#Greg

Resolved to Build the Kingdom

At this time every year, I watch the “I Have a Dream” speech given by Martin Luther King at the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963.  In fewer than 18 minutes Dr. King explains how the quest for justice and equality should always be sought, will always be worth pursuing and must never be gotten through violent means. Today when I watched it I realized how far we have come on some issues while how little has progressed on others. In this beautiful and fallen world, I am burdened by how grueling it is trying to create a just and peaceful society while witnessing how little energy it takes to tear down the good and spread fear, anger, and hate. Like Dr. King, I seek to establish Christ’s Kingdom of God here on Earth.  When I live in Christ’s life of abundance instead of my natural inclination towards fear and scarcity, this Eden is easy to pursue. I resolve that, with God’s help, I will daily renew my efforts to do my part to promote peace and justice.

by Andrew

Resolved to Live the Gospel

It seems like there has been a dearth of genuine Christian witness out in our cities. I’m not talking about street corner Bible thumpers condemning the “unsaved” or even other less bullying evangelization tactics.  I’m looking for the Jesus of the Bible showing up on the streets, in the offices, warehouses, docks, alleys, and byways of my daily life.  My heart seeks the breathing gospel that our beloved St. Francis speaks of; the unspoken one preached by loving action and kindness. As a man on the other side of middle age, I can’t say that I have always been a beacon of God’s grace and mercy.  I have faltered and been enticed by the glitter and shimmer of this world’s empty promises. I pray that God may take the ignoble parts of me, and in his perfect economy, allow me to preach His gospel quietly, with humor, kindness and humble wisdom.

by Andrew

Heart of Peace

“Love your neighbor as yourself.” Mark 12:21

In his book, “The Nonviolent Life,” John Dear reminds me that “being a person of nonviolence means, first of all, being nonviolent to ourselves.” He claims that we forget that, at our very core, we are daughters and sons of an all peaceful and loving God.  When Jesus is telling me to love my neighbor as myself He is presuming that I love myself; that I care for, nurture and recognize the beloved child of God that I am.  Considering the plight of the world that we witness daily on a 24-hour news cycle, I don’t believe that all the Christmas lights in the world can dispel the darkness we impose upon each other.  I pray to recognize the Christ in me so that I may see the Christ in you. Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.

by Andrew

https://youtu.be/b4ubAh9TLko

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, who came to Juan Diego on Tepeyac Hill speaking words of love to him in his own native tongue, hear our petitions. You come to us, your poor and powerless children, a good mother who knows us intimately and listens intently to the longings of our hearts.  You hear our cries and weep with us.  We who work in the shadows of power and wealth ask for your protection for us and for our beloved who remain borders apart.  Just as you spoke to your much-loved son, Juan Diego, “Am I not your mother?  Are you not in the crossing of my arms?” so you speak to us.  Take all of our yearning, aching and sorrow and create with them a beautiful bouquet to lay at the feet of your Son, Nuestro Señor Jesucristo.   Amen.

by Andrew

Paving the Way of Peace

In explaining why he chooses to hang out with the  “lowlifes” of his society, Jesus makes it very clear that people are not expendable, to be dismissed or shunned.  My large extended family is peppered with “lost” souls: the divorced cousin who drinks too much; the nephew who will be spending the holidays in prison; the cousin whose God is wealth.  While some of us roll our eyes and shake our heads at the mention of their names, Jesus says, “Let’s break bread. Be one as I am one.” (Note: not “let’s lecture”)!  So as the pregnant virgin from Galilee swells large with the second person of the Trinity growing in her womb, our helpless Baby King, I will try my best to “prepare the way of the Lord” in my heart, laying low the mountains of my judgment and filling in the valleys of my righteousness. With God’s help, I can pave the way for peace.

by Andrew

Prophetic Voices

I am grateful for people of courage and faith who are willing to stand up for justice and peace like beacons in the night.  This past Sunday’s gospel (Matthew 25:31-46) speaks so succinctly about our responsibilities for each other.  Jesus made it so clear! Feed the hungry. Welcome the stranger among us. Cloth the naked. Take care of the sick. Treat the imprisoned with mercy. ML King of America, Gandhi of India and Romero of El Salvador and Christ the King were all martyred for following this call.  Heeding the cry of the poor, providing decent health care for all, embracing immigrants fleeing persecution and economic hardship, and showing mercy to the incarcerated and those imprisoned by addiction are dangerous pursuits to be sure. I hail the prophetic voices that speak up for the demonized, the forgotten and the shunned. Am I a sheep or a goat?

by Andrew

Optimistic Love

I’m sitting in a cozy coffee bar on a crisp fall morning in the city of San Juan Bautista just east of Salinas. My dear friend Raoul is getting married this afternoon at the Mission to his fiancé, Julieta, (what a lovely name!), a beautiful and loving Latina woman. I’ve known Raoul since 1967 when we were both 12.  Together we’ve hitchhiked up through Oregon, camped all over California and survived the carelessness of youth.  Today he marries this delightful woman who I only know through Facebook posts and second-hand sources.  But knowing Raoul as I do, I can only assume that she is loving, caring and altogether wonderful.  Just as my optimism concerning her loving character has its roots in the person of Raoul, my love for you has its roots in the person of our forever-loving and shared Advocate, cheerleader and parent.

by Andrew

Place of Respite

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

I spent the weekend on retreat with 120 men up at the Serra Retreat Center in Malibu. The Franciscans bought this prime piece of real estate in the early forties, turning a half-dilapidated mansion into a place of respite and peace.  The Franciscan charisms of hospitality and joy are ever evident in the kind and welcoming spirit of the friars and staff.  The church in her wisdom has always created spaces of retreat; venues often up and away from the daily noise and distractions of life for us to breathe and restore our weary souls.  The Franciscans welcome people from every walk of life to come and refresh their burdened hearts. Often, it is not until I come to such places that I am able to notice how tight my chest is and how beaten down I am. I am grateful for these milieus of peace and refreshment, the healing of silence and the love and care of these followers of St. Francis.

by Andrew