Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Let us not forget!

Last year many took part in prayer rallies focusing on Religious Freedom. I stood in the midst of thousands gathered in front of the Federal Building in Detroit to make a stand for the right to worship the God I love and live the tenants of my faith openly as a citizen of the United States.

This year, while the hype may not be as loud, the Fortnight for Freedom, which begins on June 21 and runs through the Fourth of July, is just as important. Our rights as guaranteed in our country's founding documents, should be read by every adult and youth in this land. Men and women have laid down their lives for these rights--both here and abroad. Blood has been shed for these ideals. They are sacred.

Let us not forget our responsibility as citizens of this United States to defend these rights, to protect those who cannot speak or defend themselves, and to ensure that all who call this land "home" enjoy the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, as guaranteed in our Bill of Rights.

I invite you to click on the video link to prayerfully reflect on the call to live our faith boldly, not only in the pews on Sunday, but more importantly, in every aspect of our life--from the workplace, to the street, to our families, and into every corner of society.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Walking Dead

It seems our culture has a preoccupation with zombies. I don't understand the trend, but there are zombie movies, TV series, video games, and a plethora of books and Websites on the topic. We are intrigued by the plight of the walking dead.

This past Sunday's readings from 1Kings 17:17-24 and Luke 7:11-17 give witness to the prophet Elijah and Jesus raising widows' sons from the dead. So what do these two miracles have in common with our fascination with zombies, you might ask?

It was later on Sunday the words of Scripture came to light in a new way for me.

Our families and friends had gathered at a local establishment for my daughter's 30th birthday. The party was a surprise, held at one of her favorite family fun centers, which included the all-too-popular zombie shoot-em-up video games.

As we were leaving, I noticed a little boy of about 10-years old standing outside of the main entrance. His little brother, who was all of about 8, was standing just inside the lobby. Both were staring out into the parking lot. The look on their faces contained more fear and hurt than any child should ever have to experience.

Bending down to the older child, I could see his eyes were welling with tears. "What's the matter, sweetie?" I asked. He looked up at me and began to cry. "Oh honey, are you lost?" I asked. "Do you need help?" With that, he began to choke out his story, between sobs.

"My mom and dad are fighting out in the parking lot, " he sobbed. "I don't think they are going to be together much longer and I am scared." My heart went out to him and his brother, whose look of concern for his brother was evident as he peered through the lobby window.

Scanning the parking lot, I couldn't see anyone but he let me know his mom and dad were in their car.

"Let's go inside with your brother," I said, walking with him back into the lobby where staff members were on guard. Bending down to both of them, I tried to calm and comfort them, all the while waiting for mom or dad to enter the building.

Finally after a bit, the couple came into the building, walking right past their broken children, who were left to follow along. It was then the words of the Sunday readings came back to me.

The images of those two young boys haunted me for the rest of the day. Reflecting on the experience, I realized how many "walking dead" we have among us. Those who may be upright, but whose souls are dead. Hate, fear, and confusion--all the fruits of sin, have numbed so many to the ability to love and be loved, that we are literally, walking zombies--the living dead.

Like Elijah and as disciples of Jesus, we are called to bring the Good News of New Life through Christ to all--especially those caught in lives of sin who cannot seem to find their way out. We live in a society built on immediate gratification and "if it feels good, do it." While this lifestyle may lead to short-term highs and "happiness", all too often it is the top of the slippery slope of sin whose true fruits are destruction--the demolishing of relationships and families. These two young boys were evidence of that.

God is love and it is up to us to give witness to His unconditional love.

There is much talk in today's communities of faith about evangelization. Debates over programs and strategies abound. The answer is simple, however. The best way to evangelize, to bring Jesus to others, is to be love. Whether by sharing words of compassion and care or even, when necessary, words of fraternal correction given in love, we are called to be and share Jesus' love, mercy, forgiveness, and compassion with others.

When we do, we share the invitation to new life in Christ--to a life of joy, peace, true happiness, and contentment. What a remedy for a society fixated on zombies and the walking dead!