Best Friend

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As you read this musing, you have a choice. You can power through or you can pause and contemplate the questions that are asked.

Take 30 seconds and write the name or names of your best friend or friends.

Who did you identify? Was it your spouse, parent, child, sibling, high school pal, neighbor?

What are their characteristics? For example, they are a great listener. Take 3-5 minutes to jot down “what makes them your best friend?” 

Do you have a good list? Many thoughts come to mind. They are the first person you want to speak to in the morning; the last before you go to bed. They listen, hear, and understand. They know you sometimes better than you know yourself. They want the best for you. They celebrate your joys and accomplishments. They console and support during your challenges, struggles, and times of sorrow. They pick you up when you are down. They encourage you to be the best “you.” 

It is sometimes easy to take them for granted. You miss them and they miss you when you haven’t spoken, but you call them and pick up right where you left off.

They are honest, trusting, caring, have your back, walk by your side. They know your faults. They accept you even when you are at your worst; support you even when they don’t agree. They won’t let you fall too hard. You can and do share everything with them. They know your deepest secrets and they know what you want and need even before you do. You disappoint them, sometimes repeatedly, and they forgive you. Simply put, they love you, unconditionally.

Look at your list and the one above. The best friend you identified may have many of those characteristics.

There is One, who has all of these and more. There is One who loves you always. The One is Jesus.

Perhaps you speak to Him every day or perhaps it has been a while. Talk with your real best friend today. Talk with Him. Really talk with Him. Go past asking for what you think you need. Tell Him about your day, your tomorrow, your struggles, fears and faults, your joys, accomplishments, and aspirations. Thank Him for everything you have. Oh, and don’t forget to listen.

He has a birthday in a few weeks. He has already given us the best present we will ever receive. He gives Himself to us every minute of every day. He gives us His unconditional Love. He gives us the opportunity to live eternally in His kingdom. 

He only wants one gift in return. He wants us, unworthy as we are. He wants us. He wants YOU.

Posted by Michael Ricci
Tags: jesus, friend

Surrendering to God

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I have to admit, Luke 23 makes me tear up every time I read it. The reality of Christ’s love that I don’t deserve through His bloodshed on the cross for me pierces straight into the depth of my soul as I hear my own words (paraphrased), “Jesus I deserve to be punished and you don’t. Remember me when you come into your kingdom,” and He replies, “Today you will be with me in Paradise.”

I remember hearing a powerful witness talk about Luke 23 my sophomore year of college given by a senior in our ministry. I was in tears realizing I was a lot more like the first criminal than the second. I believed I already knew everything because I grew up Catholic so I didn’t really need Him. Why was He worth fully trusting anyways? I was content with just “a little Church” in my life and would never be one of those “crazy Jesus people,” instead of humbly realizing that I was justly punishable for my sins and I was deserving of God’s wrath. I couldn’t see through the fogginess my own pride had caused. He was God and I was not. I asked Jesus if He would forgive me for thinking I knew better than Him. For demanding He prove Himself to me as a pre-requisite for believing Him and following Him. I was raised a cradle Catholic, but missed the whole point - Jesus came to rescue me from myself. He wanted me to place my faith in HIM instead of my own ability to rescue me. I realized I didn’t have much of a relationship with Him, but desired all that it could be. These were the first steps in giving up control and surrendering to Him. Jesus started to break down my walls I had built up so high that I myself was blind to it.

As I reflect on this passage today at a coffee shop in Brookfield, WI, my prayer is the same that it’s been since then: “Jesus, continue to remind me I can do nothing on my own - nothing apart from You. Help me trust that what You have to offer me is better than what I think I need, and forgive me for the ways I shut You out. Increase my trust in You and replace my pride with humility. Remind me that I need You. Help me fix my eyes on You alone, placing my faith in You, not myself."

He continues to respond to me, “Sami, take my hand and let me rescue you. I will be with you - right now and forever when you see me face to face in Paradise.”

Contagious Charitable Service

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The morning of ordination to the diaconate I woke to my heart full of peaceful anticipation. As I buttoned the top button on my cleric shirt, my son Zak walked quietly into my room.  Zak asked with enthusiasm if he could put my collar on for me. Of course I agreed and he slipped in the collar, carefully centering it left and right.  Immediately after he was finished, he wrapped his arms around me tightly and gave me one of his best hugs and told me he loved me. After a moment, he stepped back a few steps to take a better look. Zak then burst out laughing in joyful excitement and when he was finished returned to hugging me.

I can remember back four years ago attending the ordination of the class of 2018 as an aspirant and feeling terrified of the thought of being one of the men ordained a deacon; proclaiming the Gospel, preaching, and baptizing. Yikes! As I attended the ordination of the class of 2020, but as a candidate this time, things were transforming inside me. Throughout formation, I had discovered how service done in charity resulted in God pouring affirmations of joy and peace into my heart.

Anyone who prays the Liturgy of the Hours is very familiar with Psalm 100 for Lauds on the Fridays of the first and third weeks of Psalter (Psalm 100:2); Serve the Lord with gladness. Come before him with joyful song. The morning of ordination I discovered that charitable service is also contagious and that God used ordination to pour his joy and peace into my family too. May God make service contagious in our families, our parishes, our communities, and in our world so that people of all nations may sing to the Lord a joyful hymn. May God bless your Sunday!


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