Love’s Work

…love one another as I love you.
No one has greater love than this,
to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

From John 15:12-13

I admit to lots of anger over the suffering of those I’ve been given to love. Whether they are my own family members or children starving to death half a world away, I find it difficult to accept that there actually is nothing I can do to help. My frustration is amplified by my conviction that our problems can be solved if we consider them from a loving perspective. This isn’t a pie-in-the-sky impossibility. Years of work with some tough youngsters taught me otherwise. When I approached a troubled student with sincerity and genuine concern, he or she sensed this and responded in kind.

What a different world this would be if we set aside our own pride and our own agendas for the good of others. It seems to me that we amass a treasure trove of goodness for ourselves when we put others ahead of ourselves. What a different world this would be if we did lay down our lives for one another! What a different world this would be if we each accomplished one good deed -instead of the opposite- every day!

Loving God, you gift each of us with the ability to make this world a better place. Help us to realize our potential and to make our positive mark as only we can.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

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Begin At Home…

Love God with your whole heart,
your whole mind, and your whole soul.
Love your neighbor as yourself.

From Mark 12:30-31

“You know, charity begins at home!” My mom spoke these words often to me, not so much to nag me as to teach me an important lesson. Apparently, I was more interested in demonstrating my love for God at school and church than I was in demonstrating my love for my own family at home. My mom’s remark often referenced my tardy arrival because I’d stopped at church to pray or stayed after school to help Sister while leaving my chores at home undone. My mom was correct in her assessment at the time. I hadn’t yet realized that chores done with love at home are at least as honorable as those performed at church or school.

If you are a person who’s involved, you’ve likely stepped up to the plate once too often, just as I have. Worse yet, you’re probably quite good at the things you do. It’s difficult to walk away from something we enjoy doing or that we feel will be left undone if we fail to take it on. To help remedy this situation, read the scripture I’ve cited once again. If you love God with your whole heart, you will care for the things God loves. If you love your neighbors as yourself, you will take care of them as only you can. No one else can be the spouse, parent, child, sister, brother, grandparent or friend that you can be. So feel no guilt in opting to care for them before you step up to the plate to take on those other worthy causes outside of your home.

Loving God, I will love those you have given me to love as only I can.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Random Acts of Peace

Be compassionate, as God is compassionate.
From Luke 6:36

My words fail me as I attempt to express the life-changing and life-giving nature of our trip to Israel. Every day, the people we encountered and the sites we visited touched me deeply in indescribable ways. Even the seemingly simplest interactions etched unforgettable lessons into my heart.

Our day in Akko was no longer than any other, yet it remains with me as though I was there yesterday. A member of our tour wasn’t feeling well. Nancy, our tour-organizer, immediately attended to our friend. (I call her “friend” as we couldn’t possibly have shared so much on so many levels without also developing affection for one another!) Though “facilities” were usually conveniently available, there was nothing nearby at the time. After visually scanning our locale, Nancy decided to approach a shop for assistance. Though we were obviously tourists visiting Christian sites with our Jewish guide, this Muslim shop-owner and staff immediately responded when Nancy explained the situation. Our friend was invited to rest and to take care of her needs for as long as necessary. When she and Nancy returned, they couldn’t hide their gratitude for the warm and welcoming assistance they’d received.

Our friend enjoyed the rest of that day for good reason. Nancy had responded to her with compassionate action and that wonderful shop-owner and cohort did more than she dared to hope for. Of course she felt much better!

Loving God, thank you for the instruments of your peace who grace our paths every day.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Make Your Mark

…love one another as I love you.
No one has greater love than this,
to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

From John 15:12-13

I admit to lots of anger over the suffering of those I have been given to love. Whether they are my own family members or children starving to death half a world away, I find it difficult to accept that there actually is nothing I can do to help. My frustration is amplified by my conviction that our problems can be solved if we consider them from a loving perspective. This is not a Pollyanna or pie-in-the-sky impossibility. Years of work with some tough youngsters taught me otherwise. When I approached a troubled student with sincerity and genuine concern, he or she sensed this and responded in kind.

What a different world this would be if we set aside our own pride and our own agendas for the good of others. It seems to me that we amass a treasure trove of goodness for ourselves when we put others ahead of ourselves. What a different world this would be if we did lay down our lives for one another! What a different world this would be if we each accomplished one good deed -instead of the opposite- every day!

Loving God, you gift each of us with the ability to make this world a better place. Help us to realize our potential and to make our positive mark as only we can.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Begin At Home

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart…
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

From Mark 12:30-31

“You’ve got to have charity in your heart!” My mom spoke these words often to me, not so much to nag as to teach me an important lesson. Apparently, I was more interested in demonstrating my love for God than I was in demonstrating my love for my own family. Usually, my mom’s remark referenced my tardy arrival home because I had stopped at church to pray or rose early to attend morning Mass while leaving my chores undone. Mom was correct in her assessment at the time. I hadn’t yet realized that chores done with love are at least as honorable as time spent in church.

If you are a person who is involved, you have stepped up to the plate once too often, just as I have. Worse yet, you are probably quite good at the things you do. It’s difficult to walk away from something we enjoy doing or that we feel will be left undone if we fail to take it on. To help remedy this situation, read today’s scripture again. If you love God with your whole heart, you will care for the things God loves. If you love your neighbors as yourself, you will take care of them as only you can. No one else can be the spouse, parent, child, sister, brother, grandparent or friend that you can be. So feel no guilt in opting to care for them before you step up to the plate to do anything else.

Loving God, just as you love each of your children, help me to love those you have given me to love as only I can.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Share The Good News

Let us move on to the neighboring villages
so that I may proclaim the good news there also.
That is what I have come to do.

From Mark 1:29-39

Our neighbor, Ellie, became an auxiliary grandma to our son Mike from the day he was born. Because she lived next door, Mike saw Ellie every day. When she relaxed on her patio after a long day of teaching, Ellie always had a snack and some juice for the little guy who would wander over. I admit that I benefitted from Ellie’s friendship at least as much as my son did.

When Mike was just seven years old, he wasn’t at all happy with what I had asked him to do. In response, he shouted “I hate you!” I never used that word myself, and it broke my heart to hear it from my little boy. Still, I remained calm until Mike’s bedroom door slammed. It was then the tears flowed. When I went outside to our backyard to recover, I saw Ellie.

Still teary-eyed, I told my neighbor what had happened. “Did your kids ever say that?” I asked. “Sure they did. They’re kids. And you know what I did? I pulled them close and said, ‘Well, that’s okay because I still love you!’” Ellie added that this gesture quickly put an end to such talk. As it happened, Mike repeated his comment only once more, probably because I followed Ellie’s lead to a tee.

Dear God, your good news makes good sense always and everywhere. Thank you for sharing so much of your good news through Ellie and the many good souls like her.

©2013 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved