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Something is Happening

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Every Pentecost Sunday the most compelling of the three readings for me is Acts 2:1-11 These slow-to-get-it, doubtful and frightened Apostles received the Holy Spirit as tongues of fire and became Courageous. Something Happened.

The Apostles had one native language when they left the upper room to speak to the crowds, who were from many nations with different languages, but everyone who heard the Apostles understood each word that was proclaimed.
Something Happened.

Lately in America, doesn’t it feel like we’re speaking a foreign language to more and more of our neighbors?   Doesn’t it feel like in the era of more diverse ways to communicate,  our communication with each other is breaking down and failing?

Changing definitions for generations-old established words and totally invented new words are leading to divisions. People talk while simultaneously scrolling social media,  which means that attention is divided and this leads to misunderstandings.  Our families, neighborhoods, communities, country lost the ability to talk civilly with those we don’t agree with. We all can name people in our lives who no longer speak to each other, and we are increasingly divided. Something Happened

We could spend hours dissecting and theorizing the “why’s.” We could point to politics, social issues, media, and technology. Pointing fingers and straining to pinpoint the exact event or time that it fell apart and place blame is a waste.

This is not that complicated. America is no longer a Christendom. And we Christians often stay silent rather than proclaim Christ’s message of repentance, redemption, forgiveness, and love.

The antidote to Anger and Hate is Forgiveness and Love. Jesus proved this as He died for our sins on the cross. We who are followers of Christ must speak as we are able and trust that the Holy Spirit will give us the words that allow others to hear. We who are followers of Christ , when faced with a debate about some divisive topic, must talk about Christ and proclaim His message. It begins with talking with those closest to us.  We must find courage to Cross the Great Divide. (“Cross” reference intended).

What happened in Jerusalem on that first Pentecost was a miracle; born of the Holy Spirit to bring the Resurrection and Truth of Jesus Christ to the world.

Come Holy Spirit. Give us all the Courage to Make Something Happen.


Comfort Zones

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Do you ever get a bit of inspiration from God and then suddenly it seems like He’s beating you over the head with it, bringing it up everywhere you look? That happened to me recently while pondering the idea of comfort zones. First, in a Chris Stefanik talk, then in a secular book I got for Christmas, then in Season 4 of the Chosen, “comfort zone” has been everywhere. Clearly God wants me thinking about comfort zones.

We all have them. Safe places we live in, can usually control, or return to when things are out of control. Boundaries of what we will and will not do to maintain our sense of safety. There is a need for comfort zones. They keep us alive, safe.

But our comfort zones can also hinder us. If we hold onto their boundaries too tightly, they become prisons. The thing that is meant to free us to live becomes the very thing that prevents us living freely. And as a result, they can prevent us from growth, from progress. Because growth is always uncomfortable. Progress always requires that we step forward from what we already know into what we don’t yet know or have mastery of.

Next to time, discomfort is the second most cited reason people say no to God. Instead of following His will and trusting Him to keep us safe, we decide to keep ourselves “safe.” Our comfort zones, in this way, have become false idols that prevent us from authentically worshipping God. The walk of discipleship is uncomfortable. We only have to look at Christ on the cross to know this. We have to love God more than we love our comfort zones, or we have let our comfort zone become our god.

It's the same with our neighbor. We struggle so much with the discomfort of talking to others about Jesus. It’s too awkward. We don’t want to offend. Isn’t God worth some awkwardness? Isn’t their salvation worth the risk? We must love other people more than we love our comfort zone, or we risk them never getting to know Jesus. We might even risk their salvation.

Our love of God and our love of our neighbor MUST be greater than our love of our comfort zone. Or we aren’t really following the God of the Bible. The God of the Catholic Church. The God who came to die on a cross that we might have life…not that we might be comfortable.

So this Lent, I challenge you to make your Lenten resolution stepping outside your comfort zone. Do one thing each day (for God) that is uncomfortable. Say that prayer. Mention Jesus by name. Start that Bible study. Or simply open the Bible and pray. Because if we learn to get comfortable being uncomfortable, there is no end to what God can do through us.