Monday, May 22, 2017

“Why are you standing there looking at the sky?”

Taken from the Acts of the Apostles 1:11, this line uttered by the angels following the Ascension of Our Lord is one of my favorite. It shows our humanity in oh so many ways.  It also makes clear the invitation to stop gazing up and “get going.”

The walk of a disciple is the constant invitation to live boldly our love for Christ. There is also a bit of trepidation as we strive to discover just how God invites us to share the Gospel with others. Mathew’s Gospel even notes this as those assembled “worshipped Him but doubted” (Mt 28:16-18).

I once read that fear and doubt are the exact opposite of faith—they cannot co-exist.

While those gathered saw the resurrected Jesus in their midst, they still doubted. What was the source of their questioning and anxiety? The reality of the resurrection? The promise of Jesus’ words? Their ability to carry out the great commission? The fear of where the invitation might lead? What will others think? All are reasonable thoughts and at their very core, very human.

When I think of those gathered with Jesus that day, I think there is a little bit of them in us today.

How often have we struggled to figure out how to find Jesus in the midst of daily living? How often have we wondered just what it is that God is inviting us to “do”? How often have we wondered how to live our faith in the midst of turmoil? How often have we questioned whether Jesus is truly with us—that He hasn’t abandoned us? How often have we been afraid to admit we need God?

St. Paul’s words to the Ephesians (Eph 1:17-23) reassure us that we have been given the Spirit of wisdom and knowledge. We also have planted within us the seeds of great hope. The challenge is to discover and unleash the Spirit within.

We receive the Holy Spirit in baptism. We consume the Divine Presence in the Eucharist. Through reception of the Sacraments we are constantly filled with the One who will never abandon us and the hope that one day we will be united forever with the One who loves us. This is Good News!

St. Paul reminds us that “We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us” (Phil 4:13).

The Ascension is a time of letting go of our old ways, doubts, and fears and celebrating the new life we received at Easter. As we let go of the practices, habits, and sins that are obstacles in our relationship with God as we embrace new life in Christ. We reflect with gratitude on the experiences of life that led us to this point and gratefully break the chains of what impedes our path.

Let us reflect on how much God truly loves us as we enter into the silence of our own “Upper Room” to pray and discern where the Holy Spirit is inviting us as part of the invitation to go forth to make disciples of all nations.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Reflections on the March for Women

Watching the news last night, they interviewed a woman who was marching today in Washington. She held a bright pink shirt and shouted that women needed to “get the dignity we deserve.” She was adamant—each time she repeated the statement she became louder and more agitated.

This morning as women (and a smattering of men) gathered to march for the “rights” of women, I wonder if they truly knew for what they were marching. The right to abortion? The right to birth control? The right to marry whoever they want? Would that “get” them dignity?

As one who was a chemical engineer working in a field with very few women over 35 years ago, I shared in the dream to break the glass ceiling. I wanted to be recognized for my brain and talents, not objectified for my body. I wanted equal pay for equal work. I wanted to be valued and cherished for the person I was—not for someone else’s idea of what I should be.

What I realized then as I realize at an ever-deeper level now is that respect and love and feelings of being cherished come from a place deep inside of me. It is from a source who has called me by name, created me in His image and likeness, as His beloved for all time. I have an inherent dignity due to this identity—one that no man or woman can take away.

This core belief comes from being a beloved daughter of God.

If I continue to look to others for love and acceptance to complete me I will be forever chasing after something I will never obtain. God is the only One who can fill that space residing in me—that exists in each one of us. No human being can fill that void completely.

Women have an inherent dignity and worth in the eyes of God, equal in dignity to man. Not better, not less. Equal.

We contaminate that belief when we attach a “value” to our worth. Rather than seeing each as gift, we distort the image and likeness of God by saying it is not enough and then chasing after ideals, images, and actions that cheapen, not enrich, who we are.

Rather than marching and protesting, rather than ranting expletives about our President, why don’t we practice what many signs read in the sea of women gathered? Love trumps hate.

Our bodies are given to bear forth life. Celebrate that—don’t kill it.

Our hearts beat with compassion for the most vulnerable—the children we carry and those we nurture and care for. We are wired to be mothers—whether biological or spiritual. Celebrate that—don’t bury it.

Our minds are quick and imaginative. We can calculate figures, create works of art, run a household or a major corporation. Celebrate the gifts and stand shoulder to shoulder with the men that do the same, respecting all.

Woman was made to compliment man and together and in unity and love we are the creative force that bears for life, sustains the earth, and hands on the hope of a future that through the grace of God continues generation after generation. Women alone cannot do that and neither can men.

Today rather than protest what we are not, let us celebrate our inherent dignity giving thanks and praise to the One who created us. Let us live as gifts to one another, recognizing the inherent dignity in all.