An image of a desert.
Feb 27 2017

Faithfulness to the God of ‘do overs’

An image of a desert.
Throughout Lent, our weekly ePrayers include a special series of reflections on the upcoming Sunday readings. This reflection for the First Sunday of Lent is from Unbound preacher Father Greg Schmitt, CSsR.

There is a term, known to most golfers but not found in any official golf writings. The term is “mulligan.” A “mulligan” is simply a “do over.” Playing partners may, by agreement, allow one or more of these during a round of golf. A mulligan means a bad shot magically disappears, allowing a better shot to take its place.

Matthew sees Jesus’ 40 days of temptation in the desert as a kind of do over for the Israelites who compiled 40 years of repeated failures as they journeyed across the desert. While the Israelites doubted God’s faithfulness and even turned themselves to false gods, Jesus does the opposite. He refuses to let his physical hunger and the clever proposals by Satan tempt him to doubt God’s loving faithfulness.

First, the Israelites complained about not having food to eat, and again later about the quality of the food God provided. In refusing to leaven stones, Jesus recognizes that physical food isn’t the only kind. He announces that God’s word is the food that truly nourishes.

Secondly, the Israelites, on several occasions, set up tests for God. God needed to do what they demanded or they threatened to reject God. In contrast, Jesus rejects Satan’s proposal to throw himself off the parapet of the Temple to see if God would rush in to save him. God is not to be tested. God does not act just because we click our fingers.

Finally, the Israelites lost their confidence in God and danced around the golden calf they had deified. The devil offers Jesus the opportunity to possess the riches of the world if only he will fall down and pay Satan homage. Jesus responds, “The Lord your God shall you worship and him alone shall you serve.”

Jesus, tracing the path of his ancestors in the desert, does a great do over. What happened before is reversed. The proper order between God and humans is restored. Jesus is setting up a new order of relationship between God and his people.

Jesus will call this new order the Kingdom of Heaven. It belongs to the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, the merciful, the pure of heart, the peacemakers and those who suffer for what is right.

It belongs to those we sponsor through Unbound and to us who reach out to them. Together we are the new order. We are the Kingdom. We walk out of the desert with Jesus to grow the Kingdom even more. Our relationship with God is mirrored in the relationships between sponsors and sponsored.

Thank goodness for do overs.

Please Pray

O Lord, victor over Satan in the desert and teacher on the Mount of the Beatitudes, you show us the way to live in the Kingdom of Heaven. Bless our sponsored ones and all with whom we walk in deserts and meet on mountains. Open us up to your Kingdom. Teach us to resist forces of evil and deceit and to embrace what you call blessed. Amen.

Feb 20 2017

A prayer for the grace to ‘get out of the way’

An image of a mother and daughter standing in front of their home.
Every week we offer a prayerful reflection from a member of the Unbound community. This week’s reflection is from Senior Writer Larry Livingston.

One of Unbound’s established program characteristics is decentralized decision-making. In a nutshell, it means we believe that sponsored individuals and their families know how to use their available resources better than somebody sitting in an office thousands of miles away.

It also means that Unbound, as an organization, is anchored in our belief in the capability of the human person. We understand that sponsored members don’t want their sponsors to save them, but to be their friends and companions as they find their own path out of poverty.

The commitment to decentralized decision-making has been a part of Unbound from the beginning. Our first preacher, Father Peter Hereley, recalled how important it was to our late co-founder, Bob Hentzen.

“I remember one thing Bob Hentzen said: ‘With the poor, all you have to do is give them a hand up and then get out of the way.’ He had such respect for the poor, it was remarkable. That impressed me.”

Please pray

Loving God, you have endowed the human person with abilities beyond our understanding. Help us to develop our own gifts and nurture the gifts of others. May we embrace the dignity of your Son and learn from his example of a human life, freely and joyfully lived. We ask this in your holy name. Amen.

Dec 19 2016

The gift of Christmas is to be Jesus for others

An image of a Guatemalan couple kneeling to pray.
Throughout the Advent/Christmas season, our weekly ePrayers include a special series of reflections on the upcoming Sunday readings. This reflection for Christmas Day is from Unbound Preacher Relations Liaison Father Timothy Coday, C.P.P.S.

We have spent the last four weeks of Advent in preparation for Jesus to be born anew to, and in, us. In today’s Gospel, St. John says of Jesus, “and without him nothing can be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness.”

We need Jesus, our hope and our light. If we are in a large dark room and can’t find a way out, a sense of hopelessness can set in. Advent preparation moves us to a deeper, more personal relationship with Jesus. We can better sense his presence in our lives, which brings hope. We see the light in the darkness of our lives. There can be a relief to the despair that might have come from a loss or illness or the daily struggles of life.

In the Gospel reading for Christmas Day, St. John says that those who believe in Jesus have been given the “power to become children of God.” This happens through baptism, when we are given a candle lit from the Easter candle. We are given the light of Jesus and are called to share that light. How can we do that?

Poverty can be like the large dark room. The constant struggle to acquire the necessities of life like water, food, clothing, health care and education can lead to despair. Seeing no way out can lead to hopelessness.

Through the one-to-one sponsorship of Unbound, we can be the light. We can be the ray of hope.

For sponsored persons, being able to rely on the monthly benefits of sponsorship brings relief. For sponsors, accompanying a sponsored friend on their journey out of poverty brings the light of hope into the life of another person.

This is what the angels announced: Peace to the world and goodwill to all!

The gift of Jesus at Christmas is a light to the world and the source of true peace. The gift of Christmas is to be Jesus for others. This is the first and greatest form of gift-giving. Imagine if we all would prepare well during Advent and celebrate Christmas with a renewed commitment to share this gift with others.

Truly the angels’ message would be our message also. Peace to the world and goodwill to all!

Please pray

Heavenly Father, God of mercy and love, you sent your son to reveal your love for us and to be a light to lead us to you through the darkness. Grant, we pray, grace to believe in Jesus, become your daughters and sons, and be Jesus to others. Grant us ability to be promoters of peace and goodwill to all. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.