Verbum Domini
Father Michael Najim
149 results total, viewing 101 - 110
Eve wasn’t hungry. Her stomach wasn’t growling. She wasn’t tired, low-energy, or diabetic. She didn’t reach for the apple to boost her sugar. Until that day, she probably hadn’t given much thought to the tree. After all, it was forbidden and there was plenty of food in the garden. But then the serpent seasoned it with lies: “your eyes will be opened and you will become like gods.” Flavored with falsehood, the tree looked different: “pleasing to the eyes, and desirable for gaining wisdom.” Approaching, without a prayer of thanksgiving, “she took some of its fruit and ate” (Gen 3:5-6). It all went wrong with a snack. more
Distraction is a prayer killer. Many kneel before the Blessed Sacrament or take up the sacred scriptures with a desire, with a need, to be refreshed by the divine Word. But sudden anxieties flock to the heart like crows. They call out tomorrow’s troubles, they cluck and claw at things left undone. Their squawk and crow drown out the One we want to hear. Their dark presence shades the light of the mind lest we think on him whom we love. Many experience such distractions as a torture. Often prayer is abandoned merely to escape that black cloud of pecking concerns. more
Jesus practiced what he preached. He didn’t dictate and depart, leaving us to stumble among his precepts without a light. Jesus set the bar high. But he also gave us an example to follow. He can command us to “offer no resistance to one who is evil,” because he himself guarded a patient silence as he was condemned. When someone seeks your shirt, he can command us to “hand over your cloak as well.” If that seems a high standard, consider what he handed over for you. Jesus can command us to love our enemies, because he forgave his murderers in the midst of their crime. What Jesus commands is certainly difficult, but he shows us it is not out of reach. more
A common characteristic of the saints is they know they are sinners. Paging through the Lives of the Saints, we find a dramatically diverse cast of characters. They are all unique. They are all very much themselves. Yet, without fail, wherever we sense the odor of sanctity, we can be sure that humility is part of the fragrance. Every saint is profoundly aware of his or her own brokenness. They are often even vocal about it and we should take them at their word. As one draws closer to God, the more one perceives how much he falls short. more
Complicated arguments and esoteric vocabulary are great ways to hide ignorance. They give the appearance of learning where there is none. Lacking self-confidence, some attempt to overawe their companions with lofty but empty phrasing. Their hearers, bowled over by big words, conclude that fault must lie within themselves. Made to feel foolish, they remain silent, though not the least enlightened. By these means spurious savants ease their self-doubt, but only by heaping insecurity on others. more
For my friend John O’Brien Even saints can have trouble dying. As St. Thérèse struggled with tuberculosis in her final months, she wrestled with one question: how does one die? She had actively and ardently pursued God throughout her short life, seeking perfection especially in the little things. But now that it had come to the end, she did not know what to do. How does one die? How can one die actively, with their eyes open? more
Jesus wanted to make a great catch. He wanted to catch both Gentile and Jew. Where does he turn for help? Fishermen, of course. He chooses those who know their trade, who know both how to cast and mend their nets (Mt 4:18,21). But wanting to make a big catch, he needs a big crew. In gathering his disciples, he subsumes some smaller operations. more
Being homeless is terrible. I had a brief taste of it once. On an extended trek through the mountains, a friend and I were diverted from our course by unexpected storms and snow. As students, we were broke. We had planned two weeks of camping with enough money for groceries. Bad weather forced us to find lodging. We carefully balanced our resources on the essentials: food and shelter. The trip started as a vacation and quickly became an effort for survival. It was an anxious and restless experience. more
Jesus is our scapegoat. Of course, we don’t blame him for things the way we might assign guilt to a little brother: “I didn’t break the lamp. Jesus did it.” Good luck trying that the next time you’re in a tight spot. We don’t blame Jesus. But we do lay our guilt upon him. That is the true meaning of a scapegoat. more
The wise men jumped the gun. They thought Jesus was in Jerusalem. Following the star from the east, it led them through the great city, and, drawing near, they must have said to one another “of course, Jerusalem! This is where we will find the king.” They almost blew the lid off the whole thing. Like blabbermouths spoiling a surprise, they rush to King Herod saying, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage” (Mt 2:2). They thought they were late for the party. Instead, they announce it to those who weren’t invited: “When King Herod heard this, he was greatly troubled, and all Jerusalem with him” (Mt 2:3). The wise men quickly realize their mistake. They learn their lesson too. They don’t say another word in the gospel. more
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