Blest to be poor in spirit

The first Beatitude: “Blest are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3) is one that I found troublesome to understand. But when I heard Bishop Barron explain the ‘poor in spirit’ as those who are not addicted to good feelings, it made much more sense. Our society seems to expect us to always be happy and if we’re not, we feel that something is wrong and needs to be fixed.

I had several days recently that were rather trying; nothing horrible, I was just perceiving everything as requiring a Herculean effort. Why did even the simplest of tasks seem so difficult? I kept praying and asking for help, yet it seemed as if I was moving through semi-solidified gelatin. With the expectation of needing to put on a good face, or be required to answer probing questions of what’s wrong, my mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual energies were depleted by the end of the day. Instead of having a good night’s sleep, my sleep pattern was interrupted, resulting in the next day my waking up tired or cranky, or both. I started to think, “What’s wrong with me? Why is this happening?” The expectations I had for myself were not being fulfilled, and I felt like I was doing everything wrong. I was still praying, yet the words seemed hollow.

While I felt like I needed to put it in God’s hands, what exactly was I putting in His hands? What kind of intercessory prayer should I be praying? Because I felt like I was making poor choices, how could I ask God to fix something that I was responsible for? That was not fair to God. But that is a very human way of looking at life. God wants everything: our good and our less than stellar selves. The days were a hard slog to get through, and it was very difficult not to dig myself further into darkness by casting poor judgements upon myself. Then while at Mass, poor in spirit kept coming into my head and I realized what I was going through was an exercise to strengthen me for when I’m not my happy, smiling self. 

Everyone has times when not for any particular reason, they’re just not happy. It doesn’t mean anything is wrong or needs to be changed, but rather to stay the course and take things slow. It may mean that you need to go half-speed, and that’s okay. Some chores may only be half-done or not completed at all, and that’s okay. You may feel that you are lazy and making bad decisions, and saying prayers without meaning them, but it’s important to keep trying and to continue to ask God for support. These types of days don’t last forever and they are helpful in strengthening our compassion for others. While you may not feel very blessed as you journey through those cloud-filled days, the sun is still shining on the other side of the clouds and eventually the clouds will break. No matter how far away God seems to us, He is always walking the way right beside us.

When we allow ourselves to experience a full range of feelings throughout our human lives, and allow God to guide us through each, our lives are truly blessed. We can appreciate the happiness and joy of life because we experience even the days that are a struggle. Our lives are not summed up into one day or the feelings we had on any particular day. And we may never fully know or understand what God can do as we allow Him and His will be done, as we muddle our way through those dismal days. But  perhaps when we look back on our lives at the end, we may see the exquisite masterpiece God has painted, using the shadowed-times to punctuate the times of vibrance and full-color. 

The fisherman and the sheep

In the long version of next Sunday’s gospel reading from John (21:1-19), Jesus asks Peter three questions and after each gives him a directive related to the care of the sheep. It makes me wonder, what does a fisherman know about tending sheep?

In our modern eyes, the directions Jesus gives to Peter about feeding the lambs and sheep and tending them is about the Church. After 2,000 years, that makes sense. But what did Peter think of it all? He’s not recorded asking what sheep or where they were located. Most emphasis, including in the reading itself, is focused on the question that Jesus asks: “Do you love me?” Peter is distressed that Jesus keeps asking him the same question over and over again. Peter has seen Jesus work many miracles, and miraculously rise from the dead. Peter has proclaimed Jesus as the long awaited Messiah, the Christ, the Anointed one. He’s observed Jesus responding to the Pharisees when they haven’t even muttered a word, reading their thoughts and hearts in His address. How can Jesus, who seems to know all, not know that Peter loves him? I can see how distressing this would be.

Jesus once told Peter he would make him a fisher of men, yet now it seems He is making Peter into a shepherd. What, or who, did Peter think Jesus was referring to when he gave him the instructions to feed and tend the lambs and the sheep? Did Peter think of the sheep as the other disciples? It can be easy for modern day readers of the scriptures to think that what is recorded is the only dialog that ever happened. Perhaps there were other conversations Jesus had with Peter that allowed him to understand the references Jesus made. While the whole concept of a new religion, a new Church, may not have been the detailed instructions Jesus provided, He may have indicated that Peter was to “tend” to those who wanted to follow the way that Jesus had taught and exemplified.

I think of a fisherman as one who entices with bait and then takes the result from the water with the intention of the fish being consumed. A shepherd is quite the opposite, he does not entice with bait, but rather leads the sheep into pastures where they can graze, keeping an eye out for the dangers of weather, predators, and strays. The Church and the popes throughout the centuries have been shepherding God’s people, leading us to a relationship with Jesus and encouraging us to live a life centered on Sacraments and the Beatitudes. The letters and encyclicals of the popes have warned us of potential dangers in society and advised the flock of how to live a Christ-centered life within the culture of their time. 

I’ve read that the three “do you love Me?” questions were meant to correct the three times Peter denied Jesus prior to the crucifixion. Yet after each question and answer, Jesus gives Peter an instruction. Perhaps Jesus asks Peter about the strength of his love for Him because it’s not enough to just say we love someone, but true love is demonstrated by action. Jesus giving Peter a command after asking about Peter’s love for Him are entwined; you can’t have one without the other. 

We, too, are called to show our love for God through our loving interactions with all  those we encounter: family, friends, and individuals whom we may not know but come into contact. We are called to feed the lambs and sheep of Jesus’ flock by sharing the love He has given us with others. Let us keep alert to the opportunities Jesus is asking us if we love Him in the challenging opportunities in our daily lives. 

Peter represents the Church

Happy Easter! While Jesus is the main focus of the Easter liturgies, I was surprised to notice how much Peter is mentioned. I have attended these liturgies for several decades, yet this year it was almost like a spotlight was on Peter and his participation in the events.

During the Gospel for Holy Thursday, I must admit that I was amused at Peter’s response to Jesus about washing his feet. It really sounded like something I would say, going from one extreme (of not being washed) to the other (of washing more than just the feet). I think it’s a very human trait to see things as “all or nothing.” Yet God goes beyond our human thinking to what really matters. Anyone who has visited Israel knows that even in today’s modern age with motorized transportation, our feet seem to be magnets for the dust of the area. Yet after a long, tiring day of travel, if one just washes their feet, one feels like a whole new person who can travel for another eight hours. In ancient times the task of washing another’s feet fell to the lowest class of people: the servants and slaves. Even after spending three years with Jesus, Peter still didn’t understand that Jesus was teaching by example: those who want to follow Jesus must become servants to others.

Peter’s declaration to never abandon Jesus is the next example of how Peter’s responses are very much like the humanity of the Church. From the top all the way down to the laity, the Church is made of imperfect people trying their best to have a relationship with God and do His will in their earthly life. Sometimes we do well, but more often than we care to admit, we stumble and fall. Peter does try to follow Jesus, even if it is under a guise of blending in with the crowd. Perhaps Peter had to go through this experience in order to be bold enough to proclaim Jesus after the resurrection. While it is unfortunate that Peter’s betrayal kept him from following Jesus to the crucifixion, he is the only other Apostle besides John that the Gospels indicate followed Jesus after his arrest. 

Peter’s response to the women’s strange story illustrates the bond he had with Jesus. How many of us, after denying knowing a friend who has been unjustly arrested and killed, would run to their tomb after hearing that the person has been raised from the dead? Wouldn’t we rather hide from that person? But Peter took action: he ran to the tomb. He may not have understood what he saw, but he did go in search of Jesus. Despite our imperfections and failings, this is what the Church is all about: to take action by seeking Jesus first, putting all our energies and effort into the search. We, like Peter, may not fully understand what when faced with our own versions of the burial cloths at the empty tomb, but we, like Peter, know things are different and will never be the same. We are changed by our relationship with Jesus.

Though we ask for more than we need and are likely to stumble and fall, if we continue to seek God, He will give us what we need, when we need it and is ready for us in His merciful love. Jesus continues to teach by example by illustrating who we are called to be through Peter’s representation during the most sacred liturgies of the year. 

Prove it

During the reading of Luke’s Passion Gospel on Sunday, I read Herod’s part with new eyes. “Herod was very glad to see Jesus; he had been wanting to see him for a long time, for he had heard about him and had been hoping to see him perform some sign.” (Lk 23:8) I wonder how much “Herod” we each have within us?

Herod was glad to see Jesus? That seems rather odd. In the context of Pilate sending Jesus to Herod to make a decision about Jesus’ life, Herod’s reaction seems more cartoonish in nature. My mind conjures up a grown man bouncing up and down on his throne and clapping his hands in delight at the potential of seeing some wonderful event before his eyes. Yet, this should exactly be our response to Jesus; with joy and gladness, we welcome His presence into our daily life. Our reaction, however, should not be conditional on anything Jesus does for us, but rather the sheer act of Jesus being God should alone account for the celebratory nature in the response. For some, welcoming Jesus joyfully is easy to do when things are going well. For others, even when there are abundant blessings, welcoming the Divine with gladness seems not to be a natural reaction, but a difficult choice requiring much effort. 

Herod had been waiting to see Jesus for a long time. Why wait? Why didn’t King Herod send his men to bring Jesus before him? If Herod really wanted to see Jesus, he didn’t have to wait on the obscure chance that Pilate would send Jesus his way to decide His fate. Herod could have created the opportunity to meet Jesus if he really wanted to see him. Perhaps all the stories he heard about Jesus may have been too much for Herod to believe, and because of the doubt, it didn’t warrant the investment in time or resources to meet with Jesus. How many of us want a relationship with God, or a closer relationship with God, but end up further away because of all the necessary “things” we need to do in life. This is one of the great advantages of Lent: it gives us the opportunity to engage more in our spiritual life with a set amount of space and time. 

Herod hoped to see Jesus perform some sign. How many times do we ask God for a sign and then feel disappointed when it doesn’t happen? To me, it seems like when I approach life looking for signs or divine influence, I’m much more able to see them, than if I ask specifically for a particular occurrence. Is it because I’m looking for a sign to see that what I want is what God wills? How much God blesses us when we, in faith, trust in His providence? Rather than asking Him for signs to believe in Him, we believe in Him and see the signs around us. For others, a sign is a requirement before belief; perhaps even if they see the sign, they explain it away, rather than opening up to truly welcome God into their life. 

Herod was looking for Jesus to prove who He was and His importance. While Herod was initially glad to see Jesus, because Jesus did not meet his expectations, Herod dismissed him. How often do we dismiss Jesus because He hasn’t met up with our expectations? Is it truly fair for us to put expectations on any person — Jesus, our family members, our friends, our coworkers, really anyone? Is it any wonder that Jesus does not respond to Herod at all? Jesus is not a magician to put on a show for others, rather He is a healer looking for those with faith to respond to Him. It is when we acknowledge our frailty and need of Him, opening ourselves up to whatever God wills, that we can be healed, changed, and transformed. 

But she stayed

The Gospel from last Sunday (Jn 8:1-11) about the woman caught in adultery has haunted me for the past few days. While there are many pieces to ponder and various levels of spirituality one can glean from it, I keep tripping up over one very obvious yet very subtle fact: the woman stayed standing in front of Jesus.

Most times in the Gospel readings there are minute details that a person can read through and totally not catch the depth of the meaning. But sometimes they can be frustratingly lacking in detail. We do not know the woman’s name or the circumstances of how she was caught in the trap of the Pharisees. Was she set up? Did she agree to be part of the plan? Did she make a habit of committing adultery, or was this the first time? Who was her husband? Was he in on the plan? John did not include any of these details in the account, perhaps out of mercy to her, so that we can’t invoke her name or her situation. 

One by one her accusers walk away and she is standing alone before Jesus. Could she read? Did she know what He was writing on the ground? Did she even know who Jesus was? Yet she stood there until He addressed her. Her response is just two short words acknowledging that no one had condemned her. She neither pleaded her innocence nor her guilt. Perhaps she was curious as to what Jesus would say, now that she survived the mob of vengeance. While it’s beautiful to hear Jesus saying He doesn’t condemn her either, He does give her a directive not to sin again.

We need to keep this story in mind as we celebrate the sacrament of reconciliation. We stand (or sit, or kneel) before Jesus (who is personified by the priest) and while we don’t have a mob of people declaring all our offenses, we do await the Holy Spirit’s inspiration of the priest’s response: the counsel, the penance, and the absolution. In the most beautiful words, the absolution is like Jesus’ response to the woman,  “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin any more.”

Perhaps because I correlate the woman’s interaction with Jesus to the sacrament, I am curious as to what happened next for her. What did her husband say when she returned home? How did other people treat her after that? Was she shunned or did others forgive her once they found out that Jesus forgave her? Maybe most importantly, how was she changed by her interaction with Jesus? Did she become a follower? Alas, there is no more written of her, so we will never know in this lifetime. 

Even when comparing this account with the sacrament of reconciliation, I still marvel that she stayed standing after all her accusers left. I wonder if I had been in her shoes, would I have stayed there? Or, once I knew I was not going to be stoned, would I have walked away? Would I have waited until Jesus addressed me? Or would I have been too embarrassed by what had happened to want to have any sort of interaction with Him? Being branded an adulteress, perhaps she knew that Jesus was different from any other man she had ever met. Perhaps she heard about His healings and wanted to be healed as well. 

May we all have the courage of this adulteress to stand in our sin before God, seeking His healing mercy and the grace not to sin again. 

Why believe

This past Sunday’s Gospel was the famous story of the prodigal son. However, the alternate Gospel for the second scrutiny Mass in preparation for receiving the sacraments at Easter was the story of Jesus healing the blind man. While both readings spoke of healing, they also posed a deeper question: why believe?

The story of the prodigal son is one of hope but is also tinged with hurt. The younger son asks his father for his share of his inheritance and leaves to squander it all. Me, me, me is his perspective; he wants things his way. It’s only after everything is gone and he finds himself the caretaker of pigs that he starts to consider what life is all about. Even though he still has a selfish mindset, he knows the generosity of his father and would rather be a servant to his father, than a hungry swineherd. The lavish welcome the father gives his son tugs at our heartstrings and we appreciate the beauty of the moment. This son had to leave and lose everything in order to value his family. His initial belief system was tested and failed him. He learns that there is something greater than himself: his family.

The story does not end there. How many have heard this account from Luke and not felt a bit like the older brother? It’s not fair! How can a father totally forgive his son for living so recklessly? Those feelings are not unlike those that might bubble up when weekly churchgoing parishioners have to accommodate attendees they see only at the Christmas and Easter Masses. Yes, we all have a little bit of the older brother resentment in us. The older brother in the parable, however, is not much different than his younger brother, he too, has a selfish mentality. He complains to his father about how long he has “served” his father. This sentiment is not of a son who appreciates learning the business, receiving a gift to be nourished, strengthened, and passed onto the next generation. He sees his father as a taskmaster telling him what to do, and he responds out of filial responsibility, not out of love. The older brother may be the heir, but his belief system was tested when the father urges him to receive his brother back into the fold.

The healing of the blind man in John’s Gospel, focuses on what people believe in black and white: “We know that God spoke to Moses, but we do not know where this one is from.” (Jn 9:29) Oh how sorry I feel for the Pharisees! How in the world can they know that God spoke to Moses? How can they know that beyond a shadow of a doubt? How can they know “that God,” yet be so completely clueless about Jesus: true God from true God? It’s great that they can recognize God’s handiwork in the past, yet it’s more the tradition that they are clinging to rather than seeking a relationship with Him. All of what Moses taught was so that the Israelites could learn to have a relationship with God, to lean on Him in times of trial, and to celebrate His generosity. While some generations of Israel had success in forging that relationship, too many others failed to the point where instead of becoming a great nation, Israel fell under Roman occupation. 

So why believe in God? He is our creator, the one responsible for giving us life. He is our redeemer, the One who gave His life for ours. He is our sanctifier, the One who will guide our way if we can just listen to Him. God wants a relationship with us, one as intimate as a Father. His generosity can be glimpsed in the amazing amount and variety of species that inhabit the earth. But it doesn’t stop with just the material things, His blessings include endless mercy showered upon us when we seek to be reconciled with Him. We believe not just because of stories and traditions, but because He has touched our lives in many ways. We believe, because we can see Him in our family, in our friends, and in the smiles of people we have yet to meet. 

Caterpillar or butterfly?

All around us in nature are reflections of God’s handiwork, as well examples of spiritual truths. This past week’s Gospel of Jesus’ transformation on Mount Tabor calls to mind the transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly. The question becomes: are you a content caterpillar or a future butterfly?

The purpose of a caterpillar is to eat. It’s eating so that its body can go through metamorphosis. I think for many of us who are on a spiritual journey, we are hungry and just eat. We know we need to be fed, but may not be careful about what we are eating. We may forget that eating has a purpose, that we are not supposed to stay caterpillars forever. Yet we sojourners may become content caterpillars, just “eating” our way through life. We may absorb the information about God, but never find ways to put it into action.

During the spiritual journey, if at some point a person realizes that something needs to change in them, they become a potential future butterfly. The person who recognizes that all the “eating” they’ve done as a caterpillar means that they can’t remain the way they are, then they are ready for the cocoon. In some ways, we can consider Lent a type of spiritual cocoon, as we look deep into ourselves and focus on our relationship with God. It can be a time of darkness when we realize with stark realization how much we’ve strayed from what God had planned for us. In that cocoon, as we open ourselves up to God’s grace, we may be a bit surprised that God doesn’t put us back together the way we were, but truly makes us a new creation. As a caterpillar in a cocoon digests its cells so that it can make new ones, so we too, in our spiritual journey, allow all that we have learned to be put into action as we become a spiritual butterfly. 

The Catholic faith is not an intellectual pursuit, it’s not a club to join. A Catholic Church is not a place to be entertained or a place to go once a week “because we have to.” The Catholic faith is one of action: as our thoughts and words are channeled into action; we become God’s hands and feet in the world. When we worship God and acknowledge that we need to be spiritually fed by Him, we choose to attend Church Masses and events to be filled by God’s Word and Sacraments. We also volunteer to fill others by participating in outreach programs. We are not called to be content caterpillars, but rather to transform and become spiritual butterflies, spreading the love of God by our actions.

Suffering with joy

I walked down a steep mountain last week and my legs let me know they weren’t happy with me for multiple days that followed. Yet as sore and uncomfortable as I was whenever I walked or stretched my legs, I didn’t seem to mind it. Can there actually be joy in suffering?

For a person who spends all day sitting behind a computer, touring Monticello and then walking back down to the visitor’s center (okay, the distance may have only been a bit over a half mile, but it was very steep!) is a feat that I’m proud to have accomplished. I could tell as I was descending the second portion of the trail that my calves were getting quite a workout, but it felt good to do it instead of taking the shuttle bus back. I wasn’t thinking about how sore I was going to be the next day (or several), but I concentrated on where I was walking because of the slope and the uneven surface. It was a nice day to be out in Virginia, not too hot and not too cold. Monticello has been on my bucket list of places to explore since I moved down here 3 years ago and found out how close it was. 

In reflecting on why the protesting limbs of my body did not affect me, one obvious answer is that I knew, in time, the pain would gradually diminish to nothing. However, I don’t think that was the sole reason. Plus, when I was walking around in the days afterward, instead of making faces of discomfort, I realized I was smiling. The pain was serving as a reminder of what a wonderful day I had and how happy I was to have seen the landmark, learn more about its history, and enjoy a day off from work. Perhaps the key to finding joy in suffering is perspective.

In this time of Lent, it is a serious business that we undertake to sacrifice parts of ourselves in order to strengthen and improve our relationship with God. Lent is a penitential season, so we’re supposed to be grim and feel miserable, right? I don’t think so. It was only last Wednesday at the beginning of Lent that Jesus said in Matthew’s Gospel, “When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites. They neglect their appearance, so that they may appear to be fasting.” (Matt 6:16) In the sufferings that we take on during this Lent, we also need to make sure we have a positive perspective so they can affect a positive change in us. Lent is only a few weeks, and while some days may be challenging, we can lean on God to help us through. The pain of our penance will not last forever. When we feel the discomfort it brings, we should smile and thank God for the opportunity He is giving us to grow closer to Him, to participate in a very small way the agony He suffered on the cross. We also need to keep in mind that we will be happier in heaven than we can ever be on earth, and that’s the whole reason we take our Lenten practices so seriously.

If we choose the right perspective with which to view the sacrifices we make during Lent, we will be able to find joy in the suffering, in the celebration of Easter, and in the eternal presence of God.

Shades of love

This past Sunday’s Gospel from Luke hit rather close to challenges I’m facing. “But rather, love your enemies and do good to them…” (Lk 6:35) But what exactly does it mean to love one’s enemies?

The Magnificat® had a wonderful reflection of the Gospel from Maria von Trapp (yes, that von Trapp who  inspired the Sound of Music). She talked about how one grows learning to love. First we love our parents and siblings. Then we learn to love our school and the friends we meet there. And as adults, the loves of our lives change yet again. “It is perfectly amazing how many shades of love move a human heart during one short life,” von Trapp writes. 

Love is a word that we, at least in the English speaking world, throw around way too often. I love my cat, Vera, but I also love chocolate, yet those loves are very different. Neither of these loves are the same as what I have for my family. I remember from my schooling days that the Greek language had three different words for love: eros, philia, and agape. Eros is used for romantic love, philia is for friendship, and both have an aspect of self-interest. Agape is the odd one out; it stands for the kind of love that is self-sacrificing. 

Of course,I don’t want to have enemies, but if there is friction in a relationship, I think it’s safe to say that we need to take extra care. While another may not perceive us as an enemy, when a verbal argument is launched, it’s very hard not to immediately respond in defense of ourselves but Jesus is calling us to do that and more. I don’t think His directive on loving our enemies is limited to just doing good for them. In fact it’s the whole last portion of the Gospel: stop judging, stop condemning, forgive, and give gifts. When others want to pick a fight with us, it seems impossible for us to do what God is calling us to do. Here we fall into the pit of pride, thinking that we, all by ourselves, need to deal with the issue. We forget to lean into God, asking Him to help us to forgive, to turn judgment over to Him, and to walk the path He wants us to walk. 

Unemotional is a word von Trapp used to describe the love for our enemies but I’m not sure I agree with that assessment. While our initial reaction can be highly charged with emotion, letting God in to help us in a confrontation will cause the emotional surge to change from anger to peace. We will cease calling them enemies and instead see them as fellow children of God, to be treated with dignity and respect. I do agree that loving our enemies is not a feeling, but rather an act of the will: specifically ours and God’s. Perhaps this is why God allows these challenges in our lives, so that we can become closer to Him and be more like Him. 

Lastly, agape is the  kind of love that all Catholics, all Christians, are called to love the whole of mankind. Let us pray for God’s assistance so that we can change our hearts, and perhaps make the lives of those we interact with just a bit better. 

Grape leaf and bunch of grapes gilded on a church door in Israel

Water jars

They were just standing there; tall sentinels watching over the wedding festivities. Once their purpose of ceremonial washings was already completed, they didn’t seem to have any purpose. Until Jesus put them to use. 

The wedding feast of Cana was the Gospel proclaimed last weekend, and is such a well-known story, that sometimes the details get lost. If there were six stone jars holding at least 20 gallons each, those vessels could practically be used as seating options! Most likely they were probably used at the beginning of the ceremony for the participants to draw water out of for the ritual cleansing. And then the party began, and, as typical in ancient times, it went on for days. The lack of wine meant several things: the party was about to end, the bridegroom and his family did not prepare sufficiently for the party, and/or the family did not have the funds to procure enough. Imagine how embarrassing it would’ve been to start one’s newlywed life being the laughingstock of the community! 

I read one commentary on the Gospel reading that mentioned there would have been wine casks from what had already been distributed. But Jesus did not choose them. Rather, He chose the vessels that were specifically intended to be for the ritual cleansing as identified in Leviticus. Oddly enough, stoneware was the only material that could come in contact with ritually impure items and not be rendered unusable. Clay vessels, if tainted, had to be smashed and no longer used. Stoneware jars were like mini cisterns that kept the ceremonial water for washing, usually around a town’s synagogue or in the houses of priests. It’s from this “pure water” that Jesus turns an embarrassing situation into a non-event. Jesus keeps this celebration of uniting two lives into one going, not just for a few more hours, but potentially a few more days. After all the wine that had been already consumed, only God knows if all the wine Jesus provided (120 gallons?) was consumed or if some was leftover. 

It’s interesting to ponder how Jesus transforms these Old Testament jars into a New Testament miracle. One perspective is to see the old order, and habits, passing away for what Jesus is instituting. Ceremonial washing is good, yes, but living life and celebrating it, which is what the wine represents, is far better. We may look at the people in the Bible or even the saints throughout the ages and say that we can’t be as holy or do the good deeds that others have done. Yet Jesus takes these jars that were largely ignored and repurposed them. He gave them new life in abundance, and He wants to do the same for us. We cannot change water into wine any more than the stoneware jars could. But when we let Jesus into our lives, anything is possible. 

Rather than watching the world go by, let us offer ourselves as vessels for Jesus to bring new life into the world. And don’t be surprised to find yourself the life of the party.