Sunday, August 26, 2012

Dedication to Sports? As for Me and My House, We will Serve the Lord.


"If it does not please you to serve the LORD,
decide today whom you will serve,
the gods your fathers served beyond the River
or the gods of the Amorites in whose country you are now dwelling.
As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD."

The other day I took a quick run through Beaver Creek Reservation and as I was running back to the rectory I decided to cut through the football fields.  I recognized a familiar sound.   I’ve always thought it was construction workers with an electric sledge hammer, but it turns out it is some kind of metronome device used for the marching band practice.  I couldn’t believe it.  There had to be over a hundred kids listening to that annoying sound, marching step by step to the beat – for hours at a time!  There were drummers practicing and other instruments – it was quite the production!  (I talked to a couple of them who were serving for mass, one being the drum major, and they told me that in the last weeks of summer they had 14 hour days and now that school is in session they practice every day after school for two hours!)  Then I crossed by the soccer goals and there were about 40 kids practicing drills.  I walked past that across the football field and there were two separate offense and defensive lines practicing on either side of the field.  Again, probably another hundred kids on the field going over offensive and defensive plays. 

There was a ton of energy there and it was quite a sight to see.  I began thinking: “What is it about sports that draws these kids?  What is it that makes them so dedicated?  These kids practice EVERY day after school for HOURS!  And they want to!  For what? 

I can’t help but think of last year.  My pastor, Fr. Martello, had asked me to run the confirmation program.  This is our program for freshman and sophomores.  I enjoyed doing this, working with the teens, and the facilitators, but I have to admit it was absolutely EXHAUSTING dealing with the non-stop requests and demands from the kids and their parents.  Now believe me I want to help people and accommodate them, but it was ridiculous the amount of times these kids COULDN’T miss their practice or their scrimmage or their game.  I would often say to the parents: “What’s more important.”  And the response was commonly: “Father, can’t they do both?”  Well, yes, they can, but to a point!   At some point you do have to choose.  This is where Joshua’s challenge rings true:  “If it does not please you to serve the lord, decide today whom you will serve.”  I think after praying with this passage, I’m not doing in anymore… no more allowing sports to dominate your lives… you have to choose. 

Fr. Larry Richards describes this modern day dilemma very well, in his book: “Be a Man!  Becoming the Man God Created You to Be.”  (http://amzn.to/NPpFsa
Most men are willing to spend time doing just about anything else – making money, work out, watch sports, etc. – rather than spend time getting to know God.  I used to teach boys at an all-boys Catholic high school.  The main argument every year was, what is more important – God or sports?  What do you think won?  Sports!  Sports can become a god for people because, many times, people give so much of their time and energy to sports.  Every year I’d have the same conversation.  
“Gentleman, what do you want to do this year?”  I’d ask. 
“We are going to be state champions, Father”, my Catholic School students would reply. 
“Whoa, state champions.  I’m impressed.  What are you going to do, gentlemen, to become state champions?”
Do you know what they would say?  They will have to spend four hours a day, every day, throwing a football, kicking a soccer ball, or hitting a hockey puck; the swimmers will have to wake up at 4:30 in the morning to start swimming – and they did it.  They still do it to this day, so they can become state champions.  They did it gladly.  Can you imagine? 
Years ago, the football team actually became the state champions!  Those kids were on the top of the world!  “Look at us, we’re state champions.”  A lot of them went to college and received full scholarships.  But, now, they are doing nothing when it comes to sports!  Nothing!  When they get to be my age, they will tell their sons, “When I was your age, son, I was a state champion football player,” And their kids will look at them and say, “Shut up, Dad.  You are just fat and bald now – nobody cares.” 
People put all this time and energy into things that are passing and ultimately will not matter.  If I asked those same kids, “Gentlemen, what are you doing this year?” 
“We are going to be state champions.” 
“What are you going to do to prove to me you are going to be state champions?” 
If they say, “Well, we are going to practice once a week, if we feel like it, for forty-five minutes to an hour and we are going to have good thoughts about the game.” 
I would say:  “Wrong answer, gentlemen.  You are going to be horrible in sports.  You are not going to go anywhere if you give it only forty-five minutes to an hour and add some good thoughts.” 

Yet, this is how we so often approach our spiritual lives!!!  Really?  Is this going to win you the game in the spiritual life?  Is this kind of commitment going to get you to heaven?  Is this what Jesus suffered and died for? 

What is so commendable about Joshua is that he took a stand. 

"If it does not please you to serve the LORD,
decide today whom you will serve,
the gods your fathers served beyond the River
or the gods of the Amorites in whose country you are now dwelling.
As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD."

Who will you serve?  To whom will you dedicate your time and your energy too? 

Who or what preoccupies your thoughts and desires?  What are you most dedicated to? 

Now I know the immediate answer most will say is “God,” but if we are honest… if we really look at how we order our lives, we will probably find that we are really not as dedicated as we think.  Really, think about this.  How much time and energy do you really dedicate to focused “practice?  These grade school and high school kids will spend three hours every day after school in sports.  How much time ought we spend “practicing” our faith, getting to know God, learning, praying, and being intensely focused on God?  Think about all of the things that your pour your energy into, willingly or unwillingly.  Think about what consumes your mind, what you spend the most time and energy thinking about.  Is it really God? 

What I’m asking you to do today is the same thing that Joshua commanded.  “Decide today whom you will serve.” 

Here are three ways that I think this can be done. 

1)       Dedicate yourself, your heart, your home, and your family to God.  “As for me and my family we will serve the Lord.”   Take command and control of your family and choose to dedicate yourself to the Lord.  Stop giving in to all of the other things, activities, and events that are less important.  Make a concerted choice to put God first.  Actually do this.  Make it some kind of ritual – hang a crucifix or paint these words on your front door.  Claim yourself and your family to Christ and do so BOLDLY. 
2)      Make a daily “Holy Hour.”  Now I know this may seem difficult, but think about it, we are talking about investing in eternal life!  These kids will spend hours in sports, you may spend hours at work, or with a hobby like golf, or watching TV.  "Where your treasure is, there is your heart...." "Could you not watch one hour with me?" (Mt 6:21; 26:40)  You can make time in your life, you need to make time in your life every day in a dedicated and focused time with God.  Do this if possible at your church in front of the Blessed Sacrament (24 Reasons for Spending a Holy Hour before the Blessed Sacrament http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/resources/prayers/adoration-to-the-holy-sacrament/24-reasons-for-spending-a-holy-hour-before-the-blessed-sacrament/).  I hear it from “practicing” Catholics all the time.  They’ll start by saying “Father, I’m a good Catholic… I go to mass on Sundays, and Father, I pray every day.”  “How do you pray?” I ask.  “Well, I don’t really spend time in prayer, but I talk to God all the time, well actually mostly when I need something.”  We need to have that same dedication that we have to sports, and work, and hobbies, and even more so we need to have it with God.  Traditionally the Saints have called for a “holy hour.”  The idea is that if we are really committed to Christ and serious about serving the Lord then we need to spend at least one hour with Him every day. 
3)      Come early and stay late.  I’ve noticed this more and more at my parish and I know it happens at others.  People came late to mass and leave early.  I know, I know this is hard for me especially when it’s the early mass!  But, if this is the source and summit of our faith… if the Sunday Eucharist is “game day” then we simply cannot be coming in late.  Every time we leave early or come late we are making a choice and are in fact putting something else in front of God… we are creating an idol.  Every time we leave early or rush out of there to get to something else – we are placing that thing or event above God.  If you are leaving early to get home and watch TV you have just made TV an idol.  If you are leaving early to get to a sporting event you are worshiping an event above God, if you are leaving early to go to breakfast, you are placing food above God… whatever it is, you have just created and worshipped an idol because you have either come late or left early from the event that is supposed to be the center of our lives. 

Today, God is asking you to make a choice.  He is asking you to look at your life and what you are dedicated and committed to and He is asking you to choose “Who you will serve.”  For the followers of Jesus this was a “hard saying” and many of them left.  “Joshua gathered together all the tribes of Israel at Shechem, summoning their elders, their leaders, their judges, and their officers.  When they stood in ranks before God, Joshua addressed all the people and he forced them to make a choice.  And with great conviction he dedicated himself and claimed his family for God.  “As for me and my house we will serve the Lord.” 

Today, dedicate yourself to Christ, make a resolution to a daily holy hour, and come to mass early and stay late. 

Decide today whom you will serve… as for me and my house we will serve the Lord.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Kids Will Eat Just About Anything They Put in Their Mouth. So Do We.





"Amen, amen, I say to you,Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood,You do not have life within you.Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my bloodHas eternal life,And I will raise him on the last day.For my flesh is true food,And my blood is true drink.Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my bloodRemains in me and I in him. 

 There is nothing like a cookout at the end of summer.  The days are hot and sunny and the evenings become cool and a little more crisp.  One of our newest Catholics at our parish invited everyone to come to her house for a picnic.  It was one of those days where I missed breakfast, had a banana for lunch and was hungry for dinner.


 You know those times where you are so hungry you could eat whatever was put in front of you?  As it turned out the food was delicious.  After waiting for others to grab their food I loaded up a plate of pulled pork with a nice apple whiskey barbeque sauce, sausage dip and nachos (I hate when that’s around because I can’t stop eating it), layered salad, baked beans, fresh fruit, and for desert lemon meringue or an caramel pecan apple pie.  I was hungry so I filled the plate… I’m sure some of it was very healthy and some not so healthy, but it was all very good!


 When I got out to the picnic table, one of the mothers, whose baby “Brooklyn” I baptized at the Easter Vigil, said:  “Brooklyn just ate an entire handful of dirt!”  I responded, “What do you mean she ate it?”  I asked: “Couldn’t you get her to spit it out?”  “No” She responded: “I tried, but once she put it in her mouth there was no getting it out!”  “What made her eat a whole handful of dirt?” I asked.   She laughed and said:  “It’s exhausting just trying to keep her from eating things…” 

It’s true for all of us… we have to learn what foods are good and what foods are bad, processed or unprocessed, whole grain, whole wheat, whole oats, high fiber, farm raised, natural, organic… that can be overwhelming too.   

The same is true with our faith life… Many of us if not brought up in the Catholic faith could have easily gone a whole other route in our life… just like Brooklyn we would probably choose indiscriminately never knowing the difference between dirt and dogma, false teaching and authentic faith. 

There are many different religions throughout the world.  According to the CIA Christians make up 33.35%, Muslims 22%, Hindus 13%, Buddhists 7%, Sikhs, Jews, Baha’i and other religions are less than one percent of the world’s population.  Other religions equal 11%, non-religions 9%, and atheists 2%.  Did you know that among the Christian Religions there are over 30,000 denominations?   (The largest percentage is Roman Catholic at 16.83%)
 

That’s a lot to choose from and like Brooklyn’s mom it’s exhausting to figure it all out.
 

The point is… we have a lot of choices.  How seriously have you thought about your faith?  Have you ever asked yourself “Why am I Catholic?”  “Is this really the one true faith?”  “Is Jesus really everything that He says He is?”  “Do I really believe that the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ?”    

These are very important questions because it is a matter of eating dirt and eating true food.  It is ultimately a matter of death and everlasting life.   

C. S. Lewis once said that Jesus is one of three things: So Professor Lewis concluded that neither one of these options is a rational option. In response to the claims of Jesus Christ we have only four alternatives: 

He is a Legend.He is a Liar.He is a Lunatic.He is the Lord. 

"I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice.  Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to."




We need God to tell us what to eat.. just like Brooklyn, we on our own, don’t know the difference between good and bad, right and wrong, deception and truth.  


When Jesus said I am the Living Bread come down from heaven and unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood you have no life within you,


The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying,"How can this man give us his flesh to eat?"


They thought he was a lunatic or a liar.  However, He was revealing the truth to them.  They didn’t realize they had been eating dirt and he was offering them True Food.  Just as Brooklyn’s mother had to show her not to eat dirt and to eat food, we too must learn and be shown our faith.
 We too must ask ourselves this same question.  “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”  Do you really believe that Jesus is everything that He says He is?  Do you really believe that the bread and wine become His very Body and Blood for us to eat?  Do you believe Jesus is Legend, Lunatic, Liar, or Lord? 


 Some will be blessed to believe in a very simple way with a simple faith.  As we hear in the book of wisdom “Let whoever is simple turn in here.”  Others have to wrestle with this and dig deeply.  “To the one who lacks understanding, she says, come, eat my food, and drink the wine I have mixed!”  You may come to it through prayer, study, reading, dialogue, discernment, programs or events at your parish, listening to talks in your car, reflecting.  “Advance in the way of understanding.”  Others may need to have a conversion experience:  “Forsake foolishness that you may live.”    (Proverbs 9:1-6)  For the Jews this was a “hard saying”.  It will be for many of us as well.


 But before you allow yourself or others you know to “eat dirt”, take a look at what God has revealed to us in Jesus.   Like baby Brooklyn, who was taught by her mother not to eat dirt, Allow yourself the privilege to learn from Mother Church as much as you can about the Scripture and Tradition that Jesus has given to us and continues to teach us within.


 As Saint Paul encourages us:

 “Do not continue in ignorance,But try to understand what is the will of the Lord.And do not get drunk on wine, in which lies debauchery,But be filled with the Spirit”

 We all have to come to the decision in our life of whether or not Jesus is Legend, Lunatic, Liar or Lord. 


 Which is He to you?
  ------


Consider exploring my blog.  On the right side as you scroll down you will find some of my favorite links for learning under the “Online Sacristy.”  Also on the menu at the top of the blog you can click on “Spiritual Reading.”  One book that I highly recommend is Scott Hahn’s “Rome Sweet Home.”  He also has another one on the Eucharist called “The Lamb’s Supper”.   




Friday, August 17, 2012

HALT: Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired?



Elijah went a day's journey into the desert,
until he came to a broom tree and sat beneath it.
He prayed for death saying:
"This is enough, O LORD!
Take my life, for I am no better than my fathers."
He lay down and fell asleep under the broom tree,
but then an angel touched him and ordered him to get up and eat.
Elijah looked and there at his head was a hearth cake
and a jug of water.

Ethiopian athlete Meseret Defar provided one of the most emotional moments of the London 2012 Summer Olympic Games when she crossed the finish line in the 5000 meter race to win the gold.

She then pulled a picture of the Virgin Mary out from under her jersey, showed it to the cameras and held it up to her face in deep prayer.

An Orthodox Christian, Defar entrusted her race to God with the sign of the cross and reached the finish line in 15:04:24, beating her fellow Ethiopian rival Tirunesh Dibaba, who was the favorite to win.

A teary-eyed Defar proudly showed the picture of the Virgin Mary with the Baby Jesus that she carried with her for the entire race.

What I find so beautiful about this is that Defar brought together in the Olympics what we are all called to bring together – Our Bodies and our Spirits. 

We are in fact “embodied spirits”.  So what we do with our bodies deeply impacts our spiritual lives.  There is an old philosophical saying that “Grace builds on nature.”  The idea is that in order for grace to work fully our natures have to be in order.  We have to take care of our bodies in order to get the fullness of grace for our lives. 

Defar over all these years of training had perfected her body and honed and shaped her body through discipline, dedication, and desire for the gold… and through it all she did so with the inspiration of the Icon of the Virgin Mary. 

The idea is that we too need to take care of our bodies in order for our spiritual lives to really blossom to the fullest.  The question is “How are you taking care of your body?” 

One of my favorite acronyms to teach people is HALT.  Whenever you are overstressed, dealing with very significant issues, or feel that things are out of control in your life – HALT.  Before you say or do anything that you may regret HALT and ask yourself… Am I Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired?  If you are Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired don’t make any decisions, don’t say or do anything critical until you take care of yourself.  HALT.  



HUNGRY:  If we are hungry we need to take care of ourselves and have a good, healthy meal.  This is so true in my life.  My family knows it, my good friends know it, even the people that I work closely with in the parish know it.  If I don’t eat I start to get irritable, lethargic, and moody.  All you really need to do is put something in my mouth, give me a chance to eat, and everything becomes much more manageable.   It’s true with all of us.  We need to feed our bodies and take care of our bodies.  You can do this too.  If you are feeling the pressure to make a decision, or there is a great deal of stress in your family or marriage, before you talk about the important issues.  HALT and share a good meal together first.  Everyone will be in a much better place if they are well fed.
-Ultimately Jesus knows our hunger.  He invites us to come to Him in our hunger “I am the bread of life.  Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die.” 

ANGRY: The same is true with anger.  If you are angry it is ok to say “HALT”, “I’m very angry now and it’s not a good time for me to talk.”  When we are angry we think and act irrationally.  It’s much better if we can first take the time to diffuse the anger, release the pressure and get it out.  Go take a run, work on something, scream, vent, talk it out… whatever, just get the anger out in a healthy way before you say or do something to hurt those that you love.  The deal is that you do have to come back to the issue… it’s unfair to avoid it indefinitely.  Tell the person you love: “I’m very angry now so it’s not a good time for me to talk, can you give me (a few minutes, a couple hours, until tomorrow, until the end of the work week, etc.) to talk.”  The idea is that you are not avoiding the issue but fairly letting the person know that you need some time to process and diffuse your anger and then you can talk about it more rationally and lovingly. 
-St. Paul in his letter to the Ephesians writes: “All bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and reviling
must be removed from you, along with all malice.  And be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ.”

LONELY:  Loneliness is one of the greatest dilemmas of our time.  We all have a loneliness that is there in our lives and so often instead of going to God or to the people that he has placed into our lives to fill that void we seek it in many harmful ways.  If you are LONELY, once more HALT before you make any important decisions or find yourself thinking life is miserable.  Ultimately, Loneliness is a call to prayer.  I say this because God is the only One who can fulfill our loneliness.  It is only in the depths of prayer that God can speak to and touch that void in our lives.  We try to fill it in many different ways.  Think of what you go to in order to fill your loneliness.  Many will turn to very unhealthy outlets: drinking, gambling, drugs, pornography, masturbation, shopping, eating, affairs, and a myriad of other addictions and distractions.  All of these only increase our loneliness and isolation.  If we are lonely we need to turn to God in prayer.  Make some significant time of silence to be with God.  Pray with scripture and be in silence. 
-Loneliness is ultimately a call to intimacy with God…  Jesus invites us: “Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from him comes to me.”   If you are lonely go to Him… as the Psalmist proclaims “blessed the man who takes refuge in him.”

TIRED: This is another important and often overlooked need of our bodies.  Our bodies and minds need rest.  I can’t tell you the number of people, including myself, that begin to think all is lost, everything seems to be too much, or God seems so distant.  Are you tired?  If so, then before you take any of these thoughts to seriously or wrestle with these issues: take a nap, get a good night sleep, take a day off or a vacation.  When we are rested all seems well again.  The world seems manageable, we’ll feel better and God will seem closer, all is well after a good nap!  Again, it’s ok to tell people HALT if you are tired.  Maybe you’ve come home from a long day in the office; it’s ok to tell your husband, wife, children or parents.  HALT.  “I’m very tired, give me an hour to rest and I’ll be much better to deal with.” 
-Sometimes when we are tired we begin to think negatively, say things we shouldn’t, and become moody.  Jesus corrected the people when they grumbled saying:  “Stop murmuring among yourselves.”  Elijah became tired after a day’s journey in the desert “until he came to a broom tree and sat beneath it.  He prayed for death saying: "This is enough, O LORD!  Take my life, for I am no better than my fathers."   Sounds pretty tired to me. 

Notice what happens when he HALTs. 

He got up, ate, and drank;
then strengthened by that food,
he walked forty days and forty nights to the mountain of God, Horeb.

He was hungry and thirsty so he ate and drank, lonely but he prayed and was visited by the Angel of the Lord, tired so he rested in the shade.  It wasn’t until he HALTed that he was able to get up and continue on the journey. 

Grace builds on nature, so we do have to take care of our bodies and make sure the nature is right so grace can be allowed to work more fully.

Just as Ethiopian athlete Meseret Defar trained her body for the Olympics and kept the image of Mary and Jesus on her body, and Elijah rested, prayed and was nourished, we too need to take care of ourselves Body and Spirit. 

Remember before you continue on the journey, make any important decisions, or say or do things you may regret HALT! 


Monday, August 6, 2012

Pictures from the Fest: Joy to the World (2012)



We had an amazing celebration last Sunday.  St. Joseph had almost a full bus with 40 people who traveled out to the Fest.  The theme was joy to the world and I know that we all left with Joyful hearts.  Bishop Roger celebrated the mass and at the end the entire venue was transformed into a Christmas Extravaganza.  I giant tinsel Christmas tree came down from the stage, white lighted Christmas trees rose down the main aisle and snow filled the sky.  Even the fireworks were red and green! 

I was at the Tim McGraw/Kenny Chesney Brothers of the Sun concert the Sunday before and I got this email from a good friend after the Fest this year: "We LOVED the FEST, almost a little embarrassed to say I have never been there.  It is amazing how I can be at Brothers and of the Sun one Sunday and the next Sunday be at the FEST, with the FEST being more powerful.  WOW."

The Fest is one of the greatest events we have all year in our diocese and it is such a wonderful sign of all that is good in our faith.  It is also a great sign for our parish that we had so many of our young travel with us. 

As I always say... "If you haven't gone, just go and you will thank me."  Save the date for next year August 4th 2013

See the Pictures: 
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.4375084659889.177796.1371250669&type=1&l=b0633331c2

Confisgated Items


The whole Israelite community grumbled against Moses and Aaron.
The Israelites said to them,
"Would that we had died at the LORD's hand in the land of Egypt,
as we sat by our fleshpots and ate our fill of bread!
But you had to lead us into this desert
to make the whole community die of famine!"

Then the LORD said to Moses,
"I will now rain down bread from heaven for you.
Each day the people are to go out and gather their daily portion;
thus will I test them,
to see whether they follow my instructions or not.

When I was leaving my last assignment the grade school arranged a farewell mass with me.  When I walked into St. Barnabas the church was full and every single student had a construction paper “roman collar” around their neck (imagine 800 miniature priests).  Kathy Friess, the Vice-Principle introduced me explaining that over the four years: “We all know that Fr. Michael is all about VOCATIONS, VOCATIONS, VOCATIONS.”  I’ll never forget seeing an entire church of children and families all wearing roman collars!  

The second thing she said was: “We all know that Fr. Michael is all about VACATIONS, VACATIONS, VACATIONS!”  At this point they brought out a beach chair for me to sit in, the kids put on sunglasses and flower leis, and began to roast me.  

It’s true… I love vacations, and I love traveling.  In fact this fall I’ll be leading a group on Pilgrimage to the Holy Lands (You can still sign up or find out more this Saturday 2pm at St. Joseph Social Hall).  Fr. Martello has also asked me to start a Mission Team here as well, so hopefully we will be traveling to El Salvador or Africa!  

But I have to admit I’m starting to grumble about traveling.  This is because of my good friends at the TSA (actually, one is a friend, shhh…) 

First of all, I’m very cheap so I will not pay for a checked bag.  That means I have to carry everything I’m taking in a carry-on.  (Soon it looks like it’s going to have to be in my backpack).  This means the inevitable lines at the x-rays, taking my shoes off, and usually because everything I need is in that bag… a bag inspection.  

I can’t tell you the number of things I’ve had confiscated and the part that angers me the most is “I know the rules”.  I know what I can bring, but it doesn't matter, I still have my things taken away.  Here’s my running list of stuff I’m allowed to have, but has been confiscated by a TSA agent: deodorant, AA batteries, empty water bottle, shaving razor, tweezers, nail clippers, sun-screen, candles, and a large bottle of contact solution.  All were regulation, all were permitted, but the agent either didn’t know the rules or “erred on the side of safety.”  

It infuriates me that it is such a degrading process to get through these security screenings.  It’s even worse when you get an agent that is just trying to throw a power trip.  And believe me being a priest doesn't help.  

But here’s what I’m forgetting when I get myself so worked up and mad…. I’m traveling to PARADISE.  

So really who cares if they take our razor away and we can’t shave?  Grow a beard on vacation.  No batteries?  Listen to the sound of nature.  Most of these things can be replaced or we can even go without them.  

In the Exodus “the whole Israelite community grumbled against Moses and Aaron.”  They had it so good where they were and they entrusted themselves to Moses and Aaron and to God.  They didn’t have much time to pack or prepare for their trip; it was much longer than they had anticipated… can you imagine a 40 year layover!  They had to let go of a lot of the things that they had at home (really their fleshpots, which were loose morals and sexual escapades, and gluttonous eating… can you see why God wanted to get them away from there?).  They began grumbling and complaining because they forgot about the destination.  Moses was taking them to the Promised Land.  

I think the same can happen for us in life.  Often times God calls us out of our comfort zones.  In life, people and things are taken from us, sometimes even unfairly.  Sometimes “The Rules” aren’t followed and rightly or not we have to let go of people or things.  We too can begin “grumbling and complaining”.  Life can take a different direction, or we may have a delay or even a cancelation.  We may be rerouted from time to time… 

It’s then that we have to remember that this life is like a plane ride.  That’s all it is.  And we are going to PARADISE!  In heaven we will have everything and everyone that we need.  Jesus assures us that not only is He the way, but He is the destination.  

So the next time you find yourself grumbling… remember the destination. 
Are you being delayed right now in your life?  Is there something that is being taken from you?  Has someone you love been taken from you?  Is life taking you in a different course than you thought?  Are you being rerouted?  

Remember where you are traveling to.  This life is just a plane ride and we’re heading to PARADISE.