Good Reason To Love

Caiaphas said to them, “You know nothing, nor do you consider
that it is better for you that one man should die instead of the people,
so that the whole nation may not perish.”

John 11:50

This is not my favorite scripture passage. Caiaphas sends a chill down my spine. He’s speaking about Jesus, the Good Shepherd who would leave his entire flock to find one lost sheep. He’s speaking about the Father of the Prodigal Son who gave that young man half his wealth, watched him squander it and then welcomed him home. Caiaphas mustn’t have heard the parable about the pearl of great price for which a man sold everything. He must have missed the tale of the woman who swept up and dusted her house again and again until she found her precious coin. Poor Caiaphas seems to have missed everything of importance that Jesus said because he’s blinded and deafened by his desire to maintain his own stature and to remain in power.

You know, there are many people near and far who are distracted by their troubles as well. Though some have lost their perspective through selfishness much like Caiaphas, most suffer distractions wielded upon them by the unexplained and/or deliberate injustices of our human existence. Perhaps Caiaphas’ callousness serves as a reminder that many of our fellow humans have little about which to rejoice today. Perhaps Caiaphas’ hatred of Jesus encourages us to love as Caiaphas could not love. Perhaps Caiaphas’ influence finally changes its direction because it inspires us to care for those who need us most.

Good and Gracious God, thank you for using even our weaknesses to teach us to love.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Small, but mighty!

“For the one who is least among all of you
is the one who is greatest.”

From Luke 9:48

A recent walk around a nearby lake reminded me of just how small I am. This particular lake offers only a tiny beach area. The remainder of its circumference is lined with very tall trees and dense foliage. The greenery is interrupted only by a narrow path just wide enough for two. As I walked, I felt like a tiny ant in the grand scheme of things. Though the lot where I left my car was actually only a block away, I felt lost in the forest around me.

I feel very small at other times as well. In spite of my best efforts, it seems that I cannot do a thing to solve the problems of this world. Wars continue to be fought. Poverty continues in full force. Political interests overpower the good of the many, and on it goes. I ask myself if there is anything I can do to make an important difference.

It is in the midst of this lament that I recall Jesus’ words regarding our need to become children once again. Little girls and boys don’t over-think things. They simply observe the situation at hand and respond accordingly. It occurs to me that I do my best work when I follow this lead. I do have the capacity to change the world. It is through seemingly insignificant efforts that I bring peace, sustenance and justice to one soul at a time.

Dear God, the small things we do for one another make a world of difference after all. Thank you!

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Make A Difference

Her neighbors and relatives heard
that the Lord had shown his great mercy toward her,
and they rejoiced with her.

Luke 1:58

I have worried quite a bit as of late. Though I consider myself to be a concerned member of our human family, I usually keep the world’s worries in perspective. Currently, it’s very difficult to do so. Every newscast brings more violence, injustice and inhumanity to light. It’s impossible to miss our need to change this world for the better. Though not many of us have influence at the global level, we can all make a difference in our little corners of the world.

As I consider how I might make a positive difference in the space I occupy, I look back to my teaching career. If I expected my students to interact peacefully, I had to model that behavior consistently. I couldn’t tell these children to speak kindly to one another if I freely corrected and embarrassed them with unnecessary harshness. My interactions with family, friends and neighbors are equally instructive. If I wish to live in harmony with those God has given me to love, I must make a positive contribution to the mix.

The truth is that our work in this regard is great. Whether we approach others with a positive attitude, give our time to the lonely or needy, write letters to our legislators regarding the issues before us, or take a deep breath before we say something we will regret… Whatever we choose to do will make a difference.

Loving God, be with is as we tend to our small parcels of this world with compassion and love.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

A Willing Helper?

They compelled a passer-by, who was coming in from the country,
to carry his cross; it was Simon of Cyrene.

Mark 15:21

The Fifth Station: Simon of Cyrene Helps Jesus… I can’t be sure if Simon helped Jesus out of compassion for him or because he was forced to do so by the guards. I think the Roman soldiers frightened away many people of good will who might otherwise have stepped in to assist their beloved teacher. However it happened, Jesus willingly gave up his burden to Simon. Jesus willingly allowed him to help him to complete his mission of love.

There was a time when I didn’t think twice about rising in the face of “the establishment” to right the wrongs before me. I protested what I saw as an unjust war. I marched in support of migrant workers whose employment conditions were deplorable. I even stepped in when a very large man threatened violence to a woman of my own size. Though it might have effected my own career, I stood with a young teacher who suffered harassment. Then, times changed. The antics of “the establishment” lost my attention as the minutia of busy days drew more and more of my attention. Then, I began to think twice or three times before taking action… until today. Whether Simon took that cross willingly or not, I will step up and I won’t think twice about it! After all, I have a part in accomplishing Jesus’ mission of love as well.

Loving God, give me the courage to step up in the face of injustices both large and small. Help me to do my part to transform this world of ours.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

The Work of Love

At that the man went out to proclaim throughout
the Ten Cities what Jesus had done…

Mark 5:20

While growing up, I had visions of grandeur regarding what I would do with my life. I wanted to solve the problems of the world. I wanted to end wars. I wanted to fight against prejudice and injustice. I wanted to end poverty. I wanted to work with special needs children. I wanted to teach. I wanted to become a nun. I wanted to become a nurse…

When things began to fall into place, the path before me became less cluttered. I learned to value the seemingly mundane callings which in reality make all of the difference in the world. A good person who deals fairly and kindly with those around her brings peace to our world. Generous couples who allow their love to spill over onto to those around them bring love to the world. Parents who nurture their children with their time and attention bring hope to this world. Caring for those we have been given to love is the most important work we can do.

The truth is that I still want to solve the problems of the world, to end wars and poverty and to fight against prejudice and injustice. This time around, I am tackling each of these with one loving act at a time.

Dear God, when I wonder if I am doing my loved ones or this world any good, you dispel my doubt with encouragement. Thank you!

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Reason To Love

Caiaphas said to them, “You know nothing, nor do you consider
that it is better for you that one man should die instead of the people,
so that the whole nation may not perish.”

John 11:50

This is not my favorite scripture passage. Caiaphas sends a chill down my spine. He is speaking about the Good Shepherd who would leave his entire flock to find one lost sheep. He is speaking about the Father of the Prodigal Son who gave that young man half his wealth, watched him squander it and then welcomed him home. Caiaphas must not have heard the parable about the pearl of great price for which a man sold everything. He must have missed the tale of the woman who swept up and dusted her house again and again until she found her precious coin. Poor Caiaphas has missed everything of importance that Jesus said because he is blinded and deafened by his desire to maintain his stature and to remain in power.

You know, there are many people near and far who are distracted by their troubles as well. Though some have lost their perspective through selfishness much like Caiaphas, most suffer distractions wielded upon them by the unexplainable and/or deliberate injustices of our human existence. Perhaps Caiaphas’ callousness serves as a reminder that many of our fellow humans have little about which to rejoice today. Perhaps Caiaphas’ hatred of Jesus encourages us to love as he could not love. Perhaps Caiaphas’ influence finally changes its direction in our care for those who need us most.

Good and Gracious God, thank you for using even our weaknesses to teach us to love.

©2015 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved