What Do I Know About Jesus’ Early life?

This morning I started reading “Rediscover Jesus” by Matthew Kelly – a book I received from my church a few years back for Lent.  I’m sure I’m reading it not as intended, as it was meant as a daily reflection. One of the first challenges posed was to “Write down everything you know about Jesus.” So this morning, I’m going to spend 15 minutes and see what I can write about Jesus, before he started his ministry!

  1. Jesus was born unlike many of us – to audible singing of angels, to the arrival of wise men, and while his parents were forced to travel for the Roman census.
  2. Jesus was conceived under very unusual circumstances – an angel announcing to His mother that she was chosen by God to carry His son, Mary accepting the responsibility, Joseph accepting Mary as his wife, even though she was already pregnant.
  3. Jesus lived for an undetermined amount of time in Egypt, as his parents fled from Herod’s killing of the children.
  4. Jesus knew at some level early on that He was God’s son, disappearing during a trip to be with “his Father” at the Temple in Jerusalem.
  5. Jesus was born to working parents. His father was a carpenter and his mother probably took care of the house.
  6. Jesus, very similar to me, took a similar career path as his step-father Joseph. He learned to be a carpenter and built things from wood for the majority of his life.
  7. Jesus grew up in a small, backwater town called Nazareth, not far from the Sea of Galilee, with a large extended family. We are told that he had brothers and sisters, but this could have meant simply cousins.
  8. He has some deep friendships both with men and women, Lazarus being his best friend.
  9. For some reason, he did not keep in touch with his cousin John, Elizabeth’s son. This often puzzled me, given John’s influence on his ministry and their early interactions.
  10. For 30 or so years, he kept a pretty low profile for the Son of God.  I often wonder what his life was like during these years.
  11. He had either studied the Torah significantly or was miraculously or intuitively aware of its content as the Bible mentions that people in the synagogue were amazed at his insight and reflections on the passages, both as a boy and then at the start of his ministry.

That’s it!  Not a lot of information from his early life!

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The Road to Emmaus

It is time of difficulty that build our character. Christ walks with us during the hard times.

The road to Emmaus is a great example of how we act and how we should think during challenging times. Cleopas and his companion were down in the dumps – they had their faith tested greatly by the events of the past few days and they were doubting. They had started with their own ideas of who Christ was and what he was going to do. Remember back on Palm Sunday, Jesus’ triumphant entrance into Jerusalem. Many people, likely including Cleopas, saw Jesus as the Messiah who would free the Jews from the yoke of the Romans. Instead of liberating them, Jesus was imprisoned, tortured, and killed.

The disciples had not been listening to what Jesus had actually said and taught. When he spoke of all the difficulties that he would face, including his death and resurrection, they had not paid attention. How often do we do this? We have our own ideas of what we believe and what we think is true, so we often tune our ideas that are counter to what we believe.

Even after the third day, when Jesus *had* returned, and some had seen or experienced His resurrection, many Jew, including these two, still wanted THEIR OWN VISION OF WHO JESUS WAS, to be true. But they knew their vision couldn’t be, so they were down and dejected that their vision wasn’t so.

I believe that it is times of difficulty like this that build our character. We are broken down and sad because of our experiences. We are in a bit of a similar time of difficulty in this current pandemic. We all have our own ideas of what is true and what solutions are the right ones. But it is important that we also lean into listening to God during this time and understanding that He is still in control. And we need to recognize that God is walking with us. You may have read “Footsteps in the Sand” before, I thought it worthwhile to share here.

———————————————
One night I dreamed a dream.
As I was walking along the beach with my Lord.
Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life.
For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand,
One belonging to me and one to my Lord.

After the last scene of my life flashed before me,
I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
I noticed that at many times along the path of my life,
especially at the very lowest and saddest times,
there was only one set of footprints.

This really troubled me, so I asked the Lord about it.
“Lord, you said once I decided to follow you,
You’d walk with me all the way.
But I noticed that during the saddest and most troublesome times of my life,
there was only one set of footprints.
I don’t understand why, when I needed You the most, You would leave me.”

He whispered, “My precious child, I love you and will never leave you
Never, ever, during your trials and testings.
When you saw only one set of footprints,
It was then that I carried you.”
———————————————

Like Jesus did on the road to Emmaus, Christ is walking with us today on our uncertain path with this pandemic. We need to lean into him. And like Jesus did with the two on the road, we need to read the Scriptures more. It will give us hope, direction, and buoy our spirits. The lessons we learn there will give us strength to work through our challenges in our current world.

Through these challenging and difficult times, even though we may not recognizing it as they occur, Jesus will be our support and protector. And I love the fact that by being vulernable to Jesus in asking for His support and aid, we build our own character and strength.

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An Entrepeneur’s Perspective on the Pandemic Stimulus

Every small business owner I know is braver than this!

My friend Bo recently shared this quote with me

“There are no atheists in foxholes, and there are no capitalists in a crisis.”

I am stunned by what I have read about the government stimulus. While I am poised be “given” a significant chunk of money both personally and for my small business, I think both of these giveaways are terrible ideas.

The gut reaction people will say is “if you don’t need the money, don’t take it!”, but this doesn’t address the key point of whether this is good or bad policy. The main problem is that this law grows our debt tremendously and solves the wrong problems.

Bad idea #1 – The $1200 Per Worker Check

We had 3 million people apply for unemployment last period. Right now we have about 150 million people working. Let’s assume, worst case, the number of unemployed goes up tenfold to 30 million.

This law will give the majority of our workers $1200. What rational do we have to give $140 plus billion dollars out to those workers who have not lost their jobs? Certainly some people need this assistance, but not the majority. Most of us are still working. Working from home. Working in the fields. Working at an essential business. All getting our regular paycheck. This part of the population does not need this money!

Will many people be happy to receive $1200? Probably. But that does not make it a good law. 

Bad Idea #2 – The $600 Unemployment Weekly Stipend

This is an extra $2400 monthly for people on unemployment – this is pretty significant. To be fair, it goes to the people who are directly getting hurt by the lay-offs due to this pandemic, which is far better than the $1200 per person check above.

The problem arises in that it applies to part time people and to people in areas of the country where the cost of living is low. If you were receiving $1000 a week for not working (adding together your state benefit of $400 and your federal benefit of $600) and you would only earn $800 a week working, which would you choose?

This one is going to extend the recession we are in. None of the people on unemployment will want to go back to the private sector until the 4 month bonusperiod ends.

And the excuse the politicians gave for signing this into law was that it would take 6-8 months to create a computer program to do some simple subtraction to figure out the difference between the federal rate and the state rate. See Senator Lindsey Graham speak abot this with your own ears.

This is ludicrous and in my opinion, all these idiots who believed this lie should be fired. The only thing that is holding this from being solved are regulations on who can work on what system and how the systems connect.

Bad Idea #3 – Forgivable Loans to Small Businesses

The “Small Business Interruption Loans” proposes to provide forgivable loans to more than 30 million small businesses. As a small business owner, I can now apply for a loan for up to four months of my company expenses – salaries, utilities, rent, interest on loans and more. This can be as much as $10 million for any company with less than 500 people.

Here’s the kicker – if I keep my employee count steady from March to June, I basically get the entirety of this money forgiven. This means the US government could pay the salaries for 4 months of every small business in the country which applies for these loans. You just have to keep the employees on payroll.

This is whether or not your company needs it. Of course many companies are going to take advantage of this, even if they do not need the help. Why wouldn’t they? For my company, this will be a $500K gift.

And it doesn’t seem to have any penalty if you fire the employees you “retained” all after June.

My Wrap Up

The government seems to be hell bent on doing something, even if that something is mortgaging our children’s future. And the $2 trillion price tag looks like it could expand to $6 trillion? Incredible.

Yes, many people are hurting – I understand this. If I had things my way, I would hope that we as a people should be able to help those losing their jobs without a massive government give-out. Instead, most of us sacrifice little or nothing, thinking that the government will take care of things without our action.

As I previously wrote, I really though there was a huge opportunity for our country and citizenry to become a more giving people with this pandemic bearing down upon us. But to move us to this action, it would have taken brave leadership from the President and leadership from the Congress. Nobody had the cojones needed to challenge the citizens of our country to sacrifice for each other to get us through this.

During our travels in England, I read about people rationing food during WWII. Citizens partnered with brave soldiers fighting so that continental Europe might be free. That was real sacrifice. Nothing people do now compares. Instead, people complain about how hard it is not to go out so often. How difficult it is to both work and teach their own kids at home. How happy they are to have Netflix to binge-watch because they don’t know what to do with their time.

Dennis Prager wrote an article with a title, “The Bigger the Government, the Smaller the Citizen” that speaks to this. As a nation, we are pushing to have a government that is our constant protector. But what we have given up is our capability to individually choose to help our fellow men. So we do things like purchase 10x the amount of toilet paper anyone might ever need – because we only look out for ourselves and our little circle of people.

Is there any place for government actions? Certainly. None of us have the wherewithal to help a Boeing, any of the airlines or even some moderately sized companies like Ace Parking. But by taking care of their employees in an intelligent manner, focusing on those employees with real needs instead of mass payoffs, it reduces large company’s costs dramatically by mostly eliminating their payroll expenses temporarily and maybe puts them in a position where they can weather the storms without huge government handouts.

And maybe, if we do this enough, we could build our national character so we feel proud of real achievements and real sacrifice. We can feel the satisfaction of knowing we helped one another and supported our fellow citizens in a difficult time instead of giving ourselves congratulatory pats of the back for taking the easy way out again.

prior comments from the previous location of this writing

  1. Aaron  March 21, 2020 at 7:03 PM

    “But assisting 20 airlines will be far more efficient than helping a million small businesses.”. You could not be more wrong here. The airlines spent $200b in the last 4 years on stock buybacks, leaving them in the vulnerable position they are in now. Screw them, let the market do what it supposed to do and punish them for their shortsided, short term, quick buck strategies – let them go bankrupt. Another dozen, better run airlines will step in after this and fill in the capacity. By letting the market determine their fates, future airline CEOs will not repeat the same mistakes. Just like when Lehman failed, financial institutions learned that lesson and are all perfectly positioned to weather this storm.

    I didn’t mean to rant on the airlines, my main point is that the airlines will mostly survive and rebound quickly. If we let millions of small businesses fail, those businesses and the tens of millions of jobs they created won’t be here after the recession. That will compound thru the economy and it will be a decade before we get back to Feb 2020 levels.

    To your last point, what is happening in Fort Collins is what your hoping for, people are ordering out a lot more frequently to try and keep businesses going. Unfortunately, the many pubs, small gyms, small shops, and salons that were forced to close can’t be helped and will need assistance. And I agree that can’t be small business loans. A couple Congressman are looking into ways to inject $$$ directly to companies and their employees via their payroll companies, which is intriguing. It’s much better than spending $.6trillion giving us $1200.

    There is also one other big problem going on right now. The fed dropped rates to 0% to try and help get people $$$ via refinancing which would helo with their mortgages and overall spending. But the 30 year treasuries have gone the opposite direction (that’s the market for you again) killing this stimulus attempt (but also making financials extremely profitable – a 4% spread is incredible!!)

  2. David Carta  March 22, 2020 at 3:05 AM

    The airline discussion is a distraction from my main point.

    We as individuals CANNOT HELP airlines gushing money. But we can and should help the thousands of individuals and small companies. This would make a difference immediately to the recovery of our economy.

    I don’t claim to be an expert on the airline industry, but there is a difference between being shortsighted and the huge losses they are getting hit with right now.

  3. Tom March 22, 2020 at 9:48 PM

    To use a medical term, how about “stop the bleeding?” The many government actions are the cause of the problem, not the solution. Step 2 would be to let the markets function. Airlines that committed to share buybacks and therefore made themselves insolvent, should be allowed to fail. Share buybacks are one method of deploying capital. It’s not evil or wrong, just unwise given the current situation. Stop deciding what interest rates “are” and let the market determine what the cost of money should be. The interest rate is the most important business signal and it has been mandated by the Fed for decades. And step 3, stop throwing money that was stolen from taxpayers after failing companies. Seems to be a double sin – theft and stupidity.

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The Remedy to the Economic Pandemic

This is a follow-up to my last post about the massive economic problems I see our country facing and how freezing the US economy to where it was a couple weeks ago might be a potential remedy.

I believe that way to get past the oncoming economic problems can be address by individuals helping individuals. Government action will not be enough to save our country from a huge recession. The trouble that we have is an economic waterfall crashing down on the the entrepeneurial engine of the USA.

Here’s the cascade:

  1. Banks have loans out to companies and people for properties that they need paid on these loans.
  2. Companies and people have to pay rents, payments, or mortgage on these properties.
  3. Companies have to pay employees’ salaries and operating costs to pay.
  4. Self employed people have to pay themselves.

The end result comes down to:

  • At risk companies need capital to stay afloat (rent & payroll)
  • At risk individuals need food and housing

If we can’t assist with these two items, many at risk companies will shut down, default on their rent/mortgages, and the subsequent loss of jobs will prolong the unemployment spike.

There are currently probably 50% or more of the employed who have jobs that are not immediately at risk, but if we go into a long recession, this might not be long true.

But if we can take care of our fellow workers who have lost their jobs for the next 3 month, companies at risk might be able to cover rents and basic operating costs. As a small business owner, I can see this as mostly managable for many businesses.

A few months ago, we visited a museum in England that discussed how their country pulled together during WWII. The food rationing impressed me with how each family managed with very little. And they did this for years.

Can the people of the United States all manage with less for a couple months, sharing what we have, so that whenever this problem is fixed, we all will have jobs to come back to?

You have a sphere where you have a presence, where you support the people around you. Here are some specific ideas of how you might help:

  1. Send a check to your house cleaner, hair dresser, or day care provider for what they might have normally made.
  2. Call a restaurant or pub that you enjoy and tell them to charge your credit card for what a meal would have cost.
  3. Paypal your personal trainer or music teacher the amount they normally would have earned.
  4. Offer free rent to your tenant who you know has lost their job due to this pandemic.

Each of us knows who we would have supported. Reach out and help the companies and employees with their basics: food, housing, and operating costs.

In some cases, perhaps a restaurant is delivering their meals. I guarantee they would prefer to actually make their food for you. Maybe your music teacher or personal trainer can deliver their services via skype. People want to work – it gives them a purpose – in many cases it is just not possible.

Think about how much poorer our country will be without what all these people have built around us. We can hope these companies survive or as a people, we can be moved to action now. We can share in the blessings we have, thankful that we have the resources to assist those with less. Or we can choose to sit on our assets while other people suffer.

I think about the Bible parable of the master who gave his employees large and small gifts. To those who invested their wealth and made something of it, he was pleased and rewarded them. Let’s not be the people who are so afraid of what might come that we bury our wealth. This way, when our economy restarts, we can all look in the mirror and say “Well done, good and faithful citizens.”

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A Solution to the Pandemic Economic Problem

(Minor updates 3/22/2020 11:00 AM CET)

I’ve been thinking about the economic problems we are going to face as a country, and it scares me. What we are doing now will save people’s lives, but is going to have a huge impact on how we live our lives for the next few years.

All the big solutions which seem to get press during this pandemic are government based. But I think, especially in the USA, that the real power has to come from the people. Not the city government, not the state government, not the federal government. From me and from you.

The America I know is generous. We are willing to help our neighbors. We share what we have with the world. Now we need to share what we have with others.

The Federal Government is talking about giving $1200 to everyone in the country in need.  Do the math, this is 300 Million people times $1200, resulting in a $360 Billion outlay.  But this won’t do it. Maybe somewhere in the country, $1200 can support an individual for a month in food and housing.  But not in California and I’m willing to bet not for many people in most of the USA.

And the government providing zero interest SBA loans to small companies is a non-starter. From personal experience, non-working debt puts a huge drag on your business for years. Right now, small companies just need help with operating expenses – rent and payroll.

We had a solid economy before this virus. We had near full employment. The stock market was at an all time high. Then the virus hit and many industries slammed on the breaks.

There was nothing wrong with the engine of the country.

We have companies that are fully viable. We have people that want to and for the most part enjoy productively working. We have an optimism that we can make things better.

But we cannot do this with half of the people in the country unable to earn money. We cannot do this with the entrepeneurial engine of the country getting hit with unrecoverable costs.

Thinking of smaller companies in industries like restaurants, travel, fitness, retail, events, Uber/Lyft/taxis, etc. Without income:

  • Most cannot pay 3 months wages for their employees.
  • Some cannot even handle the burden of paying rent.

If companies cannot pay their employees, they will have to lay them off. Most of these employees will have a hard time managing 3 months without income. The government tries to solve this by providing unemployment, but nothing kills incentive in my opinion more than paying people to do nothing. Better to put these companies and people in a position to restart immediately.

Before the pandemic locked down the country, there was nothing structurally wrong with our country. Our industries are viable, competitive, and productive.

The problem is, after 3 months, no one is going to have money to cycle back into the country. Or they won’t think that they do, so they will hold onto it, which will put a hard stop on all of these industries recovering at any speed whatsoever.

Having their financial lives sucked dry, people

  • Won’t be eating out.
  • Won’t be travelling.
  • Won’t buy that cute toy at the store on the corner.
  • Won’t buy flowers to make their yard look nicer.

You get the picture.

The government alone cannot do this.  It is just too big.

The Solution – a Massive Challenge to Everyone (Updated thoughts here)

I’m not one to start a movement, or really put myself out on a public stage.  I enjoy being an entrepeneur, solving interesting technical problems.  But I’m feeling that this might be the only way to save us from a HUGE recession – and I believe I have to share this thought.

What I think we have to do is freeze things where they were.

Imagine this:

  1. We stop mortgage payments on properties across the board for three months – no additional interest.
  2. Rents on these properties are stopped as well.
  3. Stop payments and interest on loans.
  4. Entrepeneurs who are in need of capital to just maintain, share their needs.
  5. People who are in a place to share (money, housing, resources) give freely.

What do people really need now to survive a 3 month lockdown?

Food. Housing. Support.

Let’s help our neighbors, our friends, our local businesses, those who owe us money. I’m not sure how the technicals of 1 or 3 might work. But we, as the people of our country, could support those around us. WE THE PEOPLE not the goverment. The government will do its part too, but it will be rife with inefficiency. But assisting 20 airlines will be far more efficient than helping a million small businesses.

We all have people we can materially help. Help pay their rent. Help buy food. Help make sure that their businesses, their lives, and the lives of those they help can restart as smoothly as possible.

There are a lot of people who will continue to pull down their salaries during this time. You know who you are. Maybe you work for the government. Maybe for a large corporation with enough financial resources. Maybe you produce toilet paper and have an unusually high demand for your product. If you are drawing a steady salary, we need you to help as much as you can.

Reach out to your local small businesses and let them know you want to help. It is difficult for entrepeneurs who are self reliant to ask for assistance.

If you are a small business and think you can cover your employees during this time, more power to you. Also, if you as an employee can afford it, and your employer is willing, think about reducing your pay, so untaxed money can be given to help others. Money given straight from your employer will be worth 50% more than the same money given by you.

If we all share in the hardship now, perhaps in 3 months or whenever this is fixed, we will have a real country to come back to. With our favorite restaurants still around and the salon that cuts our hair just right. Oh yeah, and that cute little ice cream shop, Dixie Pops, that was around the block back in San Diego when we left.

Or we can each play the game where everyone looks out for themselves and hope what the government does will be enough to save us.

I dislike the phrase, “It takes a village,” because it takes away personal responsibility. In this case, I think it takes brave individuals. People who are willing to put their trust in others, without knowing if others will respond. Families who are willing to support other families. Businesses who are willing to support other businesses.

If we can do this, we’ll come out of this pandemic a better people, a better country, and proud of our efforts.

I’ll write tomorrow further about how this might be structurally supported. There are good technical ways for people to let others know where help is needed and for those who are willing to help to reach out and connect and say, “I would like to help you, in my small way.” But until then each of you likely knows people you can personally help.

Right now, I just wanted to see if I could get a conversation started and perhaps get better minds than mine working to see how we as a people of a great country might do this.

Please share this. If we all work together, I know we can move this mountain.

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Witness to Jesus’ Final Days – Luke 22:14-23:56

Words

Witness | Wanted to share | (no)Way | (Savior of the) World | Wondered | Wine | Women Weeping

Message

This entire scripture reading speaks of the witnesses to Jesus’ actions during his last days. Why is this important?  Because you only have witnesses to actual events.  Witnesses validate the truth of history. Witnesses stand as a barrier to people just making up stories. And in Luke’s gospel, he describes the witnesses to Christ’s final days on Earth, the witnesses of his last supper, the witnesses of His arrest, of his torture, crucifixtion, and death on the cross.  Right now, in this Gospel, we don’t discuss it, but it is also important that we recognize these witnesses as validating the truth of His ulimate resurrection.

I like to think a lot about Jesus, the man.  Because, although He is God, He was still subjected to the same feelings, emotions, and thoughts that we as people have to work with. He knows from the Father that His time is limited and He has so much that he wants his disciples to know.

I remember, when my dad drove me down to San Diego to drop me off for college, he was bursting with things he wanted me to know.  Stories about my mom. How to treat women. What sex really meant. Thoughts about business creation. The importance of learning. How he envisioned Heaven as a place where you would be able to learn forever.  And how happy he would be in Heaven to ultimately be simultaneously surrounded in the love of both my mother who had passed away when I was an infant and with the love of my step mother. It was like drinking from a water hose of his sharing.

I think of Jesus like this – having so much that He wanted to make sure that the disciples would know and remember that he probably was just talking continuously.  These, his beloved brothers and followers, would be taking his message to the whole world and he wanted them to be prepared.  There was no possible way for Him to get into their heads all of the information they needed to know. Afterwards, I can only imagine that he wondered if they had gotten any of it.

I think he would have been amazed at how much stuck with them. Just as I am continually surprised by my son Andrew, who seems completely absorbed in his artwork while I am speaking to him, he somehow seems to capture all of the key essenses of my lessons and can repeat them back at command. The disciples similarly repeated back Jesus’ key messages demonstrated by the witnesses they have given us in their recollections of the gospels.

They witnessed the wine and the bread Jesus shared as his blood and body.  They witnessed his predictions of future events with his arrest, betrayal by Judas, and denial by Peter. They witnessed Pilate ultimately crucifying him. They witnessed his mother and other women weeping at the foor of the cross. They witnessed the mocking by the guards, His interaction with the other two thieves, and His last words. They witnessed the eclipse at his death and his burial in the tomb.

So many details. Why? Because they point to the truth of Jesus’ story. They point to the fact of his resurrection. They witness to his redeeming power over our sins. And they are part of a  larger body of overwhelming evidence that our faith in Jesus’ claim to be the messiah – the savior of the world – is based on fact. So for today’s Gospel, that’s really some Good News.

Gospel    LK 22:14—23:56

When the hour came,
Jesus took his place at table with the apostles.
He said to them,
“I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer,
for, I tell you, I shall not eat it again
until there is fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”
Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and said,
“Take this and share it among yourselves;
for I tell you that from this time on
I shall not drink of the fruit of the vine
until the kingdom of God comes.”
Then he took the bread, said the blessing,
broke it, and gave it to them, saying,
“This is my body, which will be given for you;
do this in memory of me.”
And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying,
“This cup is the new covenant in my blood,
which will be shed for you.”And yet behold, the hand of the one who is to betray me
is with me on the table;
for the Son of Man indeed goes as it has been determined;
but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed.”
And they began to debate among themselves
who among them would do such a deed.Then an argument broke out among them
about which of them should be regarded as the greatest.
He said to them,
“The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them
and those in authority over them are addressed as ‘Benefactors’;
but among you it shall not be so.
Rather, let the greatest among you be as the youngest,
and the leader as the servant.
For who is greater:
the one seated at table or the one who serves?
Is it not the one seated at table?
I am among you as the one who serves.
It is you who have stood by me in my trials;
and I confer a kingdom on you,
just as my Father has conferred one on me,
that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom;
and you will sit on thrones
judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”Simon, Simon, behold Satan has demanded
to sift all of you like wheat,
but I have prayed that your own faith may not fail;
and once you have turned back,
you must strengthen your brothers.”
He said to him,
“Lord, I am prepared to go to prison and to die with you.”
But he replied,
“I tell you, Peter, before the cock crows this day,
you will deny three times that you know me.”
He said to them,
“When I sent you forth without a money bag or a sack or sandals,
were you in need of anything?”
“No, nothing, ” they replied.
He said to them,
“But now one who has a money bag should take it,
and likewise a sack,
and one who does not have a sword
should sell his cloak and buy one.
For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me,
namely, He was counted among the wicked;
and indeed what is written about me is coming to fulfillment.”
Then they said,
“Lord, look, there are two swords here.”
But he replied, “It is enough!”
Then going out, he went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives,
and the disciples followed him.
When he arrived at the place he said to them,
“Pray that you may not undergo the test.”
After withdrawing about a stone’s throw from them and kneeling,
he prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing,
take this cup away from me;
still, not my will but yours be done.”
And to strengthen him an angel from heaven appeared to him.
He was in such agony and he prayed so fervently
that his sweat became like drops of blood
falling on the ground.
When he rose from prayer and returned to his disciples,
he found them sleeping from grief.
He said to them, “Why are you sleeping?
Get up and pray that you may not undergo the test.”
While he was still speaking, a crowd approached
and in front was one of the Twelve, a man named Judas.
He went up to Jesus to kiss him.
Jesus said to him,
“Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”
His disciples realized what was about to happen, and they asked,
“Lord, shall we strike with a sword?”
And one of them struck the high priest’s servant
and cut off his right ear.
But Jesus said in reply,
“Stop, no more of this!”
Then he touched the servant’s ear and healed him.
And Jesus said to the chief priests and temple guards
and elders who had come for him,
“Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs?
Day after day I was with you in the temple area,
and you did not seize me;
but this is your hour, the time for the power of darkness.”
After arresting him they led him away
and took him into the house of the high priest;
Peter was following at a distance.
They lit a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat around it,
and Peter sat down with them.
When a maid saw him seated in the light,
she looked intently at him and said,
“This man too was with him.”
But he denied it saying,
“Woman, I do not know him.”
A short while later someone else saw him and said,
“You too are one of them”;
but Peter answered, “My friend, I am not.”
About an hour later, still another insisted,
“Assuredly, this man too was with him,
for he also is a Galilean.”
But Peter said,
“My friend, I do not know what you are talking about.”
Just as he was saying this, the cock crowed,
and the Lord turned and looked at Peter;
and Peter remembered the word of the Lord,
how he had said to him,
“Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times.”
He went out and began to weep bitterly.
The men who held Jesus in custody were ridiculing and beating him.
They blindfolded him and questioned him, saying,
“Prophesy!  Who is it that struck you?”
And they reviled him in saying many other things against him.
When day came the council of elders of the people met,
both chief priests and scribes,
and they brought him before their Sanhedrin.
They said, “If you are the Christ, tell us, ”
but he replied to them, “If I tell you, you will not believe,
and if I question, you will not respond.
But from this time on the Son of Man will be seated
at the right hand of the power of God.”
They all asked, “Are you then the Son of God?”
He replied to them, “You say that I am.”
Then they said, “What further need have we for testimony?
We have heard it from his own mouth.”
Then the whole assembly of them arose and brought him before Pilate.
They brought charges against him, saying,
“We found this man misleading our people;
he opposes the payment of taxes to Caesar
and maintains that he is the Christ, a king.”
Pilate asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
He said to him in reply, “You say so.”
Pilate then addressed the chief priests and the crowds,
“I find this man not guilty.”
But they were adamant and said,
“He is inciting the people with his teaching throughout all Judea,
from Galilee where he began even to here.”
On hearing this Pilate asked if the man was a Galilean;
and upon learning that he was under Herod’s jurisdiction,
he sent him to Herod who was in Jerusalem at that time.
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.
He questioned him at length,
but he gave him no answer.
The chief priests and scribes, meanwhile,
stood by accusing him harshly.
Herod and his soldiers treated him contemptuously and mocked him,
and after clothing him in resplendent garb,
he sent him back to Pilate.
Herod and Pilate became friends that very day,
even though they had been enemies formerly.
Pilate then summoned the chief priests, the rulers, and the people
and said to them, “You brought this man to me
and accused him of inciting the people to revolt.
I have conducted my investigation in your presence
and have not found this man guilty
of the charges you have brought against him,
nor did Herod, for he sent him back to us.
So no capital crime has been committed by him.
Therefore I shall have him flogged and then release him.”
But all together they shouted out,
“Away with this man!
Release Barabbas to us.”
— Now Barabbas had been imprisoned for a rebellion
that had taken place in the city and for murder. —
Again Pilate addressed them, still wishing to release Jesus,
but they continued their shouting,
“Crucify him!  Crucify him!”
Pilate addressed them a third time,
“What evil has this man done?
I found him guilty of no capital crime.
Therefore I shall have him flogged and then release him.”
With loud shouts, however,
they persisted in calling for his crucifixion,
and their voices prevailed.
The verdict of Pilate was that their demand should be granted.
So he released the man who had been imprisoned
for rebellion and murder, for whom they asked,
and he handed Jesus over to them to deal with as they wished.
As they led him away
they took hold of a certain Simon, a Cyrenian,
who was coming in from the country;
and after laying the cross on him,
they made him carry it behind Jesus.
A large crowd of people followed Jesus,
including many women who mourned and lamented him.
Jesus turned to them and said,
“Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me;
weep instead for yourselves and for your children
for indeed, the days are coming when people will say,
‘Blessed are the barren,
the wombs that never bore
and the breasts that never nursed.’
At that time people will say to the mountains,
‘Fall upon us!’
and to the hills, ‘Cover us!’
for if these things are done when the wood is green
what will happen when it is dry?”
Now two others, both criminals,
were led away with him to be executed.
When they came to the place called the Skull,
they crucified him and the criminals there,
one on his right, the other on his left.
Then Jesus said,
“Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”
They divided his garments by casting lots.
The people stood by and watched;
the rulers, meanwhile, sneered at him and said,
“He saved others, let him save himself
if he is the chosen one, the Christ of God.”
Even the soldiers jeered at him.
As they approached to offer him wine they called out,
“If you are King of the Jews, save yourself.”
Above him there was an inscription that read,
“This is the King of the Jews.”
Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying,
“Are you not the Christ?
Save yourself and us.”
The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply,
“Have you no fear of God,
for you are subject to the same condemnation?
And indeed, we have been condemned justly,
for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes,
but this man has done nothing criminal.”
Then he said,
“Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
He replied to him,
“Amen, I say to you,
today you will be with me in Paradise.”
It was now about noon and darkness came over the whole land
until three in the afternoon
because of an eclipse of the sun.
Then the veil of the temple was torn down the middle.
Jesus cried out in a loud voice,
“Father, into your hands I commend my spirit”;
and when he had said this he breathed his last.
The centurion who witnessed what had happened glorified God and said,
“This man was innocent beyond doubt.”
When all the people who had gathered for this spectacle saw what had happened,
they returned home beating their breasts;
but all his acquaintances stood at a distance,
including the women who had followed him from Galilee
and saw these events.
Now there was a virtuous and righteous man named Joseph who,
though he was a member of the council,
had not consented to their plan of action.
He came from the Jewish town of Arimathea
and was awaiting the kingdom of God.
He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.
After he had taken the body down,
he wrapped it in a linen cloth
and laid him in a rock-hewn tomb
in which no one had yet been buried.
It was the day of preparation,
and the sabbath was about to begin.
The women who had come from Galilee with him followed behind,
and when they had seen the tomb
and the way in which his body was laid in it,
they returned and prepared spices and perfumed oils.
Then they rested on the sabbath according to the commandment.
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The Best Discovery EVER! MT 2-12

Gospel                MT 2:1-12

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying,
“Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.”
When King Herod heard this, he was greatly troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, He inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.
They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it has been written through the prophet:
And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
since from you shall come a ruler, who is to shepherd my people Israel.”

Then Herod called the magi secretly and ascertained from them the time of the star’s appearance. He sent them to Bethlehem and said,
“Go and search diligently for the child. When you have found him, bring me word, that I too may go and do him homage.”
After their audience with the king they set out. And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was. They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod,  they departed for their country by another way.

Words

Sign | Scientists | Studied the Skies | Star | Splash | Sovereign | Son of God | Celebrate

Sometimes we have a clear indication that God is sending us a sign about himself. I think this is one of those times in the Bible that we see people who see God’s signs and respond the right way. This is the lesson of the Gospel today.
The Magi/Wise men from the east were an analog for today’s scientists. They were a combination of philosopher / astronomer / astrologer / professor for ancient cultures and we actually have no clue where they came from or what they actually did. What we do know is that they studied the skies and they saw a star that indicated something so remarkable, it prompted them to leave their homes in the east and travel likely thousands of miles is search of what it pointed to. And something you should know about me, is that when I was a child, all I wanted to be in life was a scientist – and to someday discover something amazing.
Think about that – what would you have to see to leave your home and travel on foot/camel/caravan for 1000 miles?  It would have to be something pretty amazing! If a friend of yours said that he saw Jesus in Colorado and the only way you had to get there was your bike, would you go?
Although tradition says there were three Magi, again we don’t know if this is right – there could they were 2 or 20. They likely didn’t come alone, but with a whole caravan of people supporting them, which is why they made such a splash when they arrived into Bethlehem. Think about it – if three people wandered into a town, would the mayor of the town know about it? Probably not. But think about the caravan of migrants from central America coming – everyone knew about it.  The mayor, the governor, the president. This is likely similar to what Herod was experiencing –  a large group was approaching.  Were they coming as envoys to a conquering army? Herod had to know why they came, so the Magi were given instant audience with him as the ruler.
I could spend a lot of time on Herod here, but I’m going to chose not to. He’s a pretty terrible fellow and there isn’t much about God we can learn from him… Instead, I’m going to focus on the Magi. They asked:
“Where is the newborn king of the Jews?
We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.”
Boy – it sounds like they saw a star in the sky, and up and left their home thousands of mile away for the king of the Jews? I don’t think so…
I think they knew the rest of the prophecies about Jesus as well. About how HE would be the one to reconcile the human race with God – THE Messiah.They had the opportunity to discover something that no scientist, astronomer, sorcerer, or wise man had ever seen. God in human form. This is better than Einstein discovering relativity.
THAT would be enough to spur them to the actions they took. It sure would be enough for me. Wow!
Think about it. They are scientists – who thrill in discovery – and they just found the mother lode!
So what do they do when they come face to face with the babe Christ?
  1. They recognize him.
  2. They celebrate!
  3. They worship him.
  4. They present their gifts.
I think this story is a pretty good analogy of how God wants our life’s journey with Him to progress.  First, he wants us to look for signs of pointing to Him in our life. When we find those signs, He wants us to drop everything in search of Him, wherever that journey takes us. On our journey, He wants us to ask others about where He might be found.  When we find Him, He wants us to recognize him and then wants us to celebrate that we have found Him – Mass is a great way to do this. He then desires that we worship Him, and present Him with our offerings – knowing that our gifts originate from Him, but He delights in our giving, which honors Him.
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Show Me the Way To Go Home

We drove home from Oakland back to San Diego today. I often want to see people on the drive back, but today I just wanted to get home.  I think the fact that we all have been a little under the weather is part of the reason we didn’t want to.  We even avoided driving to Tahoe for the same reason.

The drive was fairly uneventful and I even was able to get a little bit of work done, which was most helpful.  We arrived home and the boys were overjoyed to have their toys and to be able to sleep in their own beds. Me too. I’m tired and wanna go to bed.

That line always makes me think of Lou Monte and a record I grew up with….

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Swinging In the New Year!

While we did not do anything too fancy yesterday for New Years Eve, except watch Harry Potter, Prisoner of Azkaban, last night, we did let Sam and Andrew stay up until midnight to ring in the new year for the first time. Then we all promptly went to sleep. 🙂

Today was a fairly relaxed day.  Watched the Rose Parade, some football, worked on getting the Catholic Engaged Encounter site for San Diego ready for the people I asked to wait to register.  This deployment has taken more time than I expected, but hopefully this week will be the launch week.  I don’t see any current issues for the one site.

The nice surprise today occurred while taking a walk on the Montclair Railroad Trail – while I fully expected to climb up to the dirt skate park at the top of the power line hill over Shepherd Canyon Drive with my boys, I didn’t expect Christine to want to try and find a childhood path she knew of.  The path took off north and connected us to Zinn/Snake which got us home.  On this path, there was a huge rope swing which the boys loved. Its always neat to find hidden surprises close to home.

On the walk home, Adam asked that I tell him a Friend Dragon story.  It always warms my heart when my boys ask for these, because they were stories that my father made up for me.  I don’t remember any of his specific stories, but have made some fun stories up for my boys along the way.  I started with a story of some of our National Monuments getting stolen, with an idea that we would be stopping space aliens, but Adam just got going with his own ideas.  He knew he could help by first getting his Spiderman “Web Flingers” and then needed his Deadpool outfit.  His ideas kept coming all the way home.  He was so happy to keep telling me his ideas, we got home and he lay down with me, chatting away as I asked if I could take a nap.  I’m pretty sure he is a “Quality Time” kid – which would make sense as he has three brothers who all demand time from us.

We wrapped up the day and our stay up here in Oakland with a lovely meal at Victor, Ellen, and Alexandre’s house.  Its really nice to have in-laws (father/mother/sister/brother) that you honestly like and appreciate.

And to wrap up my first post of the year, here are my resolutions for 2019.

  1. Learn another language with Duolingo – preparing for our trip this year.
  2. Plan out my week each Monday – I start with a pass as the year started on Tuesday. 🙂
  3. Regularly play guitar – perhaps take lessons.  Thomas wants flute lessons too!
  4. Have a disciplined schedule – less late nighters.
  5. Make my bed every morning – because you have to start somewhere….
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Having the Heart of Christ – LK 3:10-18

Gospel    LK 3:10-18

The crowds asked John the Baptist,
“What should we do?”
He said to them in reply,
“Whoever has two cloaks
should share with the person who has none.
And whoever has food should do likewise.”
Even tax collectors came to be baptized and they said to him,
“Teacher, what should we do?”
He answered them,
“Stop collecting more than what is prescribed.”
Soldiers also asked him,
“And what is it that we should do?”
He told them,
“Do not practice extortion,
do not falsely accuse anyone,
and be satisfied with your wages.”
Now the people were filled with expectation,
and all were asking in their hearts
whether John might be the Christ.
John answered them all, saying,
“I am baptizing you with water,
but one mightier than I is coming.
I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
His winnowing fan is in his hand to clear his threshing floor
and to gather the wheat into his barn,
but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”
Exhorting them in many other ways,
he preached good news to the people.

Thoughts

Key Words

Heaven | Hear | High Opinion | Have Heart for Others | Hardest | Holy Spirit | Habits

Heaven

Has anyone here thought about heaven? What do you think Heaven is like?

A place to worship God? A place where we get to laugh and smile all the time?  A place with great music? A place where we are with those we love and who love us?

We all want to go to heaven.  This was no different than in Jesus’ time.  When people were coming to the river Jordan to be baptized into a new life, they asked John the Baptist a simple question:

“What should we do?”

Because they wanted to be able to to to Heaven when the savior, the Messiah arrived. What do you think they wanted to hear?  I think they wanted to hear John say “You guys are set – I’ve baptized you – you are all good to go.” I think they wanted it easy. Because most of us (and I say us, because the people who came to John in this chapter are just like us – normal folks) have a pretty high opinion of ourselves.  We think we do good work. We think we are good people. We want Heaven, but don’t necessarily want to work for it.

Have Heart for Others

John’s answer to each of them spoke to where each person was personally.

  • For the tax collector – be fair in collecting taxes.
  • For the soldier – don’t use your power in ways you shouldn’t.
  • For the person with means – share your wealth with those poorer than yourself, so others are not without basic necessities.

John suggests each of us position our heart for serving others, where it is hardest for each of us. He wants us to be in the habit of thinking where we can use our power to make life better for others.

Remember last week when we spoke about John wanting to make it easier for people to get to God, by leveling mountains and filling valleys? Most of us think that the mountains and valleys that separate us from God are thing that are put in our way. What I want to suggest is that we each have our own self built mountains and valleys which separate us from having a heart that would reflect the Holy Spirit. And each of us has to figure out how to best “level the mountains and fill the valleys.” Or as my son Thomas noted – build elevators to get over the mountains and bridges to cross the valleys.  Not only do we have our own obstacles, but the way to overcome those obstacle will be different for each of us.

I have a challenge for each of you and myself as well. And it’s not original. Ask yourself:

“What should I do?”

Not necessarily to be saved or to get to Heaven. But what should I do to have a Heart like Christ. How do I build a habit to better serve those I have power over?

Serve Where It Is Hardest

Think about what is hardest for each of you to do. For me, one of the areas I know I can work on will be to be less reactionary to my boys and to try to understand their motivations in situations before I react.

Now, you might think – but I’m just a kid – I don’t have power over anyone. But you do. You have more power than you imagine. You have the power to make your mom or dad or grandparent’s life easier by helping in unexpected ways – sometimes just by saying please and doing something like bringing them a glass of water.  Maybe you and your sister get into arguments and you get angry – being kind and polite in disagreements can be a huge mountain you can get rid of.  Sharing that last cookie with your brothers could be a valley you can bridge. Just start by getting in the habit of thinking about others first.

Bringing someone a glass of water or sharing that cookie won’t get you into Heaven – we need to rely on Jesus for that.  But serving others with a a Godly intent sure puts our hearts in a place that makes it easier to accept his gift of salvation.

I’m going to close paraphrasing a line that a preacher wrote about this gospel that inspired me for this week’s message:

Participating in God’s kingdom is available to us where we are, requiring only the modicum of faith necessary to perceive the sacred in the ordinary.  It is, in short, entirely within our reach.

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