Real or Fake Christian?

It’s pretty easy to spot a real Christian. He or she simply follows what Jesus Christ taught us. Love (John 15:12), give the shirt off your back (Luke 7:29), and don’t judge (Luke 7:37) are several of the notable commands Jesus gave us. You can’t follow Jesus—translation, be a Christian—if you don’t do what He says. It’s that simple.

Listen, I call myself a Christian but make no mistake I screw up all the time. And I mean all the time. I do anything but love on occasion, I judge, and I turn my back on others. I’m far, far from perfect. But being Christian is not about being perfect. It’s about doing your best to do what Jesus asks of us. We fall off the horse at times. We simple need to get back up.

Jesus lived and died to rid us of our sins—our un-Christian behaviors. He doesn’t expect perfection but a realization of when we screw up. A “real” Christian not only knows what to do—what Jesus expects—but knows when he or she doesn’t do it. And tries harder the next time. Again and again.

I don’t want to judge but it seems there are a lot of “fake” christians out there. Then again, I don’t want to judge. I just want to focus on me and what is expected of me. In that way, rather than judging I can let my christianity flow to others. And let their christianity flow to me.

Being Christian is simply following Jesus (the Christ).

I hope you have an AMAZING day and rest of this beautiful week!!! 

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.

Why Can’t We All Get Along?

We simply can’t. We spend more time tearing each down and apart than helping build each other up. We need to take a page out of Paul’s letter to the new Christian community in the Macedonian city of Thessalonica, “Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11) We need to stop listening to the media—both left and right—and the pundits who make their million dollar livings tearing down, rather than building up. We need to listen to God!!!

God gave us one basic command that involves us loving Him through loving our neighbors. He put a punctuation on that command by sending His One Son to live and die that love. Jesus reiterated that command of love when He said, “This is my command, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:12)

Anyone who professes to be a Christian does so because they follow Jesus Christ. Anyone who says they are a Christian because the follow Jesus Christ, simply can’t be a Christian if they don’t love. You can’t ignore Jesus’ one command to love. It’s that simple.

I don’t mean this to be a negative message. To the contrary. This is about being positive, not negative. About loving, not hating. About smiling, not scowling. About encouraging, not discouraging. About building up, not tearing down.

It’s time to change the world. That starts with one person at a time. Let’s not let the novel coronavirus be the only thing spreading across the globe. Let’s starting spreading love and encouragement!

Have an AMAZING day and week ahead! 

What Am I Missing???

I just don’t get it. Someone needs to help me out and explain something. God gave us very explicit instructions to love. That’s not about loving those you are close to you, it’s about loving everyone, especially “strangers.” Strangers, as in we don’t know them. And Jesus gave us a very simple command to love—to LOVE— before He sacrificed Himself for us. For us! So, what’s going on in this crazy world of ours? Why aren’t we loving?

So now, O Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you? Only to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul… You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. ‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭10:12,19

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

Of course, I know the answer. Because we trust in ourselves. Not God. We know better. We know how to hate and abuse each other, regardless of race, gender, political leanings, country, etc. We have become experts at dividing us. God is shaking His head in disbelief. Satan is laughing all the way to hell. He’s winning (or at least he thinks so).

This isn’t about religion sports fans. This is about life. We either love or hate. There is not much of a middle road. And to put a dash of “religion” into it, one way leads to eternal bliss and the other to eternal anguish. You pick.

Change happens one person at a time. It’s time to change this world of ours spinning out of control. It’s time for you and me to start that change. With a smile, with a helping hand, with a donation, with love.

Spread a little love around this week. Make it a good one!

Prayer for Peace—I Can’t Do Any Better

Here is the opening prayer at the University of Notre Dame prayer service, Prayer for Unity, Walk for Justice on June 1st. The prayer is by Jo Cecilio, Rector of Cavanaugh Hall at Notre Dame.

God of Mercy and Compassion, we come before you today in grief, in anger, in mourning over the deaths of Ahmud Aubrey, Breonna Taylor, Philando Castille, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Sean Bell, Sandra Bland, George Floyd and the litany of names of men and women who have died at the hands of those charged to protect and serve. You know each one of them by name, and we know that each were wonderfully created in your own image and likeness. Their lives matter to you and to us, and so we ask you, God, to etch their memories forever on our hearts.

LORD, we are tired of the senseless acts of violence, the injustices, the oppression, the racism, and the ignored laments of black and brown communities. Hear us, LORD. Open the hearts, minds, and ears of all your children to hear and understand the cries of pain, of sadness, of trauma, and of immense loss.

Make us your disciples who speak truth to power. May we allow the Spirit to lead us to act for justice. Lord, we invite you to use us so that we might bring about a transformation in our world; a transformation that makes the Beloved Community real here on this earth.

We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

I simply can’t do any better!!!

Peace & Love. As God wants and commands.

Stay safe!!!

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!!!

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!!!

Let God Back In

We’ve done a pretty good (meaning, bad) job of kicking God out of our lives. We’ve kicked Him out of our states, schools, and all other public places. I actually can’t believe we haven’t tried to recall all the bills (money) in this country to remove In God We Trust. For those who have read my posts, you know that I draw the comparisons between us today and the Israelites thousands of years ago with Moses aimlessly roaming the desert. They kicked God out of their lives endlessly on a journey that should have taken about a dozen days but took 40 years!!! Nothing good happens when God is not front and center in our lives.

If nothing else, this COVID-19 pandemic should be a whack on the side of the head that it’s time to let God back in our lives. God created each one of us. He is a part of every strand of DNA in our bodies. We were created in His image and likeness. So, we can never get away from God, no matter how hard we try.

I don’t know about you but I’m trying to let God in my life like never before. That isn’t just about praying. It’s about moving God front and center in my life, before me. I’m trying to spend more time listening for/to God—what He wants me to do, and take away from this crisis in all of our lives.

It’s not hard to let God back in our lives. We just need to put ourselves back a step and move God up a step. Change happens one person at a time. So, let’s let God back in our lives one person at a time. Starting with you and me!

Be well; stay 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!!!