Excess Baggage. September 30, 2016

Spent a lot of time yesterday at REI with a fantastic store helper who opened my eyes in how to best load the backpack. I’ve done this twice before and learned about compressing those items that can be compressed, getting out the air pockets. So much easier to pack and the weight is distributed more evenly making for a much easier walk. 

But it was his recommendations about not taking some of the items presently being packed. I eliminated almost one pound of excess baggage, which is unbelievably significant. Lightening the load, so to speak, letting go of unnecessary baggage makes for a wonderful journey. 

Pilgrimages are metaphors for life itself. Letting go of the interior baggage lightens the load…and the spirit. We all carry too much internal baggage, in the form of: painful memories, anger, fear of change, not meeting others’ expectations, not forgiving oneself or another. Let go!!! Make the journey through life lighter. Walking with a heavy heart or walking with a joyful heart… dragging one’s feet or walking with a bounce in your step…what do you need to let go of…

Buen camino. 

Fr. Frank

A Slave to the Slaves. September 9,2016

On this feast of St. Peter Claver (1581-1654 A.D.) we remember a beautiful man who was a precursor, of sorts, to St. Teresa of Calcutta, recently canonized by Pope Francis. Peter Claver was burn in Spain, became a Jesuit and was sent to Columbia to minister to the poor, particularly the African slaves. He and his fellow Jesuits went to the docks as the ships carrying the slaves anchored. They welcomed these human beings, treated like chattel, as if they were Christ…and they were Christ. 

Peter and his companions bathed them, tried to heal them of their many wounds and diseases, clothed them with the garments of compassion and lifted them in spirit as children of God. Peter, himself, became a “slave to the slaves,” a poetic phrase that “rents” the heart of us who contemplate his life. Hearts that are “rent” are hearts that allow the mercy of Christ to  flow and fill in the crevices of loneliness that run deep in the human heart. May we become servants, “slaves” of today’s impoverished, poor, refugee, immigrant. May our hearts be “rent” as these  beautiful human beings become the instruments our salvation. 

Peace. Fr. Frankjohn 

Dressed Properly. August 18, 2016

Jesus delivers a strange twist in the Parable of the Wedding Feast. The initial invitation of the king is ignored by all for various reasons. So he invites those from the byways and outer reaches of the kingdom, and many come to the feast. However, one man entered the banquet hall and he is harshly questioned by the king about his attire…he isn’t dressed properly and he gets thrown out only to be tortured!!! Does this sound like Jesus? Much like last Sunday’s gospel :”I have come not to bring peace but division.” Jesus can say the most perplexing things, reminding us if the dangers of literal interpretations that fail to see the context and placement of the story or verses. 

Jesus clearly does not  care how we are PHYSICALLY dressed, within reason, of course, but he does care how we are clothed SPIRITUALLY. Right after we are baptized we are “clothed” with a white christening garment, symbolic of our “clothing” ourselves…our souls… with Christ. We “put him on” just like we put on a coat or a shirt.  The man who was thrown out was not clothed properly in his heart and spirit. 

We must “cloth” ourselves with the garments of humility, compassion and mercy. We can’t “dine” in the Kingdom without hearts transformed. Bring “dressed to the nines,” so to speak, means nothing if our hearts aren’t clothed properly. 

Peace. Fr. Frank