Thursday, February 28, 2013

The poverty of being unloved...

"There was a rich man who...dined sumptuously each day. And lying at his feet was a poor man...who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps that fell from the rich man's table."
Luke 16:19-21

The story of the rich man and Lazarus really makes us squirm, doesn't it? And why is that? I think it is because we can easily write a check to Lazarus, but we cannot look Lazarus in the eye. And Jesus wants us to look Lazarus in the eye. It is hard for us to actually see Lazarus as a real human being. To us, he is a social problem, a failure of the system. Lazarus puts a fear into our hearts; the fear that one day, we may be Lazarus. So, we tend to de-humanize Lazarus. We make him an anomaly. We can't look him in the eye, because we are afraid of what we may see looking back at us...a valuable human being. Dearest Jesus, help us to see the poor as you see the poor. Each human being has been created in your image and each person holds the value of your love. Help us to see the true value, that is, the richness of each human spirit in each person we encounter today. And as your servant, Mother Teresa, used to say, the real poverty is the poverty of being unloved in this world. Help us to ease that poverty...Amen. Love, heidi
Friends, I will be in Leavenworth this weekend to commune with the sisters! I will be back next week with the Heidi-grams!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Take the miter off!

"I began to laugh, slowly, then uproariously, at myself for wearing my miter to the convention center."
Brennan Manning, "Reflections for Ragamuffins"

In this story, Brennan Manning is describing a situation where he had given a very powerful and well-received talk at the Indianapolis Convention Center. The crowd was on its feet, cheering him. As he basked in the glory of such approval, he suddenly was given the gift of a vision. He saw himself in his casket...he was dead. In that instant, none of the accolades mattered one bit. He remembered visiting the bedside of a dying bishop, who lay there in his miter. And what difference did his miter make at that point? I thought of all the times I wear my miter around town! How silly it is that I seek such approval and accolades! Whatever do they matter when all that really matters is how much God loves me? I am embarrassed to admit how much time I spend tending to the miter on my head, when it doesn't mean a thing in the Big Picture. Today, let's review again why we do what we do. Is it for approval? Is it for reward? Is it to make ourselves look good to others? Is it so that people can praise us at our funeral? If any of these are true for us, let's spend some time taking the miter off...we look silly. Love, heidi

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Right things for the wrong reasons

"All their works are performed to be seen."
Matthew 23:5

Yep, that sounds about right. We humans have such a need to be seen and lauded for doing good stuff. It certainly isn't a new human trait if Jesus felt the need to mention it two thousand years ago. Being seen and praised for doing good gives us a satisfaction and thus rewards us right then and there. But, Jesus wants so much more from the good we do; Jesus wants us to have the right motives. In other words, Jesus wants us to do good from our hearts, not from our desire to be praised or rewarded. Jesus wants us to help the poor because we love the poor, not just to get a pat on the back or a plaque with our name on it, or even a tax deduction. The readings for Ash Wednesday spell it out so clearly. "Take care not to perform righteous acts in order that people may see them..." (Matthew 6:6) In today's Gospel (Matthew 23:1-6, 16-18) Jesus isn't calling out the "bad" people, but the scribes and the Pharisees, i.e. the church leaders! Jesus is pointing out that, even those who are supposedly walking the correct path are prone to doing right things for the wrong be seen. As we continue our journey through Lent, 2013, let's examine our own reasons for doing the right things. Love, heidi

Monday, February 25, 2013

Forgive and restore

"To truly forgive someone means that I let go of being better than the person who offended me. It means letting go of being righteous in favor of being loving."
Aileen O'Donoghue, "Living Faith"

Wow...I had to read this a few times this morning before it sank in! After some serious thought I had to agree. When we are hurt by someone we can take on a victim mentality that gives us an upper hand. We can be elevated and the other person brought low. There can be a comfort in being the injured party--it may give us a free-pass for anger or bitterness and allow us to laud our victim-ness over others. But genuine, loving forgiveness levels the playing field and makes all equal again. And isn't that what God would want after all? The forgiveness that Jesus teaches, such as the Prodigal Son story, is just that genuine. The Father restores the Prodigal Son's place in the family, much to the chagrin of the Older Son. I believe true forgiveness, then, is restoring us to fullness of relationship, not hanging onto a one-up-manship because you did this to me. We are asked to forgive and restore. Not pretend to forgive and hold it over your head for years to come. That is quite a difficult task, but one we are asked to do. Love, heidi