Catholic Homily / Sunday Reflections / Sunday Worship Guide 5th Sunday of Lent(B) March 29, 2009
Readings: Jer 31:31-34 / Heb 5:7-9 /Jn 12:20-33
The apostle Philip must have exuded some kind of inner resourcefulness that gave people around him the impression he could lead them to things or persons they were looking for. Today, we are told that some Greeks approached him asking for advice on where to find Jesus, saying to him, “We would like to see Jesus.” The same resourceful Philip, we are told elsewhere, was the one whom the Lord asked, “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?” (Jn 6:5) Philip, as practical as he was resourceful, had a ready answer: “Two hundred days wages would not be enough for each of them to have a little bit.” It turned out, however, that Andrew the fisherman, who had a quick eye for opportunity, was the one who “discovered” that there was a young man who had a few loaves and some fish with him.
I have a couple of curious insights in today’s Gospel passage, by way of an aside, before we get back to Philip. Andrew, the brother of Peter, was a fisherman like his father and brother. A recent Biblical scholar has suggested that the fishermen during the times of Jesus are the equivalent of modern-day small scale entrepreneurs who had enough business acumen to keep a relatively complex business going. That included tending a boat and mending nets, apart from managing the catch. I do not know, but one who notices details like who was carrying what in the desert crowd, one who saw “opportunity” in the small “capital” of the young man must have been a very good logistics officer and a good businessman more than he was a good fisherman. Philip and Andrew must have made quite a complementary pair among the band of twelve!
The other curious insight has to do with the boy and his hearty appetite. He had five barley loaves and two fish! Now these loaves must have been bigger than McDonald’s Filet-o-fish sandwich! We are not told whether he carried the food for his parents or for somebody else, but presumably, since no mention is made of adults journeying with him, the boy had the five loaves and – mind you, whole fishes, not just fillets – all for himself! But the boy’s generous heart was just as big as his appetite! He gave the loaves and the fish away! And that generosity sparked a miracle beyond his wildest dreams!
I would like to suggest that the good Lord indeed knew how best to make use of the people willing enough to follow him. He knew how to capitalize on the good points of all those from whom he asked only one simple thing: COME, FOLLOW ME AND BE FISHERS OF PEOPLE! The Lord did not ask whether Peter and Andrew had enough money to support his incipient project and vision to give fullness of life to all. He simply called them. All he wanted was plain generosity and willingness to stay with his incipient group. But Jesus made use of Peter’s impetuosity. Jesus made use of Philip’s social skills and resourcefulness with people. And the Lord definitely made use of Andrew’s eye for details and opportunities.
I further suggest that all of us, like the Greeks who approached Philip, are in the final analysis people out in search for the Lord. Behind every desire we feel in our hearts, behind our every wish to have a better life, at the bottom of all the good things we want for ourselves and others, is our innate and ultimate desire to see and taste the goodness of the Lord! We not only want to see the Lord. We want the Lord to fully satisfy all the longings of our hearts, knowing full well that any earthly longing we have is bound to disappoint us, sure that not one earthly fulfillment of what we longed for can fully satisfy us. With St. Augustine, we know by experience: “Restless are our hearts, O Lord, and restless will they remain, until they rest in Thee.”
We would like to see Jesus! Two thousand years have passed since the Greeks first asked that most important question from Philip. Philip was one of the band of twelve, close-in followers of the Lord, the twelve apostles. Philip, together with the rest of the apostles became the link between Jesus and the rest of the people they ministered to, including the then known as gentiles. The apostles did as Jesus did, preached as Jesus preached, healed as Jesus healed and saved as Jesus did.
Today, we still beg the Church and her pastors, “we would like to see Jesus.” This indeed is a humbling thought for me, an ordained minister, a priest of Jesus Christ! People are beseeching us and the Church pastors to show them, give them, lead them to Jesus. Indeed, this is a great responsibility. Not one of us feels up to the task. Not one of us feels worthy of the duty. Nay more, together with them, we also utter the same basic cry from within the depths of our personhood…”We would like to see Jesus.”
The plea is a lot different from that of the very same Philip who asked: “Show us the Father!” Philip said to him, "Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us." (Jn 14:8) The resourceful Philip, the sociable Philip, was also a searcher. He was always looking for something or someone. He was always seeking out things for himself and others. And “he who seeks, indeed finds.” (cf. Mt. 7:8) “Philip, have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me! He who sees me sees my Father also.” (Jn 14:9)
As an observer of human behavior, I would like to suggest that people flocked to Philip and sought his advice because Philip was true to himself. He showed himself to be also a searcher. People saw in Philip a person who made no secrets about the deep desires in his heart. Philip stood for all of us who basically are all searchers and seekers.
The Greeks had Philip to consult. They did so and were happy for it. We also have the Church and her pastors to look up to. We were so blessed to have had Pope John Paul II in our midst, who inflamed our hearts with desire to see the Lord. Old as he was then, his desires were really youthful and relevant – to bring Jesus to young people, to everyone, to all the world! Together with him and the present Holy Father Benedict XVI are thousands and thousands of bishops and priests and religious women and men in good standing who continue what Philip once did, to be vocation promoters and product endorsers for the Church and the Kingdom. Despite the many scandals caused by a few in their ranks, the vast majority are dedicated to the cause of the Kingdom. The great majority are hard at work, trying to tell so many people, young and old alike, “Come and see!” (Jn 11:34) Among them, there are so many equivalent of that generous boy who was instrumental for that miracle of generosity. There, too, are so many equivalents of Andrew whose eyes for opportunities continue to serve the best interest of the Church and her mission of salvation. There, too, are so many equivalents of Philip whose social skills and connections, whose attitude of perpetual search, keep the wheels of evangelization grinding in so many parts of the world.
We would like to see Jesus! What about transforming that desire into dedicated action? What about being part of the Church’s “search and rescue” team? What about joining her hordes of missionaries who go out and search – not to destroy – but to give life? “I came that they may have life and have it more abundantly!” That was the mission-vision of the leader who started the incipient band of twelve of which Philip was a part. It has become a big worldwide movement that has transcended history and civilizations down through the centuries. It is fueled by the same desire that led the Greeks to Philip: “We would like to see Jesus.”
Last thing I heard is… a band of excited disciples has been telling the whole world for two thousand years… “We have seen the Lord!” VIDIMUS DOMINUM. (Jn. 20:25)
Sunday Morning Worship / Gospel Reflection / Catholic Homily 4th Sunday of Lent Year BMarch 22, 2009
It was the lowest point in the history of the chosen people of God! Worse than the situation they were in, there was none… being on exile, being far from the land promised to their forefathers, far from the temple, far from what they have gotten used to, far from the familiar sights and sounds of home, far from the security that comes from the knowledge that what one does is never foreign, never strange to anybody around him or her. The chosen people of God were down in the depths of communal humiliation and suffering… at Babylon, where the purity of their faith could not find perfect expression. “By the rivers of Babylon, there they sat and wept, on the poplars that grew there, there they hung up their harps.” On top of all this, Jerusalem, the holy city was left in ruins, destroyed by the gentile conquerors. The Israelites, for all intents and purposes, were “pitched past pitch of grief”… They were down and out… like as if there were no more hope, no more chance, no more possibility to get up. Unable to sing, and finding no reason to sing at all, the Israelites were down in the depths of communal grief.
But, “through no merit of their own,” God takes up once more the cudgels for His beloved people and shows His saving power in extraordinary ways. God raises up Cyrus, whose selfless edict gives God’s people a new possibility to get up, and go, and glow with newfound faith and enthusiasm to rebuild a life altogether new, all together anew, back in the land where they were originally led by Moses and Aaron, a land promised yet by God, back to the time of Abraham, their father in faith.
God, we are once more reminded, is not one who would renege on His promises. God, a Savior par excellence, is shown today as one whose love never tarnishes, never wanes, never dies, and never is taken back, despite the sinfulness and the repeated falls of His chosen people.
Our own little stories are a proof of the same never-ending love of a forgiving God. From the dark corners of our hearts that conceal the depths of our repeated falls into sin, our own brand of infidelity upon infidelity, our all-too-familiar indiscretions and excesses, our sins both by defect and by excess, sins of commission and omission, - sins, plain and simple … we all can weave a story that runs along the lines of the history of God’s chosen people – a history of sin, forgiveness, election, defection, promise, fulfillment, covenant, infidelity, mercy and reinstatement in God’s love… the cycle continues in our lives. The Bible is Israel’s story as much as ours, with the same basic convergent themes that form the warp and woof of the tapestry of our human lives.
“We all have sinned, and fallen short of the glory of God!” (Romans 3:23)
Basic acceptance of this reality is what today’s liturgy, among others, would have us do. It calls on us to come to terms with our own personal history of sin. But lest we miss it, the liturgy also calls on us to hold on to the on-going drama of our Christian lives, where the stamp of God’s forgiveness and love ought never to make us remain down in the dumps of hopelessness and interior sadness of heart.
Through no merits of our own, St. Paul reminds us, on account of God’s kindness to us in Christ Jesus, we are raised to new life. “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love he had for us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, brought us to life with Christ * (by grace you have been saved), raised us up with him, and seated us with him in the heavens in Christ Jesus." (Eph 2:4-6)
We are sorely in need these days of some moral upliftment from what ought to be Good News to all women and men, now a lot more dehumanized on account of the raging war in Iraq and the culture of terrorism all over the world. We need to be reminded that “all things work for the good for all those who love God.” (Romans 8:28). Raised…lifted up…exalted… this is what the readings today, especially the Gospel, reminds us. Salvation assumes a very graphic and concrete representation for all of us, today, which is meant to be a joyful Sunday of Lent (Laetare Sunday). And this assurance of salvation comes by way of a promise – that “just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. (Jn 3:14-16)
Jesus very literally allowed himself to be lifted up on the cross. His exaltation on the cross spelled salvation for us. His being nailed and transfixed on a tree now stands behind our own exaltation in the grace and love of forgiveness.
Humanity is down once again, made less human by the culture of death, as shown by the ease with which it goes into war. Humanity’s dignity is lessened once more by a pervading culture of terrorism and violence. The spiral of violence has taken a number of nations and groups – sadly, even groups who ostensibly quote religion and even God – and has hijacked their faith and manipulated the same, leading them to do things that even a nominal definition and the flimsiest attachment to the same God would never have allowed, nor condoned. Sinful humanity has once more, for the nth time, gone so low and embraced the depths of depravity and social sinfulness.
The liturgy today calls on all women and men of good will – Christians and Muslims alike – to allow themselves to be lifted up from the miry depths of selfishness and impulsive vengefulness. And this, it does, by offering a clear example – that of Christ, nailed unjustly on the cross; that of Christ, lifted up on the wood of the cross, dying an ignominious and undeserved death, laying down his life of his own free will, so that we might live! “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own. I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again. This command I have received from my Father.” (Jn 10:18)
The key word in all this is “allow.” Human beings as we are, enveloped in a whole lot of pride and a mistaken and misguided sense of self-sufficiency, made even worse by our fallen human nature prone to sin, we always think that solutions to problems always should emanate from our finite powers. We have often arrogated to ourselves powers and marvels that are beyond us. We think that wars, and the might that is needed to wage them, are enough to solve problems among nations and peoples. We often believe that human efforts alone would suffice to solve problems. In our linear, cause and effect mode of thinking, we falsely believe that all it takes to eradicate an “effect” is an act of surgically removing the “cause” of that same effect. We think that human effort alone, unilaterally done, would solve one problem after another.
History, both sacred and secular, does not support such a position. Human nature being complex, and human beings being free and autonomous individuals, there is simply no sure-fire solution to problems that are external to the persons involved in those problems. We must go within the depths of the person. We must go interior. We ought to go to the root of human freedom, that area of our personhood where the mystery of freedom, that is capable of both good and evil, resides. “There in your heart is your small commonweal. There, rid the dragons; root out there the sin.” (Hopkins).
All this is to say that our finite human freedom is supposed to be subservient to the only absolute freedom that exists – God’s freedom! Human freedom is only relative. Being relative, it is subservient to God’s own absolute freedom and will. Hence the need for us to allow ourselves to be lifted up, like Christ. No one lay his life down for him. He did so of his own volition. He willingly surrendered himself to death, even death on a cross, for our salvation.
Down, we were, but lifted up on his account. Dead and buried, but raised up and brought to life in Christ! This is a story worth recounting in these times of great insecurity, fear and uncertainty. Laetare! Rejoice! The Kingdom of God is at hand!
Catholic Homily / Sunday Reflection 3rd Sunday of Lent - Year B March 15, 2009
We humans seem to have it in our heads clearly enough… the answer to evil is retribution. Anybody guilty of doing wrong ought to be punished. The more impulsive among us would demand immediate retribution, as in the case of capital punishment for “heinous crimes.” The more pacifist among us, especially those whose faiths have been hijacked by New Age doctrine would rather believe that the evil one does already has a built-in retribution mechanism in the very act itself. What goes around comes around, and it would just be a matter of time when karmic retribution would haunt the doer of the evil deed, so they say. The former takes the act of retribution actively into one’s own hands… “an eye for an eye; a tooth for a tooth”… Revenge, many times violent, is the way to go for these people who think that every action demands an equal, (more often, it is unequal) and opposite reaction. This is behind the popularity of capital punishment. One who is guilty of killing, they say, does not deserve to live…He or she has forfeited his right to life…so they reason! The latter is more philosophical about evil and the evil deeds of other people. With a perpetual cherubic smile on their lips, mistaken many a time for Christian inner peace, these people find no more reason to exact vengeance or any form of violent retribution. Karma will take over, and will settle the score for him eventually, sooner or later. What goes around, comes around, they often say. One’s evil action will eventually catch up with him, and karmic retribution will soon restore the disrupted equilibrium.
Both, ultimately, are an affront to genuine human freedom and personal autonomy. Both extremes do not represent the spirit of the decalogue, the ten commandments given by God through Moses. Both really emphasize the punishment aspect for evil. Both are focused on the aspect of retribution. And both, in varied ways, really subscribe to the idea that evil acts are due to be punished, whether directly or indirectly. This mentality, at bottom, also explains the popularity of war. That explains why at some point 67 % of the American society supported the war being waged in Irag.
But the “ten words” (not really ten commandments, etymologically speaking), are more about freedom, than they are about anything else! The decalogue were directed to the totality of the person, not to the materiality of the infraction. The decalogue highlighted the inherent dignity and autonomy of the human person, not primarily the material disobedience of the same person, and definitely not the punishment each infraction would entail. The decalogue, in that sense therefore, is a path that leads to wholistic, total liberation. The law liberates the person. Sin enslaves.
Rightly does the liturgy today would have us proclaim after the first reading: “Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.” For the same reason, the psalmist declares: “The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul; the decree of the Lord is trustworthy, giving wisdom to the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the command of the Lord is clear, enlightening the eye.”
For many of us, naturally inclined (owing to original sin) to retaliation, Jesus’ righteous indignation and anger at the sight of so many sellers and money-changers at the temple, elicits a whole lot of sympathy. Serves them right! … many of us would probably say. After all, they did the unimaginable – convert the temple into a place of commerce! How many of us have secretly said the same thing to ourselves at the sight of criminals being executed, “rightly paying” for the crimes they did? How many of us have secretly gloated at the apparent on-going “defeat’ of leaders of “rogue” nations who abuse their power and authority? What sort of logic is behind the senseless deaths of thousands of innocent people who happened to be in the wrong building at the wrong time at the infamous 9/11 incident? What moral justification is there in killing innocent people in the name of God all because one is trying to restore the balance of justice?
Jesus’ example today, as he drove out the sellers and money changers from the temple is a timely one for us now caught on two sides of an emotionally laden issue. Even as war rages, we are confronted with an important principle: one has the right to be angry, but not the right to be cruel. One definitely has the perfect right to be offended, but never the right to do injustice to others.
In these complex conditions of the world, in these difficult times where a lot of grey areas exist in all imaginable aspects of our societal lives…in these tumultuous times when people are faced with difficult choices, and when evil seems to penetrate all institutions, not excluding organized religions all over the world, when even religion is sometimes hijacked by questionable ideologies, there are no easy answers to the question of evil in the world, and how to deal with evil men and women. For far too long, humankind has always resorted to violence, to killing, to punishments, to wars. And history tells us that wars solve nothing. They only increase the aggrieved parties’ resolve to increase their capability to do warfare. They only drive a deeper wedge between two opposing sides. This, I am afraid, is what increases the great moral, cultural, economic and geopolitical divide between Christians and Muslims, or those identified with either, rightly or wrongly. As a Christian, as a priest, as a pastor, I deplore the increasing possibility of an Islamic backlash to all this violence going on. The cycle of violence is only bound to get deeper and stronger.
In these situations where it is very hard to decide and discern who is the aggressor and who is the aggrieved, there are no easy answers… But there is a clear example for us to pattern our lives with – the example of Christ, who got angry alright, but who did not resort to violence beyond driving them out of the temple with the use of a whip. How does one deal with evil in the world? There are no easy answers. And violence, no matter how seemingly cogent and logical in our linear thinking mode, is one such questionable answer. It is my hope and prayer that indeed, for both sides of the ongoing conflict, genuine zeal for God’s house, genuine love for the God of peace and righteousness, will lead them to paths that make for peace…peace to all women and men of good will!
Something must be wrong here somewhere! God must be kidding. Or He must have missed some little detail somewhere. Why did He have to give, only to get it back cruelly after? Why the gift of Isaac to old Abraham and then ask him to do the ultimate sacrifice? It just does not make sense. There is simply no logic here, no rhyme, nor reason to it all.We all are familiar with these questions. Most of us, if not all – who have lived a life beyond celebrating birthdays with cake, clowns, chocolate, and cotton candies galore have gone face to face with the mystery of suffering, the unfathomable reality of pain and loss and disappointment and disillusionment.
We know well enough by experience… that at times, things just do not add up; events in our lives just do not follow cut-and-dried rules, no matter how simplistically, at times, certain newfangled doctrines would try to explain them away so facetiously.Life, and everything that has to do with God’s inscrutable will, just does not follow what we myopic mortals love to follow – the man-made law of linear causality! That law would attribute a cause to anything that happens in the world. If there is an effect, there must be a cause that can be isolated in no time. If there is a problem in the world, all those who “know better” ought to gang up, unite and isolate the root cause of it all. That cause ought to be eradicated and banished. If the alarum bells of war are ringing all over the world, this is just a communal sense of righteous indignation of level-headed people who know better as to have isolated the real root cause of all this belligerence. Therefore, according to linear thinking philosophy, the effect will disappear if the cause is banished. There would be peace if only all the “good guys” united and banished all the “bad guys.” By the same token, if you are undergoing any form of bad luck, do not attribute it to bad genes…it must have been caused by some bad action done by you or your ancestors in the past and karmic retribution is just catching up with you. Every effect follows from an identifiable cause. And that cause must either be eradicated and corrected – or accepted, as one’s deserved fate because the law of karma has come around to finally set things aright for everyone.
The former attitude would lead us to take active and aggressive action once the cause is identified. Thus, people who are filled with righteous indignation feel the need to wage war in order to neutralize all those identified causes and purveyors of evil in the world. For the point of view of these people, mostly rightists who hold immense power over the future of so many people, war is never wrong in certain cases. There must be a just war, according to them. (As to how they define which cases merit a war is simply beyond me!)
The second approach would make people passively sit out and accept with total resignation all that is happening and is bound to happen (and still be philosophical about it!). These people would always sport a perpetual, cherubic smile on their lips, an attitude that is mistaken for Christian resignation and acceptance. But this is nothing more than passive acceptance of fate that is brought about again, by the karmic law of retribution. These people would see war and the suffering people undergo as an inevitable phase of purification until the “age of Aquarius” sets in and becomes a reality in full bloom.
Christian faith and Biblical revelation tell us clearly enough: death constitutes the wages of sin. Death is the fruit of sin. But this does not mean all personal suffering, even if it approximates a little form of death, is the effect of each one’s personal sin. Jesus already corrected that repeatedly in the Gospel accounts of healing that he did to people afflicted with various ailments. No…suffering need not be seen as an effect of personal sin, like B follows A, in perfect linear fashion.
Today’s account of the sacrifice asked for from Abraham is a clear case in point. There is suffering that is salvific, that is as mysterious as it is life-affirming and life-giving. There is legitimate suffering that cannot be explained away by New Age and western logic that follows the linear thinking automatic mode.Today’s readings, as in the rest of the whole inspired book, we are reminded by the Lord, not so much to look for easy solutions outside of our persons, nor to simply accept things in passive resignation “because it is our fate to suffer thus,” or “because it is written in the stars and dictated by the alignment of the planets,” as to see the ultimate root of all suffering – the mysterious arena of one’s personal freedom, the locus of our personal choice, the seat of our personal power where good and evil designs find initial existence.
No, Christian faith tells us not to look for easy explanations like bad genes, bad actions of our ancestors, or even our own personal bad actions in the past now catching up with us, as New Agers would love to say. Our faith tells us to look for the real root of all evil – the human heart, and its capacity to plan and do good and evil. In this battle and struggle between good and evil, solutions do not come only from us humans. God is on our side. God is the first one against evil, for evil was not created by Him. Evil was not caused by God. Evil is done by free and intelligent beings like us who choose to do evil, who decide to sin. And in this struggle, we are not allowed to correct the evil in the world, by resorting to another evil act. We just cannot hope to correct other people’s perceived evil acts by resorting to war, which in itself is evil.
We cannot right a wrong by doing another wrong. And we definitely are not entitled to kill, even if we think we are doing it in God’s name, just because somebody does what we perceive as evil.St. Paul tells us today: “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but handed him over for us all, how will he not also give us everything else along with him?” Yes, the call of Abraham to sacrifice his only son is a prefiguration of the sacrifice which Jesus, the Son of God, did on our behalf.
There is no rhyme nor reason in it all. There is no logic. And it defies all forms of linear causality and linear thinking. In short, for the worldly wise, it does not make sense. But the fact is, it is God’s answer to the question of evil. It is God’s answer to man’s inhumanity to man.The world today is rife with sinfulness. And we see sin’s fruits everywhere…weapons of mass destruction, terroristic acts, bombs that not only maim…they turn everything into cinders in a flash, killings in God’s name in many places, corruption in government and in society, a lot of greed and selfishness that stand behind untold suffering for millions. The list is endless.
There are those who follow the road of logic and linear causality. Let’s do war, they conclude. Let’s get rid of all corrupt people in society and government. Unfortunately, in this short-sighted way of doing things, we forget the fact that the solutions of today are the problems of tomorrow. The freedom fighters now who are being trained by the CIA are going to be the terrorists of tomorrow, now schooled and trained in building bombs and sowing terror with panache! We should never forget that the cohorts of Bin Laden who now sow terror all over the world were trained by CIA operatives two decades ago to rise up in arms against the Russians. We forget, above all, that evil resides in everyone’s heart, and we all are the potential terrorists, the potential murderers… “There but for the grace of God, go I!”
The response today after the first reading tells us in graphic language what we ought to do: “I will walk before the Lord, in the land of the living.” To follow this road of the Lord… to follow Christ, is the way that leads to genuine freedom. This way does not follow the normal rules of logic. It does not follow what modern scientific men and women just love to follow: the path of linear causality and linear thinking. It follows the law of the Spirit, that law that leads to liberation and genuine freedom of heart.
Today, we are given a glimpse of what is in store for those who follow him. His transfiguration is an image of what we all are called to be and do. Like him, we are called to transform ourselves in Christ, for instance, to “turn all our swords into ploughshares” and to tread the paths that lead to peace. God Himself will then top off all this with our own transfiguration, as He did to His beloved Son, Jesus Christ. This, we cannot do on our own. Only God can do this. Only God can save us fully. For in the final analysis, there is no rhyme or reason to everything that happens and unfolds in the world. Nothing sufficiently explains all the major questions we have in life like why were we created, why there is suffering and pain, even for the innocent, why we have to die, etc. There are no quick human answers to these questions. There is a point when human certainty must bow down humbly to faith.
There is nothing that will explain all this sufficiently except God’s mysterious LOVE for all of humanity.This LOVE transfigured Christ His Son. This love ought also to transform the world. And that transformation begins somewhere. It begins with you, with me, with all women and men of good will. Let us continue to pray that the hearts of world leaders, including Presidents Bush and Saddam, may be transformed, too, by the power of God’s mysterious love.
I am a pilgrim. I am a learner. I journey with others in faith and life. In all I do, in my preaching, teaching, counseling, and writing, "all I want is to know Christ, and to experience the power of his resurrection" (Phil 3:10). By so doing, I humbly hope to make a difference in people's lives.