A Time of Germination

In today’s Gospel, we are brought face to face with a plethora of opinions about Jesus. There are those who think he is the Messiah. Those who think he is just a guy from Galilee. Some are afraid of him. Others worry he will upset their place in politics.

And the thing is, this passage from John doesn’t resolve the dilemma for us. We are left to make up our minds as to which opinion reflects our heart.

Here we are, just over halfway through Lent, in a crazy, mixed-up, upside-down world where every day we are asked to decide what we believe is true and the role we will play in the common good, and now, the Gospel brings us an example of more confusion? I can get that from Facebook, thank you very much!

But wait, what if that is exactly the point? What if, in a world of confusion, we are being called to be a beacon of perseverance and stability? What if, when all those about us are losing their way, we become even more committed to The Way?

What a relief! This means I don’t have to get it all at once. I don’t have to figure out what is happening in our world. I don’t have to have all the answers, because I know the one who does. I know which opinion reflects my heart; I belong squarely with Jesus. Believing in Jesus isn’t just something I say; it becomes part of who I am. The same me who feels so inadequate to lead, who isn’t sure about much right now, is transformed by God’s mercy. I can think beyond how what is happening around me impacts me to seeing how I can impact how all this affects others. I can choose to take this time of enforced slow down as an opportunity to open myself up to God’s grace and allow him to replace my heart of stone with his own heart. I can take time for phone calls. I can write letters. I can finish my nephew’s long-awaited quilt. I can slow down the prayers with my husband so that they aren’t a hurried part of a morning routine but a true reflection of my soul. I can make my bed in the morning and polish my sink at night. All those little things I have sacrificed at the altar of doing other important stuff is now the heart of my days. And in those little things, I feel Christ’s peace and connect with the Father’s mercy even in the midst of so much unknown.

In this time of deprivation and withdrawal, let us be like germinating seeds, soaking in the moisture and nutrients so that when we break through the soil and reach the sun again, we will be ready to thrive.

“Blessed are they who have kept the word with a generous heart and yield a harvest through perseverance.”

Contact the author


Sheryl delights in being the number 1 cheerleader and supporter for her husband, Tom who is a candidate for the Permanent Diaconate in the Diocese of Kalamazoo. They are so grateful for the opportunity to grow together in this process whether it is studying for classes, deepening their prayer life or discovering new ways to serve together. Sheryl’s day job is serving her community as the principal for St. Therese Catholic School in Wayland, Michigan. Since every time she thinks she gets life all figured out, she realizes just how far she has to go, St. Rita of Cascia is her go-to Saint for intercession and help. Home includes Brea, a Bernese Mountain dog and Carlyn, a very, very goofy Golden Retriever.

Let it Shine

It’s March in Michigan and the sun is shining. The bright blue sky, the amazing lightness is almost a shock to the system. Somehow as winter ends, you don’t really realize how much the clouds, the day to day living under the grey lack of light has impacted your psyche, your whole self all the way down to your toes. You don’t realize it, until all of a sudden the sun returns, the world brightens and without even realizing it was weighed down, your heart feels airy and fresh. 

In today’s Gospel, Jesus is announcing a similar shock to the system. In a world where behavior is predicated on how others treat us or what we think we can get from them, Jesus turns everything around and shows us how we have been living in the lack of light.

You don’t want to be judged? Then don’t judge.
You don’t want to be condemned? Then don’t condemn others.
You want to be forgiven? Then forgive.
You desire gifts to be given? Then give gifts to others. 

Not only will these things be given to you, they “will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing.” Not only that, it will be poured into your lap! You don’t have to go after it, it will come to you!

How? By giving to others. By forgiving. By refusing to judge. By refusing to condemn. 

Here we are in the Second Week of Lent. We are called to fast. We have given up the stuff of this world, in order to make room in our hearts for the glory and love of the next world. Today’s readings show us that we don’t have to wait. We can have the beginnings of heaven, right here, right now. In the midst of our penance, our sorrow, our journey, Jesus tells us how to receive His love now. True love is not dependent on behavior or what others do, true love loves. Period. End of sentence. 

Just like the spring sunshine lifts our hearts, Jesus’s mercy lifts our souls. He loves us, fully completely. Not just us collectively, he loves you individually, fully, completely and totally. He sees you. He sees what you are willing to give up for him and no matter how meager, (seriously, what is my giving up added sugar compared to the immensity of eternity?). He takes what you give him and gives it back, good measure, packed together, shaken and overflowing. 

So what are we being called to? As we proceed through Lent, through the Soup Suppers, parish missions, prayers, Stations, almsgiving and fasting, let’s open up our hearts to the Father’s love. It is a love so strong, so active, so personal and powerful that he became the personification of love by leaving heaven and dying on a cross. For you. For me. For every person we meet. We are called to conversion. We are called to step out into the “sonshine” and let it overwhelm us with the Father’s love. That changes everything.

Lenten blessings to you all!

Contact the author


Sheryl delights in being the number 1 cheerleader and supporter for her husband, Tom who is a candidate for the Permanent Diaconate in the Diocese of Kalamazoo. They are so grateful for the opportunity to grow together in this process whether it is studying for classes, deepening their prayer life or discovering new ways to serve together. Sheryl’s day job is serving her community as the principal for St. Therese Catholic School in Wayland, Michigan. Since every time she thinks she gets life all figured out, she realizes just how far she has to go, St. Rita of Cascia is her go-to Saint for intercession and help. Home includes Brea, a Bernese Mountain dog and Carlyn, a very, very goofy Golden Retriever.

Seeing Signs

He sighed from the depth of his spirit and said, ‘Why does this generation seek a sign?:’” -Mark 8:12

There are four thousand hungry people who had come to a deserted place to hear Jesus. They came hungry to hear what Jesus had to say. But their bodies caught up to their souls and they soon were just plain hungry for food. The disciples start to worry. You can imagine the quickly escalating conversation. “There are so many of them.” “We can’t even send them back to where they came from because they won’t make it because they are so hungry.” “They’ll collapse.” “They’ll die of starvation on the way.” “What are we going to do?” 

Jesus simply asks them what they have, he blesses it and it is enough. More than enough. The disciples get in the boat to go with Jesus. They have seen and they follow. 

The Pharisees have a distorted world view. They look but they don’t see. Jesus has fulfilled the signs by doing what Moses did in feeding the hungry in the desert. This act itself signifies that he is the New Moses. And still the Pharisees ask for a sign. Jesus’s reply, “Amen, I say to you, no sign shall be given to this generation.” (Mark 8:12) 

The lens through which the Pharisees viewed the world held a certain world order. If keeping the law was good, then their scrupulous adherence to the law had to be better. They saw themselves as the chosen ones of the chosen people. It was them and the rest of the world. As happens every time we humans start to see ourselves as separate from the rest of humanity, what divides us becomes more important that what unites us. Their own adherence to seeing themselves as better, more faithful, set apart prevented them from seeing the miracles happening all around them.  

I have to think that when Jesus sees us start to think in terms of “us” and “them”, he still sighs from the depth of his spirit. At times it feels like everything in our culture is geared towards creating a sense of us and them. The false dichotomies abound on social media. Are you A, meaning you are with my group and we are happy to have you 100% along, or are you B and against my group, meaning it is okay to completely discount you. As soon as we begin to think in terms of divisions, we are adopting the lens of the Pharisees. 

Keeping this reading in context, we can’t totally let the disciples off the hook either. One chapter later in Mark, John sees someone driving out demons in Jesus’s name and forbids them because they are not one of us. “Jesus replied, “Do not prevent him. There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me.” (Mark 9:39) Jesus is teaching us to see that what unites us is more than what divides us. 

The signs are there. They are all around us. We have blessings upon blessings. Do we have eyes to see? Jesus took what the disciples had, blessed it and it was enough, more than enough. In this crazy time in which we live, don’t let the constant clammer to divide us from one another keep you from seeing the signs all around us. When we offer to Jesus all that we have, he will bless it and it will be enough, not just to care for our own needs but all those around us.

Contact the author


Sheryl delights in being the number 1 cheerleader and supporter for her husband, Tom who is a candidate for the Permanent Diaconate in the Diocese of Kalamazoo. They are so grateful for the opportunity to grow together in this process whether it is studying for classes, deepening their prayer life or discovering new ways to serve together. Sheryl’s day job is serving her community as the principal for St. Therese Catholic School in Wayland, Michigan. Since every time she thinks she gets life all figured out, she realizes just how far she has to go, St. Rita of Cascia is her go-to Saint for intercession and help. Home includes Brea, a Bernese Mountain dog and Carlyn, a very, very goofy Golden Retriever.

The Tempest of Envy

“We fight one another, and envy arms us against one another…. If everyone strives to unsettle the Body of Christ, where shall we end up? We are engaged in making Christ’s Body a corpse. We declare ourselves members of one and the same organism, yet we devour one another like beasts.”
-St. John Chrysostom, Hom. in 2 Cor. 27:3-4

In this month that has the Feast of St. Valentine, a celebration of love, we start the month reflecting on what happens when we allow envy into our lives. St. John Chrysostom doesn’t pull any punches. The Catechism tells us that envy can lead to the worst crimes. (CCC 2538) “Envy is a capital sin. It refers to the sadness at the sight of another’s goods and the immoderate desire to acquire them for oneself, even unjustly.”

In the first reading, David, who was so beloved of God that David says to God, “Keep me as the apple of your eye,” (Ps 17:8), this same David has messed up. Big time. It isn’t just that he took Uriah’s wife. (Although that is bad enough.) The taking of Uriah’s wife is the symptom of a graver evil happening in David’s heart.

David, who started life as the youngest son in a family of boys, shepherd of the family’s sheep, is called by God to be the king of the Jewish people. He is to be a king in God’s own image, the apple of God’s eye.

The God, who created all the world out of love and to love in return, created David to rule His chosen people. But King David, who already had multiple wives, looks upon another man’s wife. He forgets about love. He neglects to see her as God created her. He neglects to see her as a woman joined to another man. David sees her as an object to be desired. He wants her physically, brazenly, brokenly. Because he is the king, David uses his God-given role to bring her to his side. He indulges his desires, and she gets pregnant. David attempts to cover it up by calling home Uriah, and when that plan fails, he has Uriah killed.

In today’s readings, Nathan calls David out. David may think he has manipulated the situation and gotten what he desired, but he has forgotten the earlier desires of his heart, to serve God and to do God’s will, to be God’s beloved.

David has committed the same sin as Adam and Eve. He has given in to envy and tried to follow his own plan. Adam and Eve and then David lost trust in God’s benevolence. They thought they knew better. Seeing what they didn’t have and couldn’t have, they desired it. They experienced envy. “Through the devil’s envy death entered the world.” (Wisdom 2:24) St. Augustine saw envy as “the diabolical sin”. (CCC 2539) “From envy are born hatred, detraction, calumny, joy caused by the misfortune of a neighbor, and displeasure caused by his prosperity.” When we allow envy to take root in our life, we give hatred and all its dark companions the opportunity to take root in our hearts.

How do we strive to end this envy? How do we end the fighting and dismembering of the Body of Christ?

We can find one answer in the Gospel reading. Jesus asks the disciples to cross the sea, and then he goes to sleep in the boat. In the meantime, a squall comes up, and the disciples begin to fear for their lives. Were they envious of Jesus peacefully sleeping in the midst of the storm? They wake him up and ask if he even cares they are perishing! Jesus calms the sea and asks them if they do not yet have faith.

“The time of the Christian is that of the risen Christ who is with us always, no matter what tempests may arise.” (CCC 2743) Sometimes the tempests are literal storms that wreak havoc on our homes and carefully ordered lives. Sometimes the tempests are troubles that come upon us unbidden such an injury or loss. Sometimes the tempests are our own unbridled passions, as when we allow envy to have control of our thoughts and our hearts.

So what do we do? We persevere in love and prayer. As we persevere in prayer, we move into a position of trust, and we open ourselves up so that God can work miracles in our lives. The genealogy of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew establishes Jesus as the Son of David, Son of Abraham. In a culture where family ties pass through the father, there are four women mentioned in Jesus’s family tree, and one of them is Uriah’s wife. When we have faith and trust that God is present even in the tempests, God can bring about great things. We can look at others and share in their joys and their sorrows without getting bogged down in comparisons.

Prayer and the Christian life are inseparable, for they concern the same love. Through prayer and living the Christian life, we cooperate with the Father’s plan of love and the Holy Spirit, who conforms us more and more to Jesus Christ until we have the same love for all men; the love with which Jesus loved us. (CCC 2745) So when you find envy creeping in, pray, pray, pray, and don’t stop.

Let’s end as we began, with St. John Chrysostom: “It is possible to offer fervent prayer even while walking in public or strolling along, or seated in your shop,… while buying and selling, …or even while cooking.”

Wherever you are today, here’s to prayer and trusting God’s presence in the tempest.

Amen.

Contact the author


Sheryl delights in being the number 1 cheerleader and supporter for her husband, Tom who is a candidate for the Permanent Diaconate in the Diocese of Kalamazoo. They are so grateful for the opportunity to grow together in this process whether it is studying for classes, deepening their prayer life or discovering new ways to serve together. Sheryl’s day job is serving her community as the principal for St. Therese Catholic School in Wayland, Michigan. Since every time she thinks she gets life all figured out, she realizes just how far she has to go, St. Rita of Cascia is her go-to Saint for intercession and help. Home includes Brea, a Bernese Mountain dog and Carlyn, a very, very goofy Golden Retriever.

Anointed, Now What?

“The anointing with sacred chrism, perfumed oil consecrated by the bishop, signifies the gift of the Holy Spirit to the newly baptized, who has become a Christian, that is, one “anointed” by the Holy Spirit, incorporated into Christ who is anointed priest, prophet, and king” CCC 1241

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, a Christian is one anointed by the Holy Spirit and incorporated into Christ, priest, prophet, and king. Today’s reading helps us to go deeper into what it means to share in Christ’s kingship.

Saul is out on a wild goose chase. Well, he was actually hunting for his father’s donkeys, but I can only imagine as he searched land after land, he must have felt like it was a hopeless cause. Out of obedience to his father, this man described as ‘head and shoulders above the people’ is on what may have felt like a fool’s errand. But there he was, far from home searching for lost donkeys when he was spotted by Samuel and God assures Samuel, “This is the man of whom I told you.”

With a kiss and the anointing of oil, Saul is told: “This will be the sign for you that the Lord has appointed you commander over his heritage.” He is to be king of God’s chosen people, a precursor to Jesus’s own kingship. But what does it mean to be king? To be commander over God’s heritage?

We think of kings and pictures of fairy tale castles pop into our heads; the idea of being able to do as you like and have servants to grant your every wish. This is what our culture teaches us about kings and their reigns.

The other readings help us find another, more captivating answer. “The Lord sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor and to proclaim liberty to captives.” (Luke 4:18) “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.” (Mark 2:17)

As usual, the Gospel turns the message of our modern culture on its head. Biblical kings are meant to be servant kings. They are at the service of God’s heritage. They are to bring glad tidings to the poor. We aren’t told if this is poor in money or the poor in spirit because it doesn’t matter. Our world is full of those who are held captive by addiction, illness, and sin. What is needed by each one may be different, but the need is still to be met by the king and the royal family. The king is not to be a closeted, pampered resident of the nearest castle but is to go out to those in need. The king is called to be present to those who are lost or neglected by the rest of the world. Sometimes that means doing it personally; sometimes, it may mean sending a trusted member of the royal family.

Since Jesus is king, you are that trusted member of the royal family!

If you feel like life is sometimes a fool’s errand and you aren’t sure if you are making a difference, remember Saul. In obedience, he chased donkeys over hill and dale and across many lands before Samuel delivered God’s message. Remember that you are anointed at baptism just as Saul was anointed by Samuel. We are incorporated into Christ and marked as Christians. (We visibly remind ourselves of that every time we make the sign of the cross!) We, too, are commanders over God’s heritage. We each have a small corner of the world over which we have reign. What are the needs of those around us? How do we serve? How can we be present to the lost and neglected? It is up to us to find those who are overlooked by the rest of the world and to speak the true king’s love and truth.

So embrace your anointing and straighten your crown. You are a child of the king, and you have the anointing to prove it! The question is, how will you live it?

Contact the author


Sheryl delights in being the number 1 cheerleader and supporter for her husband, Tom who is a candidate for the Permanent Diaconate in the Diocese of Kalamazoo. They are so grateful for the opportunity to grow together in this process whether it is studying for classes, deepening their prayer life or discovering new ways to serve together. Sheryl’s day job is serving her community as the principal for St. Therese Catholic School in Wayland, Michigan. Since every time she thinks she gets life all figured out, she realizes just how far she has to go, St. Rita of Cascia is her go-to Saint for intercession and help. Home includes Brea, a Bernese Mountain dog and Carlyn, a very, very goofy Golden Retriever.

Pointing the Way

“John answered them, I baptize with water, but there is one among you whom you do not recognize, the one who is coming after me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie.”

Each of the four gospels emphasizes John’s assertion that he is not the Messiah. It is helpful to look back historically and understand the Jewish context. While some of the more zealous of the Jews were looking for a political Messiah who would lead a military overthrow of the Roman leaders, the majority of the Jewish people were looking for a restoration of Israel in a new exodus. They were looking for a new Moses who would intercede for them in the making of a new covenant with God and lead them to a new promised land where the temple would be restored.

It was important both while John was alive and for those who followed his teachings even after his execution, that the Jewish people understood that John was not the Messiah. John’s importance was in pointing the way to Jesus. John’s role is just as important today.

Who pointed the way to Jesus for you? What was it about them that helped you to fall in love with Jesus? How did your relationship with them lead you to build a relationship with the one who created you and loves you beyond all understanding?

Just as God, who is love, created us because love desires to pour itself out to another so too, as we grow in love with Jesus Christ, our love desires to pour itself out to others. It isn’t really love if we are content just to hold it all inside. We are called to be like John the Baptist, we are not the way, but we can point to the one who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

So how do we do that? What is it about us, which points others to the love of Christ? What is it about our relationships with others that will lead them to build a relationship with Jesus Christ? How do we help others make straight the way of the Lord? How are we the voice crying out in the desert of our current culture? These are questions we each have to answer for ourselves.

It is the reason that God created you to be you, just as you are. He has a plan for you to be the arrow pointing someone else back to Him. You might be a big, flashing neon light complete with music. You might be a quiet candle in the window. You might be a patched up sign that shows the effects of time and wear. You might be a silent whispered prayer interceding for someone who doesn’t even realize they need intercession. Wherever you are, whoever you are, you were created just as you are for a purpose, and that purpose is to use your talents to build the kingdom of God in a way that one else ever created can.

As we start this new decade, what if we all became a little more conscious of how and where we are pointing? What if we became a little bit truer to ourselves and to who God created us to be? What if we remembered that we are not called to be the way, but only to point to the way? Because Jesus Christ fulfilled the prophecies. He is the new Moses interceding for us to the Father. He leads us out of ourselves into the light of His love. The promised land isn’t some far off place, but is alive and well here and now when we live in His grace. The rebuilt temple isn’t just one place but exists in each of our hearts. Because in the beginning, God created you out of love to love, and life doesn’t get much better than that.

Contact the author


Sheryl delights in being the number 1 cheerleader and supporter for her husband, Tom who is a candidate for the Permanent Diaconate in the Diocese of Kalamazoo. They are so grateful for the opportunity to grow together in this process whether it is studying for classes, deepening their prayer life or discovering new ways to serve together. Sheryl’s day job is serving her community as the principal for St. Therese Catholic School in Wayland, Michigan. Since every time she thinks she gets life all figured out, she realizes just how far she has to go, St. Rita of Cascia is her go-to Saint for intercession and help. Home includes Brea, a Bernese Mountain dog and Carlyn, a very, very goofy Golden Retriever.

O Key of David

The reality of my failure to plan appropriately for this season is beginning to show. The super cute cardboard houses that I just had to paint and cover with glitter so they could decorate our home are still covering our dining room table in varying stages of incompleteness. It seems like with the shortened daylight, by 6 PM, I am trying to find an excuse to head to bed, and my loving husband has to remind me that going to bed so early will just throw my internal clock farther off. I just seem out of sync. Forget my Christmas crafting, just the tasks of daily living seem to be piling up on me. No matter how I try, it seems I am always behind on dishes or laundry or both. Let’s not even talk about the kitchen counter; I really think that stuff multiplies and creates clutter whenever I turn my back.

For the first part of Advent, our reflections guided us to wake up and be aware that the time is now to prepare for the Second Coming of Our Lord. Starting on the 17th, we turned our focus to the Incarnation. We turn to look to the nativity, to Mary and Joseph’s first encounter with their son, and through them to our own encounter with the Son of God. We prepare ourselves for the graces available as we meet at the altar with all the heavenly hosts, with all our loved ones who have gone before us, where we are witness to the re-presentation of Jesus as he offers his body and blood to his disciples.

The O Antiphons lead us through this last week before Christmas by recalling the names given to the Messiah by the prophets.

O Key of David, opening the gates of God’s eternal Kingdom: come and free the prisoners of darkness!

Just like the pink candle on our Advent wreath signals the first light of dawn, just like tomorrow’s winter solstice marks the gradual lengthening of daylight, the cycle of daylight is turning and the days will grow longer once again, and we look to you, Lord Jesus, to free us from the darkness. It isn’t just the darkness of the physical night, but the darkness of all our bad habits, our sin, and from a focus that pays more attention to the created instead of the Creator.

As we travel this last leg of the journey to the nativity, pray for the grace to keep the focus on the one who left heaven to be with us, to the one who returned to heaven but didn’t leave us alone, the one who loves us with love beyond understanding. Remember that when we are in sync with God, sometimes we are out of sync with the rest of the world. When we get in sync with eternity, we are out of sync with the culture around us. Sometimes, being out of sync is a good thing because we can help us to refocus on what is most important and let go of lesser things. The pink of dawn is at the horizon, look to the light.

O Key of David, come and free us, the prisoners of darkness!

May God continue to bless you through these final days of Advent and may His graces cover you as we celebrate together, his entrance into Creation.

Contact the author


Sheryl delights in being the number 1 cheerleader and supporter for her husband, Tom who is a candidate for the Permanent Diaconate in the Diocese of Kalamazoo. They are so grateful for the opportunity to grow together in this process whether it is studying for classes, deepening their prayer life or discovering new ways to serve together. Sheryl’s day job is serving her community as the principal for St. Therese Catholic School in Wayland, Michigan. Since every time she thinks she gets life all figured out, she realizes just how far she has to go, St. Rita of Cascia is her go-to Saint for intercession and help. Home includes Brea, a Bernese Mountain dog and Carlyn, a very, very goofy Golden Retriever.

Foundational Wisdom

So what is the deal with the list of ancestors? In the Gospels, we get Jesus’ genealogy, not once but twice! Since nothing happens in the Bible without a purpose, we can only ask, “Why?”

First, the genealogies establish the historical reliability of the Bible. Jesus didn’t live in a vacuum of time, space, and relationships. In Jewish tradition, people often introduced themselves in terms of family and tribe. The list in today’s reading firmly establishes Jesus as part of the human family; true God, true man.

The genealogies also document the fulfillment of many of the prophecies of the Old Testament. Abraham is promised descendants as numerous as the stars, through Jesus, we are all the children of Abraham, brothers, and sisters in God. Isaiah tells us that the Messiah will spring from the root of Jesse, and the genealogy shows where Jesse and his son, King David, are in Jesus’s family tree.

There are other lessons to learn from today’s Gospel. When we trace God’s creative action from Adam and Eve, the first couple, to Noah, the family saved in the flood, to Abraham from whose family will come a great nation, the common thread is family. We can see the importance of family in God’s plan.

It makes sense; God is love, and love is not passive. Love is an action. Love is actualized when it is poured out in service to another. The love between God the Father and Jesus the Son is so complete, it is the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. God loves us so much, he sends his
Son, his Son loves us so much, he pours out his very body and blood to bring us into the family. Family is foundational.

Today is the first of the O Antiphons. They signal a change in our Advent preparation from a focus on being ready for when we meet Jesus face to face to preparing for Jesus’ arrival into a human family as true God through the power of the Holy Spirit and true man as traced in the genealogy in Matthew.

We find the O Antiphon in today’s Gospel acclamation. “O Wisdom of our God Most High, guiding creation with power and love, come to teach us the path of knowledge!” In his infinite wisdom, personified in Jesus Christ, God chose this path to come to us and to draw us to himself and his foundation is family. With God as our Father and under the tutelage of Mother Church, we are family. In love, we pour ourselves out for one another and to those around us as we strive to follow the path of Jesus.

As we approach these last days before beginning our Christmas celebration, let us open our hearts to one another. Let us open our hearts to the wisdom of God and remember we are all family and that is foundational.

O Come, O Wisdom of our God Most High!

Contact the author


Sheryl delights in being the number 1 cheerleader and supporter for her husband, Tom who is a candidate for the Permanent Diaconate in the Diocese of Kalamazoo. They are so grateful for the opportunity to grow together in this process whether it is studying for classes, deepening their prayer life or discovering new ways to serve together. Sheryl’s day job is serving her community as the principal for St. Therese Catholic School in Wayland, Michigan. Since every time she thinks she gets life all figured out, she realizes just how far she has to go, St. Rita of Cascia is her go-to Saint for intercession and help. Home includes Brea, a Bernese Mountain dog and Carlyn, a very, very goofy Golden Retriever.

Hospitality

When he entered the house, the blind men approached him, and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I can do this?”

There is a beautiful subtlety to this story that often gets overlooked in our desire to see and understand the miracle.

Jesus encounters the blind men on the road, and they appeal to him using a name which defines who they think the messiah will be, not who Jesus says He is. But even though they call Jesus by a name he doesn’t choose for himself, pay attention to what happens next.

“When he entered the house, the blind men approached him.”

“When he entered the house.” Jesus encounters these men on the road. They call him by a name that Jesus chastises the scribes for using, but when Jesus enters the house the blind men go with him.

I am from the midwest and it is pretty common for people to invite one another over to their homes for opportunities for fellowship and fun. It wasn’t until I was staying in New York City and someone took me to their apartment and told me that New Yorkers just don’t invite people over, at least partially because no one can afford a place big enough for entertaining. Entering into someone’s home is special, you get invited. There are even social protocols for bringing a small gift or some food to offer in response to their hospitality.

Jesus entered into the house and the blind men entered with him. Before the miracle, before asking if they believe, it all started with an act of hospitality.

The babe, born in a stable because no one had room for his laboring mother, brings them into his home.

What a beautiful Advent challenge for us. What a beautiful and stress-reducing idea! I don’t need to make this the most amazing Christmas ever. I don’t need to make sure that each child attends perfectly to each of my carefully planned Advent activities. I don’t even need to make sure that every meal is Pinterest-photo ready. I am not the worker of miracles. I am not asking people to believe in me. I don’t want them to see me, I want them to see Jesus. My job is to follow Jesus’s example and help people to feel welcomed and wanted. My job is to imitate Jesus where I can. And while I can’t work miracles, I can look at others and see them for who they are in God’s eyes. I can offer small acts of hospitality, living moment to moment and really experiencing the joy of being with the person right in front of me. It doesn’t even necessarily mean bringing someone into my home. It might be just putting my phone down when I am around others. It might be making eye contact and saying thank you to the woman who is finishing a long shift at the grocery store. It might be paying forward a cup of coffee in the drive-thru or coffee shop. It might just be an encouraging word to someone hurting or alone. Those small acts (especially when I don’t feel like being warm and fuzzy) are the window which allows others to see Jesus at home in me.

As we continue this journey through Advent, as we prepare to welcome Jesus into our hearts at Mass and into the world at the Nativity, let’s offer to one another those small acts of welcome that prepare us for the miracle.

Contact the author


Sheryl delights in being the number 1 cheerleader and supporter for her husband, Tom who is a candidate for the Permanent Diaconate in the Diocese of Kalamazoo. They are so grateful for the opportunity to grow together in this process whether it is studying for classes, deepening their prayer life or discovering new ways to serve together. Sheryl’s day job is serving her community as the principal for St. Therese Catholic School in Wayland, Michigan. Since every time she thinks she gets life all figured out, she realizes just how far she has to go, St. Rita of Cascia is her go-to Saint for intercession and help. Home includes Brea, a Bernese Mountain dog and Carlyn, a very, very goofy Golden Retriever.

To Be Human

“And then they will see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand erect, hold your heads high because your liberation is near at hand.”

Did you know that “Son of Man” was the name Jesus claimed for himself more than any other? In the 4 Gospels, it appears over 80 times. 80! That’s a lot!

Why would the Son of the Most High, who was present at Creation, who is the Word of God, why would he claim the title, “Son of man” more than any other?

Jesus was fully God and fully man. “…human nature was thereby elevated to a personal union with the Word; and this dignity is given, not on account of any merits, but entirely and absolutely through grace, and therefore, as it were, through the special gift of the Holy Ghost.” (Divinum illud munus, 4) When, through the power of the Holy Spirit, God became man, all of humanity was given a dignity never before present. Simply by the fact that Jesus walked the earth, we, the created, were raised up. No longer mere servants, through Jesus, we become adopted sons and daughters of our Creator.

When Jesus repeatedly acknowledges his humanity, he brings divinity to the world. No longer is God some unknown, unknowable, unseen force. God has trod where we trod, lived where we live, and understands from first-hand experience what it means to be human, to work, to serve, to eat, sleep and do all the things that we humans need to do to survive. Jesus came to humanize us, to take us beyond mere survival, so we can be more fully who we are meant to be.

So too, we who are the followers of Jesus, we are called to continue Jesus’s mission on earth. As the body of Christ, we are his hands and feet, and eyes and ears, his tongue speaking the divine presence of his humanity into the world.

Woo, that sounds good, but what does it mean? In real live practical terms, not just strung together words on a page, what does it look like on the street? It is our vocation to love (CCC 1604). To love our neighbor is to humanize them, to acknowledge their inherent dignity, and to treat them as who they are in God’s eyes. We smile. We make eye contact. We refrain from language that highlights differences or groups of people into “us” and “them.” We talk to people, not about them. We exercise self-discipline when we are driving or waiting in line and not treat others like they are simply impediments to getting to where we are going. We have to work at remembering that they are whole beings created by and loved infinitely by God. We not only provide food for those who don’t have it, but we also work on the systemic injustices in our society that leave people on the fringes. We need to get real about our human rights, and if even one person is deprived of their God-given dignity, we take it as our personal responsibility to right that wrong.

As we sit down to celebrate Thanksgiving today, let us acknowledge that all we have, who we are, and how even the fact that we are breathing is a gift from our all-knowing and all-loving Creator. Because we have enough awareness to acknowledge that gift, we also have a responsibility to lift up the person next to us. We can no longer be okay with just doing our own thing and letting the person next to us to their own thing. We are obligated by our devotion to Jesus to love the person next to us, even to love them so far that our love humanizes them and helps them be more fully who God created them to be.

The thing is, all this doesn’t have to be overwhelming. We don’t have to take care of the whole world all at once. We can start small. As St. Mother Teresa said, “Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time and always start with the person nearest you.” We can do this, human to human.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Contact the author


Sheryl delights in being the number 1 cheerleader and supporter for her husband, Tom who is a candidate for the Permanent Diaconate in the Diocese of Kalamazoo. They are so grateful for the opportunity to grow together in this process whether it is studying for classes, deepening their prayer life or discovering new ways to serve together. Sheryl’s day job is serving her community as the principal for St. Therese Catholic School in Wayland, Michigan. Since every time she thinks she gets life all figured out, she realizes just how far she has to go, St. Rita of Cascia is her go-to Saint for intercession and help. Home includes Brea, a Bernese Mountain dog and Carlyn, a very, very goofy Golden Retriever.

Follow the Thread

When I was studying for my Master’s degree in leadership, I remember one of my professors emphasizing not to get hung up on the complaints that people bring, but to listen behind the questions and follow the thread of what they were saying to get to the real issue.

Jesus is a beautiful example of this style of leadership in today’s Gospel. The Sadducees and the Pharisees approach Jesus to try and trip him up with a question about the resurrection, marriage, and Jewish Law. They don’t like this itinerant preacher who is drawing such crowds and they want to discredit him. They come up with a convoluted “what if” which is intended to trap Jesus into questionable teaching regardless of the answer given.

But Jesus doesn’t get hung up on their question. He listens behind the question to address the underlying issue. You see, the Sadducees and the Pharisees were uncomfortable bedfellows. While the Pharisees were the experts on Jewish Law and insisted on a very literal interpretation, the Sadducees were an elitist type of aristocrat. They also interpreted the law in a very literal sense, but they maintained their position at the top of the pecking order by cooperating with the Roman order. They became so convinced of their place in the scheme of things, that they had lost faith in the resurrection. They believed that the messianic kingdom was already in place. Belief in the resurrection, both among the Pharisees and others, was growing and this belief was motivation to not accept the social order of the day and to look for the kingdom to come. Belief in the resurrection was a threat to the Sadducees’ way of life.

To our modern ears, the whole exchange sounds lengthy and full of odd sounding phrases which can be mystifying. Part of this is because Jesus doesn’t answer their carefully crafted question, he goes behind the question to the real issue. They didn’t believe in the resurrection and their lack of faith keeps them focused on preserving the social order. Marriage has become a means for fulfilling the law rather than a sacramental relationship instituted to image God’s love to the world.

Jesus starts right out by telling them they don’t know what they are talking about. “The children of this world take husbands and wives.” This life is only a preparation for what is to come, the world where “in the resurrection from the dead [they] do not marry because they can no longer die.”

The covenant between the spouses is integrated into God’s covenant with man: “Authentic married love is caught up into divine love.” (CCC 1639) Marriage is an image of God’s unfailing love. “God who created man out of love also calls him to love-the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being.” (CCC 1604) Marriage is not about status or social convention, marriage is the image of “the absolute and unfailing love with which God loves man.” After the resurrection we will no longer need the image of God’s love because we will be finally at home in the actual presence of His love!

Jesus shows them again how little they know, “…being children of the resurrection they are children of God.” Jesus isn’t here to establish a kingdom with a hierarchy of nobles and peasants, Jesus came so that we might be part of the family, children of God.

I think too, we need to be careful to not be modern day Sadducees and Pharisees. Too often (especially on social media) we get into debates about things which may not really matter in the long run. Should we hold hands or keep praying hands during the “Our Father”? Do we kneel to receive communion or do we reverently bow and accept the gift of our Lord and Savior? I am not entering into the fray or claiming one is better than the other, but I do think that if Jesus was responding, he wouldn’t be as worried about the position of our hands as the formation of our hearts. He might also be surprised that we are even paying attention to what others are doing instead of focusing our own heart and attention on Him. Let’s not get caught up in the social order of today, but prepare our hearts for the kingdom to come.

After all we are family, God’s family. And in families there is room for all sorts of ways of doing things. There is room in the Catholic family for quiet worship and loud praise. There is room for hand holding and for holding our hands in prayer. We can disagree on these things but we still come home for the holidays. We still have a need to be in relationship with one another and with the one who created us. So the next time you get a question, try to slow down and listen beyond the question to what lies behind it. Follow that thread and you will find it is the thread of God’s love which ultimately connects and binds us to each other and to Him.

Our Lady, Undoer of Knots, pray for us!

Contact the author


Sheryl delights in being the number 1 cheerleader and supporter for her husband, Tom who is a candidate for the Permanent Diaconate in the Diocese of Kalamazoo. They are so grateful for the opportunity to grow together in this process whether it is studying for classes, deepening their prayer life or discovering new ways to serve together. Sheryl’s day job is serving her community as the principal for St. Therese Catholic School in Wayland, Michigan. Since every time she thinks she gets life all figured out, she realizes just how far she has to go, St. Rita of Cascia is her go-to Saint for intercession and help. Home includes Brea, a Bernese Mountain dog and Carlyn, a very, very goofy Golden Retriever.

Tis The Season

Oh my goodness! We are quickly rounding into the middle of November. All Hallow’s Eve passed in a flash, and immediately the Black Friday Christmas sales started. We are hearing all about how it is a “short” Christmas season. In a culture driven by getting what you want, it seems an entire season has been bypassed in sacrifice to the Christmas shopping list.

Recently I was listening to a friend as she shared how someone was struggling with not being able to forgive themselves for choices they made many, many years ago. As I listened to her, a part of my brain was so grateful to be Catholic. I am so grateful for the confessional and the sacrament of reconciliation and the mercy waiting for me there. I worked hard on just listening and responding with compassion, but I will fully admit, my heart wanted to scream out, “This is why I long and pray for you to find your way to the Catholic Church! Come with me, I will walk home with you.” (She isn’t ready to hear that, but I am confident that day will come!)

It isn’t that Catholics are without fault and that we don’t struggle with the mistakes of our past. Goodness knows we do! But God in his infinite wisdom, though Our Mother, the Church, has given us a structure, a framework to help us step outside our circumstances and become who he calls us to be, who he created us to be, to find forgiveness, and mercy, and grace.

I feel the same intense relief at being Catholic as I witness the current media hype over the shorter Christmas shopping season. Inside Mother Church, we are being reminded of how many reasons we have to be grateful. Our Lord, Jesus Christ is King of the Universe! We recall that when God formed man, in “the image of his own nature he made them.” We live not for this world but for the next. Tis the season now to reflect on the world to come so that we are ready when Advent starts to prepare ourselves for the coming of the babe who will be crowned king. The truth is, there is no shortening of the time before Christmas. Through the Liturgical Calendar, Mother Church preserves the rhythm of the seasons and maintains to each season its own celebrations. So even though to the eyes of the world, we seem foolish and may even appear dead to the latest fad, we are in peace, the peace found in our Mother’s arms at the foot of the Father.

So enjoy this season, continue to pray for those in purgatory, and be at peace knowing that our Mother will make sure that each season happens at exactly the right time.

Contact the author


Sheryl delights in being the number 1 cheerleader and supporter for her husband, Tom who is a candidate for the Permanent Diaconate in the Diocese of Kalamazoo. They are so grateful for the opportunity to grow together in this process whether it is studying for classes, deepening their prayer life or discovering new ways to serve together. Sheryl’s day job is serving her community as the principal for St. Therese Catholic School in Wayland, Michigan. Since every time she thinks she gets life all figured out, she realizes just how far she has to go, St. Rita of Cascia is her go-to Saint for intercession and help. Home includes Brea, a Bernese Mountain dog and Carlyn, a very, very goofy Golden Retriever.