What’s Really Important???

The novel coronavirus has been a virtual two-by-four to the side of the head in realizing what’s important in life. Health, life, safety, freedom, liberty, toilet paper, any kind of paper products, family, friends, meals together, school, bars, indoor dining, going out anywhere, the gym, traveling, airplanes, etc, etc, etc? All important to a degree but what’s most important? God.

The novel coronavirus and COVID-19 disease that has spread across the globe should be telling us how fragile, and precious, life is. To think that a microscopic virus can wreck so much havoc is beyond comprehension when you really think about it. It has disrupted life on a scale that’s now even tough to consider. But in any disruption, in any storm, there is always God. And if this experience has not driven us closer to God I frankly don’t know what will.

God the Father has created everything—you, me, coronavirus. Everything! God has a unique, special plan for you and me. Jesus shows the way and the Spirit empowers us along the way. This is the simplicity of life. In all this mess, this is what is really, really important. God. Father Creator, Son Savior, and Spirit Advocate.

If there has ever been a time to sit back and reflect on where we are going and what’s most important in life it’s now. What’s my real purpose in life? Where am I heading? What should I be doing differently? How can I LISTEN better for/to God? These are some of the questions I am asking myself. We all should be asking these questions and more.

I hope you have a really productive, and safe, rest of the week! And ask yourself what’s most important in your life.

What Has the Coronavirus Taught You?

It has taught me that this world is so much more fragile than imaginable. It has taught me that humankind is not in control, no matter how superior we think we are. It has taught me to never take anything for granted. It has taught me I miss the things I use to dislike (like traveling all the time). Unfortunately, it has also taught me that as a world, and even as a country, we are divided more than ever. But the most important thing I have learned is that I’m not in the driver’s seat. God is. I’m just a passenger. A very willing passenger.

As humankind, we think we are invincible. Well, a microscopic virus that virtually came out of nowhere just taught us differently. We may think we own this planet and it is ours to do with what we want but it’s clearly not. We have learned over a brief few months that we are not the rulers. We are the ruled. We have been brought to our knees. That is worth really, really, really thinking about.

At the beginning and end of each day, God is really the one in command. He gave us a world of abundance that can house and feed everyone. But look at what we have done with it. We are killing it. And masses go without food every day.

I’m not trying to be a downer. Just the opposite. I have been given a wake-up call. I use to complain about that dump we call Laguardia Airport and it being my home-away-from-home I was there so often flying out of it. Now, I can’t wait to see it again, to go through security, and to fly. To stay in a hotel. To sit in my office in D.C. To walk the halls of Congress. To get back to the old normal. Not the new normal.

But most of all I have said to God, “Here, you have the wheel. Drive.” Father, tell me where I need to go. Jesus, lead the way and let me follow you way—The Way. Holy Spirit, keep me empowered along The Way.

The world looks different to me. Last week, I drove on a highway for the first time in months and kept driving right out of Connecticut. It was like my eyes were opened to a new world.

Yes, we are divided like never before. The politics in this country, and all around the world, is destructive. In some respects, that unseen virus has divided us more than we were BC (before coronavirus). But I refuse to let that get me down. In my own little way I will be a uniter, not a divider. I will smile. I will help. I will give. I will love—just like God has commanded.

This coronavirus captivity has taught me a lot. It has changed me. I hope for forever. I know for the better. I hope it has taught you something. I hope you will join me in being a uniter. In smiling, In helping. In giving. In loving. As God has commanded us to do and specifically the one and only commandment Jesus left us with before He have up His life for you and me.

Be well. Stay safe. Love. And unite!!!

Hope

Hope may be something in short supply during these COVID-19 days. What seems like a never ending nightmare may seem like it truly will never end. Will we ever get back to normal? Will we have to wear masks everywhere—forever? Is there really going to be a second wave of COVID-19 in the fall/winter? The list of questions goes on and on and so with them hope seems to fly out the window. So, what are we to do?

Hope! That’s what we are to do. This is not the end of life as we know it. It’s the beginning of a new life, hopefully a new life that will make us look at the world and each other a little differently. As in differently better.

If anything, this COVID-19 experience should be a good time to take stock. Figure out what really matters, what’s most important in life. COVID-19 should be a lens that makes us look at our world in a new light. A light of love. A light of caring for others. A light of respect for the other person. A wave. A smile. A helping hand.

Jeremiah told the people of Israel that, “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11) Jeremiah told the Israelites that their “normal” wouldn’t be for 70 years when they would return from captivity in Babylon. He told them to live their lives, marry, and have children. He gave them hope. The same hope that we will come out of this COVID-19 pandemic stronger and better as people. If we don’t, it’s a terrible experience lost.

Have hope! Use this time to revaluate. Look at your life in a mirror. Hit the pause button of how you lived your life in the past as COVID-19 has hit the pause button on our “normal” lives. And, most importantly of all, in the quiet that COVID-19 has brought to our lives, LISTEN for/to God. He’s there. Less than a heartbeat away. Spend some time with Him. That will give renewed hope, purpose, and outlook to your life!

Be well and be safe!!! 

What Has the Coronavirus Taught Us?

Nothing in modern history, not even 9/11, has come anywhere close to providing the opportunity to soul search like this novel coronavirus and the COVID-19 health crisis. Especially in the hot spots, we have been shut in and in many cases shut out of work and school. BC (before coronavirus), families were running all over the place, sometimes barely talking and less frequently sitting down for a meal together. Now, families are shut in together and forced to converse and eat together. But what has this taught us, if anything?

The things I use to complain about I now finding myself missing. Traveling almost every week, Laguardia airport in New York, traffic in Connecticut, walking the halls of Congress in D.C. are among those things that use to get to me, more than on occasion. Now, I find myself missing them. Except for a run to the grocery store, or a morning run on the local rail trail, I’m a shut in with my wife. I have a lot (a LOT!) of phone and Zoom contact with work people and friends but it’s not the same as live interactions.

I think the most important thing I have learned is to be thankful. Thankful for the things that use to bother me and I would complain about. Thankful for all the basics—yes, I would include toilet paper on that list—that I simply took for granted BC. Thankful for the company of friends, even if BC I was more than happy with a good book than at a party having to converse with people. Thankful for my health as I watched my healthy sister-in-law struggle for 5 weeks with COVID-19. But, most importantly, thankful for God and my faith. If there is ever a time to fall back on faith and put your trust in God it’s DC (during coronavirus).

If there is ever a time to truly soul search it is now, DC. What do we want to do differently, how do we want to live differently PC (post coronavirus)? This is what I have been asking myself and hope you have done some reflection on as well. Do we keep aimlessly wandering the desert of life, like the Israelites, or do we follow the path and purpose that God has laid out for our lives? We may not know it, but God most certainly has laid out a purpose for each one of us. A unique, special, individual purpose for each one of us. For you, For me.

Life purpose. That’s a good thing to reflect on DC as we prepare for life PC.

Be well; be safe!!!

Would You Recognize Jesus?

If you took a seven mile walk with Jesus and listened to Him talk with you, would you know Him? Imagine spending three years roaming the countryside with Jesus and then not recognizing Him! Imagine thinking that Jesus was some gardener? All this and more happened after Jesus died and rose again on the walk with the disciples to Emmaus, multiple times with the apostles, and with Mary at the tomb. What was it about Jesus that they did recognize Him?

There are lots of theories that our “spiritual bodies” are somehow transformed from our “earthly” bodies. They’re not exactly the same. Let’s put that all aside for a minute.

Jesus was raised body and soul from the dead, with the nail holes in his hands, side, and feet intact. So was He a “different” Jesus or were the eyes “closed” of everyone around Him, including His closest followers. Bingo!

God (including Father, Son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit) is in everyone. That means, you, me, and every other person past, present, and future. God made us, so He is very much in us. Whoever you look at, you are looking straight in the eyes of Jesus. But do you recognize Him? I can tell you that in all my failings that there are a lot of people I know who I do not see Jesus.

That’s the problem with life and our walk through it. We don’t see Jesus. Yet, we should see Jesus in the mirror as well as in every person we walk by on the street—well, use to walk by on the street BC (before coronavirus).

Here’s a challenge for the week. Whoever you see on TV or behind that mask at the supermarket you are seeing Jesus. Look real hard. It’s Jesus in the face of anyone you are looking at. And how would you treat Jesus if you were looking at Him? Something to think about this week.

These are tough times that truly test our faith. Look for Jesus in the faces of others and your faith will get a boost. And we will get through this. With Jesus!

Have an AMAZING week!!! 

No Coronavirus Easter

Strange. No Passion, except on TV/internet. Tomorrow, no in-person Mass on Easter Sunday. (We have been “watching” Mass on CatholicTV live from the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on the Notre Dame campus—Beautiful!!!). This Lent has been a real desert in terms of isolation. Maybe that has helped us identify with the isolation Jesus felt those 40 days in the desert. Maybe it will help us get out of the deserts in our lives after this crisis is over (and it will be over!!!). For now, we should blossom in what tomorrow represents—the glory of Jesus rising from the dead. There will be no coronavirus in Easter tomorrow!

The Israelites wandered the desert for 40 years before crossing over to the Promised Land. Jesus isolated Himself in the desert for 40 days before His brief 3-year ministry. Many/most of us in the U.S. have now been quarantined in our houses for going on 40 days—some working at home, others out of work. And there are “deserts” everywhere—on the sidewalks, streets, highways, and etc. depending on where you live.

I have tried to use this time, on top of a lot of work at home, to really think about what is important in life. I fly a lot for work. On airplanes and elsewhere I am always in the midst of a lot of people. I spent a lot of time in Washington D.C. on Capitol Hill. I can’t count the times I have wanted not to fly for a while, to get away from people, and to really get away from the politicians. Well, I got my wish. Now I want that wish to go away.

I’m fortunate to have the work and position I have. Along with my faith and my family, it’s a gift from God. I know what I do—advocating for patients and cancer care—is a calling. And sometimes I forsake that gift and calling because I focus too much on myself, and not on others.

I’ve done a lot of soul searching during this coronavirus “desert” I have been in this Lent. It’s time to come out and allow the Risen Lord Jesus to rise me up. There will be no coronavirus Easter this year. The isolation will continue for a while then the world will come out of this. And I will come running out of it! Faith, family, work, cause, and doing my little part in making the world a better place. Time for all of us to stop wandering and isolating, and to do our parts in making this world a better place.

Wishing you all a blessed and glorious Easter!!!

Where is God?

It’s times like these when we ask that question. “Where is God?” With death swirling around us worldwide, we at least think the question, it not say it. “Where is God?” I thought of the question this morning when I heard the gospel account of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. Martha and Mary must have been at least thinking it over and over again—“Where the heck is Jesus?” “He could have saved our brother from dying?” Yet, Jesus finally showed up and raised Lazarus from the dead.

God is where He always is—less than a heartbeat away from each one of us. A natural disaster has hit and God is not off on some vacation in heaven. He’s here. And if we LISTEN for/to Him we will weather this storm.

These are times that not just try souls (shoutout to Thomas Paine) but shake our faith to the core. Does God really care? Why can’t He stop the sickness and dying? How can God sit back and not do something? Anything?

Like the disciples in the boat terrified during the storm, we have to have faith. Faith will get us through this. The same faith that tells us that no matter what happens in this life that it is less than a heartbeat in the eternity we have been promised.

What’s very important during this crisis is how we act. Do we reach out and help others, however we can? Do we PRAY? Do we donate? Or do we simply hunker down and worry about ourselves. How we act during a crisis like this says everything about who we are as a person.

Have faith. Believe! It’s tough going right now but we will come out stronger. If that’s what we want.

I hope you are keeping safe, helping others, and BELIEVE!

Spend some more time with God this week. LISTEN for/to Him!!!

Did God Send the Coronavirus?

No. I know there are people out there who believe the coronavirus is a sign of the coming of the end. A type of plague God sent on a disobedient humankind. However, the reality is that viruses are a part of this world—a world that God created—and will always be a part of this world. It’s not the virus that’s the focus here, it’s how we respond to the virus that’s important.

Do you think that God wants us selfishly hoarding toilet paper? Or fighting in the supermarket aisles over the last package of chicken breasts? Or partying like it’s no tomorrow on a Florida beach? I can tell you the answer is a clear NO! How we respond in any time of crisis tells us everything about ourselves and where we place our priorities. Is my focus on me or you? That’s the question God wants us to answer.

God commands us to do one thing—LOVE Him by loving one another. He sent His only Son as a sacrifice for our sins. And before He was hung from that cross, Jesus made it all too clear that His one commandment to us is to LOVE!

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. John 15:12  

Loving one another isn’t hoarding, partying like no tomorrow, or not staying smart and safe. It’s doing the right thing by others, helping those in need, and, in general, looking outward, not inward. In short, it’s loving.

I hope you are safe and doing your part to help others in this crisis. It’s not the end of the world. It’s a time to define ourselves and our place in this world.

Stay safe!!!

 

Boy, Do We Need God!!!

If this isn’t a time when more people turn to God for help, I don’t know when it will come! God won’t wash our hands, keep us apart from others, or do all the other things we should all be doing to stop the spread of COVID-19. But God can sure help us cope and bring some type of end to this world-wide crisis. We need God more than ever!

I hate to pound my fist about this point, but (yes, here I go) we are just like the Israelites wandering aimlessly in the desert. We run around forgetting about God, worshiping false idols (money, etc.), and then something bad happens. Of course, in the Old Testament the “bad” happening was attributed as sent from God. No, unlike some, I don’t think God sent this new strain of the coronavirus as a plague on the world. It’s just what Mother Nature does and what we do ignoring it and not being prepared to deal with virus threats that have happened in the past and will happen in the future.

We live in a time when people clearly have turned from God. I hear more people talk about being “spiritual” but in some way focusing on themselves as the “spiritual” being. Frankly, I don’t know what that even means. All I know is God. And I’m praying to Him to somehow, someway help us in this time of need.

I hope that you stay safe and sane. God can help with both—if you let Him!