theROCK

Who Seeks Whom?

main image

About 13 years ago, my wife and I were separated and I was raising teenage and preteen daughters. I was diligently seeking to know the faith that I had learned as a young boy, a seven-year-old boy to be exact, and I was succeeding. I had encountered God in some amazing ways, but I was still driving the boat so to speak. I was in control, seeking Him in the best way I knew how, which was admittedly simple but also effective. 

My son Matt had just returned after a year and a half as a volunteer at an orphanage in Miacatlán, Mexico. I was so happy to have him home. It was great to have an older child home to discuss matters of the day with, to talk sports, to just be with. Skype was great, but this was much better. I was certain that God had sent him to be with me as another sign of just how much he loved me, and that certainly was true, but there was much more.

A few years later on the Feast of the Epiphany, as I was leaving St. Dominic driving down Parish Drive, I realized that more had occurred when Matt came home than God showing me he loved me. I had an epiphany of my own. In a lighting bolt type moment, I realized that God was seeking me.  That God had always been seeking me. That he not only was seeking me, but he was seeking everyone else as well, and my job was simply to let Him find me. Sure, I needed to seek, but the heavy lifting was being done by a God who loves beyond measure.

From that day, I began a journey of allowing God to find me. Sure, I continually tried to take control, but each time I had to relinquish it. I am the beloved, the one the father seeks out. I am not the initiator. The journey continues. My God loves me(us), he loves all of us so much that he seeks each one of us out. Just like the Shepherd and the lost sheep. Best of all, He will not rest until he finds us.

 

Welcoming the Poor

main image

Christian baptism not only forgives sins, but infuses the life of God into the soul, making us God’s children. The origin of this sacrament is Jesus’ own baptism. Jesus had no need to be cleansed by the waters of baptism, for he had no sins to be washed away. Rather, he sanctified the waters by his descent into them. Jesus set for us the example to be baptized. When we are baptized there are several things that happen: we enter a new, deeper relationship with God, we become a new creation, a daughter or son of God, and we become a part of Christ’s prophetic mission. Our eyes are opened to see those in need, and we are given the ability to carry another’s burden. We become the arms, the hands, eyes, heart, and feet of Christ. This reality touched me deeply on Christmas Eve.

I was in line for coffee the other day at a fast food location when I noticed a woman who had just left the city bus and had begun to walk laboriously, with a walker, along the parking lot. Every few steps she would stop and catch her breath. A young boy was with her. It was 17 degrees outside. Her fingers were exposed. I turned my car to stop next to her and offered her a ride to her destination in my warm car. Her name was Lisa, and her son, Thomas. They hopped inside. The place of their destination was not open for 20 minutes. I abandoned everything I had to do and accomplish…and made myself totally present to them. 

She shared that her family was poor, that they only use public transportation, and her husband works two jobs to make ends meet. We started talking about faith. She told me they attend the Salvation Army church since they “welcome the poor.” When the store opened, I helped her inside and Thomas stayed back to ask if we could exchange phone numbers. I will never forget them, or this experience. 

When they left the car, tears flowed down my face—”where they welcome the poor.” Was this Jesus I encountered? What more could I have done for her and Thomas? This experience was an Epiphany moment.

This is the effect of our Baptism: we are called to welcome the refugee, feed the hungry, build bridges of trust, share our gifts, seek justice and peace, and bring Christ into the world. 

 

Epiphanies of God

main image

By definition, Epiphany means an appearance or manifestation, particularly of a divine being. God breaks into the everyday life of His people, manifested in the person of Jesus. 

The story of the Magi arriving in Jerusalem looking for the newborn king of the Jews is only found in the Gospel of Matthew. The term "magi" may refer to a group of astrologers from Persia or the East. They are neither referred to as kings nor being three in number. It as common belief in ancient times that a new star appeared at the birth of a great figure. We are told that the Magi brought gifts. Gold, appropriate for a king, yet given to the one who gives the kingdom "to the poor in spirit." Frankincense, an expensive perfume for the one who tells us "the meek shall inherit the earth." Myrrh, a traditional herb used in burial preparations, foretelling of Christ's suffering and death. 

Two thousand years have passed since that first Epiphany. Is the star that led the Magi still burning brightly in our lives? How does God manifest Himself to us today? We need only look to ourselves. We make God present to others. The God we cannot see shines through the love of those we can see. Sometimes that star is profound and easily recognized, while other times it may be subtle and difficult to see. In making God's love present to others, we become Epiphanies of God...shining stars that lead one another to Christ...we become Christ, each one for the sake of all.