 02, 2019

“Blessed Are the Eyes” by Melanie Rigney (@melanierigney)

“Blessed Are the Eyes” by Melanie Rigney (@melanierigney)

On that day, a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots, a bud shall blossom. (Isaiah 11:1)

Justice shall flourish in his time and fullness of peace forever. (Psalm 72:7)

Turning to the disciples in private, he said, "Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For I say to you, many prophets and kings desired to see what you see but did not see it and to hear what you hear but did not hear it." (Luke 10:23-24)

Lord, open my eyes to Your presence in my life.

Every day.

Every day the disciples saw Him, heard Him, could touch Him. It wasn’t that they didn’t appreciate Him as a charismatic, challenging teacher and friend, albeit a bit of an odd and confusing one. But making the leap of faith to viewing Him as the promised Messiah, well, that took a while, even when He made it plain, as in today’s Gospel reading from Luke.

Every day.

Sometimes, that which is right before us, is the most difficult thing to see. It becomes commonplace, almost mundane. We fail to appreciate His presence in our lives and the world, preferring to focus on the ills and evil or taking for granted His wonderful gifts in nature, in technology, in the smiles of people we love and those we encounter just for a few seconds.

Every day.

Yes, the prophets and kings of old had desired to see the Messiah, but you have to wonder whether they would have recognized Jesus or dismissed Him as a pretender. It doesn’t really matter. What matters to our hope of salvation is recognizing Him every day, giving thanks, providing comfort to His people, and finding rest and strength in Him above all.

Every day.

Say “Thank you” to someone who shows you Jesus today.

Sunday, December 01, 2019

“The LORD's Glory Will be Shelter and Protection” by Rev. Paul Berghout (@FatherPB)

“The LORD's Glory Will be Shelter and Protection” by Rev. Paul Berghout (@FatherPB)

Then will the LORD create, over the whole site of Mount Zion and her place of assembly, A smoking cloud by day and light of flaming fire by night. For over all, the LORD's glory will be shelter and protection: shade from the parching heat of the day, refuge, and cover from storm and rain. Isaiah 4:5-6

When Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion approached him and appealed to him, saying, "Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, suffering dreadfully." He said to him, "I will come and cure him." The centurion said in reply, "Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed.  Matthew 8:5-8

As we begin Advent, we light one candle amid all the darkness in our lives and the world.  It symbolizes our longing, our desire, our hope.  Three “advents” or “comings” shape our desire.  Our piety, study, and action in Advent renew the sense that Jesus came to save us from our sin and death.  We want to experience his coming to us now, in our everyday lives, to help us live our lives with meaning and purpose.  And we want to prepare for his coming to meet us at the end of our lives on this earth.

Every evening in the First Week of Advent, we light the first candle, traditionally called the Candle of Hope, to remember to look for the coming of Christ hopefully.

The virtue of hope originates from God through the grace of faith. It draws the Christian towards God, providing him or her with confidence in God and eternal life (Catechism 1812, 1840).

God's holy presence in a person's soul caused by sanctifying grace is like a lit candle that we need armor to protect from getting blown out.

There is the story where a scorpion and a frog meet on the bank of a stream.  The scorpion asks the frog to carry him across on its back. The frog asks, "How do I know you won't sting me?" The scorpion says, "Because if I do, I will die too because we will both drown." The frog is satisfied, and they set out, but in midstream, the scorpion stings the frog. The frog feels the onset of paralysis and starts to sink, knowing they both will drown, but the frog has just enough time to gasp "Why did you sting me," The scorpion replied: "It’s my nature to sting..."

“No person can be the sufficient cause of another’s spiritual death, because no man dies spiritually except by sinning of his own will.” (ST. THOMAS AQUINAS ST, I-II, Q. 73, ART. 8).  Nevertheless, we need protection from ourselves and bad company. Our Second Reading from Sunday advises us to “Put on the armor of light” (Romans 13:12) to protect ourselves from the sinful desires of the flesh. They are false hopes. They will sting you.

According to yesterday’s Second Reading, chastity precedes and is parallel to faith. The reference to the armor of light, of day, acknowledges that forces of nighttime still exert pressure.

Arm ourselves by taking on acts of kindness and generosity, with no rivalry and jealously.

The Second Reading also said, “Make no provision for the sinful desires of the flesh.” This verse led to St. Augustine’s conversion.

There is another story about a bible study group that had been asked the question, "In your time of discouragement, what is your favorite Scripture?" A young man said, "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want (Psalm 23:1)."

A middle-aged woman said, "God is my refuge and strength (Psalm 46:1)."

Then Mr. John, who was 80 years old, said, “my verse is ‘and it came to pass,’" which is not a complete verse.  He explained: "At 30, I lost my job with six hungry mouths and a wife to feed. I didn't know how I would make it. At 40, my eldest son was killed overseas in the war. It knocked me down.  At 50, my house burned to the ground. Nothing was saved out of the house. At 60, my wife of 40 years got cancer.  But each time I looked in the Bible I saw one of those verses that included the phrase, 'and it came to pass.'

This story is less about recalling a favorite Bible verse or part of a verse than about the virtue of hope.

Unlike most of the liturgical year, the focus during the first part of Advent is on the first readings this week from the Prophet Isaiah. These readings are about promises. Isaiah is consoling, building up, and preparing his people to have hope.

Isaiah's words in this Advent season speak a hope-filled sound into desolate silence to remind us: how we live today is determined not by the circumstances that surround us, but by what we believe about the future. And sometimes, to gather that belief that flies in the face of current reality and defies all logic, we must listen care¬ fully—pay attention—for sounds of hope, even faint, all around us.

During hardships, the Christian maintains hope. "Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer," says Romans 12:12.

Hope is powerful enough that one can hope against all the odds, against all human evidence, which is phrased by St. Paul in Romans 4:18 as “hoping against hope.”

How do you like 2-to-1 odds? If you win, you’ll get paid a $2 profit for every $1 bet. Our Gospel today says:

Two men will be in the field; one will be taken, and one left.

Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken, and one left (Matt 24:40-41).

Outwardly they may be about the same task, but one destined for life, one for eternal loss.

Of these four, two are saved, and two are lost.

Verse 39 in our Gospel states that the flood came and "took away" the people [carried them all away]. But Noah and his family were “left behind” and received God's mercy.

This is a typical pattern in the Old Testament.

The remnant that is left behind is often contrasted with those who are killed or destroyed, which is symbolic of dying in the state of mortal sin on the soul. Committing a mortal sin is spiritual death. Jesus intends that we understand ourselves as being in a situation analogous to that of Noah— a righteous remnant amid a crooked and perverse generation— and thus to persevere in righteousness.

Three devils were sent to earth to tempt and ruin people.

The first one said: “I will tell them that there is no God.”

But Satan, the chief of the devils, said: “That won’t do, for the people know that there is a God.”

The second devil said: “I will proclaim that there is no hell.”

“That is not good enough either because people know that there is hell as a punishment for sin.”

Then the third one said: “I will convince them that there is plenty of time. So, don’t hurry, don’t worry.”

“That is an excellent strategy,” said Satan, “Go and ruin the people.”

Driving outside the beltway, at a stoplight, I was behind a car that had a religious bumper sticker. I kept looking at it and finally figured out what it was saying. The top line of the bumper sticker reads, “Jesus is coming!”

But, the second line underneath has just three capital letters R U E, but only the letter E was printed in red ink. If you sound out the letters, the whole bumper sticker says: Jesus is coming! Are you red-E?!

Saturday, November 30, 2019

“Now Is the Time to Walk in The Light of the Lord” by Sam Miller

“Now Is the Time to Walk in The Light of the Lord” by Sam Miller

O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord! Isaiah 2:5

"Peace be within you!" Because of the house of the LORD, our God, I will pray for your good. Psalm 122: 8b-9

Brothers and sisters: You know the time; it is the hour now for you to awake from sleep. For our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed; the night is advanced, the day is at hand. Let us then throw off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us conduct ourselves properly as in the day. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 13:11-13a,14a

“So, will it be also at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be out in the field; one will be taken, and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken, and one will be left. Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come. Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into. So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come." Matthew 24:39b-44

“May God bless us with every gift of the Spirit so that we may be watchful and alert on the day of Christ’s coming. Amen” December 1st Morning prayer

Despite all the hype of the secular world (Strange seeing the wicked witch from Halloween standing alongside Santa Claus.), today is the official beginning of Advent, a period of preparation for the coming of Christ. This time will be a Season of increasing wakeful, watchful awareness of the approach of Jesus, the Infant, and the Word become flesh!

“…The Church gradually formalized the celebration of Advent as a period of spiritual preparation for Christmas. The Gelasian Sacramentary, traditionally attributed to Pope St. Gelasius I (d. 496), was the first to provide Advent liturgies for five Sundays. Later, Pope St. Gregory I (d. 604) enhanced these liturgies composing prayers, antiphons, readings, and responses. Pope St. Gregory VII (d. 1095) later reduced the number of Sundays in Advent to four. Finally, about the ninth century, the Church designated the first Sunday of Advent as the beginning of the Church year.”

Advent wreaths of evergreen are shaped in a perfect circle to symbolize God's eternity. (Interestingly, the use of the Advent wreath was borrowed from the German Lutherans in the early 1500s.)’ The candles on the Advent wreath include The Prophets' Candle, symbolizing hope; the Bethlehem Candle, symbolizing faith; the Shepherds' Candle, expressing joy; the Angel's Candle, symbolizing peace.  We light them in that order.

“…Different faith expressions have different meanings for the candles, but the main idea behind the candles is to designate the four weeks, the progression, sense of expectation, anticipation, and increase of light," said the Rev. Tommy Davidson of Riverside Baptist Church in Newport News. "We believe Jesus is the light of the world, and he brings light into this world, so as you go through the four Sundays, you increase the light in the world as the anticipation grows."

“…Three candles are purple, symbolizing penance, preparation, and sacrifice; the pink candle symbolizes the same but highlights the third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday, when we rejoice because our preparation is half-way finished. The light represents Christ, who entered this world to scatter the darkness of evil and show us the way of righteousness. The progression of lighting candles shows our increasing readiness to meet our Lord.”

Christians turn to Advent as a time of light and preparation. (By Natalie Joseph Nov 26, 2016, and

Dear Lord, please help me to prepare appropriately for Your arrival from Day 1, despite the fact I know You’ve Already Arrived! Bring new light to my heart to find new wonder in the gift of Your Incarnation and to see Your gentle urgings to discover ever more of You and Your ways that I may ever walk in Your light. In Jesus’ name, I pray! Amen.

“Come After Me” by Beth DeCristofaro

“Come After Me” by Beth DeCristofaro

As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of those who bring the good news!
But not everyone has heeded the good news; for Isaiah says, Lord, who has believed what was heard from us? Thus, faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ. But I ask, did they not hear? Certainly, they did; for “Their voice has gone forth to all the earth and their words to the ends of the world.”
(Romans 10:15-18)

He said to them, "Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men." At once (Simon, who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew) left their nets and followed him. (Matthew 4:19-20)

God of power and mystery, your disciple Andrew faithfully followed your call.  Make us true disciples as we prayer: Strengthen us for your service, Lord.
Awaken us to the spiritual longing and the physical needs of those around us: Strengthen us for your service, Lord.
May God bless us with generous hearts that we may give what we receive in Christ’s name.  Amen
(From “Morning Prayer,” Give Us This Day, Liturgical Press)

How often I’ve said that I wished God would leave me a sticky note posted on my bedside table to let me know what to do in a particular situation or in a particularly difficult time.  Of course, Jesus does tell us.  He says, “follow me.”  Jesus, not knowing the specifics of modern temptation and hazards did not give us specific directions on many things.  But his world knew human trafficking (Joseph), abuse of political and religious power (Roman oppression and the leaders of the temple), intimidation of immigrants (the Chosen People), the marginalization of poor and blaming the poor for their situation (the beggar at Lazarus’ gates and many lepers), greedy accumulation of wealth (the man with many grain buildings), racial inequality (gentile tribes). And many more “modern” situations.

Jesus’ invitation to Andrew and Simon was complicatedly simple:  Come after me.  He didn’t say where he didn’t say for how long and the destination was obscure:  I will make you fishers of men.  As they grew to know and begin to understand that Jesus was more than Nazorean, more than even Jewish, did Isaiah’s words echo in their thoughts?  How beautiful are the feet of those who bring the good news! Somehow, I think not.  This pathway was not an easy promenade. It might be a good phrase for me to keep in mind when I’m rustling through the pile of books on my bedside table, looking for a sticky note.  I might better be served sitting in silence, following, listening, hearing the good news of Jesus, and employing my beautiful feet in bringing the good news through my piety, study, and action.

Perhaps the cliché “What would Jesus do” needs an update for us to have heard comes through the word of Christ. Maybe we need to ask, “What would Andrew do?”  “What would Mary Magdalen do?”  “What would Paul do?”  We can spend more time listening to Jesus’ talk with them, talk with us than look for pre-printed rules and regulations which can get in the way of seeing people beloved by Jesus right in front of us.  Afterall “Their voice has gone forth to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.”  Their voice, Jesus’ voice, speaks to us.  Listening is the first part of our journey of following him.  Employing our feet, our hands, and our voice comes after.

Illustration:  A 3rd-century painting of the Good Shepherd in the Catacomb of Callixtus