Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Could He Be? (Part 5)

(This fictional story based on the gospel narratives began on blog post 3-5-18.)

  For the next couple of years Gil spent half his time following Jesus in the nearby towns and the other half dedicated to his family's business.  Whenever he returned home he would share what he had learned from Jesus with his family and with Bartosz.  Bartosz was still very skeptical of Jesus, but Gil could tell he was winning him over.  They often would spend hours discussing Jesus' teachings and his healings.
  Gil had introduced himself to Jesus and his chosen twelve, and had enjoyed numerous meals and  private conversations with the group.  Gil was absorbing and practicing Jesus' teachings.  Gil did his best to be more generous and loving with everyone he met. He had never known such happiness. And then, very unexpectedly, everything changed.
  Gil did not even understand what happened that day.  The crowds were gathered around Jesus.  Some were asking for more miracles, to be fed as Moses had fed the people with manna.  Then Jesus said, "I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I give is my flesh for the life of the world."
  Suddenly everyone was upset.  No one understood what Jesus was saying. " Jesus then said to them, 'Amen, amen I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.  Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.  For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.  Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him."
  Gil stood there waiting for Jesus to explain his words.  Everyone was outraged with the thought of eating Jesus' flesh and drinking his blood.  This made no sense.  What was he talking about?  Gil waited for an explanation, while one by one, the crowd turned and walked away from Jesus.  Jesus didn't even try to stop anyone.  
  Gil felt his head spinning.  He desperately tried to understand, but he couldn't.  How could Jesus give his body for others to eat?  Slowly, Gil turned away from Jesus and walked away as well.  Maybe Bartosz had been right about Jesus after all.

(to be continued....)

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Could He Be (Part 4)

(This fictional story based on the gospel narratives began on blog post 3-5-18).

  Gil traveled almost an entire day before he reached the town where Jesus was preaching.   Everyone was gathering on the hilly side of the mountain to hear Jesus preach. So many people had gathered there. Gil wondered if he would even be able to hear Jesus speak.  Surprisingly, once Jesus began preaching, Gil heard every word.  Jesus began describing the Kingdom of Heaven. He made it sound as if it were so close. The Kingdom wasn’t just for a few, but for all those who were willing to love.  Love God.  Love their neighbor. And not just their neighbors, but enemies as well.  Love your enemies? Who has ever desired to do this? Gil made a mental note to think about that later.  It made sense the way Jesus explained it, but. . . that would be very difficult to do.  
 Jesus spoke of God's great love for each and every person. Jesus said that each of us is blessed more than we realize.  God blesses us when we are mourning, when we are being persecuted, when we extend peace and mercy to others. As Gil listened as began to realize that God is continually calling each of us to draw close to Him.  As Jesus spoke, Gil felt as if he truly was in the Presence of God.  
 Jesus spoke of remaining humble and pure of heart.  Jesus didn’t just give a list of rules to follow, he spoke of change. Each person needs to change their hearts and minds to imitate how God loves.  In the kingdom, everyone will love as God loves.  
 Gil longed for this kingdom of which Jesus spoke.  He realized he could be doing so much more than what he was currently doing.  Gil spent hours and hours discerning how he could change.  Gil decided it was no longer enough for him to recite prayers, he had to become the prayer. No longer would he offer up words, he wanted to offer up his heart. This desire to draw closer to God burned fiercely within him.  Gil knew the secret to drawing close to God was Jesus.  Gil continued to wonder if Jesus could be the One. He felt a deep desire to  spend the rest of his life following him.  

(to be continued.....)

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Could He Be? (Part 3)

(This fictional story based on the gospel narratives began on blog post 3-5-18.)

  The next day Gil learned that Jesus had gone on to preach to other towns.  Gil began to make preparations to find him.  As Gil quickly opened the door to leave, he almost ran face first into Bartosz.
  "Bartosz, forgive me, I did not see you there," Gil admitted with embarrassment.  Most days Gil would welcome seeing Bartosz, but today he was in a hurry.  He feared this may lead to a confrontation.
  "It is obvious you have something else on your mind.  You look as if you preparing to go somewhere."
  "I am," admitted Gil.
  "Where are you off to?" questioned Bartosz.
  Gil let out a sigh.  "I'd rather not say....you would not understand."
  Bartosz also let out a deep sigh.  "I see.... this obviously has something to do with Jesus then, am I correct?"
  Gil paused to consider his answer.  Lying would get him out the door faster, but he had too much respect for Bartosz to lie.  "Yes.  I know we do not agree, but I feel I must seek him.  I heard he is preaching nearby."
  "And what is it you hope to find, Gil?  Are you willing to give up your life here to follow him?"
  Gil uncomfortably looked down at the ground.  He didn't know what to say.  He had asked himself similar questions all night long.  "Bartosz, I honestly don't know the answers to your questions.  I just know that I have to hear him speak again."
  "There has been talk of his healings.  Are you drawn to his mysterious powers, his supposed miracles?"
  "I would be lying if I said I wasn't interested in seeing a miracle, but there is something much more that draws me to him.  His words. They bring life to me.  It's like a part of me was dead, but I didn't know it.  He opened a door that I didn't even know existed, and I can't live with that door closed anymore.  It may sound absurd, but I need to find him.  Please try to understand."
  "I do not understand this desire Gil.  I ask that you give this serious consideration. Your soul should rest in God alone."
  "Trust me, my soul thirsts for God.  That is why I must learn more.  I have never heard someone speak with such intimate knowledge of the Lord.  I promise I will listen with a trained ear and report back to you all that I have learned."
  Bartosz was deeply concerned for Gil, but he realized he could not stop him. "I will not stand in your way Gil.  Promise me you will be very careful.  I worry for your safety and for the wisdom in your heart."
  "Thank you, Bartosz.  Please pray that my journey be a safe one." Gil affectionately hugged Bartosz good bye before heading into the street.  Step by step Gil smiled as he began his journey to find Jesus.

(to be continued...)


Friday, March 9, 2018

Could He Be? (Part 2)

(This fictional story based on the gospel narratives began on blog post 3-5-18.)

  Gil could hardly think of anything else since yesterday's encounter with Jesus.  He tried to remember as many of the previous day's teachings as he could.  Gil had seen his fair share of visiting rabbi's before, but never heard anyone speak as this Jesus did.  His thoughts continued to race as did his pace towards Bartosz house.  Gil was quite eager to speak to his uncle about Jesus, but he wondered how he should approach the subject.  Gil was confused as to why Bartosz had such disdain for Jesus.
  "Gil it is good to see you!" greeted Bartosz.  "Please join me for dinner."
  Gil was pleased that Bartosz was in such a good mood.  "I would very much enjoy that uncle," said Gil.  
  "I saw you at the synagogue yesterday," said Bartosz.  Silence.   "I was surprised to see you in the crowd around that Nazarene."
  Silence. "Uncle, I did not realize you were there as well.  Did you hear him preach?"
  "I listened for a bit.  I didn't care for his style.  Who's authority does he preach under?  I did not hear him quote any of the usual rabbi's."
  "You are right.  His style is different, but I found it inspiring!" admitted Gil.
  "Gil, you were not fooled by this man, were you?  I have spent too many years teaching you better."
  "Bartosz, I am always grateful for the wisdom you share with me.  You have always been generous and patient, and I value your opinion more than anyone.  I listened carefully to Jesus as you have taught me.  There was no error in his teachings.  Uncle, I felt something stir in me when he spoke.  His words cut right through my skepticism and awoken a longing for the Lord that I have never known."
  "Gil, you are young.  Your faith must be based on following the letter of the law and not on words that make you feel good."
  "Bartosz it is difficult for me to explain. What I felt was not an emotion, but rather an awareness of God. God was not beyond my reach.  God was beside me, encouraging me to come closer."
  "Gil did you see who else was in that crowd?" Silence.  "I did.  I saw sinners and those who never offer up sacrifices. I would be very wary of someone who surrounds himself with riffraff."
  "Jesus said he came for the lost sheep of Israel. Oddly, I did not feel like I was among riffraff, rather I felt a kinship with those who yearned for God.  Bartosz, did you see when Jesus healed that man of an unclean spirit?"
  "No.  I had already left.  I have heard the rumors though."
  "It is no rumor.  I was there.  I saw it with my own eyes!  It was astounding!  The unclean spirit called him "The Holy One of God".  Do you think He may be just that?"
  "No, I do not!  Let's stop talking about this foolishness before I lose my appetite."  Bartosz had difficulty hiding his annoyance with his nephew.  Gil had not heeded his warning and now he was confused.  This new teacher was making his job as a Pharisee much more challenging.  Bartosz was not interested in being challenged.
  Gil knew better than to continue the conversation about Jesus with Bartosz. . . . . for now anyways.  Although the conversation changed to new subjects, Gil did not change his mind about Jesus.  He knew he had to hear him speak again.

(to be continued...)

Monday, March 5, 2018

Could He Be?

(The following is a fictional story based on the gospel narratives.)

  Gil quickly made his way towards the synagogue.  As he approached the synagogue he notice a crowd of people just to his right.  Gil frowned.  He had a feeling this may have something to do with Jesus the Nazarene.  Gil had been warned by his uncle about him. Bartosz, Gil's uncle, was a well respected Pharisee and had always been an important figure in Gil's life.  Bartosz didn't think very highly of this new teacher who associated with sinners.  Gil couldn't help but be a little curious about this Jesus. What exactly was so special about him anyways?  Perhaps he would just stop for a minute to see why this man got everyone so excited.
  Gil wanted to dislike Jesus, as did his uncle, but he couldn't. Gil could find nothing wrong with Jesus' teachings.  In fact, as he listened to Jesus, Gil felt a deep desire to love God even more. Jesus spoke as if each one of them was truly loved and important to God.  Jesus went into the synagogue and the crowd followed, so Jesus continued to teach.  Gil managed to position himself much closer to Jesus as he taught.  As Jesus was teaching,  a man walked over.  His body began complusing as he began screaming, "What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?  Have you come to destroy us?  I know who you are--The Holy One of God."
  What happened next absolutely stunned Gil.  Jesus commanded this unclean spirit to come out of the man--and it did!  The man stopped convulsing and became completely at peace.  He then sat down and listened to Jesus teach.  Gil kept looking at the man and then at Jesus.  Was this the trickery Bartosz warned Gil about?  It certainly didn't seem like a trick, the man appeared completely different--healed.  What did the voice scream......I know you are the Holy One of God?  Could this be true?  Could he be....the One?  Could the Messiah actually be in their midst?  Gil felt goosebumps on his arms and on the back of his neck.  Gil continued to stare at Jesus as one thought kept crossing his mind.  Who are you Jesus?

Monday, February 26, 2018

Follow His Heart

  As I was driving I saw a large heart with the words "Follow Your Heart". The sign was very cute, but I wondered if there wasn't a better message for everyone.  I would guess most days we tend to follow our own hearts.  We tend to "treat" ourselves or buy things that make us happy. We spend time with people that make us laugh or feel good about ourselves.  I think many of us have a good idea how to amuse ourselves when we have some down time.  However,  I wondered...... wouldn't it be wiser to follow Jesus' Sacred Heart? 
  When was the last time you searched for the heart of Jesus? Is His heart close to your own?  How much distance separates the two? Have you ever began the day asking Jesus, "What would make Your heart happy today?"  
  In order to follow the Heart of Jesus we must spend quiet moments in prayer. Perhaps we should decrease the amount of time we spend entertaining ourselves, and instead spend those moments enriching ourselves with His Presence. Let the rhythm of your life match the beat of His Heart.  The secret to being a good follower resides in trusting the path of the One who is leading.


Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Who's Hungry?

  "Mom, are you almost home?  We're all starving over here."
  "I know. I'm hungry too. I have dinner and I'll be home soon. Tell everyone to get ready."  Ten minutes later Jodie pulled into the driveway and then hopped out with a large carryout bag.  She walked inside her house to find her family anxiously waiting around the table.  "Who's hungry?" she asked.
  "Which one is mine?" asked her son Jonathan.
  "They're all marked.  Just give me a second to sort through it," said Jodie.  "Ok, who ordered the gospel narratives?"
  "That's mine," said Tabatha.
  "I have a Rosary that is a little pink in the middle."
  "Oh, that would be for me," said Taylor.
  "Here's a CRS rice bowl."
  Jonathan smiled and said, "Toss it this way, Mom."
  "This one says Soup Kitchen Volunteer Form."
  "Thanks, honey, that's for me."
  Jodie unwrapped the last order which was hers--a book entitled Meditations Before the Blessed Sacrament. Jodie sat down and was pleased with herself.  It's not always easy to feed the whole family, but she felt pretty good about this meal.  Everyone's spiritual hunger was being fed.  For a moment, she wondered what the other mothers were serving this Lent. She could always use a few more good dinner ideas.