Sunday, February 28, 2016

Feet on the Ground

Clodovis Boff, a well known Brazilian theologian, once wrote a book called “Feet on the Ground Theology”. How refreshing though a bit sad; refreshing in that someone is calling for church leaders to act and speak from the reality of their people, yet sad that the appeal has to be made at all.

The readings for this Sunday are rich with a variety of very concrete images: flock, desert, fire, bush, milk and honey, cloud, blood, tower of Siloam and a fig tree. While these may seem strange as most of us were raised and live in large urban areas, thus flocks, fig trees and bushes do not speak to us in the same way as they did to the first century Jews. But the readings- and, in particular, the Gospel story- reflects ‘feet on the ground’ teaching- relating messages about God and God’s love for us in a language which people can understand. God is a God of Mercy willing to wait for us to leave behind sin, fear and whatever keeps us for a deeper relationship with God.

What is today’s readings saying to us in your daily life?
Where do we find a God of Mercy?
Are we merciful and forgiving to others?

The world of Mission Doctors is to put God’s love into action not with words but actions- practicing ‘feet on the ground theology’.

Perhaps this Lent we can find a way to help them extend mercy to those who normally have no medical care?

Sunday, February 21, 2016


Years ago I visited my brother and his family. At that time his son and daughter were then quite young and very active. One morning I was awakened by them jumping up and down, doing faux karate kicks and rolling around the floor. Having a great time! I asked what was going on and they solemnly explained that they were 'Ninja Mutant Turtles' whom I learned later were characters from a then very popular children’s show. They were imitating how the cartoon turtles acted on television. Funny, and I am sure that those blessed with children have many similar stories.

But it is not just children who imitate others, in fact, we all do, sometimes in small ways, sometimes going so far as to model our life around the actions of others.

Who do we imitate and what do we get out of it?

This is one of the questions which today's readings poses. St. Paul asks us to imitate Christ, which means loving (even our enemies!), being generous, grateful and centering our life on God. Not to copy the famous or movie stars with more bling or the latest I Phone but how we imitate Jesus in loving- that is the standard that matters.

Imitation of Christ leads not to a diminishment of life ( i.e. missing out on all the 'fun'!) but its achievement in a deeper way; a transformation that can make us more human and less chained by sin, fear, and ego. The Gospel reading tells us about the Transfiguration where Jesus met with Moses and Elijah, each with bodies radiating light (scholars say this is possibly a post-Easter event woven into the Gospel by Luke to make a point for his congregation!). Just as Jesus at Mt. Tabor is transfigured so through grace we can slowly be transformed if we choose to daily imitate Him. But unlike on Mount Tabor our transformation is neither instantaneous nor pain free. Nonetheless, imitation of Christ leads to our transformation into people who are more loving, grateful, generous and alive to the wonders of creation. And a person in love not only is transformed but helps transform others through love.

Imitation of Christ opens our hearts to those around us as well as those whom we do not see. The poor, our brothers and sisters in Christ, around the world are suffering and pleading for help. Mission Doctors Association heeds that call and dedicates itself to sending many fine men and women to give medical care to the world’s poor. MDA also offers a way for us to help this fine work.
Today's guest blog post is contributed by Brother John Kiesler, OFM is a member of the facility of the Franciscan School of Theology in California. Brother John is a member of the Formation Facility for long-term missionaries through Mission Doctors and presents at the Annual Retreat Seminar on the theology of mission. Additionally he serves as a member of the Board of Directors for Mission Doctors Association.

Sunday, February 14, 2016


Here we are the first Sunday of Lent- beginning of our liturgical journey which ends with Easter and Pentecost and any trip begins with the first step. True enough but why talk about temptation immediately, it seems so negative and depressing, why not focus on something uplifting?

Today’s reading from the Gospel of Luke does indeed focus on temptation, specifically the story of Satan tempting Jesus three times when He was in the desert. While this may seem a depressing topic (who really wants to focus on his/her sins?) it is filled with hope. We are all tempted at times do not be loving to others, to not listen, to be selfish, jealous, not to forgive, to be angry, or greedy or gluttonous. It is a common human experience and many of us feel powerless in the face of temptation. This Gospel takes this common experience and shows us that even Jesus was tempted (He is not only divine but shares our human nature) and resisted. We have a God who understands what it is like to be distracted by the allurements of sin but one who promises to be with us to resist. A God who loves us, forgives us when we sin and helps us resist sin.

But temptations to evil are only part of the story.

Daily we also have 'temptations' to do good; the Holy Spirit is alive and moves amongst us in our daily life. The Spirit is constantly calling us to be more loving, more understanding of difficult co-workers, family and friends, or to be more fearless in living as a Christian. In addition to realizing that temptation to sin is real and that God is with us to resist- perhaps we can also ask:
How is the Spirit moving me this Lent to be a better Christian?
How are we called to be a better husband/wife/son/daughter?
Are they people who could be helped by a visit and listening ear?
How can I help people who bring healing to the world?

Mission Doctors Association provides the support, financial and practical, to enable many doctors to respond to the Holy Spirit in order to bring healing to God's poor. It invites us to participate in this healing mission through prayer and financial support.

Perhaps the Spirit is ‘tempting’ you to pray and donate to this work during Lent?

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Today's guest blog post is contributed by Brother John Kiesler, OFM is a member of the facility of the Franciscan School of Theology in California. Brother John is a member of the Formation Facility for long-term missionaries through Mission Doctors and presents at the Annual Retreat Seminar on the theology of mission. Additionally he serves as a member of the Board of Directors for Mission Doctors Association.

Oh no, here is it again the beginning of that time of year! You know what I mean! A day when we go to church, get ashes smudged on our foreheads, listen to a rather somber homily reminding us of our mortality, and, perhaps, decide what we want to ‘offer up’ for Lent. What is the point of getting depressed with reminders of death in a world in which I have too much too do? It is a common question and one that often points to how the meaning of Lent has been over overlooked or forgotten.

Ash Wednesday is the beginning of Lent but it is not meant as a period of sadness but rather reflection on our life. Ashes and reminders of death are intended not to sap the joy out of life but as reminders of its giftedness and transitory nature. During Lent we are called to focus on prayer, fasting and almsgiving to the poor not as punishment (or somehow to show how good we are) but to remind us that as humans we have a body as well as a soul (how often has the Church and theology overlooked that connection in the past!) and both are gifts of God. We are not just solitary individuals with souls and bodies but people in relationship (whether we realize it or not) with God, creation, and others- thus the call for more attentiveness to prayer, fasting and generosity to the poor. Through these practices (not just pious thoughts but real actions) the Church calls us to think about our life, with its shortness, and how we can be more loving to God, more respectful of creation by consuming only what we need and more alive to suffering brothers and sisters.

Lent is a marvelous time for us to get down to basics. So rather than see it as a time for sadness or something to endure perhaps we can see it as a time to ask ourselves some questions, for example:
How much time do I really spend with God, with my spouse, children, friends, family?
Do I try to bring peace and love to those around me in family or at work?
Am I hooked on mindless consumption of goods or addicted to electronic media?
Do I live as if there are not over two billion poor in the world today?

Basics. And part of this is action to change our present habits to ones more enriching to ourselves and others. One way of doing this might be to support through prayer and monetary donations the work of Mission Doctors Association, which sends doctors around the world to bring healing to the bodily ills of poor who would otherwise be neglected.

Donations to MDA can be a way to celebrate Lent and remind us of others in the world who suffer but connect us to good doctors who are trying to bring positive solutions in Christ’s name.