Thursday, March 28, 2013

Wait, He did ALL of that for US? Yep.


So as you might know, my roommate and I are the Youth Ministers for the 6th graders at St. John's parish in Lawrence, KS, and last night we did a super cool activity with our kiddos.

We went through the stations of the cross, from Jesus's point of view — all the torture, all the sorrow, all the emotions, all the details. After every station we had them write down on a sticky note how Jesus must have felt, or what was going through his head. Their understanding of it was so much deeper than I ever thought it would be. Some of their answers to what was going through Jesus's mind absolutely blew me away: "Why me, Father?" ... "I want to give up, but I must press on." ... "I'm trying to make others feel good, Lord, but I can't." ... "I'm done trying." ... "Embarrassed." ... "What did I do to deserve this?"... "Abandoned."

Then we read them the Easter Gospel of the women returning to the tomb to find that Jesus was not there because he had risen from the dead. They wrote down how they would have felt if they were one of the women. Again, their answers were excellent: "God, how can this be?" ... "Joy and happiness." ... "In awe of the sight." ... "Confused but joyful."

When we looked at the two poster boards, one was flooded with sticky notes — everything Jesus went through for us — and the other had just a few — our joy and happiness.

This is just a simple representation of how much Christ endured, so that we wouldn't have to. He took on the burden of the cross — all of our sins — and he went through embarrassment, betrayal, torture, ridicule, sheer pain, and the ultimate sacrifice, death. He did all of that so that we wouldn't have to. Yes, every once in a while we have to go through some of these things, and take part in the suffering of Christ, but we never have to go through the agony of what Jesus went through for us.

That is love.

So this Holy Week, go through the stations and really dive into the beauty of what Christ did for YOU. He was thinking of you when he picked up that cross. He was thinking of you when he had the strength to get up from his falls. He was thinking of you as the centurions pounded nails through his palms. And he was thinking of you as he bowed his head and died on that wooden cross.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Will you accept this rose?

I guess I should start this by admitting something: I do watch the Bachelor. Every week. And I get pretty into it. My roommates and I yell at the TV when we think Sean sent the wrong girl home. That's how we roll. You can judge me, you can agree with you, you can laugh at me — whatever you'd like. But this is how it is. Okay, now that I've established that, I can move on. 

I love The Bachelor. It's entertaining to watch. It's cool to see all the interesting, extravagant destinations they visit. I always get a good laugh watching the girl drama in the house. It's interesting to see how different all of their relationships with Sean are. Watching Tierra do anything she could to get Sean's attention was pretty hilarious for a while. And I definitely won't complain about the fact that God blessed Sean with a very attractive body either. :)

I don't think there's anything wrong with watching the Bachelor, but I think the most important thing about watching it is this: recognizing that the show is fake fake fake fake fake. It's fun to watch, but I definitely don't believe this show is what REAL LOVE is all about. We all have a desire to love and be loved — it's human. But this show is not how we should learn to really love. 

Real love doesn't mean going on ridiculous extravagant dates in Thailand or somewhere else across the planet. Real love doesn't mean kissing every five seconds (especially on camera... weird). Real love doesn't mean seriously pursuing like seven women at the same time. Real love doesn't mean talking all about how much you're "in love" in front of the camera to millions of people watching on TV... That's Hollywood love.

Real love is about loving someone as Christ loves us. Real love is about doing the little everyday things with love. Real love is about sacrificing for one another. Real love is about committing to ONE person's heart, and being their best friend FOREVER. 

At St. Lawrence classes last week, John-Mark was talking about what we have to do to change our culture that confuses sex for love. What he said is that men have to learn to WIN, CHERISH, and COMMIT to a woman's heart. That's something that sets real love apart from "Bachelor love." Sean might be "crazy about" four different girls (considering he uses that line about 29 times every week), but has he actually won, cherished, or seriously committed to any ONE of these women?

But there is one guy who will win, cherish, and commit to every single one of our hearts. JESUS. You knew that one was comin' didn't you? But it's true. He's the Man. 

In the Sacred Liturgies class at St. Lawrence, Fr. Steve said something I will NEVER forget. He said "The readings at mass are more than just a letter from St. Paul to the Philippians or whoever... They're a letter from JESUS to YOU." Mind blown. So at the end of the second reading last Sunday, it said "You, brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown..." That wasn't just St. Paul talking to those Philippians. It was Jesus talking to you and me. Telling us He loves us. Telling us that He longs for us. That we are His joy. That means a lot.

So the next time Sean is passing out those red roses at the Rose Ceremony and you can feel your emotional chastity levels tanking because you wish your life was like that... Don't worry. We don't want those roses anyway. Jesus' garden of roses that He has for us is full of REAL love. He's our Man. :)