Seeing in a New Light

David_Thomas.jpgThe Nazareth Page - A gospel thought for the home
August 6, 2017 – Transfiguration of the Lord -- Matt. 17:1-9

By Dr. David M. Thomas 

From time to time, CFM's blog will share Gospel reflections by veteran family life minister, David Thomas

What do you see when you look up into a clear night sky? Maybe the moon, if it’s “out” that night. Maybe a smattering of stars. If you have learned a little about constellations, you might be able to recognize the Big Dipper or Orion the Hunter. During these summer months, if you live far enough away from the city lights, you can see right overhead the Milky Way (the center of our galaxy) spreading across the sky with its thousands upon thousands of stars. Or, as sometimes is the case, you might not notice any of this!

In so many ways, the act of seeing is far from simple. And appreciating what we might see is even more complex. Think of the members of your family. How deeply do you see them, appreciate them, even know them? The same can be said about friends and neighbors. Relationships of any kind can be like the icebergs that we are reading about as our planet warms. What floats above the surface of the ocean is only one-tenth of its true size and magnitude. Most is hidden unless you really look at it. And once you do, you will see more. Might this also apply to how we see others in our lives? Or even ourselves?

Today, we again are presented with that amazing moment when three of the closest disciples of Jesus saw him in a new way. It’s called the transfiguration, meaning that the one that they were accustomed to seeing one way suddenly appeared in a new way. He changed before their very eyes.

But was he a different person than the one with whom they climbed that mountain? Surely not. So, did Jesus really change? In a sense, he didn’t. But how they saw him did change. They saw him as one who related to their religious history. They saw him as one loved by God. And seeing him in those ways changed what they saw.

The transfiguration, I believe, is not a totally exceptional experience for the disciples. The point that is quite clearly made in the story is that having seen Jesus in a transformed state, he then returned to looking as he had before. But what did the disciples then see in him? That he was someone quite remarkable, one very close to God.

Now, look in the mirror. Who do you see? Do you see someone deeply loved by God? Do you see someone that God thinks about and cares for day after day? Do you see someone who has an important role to play in God’s hope and dream in human history? If you answer “no,” then look again.

David Thomas, PhD

Hold that hoe

Seedlings.jpgAt Home with Our Faith

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Matthew 13: 24-43

In the Gospel parable, weeds grow among the wheat, and the wise gardener lets them be. Pulling them out abruptly will do more harm than good. We are like the gardener when we have patience with others. If we accept each son or daughter, each new in-law and out-law as he or she is, we may be surprised how they bless us. In our workplace or parish community also, we are called to tenderly care for every member without prejudice.


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Waste not, want not

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Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Matthew 13:1-9

In the parable of the sower, Jesus tells of seed strewn over the ground without concern for where it will land. The sower is wasting his time and money but seems completely unconcerned. He is confident of a rich harvest in the end.

Loving someone can seem like a waste of time, but this Gospel story teaches us otherwise.

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Humble Beginning

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Matthew 11:25-30

"Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart." Jesus urges us to have an attitude of humility. What does that mean for you?  

St. Theresa of Lisieux tells of a sister in her convent who challenged her ability to remain meek, “who managed to irritate me whatever she did or said.” “As I did not want to give way to my natural dislike for her, I told myself that charity should not only be a matter of feeling but should show itself in deeds, “ Theresa noted. “So I set myself to do for this sister just what I should have done for someone I loved most dearly. …I tried to do as many things for her as I could and whenever I was tempted to speak unpleasantly to her, I made myself give her a pleasant smile.” But Therese admitted that when she couldn’t muster up a big smile, she would slip away quickly, fleeing “like a soldier deserting a battlefield.” 

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Being litte

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Matthew 10:37-42

Jesus assures us, "If you give one of these little ones a cup of water because that one is a disciple, you has be rewarded." Who are the little ones among us in our parishes? Kids come to mind first. Think of the scene in church on Sunday and think of some of our little ones: Toddlers squirming out of Dad's arms, infants snoozing blissfully, infants wailing, preteens with slick hair from the last minute shower. How are we welcoming them? How accepting are we? Yet, aren't we all little in some way?

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Attention to Detail

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Matthew 10:26-33

How do you imagine God? Is God the CEO of earth, grand and only concerned with the Big Issues of life, like birth, death, and taxes? Even though we profess to be Jesus' disciples, we sometimes act like we are on our own to muddle through life. We think we can get by with extra careful planning, or by working harder, or just by luck, without getting God involved. Do we think that God doesn't deal with the small stuff? This Sunday's gospel urges us to believe otherwise.

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Next Communion


At Home with Our Faith

Solemnity of the Body and Blood of the Lord - John 6:51-58

During the Easter Season, we witnessed the First Communions of many of our little ones. Memories of our own First Communion came back, a jumble of images and emotions. Though we may only remember who sat beside us or how tight our new shoes were, we know it was an important day. Many more Communions later, what does the Eucharist mean to you? Whether we have been coming to the Lord's table for a few weeks or for decades, Eucharist has affected us, whether we are aware of it or not. What are the effects?

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Saved for Greatness

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John 3:16-18

Who is God? What is God like? Ever since God first spoke to Abraham and Moses, people had part of the answer to those questions. The Hebrew Scriptures revealed how "other" than us God is. God is Lord of us, and we are not masters even of our own passions. The Psalms tell us that God is "merciful and gracious," and we must admit that we are usually neither. God is "slow to anger, full of love, and faithful." Tune into any family gathering, office conversation, or soap opera to measure human behavior! It's easy to lose faith in people when they have demonstrated how unlike God we can be. God is great, but where does that leave us? That is why the Gospel we see in the New Testament is such good news. God had more to say--and his Word became flesh.

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Isolation Is Not an Option

Deacon Jim Miles, CFM in Ann Arbor, MI, writes:miles.jpg

There have been several books published recently lamenting the erosion of social values in the United States, and suggesting strategies for dealing with the challenges facing Christians in what is now called a post-Christian era. This designation is applied primarily to the developed western countries (US, Europe, and the UK), however, given that much of the support given to evangelization in the developing countries is coming from these more prosperous historical bastions of Christianity, and the aggressive efforts of various Muslim sects, Africa and Asia may soon feel the tide turning as well.

One of these books is The Benedict Option by Rod Dreher. Rod, according to what I have learned, started out Methodist, converted to Roman Catholicism, and then moved to one of the Eastern Rite Churches. He is a “Conservative” and based upon what I have read of his book an idealist who feels that our society is on a path he likens to the fall of the Roman Empire. He proposes a solution in his book loosely based on the Rule of St. Benedict.

When we get past all of the rhetoric that paints his bleak picture of our society and political system, a picture I don’t necessarily disagree with, his advice to Christians is to become somewhat isolationistic. Pull back behind virtual monastic walls, forming like-minded small communities that provide mutual support and mutual accountability, insuring that classic Christian values are not eroded within those walls.

What Rod Dreher describes is really just the age-old Christian paradox which says we must stay apart from the world but reach out to it, bringing the Good News to those who need it. There are many ways to live out this paradoxical instruction and Rod Dreher has landed upon the monastic option and tried to apply it to modern living. I believe the process he recommends reflects his own spiritual journey, from protestant to pre-reformation, to pre-Constantine schism. He may eventually arrive at the early Christian communal model.

The Christian Family Movement (CFM) has developed its own response to the eroding secular value system. 

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Fear not!

Depositphotos_58183713_m-2015.jpgAt Home with Our Faith
Pentecost Sunday – John 20:19-23

The Risen Jesus announces himself with the same message that angels proclaimed to the shepherds at the beginning of his life, “Do not be afraid!” The essence of the Gospel message can be condensed to that phrase. Jesus brings with him Peace. Jesus comes into the world to dispel fear and death by his very presence among us. Because he lives, we are freed from death. Considering the daily news, we dearly need to recognize the living Lord. He calls the disciples, and us today in our families and at work, to live like we know this is true.

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