He’ll Get the Rest

I had been worrying about the graveside service for a few days by this point. It’s part of that whole, this is so real, aspect of this whole experience of internship. Sure, I was going to walk with this family who had just lost their baby as they laid the child to rest. It doesn’t get a whole lot more real than that. So I know I need that time to myself before heading to the cemetery. I need that time before our Lord, letting Him remind me that it’s not about me, and it’s not even about what words I can speak, even if it’s all going to be in Spanish anyway. Just remind me Lord, help me get it through my head and into my heart, that it’s not about me, but simply about being there with them. They may never remember what I say, but simply that I was there and that the Church was there, that You were there.

And I’m ready, or as ready as one can be walking into these dark places with the ones we love and journey with. So I start on my way out the door… to find out that one of the priests had taken my car to go hear Confessions at the high school.

This was not the way I had wanted this morning to start out.

Well, I’ve got to get to the cemetery somehow. Thankfully someone else could loan me their car, even if my vestments were in the car that had so inconveniently, but in the end providentially, gone astray. So I grab my funeral rites book and make my way to the service. After greeting the family, never fun in times like these, yet the most important part of what I get to do, I find myself over to the grave site and pull out my book. The wrong book.

This was not the way I wanted this morning to start out.

Having run over to the offices to find no extra books, and finally biting the bullet and driving back to the parish to get the right book, I make the painfully slow journey back to the cemetery, so that I can apologize to a family that is dealing with enough as it is. Mistake after mistake and I’m left frustrated with myself, wishing I was not so flustered.

But also, thankfully, hearing the wisdom of our Pope Francis, reminding his priests that the people will forgive us our stupid, silly little mistakes, but our laziness, our refusal to love, our wickedness and selfishness, they need not endure. And my heart knows that my stupid, silly little mistakes that morning were not because of laziness or selfishness or a lack of love. That’s all they were: stupid, silly little mistakes. And I’m here to encounter those, to keep them from bringing me down, and to recognize that I’m not perfect.

But more importantly, seeing how I could deal with these mistakes, and still somehow bring the comfort that the Church wants to bring to these heartbroken parents, I’m reminded clearer than ever that it’s not about me. And that is ever so comforting. If all of this, if all this encountering Christ with one another, all this walking with another through the joys and struggles of the very real successes and pains of Christian life, all this woundedness that we’re putting ourselves through right now as a world, were about me and how I could fix it, I’d be crushed under this weight, crushed under this expectation of myself.

But we need not let this fear crush us. We are not the saviors. We make the dumbest mistakes sometimes. And the Holy Spirit will make up for these little failures of ours. What I don’t think the Holy Spirit will not do is let us be lazy, selfish, and loveless, and say to us, You’re doing just fine, I’ll get the rest. The Holy Spirit is powerful and I don’t mean to put a limit on just how powerful He is, but let’s be realistic. What the world needs now is not for us to be perfect. It needs us to be honest, authentic, and loving even until it hurts. And sometimes we mess up.

But thank God it doesn’t all depend on our being perfect. Just our being open, honest, authentic, and letting God move us and move through us. He’ll get the rest.



Just Listen To Yourself!

I am convinced that the person most affect by my preaching so far this year, the person most convicted by what I have to say, is myself. After all, before I can preach the Word to anyone else, I have to let it turn my life upside down first. If I’m honest in my preaching and do so with authenticity and just trying to be myself, it’s going to keep on affecting me well after I walk out of that church. In other words, that is, if I’m doing it right.

Listen, I’m not sharing this to boast or make myself seem great in either my preaching or my ministry. It’s actually quite humbling to admit the way God has turned my failures into something bigger than my own ego and discomforts and social awkwardness. But just the other night, I was heading down to meet up with some of my classmates for our monthly get together, to catch up with each other and let go of our parish work for an evening. I stopped to get gas on the way out of town, and a homeless guy came walking up to my car asking for anything I could give him. My usual response is a quick no, but with an apology at least. And that’s what I did.

But then, I just couldn’t get it out of my head what I’d been preaching at Mass earlier that day. Literally hours before this I had been telling hundreds of people during Mass that if we’re tired of being lonely, tired of hiding our true selves from each other, tired of putting up walls and defenses to protect ourselves from the ones we love the most, we must step out of the walls of the church and start loving those who are least among us. Heaven starts now when we step out of ourselves and love one another, but hell starts now when we keep those walls up out of fear of rejection or having to encounter someone face to face whom we normally ignore. Heaven begins here when we act like Jesus. Heaven begins now when we act like God would.

I had to actually listen to myself.

I didn’t need to do much for this man. Well, there wasn’t a whole I could do. To be clear, I’m just not used to doing this. I’ve never really liked talking to people I’m used to being around, so I needed to challenge myself here, but also to let the Holy Spirit push me forward. So we just chatted for a few minutes. His name is Richard. He’s got a story, and a life, and a name. Things I would have never known or even cared about had I not just dealt with my shyness or fear or whatever you want to call it. It’s so simple. Stop turning people into stats or titles or generalizations and we realize they have stories, lives, names.

I don’t know about you all, but I’ve given up on trying to imagine what heaven is going to look like or smell like or sound like. But I’ve never been more sure of one thing about heaven. I think about all the garbage of our lives, all the ways we hide ourselves from each other and the hurt and loneliness in our families and friendships and at school or at work. I think about how that stuff is caused by our fear and the walls we put up. It’s caused by our fear to let go of our pride when we are hurt and the walls we hide behind to act as if others are always to blame. But getting to heaven, the where and the what that we are made for, is where and when all that garbage is washed away. We will finally see each other and God for who we really are. How can any one deny that or not want that!? How can we not want heaven!?

Hell, I’m afraid, is quite the opposite. It’s when we keep ignoring the homeless at the gas stations, when we keep trying to defend our blamelessness in our families and friendships, when we refuse to put our pride and hurt on the altar at Mass, even when we fall asleep spiritually (or physically) at that same Mass and refuse to be in His presence as He calls to us to tell us, This is my Body, given up for you. Our God has humbled Himself and removed all walls and defenses to hide himself from us. Heaven is when and where we’ll be able to do the same.


Sign Up for Camp 2015!

Tis the season in which we reflect upon all the things we are thankful for. If you would like one extra thing to add to your list, sign up for our summer camp now! You won’t regret and it and trust us, God will give you many wonderful memories to be thankful for! Just check out all of the great times we’ve had in the past couple of years!

Check out our Forms Page for more information about camp and for the sign-up forms!

He Just Couldn’t Help Himself

There’s just something heart-breaking about the beauty of God. When we have this encounter with God and it is clearly the most beautiful thing we’ve ever known, it slips away and hearts yearn for it again. Or when we see someone else having this face to face encounter with Christ, and we feel nothing, and we want that. Just how beautiful God is always seems just outside of our reach. We just can’t grab a hold of it and keep it for ourselves.

But that’s the Gospel, isn’t it?

That our God is so unreachable, so far away, it seems sometimes. But he comes to us anyway. He makes himself available to us anyway. He puts His life into us anyway.

A couple of years ago, I went to Lifeteen Inspiration at Six Flags Magic Mountain as a Seminarian for the first time. I had been a bunch of times before as a teen and as a peer leader/junior core. That time though was so stunning, to be up on the altar, to see all of you teens out there, in awe of Him Who has come down to us, so humbly in the form of bread and wine.

Now, I got a chance again to join you all again this time around. It was a last minute thing, but I’m so glad I went. I was glad, because so many other Seminarians went that they didn’t need my help (not that I don’t like being up there at the altar). I was so joyful because I got to be with you all, pray with you all, sit on those uncomfortable bleachers with you all, kneel on that concrete with you all, sing Let It Go” with you all, dance to Taylor Swift with you all (ok, not really my thing).

And through it all, with you all, it really struck me: I could have been anywhere else, doing anything else. I could have been up at the altar, I could have been out on the roller coasters, or stuffing my face with funnel cake. But I wasn’t. I was there with you, not because I had no other choice, but because I just couldn’t help myself. It was just a part of who I am and what I do, and it moves me.

And if that’s true about me, simple as I am, as much as I do things just because I want to, sometimes, how much truer is that about God?

Just look at the Eucharist. It’s Jesus having given himself completely to us. There’s no other way we can receive Him more intimately, more powerfully, than for Him to put His Body and Blood into our bodies and our blood, so humbly, so intimately in the form of food and drink, bread and wine. But you know what almost drove me to tears preaching about this this morning?

He didn’t need to do it.

It’s not like He had no other choice.

He just couldn’t help Himself.

He could have ignored us. He could have passed us by and forgotten about us.

But He just couldn’t help himself. Our God is love. And because He is love, it’s just who He is. It overflows out of Him and into our hands and into our mouths and into our bodies at every Mass. Oh! If we could only learn from this self-giving love and see that that is what he wants us to do too! We have every choice in the world to not love those around us, to ignore those who need our love the most, to refuse the love of our parents and our family members and our friends.

But if we pay attention, if we really keep our eyes on Jesus in the Eucharist, we’d realize that if we loved like He does, we just wouldn’t be able to help ourselves. We would love. We would be just like God.


Know I Think I Get It

Don’t stop praying for our priests.

They’re fighting a battle we barely know the half of. Because, until we walk alongside our priests as they visit the sick and dying, until we understand that they go where no one else wants to, we’re only seeing the tiniest part of their lives. We see them up on the altar, offering the Sacrifice of the Mass and we see them in the Confessionals (and at that, only for our short part of the many hours they spend there). Their Sacrifice and the Confessions they hear in the Church are only the beginning, from our perspective. It reaches far deeper into their lives.

I was following my pastor around for some sick calls to the hospital. We went off for a visit to a 17 year old boy in hospice at his mom’s home. He’s dying of cancer. He’s nothing but skin and bones. His mom is understandably having a very difficult time. I won’t say much more than that, so as to not over step their privacy. But please, please pray for them! So when we walked into the home, I was not expecting to experience as much as I did. Just all of hit me, knowing there was nothing we could do but to be there for them. I will never forget the way that Father sat with that boy on the bed and put his hand on his head during the anointing. It was so real. He couldn’t do anything more, but he did it all.

It was really powerful for me to see, but in a way, I had to move on quickly, as there was more to do at the parish before I could really process it all. I left for home that night for my day off and when I finally pulled up at my parent’s house, a realization dawned on me:

I’ve never really known what it means to be a priest until today.

The way a priest gives of himself to walk into those places and those times. The sacrifice that he makes to be there for those who feel so damn lonely. It breaks my heart, but in some mysterious way, I rejoice in the way God calls us to that.

And you know what? This has me convinced of one more thing. Our priests, and ultimately our Church, all of us, go into those places that the world is afraid of. There are so many voices out there trying to convince us that the Church needs to come up to date, to catch up with the times and change some of its “old ways.” While, yes, we need to keep finding new ways to express our love of God and, more importantly, God’s love for us, we cannot simply become a part of this world and “get with the times.” The world thinks we as a Church are out of touch, but the truth is, we are more in touch with the world, with a deeper, truer, more beautiful understanding of the world and what life means than they could ever imagine. And that scares them. We not only are in touch with the world, we as a Church, and our priests especially, are in touch with the deepest pains and joys and longings and loneliness that the world has ever known.

So don’t tell me that we as a Church are out of touch with the world. We’re so in touch, it scares the world to face the truth and the beauty and the goodness that God has secretly planted in our hearts to fight the pain and suffering all around us.


A Churning of the Gut

Just last night, as I was easing my way into my day-off today, I had the chance to meet with the parents of an elementary school down here in Los Angeles. I was sharing with them my experience of faith in the family. Really a striking thing for me to reflect on as our Bishops our gather in Rome to really tackle the problems of evangelization and open up to the Holy Spirit’s movements in the immense beauty of the family in God’s plan. I was drawn to the promise and the covenant that God made with Abraham that his decedents would be filled with faith as the sky is just covered in stars, as one can see it in the desert away form the city (Genesis 15) and how Abraham was faced with the gravest encounter a parent could face: what do I trust and long for more, my God’s promise to me or my own child? Only to realize that they are mysteriously one and the same.

The challenges of this promise from God, lived out so imperfectly by us, not just as biological parents, but as spiritual parents, sharing the faith, planting the seeds of faith in others, led me then to walk with these elementary school parents through the story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15).

That’s when things started getting serious and real for me.

I came across the way that the Father’s reaction is described. Go read it! It said he “was filled with compassion.” And it struck me that that word, compassion, is so weak! Here’s a Father whose been rejected and doubted and pretty much told by his son that he would be better off if he were dead. Still, this Father sees his son crawling back to him, and before he can even cross the property line, the Father embarrasses himself and runs out to him, out of compassion. Well, the actual word used in the original language means a compassion that one feels in the gut. A churning of the gut, something that makes us hurt because we love so much, something that make us almost ill because our love for someone is so real and so tangible, that when we see them in pain and we want them to know they are loved and not forgotten, that we physically feel it and it almost doubles us over. That kind of compassion.

That’s what our God feels. That kind of compassion. When we run away from him. That’s how he looks at us. That’s how he welcomes us back. Not like, I told you so, but with that gut-churning love, that deeply felt pain, knowing that we have been in pain and lonely and unfulfilled.

I got a glimpse of this, I think, in real life, just the other day. Or rather, I should say, I think I felt this. I didn’t plan on sharing this with the parents last night, but I was just so struck as I was reading this story I’ve read so many times by that word, weak as it is in our language: compassion. So I couldn’t help but to share briefly that I’d been following one of our priests around on sick calls to the hospital. We came into a room where a lady had just been diagnosed with a scary disease. I left the room as she was able to go to Reconciliation with Father, but I still got to hear part of her story. I felt that churning in my gut as she described what I won’t go into detail about. About that struggles with her family. And I was just struck by the way sin creeps into our communities, especially our families, and even into our own lives, and tries to tear things apart. It’s not like this was happening to her because of something she did wrong, as if God was punishing her like a petty, vengeful judge.

No, this was our human condition, our struggle with sin, being made real and terrible, and it disgusted me. I was not disgusted by her, by no means! I was saddened by how such a beautiful life could be so hurt by the loneliness and division caused by sin. And so the greater healing she needed was not physical healing, though that is one thing we prayed over her for. Yet, it was the healing of her heart and her family that was most important. That compassion the priest must have for his people can sometimes be a physical, gut-churning hatred for sin. But, so beautifully, that anger and frustration with sin, that we all must feel, especially for our own sin, can lead to a deeper care and love for those we see around us and those we encounter face to face. Then, compassion, in our families and in our friendships, and for those we’ve never met before, becomes more than a fleeting feeling, but something that digs its way into our very being.  That kind of compassion. God’s kind of compassion.


Were Not Our Hearts Burning Within Us?

Quite possibly the best moment I’ve ever had in a classroom happened just the other day out here at Sacred Heart. I had just come over to hang out with the 6th grade for maybe 20 or 30 minutes. They love it when the Pastoral Intern Seminarian comes over. Maybe just because it interrupts class for a little bit, but probably because the guys that have gone before me have done such a great job with them too. So there I was, wanting to chat with them a little bit about what we heard at Mass the Sunday before. Knowing that they were studying the Old Testament, many of them maybe for the first time, I had to ask them: So what did you think about when you heard that God sent a bunch of snakes to bite his people? (One of the oh so confusing and painful stories from the OT, found in Numbers 21 and leading up the glorious John 3:16 and ‘For God so loved the world…’ that we heard for the Exaltation of the Cross). But somehow this 20 or 30 minutes got out of hand I was joyed to just pour over the Bible with these kids for more than an hour and a half, question after question.

But right in the middle of it all, right in the middle of talking about the way our God comes running after us, and that even though we suffer in this world, and it may even seem that God is causing our pain, but that he has carved our names on his hand and he gives us our names and makes us who we are because of his desperate love for us (ok, take a breath!), we got to the story of Moses and the Burning Bush and the way that God does not receive his name from us but he gives it to us himself, and we can call on him but not control him, and we can know that we know his name and he knows us! Right in the middle of that, I’m practically leaning over the podium, trying to get across to them how scary and surprising an encounter with God like that can be, but how powerful and life changing and beautiful it can be, I said, “Sometimes these stories from the Old Testament are just so SCARY!” And at that very moment, with the Burning Bush and the fire of God’s love on our hearts…

…the fire alarm goes off!

The kids leaped from their seats, terror on their faces, excited yelps from their mouths. And I’m wondering, jeez, what did I say!? Well, if that’s not the most perfectly time fire drill I’ve ever been a part of, I don’t know how to make it any better.

After we got out some nervous laughter and found our way out to the school yard, well-drilled and ready to get back into the Bible, we came back to the class room and chatted a bit more about the Old Testament and God’s relentless love in the face of a sometimes scary and mean world. From there we looked at Adam and Eve and how we humans are the pinnacle of creation, loved into being and sustained by God’s desire that we know him and live with him forever, written on our hearts from the very beginning of creation.

And I just threw so much information at them, that I was afraid when I left that there’s no way they would remember anything because there was just way too much! But in my heart I am sure of something else: if they don’t remember ever little thing I shared with them, I would hope they remember that moment that God made so exciting. I would hope they remember just how excitable and geeked-out I can get about the wonders of the word of God and how enthusiastic I  was about the way God has been chasing us down throughout history and through Scripture and beyond into our daily lives.

So I learned a lot about Scripture and evangelization myself that day: One of the most important ways we can move lives is not simply by sharing the information, but by sharing the Incarnation. We’re not just all about making sure these kids pass the tests, but making sure they know this stuff has and still is changing our lives. We cannot afford to read the Bible just to impress others with our trivia and book smarts. We will only be able to change lives and get other to read the Bible and fall in love with God’s word, and fall in love ourselves, if we share the excitement, if we make sure others know Jesus has turned our lives upside down, and we would have it no other way.

-Tim (ST)

Even the Most Fleeting of Blessings

Has your heart ever felt like breaking after seeing something so beautiful? Have you ever seen something and said to yourself, This is almost too beautiful, it can’t be true, it must be little more than a tease? We can find ourselves in these moments, knowing that they cannot last forever, almost becoming bitter over the fact that even this beauty too shall pass. Hey, I’m ok with the tough moments, the challenges, the temptations passing on. Yes, Lord, let those pass. But then our hearts can almost want to leap out of our chests when we come across the Beautiful, knowing that, yes, unfortunately, even this too shall pass.

But there is a great joy in this too, is there not? After all, the giants of our faith who have gone before us have been attuned to this, have felt this same anguish. C.S. Lewis, I think it was,  exclaimed that the very fact that our hearts yearn for more than this world can offer means that we have been loved into being for something more than what we see. St. Augustine whispers to our same stretched hearts that we have been made for God, and those hearts are restless until they rest in God. St. John Paul II, with the weight of the Church’s desire for our happiness and fulfillment behind his words, spoke of how it is the face of Christ we seek in whatever we desire. When we seek the Beautiful, the Good, and the True, God has put into our hearts a need for him, and when we realize that, all others things can, in a way, break our hearts.

As long as we hold onto this desire for God, or at the very least, a desire to desire God, nothing will come from our hearts but thankfulness. But there is a temptation here. A very dangerous temptation.

Just this last week, I found myself on a spur of the moment jaunt up to Santa Barbara for my day off. Coming from the desert, the mountains that spill into the sea were more than a welcome feeling under my feet. Lunch on the pier catching up with good friends within sight of one of California’s legendary surf spots was refreshing enough to make me feel just fine not having actually surfed it (the me of 6 years ago would have baulked at that sentiment). But as I was walking down that pier, transfixed by the harbor and the mountains and the stretching sands of the beach, boy, that temptation against being thankful started to creep in.

I wanted this. I wanted to stay. But I wanted to leave. I kept thinking, it was a bad idea to come here, to take this all in, knowing that I just have to leave in a few hours anyway. It was almost too beautiful, to refreshing. And I couldn’t grasp it, hold onto it, possess it, make it my own. My selfishness, my desire to choose just where I wanted to be, my unwillingness to be thankful for such a short-lived gift, tried to creep in and ruin the day.

But it would not last, thanks be to God. The constant reminder that “everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected when received with thanksgiving” (1 Timothy 4:4), fought that quick feeling of despair. How sad that would have been! To come away to a most beautiful place like Santa Barbara, only to be ungrateful because I could not control it, because it was to be fleeting as well.

We can’t let this happen in our lives, in our friendships, in our ministries, in our relationships with our families and with God. The devil wants to blind us to the gifts we are receiving, to feel like they are not good enough, that others are receiving more without deserving it, to feel like God is playing a cruel joke by blessing us one day and cursing us the next. Do not listen to these lies! Our God is not a fickle God who messes with us by granting us our hearts’ desires one day, and then, waking up on the wrong side of bed the next, steals away all our joy just for the fun of it. Our God is a God who does not play games, but One whose love has come before us and will last into eternity. It is up to our hearts, which desire more than this world can give, to discern, to seek that love even in the most fleeting of blessings.


Called By Name (Whether It’s Actually My Name Or Not)

Well, that’s one week down. I think I’ve got about another 40 to go, or something like that. While I miss having the chance to run up to Santa Barbara to be with you all, I hope you can rejoice with me that I have found a very welcoming home out here in the desert at Sacred Heart. It saddens me that I have this new disconnect between us. But take heart that we can be even more deeply connected through our prayers. But this is nothing like a farewell, by any means. Simply a moving forward, another step closer to trying to figure out where God is drawing me, and all of us really.

With all this in mind, I can’t but help to share some of my hopes and fears and joys and struggles that God is so kindly, and thankfully so gently, showing me since I’ve been here. And so why not start off with one of the silliest, smallest ones, because, after all, sometimes that is where God can speak the loudest.

You see, I’m the eighth in a growing line of seminarians that have come through Sacred Heart over the last eight years. It’s a joy for me to hear their stories, and the ways that the parishioners here have fallen in love with them and helped them grow closer to becoming priests. The funniest part of it all is when people begin accidentally calling me by the names of these other seminarians. One of my friends in the front office actually makes fun of me by doing this on purpose. See, not a big deal at all. But somehow God is trying to open my eyes and ears to something bigger here.

It’s bringing up in my prayer a lot of the feelings and temptations to compare myself with those who’ve gone before me. I begin to think, well, am I as good a preacher as he is? Or better? Will I be better with the youth or young adults? Will I impress them? Will I let them down? Rather than recognizing that I bring in a wealth of my own gifts and talents, I have a tendency to really compare myself to the others. And this can get in the way of my ministry, which is a scary thing for me.

God speaks to our hearts in Scripture about our own gifts and talents and the ways that he is uniquely calling all of us to use what he has given us. For one, there’s Isaiah 43:1 which tells us that, “I have called you by name, and you are mine.” Likewise, Isaiah 49:16 reminds us that, “See, upon the palms of your hands I have engraved you.” Aside from these two passages having the not so subtle references to one’s name being called and remembered and loved, they dwell on the uniqueness and singleminded devotion of God to a single people, Israel, in order to bring the whole world to himself. There were greater, stronger, kinder, more faithful people than the Israelites, but God called them, loved them, fought for them, was faithful to them, and they bore fruit at times and fell apart at others.

But I have no doubt that God has placed me in a parish where I can just be who I am, and find joy in sharing that with others. Still, God’s faithfulness is found in verses like these, and to me this means that he still reaches out individually to each one of us and to every soul, putting in our hearts the desire to be unique, to use our gifts for the good of others, and, even though we may find ourselves jealous or burdened by expectations, he means for us to exalt in being ourselves and serving his people.

The expectations I’ve placed on myself here at Sacred Heart, simply because I have seen how much others have loved those who have gone before me, walks a delicate and fine line between being envious of the success of others and finding joy that other men have grown into amazing priests during their time here. What a joy it is to face this delicate balance head on and recognize that sin lies in and tempts toward the former, while grace, and our faithfulness and docility to it, lie in rejoicing in the joy and success of those who have gone before us. This year at Sacred Heart can easily be scarred by my desire to be better than others and my own competitiveness. On the other hand, and if I just let God take a little more control this should be the case, my future ministry will be something that is built upon the foundation of Jesus Christ and built up slowly by others (as in 1 Cor. 3:10-17). We all just happen to find ourselves in a beautiful place to add to that project somehow, with the unique gifts and talents we have been blessed with.


The Promise Alone Is Worth It


    What are we most thankful for? It’s easy to be thankful to God when he has clearly answered our prayers. There’s no feeling quite like praising God in the best of times. But what about that times where we’re desperate for an answer, really crying out that we’d rather be somewhere else, that God would break right into our lives and tell the suffering we’re fighting through that enough is enough; there is no room for despair in this house! What about in those times? Do we give thanks for the struggle? Do we give thanks for the fact that God has made the promise that he will never abandon us, that he will never leave us orphaned and without his sometimes tender and sometimes earth shatteringly powerful help? Do we rejoice only when the promise seems fulfilled?

    Or do we give thanks that the promise has been made in the first place?

    It struck me today, my last day of this summer Spanish immersion adventure here in Mexico, that I’ve been having trouble giving thanks, really, joyfully giving thanks to God while I’ve been down here. Yes, I’ve been so thankful for little things here and there; great big astoundingly beautiful churches and much needed catch-up conversations with dear friends and much-missed family.

    But honestly, I’ve been holding back.

    I’ve been waiting until I get home to be truly thankful. Like, well God, you got me through that, so now I’m ready to give you thanks. I just felt him tugging at my heart today, wondering why I’ve been waiting. Why have I been waiting until I’m sure the promise is fulfilled before I am truly, fully thankful? Am I lacking in trust? Do I need to control this relationship between me and God? Why isn’t the promise enough?

    Let’s wake up and realize how amazing it is that our God makes promises to us, that he welcomes us into his very life and has been telling us our whole lives that he will not abandon us. He’ll even hang on that cross right there with us! Our God is not like those pagan impersonators that were the Roman and Greek gods, making promises and breaking promises and bored out of there minds with humans and with each other. And better yet, our God is far from that watchmaker God of the deists and new agers: some magical force that has no personal relationship with us; who just set the watch and lets it tick itself to eternity. 

    Nope, the fact that our God makes promises should pretty much be enough for us to give thanks. We have to admit that at times these promises may not turn out quite to our own plans. But can we ignore that the promises are made, that our God wants to enter into an intimate encounter of trust with us? And this feast of the Assumption is a perfect reminder that our God desires to give us everything that he is. He has made our Blessed Mother into that promise. We look to her, and we see who we are to God and who he promises that we will be. Her life was filled with sorrows, but her life now is nothing but that promise. That promise of God sharing everything he has with us. Mary is that promise to us!

    And no matter where we are or how much we don’t want to be there, that’s a promise we can be thankful for.