Two Brothers

– Br. Michael, ofm   

Near the start of Ordinary Time in the church year we often hear stories about the beginning of the ministry of Jesus which includes the calling of the disciples. These stories may feel familiar to us. We know Jesus called fishermen, a tax collector and other ordinary men to be his apostles.

 

As I was reflecting on Matthew’s version (4. 18-22) of Jesus calling the fishermen Simon and Andrew, and James and John, I was struck by a phrase repeated twice, “He saw two brothers.” This phrase has never jumped out to me before. We know that Simon and Andrew are brothers as are James and John, not really a big deal. Yet in some ways I think it is a big deal. Jesus calls two sets of brothers as his first followers. His inner circle is made up of men who had a bond, knew each other intimately, and could push each other’s buttons. In calling two sets of brothers Jesus called families to surround him and form the nucleus of his family of apostles. I think this is significant, speaking to heart of Jesus and this value in relationships.

 

I find hope in this as I consider my own life. My attention is immediately brought to my own blood brothers – two very different men. Two men who I have loved for a lifetime even in having pushed each other’s buttons a lot. Two men who have made me laugh and made me cry and also have taught me the importance of a bond, even if fragile.

 

I am also aware of those who have become brother to me. An unique group of men who have given my heart a place to grow, nourished me with story and their hearts and what it means to be seen. This unique group of men have not all met each other and yet I have experienced community because of each of them. I am also attentive to the community of men who I share life with as Franciscans. The currently community I live with are all older than me. This is a lot of big brothers. These men witness to me what it means to be a seeker in a community and how to witness. Each of these unique groups of brothers have impacted me in profound ways because of relationship and a bond we share. Each of these men in unknowing ways to themselves have shown me Christ.

 

This is the big deal where my hope lies in the phrase, “he saw two brothers.” It is through the gift of relationships we encounter Christ. Yes, Jesus sees us, however I believe it is through bonds we share with others that we can come to see him and hear our call to follow him. Through bonds of family or chosen family we come to see the depth of relationship and being called. I am grateful for the nucleus of the above-mentioned men and our bond (there is whole other reflection to write about the amazing women in life). These men continually remind me of love’s strength and the intimacy of Christ.

 

Who do you share a strong bond with?

Who is a part of your inner circle?

How have they shown you Christ?

How do you express your siblinghood with Christ?

 

 

 

 

Photo Credit: Tyler Nix

Who We Are

– Br. Michael, ofm   

The prophet Isaiah and the apostle Paul are always reminding us of our worth, inherent goodness and the dignity of being the children of God.

 

In chapter forty-one, Isaiah retells what God has said to him. God formed him in the womb to be a servant. He is honored in the sight of the Lord. God is his strength, for he is called to be a light to the nations.

 

These words are not just for Isaiah, they are for each of us. God who is Creator of all good has formed us to be servants (heralds, agents) of this goodness. We are to tell others of the depth of love, mercy and grace. God continually delights in us and is honored in our lives through our acts of goodness, our returning spirit, our acknowledging what separates us from God and in the ways we shine our light (aka: share our gifts, build the kingdom, preach the good news with our lives). God who is indeed our strength shines through us each day. What an intimate connection we share with our Creator-Triune God.

 

The apostle Paul, in his many letters refers to the communities he writes to as saints. He reminds them of this call in Christ. This is not just an accolade for the communities of long ago. The call to sainthood is part of our inherent goodness, it is made known in our baptism, it is what we are called to be now. Called to be saints, as saint Paul says in his first letter to the Corinthians, “with all those who in every place call on the name of Jesus” (1.1-3). Here in this place and time, we call on the name of Jesus as we profess our belief in him and give witness to his gospel. It is not about halos and angel wings. It is not neat and tidy, it is lived, honest and authentic. It is claiming our baptismal promises. It is meeting Christ in the muck and the glory. It is beginning again. It is responding each day and, in each season, “Here I am Lord, I come to do your will” (Psalm 40).

 

 

 

Photo Credit: Terricks Noah

Epiphany 2023: Sounds of the Season 

– Br. Michael, ofm   

 

As we begin a new year and draw near to the Feast of Epiphany, what sounds are filling your life, your home, your heart?

 

Is that of guests who you have enjoyed time with during this Christmas Season?

Is it the echoes of a voice of a loved one who you miss?

Is it music which is filling your soul?

Is it the words of a promise for this new year?

Is it hope?

Is it love?

Is it Christ?

 

The new year is always an opportunity to reflect back on what was and to look ahead renewed. Regardless if we are resolution makers or gratitude listers or neither, it is important to pause and listen to what our heart is saying and what we hear in the stillness.

 

As the Magi journeyed towards their destination, I’m sure there were many quiet moments but they must have had many conversations, sharing thoughts, ideas and dreams. Conversations about the Messiah, about the signs in the sky, about their expectations and longings. Sharing thoughts from their backgrounds and cultures and ideas of what could be and dreams for what the Messiah could offer for the peoples. I imagine after this there was then the quiet stillness allowing the sharing to steep in their hearts.

 

Who are you in conversation with?

Who do you need to have a conversation with as this new year begins and the great feast of the manifestation of God is upon us? What needs to be said?

What thoughts, ideas and dreams do you need to listen to and bring to life?

What is it about these ideas and dream (God used dreams to give messages) that are speaking to you? What is your heart hearing?

Where are you allowing quiet stillness to give you space to listen?

 

The Magi asked, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews?”

This is a question we must ask ourselves.

Where is the Christ Child, with all his wonder and awe and love, in your life?

Have I been seeking this Child and what he offers to me in freedom?

When have I fallen down to adore and give thanks for the blessings of this Holy Child?

 

These are a lot of questions for us to ponder during this Epiphany time. As Christmas bells begin to fade, carols start to soften and festive sounds disappear, may the sounds which have filled this season now invite you into a quiet season to ponder. May this time to reflect then empower you to “rise up” with holy curiosity and courage to walk in the splendor of the Child of Light born for us and for all people.

 

A few songs for your listening and heart reflection as we continue the celebration of Christmas, begin a New Year and journey towards Epiphany!

 

The Light Came Down – Josh Garrels

An invitation to pay attention to the message of the Light.

 

We Three Kings – The Hound + The Fox, Tim Foust

A reminder that our journey is not done alone and that our gifts are valuable.

 

Rise Up in Splendor – Aaron Thompson

The call to walk in the light, trusting the voice of God is speaking to our heart.

 

Refugee King – Liz Vice, Hannah Glavor

The voices of our hurting world continue to call, let us pay attention to where we encounter the Christ Child.

 

 

As we journey under the Star of Wonder,

may our ears and hearts be attentive

to the song God sung through Christ

born among us, born for us,

so to fill us with the sound of love

and the beauty of light

as we carry this love and light

into the world

each day of this New Year.

Amen.

 

Epiphany Blessings! Happy New Year!

 

 

 

 

Photo Credit: Robert Thiemann