The Revelation

Ever feel like it’s hard to see Jesus in the world around us? I’m not talking about in bad situations because that’s obvious. I am just talking about in ever day life. We go to school and work, and it’s just not always east to see Him in our homework assignments or business. Like, where is Jesus in our chores like doing laundry or washing the dishes?

Even though your faith may be strong, it may still be difficult to see Jesus working in the world around you. This doesn’t mean He isn’t, it typically means we’re just too distracted to notice. We can’t see Him because we’re focused on doing. The more we do, the harder it is to see Him. Next thing you know, you start doubting that He is even present in these things. Before you know it, you’re relationship with Him has been damaged.

We have responsibilities. School, work, chores, etc. are all important and need to get done; however, we can’t let them distract us from our relationship with God. We need to take time to stop doing and just be with Him. Jesus is always revealing Himself to us; we’re usually just too busy to notice.

The Believers

It’s hard to argue that Jesus never existed. There are many historical accounts of Him. Most of the world’s monotheistic (belief in one god) religions believe (at the very least) that there was a man named Jesus who lived about 2,000 years ago. There are historical records of Him and His parents’. As Catholic Christians, we don’t simply believe that there was a man named Jesus. We believe that He was and is God. We believe that not only was He crucified, but He rose from the dead on the third day just as He and the prophets predicted.

Believing that there was a man named Jesus is easy. Believing that He is God, rose from the dead, and conquered death takes faith. We weren’t there. We didn’t get to see His miracles. We didn’t get to see His crucifixion. And we didn’t get to see His resurrection, yet we MUST believe.

Faith is our belief in God. To believe in Him, we must believe in what He has done. Easter requires faith. We show up at Mass on Easter (and every Sunday) because our God has conquered the grave. Did we get to see it with our own eyes? No, but we believe it! Alleluia!

The Shouts

On Palm Sunday, we’re the ones that shout, “Let Him be crucified!” and we're the ones who chose Barabbas. It’s such a powerful Gospel, and it’s made even more powerful by our participation. We don’t only say this on Palm Sunday though. Whenever we sin, we shout, “Let Him be crucified.” And whenever we don’t make God and our relationship with Him our top priority, we choose Barabbas.

The punishment for sin is death, but Jesus died to save us from this punishment. His death opened up eternal life (in Heaven) for us. So without our sinfulness, His crucifixion wouldn’t have been necessary. The result of our sin is His death, which is why we shout, “Let Him be crucified.”

Despite His sacrifice, we don’t always make Mass a priority. We make Mass work around our schedule or eliminate it when “we don’t have time.” “Barabbas” translates to “Son of God,” and we have a choice: the Son of God or the “Son of God.” How often do we choose poorly?

This Holy Week, as we reflect on Christ’s crucifixion, let’s remember why He died and for whom. Because despite constantly shouting “Barabbas” and “Let Him be crucified,” He would do it all over again just for you.

The Wait

I hate waiting for things. I used to work at Disneyland, and I got used to not even having to wait in lines there (if you play your cards right, you learn how to avoid them). Now, I really hate waiting. This makes things like driving during rush hour and regular delivery (as opposed to Prime) very tedious to me.

Since my wife and I got married, we’ve been excited to have kids together. In 2016, we got pregnant twice and lost both babies at 20 weeks. Beyond the obvious pain of losing a child, pregnancy in general is struggle for me because it’s 9-month wait. It’s even more difficult when you’ve waited a combined nine months and have left the hospital empty-handed twice with the expectation of what is to come going unrealized.

However, I’ve learned that sometimes, we have to wait. God doesn’t operate on our time. In fact, He exists outside of space and time. 2016 was a struggle, and I am (im)patiently hoping and waiting for a baby in 2017. Sometimes, just like Lazarus in yesterday’s Gospel, we need to wait for God’s perfect plan to come to fruition. When we do though, it’s definitely worth the wait.

The Blindness

Whenever I go grocery shopping, I always end up buying stuff I already have at home because I didn’t see it in the pantry or the refrigerator… even though my wife told me exactly where it was. I completely missed it, even though it was right in front of me. I am going to assume you’re not blind, but I bet you know the feeling of looking for something and not finding it despite it being right in front of you.

We can be blind when it comes to the amazing things God is doing. His miracles are happening all around us, and we miss them. We get upset when He doesn’t answer our prayers the way we want and doubt His ability to perform miracles in our lives, yet that’s exactly what He’s doing. Like the blind man in the Sunday’s Gospel, sometimes we need to have our sight restored to truly see Christ working in front of us.

The Thirst

Have you ever butt-dialed someone? When you see on your phone that there’s an active conversation, you probably asked, “Hey, did you call me?” That’s kind of like prayer. We’re a little confused on who made the call (even if you don't know it). It can feel like we are the ones who wanted to speak with God and picked up that good ol’ God phone, but that’s not actually how it works.

Prayer is ALWAYS a response to God. We desire to pray because He desires to speak with us; much like in this Sunday’s Gospel. The Samaritan woman thought she was thirsty. Jesus offered her water that would make it so that she would never thirst again, and she was totally interested in that. However, it was Jesus who was thirsting. He was thirsting for her—for her salvation—just like He is thirsting for us and our salvation. You think YOU’RE thirsty? He’s way thirstier.

The Move

We ask God for a lot. Think about some of your recent prayer requests. Maybe something like: “God, I know I didn’t study for this test, but can you help me do well?” or “God, I know that girl/boy doesn’t even know I exist, but can we go to prom together?” We ask some really big things of Him, but He also asks really big things of us.

Two years ago, I was living in California. I could get to the beach in less than 10 minutes, and life was good. But God decided to ask something big of me… and not just of me, but of my new bride. Despite never having lived anywhere else, He called us to Texas. He called me to St. Monica. Even though it was scary, I said, “yes,” and we moved two months after getting married. In that moment, even though it was hard, I trusted Him. I had to. Do you?

The Battle

This Sunday’s Gospel reading was both terrifying and reassuring. It’s terrifying in the sense that Jesus too was tested just like we are. It’s reassuring in the sense that… Jesus too was tested just like we are. Confused? It’s terrifying because Satan and his minions were brazen enough to tempt God Himself, but it’s reassuring that the same God who has our backs was able to resist that temptation.

Luckily for us, Jesus has won the fight. He won it for you, for me, and for everyone else, but we have to call Him into battle for us. If we try to face this world on our own, if we try to resist temptation on our own, if we try to go head-to-head with the devil on our own… we will lose. We’re facing an enemy much stronger than ourselves. We need Jesus. Where can we find Him? In prayer, Sacred Scripture, and the Sacraments.

The Afterthought

I don’t think most of us would admit to worshipping false gods, but I do think most of us do whether we realize it or not. On Sunday, we heard Jesus say, “You cannot serve two masters.” Most of us try to serve just one (Jesus), yet we get very distracted by others. You might be thinking, “Psshhh… That’s not me!” But hear me out.

On Sundays, does your schedule work around Mass? Or does Mass work around your schedule? Are you making sacrifices in your gifts to the Church, or are you giving from your surplus? How much time do you spend on social media versus how time you spend in prayer? If God is an afterthought, there is another god ruling your life.

Most of those things aren’t inherently sinful, and don’t lead us away from God; however, they aren’t exactly leading us to Him either. This Lent, let’s work on letting God be God.

The Enemy

I don’t think I’ve ever heard of anyone leaving the Catholic Church because it was “too easy.” Being Catholic, especially in this current culture, is actually quite difficult. Jesus’ teachings get easier the more we fall in love with Him, but they are never “easy.” This is especially evident in Sunday’s Gospel.

We heard that we must not only love our neighbors, but our enemies as well. Enemies aren’t just people we feel indifferent about. They aren’t people who simply annoy us. Enemies are people who are directly opposed to us—like Batman and the Joker, Spider Man and the Green Goblin, or Jedi and Sith. Jesus doesn’t say to tolerate or just be nice to our enemies. He says to LOVE them.

This is especially sound advice given how divisive the country is politically at the moment. Love requires sacrifice. It means we must be focused on the other’s well-being. Is that how you’ve been treating the opposition?