Lincoln’s Log 7-4-2021

Expectant Faith

Hard of face and obstinate of heart are they to whom I am sending you.
Ezekiel 2:4

[Jesus] was amazed at their lack of faith.
Mk. 6:6

Last week, we heard the story of two people of faith: Jairus, the synagogue official, and the woman who had suffered from hemorrhages for 12 years (Mk. 5:21-43). They both received healing (in Jairus’ case, his daughter was raised from the dead), because of their faith.

To Jairus, Jesus said, “Do not be afraid; just have faith” (Mk. 5:36b).

To the woman with the hemorrhages he said, “Daughter, your faith has saved you” (Mk. 5:34).

These two people expected Jesus to do something in their lives. They expected Jesus to change things. They had expectant faith. They believed Jesus could and would help them.

Today’s Gospel tells a different story.

Jesus is in his hometown. He has just raised Jairus’s daughter to life. His power hasn’t changed. His ability to heal hasn’t gone away. He is still the Son of God who has come to establish God’s Kingdom.

Yet “he was not able to perform any mighty deed there” (Mk 6:5a).

Why? What is different?

The people of his hometown don’t expect Jesus to be able to do anything. They think they know Him. They know what He can and can’t do. Some things are just impossible for this local guy from Nazareth.

We do the same thing. We let our idea of the impossible swallow our faith. We don’t expect much from Jesus. Sure, we believe that Jesus can work miracles (in theory), but we know how the world works. We know what is impossible. Jesus can’t solve our family problems; that’s impossible. Jesus can’t heal the divisions in our nation; that’s impossible. Jesus’ can’t heal my illness; that’s impossible. Jesus can’t solve my financial problems; that’s impossible.

And so it is. Our hard hearts can shut out the gifts Jesus longs to give us. But what could happen if we expected Jesus to do something?

Ask Jairus. Ask the healed woman. They can tell us what is possible. They can show us what to expect.

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln

Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 1-24-2021

Review: Love your enemies

“Your ways, O Lord, make known to me; teach me your paths.”

Psalm 25:4

Over my “staycation” this past week, I spent a lot of time praying and reading. One of the books I read was Love Your Enemies: How Decent People Can Save America from the Culture of Contempt by Arthur C. Brooks (You may know him as the author of The Conservative Heart). I would recommend this book to anyone who is struggling with the division in our country and our world.

As the title indicates, he names the source of division as contempt – the view that the person you disagree with is unworthy of consideration. Rather than engaging in genuine disagreement or debate, many of us are likely to dismiss the person we disagree with as unworthy. One jarring statistic from the book was that “in 1960, only 5 percent of Americans said they would be displeased if their child married someone from the other political party. By 2010, that number was 40 percent, and no doubt has risen from there.”

We are deeply divided politically, and this division is spilling over into the other facets of life, including our religious and spiritual lives.

How do we begin to heal this division? How do we move beyond simply tolerating those we disagree with to loving them?

Brooks offers some very practical guidance on how to heal this division. Here are his five summary rules:

  1. Stand up to the Man. Refuse to be used by the powerful.
  2. Escape the bubble. Go where you’re not invited, and say things people don’t expect.
  3. Say no to contempt. Treat others with love and respect, even when it’s difficult.
  4. Disagree better. Be part of a healthy competition of ideas.
  5. Tune out: Disconnect more from the unproductive debates.

Reducing the book to one sentence, Brooks writes, “Go find someone with whom you disagree; listen thoughtfully; and treat him or her with respect and love. The rest will flow naturally from there.”

This is good advice for all of us in this politically divided world. If you are distressed by our current division and looking for practical ways to love those you disagree with, I would urge you to read this book.

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln

Parish Pastoral Leader

Deacon Lincoln’s Log 3-26-17

Image from Pixabay“When Jesus heard that they had thrown him [the man born blind] out, he found him and said, ‘Do you believe in the Son of Man?’ He answered and said, ‘Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?’ Jesus said to him, ‘You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.’ He said, ‘I do believe, Lord,’ and he worshiped him.”
Jn. 9:35-38

Faith is a gift.

The story of the man born blind, at its roots, is a story of coming to faith. At the beginning of the story, the man cannot see. Jesus heals his physical blindness which begins the process of healing a deeper blindness. As the blind man encounters persecution, he comes to see who Jesus really is. First, he sees Jesus as a healer, then a prophet, and finally, when Jesus reveals Himself, as the promised Son of Man. The Lord has healed his “inner eye.”

The man who was blind can now see with the eyes of faith.

The Pharisees follow the opposite path. They begin physically able to see. But as the story progresses they reveal the blindness of their own “inner eye.” A miracle has happened, yet they cannot recognize it for what it is. Nor can they recognize Jesus for who He is. No proof is enough for them because they lack faith. Any explanation will do except the recognition that Jesus is the Son of Man who has been promised. They will continue to persecute those who see what they cannot. Their faith is dead even though Jesus is standing right in front of them.

During lent, we are called to deepen our faith. Jesus reveals Himself to us in the Scriptures and in the Sacraments. Indeed, our entire lives can open us to believe in Jesus. We pray that our “inner eye” will be opened and Jesus will reveal Himself to us in new ways.

Beg the Lord for the gift of faith. He will empower you to believe. Like the man born blind, it may take adversity to open our “inner eye” to see the truth of who Jesus is. If we persevere, we will see.

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln A. Wood

 

Living Water

Christ shows us the way to life, and those who embark on this way are like a fountain of living water bubbling forth from the earth, which steadily moves in all directions in spite of the obstacles blocking it.  One who follows Christ’s way can just as little ask what he must positively do as the spring of water flowing from the earth can ask such a question.  It flows, refreshing the soil, the earth, the trees, the birds, the animals, and people.  The same is true for the one who genuinely believes in Christ.

Leo Tolstoy

Healing

I am not a mechanism, an assembly of various sections.

And it is not because the mechanism is working wrongly, that I am ill.

I am ill because of wounds to the soul, to the deep emotional self,

And wounds to the soul take a long, long time,

Only time can help,

And patience, and a certain difficult repentance,

Long, difficult repentance, realization of life’s mistake,

And the freeing oneself from the endless repetition of the mistake

Which mankind at large has chosen to sanctify.

“Healing” by D.H. Lawrence