Resurrection Is

John 20: 1-16

If you were in this church either Thursday or Friday you know that it looks much different this morning than it did then, when we began the Easter celebration. One of the things that struck me here, more than any other place I’ve been, in those days, was the empty tabernacle because it’s unlike any other I’ve seen. We’re kind of used to the golden tabernacle that when it’s opened you can see pretty much all that’s there. But on Thursday night as I sat in the front pew, spending a little time reflecting, I was mesmerized by this one because it’s dark inside and from where I was sitting almost seemed endless. It was like looking into the night sky and if I were to put my hand in there it would just go on forever.

As I was preparing for these days and trying to read and listen to as much as I could about John, looking for new ways to preach these gospels, some of his images in the story of Mary Magdala, in its fullness, began to surface when I saw that empty tabernacle. For John, the Resurrection narratives, the first of which is Mary Magdala who goes onto witness the resurrected Christ by herself, become the fullness of the promise at the beginning of the gospel, the word becoming flesh and dwelling among us. It culminates at this narrative in particular, but not limited to Jesus nor Mary Magdala, nor ourselves for that matter.

The first image John will go on to use is that of the garden. This all takes place in the garden. Mary will mistake Jesus as the gardner and gardens appear several times in John’s gospel, just as it does in the front of our altar today, and with good reason for John. Even the garden in the passion is different than in the other gospels, but now, even creation partakes in the resurrection narrative. What John tries to create in this image and symbol is a restored Garden of Eden. That this eternal Christ, now resurrected, restores all of God’s creation to it’s fullness and wholeness. For John, creation too has something to teach us and even goes through it’s own gradual conversion from the changing of seasons, if we can allow ourselves to listen to it and reverence it in the way John displays in this resurrection narrative.

But there’s still that empty tomb, and even for us the few previous days, the empty tabernacle. If you know anything about Israel’s history, you got to know that the Temple was destroyed and rebuilt probably more times that we can count. In that temple, beyond the garden, was the holy of holies, which it’s sacredness was only seen by particular people. There was something beyond the veil that was to be seen by those with sight. Think about what many see when they visit a grave like Mary, Peter, and the other disciple do. We often see death, we see end, we are often caught up in our grief, shame, loneliness, like that endless interior of that tabernacle on the days leading up to today, but today is something different, at least for Mary. For Peter and the other disciple, who are so caught up in their grief and shame, mourning the loss of Jesus, they flee the scene and return to the locked upper room out of fear. But Mary will stay behind and through her tears begins to see something very different and things begin to change very quickly for her as the scene progresses.

Now don’t be foolish into thinking that somehow this event takes away the suffering of the world. We all know it doesn’t. But that also isn’t John’s point and why he is the Easter gospel. For John, it’s all about the process of conversion and moving to a life of joy. For John that path was in stark contrast with the Pharisees and Sadducees as we heard during Lent. For them, they had reduced God to an intellectual construct, just as we often have for centuries as well. Think about our own experience of God and faith. We want scientific proof, we want facts, we want it all proven for us. But that’s the thing, as Mary teaches us here, I can’t and I know nothing I say could change someone’s mind. How Mary stands in contrast has nothing to do with intellect. For Mary, she shows us the way to a lived experience of the Christ must come through the heart. She will weep and then she will hear her name said by the Risen Christ, Mary. From that moment on her life is changed forever. She doesn’t need the other disciples to tell of what they have known or anyone else for that matter, for Mary her heart was moved to tears and her eyes were opened, no longer an endless abyss in the tomb, but a resurrected Christ and an invitation to a new life for Mary. Even the fact that it comes not just with tears but in the hearing of her name is a lesson John tries to teach. Think about how he speaks to his mother at the beginning of the gospel where he calls her woman. It’s not being nasty to her. Rather, she too is invited into the same process. When Lazarus hears his name, he comes out. When Mary Magdala hears her name, she comes out and is changed forever.

For John, as we heard in the weeks of Lent and will now hear for the next fifty days, our lives are about the invitation to conversion, to a change of heart so that we too have an experience of the promise that he gives of the Word becoming flesh and dwelling among us. Like many of the characters in his stories, we know it happens over time and gradually. It’s sometimes much easier to live with the grief, guilt, shame, and absence that we experience in our lives than to allow ourselves to be opened to something new and a lived experience of the eternal Christ, who has been, is, and always will be. Just as the garden, the tomb, Mary, and others are transformed, so can we. It’s the Easter promise. Just as I said on Good Friday that we must look at that day through the lens of Easter, today is no different. Resurrection is and we must look at Easter through the lens of Easter otherwise it loses its power.

We pray for that conversion in our own lives and to notice the moments when Christ is inviting us into the lived experience of our faith. Just as it was for Mary, it’s change our lives forever. A lived experience of the Christ, who was, and is, and always will be, changes us in ways like none other. If this Christ can do what has been done in and through others, just imagine what this same Christ is trying to do to us at this very moment. We, all too often, have pushed the whole experience of resurrection to some life after this one, but what John reminds us is that Resurrection is. And at this very moment, God calls our names and is preparing our hearts to be changed once again and forever.


Unfinished Business

Acts 5: 27-32, 40-41; John 21: 1-19

After listening to the gospels for these first three weeks of Easter, it’s hard not to sit, scratching my head, wondering what’s going on with these disciples. They never quite seem to get it, despite the fact that John tells us that it’s now the third time the Lord appears! There seems to be this continuous gap for them in that their hearts are being led in a new direction through their experience of the risen Lord and then their lives. I suppose it’s a gap we all deal with in our own lives, that faith is something we do here on Sunday and then go about our business. But with the disciples, it’s supposed to be something different. They have followed and watched and rather than seeking out and following their hearts, they return to what they know; they return to fishing.

But something is different this time around. They come to the Sea of Tiberias with a lot of unfinished business in their lives, they gather with questions, and even continue to gather with fear, maybe not knowing what all of it means. This time, quite frankly, their hearts just aren’t in it. Their hearts have already moved on and yet they remain in what now seems like old hat for the disciples. But even this is different. The gospel tells us that they caught nothing; it seems as if they’ve even lost their touch with fishing, going the whole night and not catching even a single fish, leaving them, I’m sure, with more questions and simply gazing off in the darkened sky, their hearts elsewhere, and now another encounter with the Lord. Before they can embrace the freedom that we hear from them in Acts today, they must first have another encounter with the Lord and begin to grapple with and be freed from, this unfinished business of theirs.

And so there they are. No one questions who’s on the shore because they already know it’s the Lord. The gap between them and him seems immeasurable as they sit on the boat in the water. Here they are aware of the choices that they have made over these days that have led them to this place. They’ve watched all that he has done these years but their hearts never moved until now. They’ve abandoned, they’ve rejected, the’ve fled in fear, they grieve, and now they stand before the Lord once again. Peter remains with his unfinished business of denying the Lord but given the chance to be restored and freed from his own blindness, yet probably still feels the fear of judgment.

It’s amazing how much they change by the time we get to Acts. They’re like new people where their lives have seemed to have caught up with where their hearts had been leading them. They now stand before the very people that feared Jesus and wanted to see him gone. The power of Christ crucified, now raised from the dead, has spread far and wide and so the threat to the Sanhedrin is even greater. All their self-acclaimed power and authority is once again being challenged by these men that now appear fearless, free from all that has held them back in the gospel. They know their lives are at stake but they also know that they have found something greater than the Sanhedrin and anything they try to impose upon the people. But they don’t judge the Sanhedrin because they’ve been there. All they can do is walk away with joy-filled hearts. They knew they had everything to lose at that point, if they didn’t confront their own fear. They would have given into their heads rather than being led by their hearts. The disciples have been changed for good and they can no longer return. Fishing, for them, will take on new meaning.

And so it comes down for us as it does for Peter in today’s gospel about his own commitment to the Lord and this deeper love that he is called to in life. Do you love me, do you love me, do you love me? It’s so easy to answer in the affirmative, but again, Peter understands the unfinished business he believes he has with the Lord and yet it’s not Jesus’ approach. He never interrogates or questions in that way. Rather, he asks him if he loves him more than these, whatever “these” is. Was it these disciples? Or this old way of life? What are the “these” in our own lives that we tend to love more, if we can really call it that. It’s not usually love but rather a fear that so often disguises itself as love. Whether it’s our career, our wealth, our reputation, our fear, our own way of living, or whatever it may be, we all have “these” things in our lives that prevents us from turning our hearts over to the Lord fully. Yeah, the disciples eventually do and it changes them forever. But fear is hard to break in our lives because it so often is all we know. The disciples could try to imitate all that Jesus had done in healing, curing, feeding, and all the rest, but now he’s asking for more.

At this moment, we probably find ourselves somewhere in between the gospel and Acts. We may have the desire for that freedom that they experience in Acts and yet fear continues to hold. It leaves us, like them, with this unfinished business in our own lives. But Jesus is asking more and is leading us to more to a place where it’s not just imitating actions, but rather, having a heart like his. That’s what makes the question to Peter to pivotal and important for him and us. The gospel provides the image for us to sit with in our own lives and allow the Lord to ask us the same. You have to believe Peter came with guilt and shame at what he had done, but the Lord meets him there and invites him to that deeper place, that place of authentic love that will change him forever and that will change us forever as well!

What Do You Want me to do For You?

It seems rather ridiculous that Jesus would ask blind Bartimaeus, “what do you want me to do for you” in light of the fact that we are all aware and know his condition, he’s blind. Wouldn’t that be the obvious answer for Bartimaeus or for any of us, for that matter, that I’d want to see? But maybe it isn’t that obvious. What makes this encounter different, knowing that this section of Mark’s gospel began with a healing of another blind guy, where the same question was never posed to him?

I have used that question many times in hearing confessions with people and we often have no idea just how hard it is to answer. I dare say that it carries with it a lot of our baggage, at least what I have been able to tell in talking with people. Our automatic reply is that God already knows what we want. Another response is a thinking that we’re not worthy enough to be asked such a question, holding not a great deal of guilt and shame that prevents us from even hearing the question. It’s not easy to identity the deepest longings of the heart and soul, especially when we really believe that there is something wrong with us, not even recognizing that it’s not only the healing but also a restoration of our dignity in God’s infinite creation.

However, before we even get to the question in today’s gospel there is first a call that takes place. Bartimaeus calls out to Jesus and in turn Jesus calls him. Remember some of the other stories we’ve heard these past weeks. It wasn’t that long ago that we heard the call of the rich man and we know how that ends; he walks away sad, unable to give up his riches. Although the disciples are directly called, they were fighting over who was the greatest, brothers bickering about who will sit on the left and right, unable to give up there thirst for power. And then the call today, from Bartimaeus and to Bartimaeus. Maybe this takes us to that deeper place of the question asked by Jesus, leading to an authentic call and response from the one who has given it all up and then follows the Lord. The one who is powerless in the life of the community, seeks the Lord in his own desperation, humbled and primed for this encounter.

The irony for all of us, though, is we often are not aware of our own blindness and blindspots that we have. The more the Lord calls out, we can continue to get stuck in that question of worthiness, believing the shame and guilt we’ve lived with our entire lives, thinking that’s the way, believing that voice when it calls. Yet, that voice of the Lord will continue to call out and penetrate through the blindness of our lives until the call from within is in union with the call from beyond, an encounter with the living Lord as it is with Bartimaeus.

As we know it was never an easy response for Israel either. They often found themselves being asked that question from within and beyond and seemingly lost over and over again, whether in the Exodus or in exile as many of the prophets write, such as Jeremiah today. Yet, that voice never stops calling them forward. But like Bartimaeus, they too often have to reach the point of desperation and humility, letting go of their own pride and shame before they can respond to the call to return to the land of life. Just at that moment when you think you can’t go any further, the mercy and love of God unfolds, eyes are opened, and we follow on the way.

In the end, the call and response is one and the same, coming from and to that voice of God that calls us out like Bartimaeus. How often do we not have time to even listen to it or get stuck in the worthiness question that prevents us from the free response to the Lord. Bartimaeus provides us the opportunity to sit with your imagination in prayer and to begin to hear the voice of Jesus speak to us, “what do you want me to do for you,” but rather than shying away, allow yourself even to be moved to tears, knowing, like Batimaues, God’s mercy and love has begun to penetrate our blindness and we can be restored to wholeness and holiness. Once penetrated, we too will pick up and follow on the way and our lives will be forever changed.

Our Choice on Who is Fed

Proverbs 9: 1-6; Eph 5: 15-20; John 6: 51-58

There is that old Cherokee legend of the grandfather who speaks to his grandson about the fight of the two wolves that is taking place within him. There is the evil one of anger, envy, guilt, shame, self-pity, resentment and whatever else you would add. Then there is the other of love, joy, serenity, freedom, peace, and the likes. The grandson, as we all might do, asks the question of which would win. The grandfather, of great wisdom, simply states, the one you feed.

Our readings these past weeks have been about eating and feeding in many different ways as Jesus continues this confrontation with the Pharisees in the synagogue. I was mindful of that image of the Cherokee legend as I read this gospel this weekend and this ongoing struggle between Jesus and the pharisees. We’re often too quick to read into our eucharistic theology when we read these gospel passages, which have a whole lot more going on in them than what we have made them to be!

I mentioned a few months ago some of the symbolism, such as the synagogue or church being symbolic of our own sacred space within, our heart and soul. And in there, like the legend, we too have this fight going on, often times feeding the wrong one. There is even two ways of eating in this passage as we have been hearing. There is Jesus feeding with what gives life and then there is that useless chatter and quarreling going on among the pharisees, not creating much other than more fear and anxiety in their own lives and those they try to inflict it upon, only boxing themselves further into what they can’t see about themselves. There, in the midst of the story as we have been hearing, is the fighting of the two wolves; which do we choose?

Paul uses similar language to become a wise rather than foolish person. To live the will of the Lord, he says, we must choose to understand this fight within ourselves in order to reconcile and to choose that which gives life. The write of Proverbs as we hear in the first reading is writing in comparison to two feasts. There is the great feast that we hear today, which gives great joy and life, a meal rooted in wisdom compared to the one that leads to greater darkness and despair. I had read one commentary likening them to choosing between sanity and insanity. Isn’t that useless chatter in our own minds and hearts seem somewhat insane at times? Yet, it’s what gets fed and it’s what is often feeding us; more darkness leads to greater darkness.

When we finally, hopefully, get to that point in our lives where we become aware of the fight and no longer have to blame like the pharisees and the pharisee within ourselves, then the choice becomes much more obvious. It gets harder and harder to choose that voice that leads to greater darkness and despair in our lives because we have seen and tasted the one that gives eternal life, the true bread from heaven. So we are left with that choice today in our lives. What are we feeding and what is being fed; do we continue to choose the negative within ourselves and that which we often absorb around us, only, at times, affirming our own self-pity and lack of worth, boxing ourselves in like the pharisees? Which voice are we feeding and in turn, what are we allowing ourselves to be fed?

Why, suicide?

I was asked if I could post the homily from Mass today.  I’ve done my best at getting in writing the message delivered.

There is one thing that I have learned about the suffering, darkness, and pain of my own life. That one thing is that if I don’t speak of it, acknowledge it, and even reverence it, it will always have power over me. Pain, suffering, and darkness have a way of attaching themselves to shame and guilt like none other, leaving us with this irrational thought that no one else will understand. However, I think of the great saints like Mother Theresa who we only learned later suffered greatly in life and often felt trapped in darkness. But as a person of faith and as people of faith, we must look elsewhere; we must look for hope in the midst of our own darkness and despair.

There’s a great challenge on a day like this, knowing that this young man took his own life. It’s hard to find hope and light. The pain is raw and seems to hit us in front of our faces. We are left with the questions of why. I have done many funerals over the years but in particular three teenagers. I can’t tell you much about the others, but I remember quite well the details of each of those deaths. It’s different with someone so young. They have their whole life ahead of them. We can’t stop asking the “why” questions…why would someone do this? Why didn’t he get help? Why did he think this was the way out? Why, why, why? But when I met with the family at the police station last week and we talked about those questions, we, as human beings, try to make something rational that is very irrational. We’re trying to make sense out of something that will never make sense. We’re trying to answer questions that will never have an answer, and quite honesty, often only lead to greater darkness.

Now I know it’s different with teenagers. I’ve worked with you long enough to have some idea of how things work. Quite honestly, you don’t have the experience all the time to know that there is something beyond the darkness and pain. It’s right in front of our faces and it seems as if we’re at the end of our rope with no where to turn. What I want to say to you today is that this is not the answer to life’s problems, to life’s darkness, and to what seems hopeless at times. I’m going to challenge you today that if you are experiencing darkness in your life, seek out help. Seek out someone that can really listen and reverence the darkness in your life. Seek out someone that will love you regardless of what makes your heart ache. If you don’t know someone, seek me out and I will point you in the direction that you need to deal with whatever may be hurting.

The most important message, as people of faith, is what Paul tells us today in his letter to the Romans. Nothing, not even the darkest thing we can imagine or face in life, nothing that hurts us so great, nothing, nothing, can separate us from the love of Christ. Nothing! And although the choice Max made is not the answer, and we see that in the hurt that it leaves us with, but not even this can separate us from God. As a matter of fact, this is exactly where God wants to meet us. God wants to meet us in the mystery of life and death. We can’t avoid death, but even death doesn’t separate us from the love of God. This is where we find consolation today. This is where we find our hope today and in the days and weeks ahead as we continue to grieve and wonder and question. God is present in the midst of it all and if we’re open, we will catch glimpses of it.

And so we gather here today, to yes, thank God for the life given to Max. We gather here today seeking hope and consolation for our hurting hearts, filled with questions and doubts. I too have agonized over this the past week because there are no answers and we don’t always know what to day, especially under these circumstances. We gather here today, to remember, nothing separates us from the love of God. To his peers and to those who may find themselves in a dark place today and at this moment, seek help; seek the help that will lead to life from someone that will listen and accept. A God who becomes flesh shows us the way to speak the words, share our story, reverence our hurts, pain, and darkness, and in time, it loses it’s power over us. God wants us to live and to seek out life in all that we do. If we haven’t done that with the best of choices, we have hope in a God that isn’t separate and a God that always loves. Nothing, no pain or hurt is too great, to separate us from God. In faith, we seek our hope through Paul’s words today, in the spoken word, that gives us true power, a love that never ends and that nothing in this life will ever separate us from God of life and love.

Reflections from the Vineyard


I spent this weekend helping facilitate a Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat for post-abortive women and men.  Here are a few reflections from the weekend as well as the homily from our closing Mass for the weekend.

Homily for Sunday’s Closing Mass

The readings this weekend provide much opportunity as we close out this retreat to reflect upon and put ourselves into the story of the man born blind as we hear in John’s Gospel. The one striking thing about Jesus, different from the rest, is that he doesn’t buy into the blame or shame game that everyone around him tries to inflict upon the other and him. Somehow someone is to blame for the blindness of this guy, he’s now healed, and now someone must pay for this healing; he is no longer there for the others, the crowd, to inflict their own pain, guilt and shame onto and are left to look at themselves, if they are at all capable. Yet, Jesus wants nothing to do with it all he wants is to give the guy what his heart desires…healing and a restoring of his dignity as a human person; that’s it! The blame game is where the Pharisees take it and even the guys parents try to inflict their own pain onto others, never seeing that this guy’s not a blind guy but rather a guy who happened to be born blind, and their is a difference. All too often we identify ourselves in that way…many men and women have identified themselves by the abortion that they have had like many of you, and yet, this weekend has been simply about what Jesus does to the man born blind; he heals and he restores lost dignity. As a matter of fact, a good way to know if you are on the road to recovery or healing is when you no longer have to blame others, not even yourself. If everything is still everyone else’s fault and to blame and somehow you live with that victim mentality, as we have seen, we must first realize and accept that everyone out there is also us and when hurt we have a tendency to take on everyone else’s pain as our own, leading us further into the darkness that Paul speaks of in today’s second reading. The past two days we have said, “Enough.” I will no longer allow myself to be identified in that way and I can finally begin to embrace who I really am…a sinner in need of healing, going to the One who offers it freely, restores me to my dignity as a human being, and yes, finally, embrace that I truly am a daughter and a son of God.

Day One: As the stories begin to unfold before you, it’s hard not to well up in tears as you recognize and relate to the pain that so many people carry with them throughout their lives. How many have felt abandoned by their mothers and fathers, left to an ongoing search for love and acceptance elsewhere or forced to make grown-up decisions long before brains and hearts are even capable because of a choice. The bottom line so often is, “do nothing to disgrace the family.” It doesn’t matter how much pain you will have to carry throughout life, this unshattered persona, that we leave the world wanting to see and believe doesn’t actually exist, often does more harm than good. So often in this experience it is then transferred even onto Holy Mother Church…do nothing to disgrace, and unfortunately onto the ever-judging God who we think and have come to believe can never understand the pain that we hold onto. It’s my pain and that pain gives me identity and the safety that hasn’t existed in my life. We don’t quite notice until we are far gone that all that protection of the persona leads to greater isolation and a deep-seeded shame that prevents us from ever hearing the tender voice of God calling us out of darkness into His own wonderful light. That tender voice is so often drowned out by loud screams which we learn will only shut up when they are fed, leaving them wanting more and more until we begin to believe that the darkness is the light, that somehow I have to accept that this is just the way it is and I need to move on with my life, even if it is an endless cycle of poverty within our souls. Ah, the great lie that we tell ourselves into believing that no one else will ever understand, not even God can forgive me for how I have disgraced the family and the Church by my sin. Yet, it is by trusting that tender voice that tries to separate itself from the screams, always calling us home and never leaving us, that we begin to see and experience the perfect Parent in God, who holds the light and the dark of our lives, and only in this God can the weapons of judgment and self-hatred be transformed into the gift of His grace, love, and forgiveness. What inevitably follows is the greatest gift we can offer the world, a voice, a tender voice that now speaks through the woundedness of our lives in leading others to life.

Day Two: I happened to overhear someone say today that there is no greater burden than trying to be me. I thought to myself that there were probably no truer words spoken, that when we feel we need to try to be me and typically something or someone that I am not, there is a huge burden placed on our shoulders to try to continue to live up to a persona that is what we have been led to believe over the course of our lives as to who we really are only to find out at some point that all that work was only to get me to the point that it’s a part of who I am but not who and whose I really am. Whether we like it or not, good or ill, we are all a product of the relationships that we grew up with, being family and friends, who have helped us to create an illusion, a “blind spot” per se that gave us the space needed to defend ourselves from hurt. I’ve seen over and over again on these weekends how that blind spot is so often what we have found difficult with our own parents, that somehow they were never quite who we wanted or needed them to be and instead of entering relationships that follow in love, we go in search of that “perfection” that we never quite found in those authority figures, whether in our spouses or in the Church, rather than accepting that that’s them in us, whether a critical parent voice or a voice that tells you that you’re never quite good enough, they are a part of who we are and when we reach midlife and we still believe that that’s who we really are, then those words really are true that who I am is more a burden than a life well lived, or for that matter, fully lived. It is amazing how much we can live in denial of our make-up and as we speak of all these other people in our lives, we really speak of us, our illusions, our blind spots, which, often only after a breakdown in life, a near death experience, years of carrying grief after loss and so on can we ever begin to say, “I can’t settle for that anymore. My life has to be about so much more.” And only by the grace of God and good mirrors in our lives can the veneer finally begin to be broken and we can see who and whose we are, sons and daughters of God.

Day Three: Healing the Tabernacle–We all hold pain in different parts of our body. There may be nothing more humbling than as when we pray our final living scripture when someone asks for continuing healing of their womb. We never quite know the story behind someone’s pain until we have the opportunity to listen and have the space within us, free of judgment, to ask another to tell their story and the pain that they have held onto for years, due in part to choices that have been made or even when someone strips us of our dignity and forces themselves onto and within us, leaving us scarred for what seems like an eternity. One person dubbed it, the “lost decade” of their life. That’s how it so often feels, numb to everything and our bodies seem like dead weight, a storage bin for waste, so it feels in that lost time, until it can be restored and healed. All the effort that is made into making sure the tabernacles that house the Body of Christ in our churches is made with the most precious of metals, adorned with light, locked to protect, and yet, the tabernacle we live with daily isn’t given it’s proper place. We are told that it’s not important, we are convinced it’s never good enough, we abuse it and so often treat it with little regard, as if somehow it’s something we are stuck with in this life. Yet, I think of the Christ, lying in a manger. I think of Christ, forming in the womb of Mary. Is not this tabernacle we call our body, just as, if not even more, valuable than the golden palace? We all carry pain and shame differently in our body and through our body so often due to harm and trauma we have endured. We believe in the resurrection of the body…there it is and today God wants to heal the tabernacle that has experienced that trauma, heal the tabernacle that has given birth, heal the tabernacle that we call our body, and heal the tabernacle of this body gathered here today in His name. Where is it that pain is held in your body? Ask God to send healing graces to where you most hurt and have been hurt, seeking out resurrection of the body today.

Desire for Greatness

“Nothing great happens when you hold back.”  This is the “tag line” for the movie Home Run about a young baseball player, Cory Brand, who finds himself suspended from his career because of a constant struggle with anger, shame, and guilt being covered up by the debilitating effects of alcoholism.  The story, of course, dates back long before the current time, as a child of an abusive father who never showed the acceptance and love that Cory needed.

Anyone that has experienced the bondage of addiction, regardless of what it is to, alcohol, drugs, pornography, sex, food, or anything else, knows the power that all of those “externals” can have over a life.  It isn’t until Cory begins to realize that he is powerless to the alcohol and carries this heavy pain, that he can begin to experience the freedom that he truly desired, not the momentary, fleeting experience that alcohol had given him.  He has to come to the realization that nothing is going to fill the void that had been left from childhood until he can begin to experience and feel the love of God and others.

As he spends time away from his life’s dream of baseball, coaching his own son’s team, he reminds them over and over to confront their fear at the plate and not to hold back.  The only way that they will become great is to not hold back.  Of course, it would take time before he can begin to see that the same was true for him, not only at the plate, but in life as well.  Too much time was spent on being ashamed and living in fear, hiding from what was really holding him back.  All of life’s decisions were made in that bondage.  Alcohol was simply the external of something much deeper, and until he surrenders to it and realizes he doesn’t have the power to change it himself, conversion begins to happen, slowly but surely.

Living with such shame in one’s life can only lead to further death and powerlessness.  Yet, if you haven’t been there yourself, it is so often hard for others to understand.  We end up spending so much time standing at the plate in fear, hearing only the voices that hold us back from living, as it was for Cory, and never experiencing the greatness we want and desire.  His brother calls him out for constantly running away from it all, leading to further loneliness and isolation and never maturing beyond those childhood nightmares, but it is only in surrendering that he can finally live the life God has called and created him to be.

Home Run is just that, a home run; but it is also a challenge for all who suffer in this way, to step into the plate, into the pain, hurt and shame, and let God lead, not only into the pain but into the greatness it leads to as well.