What’s The Attraction?

Jesus said to them, “Come after me;
I will make you fishers of people.”
They immediately abandoned their nets
and became his followers.

Mark 1:17-18

Though we celebrated Christmas 2017 three weeks ago, I can’t help smiling when I recall my experience at church on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Because this wasn’t a “business as usual” weekend, I left my post at our parish information desk to mingle with those arriving to attend the Christmas Mass. I chatted with more than one hundred people and wished a Merry Christmas to at least one thousand others. I felt as though I was in the midst of a grand family reunion. Indeed, I was!

I used to wonder why the disciples walked away from everything to follow Jesus. What was it that drew them in? Simon and Andrew were burly, hard-working men. Still, they left their livelihoods to follow Jesus. Perhaps Jesus simply couldn’t contain the wonder within him. Perhaps just being nearby was enough to draw people in. The scriptures recount numerous instances of Jesus’ interactions with lepers and blind people, sinners and the lonely, Each one found the courage to approach Jesus. This was in spite of the fact that everyone else in the vicinity avoided them at all costs.

Though I’ve never seen Jesus as his contemporaries did, I can’t imagine my life without his influence. Perhaps this is the reason I enjoyed Christmas 2017 so fully. Every Merry Christmas and every smile drew me more deeply into the miracle at hand. God’s love and God’s presence took on human form that day. No wonder Jesus was so irresistible to the disciples. No wonder Jesus is so irresistible to me!

Loving God, thank you for abiding within us and for loving us. Thank you for sending Jesus who transformed my life from the moment I first heard his name.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

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God Always Listens

“Lord, if you will do so, you can cure me.”
Jesus stretched out his hand to touch him
and said, “I will do it. Be cured.”

Luke 5:12-13

I learned very early on that it is always appropriate to bring our troubles to God. Sometimes, my family did so in unison. We gathered in our living room to pray when illness struck a loved one or to pray for a happy death if a recovery was not in the making. Through the years, I have become so convinced that God is aware of my every need that I rarely pray for myself. It is when those around me are suffering that I blast the heavens mercilessly until I have some assurance that all will be well, at least in God’s eyes.

Over the past year, I’ve expressed my often overly zealous demands on behalf of those I have been given to love on numerous occasions. Sometimes, the results have been predictable. At other times, God has surprised me and all concerned. In every case, I found myself speaking with the Almighty as I would with my best friend. I never wondered if God was listening. Why would I question the obvious?

Dear God, you attend to each one of us every moment of every day. Make us attentive and responsive to one another just as you are!

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Why Not Now?

They carried to him all those afflicted
with various diseases and racked with pain…
He cured them all.

From Matthew 4:24

My sister and I attended a family baby shower last weekend. Seeing our extended family elicited fond memories of our parents, grandparents and siblings who’ve passed. Though I’m certain of their current bliss, the sting of these losses remains with me. I can still recall the details of their last days among us.

When the people we love are sick, it’s difficult to see God’s hand in their suffering. When depression, addiction or a misguided heart brings them pain, we wonder why this occurs. When their days are numbered, the inevitable isn’t easy to accept. When we recall the healing powers of Jesus, we’re tempted to ask “Why not now?”

When I ponder this and similar questions, I consider Jesus’ experience as one of us. He struggled with trials and tribulations just as we do. If that wasn’t enough, he was nailed to a cross as well. Was Jesus capable of doing all of this because he knew what was coming afterward? I admit that I also know of the things to come. If I’m honest with myself, I must admit that this should be enough to see me through. Our loved ones in the hereafter tell us again and again that this is so. It’s time I listen!

Dear God, when the going gets rough, nudge us along with reminders of the things to come.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

The Magdalene

Mary called the Magdalene…
and many others who were assisting them out of their means.

From Luke 8:2-3

I’ve been a fan of Mary Magdalene since childhood. I’m the offspring of a strong woman who endured her share of troubles, yet embraced this life as only she could. In spite of the uncertainties which lay before her much of the time, my mother consistently put her best foot forward and carried on. When I first learned of Mary Magdalene, I imagined her with my mother’s strength and seeming fearlessness.

Though I was very young, I understood the difficulties faced by women who go it alone. Mary Magdalene was a woman of means, but she suffered from a serious malady. First Century Jews considered such conditions to be the result of possession by demons or serious sinfulness. Either way, there wasn’t much sympathy to be had from others. Still, Mary managed to maintain her position and her wealth. When she and Jesus met, Mary’s cure resulted. Eternally grateful for this turn of events and smitten by Jesus message, Mary soon began to support Jesus in his ministry.

I recall my mother in “provider mode” as she eked out grocery money, fashioned much of our clothing by sewing new things or re-styling the old and searched for our shoes on sale. I see Mary Magdalene in “provider mode” as well. She skillfully tended to the food and lodging needs of Jesus and his disciples while carefully attending to his every word. Perhaps this is the reason Mary Magdalene loved Jesus so.

Dear God, you entrusted your message to Jesus and he shared it through everything he said and did. Help me to bring your message to those you have given me to love, just as Jesus did.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Faithful Attraction

Jesus said to them, “Come after me;
I will make you fishers of men.”
They immediately abandoned their nets
and became his followers.

Mark 1:17-18

When I consider how quickly the disciples walked away from everything to follow Jesus, I wonder what it was that drew them in. Simon and Andrew seemed to be strong, burly, hard-working men. Still, they left their livelihoods to follow Jesus. Perhaps this God-made-man simply could not contain the wonder within him. Perhaps just being nearby was enough to draw people to Jesus. The scriptures recount numerous instances of Jesus’ interactions with the most unexpected people. Lepers and blind people, sinners and the lonely all found the courage to approach Jesus. This was in spite of the fact that everyone else in the vicinity avoided these outcasts like the plague.

Though I have never seen Jesus as his contemporaries did, I cannot imagine my life without his influence. The things Jesus shared about God’s love for us, God’s mercy and God’s forgiveness drew me in very early on. That Jesus demonstrated these things in everything he said and did keeps me convinced. When I consider the Jesus I have come to know, I understand the attraction of the poor souls who sought him out. It must have been overwhelmingly amazing to walk with a visible Jesus because it is at least that for me.

Loving God, thank you for the gift of Jesus. He transformed my life from the moment I first heard his name.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

God Hears Us

“Lord, if you will do so, you can cure me.”
Jesus stretched out his hand to touch him
and said, “I will do it. Be cured.”

Luke 5:12-13

I learned very early on that it is always appropriate to bring our troubles to God. Sometimes, my family did so en masse. We gathered in our living room to pray when illness struck a loved one or to pray for a happy death if a recovery was not in the making. Through the years, I have become so convinced that God is aware of my every need that I rarely pray for myself. It is when those around me are suffering that I blast the heavens mercilessly until I have some assurance that all will be well -at least in God’s eyes.

Over the past year, my often overly zealous demands have been offered on numerous occasions for those I have been given to love. Sometimes, the results have been predictable. At other times, God has surprised me and all concerned. In every case, I found myself speaking with the Almighty as I would with my best friend. I never wondered if God was listening. Why would I question the obvious?

Dear God, you attend to each one of us every moment of every day. Make us attentive and responsive to one another -just like you!

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved